Location: Places >> North America >> Canada >> British Columbia >> Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Region >> Vancouver CouchSurfers >> GAY-Vancouver Couch Surfers
Login for full access to Couchsurfing Groups. Not a member yet? Join our community!

Posted January 11th, 2011 - 2:08 am by from Salvador, Brazil (Permalink)
Brazil is more than beaches and Carnival, but that would be enough reason to travel there. Brazil is the largest country in South America, taking up almost half of the continent, extending from north of the Equator to south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It's population of around 210 million is the largest in South America. It's 3 major cities, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador are among the largest in world. The nation's natural beauty is reflected in its variety of geographic locations, from Sugar Loaf Mountain in the city of Rio de Janeiro, to the magnificent Iguazu Falls in the south, to the Amazon basin in the North, there's something for almost every taste... snow skiers excepted.

It's population is unique for Latin America and provides a rich backdrop of sights and sounds for the traveler. It is the result of Native Americans, Portuguese settlers, and African slaves, Japanese (the largest Japanese population outside of Japan!), Italians, Germans…just about everyone. There is even a town built by US Confederate soldiers that left the USA after the Civil war, really. Portuguese cultural influences dominate, with Portuguese as the primary language and Roman Catholicism as the principal religion. Don't spend too much time on Spanish if your going to Brazil, they will understand you but you won't understand them. In tourist areas someone who can speak English, Italian or German can usually be found.

The Amazon Basin, which spans the width of northern Brazil, and an extensive highland plateau, known as the Brazilian Highlands, which covers most of the south and southeast are it's two main geographical areas. These provide a wide selection of flora, fauna and just stuff to do and see, if you can ever get off its miles and miles of glorious beaches! As to the Amazon it is navigable to ocean going ships as far as Iquitos, in Peru, and its major tributaries are suitable for inland navigation.

Back to the beaches. The Brazilian coastline varies considerably. The coast of the northeast is smoother, with substantial areas of beaches and dunes along the northern strip. However spectacular areas for the sun and surf minded traveler exist throughout.

WEATHER AND WHEN TO GO: In Brazil it varies but most of Brazil can be comfortably visited throughout the year. However, the south can be very hot and humid in summer (December to February) and non-stop rain in winter (June to August) and you may want to avoid those times. The rest of the country has brief tropical rains throughout the year, which rarely affect travel plans. During the summer (December to February) many Brazilians are on vacation, and that can make travel difficult and expensive. Summer is also the most festive time of year, as Brazilians escape their apartments and take to the beaches and streets.

CARNIVAL – a time when the entire ccountry explodes In a 5 day long revelry. While to the casual observer this is an apparently chaotic time, with seemingly no rhyme or reason to the ebb & flow of events and rituals, there is in fact a logic and schedule (albeit a loosely adhered – to one !) that governs the festival.Although Carnival is a Country celebration, and all country stops for 5 days.. each region has its own culture and different ways to celebrate. The most popular carnival celebrations are Rio de Janiero, Salvador de Bahia an Recife.

The Carnival happens 40 days before the celebration of Easter Holiday, that’s the reason that the date changes every year. For 2010 it is February 13 to 16 with the Winners Parade( The Grand Parade) on February 20. For 2011 it is March 5,6,7,8 with the Winners Parade on March 12. It is a good idea to plan and make reservations as far in advance as possible as Brazil gets pretty full then. Many hotels have increased rates in this period and have minimum stays of 3 or 4 days.

Salvador de Bahia (city where I live), Brazil, is located in the North East of Brazil is the state of Bahia. Salvador de Bahia, which is now the capital of Bahia, was the capital of Brazil until 1763. It has a tremendous tourists infrastructure wiht hotels to fit every taste There it the lower city, which is at sea level, is the old port where tourists find Brazilian arts and crafts. The upper city is accessed by steps, alleyways, or the famous Lacerda Elevator. The newer architecture is up here along with hotels, government buildings, museums, residential areas, and churches. Salvador has a strong African influence that can be seen in many of its cultural attractions. Salvador is a magical place, where the rhythm and the musicality of the Brazilian people shines from its historical roots.

GETTING THERE AND GETTING IN: Brazil has frequent flights (in many cases daily) from most International origins.

STAYING THERE: Brazil has a very well developed tourist infrastructure so there are a lot of hotels and resorts. It would not be a good idea to travel to Brazil without at least hotels in your main destination cites pre-reserved.

SECURITY AND CRIME PREVENTION: Brazil is like any place. When traveling don't go into places that look dangerous, because they probably are! Don't bring your gold Rolex , 3 carat diamond ring or carry a lot of cash or leave your luggage or valuable unattended in an insecure place. Of course crime against tourists is greater in areas surrounding hotels, discotheques, bars, nightclubs and other similar places that cater to visitors, especially at dusk and evening hours. Big cities have specialized tourist police units to protect tourists. Rio and Salvador has proportionately high amount of crime against tourists (of course so does New York, Miami etc). Just say no!..penalties for possession, use and trafficking in illegal drugs is harsh. Offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines.

CURRENCY: Brazilian current currency is the Real where 1 RI = 100 centavos etc. All banks money exchange houses will change travelers checks and foreign currency. Generally, MasterCard, Amex, Diners and Visa are accepted. Traveler's checks are changed at hotels, banks and tourist agencies. Tourists can't exchange US$ checks for US currency. Sometimes travelers get a discount or better rate when paying a hotel or restaurant in foreign currency or travelers checks. Visa is the best card to carry for cash advances, finding an ATM that accepts your particular card can be difficult, though. The exchange rate is about 2 Reals to the US dollar and does not fluctuate very much.

TIME: In most of country, time zone GMT -3 hours. Those us not familiar with what Greenwich Mean Time is that makes it 2 two 3 hours later that the east coast of the USA on the average.

ELECTRICITY: This can vary by the city you are visiting, for example; Rio and Sao Paulo 110 volts AC, 60Hz, in Bahia (Salvador) and Manaus 127 volts AC, in Brasilia and Recife 220 volts AC, 60Hz. So ask at the hotel so you don't ruin your shaver or hairdryer. Most hotels do provide 110-volt & 220-volt outlets, but again, ask so you may avoid smoke and electrical sparks in your room!




Posted February 10th, 2011 - 4:09 pm by from Richmond, Canada (Permalink)
Hey Max...

Thanks for taking the time to post in Vancouver.
Your country seems amazing. I just met another CS while in Mexico City who was from Brazil. That was fun.

Your country appeals to me, so I would definitly put it on my top countries to visit.

Tell me a bit more about yourself?