The end of 2017 and the start of 2018 saw a fair bit of travel for me, but I thought I would take the time to tell you a little bit about my time in Rio de Janeiro recently.
In February I travelled to Brazil to experience the infamous Carnaval, but did not think I would be completely taken by the beauty of the city, the beaches and the topography. The city is like a ball of energy just waiting to explode, and the people are bursting with excitement. And boy do they know how to party!
Carnaval is a three day extravaganza which is held within the purpose-built Sambadrome. This 1km length, linear stadium was designed by famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1983 and completed in 1984. It’s here where more than 50 samba schools compete for the title of best school in Rio. Each school consists of more than 3000 dancers and their performance alone takes almost 1 hour to complete the entire length of the Sambadrome. The night kicks off at 10pm and ends at 6am, with almost 100,000 spectators dancing , chanting and cheering the entire time. The vibe was absolutely electric and unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
Old Rio is still reminiscent of the Portuguese colonial days and has a lot of charm, but the beach side areas of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon is where the action is at. With an array of Samba bars, restaurants and retail stores to inspire the most enthused tourist, these suburbs illustrate the importance of Rio’s beach culture.
Brazilian style is very relaxed. Most people dress for comfort but there is definitely an elegance in their relaxed beach style. Most people go straight from the beach to dinner and then a bar, so for men shorts, fashion tees and shirting is the best options. In the more hip areas of Ipanema and Leblon, men dress in loafers, tailored shorts and lightweight blazers. Brazilians love colour and bold prints, particularly tropical patterns, they mostly have the tan and skin tone to make this look effortless.
I had the pleasure of spending some time at the amazing Belmond Copacabana Palace, a Rio institution since its establishment in 1923. The hotel is located right in the middle of Copacabana and has iconic views that stretch out the entire length of the beach front. The hotel is also famed for having hosted guests such as Prince Charles, The Rolling Stones, Fred Astaire, Madonna and Michael Jackson to name a few.
The Copocabana Palace is also known for its fine dining restaurants and cocktail bars, in particular their beautiful pool side bar, where they also host one of Rio’s most exclusive and best Carnaval parties.
I’m far from being a Carioca (the term used for a local), but after two weeks in Rio, taking in the sites and trying to catch everything Rio threw at me, its safe to say I let in Rio in and I did not break. Looking forward to discovering more of this beautiful country.