Last week I had a week off because the Pink House was closed for carnival, so I took the opportunity to visit Salvador for the biggest carnival in the world! This is how my few days off went…
We stayed in an apartment for the week with a group (Nick, Bradley and Chris) from America. Nick lives in Sao Paolo and speaks fluent Portuguese which was invaluable at certain points in the week. We were also introduced to a few of his friends that were staying close by and also attending the carnival, Nick was a perfect host and really helped us to make the best out of our time in Salvador.
So whats carnival like…
From early afternoon blocos or what we know as floats begin to parade the streets on 3 different routes, they begin at different times throughout the afternoon into the evening and some parade until the early hours – 5am, we were staying on the main route – ‘Circuito Dodo’. The blocos are huge unlike and anything I’ve seen at the carnivals in England, each one has a live band or artist performing on them and can attract thousands of followers for the duration of the route which is around 5-6 hours. Some of the guys friends had an apartment overlooking the start of the parade, this was the view as one of the blocos set off….
This is the bloco we followed for 2 nights, one of our favorite artists from the carnival called ‘harmonia do samba.’
This was somewhat of a carnival anthem and was performed by various artists throughout the week with them all putting their own little twist on it.
When visiting carnival in Brazil you have three options:
As part of the Pipoca you simply dance on the streets with the crowd for free, which sounds fine but being amongst a crowd of thousands of people can be quite manic. “Pipoca” means popcorn which is a funny way to describe how a jumping crowd looks like when seeing from the distance, popping popcorn – its also quite an accurate description.
This is an option some people see as being quite dangerous due to the sheer number of people, at times you literally have no room to move meaning you just have to dance, jump and move with the crowd which whilst being quite boisterous gives you a feeling of the intense energy surging through the crowds. Its important to stay together in this section as you can easily lose people among the crowds. The plan was to experience the pipoca for the first night and join the bloco for the following nights but we enjoyed the lively and often manic atmosphere of the popcorn section so much that we decided to party like this for the whole carnival. The pipoca experience is not for the faint hearted as it can get pretty intense at times.
As part of the Camarote you can watch the Carnival from fixed locations along the route which are either temporary stands set up specifically for the carnival or balcony areas of nightclubs. The camarotes within clubs often have their own live entertainment with ticket prices varying dependent on what DJ and acts are performing. Tinie Tempah and Fat Boy Slim were performing in one of the Main Camarotes but finding tickets to the event proved pretty difficult and very expensive. If this is something you want to do when visiting carnival it is best to buy and plan ahead in advance to avoid paying inflated prices.
This is what the camarotes look like from the road….
As part of the Abada you dance and follow the blocos inside an area cordoned off with rope and marshalled by bodyguards. To be allowed in this area it is necessary to buy a pass which is a colorful t-shirt that identifies you as a member of the Bloco.
We decided against getting passes for the Abadas as they seemed quite expensive to us for what looked like a slightly diluted version of the atmosphere we’d experienced in the Pipoca but there is an obvious upside to being in a cordoned area that’s less crowded and has easy access to toilets.
This was by far the craziest, wildest and busiest party I’ve been to and it was a truly amazing to experience such an overwhelmingly energetic and positive atmosphere. As you party on the streets it’s hard not to notice the spectrum of people coming together to create what was for me an unforgetable experience – It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, your age or your sexuality – carnival is for everyone. Total strangers from all over the world come together all for one purposes: to party and celebrate Brazilian culture. This ranks as one of the best experiences of my life and is something I’d definitely recommend to anyone who likes to party.
All the partying demanded a lil down time and relaxation so during the daytime we took the opportunity to enjoy some of the beaches that surround Salvador, we also travelled to the nearby Arembepe which is a quaint little village with some stunning beaches. Here are a few pictures….
Once again thanks for checking out my blog and be sure to check back and read ‘Week 3 at the Pink House’ which will be up real soon…