oktapodi is ready to samba
It's official. We're in that pre-trip zone of chaos where piles of random items litter the living room and to-do lists rule the day. On Wednesday we're heading down to Brazil for 11 days of samba, sun, and carnivaliciousness.
We'll spend the bulk of our time in Rio, soaking up the Carnival vibe. Number one question so far: are you staying at a Marriott? Hah, no. It's notoriously hard to get the associate rate at the JW (the only Marriott hotel in town) and even moreso during the most popular week of the year. So we have a room at one of Brazil's "motels," which seem somewhat akin to Japan's love hotels, normally booked by the hour but surprisingly affordable if you stay overnight or for a week at a time. And of course we love the cheese factor... mirrors on the ceilings? Bring it! The location can't be beat, there's free parking and free wifi, and the price was right. We don't intend to spend much time in the hotel anyway.
Mangueira Samba School, photo by RCS Travel & Tourism
We decided to get tickets to one of the more traditional Carnival balls, the Mangueira Ball at Rio Scala. Mangueira is one of the oldest samba schools in Rio, and this ball is a chance to party the night away with its drummers, principal samba dancers and the flag bearer and her escort. As the CVB site says, "It is a true and real samba night; you can dance all night or just watch and enjoy the crowd." Count me in!
Sunday night we have tickets to watch some of the main parades in the Sambodromo. Figuring out which seats to book was by far the most complicated part of our itinerary! Ticket prices range from very affordable grandstand free seating to luxury VIP box seats. We opted for something in the middle, reserved seats on the floor. But even that was a complicated choice, as some sectors are more desirable than others because the judges are in a certain area and that's where the dancers do their best to impress. We made what we thought was a reasonable choice, but really it was more like a best guess. I have a feeling we're going to have fun no matter what.
diving in Arraial do Cabo, photo by Keidy Beranger
Besides the Carnival festivities, the other highlight of the trip will be a scuba excursion to Arraial do Cabo, a site that boasts the best diving on the southern coast of Brazil. This part is a gift from my siblings, who were in cahoots with Mark on the whole birthday surprise. (Have I mentioned lately that I have the best family in the world?) They found us a really cool hotel and an awesome dive shop. The beachy goodness should be a nice respite from the insanity of the city.
There are plenty of other options in the mix -- I'm dying to go tandem hang gliding! -- that we'll figure out when we're there. We're renting a car, which gives us some flexibility on day trips. But the main idea is to live it up carioca-style in one of the most beautiful cities in the world during one of the biggest parties on the planet. Follow along with our posts in the "Brazil" category!