brazil beach vacation.... or will get mugged?

Old Sep 21st, 2015, 07:35 PM
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brazil beach vacation.... or will get mugged?

Trying to decide on a Thanksgiving adventure location. We LOVE beautiful beaches with warm clear water we can spend all day in (our favorites being Thailand & Caribbean) , but we now also love some culture and trying new food (not too much of that in the Caribbean). So I have a few questions as we debate our next destination:
1. How warm is the weather in Rio Nov/Dec. Water warn and swimmable ? Heard some negative things about water in Brazil???
2. Safety concerns? Hear so much about getting mugged or worse. Please help clear this up. We were in Bangkok last year and felt fine about that. Feel very comfortable in cities like NYC...
3. Plan to spend 10-12 days. Where else should we explore ? I realize that Brazil is huge. Thinking about Buenos Aries2-3 days, then travel to Rio 2-3 days. Have another 6 days- recommendations on a third destination that would give us a good place to do day trips (beach, boat water related mainly) . While we will do some exploring, museums aren't really or thing
4. Cost for a good hotel on the beach? What can we expect. My husband want to make it easy and go to the Caribbean, but room run $400+ Nov/Dec.
5. Cost high of food ? What would be a typically budget per day? $100? Comparing prices to caribbean...

Any advise is greatly appreciated, promise to do a trip report on this one.....
Thanks in advance
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Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 03:05 AM
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1. What the press has picked up about 'water' is about one particular bay in Rio with a narrow opening to the ocean, and which indeed is quite polluted. Unfortunately some Olympic events were planned to take place there.
2. Don't take anything you can't afford, financially or emotionally, to lose. Be vigilant at all times. Do not flash anything of value. Have your carried belongings under hand control. Most crime is opportunistic (like pick pocketing); don't give them the opportunity. Street sense, as in most cities.
You can see weather trends by month by Googling. Temps and rain trends.
3. Rio 4-5 days; Salvador in Bahia state and nearby beach overnights (Morro do São Paulo, Boipeba, Praia do Forte/Guarajuba, Marau among them) for the rest Or add in a couple of days seeing the charming Colonial towns in the mountains of Minas Gerais state (Ouro Preto, Tiradentas, Congonhas, etc)
4. Few hotels ON the beach. Rio has been causing sticker shock the past few years, but...The dollar is doing quite well against the real right now.
5. Food has been about what you might pay at home for quite some time...but again, the dollar has been soaring (was around 2.5 reais to 1 dollar, now closer to 4 to 1) A nice moqueca (seafood stew in coconut milk, traditional dish) in Salvador is about $35-40 reais and feeds two, for example. Rio is a bit more expensive. But U$100/day would do fine. That's about 400 reais per day. (minimum wage in Brazil is about 750 reais....per MONTH!) Some entry fees in Rio (the Christ statue, Sugarloaf) would probably be the biggest expenses besides food and lodging.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 03:07 AM
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And smaller beach destinations, outside the big cities, are much more relaxed (as to #2).
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Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 04:47 AM
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Thanks SamnaChula! Helpful! Can you give me any idea of what to expect at beaches? Any resorts that we can stay at with direct beach access or is it all "bring your own towel and find a spot" set up? Can you give me any insight on brazil beaches verse say caribbean or Florida beaches? Are they particularly beautiful or would our trip be more focused on culture/people/food?

Also, how safe is it for us to venture out at in the evening? Dinner/salsa? Is a taxi safe? Any suggestions on evening activities?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 04:51 AM
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Come on, SamnaChula! I'm sure you can answer any and all questions about Brazil!

