Other travellers scared us a little with stories of unsafe encounters in Rio. On arriving, we drove past some of the rough parts of the city, also known as favelas. There is no denying that Rio has the wealthiest of destinations bordered with incredible poverty. I think this is what makes Rio. Exploring the crowded favelas and the glammed up beaches, we loved Rio and especially in the middle of February. Yep, we were crazy enough to spend nearly two weeks through the Carnival madness but we had the BEST TIME!

IPANEMA / DAYS ONE to SEVEN / We spent a week in a beautiful little Airbnb at the Copacabana end of Ipanema. From here, we explored the neighbourhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. It was a fabulous spot to base ourselves. We were surrounded by great food spots, shopping, the beach and loads of people!

We spent an afternoon watching the sunset at Sugar Loaf, a definite must do when visiting Rio. A visit to Jardim Botânico is also a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon. We wandered through the gardens and loved the rows upon rows of palm trees. We also attempted to go to Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), however, mother nature proved this to be a difficult task as we were not afforded a cloudless day up on the mountain and so abandoned our attempt. We walked along the esplanade at Ipanema each day, watching beach games, people exercising and the many roller bladers. Ipanema has such a great vibe, full of sun, surf and sweat, an AMAZING place to spend our time.

SANTA TERESA / DAYS EIGHT to ELEVEN / We spent four nights in the neighbourhood of Santa Tersea throughout the loco time of Carnival. Santa Terê Hostel was an awesome base to access the many many ‘BLOCOS’. Each day, a new outfit, a new bloco to find and new friends. If you aren’t in costume as you’re walking down the streets, you look out of place. EVERYONE is in such good spirits, the young, the old, the gringos, it’s such a special time. Trying to provide others with a perspective of Carnival is so difficult. It feels like you’re at a music festival like Splendour, except the whole city is the festival. All are in costume and all are out to have an unforgettable time. On our last day of Carnival we had an awesome time at a Beatles style bloco. Imagine classic Beatles tunes paired with traditional Brazilian percussion instruments. Each song was interpreted with arrangements of samba, march, maracatu and other Brazilian rhythms. The group named ‘Sargento Pimenta’ were dressed in Sargent Pepper style outfits, with special Carnival twists. That night, we were fortunate enough to have tickets to the ‘Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí’. Kicking off at around 11pm and dancing into the early hours of the morning, it is a spectacle not to be missed. Each samba school has a pre-set amount of time (60 minutes) to parade from one end of the Sambadrome to the other with all its thousands of dancers, its drum section, and a number of floats. Each school has its own unique qualities according to its own traditions. Do not even consider visiting Rio during Carnival and not scoring a ticket to the Sambadrome. It is a MUST! We were absolutely exhausted after our four days of partying, each day so different but so memorable! The bright colours, tambourines, glitter and good vibes will forever me remembered.

Much love, Laura xx


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