The Five Star Vagabond

Super travel tips, all road tested by David Herd. I'm an Australian guy who moved to Thailand in 2011 & still travel the world as often as possible.

Samba Schools street parades

Carnival parade on Avenue Atlantica

Samba Schools street parades

Samba Schools street parades

Samba Schools street parades are called blocos in Rio, Carnival time in 2005 was just one huge non stop party. The excitement generated is absolutely electric.

Blocos are the street bands and groups

Samba Schools street parades
Blocos are the street bands and groups that are the main popular expression in Carnival of Pernambuco in Brazil. These celebrations are mixed under the term “street carnival”, a term that still includes the bandstands and parades at streets of Olinda and Recife, and happen during a period of about two months (beginning before and finishing after Carnival).

The biggest bloco is the Galo da Madrugada that attracts more than 2,000,000 people to downtown Recife.

Bloco on Avenue Atlantica Copacabana

Samba Schools street parades

The biggest bloco in Brazil is the Galo da Madrugada that attracts more than 2,000,000 people to downtown Recife.

Bloco truck in Copacabana

Samba Schools street parades

Never a dull moment in Copacabana.

Samba Schools street parades

Samba Schools street parades

You really almost need earplugs the music is so load. 🙂

Check out the speakers in the truck below

Samba Schools street parades

Since 2004, the blocos have exploded and now there are now nearly 300 blocos with over 40 new ones appearing for the 2007 Carnaval.  The first blocos started only a little over ten years ago. This is the heart of the “Street Carnival” which includes the greater likelihood of locals playing percussion instruments with their friends at their favorite hangout as well as  the Bandstands and the many Parades of downtown’s Rio Branco Avenue. These events are inclusive and practice for the musicians begins months before the Carnaval and the parades do not end until Sunday of the following weekend.

Same corner later that night

Samba Schools street parades

My apologies for the out of focus photo.

Full house on Copacabana beach

Samba Schools street parades

Of course it is almost shoulder to shoulder on the beach.

Samba Schools street parades Avenue Atlantica Copacabana

Samba Schools street parades

The noise, the people, the music is fantastic.

Samba vs Marchinhas

“If they have brass, they’ll usually call themselves a “banda”. Either way, they’ll rehearse for a month or two, or maybe not rehearse at all, and then they rent a sound truck for the singers and guitarists to ride on, and have a big parade. It’s sort of a “Let’s have a party!” down-home approach to Carnaval. It’s actually the way the escolas-de-samba used to be, way back in the old days…… Most blocos play samba or, if they have a brass band, they might play marchinhas, the peppy European polka-type music of old-school Carnaval. Carnaval music used to all be marchinhas, back in the 30’s, before samba was brought to Rio by immigrants from Bahia.”

Bloco in Copacabana

Samba Schools street parades

Carnival time in Rio is something everybody should try to experience at least once in their life.

One of the Blocos in Rio

Samba Schools street parades

The crowd at Copacabana is building.

Dancing in the street

Samba Schools street parades

The Rio de Janeiro street carnival begins in November. The street carnival are structured in groups named: bloco, cordon, band or rancho but they are really about simple fun with others. If you wander in the zona sul districts of Gávea, Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana and Botafogo during the Carnaval you will often find them hanging out prior to parading. This is known as the period of Concentration.


Most bands also have official T-shirts for sale on the spot for about US$10, to help with the costs. They make great souvenirs, as they are sold only on Rio Carnival days.
Samba Schools street parades dancing with chairs

Samba Schools street parades

Not too sure why the chairs play a part, tradition I guess.

This is Dave Sommer & his girlfriend

Samba Schools street parades

Dave lived & worked in Sao Paulo in the insurance industry, he & his girl both danced in the parade at the Sambadrome. I was lucky to have them take me to their Samba school to see everyone preparing the costumes & the instruments.

Sadly Dave was brutally murdered in Sao Paula January 29 2015, RIP buddy.

Trying on her Samba hat.

Samba Schools street parades

With some help from her excited Mum. 🙂

Here I am with mother & daughter.

