13 Mash-Up Travel Tips for Brazil
To prepare for the Olympics, The Mash-Up Americans took a little trip to Rio and São Paulo to gather some tips for those of you heading south for the games.
Brazil is part of our Mash-Up story, so it doesn’t take much to get us to visit family and friends in one of the best, mashiest places on earth. Brazilians include ethnic Japanese, Jews, Portuguese, African, Spanish, Italian, Lebanese, Syrian and typically a little bit of all of the above. It is our kind of place.
And, of course, there’s a lot going on in Brazil right now which can make it hard to see all the extraordinary beauty. But we love Brazil and we know you will too. We also love the Olympics. And we always have a little tug of war over who we cheer for with all of our Mash-Up loyalties, but it’s totally worth it.
13 Travel Tips for the Land of the Beautiful Game
1. Check the Weather
It’s winter in August in Brazil. You should definitely travel around when you are there. Depending on the city you are going to check the weather, bring a light jacket and potentially an umbrella. Manaus is 90 degrees. São Paulo is 70 during the day and 55 at night.
2. Bring money. Lots of it
Brazil is expensive. The World Cup and the Olympics have made Rio, and São Paulo to a lesser extent, as expensive or more than any global city. Like, Paris and London expensive. No “developing world discount.” As you can imagine, this is pretty frustrating for the people whose salaries have not increased at the same pace. Alongside lots of complaining about the waste of the politicians on the Copa and Olympics, expect to pay $20 USD for a typical lunch, and $50+ for dinner, $8 USD for a Caipirinha, and $20 USD or more for a taxi. The exchange rate is about $1 us to $3.24 Brazilian Reals.
3. Get What’s App
Brazilians are incredibly warm, fantastic hosts and throw great parties. Download What’s App, reach out to anyone you even vaguely know and get yourself invited to a feijoada and then a samba party. These are real things that happen. You’ll want to be a part of them.
4. Bring your flipflops
In Rio, everyone really DOES wear Havaianas. This is not just a brand sold in beach towns and mani-pedi shops across America.
5. Act like a younger version of yourself
Dinner is never before 8:30, probably more like 9:30/10. Parties go until 7 am. If you are like us, a professional in your 30s, you may not believe you still have this in you. You do.
6. Don’t cheer for Argentina
When we asked 4 different taxi drivers who they would cheer for in the case that Brazil is not a contender, they said: “Anyone but Argentina.” So don’t cheer for Argentina — at least, not publicly.
7. Eat sushi
Like we said, there are lots of Mash-Up Brazilians so you should feel right at home. There are over 1.5 million Japanese in Brazil. It’s the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Gohan is a classic sushi restaurant in Lapa, Rio. Liberdade in São Paulo is home to J-town, or Little Japan.
8. Check out the synogogues
The iconic tourist image of Brazil may be of Christ the Redeemer over Rio, but Brazil actually has a vibrant Jewish community and what’s considered the oldest shul in the Americas in Recife.
9. Drink caipirinhas on the beach
When in Rio You must drink a caipirinha (or 5) on Ipanema or Copacabana. Everyone does it, from American to German to Korean travelers to, most importantly, every Brazilian ever.
10. Be prepared to dance at lunch
Feijoada is the national dish but a feijoada is an afternoon gathering at which you eat this dish and drink beer and caipirinhas with friends. Someone may break out instruments. Get invited to one (See #3), which is usually on Saturdays.
11. Check out the street art
There is a fantastic culture of street art in Rio and in São Paulo. This is real reflection of the mash-up culture and diversity of voices in Brazil. You might enjoy the spectacular work of Os Gemeos and Herbert Baglione. And Check out #streetartrio on Instagram and Twitter and this long street and alley in Sao Paulo that’s covered entirely in street art.
12. Drink juice
Brazil is the OG juicing place, none of your cold press blah blah with wheat germ infusions like you’ll find at Equinox or wherever you are spending $12 on juice. Just amazing fruit, made into juice. No sugar. Get a maracuja or abacaxi or goiaba juice on most street corners. It’s a dream. Also, don’t worry about getting sick here, at least in the big cities. So drink to your hearts content.
13. After you drink fresh juice, drink Indian deity beer
Brahma is named for the Hindu god and creator of the world and all creatures…and is a favorite beer in Brazil. Beer here is very light and expected to be very cold. We like to call it “Beach Water.”