Rio de Janeiro and Carnival

Apr 22, 2015

When we booked tickets to Rio I envisioned landing in a beautiful city with perfect beaches and world-renowned partying. Rio did not disappoint.

Photo_Teague_Rio-1.jpgI was quite mesmerized by Rio, primarily because of its unbelievable landscape. The city is massive and it almost appears to be laid upon the twisting and mountainous coastline like a big blanket. The juxtaposition of urban jungle and real jungle is very impressive. Seen from the air or any of the city’s fantastic landmark lookout points you are treated to some truly fantastic views. Beautiful water, mountain ranges, jungle forests, and monolithic rock formations jutting out of the ocean all appear utterly out of place compared to the high-rise buildings and luxury condos. I often found myself thinking “with this crazy landscape, why the hell is this city here?”

Given that we were visiting during Carnival, we were of course paying crazy prices for just about everything but sometimes you just need to pay-up. I would say that this time it was totally worth it. We had a great location close to the iconic beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana as well the main landmarks, Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain. The hostel itself was nothing particularly memorable but it served our needs.

Carnival was in full swing when we arrived and while we didn’t have the money to see any of the massive parades, we did get to enjoy some HUGE parties. The parties are basically outdoor concerts/block parties known as “Blocos.” They usually have music, smaller parades, and thousands of people fueling the party vibe with street food and booz. The party I enjoyed most was actually quite small but the music was excellent. It was a group of musicians playing samba beats in a small square. People were just hanging around drinking beer and enjoying the tunes trying to fight off the oppressive heat and humidity. I wish we could have found a little table to sit at and drink ice-cold Brahma, Brazil’s most popular go-to beer.


The biggest party we went to was unbelievably large with an estimated crowd of one-hundred and twenty thousand. It was a Sergeant Pepper themed concert on a hot and humid day. Getting there involved a subway ride that started out fairly quiet but grew more raucous as we approached the party. When we exited the train we found ourselves in a completely mobbed subway station surrounded by party goers. When I say “mobbed” I mean that there wasn’t even room to lift your arms above your head. It was stiflingly hot and the sweat poured from our heads as we slowly shuffled to the exit. It probably took us 15 minutes to shuffle and shove our way to the exit some 200 meters away. When we finally made it outside, the stale air subsided but the heat and humidity didn’t. Luckily there were cold beers aplenty to help us cool down. We hung around for a bit near the station getting our bearings and hopelessly searching for some friends we planned to meet up with and then decided we should try to wade through the crowd and get as close to the stage as we could. It took some time and was often pretty frustrating but when we finally arrived we were rewarded with a good spot surrounded by beer vendors. The party went on for hours and by the end, we were sufficiently intoxicated and just about all partied out.

Photo_Teague_Rio-4.jpgThe rest of our time in Rio was a little more low-key. We wandered to some other parties and enjoyed the beaches but didn’t stay out until all hours of the night partying. Matt and Elissa ventured out one evening on the last day of Carnival and enjoyed it quite a bit but Jen and I were quite partied out.

Once Carnival concluded, we took in the iconic sights of Rio and made plans to head to Sao Paolo. It was an easy journey and gave us sometime to catch up on a little sleep.

In summary, Rio was a lot of fun and Carnival lived up to the hype. I doubt I’ll ever do it again (Rio during Carnival) because of the high cost but if I certainly recommend visiting the Carnival capital of the world at least once in your life. Be prepared for some crazy heat and humidity and don’t stay anywhere that doesn’t have AC.

PS. There are photos from the HUGE Bloco I mentioned but they were taken on desposible cameras and have not been developed. Hopefully we'll find some quality photos on there when we get home.


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