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Traveling in Brazil

Chips

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I am planing on making my first trip abroad at the end of February and am headed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a friend from work who is from El Salvador. I guess Carnival is one hell of a party there ( and a good maven for pick pockets and other thievery)

I have searched the forums and have already picked up some sage advice about safety, etc, while visiting. That plus reading the info on Brazil that is available on the State Dept's website paints a very disturbing picture of the place. But there is little to no info regarding shopping for mens goods in those threads, that I could find.

I will be sure to leave all jewelry and expensive clothing etc. at home. I will likely buy a very slim digital camera, one that can easily be hidden in a pocket. My friend can hopefully help me not get robbed, since he will blend in. I was hoping I could gather any useful tips from anyone familiar with shopping in Rio de Janeiro particularly.

1) Is there good deals to find there with local tailors? Cobblers?

2) Any particular items that are a good idea to look for while there? ( I am hoping to pick up a nice Panama hat someday) This would be the appropriate section for snarky comments like picking up VD, stab wounds etc.


3) Any heads up safety wise? I have heard about the duplication of credit cards numbers, and the problem with taxi's etc.



Basically, I'm trying to get as informed as I can now, so I can enjoy the trip. I think I will pick up some Portuguese language teaching materials soon, and start studying. I don't want to spend all my time worrying about all that can go wrong while I'm there for two weeks. I just want to make it a good time.

Thanks in advance.
 

Shirtmaven

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rio is fantastic.
Don't waste your time shopping for clothing other then sandels, sportswear and soccer jerseys.

Women's clothing is much more interesting.

take very little to the beach. you will have fun. just try not to look like a mark.

Carl
 

stickonatree

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yea there are very little "SF approved" sartorial places over there. i agree with shirtmaven about just buying soccer jerseys and whatnot, as well as some havaianas
good exchange rate right now, too, much better than when i was there this summer. as for safety - carnaval (correct portuguese spelling) is pretty wild for sure. i wouldn't even bother with a camera period, you will be much better off without it. for exploring the city in general, it's not as bad as people say. yes, there are an assload of warnings about how it's the kidnapping capitol of the world, but as long as you're not stupidly waving around money or walking down dark alleys at night, you'll be fine. i explored NE brazil for a month in various cities, walking by myself at night (i'm a photographer so i carried a big camera), and being asian in 99% black cities, and i was only accosted once, ending without negative consequence. as long as you stay away from the favelas (on the hills), you will be ok. also carry bills in different pockets, don't bring more than you need. lastly - don't forget to try some cachaça + guaraná, equally good as a caipirinha!
 

Chips

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I've heard of Cachaca, but am unfamiliar with the other drinks.

I don't plan on bringing any watch or rings or anything like that. Nothing but a suitcase full of shorts, tee's and maybe some polos, and some good sunblock. But I figured the beautiful sights were worth capturing. So that's the reason for the slim pocket cam.

Do some people put most of the money they need to carry in a shoe, and leave like the equivalent of $5 in a pocket to hand over to a guy with a knife/gun? I don't want to start down a road where I fret over a bunch of crap that probably wont even happen. I'm 6'3" and thick, so perhaps I wont look like someone to try to rob.

I certainly wont be carrying around anything flashy or expensive. But if there was any places to pick up some nice shirts or have a suit made, then I figured that would be a good memento.

Thanks again for any tips.
 

DrZRM

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I lived in Rio for two years while I was doing research for my degree. While there is clearly crime and danger--like any big city--it's not generally as bad as one hears. Most violent crime in Brazilian cities is not random, kidnappers really target their victims very efficiently and you probably don't have enough money (nor would you be there long enough) for them to bother, most of the murders happen within the community of criminals and police. I'm frankly more scared of the police than the criminals in Brazil. That said, anyone can get mugged, I just split up my money into various pockets, and never carry more than I need. I'd get out $100-200 at a time from an ATM and would never carry more than that on the streets, go to the beach with $40 for beer and snacks. keep around $50 in any given pocket, if you fish out $5 for a mugger he (they) will know you are protecting a stash and a very unpleasant experience is going to get dragged out while they rifle through all of your pockets. I'm 6'3", speak Portuguese, and can generally pass for Brazilian if I don't talk too much, so I never had a problem. In fact I used buses, metros, and walked around at night more than most gringos probably would have. I always wore a watch, but never an expensive one, Casio G Force or Seiko. You should certainly bring a camera, just know to give it up if you get mugged. Leave your passport in the hotel safe if you have one, just carry a copy, don't bring your whole wallet out at night, just one credit card.

