Three cruise ships with 10,000 passengers arrived in Salvador today, part of a total 15,000 tourists arriving for Carnival celebrations at the Salvador port. About 526,000 tourists were expected in Salvador this Carnival season. It is estimated they would spend R$1 billion.
The MSC Orchestra was the first to arrive this morning. Other ships which made Salvador their port of call on Fat Tuesday were the Sovereign of the Seas and the Costa Fascinosa.
The group welcoming tourists included baianas in traditional attire, a band, and even Bahia's newly appointed Tourism Secretary, Pedro Galvão, who succeeded Domingos Leonelli last January 13.
According to Bahia's Tourism Secretariat, 87% of the tourists in Salvador for Carnival are from Brazil, especially from Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Distrito Federal and Sergipe. International visitors come mainly from Argentina, the US, Italy, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
Salvador is still going to host some great events in its post-Carnival season, for example the Ilê Aiyê Ressaca, ("Hangover", or post-Carnival party) this weekend at the world-famous bloco afro's headquarters.
Fundição Progresso, one of Rio's top cultural venues, hosts stellar musical events year round, and greatly contributes to the quality of Carnival in Rio with its annual marchinha contest and several shows and parties. Tonight, as a Carnival ball takes place at their headquarters (a former foundry, or fundição), there's free Carnival at the stage they set up for the festivities at Praça Tiradentes in central Rio.
Besides groups formed in their own musical workshops - Tum Tá Que Tá, Afluente do Céu and Bloco d'O Passo na Rua - the stage is featuring some of the top blocos in Rio de Janeiro Carnival. The performances opened yesterday and continue through Fat Tuesday. Rio Maracatu and Casuarina performed after Tum Tá Que Tá last night: tonight, Toca Rauuul, a Carnival bloco which celebrates the music of Raul Seixas, will start, followed by the great singers Teresa Cristina and Moyseis Marques, who many travelers probably know from Lapa nights.
Tomorrow, Afluente do Céu choir will open the stage with their unique take on marchinhas and other Carnival classics. Next, Banda Fundição, created specially for Fundição's first marchinha contest in 2006, will play hits from the constest as well as Carmen Miranda, Braguinha, Emilinha Borba, Chiquinha Gonzaga, João Roberto Kelly, Lamartine Babo and Braguinha classics. Cordão do Boitatá (feat. Luiza Dionísio and Aurea Martins) will close, with a version of their own street Carnival party - a great opportunity if you couldn't be there for it in pre-Carnival or this morning.
On Fat Tuesday, Bloco d'O Passo na Rua will debut in Rio Carnival and get everyone dancing. Orquestra Popular Céu na Terra will be next, bringing their bright costumes, puppets, percussion, acoustic guitars and brass instruments, with vocals by Bianca Leão and Alan Rocha. The stage season's will close with a Banga! If you missed the amazing Bangalafumenga this morning, here's one more chance to party with them before Carnival is over.
Fundição Progresso - Rio Marchinhas
Praça Tiradentes at 5 p.m. through Fat Tuesday
Photo of courtesy of Fundição Progresso
You've arrived in Rio for Carnival and suddenly you realize that you really, really want to wear a costume to the bloco parades. You sure didn't plan ahead like these guys in the Suvaco do Cristo pre-Carnival parade a few days ago. If you're with friends or family, you might have decided it would be cool to dress up with a theme.
You might be hoping to buy a cute, fun ready-to-wear something. Some blocos, such as Cordão do Boitatá, which paraded in pre-Carnival and will have its big Carnival party this Sunday at 9 a.m. at Praça XV (Centro), are big on dressing up.
You bet revelers who "went out" (paraded, in bloco lingo) with Desliga da Justiça, which is exclusively pre-Carnival, have saved their costumes for one of the 400+ street parades which will take place this Carnival and post-Carnival in Rio.
Simpatia é Quase Amor will be back in Ipanema this Sunday at 4 p.m. Here's some inspiration from their pre-Carnival parade.
The primal rescue center for last-minute Carnival shopping in Rio is Saara, where stores selling costumes and accessories till about lunch time tomorrow include Buenas Festas (till 1) and Babado da Folia (till 2).
Hopefully Divinas Axilas (www.facebook.com/AtelieDivinasAxilas), Suvaco do Cristo-supported NGO, will open their shop tomorrow in Botafogo. I couldn't call them to confirm early enough today. On their Facebook page, you can see a photo of the Frida Kahlo and mariachi costumes their artists Tiago Luna and Cris Dutra created for Suvaco's pre-Carnival parade. Beautiful!
Face painting is an easy way to change your looks for your street Carnival experience.
