CARNIVAL…bloco style

Blocos are simply neighborhood block parties.  Having almost become extinct a few years ago, they are experiencing a resurgence in popularity that is quite startling.  The Rio Times states that “Since 2009, blocos have been enjoying a resurgence after falling out of favor with the public. This year saw a 20 percent increase in attendance over last year’s record-breaking turnout.”  In addition, “An estimated 3,000,000 people are partying in the streets of Rio at its over 400 blocos, or Carnival block parties.”  Now that is a LOT of partying.  Also to put it into perspective, the number of people that turn out to each of these blocos are in the tens of thousands!  75,000 alone attended the Simpatia é Quase Amor bloco in Ipanema; all within 3 city blocks!

What struck us as interesting was, first, the shear numbers of blocos (you can literally go from one to another 24/7 for more than a weeek) and two how popular they are when just a few years ago they were hard to find!  Here in Santa Teresa, it was hard to avoid not getting in the middle of one for about the past two weeks.  While it has been fun and offers one an instant party, last night at 10pm in the pouring rain we could hear a bloco in full swing; and isn’t Carnival over?  We guess not for a few more days and bloco parties!  Here are some more shots of blocos here in Santa Teresa.

CARNIVAL…Santa Teresa Style

The build up to Carnival is reaching a small frenzy; even with more than a week left before the BIG parades at the Sambodromo!  Last night here in Santa Teresa we had the Bloco das Carmelitas. Parading from the corner of Dias de Barros and Ladeira de Santa Teresa; down Dias de Barros, Alte. Alexandrino and Largo do Guimarães and of course ALWAYS ending up at Bar do Gomes-one block from Casa Cool Beans. (Photo below; Bar do Gomes on the left at around midnight February 25th.)  Then today beginning around 8am our Santa Teresa CARNIVAL party began (other photos below at around 9am February 26th; still Bar do Gomes on the left).  Everyone dressed up in fun party attire or just crazy costumes drinking beer so early in the morning?  Carnival has arrived!!! ***Take note of the Bonde (our little yellow tram) all dressed up for Carnival there in the middle of the crowd in the second and third photos***

C.L.A.S.S.I.C. Brazil (as blogged by Marcus & Jennifer, our guests at Casa Cool Beans)

We had the opportunity to host Marcus and Jennifer here at Casa Cool Beans for several nights in early February.  They are going around the world with no bags!!!  Crazy, but these guys seem to have gotten into the rhythm and are doing super with only the clothes on their backs!  Sponsored by Scottevest. travel clothing, anyone can try out for the next No Baggage Challenge.

But, enough about Scottevest and more about the adventures of Jennifer and Marcus here in Rio in their own words:

C.L.A.S.S.I.C. Rio

(C)opacabana beach
This huge, famous beach stretches for 2.5 miles down Atlantic Avenue. It’s a good place (but way too crowded on the weekends) to rent an umbrella and chair, soak up the sun, and drink an ice cold cerveja (beer)!

The center for Rio’s nightlife, Lapa gets insanely crowded as people flock to the bars and dance clubs. It is also home to the bright white arches of the aqueduct.

Best place in Rio to catch a gorgeous sunset over the ocean.

(S)ugarloaf Mountain
After taking two cable cars suspended super high in the air, you arrive at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. Definitely try to be there for sunset as it provides a breathtaking view of Rio and Christ the Redeemer unlike any other and seeing the city lit up at night is surreal.

(S)anta Teresa
A quaint neighborhood with cobblestone roads up in the hills of Rio, Santa Teresa is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Rio. Taking the bonde (cable car) through the hills and visiting Selaron’s staircase are must-dos!

We stayed at an amazing bed-and-breakfast called Casa Cool Beans. From the fresh fruit juice at breakfast to the wonderful hospitality of the host, Lance, we didn’t want to leave! It’s a hidden oasis in Santa Teresa that people would have to be crazy not to love. Easily the best place we stayed in all of South America! Check them out at!

My cousin was in Rio for a couple nights and stayed at Casa da Gente. This bed-and-breakfast is located just around the corner from the Selaron Staircase. While it’s close enough to walk to Lapa and Centro, it provides an quiet escape from those noisy neighborhoods. Check them out at!

In preparation for Carnaval, blocos are held during the weekends in various neighborhoods for musical groups to rehearse. We went to one that started in Leblon and ended in Ipanema. An open-air double decker bus with the band on top inches down the street as people dance, celebrate, and drink beer nonstop.

(C)hrist the Redeemer
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer sits at the top of Corcovado Hill, overlooking all of Rio.

Samba City burns; Carnival goes on!

