Tag: Rio

Financial Safety in Rio de Janeiro

International travel can be dangerous. We all think about our physical safety in Rio de Janeiro, but we must also take the time to think about our financial safety. The Brazilian Real is nearly at an all-time low, but you can still get ripped off. Here are a few ways to protect your purse.

(1) Buy Brazilian currency from your bank before you leave America.
Yes, most major bank brands sell foreign currency. If you will be in Brazil for longer than a week, you don’t need to buy enough currency for you whole trip, but you’ll want to buy at least enough for your first few meals as well as enough to get you safely to your accommodations. Compared to any currency exchange company, your American bank will likely offer the decent rate with a low fee. The challenge is that you can’t do this last-minute. It may take your bank a week to even get the money. So make sure you order your Brazilian Reais (plural spelling in Portuguese) well in advance.

(2) Never exchange currency in the airport
This is just to piggy back on the first tip. There are several currency exchange stands (cambios) in the airport. One of two things will happen: Either (1) you will get a bad rate with no fees or (2) you’ll get a good rate with exorbitant fees. You can choose your poison, but I’d bet on getting your “reais” in America. Also, there are better cambios outside the airport. But do your research before you go to them. Read all the tips below and determine whats right for you when it comes to converting your US Dollars to the Brazilian Real.

(3) Never use the ATM in the airport.
There are scammers at every turn and American cards are not as encrypted as our banks would have you to believe. Your card can be cloned in a few seconds by someone standing a few feet away. This has happened to people I know. And depending on who you bank with, it could take days or even weeks to get your money back. Don’t take the chances. If you go to an ATM, only go to the ones inside an actual bank branch to avoid hacking and robberies.

(4) Pay with cash whenever you can.
If you are buying souvenirs, food or anything from a street vendor, USE CASH. In my previous travel safety post, I recommended that you not carry large amounts of cash. So be mindful of what you intend to do each day. If you know you’re going to buy souvenirs, set a budget and carry that much cash. If you know you’re going to the beach and intend to rent an umbrella, buy a cocktail and maybe a snack– carry that much cash. See my previous travel safety post, there are tips for how to carry your money as well.

(5) Use a credit card with no international transaction fees.
Again, I recommend using cash whenever possible– especially with street vendors. But in some international cities it is not wise to carry large amounts of cash. Rio de Janeiro is one of those cities. So when I make large/expensive purchases like fancy dinners, groceries, samba costumes, shopping sprees, spa services at a hotel, etc– I tend to use my credit card. I know that I have purchase protection against fraud AND I won’t be charged any additional fees.

(6) Know your banks international fees and limits.
If you run out of cash and you don’t have a credit card with no/low international fees, your bank card is a last resort for shopping. I repeat, avoid buying things with your bank card. Use your bank card ONLY for ATM transactions inside an actual bank branch. Not only can American cards be cloned by hackers in close proximity, but some US banks charge a foreign transaction fee for every purchase. This can be as much as 10% markup for every swipe, plus a flat dollar amount. Do your research. You may find that your bank only charges $5 plus 1% markup at ATMs. This may be a better option than going to the cambios if you get your max each time you go to the ATM.

You should also know your withdrawl limit and be sure to convert that number to that day’s rate for the Brazilian Real before the transaction. I’ve seen people’s cards be frozen because they requetsed more money than their daily US limit. And the ATM will not tell you that you’ve exceeded your limit when you punch in the numbers. If you’re unable to withdraw money its because either your card has been blocked or the ATM is out of money. Yes, it is a VERY common thing for ATMs to be out of money– especially over the weekends.

(7) Determine prices before you accept any services or products.
Do not find yourself in an argument over money in another country. You will likely lose. Two things: (1) always keep track of what you order/request and most importantly (2) always ask how much things cost in advance. Caipirinhas are typically very cheap in Rio de Janeiro, but if you don’t ask how much before you order one on the beach you might pay double because they didn’t show you a menu. Plus most prices on the streets/beach can be haggled. I typically choose ubers over taxis because I know exactly how much the service will cost in advance. Also, happy hour prices are ONLY valid if you pay your bill DURING the actual happy hour (not after). AND executive lunch deals (lunch specials) in restaurants are only available if you sit alone. No one will tell you that, so ask your questions before you order anything!

