Carnival in Brazil is very special. Yes, we’ve heard that a thousand times. BUT if you haven’t experienced it for yourself, you cannot imagine what it means. In addition, I cannot show you how it was like with this article. It’s the atmosphere and the people around you which make every moment in the carnival very unique. So for every gringo who likes carnival and for those who haven’t been in Brazil for a carnival. I can only recommend booking tickets and accommodation in advance now for next year.
I didn’t know where to go to during the carnival and I waited pretty long until I decided to look for an accommodation in Recife.
At that moment most of the hostels were fully booked so I decided to look for a place on couchsurfing.org. I wrote only one request and had a place close to the center of Olinda. Still, it was not easy to find. Taxis have no GPS in Recife and my mobile internet was not working. (Because I had my Brazilian SIM inserted in slot 2 of my smartphone. If you do this you can only make calls and use SMS but the mobile internet will not work. At that time I didn’t know this so I could not use google maps. HOW STUPID is that??? It cost me R$ 30 because the taxi driver drove around like a blind chicken to find the place. So if your mobile internet is not working put the SIM you want to use in the first slot!).
The carnival in Recife is totally different from the one in Olinda. In Recife, it’s way more commercial with a lot of Camarones (expensive platforms with a nice view and air condition). There are big stages with nice concerts as well.
While in Olinda things are more traditional with Blocos (Carnival Bands) where you can follow them walking through the streets while dancing and drinking (unfortunately also peeing :-(). I really enjoyed being in a place where I could switch between different attractions.
I know in Europe Brazilian carnivals are famous, especially the carnival of Rio de Janeiro. I have never been to Rio for carnival so I cannot compare but I can recommend the carnival in Recife and Olinda for everyone who likes carnival. It’s big, unique and you would never regret to be there.
The Samba is not a big thing up in Recife they play Frevo which is closer to Jazz in my opinion but still it has a carnival sound that is danceable for every Gringo as well. For sure after a few Skol which is the most sold (but also one of the worst) beers in Brazil. During the carnival the local tourist information is well organised. You can find information desks everywhere with maps and information about all the events concerning the carnival in English.
Transportation, however, is the most difficult issue during the carnival. Buses drive somewhere and you don’t know where. The only one you can trust is the driver himself but in order to ask him, you have to stop every bus. At big bus stops, you can find advisers that you can ask as well. But don’t ask anybody else. Because they will tell you which bus is usually driving where you want to go but not which one is going there during the carnival. And also consider that people who don’t know it in Brazil tend to rather give you wrong information than telling you that they don’t know it. I already mention that issue in another article…
It’s difficult to describe the normal state of the cities because the carnival influenced almost everything. Streets were blocked and decorated, stands selling food and drinks everywhere and a lot of crazy people walking around. The buildings are like in other Brazilian cities. There are many skyscrapers, especially in Recife. But both cities have a nice old colonial centre where you can find beautiful buildings.
There are also some nice city beaches you can go to but because of the sharks, it is not recommended to go swimming further than a few meters from the beach. I actually preferred to just stay at the beach having a beer and eating fresh “Casta Nha” which are cashew nuts. I love them freshly roasted like how they sell them at the beach all over Brazil.
Beside the city beaches, you can also to go to Porto de Galinhas. It should be a 1.5-hour bus ride but when there is too much traffic especially during the carnival, it could take 3 hours. Well, it’s a beautiful beach town with a nice shopping street for souvenirs and the sea is shark free there. But somehow they don’t really know where to put their garbage.
I won’t talk about food here… because I did not really eat a lot of good things during the carnival. I think I mainly lived from skewers, water (during the day it can be crazy hot!!!) and Caipirinha on the street.
But please, whoever knows good restaurants or nice food you can have in Recife and Olinda write it down in the comments.
Thanks for reading Blogodiary 😉