We first arrived in Brazil, Sao Paulo international airport with only USD. This is what I found out:
- no need to fear :D first and fore most
once you exit the custom area into public hall, there are ATM's ( the HSBC ones is next to the escalator towards the inside of the hall) and money exchange booth. If you can find them, there is a tourists info booth not far away, their staffs spoke slow but OK English.
The rate at that time (Nov 2006 ) from the money exhange booth ACTION, was 1USD to 207. I simply changed enough for food and bus/taxi fare for the first 2 days.
-As recommended by a few VT members, I tried chnging my money at a few local travel agencies in Rio, staff spoke English. Here are the rates I got, which were much better:
-The one on ground level at Rio Sul mall: 1USD to 216 R
- The one in Ipanema, called Samba Ipanema : 1USD to 218
- Another one near Ipanema 2000 shopping mall: 1 USD to 218 R as well.
So, if you don't want to use ATM's, there is that option to consider. There were other people changing money as well while I was there, so they all seemed safe.
I did try using ATM at one of the HSBC branch in Ipanema, the menu/interface is in Portuguese and I was in a rush, so that didn't help. BTW bank cards with plus/interac are OK down there, just get in touch with one of the local bank staff for assistance when try to use it there the first time.
excellent beaches in Rio
The beaches in Rio are the best, I have seen so far! Big waves coming in for surfers, cristal clear waters, white sands,and .... not to forget, the most beautiful women getting sun-tanned and showing the smallest sized bikinis...
BIRD WATCHING AT THE TOP OF THE CHRIST
The Christ is a famous statue of Jesus in a mountainc alled corcovado, it is our landmark, and for sure you will have to be there! I speally recommend you to do it, but one never knows that you can see a big variety of the fauna, at elast Corcovado is part of the National Park of Tijuca.
Here my friend Pierre took a picture of a very nice visitor in his meal time...
It is the exotic SANHAÇO, our blue bird who lives in our tropical forest which we can SERRA DO MAR.
speak low, when you speak low...
Cariocas generally speak low unless they are quarreling or feeling like getting into trouble. It´s a cultural thing, a street smart code if you like - good things of life are seldom told away out loud. So, except during a soccer match or when your are singing along with the samba´s crooner your favourite songs, avoid raising your tone of voice so loud that the guy on the next table might get interested in your conversation, even if he doesn´t speak your language at all (it happens very oftenly I might say - cariocas can be a very mocking bunch). Speaking out loud might bring to us locals the misconception that because you are in Rio you feel like getting rid of your good manners and, ergo, that you are not the very nice person we would otherwise be sure you are...
This ice tea drink is a favorite among many Cariocas. You get it from the Mate man on the beach. You know how you know who he is? You know because he's carrying two big tin jugs (one on each arm). The trick is the mixture. One jug has lemon juice and one has Mate. You mix 30% lemon with 70% Mate and you have your tea. I highly recommend trying this.
This should cost you 1.50 reais
FYI: They guy will also be yelling Mate.