Carnival After Dark

22 Feb

After a blissful day spent laying out in the comfortable lounge chairs on the hotel’s private beach and by the pool and alternating between ocean and pool dips to cool off we were ready for a night of carnival.

Tal and Jonny bought matching light-up devil horns from a street vendor while I chose a light-up hot pink polka-dotted Minnie Mouse bow as my nighttime carnival flare. J.J. had left the hotel sporting the bright orange fedora he’d been given as carnival swag the day before.

We headed out to Copacabana Beach first by taking the bus, and got out to basically do what we’d done the day before only at night. We danced in the streets to the upbeat music being played by the live bands – one on every street, drank beer sold out of the foam coolers – 2 beers for $5 BRL (not without first wiping the top of the can – I don’t know where that ice is from!) and ate street food instead of dinner at a restaurant (each thing costing under $5 BRL).

Even though the party was still going strong in Copacabana we made our way to the metro where we subwayed up to the Sambadrome to see what was happening outside of the big competition. On the way there, Jonny made enemies with one of the ladies en route to dance in the parade. She was wearing her elaborate costume and Jonny kept trying to offer her his light up devil horn headband to wear in the parade. She didn’t speak English and Jonny’s persistence didn’t win her over.

Outside the metro we did as our concierge had suggested: follow the crowd. We crossed into the area designated for those looking to join in the street partying outside the Sambadrome. Unfortunately we didn’t have tickets to go inside and watch the competition as the hotel had only 2 for sale at $600 (BRL) each and they were completely sold out online. So street partying it was!

It was actually a pretty cool set up, with a fence separating the street party from where the dancers lined up to begin their show inside the Sambadrome so we were able to see a lot of the costumes and floats before their performance. The samba schools also had to exit the Sambadrome after their performance through the street party so we got an up close view of a number of the costumes (the boys liked it because they got to see a few nearly bare Brazilian bums, insisting of course that they weren’t looking).

This street party is where J.J., Tal and Jonny discovered cheese on a stick which is essentially liquid dough poured on a grill, a bunch of cheese put on top of that, more liquid dough and fried. As someone who doesn’t like cheese this didn’t appeal to me at all but they swear it was delicious. You could also have them add bacon, oregano, etc. to your grilled cheese. (Note: grilled cheese here is fried cheese on a stick, not cheese between 2 pieces of bread like your mum used to make.)

A few hours later we headed back to the metro station where we took a cab back to our hotel from there – everyone will tell you, carnival or not, don’t walk to and from your destination at night because it can be so dangerous. For $15 BRL, I’ll take safety.

We fell into a cool comfortable sleep on our cloud-like beds at the Sheraton after a memorable carnival evening…

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