What a sickening site we saw from our sun terrace, just off the pool yesterday morning during breakfast….a plumb of dark gray and black smoke filling the sky.  Only later did we find out it was several buildings burning in Samba City; an area of warehouses where many of the Samba schools build and house their massive floats, costumes and props.  It was confirmed later in the day that several of the buildings were completely destroyed along with several floats, but the Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, vowed that ”Samba City will start to be rebuilt from this week” and insisted every single samba school would take part.  Here are a couple photos I took of the sky yesterday morning. -Lance

Santa Teresa Graffiti Art

Having lived in New York City for 13 years, we were exposed to many elements of urban art.  One of our favorites is graffiti.  We were some of those that in the late 80’s & early 90’s were very upset when NYC Transit started removing the subway cars that were completely covered with graffiti art and replacing them with the new “graffiti-proof” cars.  Many consider this vandalism or scribbles, but we consider it an art form and we really love and appreciate it.  Fortunately, Santa Teresa has lots of tags (where a graffiti artist has left his work) and actually a high concentration within a few minutes walk of Casa Cool Beans.  Here are just a few of our favorites!  PS:  If you know any of these graffiti artists please let us know as we would love to meet them; we have some projects for them!

Here is a link to Rio Times Online which just featured Smael Vagner, one of our favorite artists here in Rio!

PRAISES! (about Casa Cool Beans…)

We would like to thank the many guests we have had in our short time as owners of Casa Cool Beans and the many wonderful compliments.  Here are some wonderful accolades that have come in through TripAdvisor or other means about Casa Cool Beans.  Thanks so much for the reviews; we have LOVED hosting you!


“Best pousada in 3 months of travel in south america”

5 of 5 stars
Date of review: Jan 2, 2011
Charlotte18041979- Paris, France

My partner and I travelled 3 months in South America (brasil, Argenitna, Chile and Bolivia) from Oct 2010 to December 2010. We’ve stayed in terribled, quite ok, good and excellent pousadas, hotels, guest houses. But the best place with the best service was definitly Casa Cool Beans. We’ve stayed there 4 nights mid-december just after Lance and David had taken over this pousada from Lydie, who was our contact before for the reservation.
The pousada is very well situated in the quiet and cute Santa Teresa neighbourhoood. It felt good and like at home to go back there after a day walking around crazy Rio.
The rooms are big, clean and very cosy. The breakfast is excellent and feels you up for the whole day!
But most of all, what made us loved so much casa cool beans is the service provided. Lance is so nice and he made our stay very special. He gave us lots of good tips to enjoy the most of Rio, he booked us a day tour with a wonderful guide the pousada is working with, Junior, who has spend the day sharing with us his passion for his native city.
After Rio, we went to Paraty and Ilha Grande and we had to spend one last night in rio but hadn’t booked any pousada. Lance didn’t have a room for us in Casa Cool Beans but he spent a whole morning making phone calls to all the pousadas around Santa Teresa to find us something.
And while we were off to Paraty and Ilha grande, he nicely kept some of our luggages we did not want to travel with.
Eventually we spent our last night in Casa Cool Beans because Lance had a cancellation. It was the best way to finish our 3 months trip… For sure, we will go back to Rio and for sure, we will stay at Casa Cool Beans again.

  • Visit was for: Leisure
  • Traveled with: With Spouse/Partner
  • Member since: October 08, 2007
  • Would you recommend this hotel to a friend? Yes

“OUTSTANDING CREW worried about your comfort and ready to support you on anything you need!””

5 of 5 stars
Date of review: Dec 29, 2010
igor303631- Sao Paulo, Brazil

Lance learned very fast how to make “Pão na chapa” (tosted bread with butter) better than many brazilians! The breakfast was excellent such as the room services everyday!
Santa Tereza is a great place to stay to walk around at night and get some souveniers. We wish that there was a lift straight to the beaches but it’s easy to by tax or vans, and it gets even easier if you make some friends around the neightbouhood. THe pool has the perfect temperature and Mousse is the coolest dog ever!!! Thanks for eveything guys, we had a great time!

  • Visit was for: Leisure
  • Traveled with: With Spouse/Partner
  • Member since: December 29, 2010

“Wunderbare Pousada in Santa Teresa”

5 of 5 stars
Date of review: Jan 12, 2011
Tuschky- Munich, Germany

Wir ( 9 Freunde) waren Ende Dezember 2010 für fünf Nächte in der Pousada die bereits unter der Führung von Lance und David stand. Die Pousada ist sehr schön und ruhig gelegen. Man fühlt sich direkt zu Hause. Die Gegend ist sicher und ein schöner Kontrast zu den Strandgegenden.
Lance und David haben uns wunderbar bewirtet und standen für alle Fragen rund um Rio und Santa Teresa zur Verfügung.
Ich kann die Pousada nur jedem empfehlen und freue mich auf den nächsten Aufenthalt.

  • Visit was for: Leisure
  • Traveled with: With Friends
  • Member since: January 12, 2011
  • Would you recommend this hotel to a friend? Yes

January 15, 2011
Hello Lance David and Mousse

we are now back in France or the temperature is 6 ° Celsius

I can not resist sending you a small photo of the house a week before we left for Brazil just to refresh you!

