Saturday, March 12, 2011

Carnival marathon in Brazil

Carnival in Salvador.
I arrived to Brazil completely not prepared. I bought the flight ticket three days before the flight, but I spent this time sightseeing Spanish cities. I knew that I would be in Brazil just one day before the carnival. My flight landed in Salvador. I have heard about great carnival places: Rio, Recife (and neighboring Olinda) and Salvador. I decided to try to check them out somehow, but I did not had any accommodation organized in any of those places and the carnival time is the most busiest time...

Small girl planned to join carnival
with her doll.
I managed to find accommodation for the first night in the dorm in Salvador, but from the next night everything was booked months in advance. I sent some last minutes couch request (on but all available couches were also booked long in advance. So I decided to get the night bus ticket from Salvador to Recife but first I wanted to party in Salvador for 30h. I left my luggage at the hostel and I joined the carnival.

In Salvador I met two Polish sisters: Karolina and Marta and Ghislenne from Cameroon. With them we joined the carnival in the rhythm of Samba.

Women in typical Salvador dress.
In Salvador (Pelourinho) there is a huge parade of tracks playing different kind of Samba music and crowds are following the tracks. According to the Guinness Book carnival in Salvador is the biggest street party on our planet. There are two ways to join the party. One can buy rather expensive ticket to follow a chosen truck. It has a huge advantage that this is much safer. Another option is to follow different trucks and being outside the roped and secured area. This way enables to change music from different tracks. In the crowd you might be sure, that all your pockets would be checked by pickpocket, but it is not a problem if there are empty. I had chosen this other way since I even would not know which truck to choose to follow.

Sun set in Recife.
I guess this was the first time that I joined the street party for so long - and it was really great, especially with the great company. I danced a lot, enjoyed beautiful and very fast sun rise. Around 7 clock in the morning one huge truck was fishing planing music and around this truck there were 30-40 grandmothers still dancing.... some of them seemed to be very, very tired. They tired wrinkles looked gorgeous in the early morning light. It was worth to keep on dancing to see it.

In Salvador I was initially surprise with the number of police force. Those guys were on every corner. But I kind of appriciate they presence when I have seen the first fight which started few meters from me. Luckily the police appeared very fast. Actually the second fight that I noticed seemed to be much more serious. Since I noticed bright and sharp objects in the hands of some fighting guys. The fight last only few seconds, than everyone involved disappear before the police arrived.
Luckily I did not get involved anyhow in those incidents.

After 30h of carnival in Salvador and short refreshing swim in the sea, we jumped to the night bus and enjoy the sleep in seriously the most comfortable bus I have ever seen. The distances between the chairs were enormous. The only problem was low temperature. It was really freezing.

Carnival in Recife looks different. There are several stages located in different parts of the city. But the most interesting music is played by small orchestra in different corners of the old city. The first night we joined the orchestra that consist only from few drums and few trumpets, and it was amazing. The second evening the old city was full with small orchestra walking in different direction. One could join one for ten minutes, than follow the other for the next half an hour until you here something interesting in the different corner of the city. Incredible.

One of the most famous carnival is located in an small and old city Olinda which is only few kilometers from the Salvador downtown. We went there for few hours during the day. It was a beautiful place, but simply too crowded. People were very squeezed and there was not enough place for dancing.

Recife seemed to be much more safer than Salvador. I have seen also two fights but there were very small, short and much calmer than the ones in Salvador without any sharp tools.

After 40h of parting in Recife with a break for very short power nap, I took a night plane to Rio de Janeiro. I came to the airport, check in, found my gate and took a nap. Than someone woke me up and I walk to the plain where I slept to whole way. I do not remember the moment of landing or starting. In Rio I am staying with Livia, Hugo and Magno, my friends from Dresden.

First 24h in Rio I used to recover after the marathon. Next days we joined the carnival in Rio, dance a bit Samba here but to a different type of the music. In Rio I have seen only one fight and it was a "cat fight". Apparently in Rio noon is caring knives on the street. The really bad guys are carrying guns.... I hope not to come across people like this.

I loved the atmosphere during the carnival. Very cheerful people. People in different ages were dancing together. Small children as well as very old people (mixture like this especially in Recife). I had the feeling that there is less drunk people than it would be during the event like this in Europe. It is true that during one week of Carnival I have seen more street fights that I have seen in my life, but luckily this did not spoil the experience.

All four Carnivals (Salvador, Recife, Olinda, Rio) had its own beauty and for sure I would like to join the Brazilian carnival in future. Maybe next year. If I have to choose my favorite place, this would be Recife. It was not too crowded, located in beautiful old town, amazing variety of music and I think together with Olinda it was the safest place. Anyone else joining me?

There is not to many photos from carnival. I had a choice, either to take few photos and lose my camera or having fun and try to remember most photogenic moments on my personal hard drive. I have chosen this second option.


  1. Wonderful pictures my friend, you make me dreaming.

  2. I've been following your blog for a while now and must say your pics should be shown in NG!

  3. Hey Miko!
    Couldn't find your email so i write here... I'm staying with Ratna now, in Samosir and she told me about you and that you have been traveling around North Sumatra. I will have few more weeks so i wonder if you can give me tips where to go. Will check more on your blog about Sumatra.
    Take care and safe travel!
    my mail: