Brazil. What to know before you go …. 30.7.16

Brazil is a tasty tall cocktail of friendly people, sunshine, tropical showers, culture, samba and history. There are local variations of each that makes this vibrant country what it is. Here are my essentials for Brazil for those travelling to the country for the first time especially for the Olympic/Paralympic Games:

WIFI – be aware of what I call ‘fake’ wifi. There are lots of ‘free access wifi’ but you need to provide your email address and in some cases passport number – does this sound good to you?

Toilets- let’s talk dirty … The plumbing system isn’t what you’re  used to, you can’t throw toilet paper into the toilet, instead throw it in the bin next to it.

Hand gel – you should know by now one reason to use this!

Accommodation – ensure you have air con, it is warm and it prevent mosquitos from coming in. Write the name and address of your accommodation on a post it note and show this to your taxi driver. This is helpful when visiting non- English speaking countries.

Transport – Friday afternoon Rio traffic is a nightmare, bus, taxi, car there are too many to move. Public transport is difficult to navigate so will require some planning. Public transport is cheap approx R5 per journey that’s £1! Those who have games tickets are entitled to free public transport to and from the events, yay!

Weather – it’s winter, the sun rises late and sets by 5pm. The evenings are cool and dark so bring a couple of jumpers and trousers and don’t forget that essential pashmina.

Money – I’ve been told banks such as HSBC and Santander are international corporations, well you wouldn’t think so as in Brazil visiting your own bank has no bearing whatsoever when you require assistance, the armed guard doesn’t allow you through the door. Take credit and debit cards but don’t be alarmed if they don’t work at an ATM at your own bank! Inconsistency with banks are rife, one day you can withdraw cash an another day at the same bank using the same card you cannot withdraw cash? Can’t wait to speak to a bank CEO about this and customer service during the world’s largest sporting event. Bring cash though restaurants, shops etc haggle for small notes less than R100 so do get them.

Shopping – to serious business, Havianias are approx £10-£20 per pair, I have slim feet and never worn them before now I’ve found six pairs!

Phone – double make sure your phone network carrier works in brazil. I’m with O2 travel and used my phone in North America, South America, Oceania and the Caribbean but it didn’t work in Brazil and I’m not the only uk person experiencing this issue.

Caiprianhas – so very delicious, contains lots of sugar (non sugar version is available) and is approx R14 though price may be hiked for games time.

There you you have it folks, a practical user guide to Brazil.

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