No costume? No worries. Go as yourself. Just carry the bare essentials (I recommend leaving your passport and credit cards in the hotel's safe deposit box and bringing just another form of ID, such as your driver's license, and cash). And have a blast!
Find Your Bloco:
- The Official 2014 Rio de Janeiro Carnival Guide
- Rio Street Carnival 2014 by Agenda Samba e Choro - To the left of their homepage, find listings of blocos by date ("Ver por data"), neighborhood ("Ver por bairro") and name ("Ver por nome")
All photos courtesy of Riotur/ Rio de Janeiro Tourism Secretariat. View more photos of Rio Carnival 2014, often updated in real time, on their official Flickr.
Many savvy Brazil beach lovers have already discovered the wonders of Morro de São Paulo and Boipeba. Beauty everywhere, laid-back people watching, beach hopping, bar hopping: there's enough to keep you enthralled for many seasons in a row.
What still deserves and quietly awaits more attention is the historic center of Cairu, the archipelago town of which Morro and Boipeba are districts. Make time in your explorations of lovely Bahia's Dende Coast for the old, subdued streets of this area on Cairu Island with history dating back to the 16th century. The main attraction, undoubtedly, is the St. Anthony Church and Convent (photo above).
Among its treasures is this crucifix in tile inside the cloister.
Central Cairu is on my mind often when I think of places with potential for tourism. There are colonial houses begging to be turned into lovely pousadas and restaurants. You will be hearing more about the traditions and celebrations in the historic area here on About.com Brazil Travel.
Today, I've been thinking about Cairu even more than usual because one year ago, on February 26, Friar Lucas Dolle, head priest at St. Anthony's, died in a car crash at the age of 83. A beloved spiritual leader to his community, German Friar Dolle had more than 50 years of ministry in Brazil and was deeply committed to the preservation of the St. Anthony Church and Convent. He kindly guided us journalists on a press trip to Cairu around the magnificent complex and shared a wealth of information about it with us a few months before he passed away. The church and convent are now under the guidance of Friar Augusto Dirksmeyer and Friar Hilton Francisco da Cruz Botelho. Friar Hilton worked with Friar Dolle - I didn't get a chance to meet him, but I understand he's the one who takes care of that bounty of lush plants and flowers in the inner courtyard.
Another beautiful church to visit in Cairu is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, which also has the best sea views.
Cairu holds its cultural traditions dearly. One of them is the coronation of Afro-Brazilian royals every Epiphany, a custom dating to colonial times under the Portuguese, tied to e 15th-century episode of resistance to the colonizers in Congo history and a symbolic affirmation of Afro-Brazilian heritage and pride.
The city's patron saint is St. Benedict, and every January there is a great celebration in his honor.
During Carnival and post-Carnival, however, the core of the action is on neighboring Tinharé Island. This year, Carnagamboa (March 1 to 4), the festivities in Gamboa, will feature four bands every night. And Morro will be crowded with tourists during its famous Ressaca ("Hangover"), or post-Carnival holiday.
Belô is so very ready for Carnival. Especially because it's had a busy warm-up season, with about 40 blocos parading in nearly 30 neighborhoods this sunny weekend. During Carnival (March 1-4), the city estimates about 200 blocos will parade in the streets. Anyone can join in.
Revelers in costume (including many men in drag) enthusiastically joined in the pre-Carnival fun, which, like elsewhere in Brazil, featured groups with names rich in idioms, cultural references and risqué double meanings. BH even has a Vovó Zona bloco, as in the Brazilian version of Big Momma. I love the idea in Cai e Pira, an allusion to the Caiçara district where it goes out and a pun on caipira (a hillbilly, a country person) which can also be understood as "join in the fun and go crazy". Mama na Vaca paraded yesterday in the Santo Antônio district; the expression literally referring to drinking straight from a cow's udders is also used as a metaphor for laziness. Banda Mole, which commemorated its 39th Carnival today, has a letter switch but still evokes a rude expression for a person without initiative.
Names are much better behaved when it comes to blocos caricatos and samba schools, which will parade on Avenida Afonso Pena at 7 p.m. on March 3 and 4, respectively. The parades are free, but tickets must be picked up in advance. And while irreverence is an intrinsic part of Carnival, Belo Horizonte has seriously been supporting traditional and socially inclusive revelry and activities that are absolutely free, for example pre-Carnival at the municipal Cultural Centers as well as the street parades themselves.