(8) Research and arrange logistics in advance when possible.
Don’t buy a plane ticket and then just wing it when you arrive. You might find yourself in a dangerous situation. Last minute bookings can work in some cities, but I do not recommend this for international travel– especially in Rio de Janeiro. For the best prices, research and book travel and accommodations in advance. You don’t want to find yourself in a favela without a guide.

If you have friends in the city, try to arrange an airport pick up. Cab company kiosks in the airport will overcharge you. And cab drivers may take you the long way to earn more money. Also, if you want to see other neighborhoods in the north or west zone, look into what it takes to get there. Madureira is one of my favorite places to go in Rio, but it can be a long trip from Ipanema. Getting there for a reasonable price requires first the metro, then the commuter train and possibly a bus or cab after that. Research is your friend.

For more safety tips for Rio de Janeiro travel, click here.

FIVE (5) Things to Know BEFORE Traveling to Rio de Janeiro

Before you book your trip, make sure you understand what going to Rio de Janeiro really means. 

I’m prepping for another trip to Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval 2019. As always I’ve invited my friends and family to join me. In my discussions, I’ve realized there are a few things that people need to know before traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

(1) You’ll need a visa to go to Brazil.
I know for some people the passport thing is common sense, but most people don’t seem to know that you need a visa before you go. Americans can not get the visa in the airport. You must obtain it from your nearest Brazilian Consulate weeks in advance. Each city has its own process and requirements. I found Georgia to be really stringent. California requires almost nothing. So do your research and don’t get stuck at the airport unable to check-in for your flight. NOTE: If you have a stop in a neighboring country before or after, you may be required to have a yellow fever vaccine to enter.

(2) The people of Brazil speak Portuguese.
There is no need to brush up on your Spanish before because no one will understand you. Brazil historically was settled by the French and the Spanish, but it was officially colonized by Portugal and therefore present day residents of the land speak portuguese. Certain phrases are the same, but by-and-large they are different languages. Even the things that look the same on paper are pronounced totally different. My recommendation for a quick-learn handbook is “Dirty Portuguese“. The title is suggestive, but it actually includes pronunciation for many useful things like ordering in restaurants, booking hotels, etc.

(3) Rio de Janeiro is a large city in a small state in a very large country.
Brazil is larger than America and it also has a very diverse topography and population. Cities like Sao Paulo (gotham), Brasilia (government), Manaus (amazon rain forest), Salvador (historical afro-brazil), Belo Horizonte (culinary capital) and Florianopolis (silicon valley) all have very distinct identities and cultures. So going to another city in Brazil is not at all like going to Rio. And going to Rio doesn’t mean you’ve experienced the best of Brazil. You can do so many amazing things in Rio de Janeiro. Some people say a week is long enough, but not for me. The city is huge so I never seem to get my booty in gear to go anywhere else. Because I love the city, it’s not that big of a deal to me.

(4) Rio de Janeiro can be very dangerous.
The wealth disparity in Rio de Janeiro is huge, meaning the gap between rich and poor is visible. As in most places of extreme poverty, desperate acts of violence frequently occur. Muggings, robberies, kidnappings, shootings, etc. are a daily part of life and they dominate the new cycles. Despite the presence of the military police, no one is immune to these troubles. But there are steps you can take to make your travels there safer. NOTE: The US Dollar is valued higher than the Brazilian Real, so tourists can be targets. See my earlier post with safety tips.

(5) The city is not really made for solo travel.
Cariocas, the people of Rio de Janeiro, are very social. They are always in groups when going to the beach, grabbing a beer, or meeting for dinner. Going out alone is not a common thing, so it makes you stand out. Also, you’ll want to make memories in all the gorgeous places that you’ll see. And therefore the city is best experienced in groups. Plus, my mother taught me that there is safety in numbers. So grab your gang, rent an apartment and enjoy “the marvellous city”!

