Tag Archive | "Brazil"

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Unidos da Tijuca wins 2012 Rio Carnival [PHOTOS]

Posted on 24 February 2012 by Danica


We just heard the samba school “Unidos de Tijuca” won the 2012 Rio Canvival Championship! Congratulations to them! We’re not surprised they won since we felt they had a very artistic and creative presentation.

Monday had the two top schools so we’re very happy our analysis on which day to go to Sambadrome Carnival turned out correct! Second place went to Salguiero which also paraded on Monday.

In case you weren’t there, here are a few highlights of the floats and dancers of “Unidos da Tijuca”, the championship school. Enjoy the photos!

Were you there too? Which school was your favorite?

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We’ve been Tweeting

Posted on 23 February 2012 by David

Wondering why it’s been so quiet here at On the Ground Travel?   We’ve been exploring parts of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil since January!   In the mean time we’ve been tweeting photos taken with our blackberry whenever we happened to have a wi-fi signal.

Check them out at our OntheGroundTrvl Twitter photo gallery!


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2012 Rio Carnival: Going on Sunday or Monday?

Posted on 04 January 2012 by Danica

With the Carnival in Rio only a little more than a month away, we decided to finally pull the trigger to buy the tickets.  These tickets are not cheap.  They range from ~$3500USD pp for a seat in the luxury suite with full butler, buffet and drink service, to less than $100 for a bleacher seat in an area where you will likely see nothing but performers getting ready.  A decent seat (bleacher in the middle of the runway) will likely set you back a couple hundred bucks depending on whether you want an assigned seat for that day or not.  So going to the Carnival is not a cheap investment by any means, and we want to make sure we fully enjoy the entire event in February.

While the entire Carnival lasts from Feb 18th (Fri) to Feb 21st (Tue) in 2012, the must-see parades are held on Sunday the 19th, and Monday the 20th.  This is because on these 2 days, the most talented Samba Schools, also known as the Special Group, will be competing for the Championship. Normally, six schools perform on Sunday and the other six perform on Monday.  Due to a fire last year, the schedule for 2012 is a bit different where 7 schools will be performing on Sunday, and six on Monday.  Either way, since we will be spending ~$500pp for the ticket, we did a quick analysis to decide which day will be more appealing to us.

Below is the schedule and ranking of the Special Group schools performing in 2012:

Rio Carnival Sun vs Mon Analysis

* Not judged due to 2010 fire.  It’s a long story.  If you are interested, just drop us a mail…

Rio Carnival Dancer


We decided to evaluate the desirability of these two days based on the following five factors: Value for Money, Atmosphere, Dance Quality, Performance Diversity and Story Line.  (If you’re impatient, scroll to the bottom if you want to know our answer now!)

1) Value for Money (Winner: Sunday)

Since the show on Sunday is 1hr 45 min longer than the one on Monday, we decided Sunday show is the winner here.  Who cares how long the show is, you ask?  Well, the longer the show, the more chance you get to take better pictures.  And even though we wouldn’t do it ourselves, you may decide to enter the event later or leave earlier, and if you do that, chances are you will be fighting with less crowd for traffic.  There will simply be more opportunities for people to come and go at different times of the night.

2) Atmosphere (Winner: Monday)

For this category, we looked at the popularity of the schools performing on these nights.  The assumption here is that the more popular the school is, the more excited the revelers will be as they show up to support their favorite school.  We know both Salgueiro and Mangueira have more popular samba clubs.  While Vila Isabel also has a Samba Club, the club pales in popularity as compared to the two schools above.

Furthermore, for Sunday, the best schools are not going to be performing until ~2:30am or so when Beija-Flor comes out, wheareas on Monday, you have Salgueiro and Mangueira performing starting 11pm and some of the top schools coming out after that.  We think Monday is the winner in this category.

3) Dance Quality (Winner: Monday)

We have included the ranking of the schools from 2006 to 2011 in the table above.  We first take the avg of the schools performing each year, and then do a weighted average by year.  If we are not sure about the ranking of the school in a given year, we assume the performance of the school is average and give it a 6.  Since our methodology is based on ranking, the lower the score, the better the performance is.

For example, for the Sunday performance, we do not have the 2011 ranking for Renascer de Jacarepagua and Portela, and as such, we assume a ranking of #6 for both schools.  Same goes for the 5 schools with missing 2006-2010 ranking performing on Sunday.  After calculating the average across all schools in 2006-2010, we know the 2006-2010 ranking is 5x more important than the 2011 ranking alone (because the school obtained that ranking over 5 years as opposed to 1), we take a weighted average to come to the final conclusion.  For the Sunday schools, the weighted average is 5.0, while the Monday schools have a weighted average of 4.9.  Since the weighted average of the Monday schools is lower than that of the Sunday schools, Monday is the winner here.

4) Performance Diversity (Winner: Monday)

We look for uniqueness of the performance in this category.  Within the Sunday schools, Mocidade is well known for its futuristic creations and having had the one and only flying parader over the years.  For the Monday schools, Sao Clemente will try to incorporate operas into the parade this year, and Salgueiro uses fire in its parade in most years.  We think Monday night will be more interesting to watch from a diversity standpoint.

5) Story Line (Winner: Monday)

Here are the themes of the Special Group this year:


1) Renascer de Jacarepagua:  Life and work of Romero Brito, a famous Brazilian painter, sculptor and screen printer

2) Portela: Religious parties of Bahia, a cultural melting pot in Brazil with marked influence from Africa

3) Imperatriz: Life and legacy of  Jorge Amado, a Brazilian world known writer

4) Mocidade:  Life and legacy of Portinari, one of the most famous Brazilian painters

5) Porto da Pedra:  History and importance of dairy products, especially yogurt, on a healthy nutrition

6) Beija-Flor:  Story of Sao Luis, capital city of Maranhão state.  The city was founded by the French, occupied by the Dutch and finally settled by the Portuguese

7) Vila Isabel:  Celebration of Angola and the African roots of Brazilian culture


1) Sao Clemente: Operas, movies and plays with music being the connection among them

2) Uniao da Ilha: Olympic games connecting London (host city of the 2012 Game) to Rio (host city of the 2016 Game)

3) Salgueiro: Celebration of the Brazilian culture where artists sell their works exposed hanging on cords

4) Mangueira:  Cacique de Ramos, the most famous carnival band of Rio de Janeiro

5) Unidos da Tijuca: Tribute to  Luiz Gonzaga, a popular Brazilian singer and composer

6) Grande Rio: Overcoming difficulties in life

Overall, we think the storyline of the Monday schools is more appealing to us.


Here is the results across all categories that we evaluate Sunday and Monday on:

1) Value for Money (Winner: Sunday)

2) Atmosphere (Winner: Monday)

3) Dance Quality (Winner: Monday)

4) Performance Diversity (Winner: Monday)

5) Story Line (Winner: Monday)

We value all factors equally.  As such, it is clear that Monday is the clear winner here.  Hope to see you all on Monday Feb 20th in the Sambodromo!

How do you decide which day to buy the Carnival tickets for?  We would love to hear from you!


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