By Shaun Alexander
March 16, 2015

“Where are you going for Carnaval?” Or, in other words, where are you travelling for Carnaval – that’s the most common question among Capixabas in the weeks leading up to Carnaval. Traditionally, people from Vitoria leave the city during the holidays, either to go to beaches within Esprito Santo state, up to Bahia or down to Rio.

Indeed, I can testify that Vitoria (where I’m currently living in Brazil), has been a ghost town over the last couple of days as bars, shops and restaurants have shut up shop in line with the mass exodus. However, things could be changing.

The local mayor has invested a lot of money in keeping people at home during Carnaval, and it is now billed as the first parade in Brazil – occurring a whole week before the parades in São Paulo and Rio. This year, the parade was bigger and better than it’s been in many years. Even Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, made it to the event and starred in a school’s parade.

The thinking is this: within a short commute from the city are around a dozen top quality beaches. Meanwhile, there are loads of interesting towns nearby where visitors from other states in Brazil can enjoy some interesting culture. If the parade and local events can be improved, perhaps Vitoria can become more of a destination during the holidays. Indeed, the stunning beach city of Guarapari, just 30 minutes drive away, does steal some of the limelight, but Vitoria should be considered as a base.

While I didn’t make it to the parade itself, I did make it to the street blocos. Regional do Nair was spectacularly good, with some 20,000 people packing out the historic Rua 7 Setembro in the old city centre. The bloco lasted for an entire afternoon and into the night. I made a short movieshowing the incredible atmosphere at the event.

The thing with Vitoria is that its a great city in all the ways that Rio de Janeiro is great, but is smaller. It has spectacular beaches, breath taking views, natural beauty, tremendous food and friendly people. It’s basically a mini Rio without all the problems associated with Rio’s sprawling masses. It’s clean, friendly and has loads to do. Perhaps I’m biased, but I am an advocate for Vitoria. I think it’s time the locals stood up and started shouting about their great city. For my part, I’ll do my part to keep writing and sharing photos and videos of this cool city.

Shaun is a Scottish journalist and blogger based in Brazil. Subscribe to his video blog about Brazil.
He is on Twitter and Instagram.

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