Monday, March 26, 2018

BRAZIL - the complete travel guide

Actually, I think that there are countries that are automatically on every traveller's bucket list: Australia, India...and Brazil is a country like that, too.


Brazil / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
These are only three highlights Brazil has to offer - kind of an appetizer.

For me, the danger with these standard bucket list countries is that since they are permanently there, I feel no rush to visit. I always knew that I wanted to explore Brazil one day. Yes, one day....

....and then this day came much sooner than I expected and I'm very happy that I finally connected with this marvelous country.

That I've spent last month in Brazil was sort of a happy incident: Two years ago, I was searching the internet for a reasonably priced Portuguese course for my 'Bildungsurlaub', my educational leave. I've explained this program in an earlier post.
While checking all these overpriced schools in Lisbon, I suddenly found a page where Portuguese lessons in Brazil were advertised*. What?!? Educational leave in Brazil?! How cool would that be?! That year, it would have been to complicated to organize quickly a trip; but I never again forgot about it - and this February my dream came true.


Brazil / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
How cool is that?! I'm actually in Brazil - paying Cristo Redentor a visit.

Did I put a check mark on my bucket list? No way! Brazil is far too big and diverse to be visited in only four weeks - plus I had to stay for two weeks in Rio de Janeiro for my language class. But I've basically finished the southern part, now I'm planning to go back next year to see the Caribbean coast and some of the Amazon region in the north.

But before I make further plans, let me take you with me to the places I've seen - all of them were marvelous and mostly even nicer than I expected them to be.

Brazil / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
In case you forget, a spray sign on the pavement along Praia da Ipanema reminds you:
"Stop here, appreciate life for a minute and smile".
Brazil gives you tons of opportunities to do so.

Brazil is the fifth largest state of the world (after Russia, Canada, the US, and China). It's the largest - covering almost half of the continent - and most populous South American country - they have about 210 millions inhabitants. Chile und Ecuador are the only two countries in South America not bordering Brazil.

The thing  Brazil has in common with every country in the Americas is a cruel and colonial past; and like most of them a rough political development. By the contract of Tordesillas, Brazil became a Portuguese colony in 1494. Over the following three centuries, the country was populated by immigrants from many different countries; and by slaves stolen from Africa. Till this day, Brazil has an impressive ethnic variety and I didn't notice any racism (although Brazilians might disapprove - and in this case, I'd love to hear from you, since I can only report what I've seen).

After its independence in 1822, Brazil became a constitutional monarchy and eventually a republic in 1889.

From 1964 till 1985, Brazil was ruled by a military government. While particularly the indigenous population suffered from human rights violations, the economy improved and many prestigious projects were initiated (such as Usina Itaipú in Foz do Iguaꞔu). Unprofitable governmental enterprises and a high accumulation of debts were the consequences of this policy.


Brazil / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
The pride of two nations: Usina Itaipú in Foz do Iguaꞔa at the border to Paraguay.

Finally, after over three decades of dictatorship, in 1985 began the 'Nova República' - a democratic, presidential government.

Brazil's landscape varies from rain forests in the Amazonas in the north to hills and mountains in the south. And of course there are the endless shores along the Atlantic ocean were most of the bigger cities are located.

While 93 per cent of the Atlantic coastal rain forest are destroyed, the tropical rain forest of the Amazonas is one of world's largest jungles.

Since Brazil used to be a Portuguese colony, people speak Portuguese, surprisingly few people speak decent English. I therefore strongly recommend to learn at least some Portuguese before visiting, e. g. online with babbel.com.

The currency in Brazil is the Real (plural Reais) and the rate is 1 US$ = 3,29 R$ (March 2018), for further conversion check this page.

I stayed for two weeks in Rios - because I did an intensive language course* - but I made a trip to Belo Horizonte at the weekend.


Brazil / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
One of my trip's highlights: Visiting Inhotim Botanic Garden in Brumadinho, about one hour from Belo Horizonte.

After my course was over, I went to São Paulo - Bonito (via Campo Grande) - Curitiba - Foz do Iguaꞔu. Since I had only twelve days for the road trip, I made it basically an air trip: Besides the route from Rio to São Paulo, where I went by bus, I was flying.


Brazil / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Booking ahead makes flying affordable.

The tickets were pretty cheap since I had booked them about two months ahead. However, if I had more time, I wouldn't mind going by bus: The overland buses in Brazil are very comfortable and clean and I totally see myself getting some sleep when travelling at night.

The urban public transport in general is also very good albeit not that cheap (about 1 US$ per trip - not matter how close or far you are going).

When travelling to Brazil, you can leave your kitchen sink at home: In larger cities, you can buy everything you might need, unfortunately you'll even find all these globally operating food, fashion, and cosmetics chains.

