[Travel Advice] Brazil – Rio de Janero and Parati

Random Observation/Comment #357: “There are no pretty women in Brazil.” is what I practiced saying to my gf throughout the trip.

see lemons in parati

Things Brazil Does Well:

  • Churrascaria (A.K.A. Brazilian barbecue, A.K.A. all-you-can-eat meat heaven) is awesome and relatively cheap. You must do this at least once while you’re here and you’ll be mighty satisfied afterwards. Eat all the meat.
    • Note that too much meat in a diet is a poor health choice and causes constipation. Remember to vary by eating some fruits and fiber as well. Trust me. You will shit a ton of bricks.
    • Also note that only tourists go before 8PM, so they’ll set up the buffet with less awesome meat. The later dinners get better cuts and live entertainment. We went to the one near Copacobana called Churrascaria Palace.
  • Beaches. Ipanema beach is clearly the better one for the youth . In my opinion, Copacabana beach has better Caipirinhas at those yellow umbrella stands for 6 Reals. If this wasn’t obvious, I’ll say it here: Women tend to wear less clothes than they should. They’re all extremely proud of their curves because they know they have the flavor.
  • Caipirinhas. I had around 10 of these sweet concoctions and they probably made me fat from all that sugar. The entire drink is filled to the brim with cuchasa rum, so get ready to have 4 shots per drink.

Lessons Learned:

  • Buses have been given somewhat of a bad reputation. I think it’s the only way all the locals travel. Some of the major lines have a guy collecting money and calling all the stops in English. I wouldn’t be too worried going from one tourist destination to another.
  • If you’re at a bar and a pretty girl wearing slutty clothes and high heels eyes you heavily, she’s probably a prostitute. I’m probably over generalizing, but she’s also probably a prostitute.
  • In September, there are surprisingly no bugs in Brazil. I found the weather to be absolutely perfect.
  • Cigarettes are $3 for Lucky Strikes, but no one smokes them
  • When in doubt, take a taxi. It’s more expensive, but I think during rush hour, I would rather be taking a taxi than getting stuck on a long line in Ipanema.
  • Wear sunscreen and reapply after you get into the water. It’s a rule for everywhere, but I felt the sun in Rio was stronger
  • Order random things on the menu because you’ll be pleasantly surprised (you might get a bowl of bones)
  • For safety reasons, do not take out your smartphone when you’re taking public transportation or in the streets. I have not seen a lot of smartphones in Rio and I imagine it’s because people don’t show it off or rely on it as much as they might in NYC.
  • Beware of the shoeshine scam. Some old guy will walk past you and throw this white shoe polish on your shoe. Next, he will wander over and offer to shine your shoe and then ask for money. This happened to my friend twice on the Copacabana beach strip.
  • If you’re renting an apartment while in Rio and there’s a stove, you should learn how to cook a steak (which is not too difficult).  The meat is basically half price per kilo to everything I’ve ever seen.
  • If you have the time, go out of town to Parati. The bus is around $25 USD one way and the old town is what I imagined Brazil to be. It’s touristy for Sao Paulo vacationers, but extremely friendly to backpackers.
  • In Parati, for a quick snack, order the “frango salgado”. It’s similar to a chicken croquet with mashed potatoes inside. I am biased when there’s mashed potatoes in anything.
  • I’m not sure why this isn’t mentioned in tour guides, but the streets in the old town of Parati become small canals during high tide. Wear appropriate footwear or you might get stuck on a corner
  • In Parati, go see Gonzalo for a kayak tour. He’s a great tour guide and he’ll tell you all his crazy stories
  • Instead of the Caipirinha, try the local Jorge Amado. It tastes like honey and clover with seeds. They add passion fruit to the concoction and use the honey and clover cuchasa instead of the regular kind.

Rio de Janero reminded me of a small section of Barcelona. It’s slightly dangerous and filled with little touristy things to do throughout the day. What I was more impressed with was the little quaint town of Parati, which reminded me a bit of San Sebastian. To me, the real personality comes out in the live music and unpaved roads. The colors throughout Parati are unreal and the reflections with the high tide canals are gorgeous. It’s a bit more expensive because Parati has become such a tourist location, but I dig it.

~See Lemons Love Brazil