Da Lagoa Roderigo de Freitas is approximately 8km (5 miles) around, and is the heart of Rio's Zona Sul (south zone), of which Leblon and Ipanema are two neighbourhoods. This is a great area to explore as there are many interesting places to discover.
The Claridge is where I made my base during my visits to Rio, it is located in a residential area of Lower Leblon surrounded by restaurants, bars and fast food outlets, the Zona Sul supermarket is right beside the hotel and the aroma of freshly baked bread is always in the air. Designer shops, banks and movie theatres, are also very close by. The beach is just three blocks away.
There is a covered pool, hot tub, sauna and showers, post-sauna rest area, coffee shop, bar, squash court and game room. all with a panoramic view of the sea and the Lower Leblon district.
To most the carnival is something like the UK version that is held in Notting Hill, a bunch of bands and floats parading through the streets. In fact it is very different from this.
Carnival in Brazil is a competition between samba schools, with a football style division system.
Each school spends most of the year preparing and building the floats in complete secrecy, religiously practising their moves, music and dances.
There are around 5000 performers in each school and they are marked on their song, story, dress, dance and rhythm.
A purpose built 1700 metre street (Sambadromo) lined with grandstands is host to the 80,000 performers in the 16 first division schools, they have an hour and a half to perform in front of around 100,000 people.
This extraordinary event creates jobs for tens of thousands of locals and for the duration of the 6 day event, it is shown live on TV.