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Brazil for "Bobos", How to Enjoy Rio de Janeiro

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

In 2014 the FIFA World Cup took place in the birthplace of modern football. Yes, yes, we all know football was invented in the UK, but I mean the country that gave us some of the best players the world had ever seen and a national team that made every other nation shake in fear. I am talking about the one and only Brazil.

The Lusophone Country of South America

This is a country I recommend a lot to travelers that want to see a very special part of South America: the non Spanish-speaking part of it. That's right, some people make the mistake of thinking that Brazil is a hispanophone country, like Mexico or Colombia, when they actually speak Portuguese, making it a lusophone country. They are still as Latin as we are, different language is all.

Before your Flight: First Things First

Stop! Don't book that flight yet mate, first you need to know if Brazil requires you to get a Visitor Visa or VIvis to enter the country. I can tell you that Mexico, Canada and Australia are exempt of the Visitor Visa, for more information on your country check the link right here. If you're planning to visit the Amazon you will also be required to have all your vaccines in order (yellow fever, malaria and typhoid specifically).

Once you have all this it's time to fly meu amigo o minha amiga.

Time to Learn

My mamá taught me that when we are in another country we represent our own, we have to be nice and polite. As great as that advice is, culture changes from nation to nation and what is polite in some places is not in others, thus allow me to give you some advice I learned from Brazilians themselves.

Tipping is one of the most important things we do when we visit a restaurant or a bar. In certain countries it's seen as an insult to their craft but in others it's expected and even encouraged: Brazil is one of latter. The currency they use is the Brazilian Real (BRL) and the tipping percentages you want to remember are these:

  • Waiters and Bartenders get a 10%

  • Tour Guides expect R$80 to R$100 (depending on the service).

  • Taxi Drivers will expect you to round up a bill. Ex. if you were to pay R$65 then pay R$70.

You won't need to tip if service charge is added.

Let's imagine you are invited to supper at your friend Felipe's place at 20h00. Brazilians, like all Latins, love physical contact so you will be received with hugs, handshakes and kisses, be sure to say "Hi!" to everyone and kiss girls on both cheeks. Supper will start a bit later than that as punctuality in Brazil is relaxed (he'll expect you to arrive around 20:30 or 20:45) and meals tend to last a long time, in all that time I promise you, you'll have a great time!

Now, having a basic understanding of their language will take you a long way. Instead of saying "Hi!" to everyone let me show you some words that will get you a smile every time you try them:

  1. Hi - Olá

  2. Goodbye - Adeus

  3. That's OK - Ta bem

  4. Please - Por favor

  5. Thank You - Obrigada (F) Obrigado (M)

  6. You're Welcome - De nada

  7. Meu nome e - My name is

  8. Yes/No - Sim/Nao

And as always here is my personal favorite Mais por favor, stands for "more please".

I like eating.

Now for the Tourist Stuff

Another thing people tend to believe is that either Sao Paolo or Rio de Janeiro are de capital of Brazil, once again this is wrong. The capital of Brazil is the city of Brasilia, which I can tell you, is an "administrative city" there isn't much to do. My advice? Don't go there.

The best time I can think of to visit Brazil is February, specifically around the Friday before Ash Wednesday, why? Carnival, and there's not a better carnival in the whole wide world than that of the gorgeous city of Rio de Janeiro. A city also known for the statue of Cristo Redentor on the top of the Corcovado Mountain and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, beaches that have inspired so much art in our world.

The cultural impact of Rio de Janeiro can not be put into words.

I dare say that Rio is one of the most beautiful and amazing cities in all South America. From its extremely friendly people to the all out beauty of the architecture, Rio offers something for every taste a traveler may have. And the one taste shared by all is food and drink. Getting drunk with great caipirinhas made of real Brazilian cachaça (a liqueur made out of fermented sugar cane, it's not rum) is not enough, thus allow me to offer some options for great dishes.

  • Feijoada - Brazilian rice and beans usually cooked utilizing lard with various vegetables. Almost every country in South America and the Caribbean has an interpretation on this dish, Brazil has one of the top in those.

  • Coxinha de Frango - a chicken croquette in the shape of a chicken thigh. No, it's not a chicken nugget.

  • Churrasco - meat cooked in a barbecue style (churrasco comes from the word churrascaria, Portuguese for barbecue) that you can get in a Rodizio, a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat style and many choices of food.

  • Pão de queijo - is a small and soft roll made of manioc flour, eggs, milk, and minas cheese. Delicious and easy to find almost everywhere in Brazil. And guess what? Gluten-free.

  • Vatapá - made out of bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts and palm oil mashed into a paste. The spices in this paste makes it tremendously tasty.

  • Moqueca - a seafood stew of either shrimp or fish with a base of tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime and coriander. It's slowly cooked in a terracotta cassole and as a result the flavors merge into one overpowering strong outstanding taste. If you love seafood, this is for you.

  • Brigadeiro - made of condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate sprinkles that cover the outside layer this is a traditional Brazilian dessert. I'm not much of a guy with a sweet tooth but this one has the perfect amount of sugar.

Don't worry about price, trust me, you need to try every single Brazilian dish they throw at you. Regret is not in the menu, believe that!

Brazil? You mean Rio?

"But Solano, reading this I can only see stuff about Rio, isn't this supposed to be a guide to Brazil for dummies since that is what bobos means in Portuguese? You criminally beautiful looking immigrant" It will be highly irresponsible for anyone to even believe you can summarize Brazil in one article, it will be highly offensive to the Brazilian people to think you could talk about their whole country even in a sole book.

I wrote mostly about Rio because I have a personal relationship with this tremendous city. Be advised I will deliver even more about Brazil in the future. If anything this is but a taste of what is to come and I need to do the Brazilians proud.

Imagine this as the first page of the Brazil for "Bobos" series and I can't wait to keep going. Muito Obrigado!

Minha família brasileira, espero que gostem deste pequeno artigo. Eu prometo que farei melhor com os meus próximos. Envio todo o meu amor e espero ver cada um de vocês muito em breve! Tenho praticado meu português como você pode ver. Obrigado por me ensinar.

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