Samba Schools street parades

What a lovely two Brazilian ladies, it was such a pleasure being invited into their home.

And here she is in the parade

Samba Schools street parades

Can you imagine my joy & happiness when I spotted my friend in the parade and was able to get this great shot. Before I left Rio I had it framed as a present for her. Sambadrome is the name given to an exhibition place for the Samba Schools in Brazil. It generally consists of spectator viewing areas surrounding a long alley for the schools to parade down.

Here is the Mocidade Samba school

Samba Schools street parades

The Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel Samba School, commonly known as Mocidade, formed out of a local football (soccer) club from the favela of Padre Miguel in Vila VintĂ©m, a neighborhood located on the western side of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Known for its unique and unparalleled style of dance and its excellence in teaching its members the steps of the samba, Mocidade competed in its first Rio Carnival parade in 1955.  Competing in Group B, by 1958 Mocidade won its first Group title, which bumped the Samba School up to the higher tiered Access Group. In 1976, Mocidade placed fifth in the Special Group and were the Rio Carnival runners-up in 1976. Finally, in 1979 the Mocidade Samba School won its first overall Rio Carnival title with a spectacular interpretation of its theme, “The Discovery of Brazil”. Ever since, Mocidade has been known for the the unity and synchronicity in its performances, tying together the various aspects of plot with an innovative use of dance, music, costumes and floats. Known for its futuristic design concepts, Mocidade shocked the audience, judges, and other parading Samba Schools with a miraculous flying parader — a first in Rio Carnival history!

Mocidade Samba School

Samba Schools street parades

Do you hear the drums Fernando?

Dave has got his hat & instructions.

Samba Schools street parades

I think Dave had to pay the school about $400 to participate in the parade. Dave Sommer lived & worked in Sao Paulo,  Sadly he was brutally murdered on January 11 2015. 

It all leads up to Carnival, the greatest show on Earth.

Samba Schools street parades

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Author: David Herd

My history, particularly over the last 30 years is dominated by overseas travel. I sold my home in Australia October 20th 2011 and have have been living in Thailand since then. I don’t know where the time has gone? It seems like you go to sleep one night, wake up the next morning, and 20 years have flashed by. Not sure how many years I have left, however I have enjoyed a wonderful charmed life, and if it all ended today I would leave this world with no regrets.

I was born in Sydney halfway through the last century, started my travels in the 60s with the usual U.K. Europe adventure at the age of 20, back to Australia and worked in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide in Sales & Marketing with multinational companies including Sanyo, Canon & Remington.

Engaged to be married 3 times and never quite made it to the alter, finally realized by the mid 90s I was not cut out for “long term relationships” so I moved to the Gold Coast in Queensland in January 1987, worked for a couple of banks as a Financial Planner, I took a year off work in 1998 to travel and never went back to full time work again, after 25 fun filled years on the Coast I packed up and moved to Thailand.

What is the purpose of this blog? Well I really want to use it to record my travel experiences & to display my photographs, give and receive travel tips, comment on places I visit, restaurants I eat in and use it to replace the autobiography I intended to write, apart from all that it helps me fill in my day. :)

I moved to Thailand mainly because I wanted to keep travelling while my health allowed me to, there are huge advantages being closer to all the places I want to visit.

Cost of living in Thailand is around 35% of the cost in Australia, plus flights are 50% cheaper because you are much closer to everywhere. ????

Consequently I am able to travel to many more places compared to living in Australia.

Having said all that, it is & has always been my intention to return to Australia when my travelling is finished, I predict this will happen around 2021.


  1. Hi David! My name is Imelton from Brazil. Great fotos! You have lived an amazing life. I Always tell to my friends, if I get single again, I would live in the Philippines and enjoy the live among friendly people around the world, making friendship with cute ladies from Asia until South América!
    When you have I chance, visit Peru. When I was single, I visited Peru many times during my vacations. Peru is an amazing country with fantastic landscape, the best seafood, archeology – Machu pichu, Nazca desert lines etc and cute and friendly girls. The capital Lima, is the gastronomic capital of South amĂ©rica.
    Greetings from Brasilia – Brazil. Imelton