Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Preparing for Carnaval in Olinda, Brazil

Leaving the dank, miserable weather of Germany behind, I left the plane and entered the terminal in Recife, Brazil and immediately regretted my choice of clothing; jeans, hoody and my gilet (yes, I brought a gilet). Standing in the immigration queue was quite the treat and immediately you got the idea that things move slowly around here. For example, when the immigration officials had finished stamping the Brazilian passports, rather than lightening the load on the non-residents, they just shut up shop and scarpered.

Finally at the counter, I was pleasantly surprised to find the official spoke great English, wasn't bothered about onward travel out of the country at all and was all smiles as he couldn't wait to get off work so he could get ready for Carnaval with his family. That's more like it.

About 10km north of the city of Recife lies the town of Olinda, the place where the next eight days were to be spent celebrating the Carnaval. There are the obvious choices of Rio and Salvador to experience the Carnaval but rather than a big, expansive gathering, I was looking forward to the more intimate surroundings of Olinda. That and I was looking forward to meeting Joel, Robin and Frances here too, friends from back home.

The first three nights were spend in Albergue do Olinda, a hostel on Rua do Sol which was a really great place to hang out, meet people and get in the Carnaval spirit with lazy days by the pool and late nights out with early morning finishes to prepare the body for the carnage that was about to ensue in the following five days of Carnaval.

This was also the time to take the opportunity to walk around the cobbled streets of the town itself and take in the views of the ocean and Recife from the main view point at the top of a steep road by one of the many churches in the town. Unfortunately you couldn't go into any of the churches as they were all boarded up in preparation for Carnaval, a smart move really as the last thing you want is your church to get wrecked during the party hours.

Walking along the streets you saw the vendors preparing for the next five days, setting up their stalls, which basically varied between a booze stand selling any and all cocktails and ice cold beers or good old stodgy food which is always going to be a best seller during times like these. Non-descript meat/ chicken on a stick is a real favourite.

As you walk around, even through the hustle and bustle you can still appreciate how chilled out this little town is out of Carnaval season. People were friendly, houses quaint and colourfully painted or decorated with artful graffiti and miraculously built amongst one another whilst somehow retaining some form of privacy from the one next door. Not quite a beach town as there's no beach as such but you still get that feeling as you look out from the main vantage point and look out on to the turquoise ocean populated with small paddle and motor boats closer to shore and tankers further afield, all illuminated by a brilliant sun with not a cloud in the sky.

Basically, the perfect place to have a party. Let the fun start and the Carnaval begin.


  1. Hi Grattan

    Nice blog!

    I have a question about it but couldn't find any contact details - could you send me an email at schleckjohn@gmail.com and i'll send some more info.



  2. Hey John,

    Just sent you a message so feel free to get in touch!