Celebrating New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro!
This one was a big dream-come-true for me. I'll never forget the moment that I welcomed 2019 on Copacabana beach with 2 million other people.
Let me start by saying that organizing this wasn't an easy task. I started looking for accommodation more than a month in advance, and most places were booked out already! Also the prices went 4x or 5x on NYE and the days around it. An airbnb that costed $30 per night would cost $150 or more.
Moreover, I needed to consider the area - apparently going back home after the party was very difficult. Forget taxi or Uber. I needed to be in walking distance or at least somewhere near the metro (only reliable way of transportation on that day).
Finally, I needed to avoid certain areas (like Centro) that became abandoned and somewhat dangerous during the holidays.
Ideally, I would stay in Copacabana or Ipanema (safe areas near the beach and the party), but the accommodation options there were ridicolously expensive. A friend I met later was paying over $100 for a dorm bed in Ipanema!
I ended up booking a very basic private room in a hostel for $85 per night. It was in Botafogo, one metro station away from Copacabana (the beach where the party was taking place).
I was going alone, but after posting on some Facebook friends I organized a group with a few other solo travelers :)
I arrived in Rio early morning on the 31st of December. I dropped my stuff off at the hostel and went to explore Botafogo. Those first hours in Rio were absolutely surreal. The city is built right in the middle of the jungle, wrapping around crazy rock formations (like the famous Sugarloaf).
I found an awesome vegan Asian restaurant just in time for lunch. This one event had a grill with mock-meat and tofu! Plus a ton of Chinese & Japanese dishes (vegan version), raw dishes, and amazing desserts. It's called Refeitório Orgânico, Ill definitely visit many more times when I'm in Rio again :)
In the afternoon I got ready and took an Uber to Copacabana to meet my new friends. We met at 6pm - quite early. The beach was already full of people getting ready for the party. The music was on. Street vendors everywhere selling tapioca, churros, caipirinhas. I got a huge caipi (half a litre!) from one of them.
We spent the next hours drinking and dancing on the beach, watching the sunset. Around 9pm the beach started getting very crowsed and the music very loud. We met the last 2 memebers to our group (we were now 6 people) and moved closer to the water to get ready for the fireworks!
The beach was now packed, everyone was dancing, we were already finishing our second or third caipirinhas.
When the fireworks went off at 00:00, it was an incredible moment. As far as I could see, the sky was filled with explosions. Everyone was screaming and popping champagne.
When the show was over, people started jumping in the water. The tradition here is to jump over 7 waves on New Year's Eve! Coming from the northern hemisphere on the world, such warm-weather traditions always make me happy. My friends dipped their feet in the water, but I went all in - I was wearing my swimsuit under my clothes (as I always do in Brazil) and went swimming after I jumped the waves. The water was not the cleanest, since it was full of offerings to the orishas (Afro-Brazilian deities), but that didn't matter.
We spent the night dancing on the beach, eating tapiocas and churros from the street vendors. I ended up walking home sometime in the early morning.
I'll never forget the moment that I welcomed 2019 on Copacabana beach with 2 million other people!