In spring 2019, our travel consultant Tom revisited Brazil. And this time, new experiences were on the itinerary. Read about his experiences here.
It goes without saying that a visit to Brazil means a visit to beautiful Rio, which is overflowing with joie de vivre. I last visited Rio more than 10 years ago and I am finally back. As I have already seen the most famous sights, this time I wanted to go on three excursions where you get to see other contrasting sides of Rio.
I began with the “Behind the scenes at the carnival” excursion. We started at Boulevard Olympico, a central site during the Rio Olympics in 2016. The samba originates from here. The most impressive sight was the huge “We are one” graffiti wall, which is 190 metres long and 15.5 metres high and painted by the famous Brazilian graffiti artist KOBRA. It is the world’s largest graffiti mural, depicting five faces from the five continents.
Then there was an exciting walk in the bohemian Morro da Conceição neighbourhood with its narrow cobbled streets and beautiful houses, where the story of samba and the carnival was told. Next stop was Sambadrome, the vast carnival stadium with space for 80,000 spectators. This is where the big parades take place during the carnival. After all, it’s an important competition that takes place here, to find out which samba school has the best show in terms of its costumes, music, dance and the decoration of its float.
Finally, I get the chance to enter the most sacred of places of all: the Samba school’s workshop. An elderly man unlocks the padlock, and everything here is from this year’s carnival, when this samba school had COFFEE as its theme. So it’s OK to take pictures, and you gain a completely unique insight into the huge amount of work that goes into it. They are therefore already planning their next year’s parade.
Now it’s time for the next excursion, a “Bike ride in Rio”. I was a little apprehensive at the thought of the traffic in Rio, but I needn’t have worried as we cycled on bike paths all the way. Instead, the tour provided a fantastic picture of what a wonderful city Rio is and how much it has to offer.
We cycled along the Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches, which are always a hive of activity. We cycled away from the beaches to the Rodrigo de Freita Lagoon, where the Olympic Rowing Stadium is located, and you can see the famous Christ the Redeemer figure way up high. Then it was time to get off our bikes and walk around the beautiful green botanical garden. We then headed back to Copacabana, making a stop at Ipanema Beach at sunset. Not only did we see a lot, but we also learned a lot about the city of Rio and its exciting history. The excursion is suitable for everyone as there are no hills, and it takes place at a moderate pace😊
I’d really been looking forward to the last excursion of the day: “Discover Rio’s nightlife”. The Brazilians are renowned for their partying, so to experience it first hand can only be good.
I was picked up from the hotel at 9 pm and driven to Lapa, which is where the locals go. My bubbly guide Rita was quite something. After spending just two minutes in her company, I knew I was in for a fun evening. The first bar was a small bar with lots of outdoor seating. A cold capirinha went down a treat on this hot evening. Just watching the festive locals was an experience in itself. The next stop was the highlight of the trip – a local bar where a local samba band was playing. Such a great atmosphere, such musicality! The band just sat around a table with the rest of us standing around them. It made for such an intimate atmosphere, and even if you weren’t familiar with the music, you couldn’t help but wiggle your stiff hips! 😊
Three hours in the Rio nightlife was a fantastic experience, and I would never have found the three bars where the Brazilians let their hair down with their music and dance.
These three excursions are highly recommended and can be found our Brazil tours. You get to enjoy experiences that you don’t get to enjoy on the traditional excursions – and you’ll remember them for a long time to come.
Tom, Lamatours. co.uk