Laura and I wanted to thank you very much for your hospitality and your kindness.

We were very touched by your gesture for the bottle of champagne
And your address on the bars and restaurants have always been very good (especially the Aprazível leaving us with unforgettable memories)

We will recommend your pousada to friends who want to go to Rio

send a quick hello to the parents of David, who are charming

soon …….. we hope!

Pascal et Laure

Snow in France

Região Serrana floods

Our hearts, thoughts & prayers are with the thousands of people who have been injured, killed or touched by the recent flooding and mudslides in the beautiful hillside neighborhoods in Região Serrana, the scenic, mountainous region of the Rio state that includes the major cities of Petrópolis, Teresópolis and Nova Friburgo.  While we have been spared such devastation here in the city of Rio de Janeiro, we hope to offer support & hope.

For those wishing to help the flood victims there are many locations where one can donate.  This may include donations of non-perishable food, clothing, mattresses, blankets, hygiene products and monetary donations.  We appreciate the Rio Times for providing the list.

In Zona Sul (South zone), as of Monday, January 17th, donations can be given at the offices of either Christ Church or the British and Commonwealth Society (BCS), both located at Rua Real Grandeza, 99 in Botafogo. Hours are from 9AM to 5PM. Please contact the Church’s secretary, Karen, at +55 (21) 2226-7332, or the BCS’ Gaynor or Monica at +55 (21) 2537-6695.

In Barra da Tijuca, as of Sunday, January 16th, donations can be given at the Union Church, Av. Pref. Dulcidio Cardoso, 4351. Weekday office hours are from 8AM to 4PM. Please contact the Church’s secretary, Carol, at +55 (21) 3325-8601.

In the Metrô Rio, eleven stations have established collection centers: Carioca, Central, Largo do Machado, Catete, Glória, Ipanema/General Osório, Pavuna, Saens Peña, Botafogo, Nova América/Del Castilho e Siqueira Campos.

Monetary donations can be made directly to the municipalities in the region, to Rio State’s Civil Defense department, or to other funds set up to provide social assistance to the victims.

Prefeitura de Nova Friburgo
(Municipality of Nova Friburgo) Bank: Banco do Brasil
Agency: 0335-2
Account No: 120.000-3

Prefeitura de Teresópolis
(Municipality of Teresópolis) Bank: Banco do Brasil
Agency: 0741-2
Account No: 110000-9 (under the name “SOS Teresópolis – Donativos”)

Defesa Civil – RJ Bank: Caixa Econômica Federal
Agency: 0199
Operation: 006
Account No: 2011-0

Fundo Estadual de Assistência Social do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
(State of Rio Social Assistance Fund) CNPJ 02932524/0001-46
Bank: Itaú
Agency: 5673
Account No: 00594-7

Shopping-the best of the best! (Granado Pharmácia)

We decided some time ago to upgrade the soaps here at Casa Cool Beans from the typical store-bought brand to something really nice and special.  Our friend Katia, a Carioca who knows the best stores and products here in Rio directed us to Granado Pharmácia and even took us for our first visit to the main store, Pharmácia do Centro at Rua Primeiro de Março, 16.  The building which houses this branch has been stunningly restored, thus worth a visit just to see the space, but oh the little treasures to be found!  Soaps, creams, powders, lotions, and more!  This is a great store to get gifts to take home that are uniquely Brazilian.

We selected a 100% vegetable Glycerin soap made of the natural extract of Castanha do Brasil (Cashew nut).   It has a light and refreshing sent and oh so Brazilian!  One of the biggest reasons we choose a Glycerin product is because it is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to your skin.  We want our guests to have smooth, moist skin! 🙂

Check out their website (link below) to view their multiple lines of products, find a store location, or just browse.  They even have a line of soap products for pets!  Founded in 1870 this is no fly-by-night pharmacy.  Reminds us of one of our favorite stores in New York City, Kiehls (soaps and skin products); which interestingly enough was an old-world apothecary founded in 1851!

Crazy packed Rio beaches (Jan 9th, 2011)!

Happy hump day (Wednesday)…..if you are experiencing snow and cold like much of Europe, US and Canada…..let us warm you up!

Check out this online gallery of how packed Rio’s beaches were Sunday…CRAZY PACKED!!!!!  Yum!!!!

Thanks to Daily Rio Life Blog for bringing this to our attention.  I LOVE “DRL”‘s blog…..she really knows how to reach us expats and break it down for us…..check it out!

New linens and towels for Casa Cool Beans!

Yey!  Finally we’ve received the new linens, sheets and towels for Casa Cool Beans.  We wanted to add a luxurious line and color and decided upon the espresso color for the sheets and room towels and a fun, bright orange for the pool towels.

Espresso sheets and room towels, orange sunset beach towels and Mousse!