It’s amazing how many things can say ‘you’re a tourist here’, and while thinking of all of them is almost impossible, the basic’s always good to be known. From eating in a weird position to talking loudly or dressing oddly, there’s always something to put you off when you want to live like a local someplace new. But during the World Cup this year, given the state of things where everything’s overcrowded, we strongly believe that if you manage to do the basics no one will bother looking for the details.
1. Don’t rent a car!
Under no circumstance should you do something as deadly as renting a car t0 drive it yourself. We know, you do have a lot of driving experience and maybe you’ve visited an entire load of countries by this rule, but it simply doesn’t apply here. The traffic looks as if it was guided by rules from outer space, and you’ll live under the impression that you’re following a weird dance of zigzags, tailgating and samba – the mere imagine of the traffic jam, especially during a peak season is both scary and fascinating. ‘Jeito’ is a national concept meaning ‘way’ and it implies living around the rules and always finding a possibility if not to break, at least to avoid them. All we’re saying, despite your life-long experience, beware of jeito.
And as far as traveling inside the country goes, try not being too overwhelmed by the long period of time which takes to complete small routes – it’s something natural here. It’s not even a matter of possibility, the locals are so perfectly used with the traffic congestion that not only they’re never surprized, but they’re always ready: a snack, some soda, maybe a pack of cigarettes are things you’ll always find among the drivers. As far as we’ve noticed, jeito seems to work as a wicked coping mechanisms from all points of view.
2. Visit and speak of Salvador
Or else people will think you’re boring and have no interest in having fun whatsoever. This is just how it works. And don’t get your expectations too high – if by fun you understand visiting museums and crucial cultural monuments, you may as well sit in your ho(s)tel room all day. You won’t find any typical tourist attractions, no equivalent of La Tour Eiffel, no baguettes or hunchbacks either. There’s plenty of fun, in return. The city is oh, so friendly with all the tourists, it’s got the good vibes every cozy place has to live by and the people are amazing here: always polite, always willing to sit and drink and talk and dance and change impressions with you. In other words, you’re safe here if all you’ve always wanted was networking over a glass (or bottle) of beer.
The carnival here puts every other thing in shadows, gathering over 800,000 people every year – and yes, you’re assuming right, much more than his fellow brother Rio. All unofficial, no dress code, no invitations, no nothing. Just good music, great time spend outdoors for a few days and the city’s general atmosphere and vibration shared with almost a million souls. Otherwise, if it’s not the time of year with the carnival, you’ll find all else but the crowds. The city does live you under the impression that fun never leaves.
3. Don’t eat in restaurants
I mean, you can – once, twice at most. But not daily. It’s not only expensive as something-it-would-be-slightly-impolite-to-name-here, but it’s not that tasty either. And no, we’re not suggesting starvation. The street food is one of the most flavored and tasty you’ll ever try. So take this as an alternative. You’ll also see that the locals are not very fond of their restaurants, either.
Concerning what specifically they eat, my only personal advice is don’t do as they do unless you’re ready to experience some if not bad, at least mixed, feelings. Again, not even the locals do it very often, and neither should you. Yes, knowing the name (but just the name) of a fancy restaurant could come in handy, but more like a reference position than actual place to eat. ‘You know that place near Aprazivel in Rio? Well, let’s meet there and then go have some delicious junk food.’
One of the few restaurants you’ll probably enjoy as a foreigner as much as the locals do is Bar do Adao (Rua Dona Mariana, 81, Rio), especially if you’re into sweets and fruit of all tastes, fillings and combinations. For the carnivores, on the other hand, Porcao (ua Barão da Torre, 218 or Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, Aterro do Flamengo). And it’s even more heavenly (if possible) if you’re starving. Don’t forget to order a fresh juice along with the food, it’s what the locals are most fond of.
4. Know the average expenses
Given that this is not quite the top of civilization, you should know that the danger of being robbed, if not officially, at least on the basis of overpricing, is quite high. So there’s a list of the average expenses in Brazil, after which you should guide your entire stay. Whenever anyone would like to charge you more, make sure you’ve established the paying conditions from the beginning and this is your basis for it.
hostel: from £12/ €15
2/3 stars hotel: from £60/ €75
airbnb: from £16/ €20
burger and fries: from £1.60/ €2
three course meal: from £14/ €18
beer/cooler/wine: from £1/ €1.20
shooters: £1.60/ €2
cocktails: £2.40/ €3
As we’re talking about the transport, you should know that the metro is both fast and safe, it won’t take you ages to get from point A to point B. You should also know that the metro doesn’t work after midnight and the safest thing to do is taking a cab. Ask for the most popular two companies and always switch between them (ore only use one of them), since there are many others not quite reliable.
5. Don’t miss the beaches
Despite not being the most civilized place you’ve ever been to, Brazil does live with the money it makes on tourism. So the beaches are not only safe and fun, they’re also one of the top things that both the tourists and the locals love. And we know it’s not the most extraordinary thing to do, but surely it is one of the best leisure activities. The beaches are clean, the services of whatever pubs and shops and restaurants are impecable, and the people – which is very important – are always polite on the beach, so that everyone gets to spend some quality time here.