Rio Carnaval!

 

THE GREATEST AND MOST FABULOUS PARTY IN THE WORLD!


It definitely is!!!

And that is my testament, as someone who came from a country of colorful and vibrant festivals--all year long. 

As Brazil being my new home address, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to experience this grandest festival!

The best part of celebrating the carnaval while living in Brazil is that, it's a week-long NATIONAL HOLIDAY!!!

How awesome is that?!? The country is technically giving you no excuse not to go and party!!!


WHAT IS CARNAVAL? (From wikipedia.org)

The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revelers, floats, and adornments from numerous samba schools which are located in Rio (more than 200 approximately, divided into 5 leagues/ divisions). A samba school is composed of a collaboration of local neighbors that want to attend carnival together, with some kind of regional, geographical common background.


WHEN IS CARNAVAL?

It is a week before the start of Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday. There is no religious connection with the celebration. It is actually believed to be the time to do whatever "crazy" things you wanted to do before Lent. Like you're given a pass to make sins during this week.


HOW CRAZY IS CARNAVAL?

There are street parties on every side and corner of the streets, called samba blocos. As party goers, you can dress up! Think of Halloween costume meets the beach weather. The skimpier, the better! Haha. 


WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF RIO CARNAVAL?

The energy! The samba music! The street parties organized by the local Brazilians! It is literally the biggest party in the world. And most of all, the fabulous parade presentations of samba schools in Sambódromo!


If I have to compare it to a festival back in the Philippines, it's the combination of Dinagyang and Ati-Atihan Festivals--- but like, 10 times more with people and party energy!


If you're into parties, dressing up, and just enjoy life to the fullest--- come to Brazil during the carnaval. You'll be rejuvenated like no other.

For more things to see and do in Rio de Janeiro---check out our DIY Backpacking Guide!


Have you experienced a festival like this?

Is Rio Carnaval on your bucket list?

Ouro Preto, Brazil

 

What's the charm of this place?


Ouro Preto  is a hilly town located in the state of Minas Gerais in the southeast of Brazil. The name if translated is, "Black Gold" because the town was once surrounded with gold mines that produced gold. It is also one of Brazil's best preserved colonial towns and a UNESCO world heritage site.

This trip was an unplanned solo trip during my holidays on Brazil's National Day. This is perhaps the best thing about living and working in this country because I get to enjoy plenty of holidays! ThankyouBrazil! 

From my adopted city, Vitoria, I took a night bus that took about eight hours to get to the bus station of Ouro Preto. (R$200 round trip) 

I found a travel agency that arranged everything for me because I still have to hone my language skills in Portuguese. They also arranged my hotel which was conveniently located right outside the bus station or the rodoviária on the northwestern edge of town.

Boroni Palace Hotel was my home away from home and I did love staying there! (R$850 for 5 nights stay including breakfast).

This was my view from my hotel room of the bus station.

The town's main tourist attractions are the Baroque style churches and houses that has truly made me--- mesmerized! Thus, I called this place, majestic!

I barely read my guidebook about Ouro Preto because I was ready to be awed! And just take it as it is. I was forewarned though-- to be extra careful, since it was my first solo trip in Brazilian soil.


I am happy to report that the town is extremely safe for tourists and I had never once felt in danger! Yes, I made it home in one piece! ;)


Since the town is very steeply and have cobbled streets, you need to arm yourself with the most comfortable pairs of footwear! I on the otherhand, is very much comfortable walking in my flip-flops all day long! These pairs of Havaianas was my best friend! I certainly did A LOT of walking. I can't remember when was the last time I did walk like that.

So let me introduce you to the churches around the town. As a Catholic, this place was certainly jaw dropping! I had goosebumps whenever I entered each of them. There are about 10 churches around Ouro Preto and I had my early Visita Iglesia in some of them....


Disclaimer: All indoor pictures were "subtly" taken by me because it's not allowed to really take pictures.


Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo

The Rococo font (in the sacristy), door-case, the altars, and the statue of Santa Helena in this church are all attributed to Aleijadinho-- one of Brazil's most highly-regarded artists. He intricately carved the stones that resulted to such magnificent beauty.

In English, this is the Church of Mount Carmel. Just look at the details of the paintings on the ceiling of the church. How beautiful! The church has undergone numerous conservation and restoration works until 1965. (Entrance fee R$3.00)


Igreja de São Francisco de Assis

The church of St. Francis de Assisi is one of Latin America' most important Rococo buildings. The church combines the finest workw of Aleijadinho and Mestre Athayde-- another Brazilian painter, sculptor, gilder and teacher. My favorite one among all the churches, I've visited! (Entrance fee R$10.00)

Here's a closer look at the façade of the St. Francis de Assisi church. The great carvings, especially the upper one that shows St. Francis receiving the stigmata is believed to have been Aleijadinho's first great carvings amongst the many he created throughout the country.


Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Pilar

The Church of Our Lady of Pilar is the oldest church in the town was designed by one of Aleijadinho's mentors and completed in 1731 to replace the original main church. Despite the rather stark outward appearance, the interior glistens with almost 1000 pounds of gold and almost 900 pounds of silver. The carvings are all breathtaking! (Entrance fee R$10.00)


Igreja São Francisco de Paula

The church of San Francisco de Paula was completed in the 1898, this church took a whooping 94 years to complete. Inside are Aleijadinho's sculpture of the saint after which it is names, as well as a life-size sculpture of the Last Supper.

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This is the church closest to my hotel and where I attended a Sunday mass. (Entrance fee is free but only opens on Sunday.)


Igreja Nossa Senhora das Mercês e Misericórdia

Also known as the Church of Our Lady of Mercy. It was built between 1771 and 1793.


Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Conceição

The church of Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion is famous for its eight lavishly decorated altars. The cemetery here has the grave of Aleijadinho, and the sacristy houses a museum dedicated to him. Built in 1727. (Closed for renovations.)


Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário

*The Church of Our Lady of Rosary was built in 1785 with slave labor. Slaves were forbidden to worship at any other church. The church has a unique shape, with a contour formed by three convergent ovals. (Closed on Mondays)


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This town attracts more tourists during Holy Week or Semana Santa. I was totally in love of the place that I don't mind going back-- hopefully I can bring my parents who are hardcore Catholics! ;)

*Source Infos: Wikitravel.com and DK Eyewitness Brazil Guidebook.


Have you been to a town with so many churches?

Vitória, Espirito Santo

 

Would you like to visit me here?


For a small-town girl like me, I am still, in awe that I always end up in big cities--- huge even, where big things happen! I call myself-- a former Beijinger, a brief New Yorker, and now an adopted Brazilian!

As for my new life in Brazil, allow me to introduce to you the lesser known city and state of Brazil-- Vitória, Espirito Santo which is currently my newest adopted city.


Vitória is the capital city of the state of Espirito Santo. Located in the southeast part of Brazil, which is an hour plane ride or 9-hour bus ride from Rio de Janeiro.


Wikipedia.com: This city was rated as the second Brazilian capital with the best quality of life, according to research institution at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation. This same research institution also claims that Vitoria is the 9th best city in Brazil to work. The capita income among the capitals of Brazil. In 1998, the United Nations rated Vitória as the fourth best state capital in Brazil to live in, rating cities on health, education, and social improvement projects. 

It has also the largest port in handling a ton in Brazil.


But more than those facts. These are the 10 things I love about my new home city:


1. The magnificent view of sunrise every morning-- from my flat.

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2. While my night view is also competing for that top spot. ;)

 

3. The beaches that made it a perfect place to be! While having ice cream or fresh coconut juice.

 

4. The scenery just reminds me so much of home. Coconuts, anyone?! :) 

 

5. Their food is a delight to my stomach. ;) I LOVE IT! Damn, the Brazilian BBQs are the B-O-M-B!

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6. My choices of weekend activities vary from walking, swimming, paddle surfing, and kayaking!

 

7. The architectural and historical buildings and churches around the city, made it fabulous. While the Favelas contributed to the beauty and character of Vitória, too.

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8. What can I say about the people? They are the most beautiful! Literally! And the most chilled individuals. They are ever so friendly, helpful, and accommodating. In many ways, we Filipinos are like them. Prayerful even. 

 

9. The night life scene and party goers look like this...

 

10. I can of course tell you the bad things. But why should I?!-- when there are so many beautiful and positive things to say about Brazil, moreover about Vitória. More than anything, by focusing on the better things, it will even change our mindset about a place, a country, a city, and its people. In my case, I'm jumping high in such joyous vibe just to be here. Thankyouverymuch! :)


Last August, I finally hosted a friend in my flat. My Chinese friend, Chris, whom I met in Beijing through Couchsurfing meetings, and now lives in Sao Paulo-- came to visit me here in Vitoria for a weekend. He brought me so many goodies and we cooked everything that I missed from China.

So I'm still open to hosting friends and families here until December 2017. Just bring me goodies and cook me comfort food. ;)

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What do you love about your city where you live now?