So as the regular readers know I will be releasing an ebook soon on How To Go To World Cup Russia 2018, that being said my experiences in Brazil for those people new to this blog were all during World Cup 2014. I traveled all over the country through many cities, however since a lot of it had to do with World Cup some of my Brazil travel tips may not apply. But anyway, here is my Brazil report.
It's the center of South America, one of the largest countries in the world, and it was the center of the world in 2014 during the FIFA World Cup, I was blessed to catch so much of the action first hand, and football or no football, Brazil is still a great place to visit! Here's how I spent 1 month down there and spent about $5,000 (you could budget half if not going during World Cup) when all was said and done, I will leave out a lot some of the budget stuff here as it would only apply to world cup, but include the universal stuff :)
- Street food is going to be your best friend, at least for awhile. I can't tell you how much eating chicken empanadas saved me money instead of going out to eat 3x a day. They were delicious, although of course after your 30th empanada it may be time for a change...
- If you are with a group many restaurants offer a 2 pessoas (2 person option) being the stupid Americans that we were we had an awkward night when we didn't realize the four of us ordered food for 8! No wonder why the wait staff was giving us odd looks! But it's a good savings if you order right!
- When you enter some bars, restaurants, or clubs they will give you a drink card/food card. This is not a free for all, it tracks what you buy and you pay when you leave. While I understand this helps against theft can you imagine the absolute shit show when you leave the bar with 40 other people at the same time?
- Carnivale Tips! Ok granted I wasn't there for Carnivale, but the prices for World Cup were about the same I was told, that being said, it is extremely expensive, so consider using airbnb, that was our best accommodations, 2nd place VRBO, 3rd place hostels (all the budget hostels we stayed at were pretty bad, read those reviews on tripadvisor!), and finally hotels if you wanna splurge. I also had several Brazilians offer me a spot couch surfing which I ended up not needing as plans changed.
- Carnivale or no Carnivale, Brazil is expensive. Especially the major cities in the tourist areas, a subway Sandwich meal might be as much as $12 USD. Carefully budget things out and try to avoid chain stores and find the good deals or load up on a buffet (opposite of what I'd advise in my fitness blog) so you don't have to go out to eat often.
- If you speak Spanish, let me warn you, IT WILL NOT GET YOU BY WITH PORTUGUESE. I am fairly fluent in Spanish and was confident there would be enough cognates, or similar words that I'd have no problems in Brazil. I also thought that since it is bordered by so many Spanish speaking countries many Brazilians would speak Spanish. I was very wrong. Check out my tips for languages here.
- The best things in life are free... The beaches is one of the main attractions in Brazil, while some cities had signs of poverty, crime, and despair, their beaches don't show it, the Brazilian people value their beach culture and it makes for an excellent day of playing soccer, going for a run, or just soaking up the sun and atmosphere.
- Speaking of beaches my 2nd favorite stop on the tour was Florianopolis, this is one of the nicest cities I have ever been to in the World, in peak season of Brazilian summer you can find places up to $1000 a night, and some clubs charge a $2000 cover to get in!!! This is USD I am talking about! However we were lucky to go off season and enjoy it all for pennies on the dollar, paying $15 to get into classy bars and $1000 for the week for a house on the beach! If you don't mind missing the party scene of peak season I can't recommend a nicer spot to catch in Brazil to go in the off season!
- Rio De Janerio and Sao Paulo are of course the biggest tourist cities, personally I didn't think they were the best, but certainly had great atmospheres and things to do. For Sao Paulo it is uncontested amongst expert travelers The Taste Of Sao Paulo Food Tour is the best way to soak up some culture and get a great bite to eat while learning about the history of the city. And of course for Rio Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf mountain, and who can forget the World Famous Copacabana Beach, where along with thousands of other fans we watched Germany win over Argentina. I would have loved to hang glide, but the weather was bad :( Two great cities to visit, but like I said, don't spend too much time there if you can make it out to see the rest of the beautiful country. Oh and don't be one of those guys that puts the same my arms are spread like Christ The Redeemer pic on your facebook that millions of others have.
- Foz Do Iguacu, where else can you walk to 3 countries in one day and see the coolest falls in South America? Nuff said.
- Be sure to do everything you can to catch a football/soccer game while you are down there! To not to do so would be like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower.
- You don't know a crowded bus until you have been to South America... I've mentioned this in other posts, but be ready to be packed like sardines, and watch your belongings for pick pockets. City buses are packed to the brink, BUT!!!!
- Long distance buses between cities were super comfortable! I was pleasantly surprised by the long distance buses. You can even catch a good snooze on em, much better and more comfortable than an airplane seat.
- Recife was where my Brazil journey began after a brutal combination of flights thanks to World Cup commotion. It's a great beach city but overall I'd say skip it unless you have a lot of time. Recife is more for Brazilians that live in the north east to go on holiday, so while it's a nice place, there are simply better spots to visit, and the beach has a lot of sharks!
Boa Viagem Beach, Recife, Brazil
- Personally, my favorite city of the many we went to, was hands down Salvador...
Entering Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil
- Salvador is one of Brazil's most dangerous cities, shortly before World Cup police had gone on strike leading to a murder rampage, the poverty is there too, the streets are broken up, buildings in desperate need of repair and it's definitely not very clean. But for me, it was home. Like all struggling cities, in the midst of the madness you find the strength of the people surviving there. The reception to me, the low budget food, the beach soccer, the cheap day pass for the gym, and the friends made this place my favorite of the trip. I will warn it is not for everyone. It had your basics for tourism for a beach city, and certainly is dangerous. But being street smart, not going out late, and just watching your belongings (or doing what I do and don't bring expensive stuff in the first place) can make this a great part of seeing Brazil. To me it just reflected the people that built Brazil, the middle class and lower class that make this a country.
Old City Salvador
|Salvador during Holiday Festivals|
All in all, it is such a big country to visit, if you have a lot of time see the whole thing, and if you don't make the most of the time you have. A country like Brazil is one of the many I have been to that has its rough sides, it's ludicrous prices, and some ludicrous people, but of course it also has it's beauty, in the country, and in the people.