Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog› entry 10 of 23 › view all entries
We spent Carnaval in the hilltop artistsâ€™ enclave of Santa Teresa - the only place we could find last-minute lodging. We saw the touristy things: the giant Jesus statue, Ipanema and Copacabana. And our B&B host Pedro took us rock climbing in an improbably dense state forest overlooking the city. But the main focus our stay was Carnaval in all its hedonistic glory. Although to be honest, itâ€™s not what youâ€™d think. We were prepared to be hustled, groped, and subjected to general drunken, naked frenzy. What we werenâ€™t prepared for was a bunch of happy, mellow Brazilians wearing silly hats, dancing, playing horns, and not fighting - much more like a college block party than a swingersâ€™ club. The party moves from neighborhood to neighborhood throughout the week: nunsâ€™ habits for Santa Teresa, trannies at Ipanema/Copacabana, but the happy festive mood remains constant. And then there was the Sambadrome. The unbelievable parade competition between favelasâ€™ â€śsamba schools.â€ť We gawked, we tried to dance the samba, we watched the sunrise - all while being wowed by the most entertaining spectacle the world has ever produced. (Better even than Bollywood)
The next day the entire city stops while the scores and winners are announced: a strange mix of the Oscars, the Olympics and a Presidential electionâ€¦.but far more important.