Samba Compilations, featuring Mayara Lima

I’m a “Sambista” at heart; a passista and musa in my mind! I love Brazilian samba; the music, the rhythm, the dance, the costumes, the parties– just everything. Here are three samba videos I’ve compiled featuring one of my favorite dancers in Rio. She is well known and respected around the world because her samba is flawless. Keep watching for more videos of other dancers. Please enjoy these clips. Subscribe to the channel. Give each video a thumbs up. And turn on notifications!

Subscribe to the channel, give each video a thumbs up and turn on notifications!

Subscribe to the channel, give each video a thumbs up and turn on notifications!

Subscribe to the channel, give each video a thumbs up and turn on notifications!

Thank you for watching,

Much Love,

Dani Styles

Where to Eat in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil… Part 1

I recently traveled to Rio de Janeiro for what turned out to be a glorious vacation. Every day was spent walking along the beach, day drinking and taking in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Of course, I ate some amazing food. Here are just a few of the spots that I recommend for you:

Galitos Grill (Ipanema)
Galitos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  This was intentionally my first stop! We didn’t get to our apartment in Ipanema until roughly 10pm BST. After we dropped our bags, we ran down the block to a closing Galitos, they were wiping things down and putting the chairs away. We told them we just arrived from America and had been dreaming about the food. So, to our delight, they prepared us a large feast to-go. If you are a Brazilian food beginner, someone who has never had Brazilian food or has limited experience with it– this is the perfect place to begin. Solid! Legit! My recommended meal (and what I ate every time i ate there): Galito ao molho picante forte (a whole chicken with spicy sauce– its really not spicy at all), Arroz com Brocolis (rice with broccoli shreds– it looks like green rice), Feijao (black beans- get one per person) and Farofa com Bacon (toasted coarse ground tapioca flour– trust me it is delicious on your beans). There are so many great things on the menu, but this is a great start.

Restaurant e Bistro Aquelas Coisas (Madureira)
Aquelas Coisas is so far off the beaten path that they aren’t even listed on most travel sites. This minority-owned bar is an unofficial hangout for the Portelense of Madureira (the supporters of the Portela Samba School in the neighborhood of Madureira). And they are a very warm and welcoming group. Aquelas Coisas makes this list, not because of the food, but for the atmosphere and events. You’ll find mostly outdoor seating, with live music and fresh churrasco (they actually place the grill in front of the restaurant sometimes). Anyway, if you find yourself all the way in the north zone, this place is worth a visit. Recommendation: Visit their facebook to find out what events are happening. You could happen upon a samba de raiz, pagode or block party.

 

Bibi Sucos (Copacabana 2)
Bibi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Bibi Sucos is a chain of juice bars in Rio de Janeiro. They serve items you can get pretty much anywhere, BUT the atmosphere is super cool. My love described the decor as “so-cal”– southern California surfer style. I recommend this location because they are one of the few locations with indoor seating. The other locations have bistro tables on the street and their menus are very limited to only juices and acai, while this Copacabana location has sandwiches and more. Recommendation: Acai (ah-sah-EE) or a Suco Verde (SUE-coh VEH-jee).

 

Bar 48 (Rua Teixeira de Melo, Ipanema)
48 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This bar was just over a block from my airbnb in Ipanema, but I only discovered it in my last week. I missed out on so many cool events. To start: this bar is woman-owned, LGBTQ friendly and multicultural. The space stands out with graffiti’d walls, oil drums for tables, loud, live music and strong drinks! In the grand scheme of upscale and exclusive Ipanema, Bar 48 is a laid back and inclusive environment with patrons of all backgrounds– from the favelas to the luxury high rises. I enjoyed getting to know the staff, the owner and dancing with its regulars. And I definitely plan to return! Recommendation: Get to the “Happy Hour” early and get your check before the happy hour time ends.