Cachaça aficionados around the world may have heard of the latest award received by Vale Verde Distillery and Ecological Park, located in Betim, near Belo Horizonte. Vale Verde 12 Anos (Vale Verde 12 Years) topped a list of the 50 best cachaças produced in Brazil issued earlier this month,
The list resulted from blind tastings by Cúpula da Cachaça (www.cupuladacachaca.com.br), a group of 11 specialists whose departure point for the selection was a 250-label list submitted by popular vote. As for Vale Verde 12 Anos, one of the specialists praised its perfect balance between flavor and aroma - an aroma of "dried fruit, coconut and vanilla" - and its "elegant finish with cherry notes." Two other labels by the distillery, Vale Verde Extra Premium and Minha Deusa, were classified in 21st and 42nd place respectively.
Besides taking the podium in a very competitive arena - according to Expocachaça, the world's largest cachaça event, Brazil has 40,000 producers of the drink and 4,000 labels - Vale Verde is commemorating another victory in a different field: the latest birth of a hyacinth macaw in its first-rate bird nursery.
Hyacinth macaws are threatened by the illegal exotic pet trade, pollution and the destruction of their habitat. The birth of the young female macaw at Vale Verde last October and its healthy development are indeed reasons for celebration. Captive breeding of hyacinth macaws involves close monitoring of the eggs and a period of 10 days immediately after hatching which is spent with the parents. After that, the young bird was fed by the park's professionals about 10 times a day with an enriched meal composed of fruit, vegetables and walnuts (photo below). In the weaning phase, it is fed three times a day and gradually learns how to eat by itself.
Learn more about Vale Verde Distillery and Ecological Park, one of the top attractions near Belo Horizonte, a host city in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
It was an occasion of great joy, a watershed moment in a city with nearly 480 years of history: yesterday, Frevo Day, Recife celebrated this Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity with the grand opening of Paço do Frevo.
The new attraction, which occupies a multi-story historical building in Recife's oldest neighborhood restored over four years, aims at preserving, honoring and safeguarding frevo for the future generations through multimedia exhibitions, performances and educational programs.
Several festivities and events marked the opening, including a show featuring popular singer Claudionor Germano and other artists, and the award ceremony for the winners of Festival do Frevo da Humanidade, which helps open roads for the perpetuation of frevo heritage. The festival has launched a CD, and the official website has a Frevo Radio on the homepage so you can enjoy Pernambuco's musical diversity.
Paço do Frevo is, from the get go, a top cultural attraction in Recife, and your visits can include regular programs which are already taking place. Today I spoke over the phone with the Paço's cultural producer, Naara Santos, who talked a bit about them. "This Quinta no Paço (Thursday at the Paço), we'll have a bloco lírico - O Bonde - on the third floor," she said. "This is a space which will host activities for the visitors who are already at the Paço. And on Fridays, at the café on the ground floor, which is open to the general public, there's Hora do Frevo on Fridays at noon, featuring live music with small groups - duos, trios."
Displays in English and wheelchair accessibility add to the appeal of this great piece of good news in Brazil travel.
Paço do Frevo:
Praça do Arsenal da Marina
Recife - PE
Open Tue-Fri 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thur 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat and Sun noon to 6 p.m., closed on Mondays
Admission R$6, half-price tickets available for children 7 and younger, seniors 60 and older, museum employees with ID, free admission for all on Tuesday.
Praça Benedito Calixto, in São Paulo's Pinheiros district, has been famous among international travelers for a long time thanks to its Saturday antiques fair, in place since 1987. But the Culinary Fair (Feirinha Gastronômica) on Sunday is quickly catching up.
The fair is organized by cultural producer Maurício Schuartz and chef Daniela Narciso's KQi Produções, a company specialized in culinary and cultural events which is also responsible for Chefs na Rua.
The city's variegated food scene is represented by top names such as Hecho en México, featuring Lourdes Hernández. Today, the outstanding restaurant is serving Burritas de Carnitas (R$18), carnitas cooked in stout beer and orange juice with refried beans, guacamole, and salsa.
There are plenty of sweets on the square. Chef Lucas Corazza, whose pâtisserie is influenced by pop art and culture, brought Lady Gla Gla to the fair today. Besides the chocolate-glazed ice cream sandwich (R$ 8), you'd also find NY Style Cheesecake (R$10) and other treats, such as eclairs.
The fair takes on a special significance now that São Paulo has entered the age of food trucks - a law authorizing them was passed last December 27. Today, chef Alex Caputo and his business partner Cristhian Felix Daniel are on the square with EATinerante, their gastronomy on wheels project, serving SP330 (R$ 17) - panini made of seared, lightly smoked, shredded rib meat with arugula and bacon sauce, among other hearty foods.
Look who else is on the square. And if you missed it the fair today, rest assured there's plenty more in the urban cornucopia all this came from.
Taj Express Comida Indiana
Northeastern Brazilian dishes by Vera Lucia.