Just kidding, as usual.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 06:54 AM
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You don’t bring towels to the beach in Brazil! Buy a canga (sarong) to use. It’s hot enough so you don’t need to dry off. Most beaches have vendors who rent chairs and umbrellas, and who serve food and drinks. Other vendors of crafts, beachwear, tanning lotion, food, etc. walk by regularly at the populated beaches. The beach is a life-style in Brazil, not just an activity.
In Rio, it’s a people watching scene, and the type changes among the numbered “postos” (lifeguard stands) that mark the beach. There are really no resorts (and few in Brazil as a whole).
The beaches in Bahia are IMO some of the most beautiful. Do some research on YouTube using the names above to see what they’re like.

In Rio, if you go out at night, out of the neighborhood you’re staying in, take a taxi. Most of the regular yellow taxis belong to a cooperative (which has a fixed taxi stand) and has the name and phone number painted on the back fender.

Salsa is NOT a Brazilian rhythm (although I guess you can find some in Rio if you try hard enough). We don’t speak Spanish either. :-0
The music of Brazil is unique. The popular rhythm in Rio is samba, both the type for Carnaval and the type that is partner danced in clubs. Lapa is one good place to hear it, maybe at Carioca da Gema club. You can also dance to forro, a rhythm found all over the country. The Feira Nordestino in the Sao Conrado neighborhood is a good place to hear it and learn about the culture of that region. And there are dozens of other rhythms that are uniquely Brazilian, many of which originate in Salvador.

A good resource for things to do and see in Rio is www.ipanema.com
A good resource for things to do and see in Salvador is www.salvadorcentral.com
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Old Sep 22nd, 2015, 02:56 PM
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Please post with any other questions you may have.
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 05:46 AM
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Thanks for all the input so far. Does anyone have more information on the beach cities you recommend-Salvador in Bahia state and nearby beach overnights (Morro do São Paulo, Boipeba, Praia do Forte/Guarajuba, Marau verse towns in the mountains of Minas Gerais state (Ouro Preto, Tiradentas, Congonhas, etc )What is the best way to get there from Rio? How long would it take? Which do you recommend for a few days? -we like warm swimmable water, we do like interacting with people and would like something to do at night/ dinner options, but would like to feel safe to be able to swim without feeling that our staff would disappear...

also, what is the process to get a Visa? We both have US passports. Looking to travel Nov 20.

Huge thanks in advance !!
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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Visa process: APPLY IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's getting VERY LATE to apply for that departure date.
What state do you live in? You must apply at the Brazilian Consulate that has jurisdiction. There is an online form that is the first step. If you can go in person, better, but not all allow by mail, so you may have to use a visa service. All the Consulates have slightly different requirements.

You can use Youtube to see videos of the locations mentioned.
I mean..... it's mountains vs. beaches. Your choice.
All those places would allow for interacting with people, and some activity at night, but if you don't speak Portuguese, how are you intending to do that? Just mingle with other foreigners?
Fly to Salvador.
Fly to Belo Horizonte or comfortable bus from Rio (6-7 hrs)to the Colonial towns.
When you swim, you ask someone nearby, maybe a family, to watch your stuff, and then you watch theirs. The chair vendor watches too. You don't need to bring anything but a bit of cash anyway, and a canga/sarong you can buy there and everyone has. (I happen to use one of those waterproof containers that hang around my neck and tucks into my bathing suit or if a man's suit has a zipped pocket, they'll take wet money as well as dry.
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 08:13 AM
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And also....
Once you get to Salvador, there are a lot of city beaches along the coast from Porto da Barra all the way out to Itapúa near the airport (about an hour). Praia do Forte/Guarajuba is beyond that, north, by bus from the main bus station. Beaches south can be reached by ferry/bus/boat combo from Salvador (about 4 hours, but a very atmospheric journey with locals) or Morro by catamaran (2 hours, can be rough).
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 10:59 AM
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Thanks, I'll get to work on the VISA. We I've in Ohio.

In 12 days, would this be crazy to try:
Arrive BA argentia-3 days explore, then head to Ihha Grande/Big Island for a day, then on to Rio for 2 days, then end at beaches of Transoco Bahia or Fernando De Noroha Island for 4 days before flying back to US via Salvador?

