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Brazil - last minute ideas/short trip/Rio-Porto Alegre-San Paulo

Brazil - last minute ideas/short trip/Rio-Porto Alegre-San Paulo

Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 03:15 PM
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Brazil - last minute ideas/short trip/Rio-Porto Alegre-San Paulo

Hello,

I have a very last minute business trip to Brazil, currently finalizing the Visa application from the States, and building in a few days personal days. I've gone through some of the posts here, but unfortunately I'm in a rush as I have to schedule flights.

At the beginning of March, I will be in Porto Alegre for 3-days/4-nights for work with a local employee who has given me some feedback too.

I will fly in through Rio, and out either through Rio or San Paulo (suggestions on that)?

If you could spend two days in each city for tourism, what would you recommend as the must see items if you only had one chance to visit a location? I may be back later in the year, but I'm taking this as a one shot opportunity. I'm a Middle-aged male, no Portuguese, but I've traveled in foreign, mostly non-English speaking countries before.

It looks like there are some great people on here with local knowledge. Thank you for your advice. It will be very much appreciated.

KG
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Old Feb 3rd, 2015, 08:24 AM
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In the Porto Alegre area, you could arrange to travel to the São Miguel Arcanjo ruins, Bento Gonçlaves, and Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra if you have time. Your colleague is probably the best resource for local information. Try to see some gaucho culture. (I am more of a fan of Minas and the northeast in general, though.) March may be getting a bit cool in the south for beach time.
São Paulo is primarily a business city, not particularly touristic. It has good restaurants, clubs, a couple of tall buildings to look out at the others that make up most of the city, a couple of parks, and a few museums where you could learn about Brazilian artists. You could also travel to the nearby craft village of Embu. If given limited time in Brazil, I would spend it elsewhere.
Of the cities mentioned, Rio is where I would choose to spend any non-work time available. There is so much to do and see and hear. Spend a night in Lapa listening to live samba, perhaps at Carioca da Gema club. Explore the neighborhoods, the various beaches, the historic center, the two iconic heights, the Tijuca forest, a museum or two, the Feira Norestina, and more. Take a ferry ride over to Niteroi for the view back toward Rio, the museum, lunch at the fish market, and perhaps a less crowded beach. That's just a small taste of the possibilities in The Marvelous City.
If you can give specifics of what you like to do, perhaps I can give more suggestions.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2015, 03:51 PM
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Thank you! I appreciate the suggestions for Porto Alegre.

It looks like Rio is going to be the destination for my free time. You've actually given me great suggestions already, as it looks like I'll have three days there. I had Sugarloaf and Corcovado/Cristo Redentor on the list of course. I'm not a club/dance person (although fun to watch), but enjoy a good 'pub' for a beer. I love history, local culture and food, and adventure. The Tijuca Forest sounds great as well! I'll be spending some more time on here looking around now, and once I get the hotel set up, see if I can get on a couple of tours to balance the time, do a city tour, and get around to some places more easily.

How difficult overall will not knowing Portuguese be in the touristy areas? I've already read some info on using the radio taxis when possible. Overall, just very excited to see a very small part of Brazil! I've traveled to several countries, but this is my first visit to South America!
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Old Feb 6th, 2015, 04:25 AM
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For information on a Rio neighborhoods, beaches, museums, clubs, etc, the site ipanema.com provides a good overview to become a bit more oriented.
You may not ordinarily be a club person, but the music is an integral part of Rio culture. You could comfortably get a table at Carioca da Gema, and drink your beer while listening to live samba and watching the locals dance "gafieira" style samba. Or swing by tiny Bip Bip Bar to hear some live music with your beer.
You don't need a tour to see most of the city. (Avoid the bus tours that spend most time picking up and dropping off at lots of hotels.) And you don't need a more expensive radio taxi to be safe. Take relatively inexpensive regular yellow taxis. Just look for the name and phone number of the taxi cooperative ( each coop has its own taxi stand in a certain neighborhood, but of course, also pick up passengers wherever they drop off or circulate back as well) painted on the rear fender to know you have a trustworthy ride.
To explore Tijuca, you should either hire a taxi to take you along the paved roads to the vista points and the waterfall and koi pond, where can also sometimes see groups of monkeys along the road, or if you want to get onto some trails and into the jungle a bit, yes, take a tour.
For the downtown historic buildings, either read up on the history or take a walking tour (there are some free or low cost ones). Take a coffee break at the classic Confeitaria Colombo.
As I mentioned, you can on your own take a ferry from Praca XV (near downtown) to Niteroi, a fun ride. Note the fairy tale castle on its own island as you leave the dock in Rio. The views back to Rio are exceptional.
To see some off the beaten path sights, consider hiring a private tour guide with a car, but they are pricey. You should have enough sights to keep you quite busy on your own though for this short visit.
Ask your hotel front desk person for a favorite "pe sujo" if you want an authentic local pub/bar experience. If you want a pub pub like at home, maybe try Lord Jim's.
And no, don't 'expect' anyone, even in the tourism sector, to speak English, although you may find a few to help you out at the hotel. Carry a phrase book and/or dictionary, and try to learn a bit of the language starting now. Lots of audio/video material online.
Be very discreet with your valuables. Carry only what you need for the day, and show as little as possible in public. Do not enter deserted areas/streets, even in upscale looking places. It's OK to stroll in the evening in most hotel districts, but stay vigilant (not paranoid) and take taxis for longer distances.
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Old Feb 6th, 2015, 07:32 AM
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WOW! I think you've given me my itinerary now. If you don't do this for a living, you should! You don't happen to live in Rio, do you?

Carioca da Gema looks great on the web, and the kind of place I'd probably enjoy. I always think of 'clubs' a bit differently, but more than willing to go with your advice. I do wish to hear the music and see the dancing, and of course try an authentic caipirinha. Respecting the local residents and experiencing their city and culture is important to me.

Thank you for the all of tips, especially on getting around, and confirming the language barrier. I already am working on some basic phrases and ordered a phrase book. I've tried learning Spanish and French before, but my brain's just not wired for it I guess.

I'll continue to check back here, as well as report back after my trip.
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Old Feb 12th, 2015, 11:22 AM
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Hi friend. I'm from São Paulo, Brazil. I'm glad you are willing to visit our country.

Sao Paulo really is a business city. It's a huge metropolis. Very expensive city, specially to eat. It's a very rich city in a poor country. I think it's worth a visit if you are a urban kind of guy, who likes to party at night and stuff. I would not risk going to Embu like someone said. Keep in mind that Sao Paulo is a dangerous place, you must know where you are stepping, it certainly is not a place you want to be lost at night.

Well, Rio de Janeiro is a wonderful city they say. I respectfully disagree. Rio is hell, some people call it "Hell de Janeiro". Hot as hell and violent as hell. Very dangerous place indeed. Rio's people are very deceptive, specially taxi drivers. There's a culture of deceiving people there, they think it's "cool" or something. Just make sure you do not get a ride on one of those vans. And don't be mad to go and visit the "favelas", it's very dangerous. You have to know where you are going, and don't trust people there. Trust your good judgement. Don't be a distracted "gringo" (foreigner) or you will be targeted.
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Old Feb 12th, 2015, 08:10 PM
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It seems your screen name certainly describes quite well what you have written, and the OP should give it all the respect it so richly deserves.
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