Comida com Luz
La Vera Porchetta
Acarajé da Barra
Comidinhas da Fafi
Middle Eastern food.
Cozinhando a Dois
A Torta de Maçã
Homemade rocamboles (cake rolls) by Fabiana Sanches.
Dia de Doce
Alfamel (a blend of pão de mel, or honey bread, and alfajores)
Featuring açaí with whipped cream today
Handcrafted fruit and creamy popsicles free from artificial ingredients
Flambéed fruit desserts by Sergio Merino
Mapa da Cachaça
Praça Benedito Calixto 85
São Paulo - SP
When: Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Chef Alex Atala is throwing a party. The aroma of chicken, rice with pequi and okra is wafting through Dalva e Dito, in São Paulo, where tonight's featured live band is Trupe Chá de Boldo. Galinhada Dalva e Dito started at midnight in the Marcelo Rosenbaum-designed restaurant with its front in glass and moucharaby-style latticework open to the Jardins district, the wall with the Athos Bulcão design in blue and white tile, the cuisine's Brazilian soul echoed in the whole.
Chef Atala, also owner of D.O.M. around the corner, No. 6 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants and listed on TIME 100 in 2013, author of D.O.M.: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients (Phaidon, 2013) hosts the Galinhada every Saturday night to about 3 a.m. on Sunday. It's one of the best after-hours gatherings in a city that has quite a few.
At Dalva e Dito, one of the regular menu chapters presents food meant to appease the saudade, the nostalgic longing, for the nurturing food made by grandmas, aunts and moms. There was a time when a traveler in a large Brazilian city could hardly find that cuisine except if invited into a home. In 1967, historian and anthropologist Luís da Câmara Cascudo said of Brazilian cookbooks in his História da alimentação no Brasil (Global, 2004) that they had only recently begun to acknowledge genuinely regional dishes, which usually "remained outside, ashamed and elusive, fearing the repulsion of the high standard cuisine." (P. 369, translation mine.)
Alex Atala is a trailblazer in a generation of chefs including Rodrigo Oliveira (Mocotó, Esquina Mocotó) - on Revista Época's 100 Most Influential Brazilians 2013, Helena Rizzo and Daniel Redondo (Maní), No. 46 on TIME 100 last year, and the also award-winning Ana Luiza Trajano (Brasil a Gosto), Mara Salles (Tordesilhas) and Janaina Rueda (Bar da Dona Onça), to name an outstanding few in São Paulo alone, who have invited in and honored the cuisine of forest dwellers, sertanejos, and mothers.
Galinhada is a traditional Minas Gerais dish. The one served at Dalva e Dito started out as a dish made by Geovane Carneiro, sous chef at D.O.M. since it opened, for the restaurant's workers.
He knows how to use the marvelously pungent priprioca as a food ingredient instead of a perfume and how to remind you that eating an ant is not so strange after all, and one can trust him to throw a great chicken feast.
Dalva e Dito
Rua Padre João Manuel 1115
São Paulo, SP
Open Mon to Sat for lunch and dinner, Sun for lunch
Galinhada price: R$59 (drinks not included)
Valet parking: R$15
The official guide to Rio de Janeiro Carnival is live (carnaval2014.rioguiaoficial.com.br, in Portuguese). A bit of deduction work in figuring out the information will be worth it, guaranteed: it's all here - the Special Group, Access Group, and Children's samba schoos (Escolas Mirins) parades at the Sambódromo on Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí, and blocos, or street Carnival groups, grouped by region. About 400 blocos signed up with the Rio de Janeiro city administration this year.
Look up Agenda for the full schedule, click on each item to open a window with place and time (military) for each parade. Pre-Carnival is in full swing!
Besides parades, there are free parties. Cordão do Boitatá, for example, is commemorating its 18th anniversary with "Esquenta nos Prazeres". The esquenta (literally, a 'warm-up', meaning a pre-Carnival event), is on Mondays through the 17th at Morro dos Prazeres, a community with a UPP (Police Pacification Unit).
Dozens and dozens of esquentas are in Zona Sul, near most hotels. Banda de Ipanema is turning 50. They rehearsed today at Praça General Osório (photo below) and will rehearse next on February 15 at 5:30 p.m. on the corner of Rua Jangadeiros and Rua Gomes Carneiro in Ipanema.
Some groups throw parties requiring tickets - Spanta Neném had a big rehearsal today and will have a post-parade and masquerade still, but their Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas desfile (parade) and that of Spantinha, for the kids, are free.
Then there are the blocos in Centro and the Port Zone, in Grande Tijuca and other districts in the North Side, and more. Look for updates and news on some of them on the Rio Carnival Guide.