One of the huge draws of South America for me was the raw energy that it seems to be fuelled by – the music, the dances, the football crowds. There’s a passion and intensity here that is hugely exciting. Rio de Janeiro is a real epicentre for the energy I was looking for and at the heart of it is Lapa, the area of the city where Samba reigns supreme.

Lapa has two really iconic landmarks, the steps and the arches. The steps were what I was most familiar with, them having appeared in numerous different pieces of film – the most known to me being the video for Snoop Dog – Beautiful. We’d already partied in Lapa a couple of times (I’ll come to that in a second) before we found the steps, which we did by accident. They’re quite odd really and much longer than I thought they’d be (it must be a lot of work maintaining them), but really striking and very beautiful. Tiles sourced from all over the world are arranged all the way up the 250 steps and beside them, creating a brightly coloured mish-mash of a mosaic. It’s all the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón, his tribute to the Brazilian people apparently which he has been working on since 1990. It all started when he began renovating the steps in front of his own house – basically he just kept going and became obsessed and it has become his life’s work. The cool thing about that is that he’s there most days it seems and I was quite excited to meet him, as it turned out he was quite a blunt aggressive salesman who just rushed us into his little shop and thrust (pretty interesting) artwork into our hands. Not quite what I was hoping for, but I guess he needs to make a living… maybe if I spoke some more Spanish/Portuguese I might have had a more satisfying exchange with him. His shop was roasting hot and I wasn’t really in the market for any art at that moment, so as a massive group of American’s got ushered in we slipped out…

What I really loved Lapa for though was the nightlife. It’s the home of Samba as far as I can tell – with a really lively strip of Samba clubs, bars and restaurants. In the five nights we spent in Rio, three of them involved a visit to Lapa. The place has a real energy to it, hundreds of people out on the street mingling and moving from club to club. Every time we went into Lapa we were with a load of other people from our hostel, and each time there was a knowledgeable Brazilian taking the lead. And being that I was drinking, dancing and generally just having a good time I wasn’t really paying much attention to which particular spots we were hitting, so I can’t give much insight on that front. But each night was different and every time was fantastic – so it seems like somewhere that can’t fail to give you a good time.

Seeing live Samba in a intimate club environment was something I was excited to witness. If you’re into music and dancing, it’s something you can’t miss when visiting Rio. The band, the atmosphere, the energy… it was really amazing to be amongst it and confirmed to me that I’d flown to the right place!