Tuesday, August 30, 2016

EXPLORING BRAZIL!


Coming to Brazil I was able to check something off of my BUCKET LIST! Going to the Amazon! I have so much respect for the Amazon; I don’t know how we would survive without it! When I went on my tour it felt huge; holding a sloth, swimming with River Dolphins, and being surrounded by so much life. All of these memories I will keep close to my heart. The Amazon is so precious I want to learn more about it and get involved to protect it.

BRAZIL IN THREE WORDS:

If I had to describe Brazil in three words they would be: 
Vivacious. Unforgettable. Misunderstood.

What made Brazil unforgettable for me was experiencing the Olympics and the Amazon! When Neymar kicked in the winning goal, it felt like the entire country screamed, jumped for joy, and partied!

I didn’t plan on going to an Olympic game but I’m glad that I did. I went to the Men’s Marathon, where I witnessed Feyisa Lilesa (Silver Medal Winner) cross his arms in protest to his country when he crossed the finish line, and cheered on Galen Rupp (Bronze Medal Winner) from my own country! I wish I could have gone to see the women gymnasts! Maybe I will in Tokyo!

Brazil is misunderstood because of the perpetual stories of danger! Yes, I am sure dangerous things happen here as they do everywhere but I didn’t see or encounter it on this trip.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Before coming to Brazil I really bought into the ideas put out by other bloggers and the media that this country would be so dangerous. I had my guard up more than ever only to realize that I was treated and blended in as a Brazilian!

Sao Paulo is huge and there are beautiful murals everywhere. The plastic napkins reminded me of India. Rio felt massive, mountainous, and nature everywhere! Manaus wowed me! The Amazon is incredible!

WHAT SURPRISED ME ABOUT BRAZIL?

Here are a few things that surprised me about Brazil.

In Sao Paulo there are so many different neighborhoods and the city feels packed with people. In Rio we made Brazilian besties! Our hosts in Rio shared so many similarities with us. They lived in Ireland when we lived in London, we backed packed through many of the same countries after leaving London/Ireland, and we have a love for travel! I really hope to host them in the future! I was also surprised to learn that Brazilians from Rio are scared to travel to Sao Paulo and vice versa. There are so many solar panels at Christ the Redeemer and free WIFI. The sand at the beaches were so powdery and the water super cool. They have a food truck scene! In Manaus we bought a cheap tour that included a lot, thanks to Andrea (our host.) I surprised myself by having the courage to swim in the Amazon River with the dolphins. I have to give thanks to a German couple we met who held my hands in the water!

WHAT DO VEGETARIANS EAT IN BRAZIL?

I met two Brazilian vegetarians who gave me a lot of advice. There are a lot of options, which include: buffets (breakfast, Indian, Japanese, Brazilian), cheese bread/pao de queijo, acai (the real deal here folks!), tapioca (similar to a pancake/crepe base and folded with savory/sweet fillings), pizza, burgers, lots of tropical fruits/juices, beans and rice, pastels (pastry dough deep fried with cheese.) They also have a food truck scene!

TIPS- In this section I've laid out tips if you're interested in traveling here...

DO:
If you go to Sao Paulo and want to exchange money at the airport walk to Terminal 2 there is a better rate at the banks. Know that if you’re taking a taxi it’s expensive to get from the airport to the city. I’m pretty sure Uber works here; I know it definitely works in Rio.

In Rio get Christ the Redeemer tickets with Parque Nacional da Tijuca outside of the Lardo do Machado Metro Station stop. Buy Sugarloaf tickets online. Go to the beaches, the sand is powdery and the water is cool!

In Manaus we were able to get a great tour deal because our host helped us. The tour wasn’t offered in English but any questions I had I could Google later and luckily there was a German couple who helped translate for us.

EAT:
Go to a buffet! There you can ask or sample anything you’d like. Find veggie burger places they were all great. But most of all try the tapioca! When I wanted it savory I filled it with cheese and onions. When I wanted it sweet I had it with banana and chocolate. And acai is so so so good! Refreshing and filling topped with granola! Pastels are great too, in Sao Paulo “pizza” flavor is vegetarian. In Rio and Manaus cheese is the only option!

STAY:
While in Sao Paulo stay near the Batman Alley/Beco do Batman, there are lots of options for food and it’s pretty central to all attractions. While in Rio stay in Laranjeiras, it’s residential and close to the Metro to get to the beaches/downtown, easy to visit Christ the Redeemer, and close to Sugarloaf Mountian. While in Manaus we stayed near the University, easy to get to shopping centers and the airport.

The next time I come to Brazil it will be for Carnival and to spend more time discovering more beaches!