Not sure how the logistics would work???
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 01:00 PM
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In 12 days, would this be crazy to try:
Arrive BA argentia-3 days explore, then head to Ihha Grande/Big Island for a day, then on to Rio for 2 days, then end at beaches of Transoco Bahia or Fernando De Noroha Island for 4 days before flying back to US via Salvador?
--------------------------------------------------
First of all, if you want my help here, please do not parrot one word of what that Googling idiot montaaaay on twit advisors is writing (ie this "Big Island" translation stupidity is his wording).
----------------
http://chicago.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/visas.xml
If you can go to Chicago in person to drop off documents (From 9:00am to 11:00am, Monday through Friday, first-come, first-served), you can have the visa mailed back to you. (Note: I have driven from Dayton area to Chicago in the winter just to spend a few hours at the art museum, so I do know what that drive entails.) Or send documents by mail for a slightly longer process.
------------------

In 12 days, would this be crazy to try?"
YES.

Buenos Aires 3 days
Fly to Sao Paulo and leave immediately for an 8 hour ride to Ilha Grande for a day's stay
a full day to travel to Rio
Rio 2 days (inadequate to see the city)
a day to fly to Porto Seguro and then transit through Arrial D'ajuda to Trancoso
or fly to Recife or Natal (without seeing either)to fly on to Fernando de Noronha
4 days in one of those locations
a day to get to Salvador
(14 days already)
??days in Salvador with ?? time to explore city and area beaches
and you have not left yourself sufficient time to actually see and enjoy any of the places this crazy travel plan has gotten you to.
----------------
Better:
Fly into Rio. (Usually an overnight flight) Arrive early am day 1.
Day 1-4 Rio (2 days is not enough for Rio)
Day 5 Fly to Porto Seguro. Transfer to Trancoso.
Day 6-8 Trancoso
Day 8 night bus to Salvador
Day 9-12 Salvador and 1 day trip to Praia do Forte.
Day 13 Fly home
___________
or
Fly into Rio. (Usually an overnight flight) Arrive early am day 1.
Day 1-4 Rio (2 days is not enough for Rio)
Day 4 night bus to Minas
Day 5-8 Tiradentes, Ouro Preto/Mariana, by bus, Belo Horizonte (2 hours from Ouro PReto to Belo Horizonte)
Day 9 fly from Belo Horizonte to Salvador
part of day 9-12 Salvador
fly home from Salvador
______
Still, both a bit fast, but......
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 02:12 PM
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Thanks for that. I'll have to look up some of those locations. Would like to see Buenos Aires, but you seem to skip it? Why? Why do you suggest Salvador so strongly?
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Old Sep 26th, 2015, 05:45 AM
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If you want to include Buenos Aires, I'd suggest a few days there, a stopover at the spectacular falls at Iguacu, and on, for a few days in Rio.

But there's so much to see in Brazil, that my suggestion would be to save Argentina for another trip, and explore more of the country at that time.

And I like Brazilian culture.

Salvador, and its African based culture, is the beating heart of the country. The unique music came to Rio with immigrants from Bahia and became the samba of Carnaval, world famous. The still-practiced African religions and dance-like capoeira self-defense style speak with great pride of the origins of the majority of present day Brazilians. Beautiful beaches, one of the best Colonial areas in the country, lots of music and lovely, open, friendly people are what attract me.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 08:04 PM
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Sweetness, don't know if you have started your visa process yet, but we just got ours for our November trip. It took 21 days, without any special expediting. We used an office in Los Angeles that does the running around, and paid a tad more for that service. Maybe you have something like that near you, or you could send passports overnight to a service in Chicago that is similar. Good luck!
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Old Oct 10th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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Note: the Brazilian Consulate websites state that no "special expediting" or rush service exists for their process. Several state that the process for a visa agency takes slightly longer than for an individual.
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