On Sunday night Milena and I went to the Sambadrome (Sambadromo in Portuguese) to see the highlight of Carnival.
It's where all the major samba schools compete and do hour-long (ish) parades in an effort to be crowned champion.
It started at 9pm, but Milena and I had been told that the best ones parade after midnight, so we slept for a bit (which was easy as we'd had a massive feijoada lunch at our friend Nicky's house earlier that day) and then went for midnight. We took motorbike taxis, which I hadn't done before. It was great fun to cling onto the back of a motorbike for dear life while the driver goes one-handed to take out his helmet, readjust it, and put it back on. At one point his phone rang, and I was thinking 'You bloody dare'. He didn't, thank god. But it was actually quite exhilarating.
And then the show. Dear god, it was fantastic. I have never seen anything as colourful, dramatic and fabulous as that parade. Anyone who says that you can go to Carnival and just go to the blocos (street parties) and experience it all, is wrong. The blocos were fun, and I enjoyed seeing that side of it, but the Sambadrome was on another level. Even if you get cheap tickets for a less-good view, do it!
We stayed til the end, which I was glad about, because the last two were the best. And we saw the sunrise over the last parade as well, and it finished at 5.30am.
Getting a taxi home was a laugh a minute, but we managed it in the end. And we arrived in time to have breakfast at the hostel! Nothing like a toastie after five hours of parade watching.
I will upload photos when I have the chance, but at the moment I'm draped over a beanbag chair in a hostel on Ilha Grande, an island just outside Rio. Life is hard.