In terms of fashion, São Paulo has much better industry than Rio, and frankly, most wealthy Brazilians go to New York or Europe to buy clothes. I'm sure there are good tailors there, like any city, but don't go out of your way. There is hardly a restaurant in the country that you need more than jeans and a collared shirt to get into, but there are certainly places you can't go wearing shorts or sneakers at night.

Taxis can be expensive if you are coming back from the Sambadrome (where the heart of carnaval happens) to a hotel in Ipanema or Lablon, so stick another 100 reals in your shoe or your little pocket in your shorts so you are not stranded, try not to use ATMs at night unless you are inside of a mall or well lit public place. The bathrooms at any big gathering (concert, festival, carnaval) is going to get very wet throughout the night, sometimes you'll be sloshing through puddles to get to a urinal, so I always avoid flip-flops for this type of even. Bring some leather Chucks or something.

Have fun! Rio is a great city. Try to get out to Barra Grill (my favorite all you can eat BBQ) for a sick meal. They will send a car to a hotel for a free pickup if you have the concierge call, but you may need to take a taxi back.
 

Golf_Nerd

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Originally Posted by DrZRM
... Most violent crime in Brazilian cities is not random, kidnappers really target their victims very efficiently ...

I heard it is dangerous. So don't wear a suit (they think you are rich then), or stay home (better).
 

JoelF

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Very good advice above re. how to conduct yourself when travelling, well, almost anywhere. It always amazes me the total paranoia displayed by typical gringos when they confront the terrifying prospect of leaving the USA.

Actually on my trip last summer I thought there were some pretty interesting clothes and shopping in Brazil. The Jardins area of Sao Paolo has a lot of cool stores. The real has devalued so there definitely could be some deals. Don't know anything about Rio though.

Only issue for this gringo was that the Spanish they speak in Brazil sounds a lot different from what I'm used to down in Mexico.
 

DrZRM

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I think you are joking right? You know they speak Portuguese, not Spanish, in Brazil?

Originally Posted by JoelF
Only issue for this gringo was that the Spanish they speak in Brazil sounds a lot different from what I'm used to down in Mexico.
 

JoelF

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Originally Posted by DrZRM
I think you are joking right? You know they speak Portuguese, not Spanish, in Brazil?

Well that right there explains the problem I was having.
 

Douglas

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Originally Posted by JoelF
Well that right there explains the problem I was having.

 

DrZRM

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OK, that shit really was funny. I assume you were joking, but I now hope you were not.

Originally Posted by JoelF
Well that right there explains the problem I was having.
 

JoelF

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Sorry, just being a bit of a troll, couldn't resist.
 

Chips

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Thanks for the tips. Probably not a bad idea about splitting the money up in slightly bigger denominations. But that would be better than loosing it all, or getting into more trouble than I need.

We need to go to Florence, Italy or Somewhere in Greece instead....
 

DrPat

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I work with a Brazilian from Rio and he says that being robbed is just a part of life there. Just in case it happens to you and you can't communicate with the criminal, be aware that he may give you a small amount of money back. You are supposed to buy a bus ticket with this, get on the next bus, and travel several stops before getting off again. Also, like Stickonatree said, be aware if you start walking up hills. It's not unheard of that tourists mistakenly wander into the favelas and get shot. Especially since some are located near the more popular beaches.

Don't spend more than a day Florence if you decide to go to Italy. The Uffizi is definitely worth seeing but the city is filled with fat American women buying overpriced ice cream cones. And it's common to be robbed in Italy as well. Stealing is a major income source in some tourist towns, according to a tour guide friend of mine.
 

Chips

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This is getting more depressing by the day. I'm going to end up spending $4,000 and I don't want to have to worry about all that BS while I'm there. I definitely want to get out and see the sights around Rio.

I get it that tourism brings out a lot of shady people, but I was just talking to someone today who was telling me how easy it is that these criminals hang around ATM's and wait for someone to come around, and then rob them blind.

Ireland is sounding good right about now....
 

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