The detailed information on each of my stops is found on these pages:

RIO DE JANEIRO
BELO HORIZONTE
INHOTIM
SÃO PAULO
BONITO











CURITIBA
MORRETES
FOZ DO IGUACU
RATING 













* If you are interested in learning Portuguese in Brazil (or another language in another 'exotic' destination like Argentina, Jamaica, or South Africa), check out the agency 'lernen und helfen'. What I like about them is that they make sure that you are well integrated by staying with a local family and introduced to regional traditions, customs and everyday life. They want you to learn about the culture and not just the language. You can book a class on your regular vacation or you can do a combined trip - travelling and learning
"lernen & helfen Sprachreisen" is certified by various organisations for their ethic, social, and ecological awareness.
In a world where travelling becomes more and more affordable, hence common, I find that this awareness has to be raised accordingly.
More travelling - less tourism.


After all these information, here are the rather entertaining and inspiring stories behind every destination I've visited:


Class of Brazil - 1st Lesson: We Have it Good

Class of Brazil - 2nd Lesson: Danger Seems Closer from Afar

Class of Brazil - 3rd Lesson: It is a Hellish Path to a Heavenly Place

Class of Brazil - 4th Lesson: I Am What I Am

Class of Brazil - 5th Lesson: I Call Them Like I See Them

Class of Brazil - 6th Lesson: Bonito - Nomen Est Omen

Class of Brazil - 7th Lesson: Curitiba - and the Meaning of Means

Class of Brazil - 8th Lesson: Day Trip to Morretes - Planning On Not Planning

Class of Brazil - 9th Lesson: Foz do Iguaꞔu and the Games Without Frontiers


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53 comments:

  1. Brazil is huge so I can understand why you needed more time especially since you were taking language classes. Did the classes help?

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    1. Totally, Komal. I had individual classes, four hours one on one = bootcamp!

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  2. This sounds super exciting! I've heard that Brazil is amazing! It's great that you're planning to explore more of it!

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  3. I've always wanted to see Brazil and just explore the different places. I think it's awesome that you got to go earlier than you expected and that you had an amazing time there.

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    1. Yes, and it inspired me to see more of it - asap!

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  4. Brazil is definitely a beautiful country! It is nice to see you taking a language course in advance so that you would be familiar with the language once in Brazil. Anyway, I'm loving the scenic view of the Inhotim Botanic Garden in Brumadinho.

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    1. Inhotim was definitely one of the biggest highlights and totally worth the effort. Speaking Portuguese certainly helped a lot and brought me much closer to people.

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  5. Brazil seems like such a brave place to go visit although i know many people who have over the past few years. i will make it to south america someday I am sure!

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    1. Ooops, yes, you are quite right: Yesterday there was something on violence in Rio on TV - if I had seen that before, I probably would have stayed away. However, I wasn't over-careful and did not behave like a moron, but unfortunately you can get mugged even if you do everything 'right'. Besides Rio, I felt safe in all the other places, though.

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  6. Your trip to Brazil looks amazing. I hope to visit one day.

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    1. It was amazing and I can only recommend it.

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  7. I really want to go Brazil, especially with my daughter. Her more so wanting to go after watching the cartoon film Rio lol! But so glad you were able to find this educational opportunity online.

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    1. It's just great - sooo much to do and see for adults and kids alike.

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  8. I never really thought about going to Brazil before, it looks beautiful though. May need to add it to my want to do list.

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  9. What a great opportunity you've had there, I bet the experience will last for a lifetime. Lucky you are, I hope you will have the chance to visit the other countries on your bucket list as well.

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    1. Thanx, Anna, I hope so, too, but if I want to live up to my bucket list, I have to get really, really old....

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  10. I have family from Brazil - my great grandfather. It's on my bucket list for sure. I can't wait to go someday! :)

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    1. How cool is that, Jennifer! You'll have a great time there, I'm sure!

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  11. Yes yes! I would like to visit Brazil, too. I remember many years ago, I joined a raffle promo by Havaianas to visit aBrazil. Sadly, I did not win. haha

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    1. That's hilarious! Did you at least get a pair of flip flops? Good luck next time, Sigrid!

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  12. You said it right , Brazil is so in my list too . After reading you post I'm sure I'm gonna enjoy alot being there.

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    1. Yes, Kartika, you will, there is really a lot to see and to do - so, so beautiful!

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  13. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. Also, how interesting that you get to travel while learning! Brazil looks like a beautiful place to visit!😊

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    1. Actually, I think that travelling is always learning - whether on purpose or as a 'side effect' ;-)

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  14. I actually really want to visit Brazil this year especially Rio because there's a tennis tournament there. I really love the history of Brazil. My only concern is the safety. How was your experience?

