With our Sambadrome tickets purchased over ten months in advance Matt and I were getting excited. Rio was approaching and Carnaval preparations had already started in Salvador. Colour was everywhere and the party vibe had started.
It was Saturday 25 February and we decided to collect our tickets from the Atlantico Copacabana Hotel as our tickets were for the following night. A girl approached us at the hotel “can I have your ticket reference”? I pulled my printed confirmation. “You are going today! I bet you are excited”.
TODAY??!!! “No no, we have bought tickets for tomorrow” was my response. She soon clarified it was that day. I had been saying the wrong date for over ten months!! Duh! Matt and I looked at each other with excitement. “Oh my God! We’re going to the Sambadrome today!!!” “Yeah!”
It was all systems go. With the tickets collected it was onto costumes. Wandering around the streets of Copacabana and Ipanema we were soon kitted up with feathered hats, masks, wigs and colourful lei. Next stop the overcrowded Zona Sul supermarket for rum and coke. Back to our beautiful Airbnb apartment in Ipanema for Samba music and cuba libres. We needed to get into the party mood.
Our original tickets were for for sector 11 row D on Saturday 25 February but following an email in January from Fabi at Bookers International we had been given a free up-grade. Having googled our new seats Matt’s reaction was “Fuck! We have got the best seats in the whole f***ing Sambadrome”! We were now seated in Sector 9 which is the most prestigious among the frisas. Frisas are open air front boxes at the same level as the samba runway. Sector 9 was positioned in the middle of the runway and close to the drummers niche called the bateria. It is also where the cameramen were filming. Pretty damn good seats if not the best seats in the house! “This is going to be fucking awesome!” was Matt’s classic response.
After our own little Samba party in our Rio de Janerio pad and with wig in place plus accessories we headed out onto the street. The Metro station was our intended destination, however the streets were full of frenzied partying. People crammed together on the streets and the square by the metro. It was impossible. No-one was moving. Panic! We weaved our way back to our pad. We knew the answer. Uber. In minutes Fernando in his Renault Fluence had arrived and we were on our way to the Sambadrome.
From 10pm until 5.30am it was one of the best nights ever! We were up close and personal to all the samba dancers. They smiled, waved and kissed at us as they danced by. Being by the bateria we could hear the loud beat of the samba drums vibrating in our ears. The fast-paced samba dance moves were never ending. Dancer after dancer. Outlandish costumes were worn by all. Glitter and feathers everywhere. Colossal floats towered over us with bright lights and more samba dancers. The extravagance of it all was astounding. It was such a magical experience.
I did feel like a teenager again as I kept kneeling down to top up our cokes with rum that had been sneaked into the Sambadrome camouflaged in a water bottle!
We were absolutely buzzing for days from this experience. It is a day and night to remember for a very long time.
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