Carnaval. Off. The. Bucket. List.

Like many other people, carnaval in Brazil was on my bucket list. This year I was already in South America and decided to take the opportunity and celebrate carnaval in the land of samba. My sister heared my plans and decided to come over to join this unique experience….

Rio de Janeiro was our first stop. On the 29th of January it wasn’t officially carnaval yet but Brazileños like to party so there were already bloco’s; a carnaval street party. In total they made 10 days of partying instead of the normal five… For us the perfect way to experience this event in different places of Brazil.

Like Rio is huge, the bloco’s are huge… There are bloco’s which move or parties which stay in one place. Everywhere and at every time of the day there could be a bloco; from 7am-1 pm, 2-6 pm, 6pm-12am or anything in between. We started with a small one during the day with 3.000 other people (the big ones are up to 500.000 people!). On the streets of Rio people in the greatest costumes are dancing and celebrating. Of course including a (bad quality) beer, cocktail or some kind of chemical mix drink in a plastic bag(tube?)…. In 35 degrees Celcius partying on the street is a very hard task you know?! We had a great impression of what to expect the next days. Later when we got in out hostel, we heared this specific bloco ended in a shooting with 1 man killed an 2 others wounded…. Welcome to Rio…

City of carnaval no.2: Salvador. Besides the bloco’s in Salvador there are two main areas for carnaval; the historical center of Pelourinho and the big street parade (parcours) of Barra/Onda. We wanted to start small and slow but we got off the bus at the wrong bus stop so we eventually started with the big street parade in Barra. Along the main avenue are huge tribunes/stages where you can have an exclusive party and good view over the parade for “only” € 150 per person per night… Or, like what we did, you can walk with one of the samba bands in the parade and experience it from street level. You feel the music and all the energy so intense, what a feeling! Everything in detail was taking care of, including the samba dancers in their tiny but beautiful outfits.

The next day we made it to Pelourinho; a smaller family friendly type of carnaval. The afro style women in their white dresses singing and dancing on the street in a more traditional way. Samba bands are also playing and the members and supporters of that samba school is walking and partying with them while walking the streets. Next to that there are concerts at every square you come, very lovely! We spotted ‘our’ samba band also in a crowded club; a girl told us they are famous here in Bahia province; lucky us! Walking back to the bus station we saw parts of the dark side of Brazil like the favelas, dangerous dark alleys, polices fights, drugs dealers… We made it safe to the bus because of our local friend and when we got off the bus, the bus made a U-turn so our stop was not on the usual route but know the driver knew we would be safe at home, so kind!

Third and final carnaval stop: Itacaré. This small coastal village breaths relaxation, has a good laid back vibe, colorful houses, happy people and amazing beaches. I already fell in love with this place by entering… The carnaval has a different style here; instead of samba they play fohol and reggae music, the carnaval is on the boulevard and beach, people are more relaxed and kind to eachother, very safe! Only at night there is carnaval because during the day people sleep their hangover off… The night starts with a band playing on a big truck, followed by a few cars with an incredible amount of speakers and decibels. The whole village walks with the parade or watches on the side and party hard. The rest of the night we enjoyed live performances of different bands at the beach, including the famous band of Salvador, lucky us. Dancing bare foot with a cocktail with our crazy Swiss and several Brazilian friends; our best carnaval night!

Many people warned us for the dangerous streets of Brazil, it sometimes is dangerous but you must know where to go and how to behave. We made some local friends and that is the best thing to do; they inform and warn you while you’re partying and they keep you away from the dark alleys, police fights, drunk/drugged people etc… The Brazileños are so super friendly and helpful that our experience is super and I wish I can come back for carnaval next year!