 

Lapamaki (Ipanema)
Lapamaki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato For me, the best review a restaurant can have is being packed out every night. I never saw this restaurant on any lists. I just walked by it EVERY day and saw it full of people– inside and out. So on one drunken evening, we decided to check out our local sushi joint. They did not disappoint. The food was visually appealing, fresh and delicious. I really can’t say more. If you are in Ipanema, it is worth the wait for a table. Recommendation: Get one of the “combinados”, which are varietal platters appropriate for groups.

 

Pop Sucos
My airbnb was less than a block away from this burger joint. Yes, I know its called “sucos”, which is juices, but they also served burgers! So after reading the menu a few times, we decided to check it out. My experience with hamburgers in Rio was not stellar, but in watching the food go out to other tables, I realized that these weren’t your average Rio hamburgers. They were actually delicious. Pretty much US/ American quality! While on vacation in Rio, I didn’t really have any cravings for American foods, BUT this was a nice departure from the Brazlian fare that I’d been eating every day. I probably wouldn’t return only because legit hamburger places are popping up all over the city and I’ll want to try them too. But this one is pretty dayum good!  And I dig the pop-art decor. PS– they deliver!

 

Zaza Bistro
Zazá Bistrô Tropical Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato At the time of my visit, Zaza Bistro had the best reviews of any restaurant in my neighborhood. As I learned that night, it was for good reason. Zaza is located on a corner in what looks like an old house. It reminded me of restaurants in the Poncey-Highland area of Atlanta with bright color paint, wrought iron fence/art and fresh vegetation. The low lighting and middle eastern music actually made the vibe extremely sexy. The drinks, featuring niche ingredients, were delicious. The entrees were small but extremely flavorful and surprisingly filling. Recommendation: Order anything with octopus. You will NOT be disappointed. Its tender, juicy and well seasoned.

 

Casa de Feijoada
Casa da Feijoada Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This had to be the most decadent and indulgent meal of my life to date. For some reason my love and I had the entire restaurant to ourselves– so the service seemed almost over the top. Here, there is no need for a menu. You came for the feijoada (fay-jo-AH-dah) completa: black beans, meat, rice, couve (collards), aipim (fried yuca), torresmo fritas (cracklin or chicharrones) and laranjas (oranges). This is basically an all-you-can-eat restaurant. The server replenishes everything as you go. Ours also kept our glasses full of my favorite brazilian drink: batida de maracuja (ba-CHEE-dah jee mah-dah-coo-JAH). This is a mixture of sweet passion fruit nectar and cachaca. I nearly had to be ROLLED out of this restaurant. And I fell asleep as soon as I got back to the apartment. Recommendation: Go early. Pace yourself. Walk home if you can– you’ll need the workout. LOL.

 

Look out for a second post with more recommendations. Let me know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook what you think. Much love. Remember, life is good. Eat it up!

Safety Tips for Travel to Rio de Janeiro

Praia Leme Aug 2014

Rio de Janeiro has a reputation for being a dangerous city. There are steps you can take to increase your changes of staying safe. |DineWithDani

Before I went to Rio de Janeiro for the first time, just after the World Cup, many people warned me about the dangers of traveling there. I was told all about the “street kids” who will rob you blind and the cab drivers who will rip you off.

Recently, a video surfaced of street kids picking pockets and snatching items from random passersby. It has a lot of people rattled. Admittedly, I was taken aback as well because all 27 incidents happened at the same intersection.

I’m grateful that founder and editor of Brazil Magazine, Bruce Jones, and Miriam Silva of Sweaty Sexy Samba, personally gave me some safety tips that I want to share with you.

Carry a copy of your passport. You don’t need to walk around with your passport. Unless you’re dealing in banks, you probably won’t need actual ID all day. To get into the clubs, the copy will suffice. And of course if you’re robbed, you won’t have lost your most valuable asset.

