13.02.2010 - 15.02.2010 38 °C
So, after about 36 hours of flying and 10 hours of airport waiting. we finally arrived in Rio. The flight from Sydney was great, we were on the A380 and had 3 seats, so we both managed to sleep about 9 out of the 13 hours flight, but it was a different story on the American Airlines flights - both really old planes with poor service and 1 movieeach, which was hard especially on the 9 hour flight from Miami!
OUr hotel in Rio was old but quite nicely oldy-charactery and very clean, but in a little bit of a dodgy area, with a favela just up the road, but we managed to get about very easily.
Rio is a crazy place during Carnival and on our first evening we bumped into a few Blocos (which are Samba bands playing on the top of a truck made into a giant speaker system, with a few thousand followers, dancing in the street) really quite a spectacle! The atmosphere was fab and the people danced following the truck for hours.
The next day we had a good explore of the area and got up to the Christ the Redeemer hill, which has a fabulous 360 degree view of the city, but being the busiest time of the year it took over an hour of queuing for a ticket, which booked us onto a train nearly 2 hours later (grrrr) - a lot of waiting around in 37 degree heat! We wished we had succumbed to the taxi touts at the entrance. So, 3 hours later, 7 bottles of water, 2 ice lollies and a hot, grumpy Seth... we got to the top. The views were worth the wait and the photos are pretty cool.
That evening we set off for Carnival! hurray! We had booked tickets over the internet and they were delivered to our hotel, I was a little apprehensive, but it all turned out fine. The parade started at 9pm, and we were told to get there at 6pm to get a seat, basically our tickets just got us entry to a bleacher-type concrete slab , which held about 1700 people. We headed off to brave the Metro system as were surrounded by quite a few people in costume and very dancing and singing. When the train arrived, the dor
doors opened and it was like opening an oven!
The train was packed and ridiculously hot! All you could see were people dripping with sweat, it was gross! But we pushed our way on and coped with a 6-stop ride - yuk!! I don´t think I have ever been anywhere so hot!
When we finally made it to our concrete slab we actually managed to get quite good seats, not too high up and just across from the ´famous people´box (we spotted Gerald Butler at the airport and Madonna was there too - we have some fuzzy pics!). The concrete was so hot, you could feel it through our shoes and we were glad to have bought $1 cushions from a street seller.
The parade itself was amazing! There were 6 samba schools competing that night and we watched 5 of them. Each school had about 5000 people performing and took about 1 hour to pass through. It was a mix of Sydney´s Mardi Gras, NY´s Macy Christmas Parade and So You Think You Can Dance. Each school had a story and told it through floats and costumes, some were a lot more entertaining than others, and most didn´t really contain much samba dancing. The logistics of putting these shows together must be huuuge! Each school had about 200 directors making sure people were in time and getting it right. The costumes were awesome (can´t imagine dancing in them in 30 degrees heat!) and the floats were huge (and sometimes a bit wobbly to be dancing on). Each school had a song , that they sang over and over continually for the hour - they only had 2 verses and a chorus, but I still found the Portugese too hard to follow!
We left the revellery at 4am and headed back through the crowds to our hotel, exhausted!