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    1. Oh my, Emmanuel, what can I say?! Your concern is totally justified, only yesterday evening I saw on TV how bad it really is. If I had seen that before, I maybe would have stayed away. But - as I wrote in my post http://byemyself.com/2018/02/DangerSeemsCloserFromAfar.html, danger does seem closer from afar, i.e. in two weeks in Rio I didn't feel threatened. But I must also say that I don't go out at night, that I didn't 'visit' favelas, etc. I was careful and didn't find myself in any funny - not in the sense of haha-funny - situation; but, yes, it is a dangerous city.

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  15. Well i will shock you. I I don't have Brazil on my bucket list. But you make a nice case with your post, so I may reconsider.

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    1. This doesn't 'shock' me, I only think that many travellers have it sort of automatically on their list - just like for instance India. For me, I had a great time, did see beautiful places - and if you are into travelling, I can only recommend it.

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  16. We spent in Rio 5 days and 2 more in Paraty. I would love to go back ro Brazil again. My dream is to see the Carnival in Rio ☺️

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    1. I've been there during Carnival and didn't like it at all (check out my post http://byemyselftravels.blogspot.de/2018/02/IAmWhatIAm.html ) - it was rough. The beautiful part takes place at the Sambadrome, not in the streets. However, visiting Brazil is always worth it.

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  17. I completely agree with you. Brazil is on my bucket list along with Australia and India. I've had the opportunity to work with quite a few people who live in Brazil and they only make me want to visit there more. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

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  18. I can't wait to visit Brazil one day. Great post!

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  19. Rio looks so beautiful!! Hope I can get there one day.

    xo
    Taylor
    www.reeseshardwear.com

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  20. The scenery is so beautiful, Brazil has never been on my "have to visit list" is that crazy? LOL

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  21. Every time I read your blog posts on Brazil, I just want to get out there even more. My lips are wet reading this and looking at the photos. Seems to be a lot of things to do and see there, so I think I need at least a year. He he.

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  22. Lucky You to visit so many places in Brazil! But I like the fact, that you don’t check it yet as Done on your bucket list and you want to come back for more. I agree it’s a huge country and definitely worth coming back! I just went to waterfalls Iguaçu on the Brazilian side so I am not even counting being in Brazil. Would love to start from the Amazon part in the north. Thanks for information on the buses, good to know that that’s the option. If I have enough time that would be my way of transport. Looking forward to seeing your next posts from Brazil! Happy exploring! Best regards, maybe see you somewhere in a Amazon next year!

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  23. This looks like a really nice trip! I've never been to Brazil before. I'm a solo traveler most of the time and even though I've always wanted to go, I never thought it would be safe enough. I should really look into it and visit one day!

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  24. Brazil looks really beautif and interesting. Hope i get to see it sonetime. Adding to the bucket list

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  25. Looks like you had a really good time! Brazil is huge so I'm sure there is much more for you to explore. The intensive language class sounds interesting and a good way to get immersed in the culture as well.

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  26. Brazil is on my bucket list as well, and I'm glad you got the chance to cross it off of yours. I hope to do that someday!

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  27. Brazil, while learning brazilian(portuguese), that is actually the perfect way ti visit a country!
    I have never been there, but i sure will!
    Good article, loved the tips for the school and the fact that you talked about a bit of its history!

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  28. I have heard from a lot of people that Brazil is a wonderful place to visit! I'd love to visit the country soon :)

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  29. There is so much to see in Brazil! I love that the landscape is so varied, just like the people. I loved hearing your experience about the school, too. Traveling to another country is a great way to learn the language.

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  30. How lucky for you! We are planning to spend 3 weeks in 2020. Since we won't have classes, we may be able to cover more!!! This has made me decide to go! Thanks.

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    1. Definitely - it was nice to stay for two weeks in Rio, but one week would have been enough. But it was not a vacation - it was 'Bildungsurlaub' - an extra, so I had to do my share 😉

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  31. he continent of South America is so huge, and Brazil itself is teeming with so many possibilities. Making an itinerary for just one part will be a challenge :) So I'm making a start with your suggestions.

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  32. Brazil is definitely a country that must figure in most if not all traveller's bucket list. I would love to visit it mainly for its varied landscapes, especially the amazonian forests. Also the culture of Brazil is vibrant and unique which I would love to experience. this is indeed a good ready reckoner for first timers to Brazil.

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    1. I must go back for the Caribbean and for the Amazonian region - maybe next spring.

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  33. I always tell myself to learn a language before going on a big trip, unlike you I never do it! But it’s nice to hear it helped so much! Maybe I just need to get my bum in gear!!

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    1. I'm always super-motivated when travelling. I never take classes at home. Another good reason for travelling 😉

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  34. Thanks for the guide! It really makes me want to go to Brazil, I haven't been yet....

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  35. So great to learn about Brazil and some of its past. I would love to visit and maybe even learn some Portuguese. I thought it was similar to Spanish but I figured out it wasn't when I visited Portugal.

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