Invest in a money belt. Money belts are basically fanny packs you wear under your pants or an actual belt with a secret compartment. This is a way for you to store emergency cash, cards and identification in case you are robbed. The trick is to NOT go into the money belt in public. Only do so in a restroom if you must.

money belt options

Avoid the city bus and the train if possible. Your chance of being robbed increase on the bus. There are comedy sketches on youtube and Brazilian TV about it. Cabs, walking in your neighborhood or taking the metro to your destination are preferable. The metro and the train are different. The metro goes through a lot of the popular areas in Rio. The train will take you to the west zone and north zone—poorer suburbs compared to the south zone, which include copacabana and ipanema.

Walk on the beach side of the road. If you want to walk along Avenida Atlantica (the beach road in Copacabana), or any beach road– be sure you walk on the beach side. If you walk on the city side, it is very easy for someone to rob you and disappear down an alley.

Don’t use your smart phone on the street. If you need to look something up, map your location, etc.—do NOT do so while walking the streets. Duck into a store (not just the entry way) to use your phone. Keep your phone in your front pocket or purse.

Don’t carry a lot in public. Large backpacks, big shoulder bag purses, lots of jewelry, big wallets, loads of electronic devices—all of these things can make you a target. If you’re doing video, have an entourage to keep watch.

 

Don’t give cash to the street kids. I know this sounds heartless, but you kind of open yourself up to being robbed later. If you give cash to one (or two), they may come back with their friends to rob you later because they know you have cash.

Beach kiosk/barraco workers are good resources. Along the beach road in Copacabana and Ipanema, there are covered kiosks where you can buy food and drinks. In the sand, you’ll find a tent pitched that rents chairs and umbrellas to beachgoers– those are the barracos. Typically, the workers speak decent English and are on the beach all day every day. They can be a wealth of information. And if they aren’t in on the petty theivery, they are witness to them and can help you avoid bad situations. PS– don’t eat at the kiosks. Just drink.

Stylized and standardized Kiosk named "Posto 6" with restaurant and bar at Copacabana beach sidewalk. The promenade is a pavement landscape in large scale ( 4 kilometres long ) having a black and white Portuguese pavement design by Roberto Burle Marx, a geometric wave. Sugar Loaf mountain in background.

Don’t chase your robber. Your pocket can be picked at any time of day. And the strangers around you are not likely to help. In fact, they will get out of the way and keep moving. If you chase the robber, you may find yourself alone somewhere.

Don’t expect the military police to help. The police are everywhere in Rio, but keep in mind they are not there to help you. Do not talk to them, do not take pictures of them, just ignore them—like the Brazilians. There are Tourist Police in Rio, but you may not see them as frequently as you like.

Keep a small amount of cash in your front pocket. If you are robbed, you can hand this to robber and say that’s all you have. If you open a wallet or purse–they will take the whole thing.

favelaKnow where you’re going. There are neighborhoods that one should not enter without a Brazilian friend or guide. Some people will say to avoid the favelas all together, but I personally had a great experience in Rocinha. It was a guided walking tour– not a safari trip on truck. I won’t pretend that all favelas are created equal. So just make sure you’re aware of your destination and surroundings.

Petty crime is almost inevitable in a country where the wealth disparity is staggering and virtually ignored by the government. Keeping these things in mind, can decrease your chances of victimization. And none of these tips should impede upon you having a fun time in the marvelous city.

rio safety

Travel Edition… Voodoo Lounge in Las Vegas

I went to Las Vegas in January to celebrate boyfriend’s birthday. It was a different sort of Vegas for me since it was a family trip. There wasn’t a whole lot of partying. But there was a LOT of gambling (Texas Hold Em), a good amount of drinking (bloody mary’s while gambling), and an overdose on Las Vegas buffets. We were there for quite a while, but one night afforded us dinner alone. And I could NOT take another buffet.  So we took the shuttle to Rio and a hidden elevator to Voodoo Lounge.

All i can say is DEELISH! If you get tired of buffets and wanna blow the cash you won in Texas Hold Em- make your way to Rio. Voodoo is totally worth the trip.

Voodoo Steak & Lounge (Rio) on Urbanspoon

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