RPS Partnership - 31 January 2018
Are you heading out to Brazil in the near future or planning to go to carnival which starts this week?
Our Brazilian colleague and friend on the ground in Rio de Janeiro, Herculano Barreto Filho sends us this advice for travel to Brazil in the coming weeks. The advice is great and up to date from someone who lives in the country. Thanks to Herculano, who sends us this post.
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Carnival in Brazil this year kicks off on Friday 02 February and goes on until Wednesday 07 February 2018. The Rio (de Janeiro) Carnival is the biggest of them all!
The street carnival in Rio is very traditional and great fun. There are "blocos" that will please you whatever your style is. The more traditional bloco is the Cordão da Bola Preta (which translates to the black polka-dot street party), and this one attracts thousands of locals and tourists.
If you are a first time visitor to Carnival, it is recommended for you to begin with a small bloco, quieter and less targeted since you are not yet familiar with the party and the city. Of course you can get to a bigger one later on.
In Rio people take costuming very seriously, so use your imagination. If you do not want to dress up completely, improvise something like a mask, a hat or colourful clothing. Keep in mind that it is better to wear light clothes because of the heat.
Eat well and drink plenty of water so you won’t become dehydrated. Wear comfortable sneakers, as you will be walking the whole day, plus it protects your feet from broken glass, dirt and so on.
Carry minimal cash and a certified photocopy of your personal documents. Cameras are easy targets for pickpockets.
Keep your camera in a safe place when not in use, leave your expensive smart-phone at home and take a cheaper cell phone with you for emergencies. Don’t worry! Violence is really unusual during Carnival, people just want to have some fun.
Blocos’ Schedules change frequently. Arrive early; Take sunblock and sunglasses with you;
TOP 8 TIPS
Book your flights well in advance! Flights to Rio should be booked preferably months ahead for the carnival, so if you haven't yet, hurry!
Be aware that many accommodation providers, such as hostels and budget hotels may have set package prices during the carnival season. This means you may have to make a reservation at least for 5, 6 or 7 nights in a row. And the same rule as with booking flights applies here, too – the earlier you book, the better the availability. The most popular properties are always sold out before the event!
If you're heading to the biggest, craziest and most crowded carnival parade city of Rio de Janeiro, be aware the carnival tickets are going to be expensive! Even if your flights will be to Rio, a good alternative to the carnival of Cidade Maravilhosa are those in other Brazilian cities, such as Salvador and Recife ! In Recife the entrance is free for all the visitors and anyone is also free to join the big parade!
Consider the weather, since even Brazil is not always all about sunshine. There might also be rainy days in Rio - and most importantly, be prepared for the HEAT! Besides drinking lots of water during the day, remember to get your sunscreen ready to avoid getting sunburned with all the excitement of your first jolly-good-happy holiday moments!
If you wish, bring any fancy dress and accessories to wear at the carnival parties already from home. Of course, you may also get your awesome outfit right there on the spot, but it will be better not to leave this issue until the last minute and avoid the crowded stores of visitors having done the same.
Since you're probably going to do a bit of walking during your Brazilian journey, make sure to wear nice and comfortable shoes! If you wish, those world-famous Havaianas flip flops will also do perfectly and for example in Rio as a both a city and a beach destination, it's well enough acceptable to walk around in flip flops also on the streets at least during day time.
Now that we're talking about a city and a whole country full of carnival fever, be aware of possible pickpockets in the crowd. They do exist for sure, so a handy advice would be to leave all your valuables back at the hostel and only carry the most necessary items with you. If you need to bring money along, have only the amount of cash you estimate would be needed for the day.
ENJOY, PARTY, HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!
Even if some precautions need to be considered beforehand, don't be afraid to be open towards people, have a small talk with a cute carioca (a person originally from Rio) next to you and take all the best out of your Carnival visit in Brazil! Cheers, or saúde!
Where to Stay
In Lapa, you’ll pay a fraction of the price that you would pay at one of the Ipanema or Copacabana high-rises and you’ll be close to the best all-night party. This way you can bus it to the beaches during the day. Otherwise, you’ll end up taking a taxi to Lapa at night.
You can prebook a hostel, like Brazil Hostel or Rio Hostel. If you like to travel by the seat of your pants, drop into one of Lapa’s love motels. They are cheaper than hostels, have private bathrooms, and you don’t have to book a package if you’re not staying all four nights.
Check out the Nova Mundo. It’s got balconies, radios, TV’s and big mirrors. Note there is also an upscale Hotel Nova Mundo in Flamengo, so if you hop in a cab, make sure you specify Motel Nova Mundo in Lapa.
Where to Party
If you want to watch Carnival, go to the Sambadrome. If you want to be in Carnival, stick to the streets. Keep your ears open for blocos, foot parades in which locals dance up and down the street to the beats of a truck top samba band and beer carts follow.
Some good ones go up Rio Branco, the main street of downtown Rio, as well as Lapa and Santa Teresa. Copacabana has a wild one and Ipanema has a great gay party.
Samba Cheap Seats
You’re going to want to check out the Sambadrome at least one night. Plan to go when Mangueira or Beija Flor parade, but don’t buy expensive tickets ahead of time. Show up around 6:00 PM and get them from a scalper. They shouldn’t be more than 15 reais per ticket. Say “Mais barato possível.”
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Photos: RPS Partnership in Rio de Janeiro; Christos and walking in the favellas