First Impressions of Brazil

*disclaimer* This article is based only on the experiences in Fortaleza and Recife, Brazil is a HUGE country and from what I have heard the South is very different, and also safer.

Before I arrived I had a lot of ideas about what Brazil would be like, a few of them were true but as soon as I got off the plane I started to realize how many were not!

I’ll start with the negatives, and the first thing I realized is how dangerous this country is! At least in the cities I’ve visited so far. I’ve been to quite a few countries since I started travelling but this is the first time I’ve actually felt scared.

Within 5 minutes of arriving our first host told us how they don't stop at red lights at night because someone might carjack them. It’s also hard not to notice the sharp metal spikes along the top of almost every wall, if not an electric fence. My second host in Fortaleza was robbed at gunpoint while we were staying with him, and it seems like everyone in this part of Brazil has a story about being robbed.

On the other hand, these robberies rarely seem to turn violent. People are used to it, they hand over their stuff and just walk away. But it was still quite a shock for me, and so was their driving... Most people drive like they are in a computer game, especially the bus drivers! I literally had blisters from holding on so tight on a long local bus ride one time.

Another that shocked me was the prices! Especially for basic things like groceries! Before arriving I always had the image that Brazil was a poor country, so I was expecting the prices to reflect that… But this is really not the case, especially in large supermarkets you can be expected to pay €2 for a loaf of bread, or €20 per kilo for local cheese! I was actually spending less money in Rome or Venice than I am here now! Buses are also similar price to western Europe! From Fortaleza to the next major city of Natal will cost you around €35. For longer distances than that it’s actually often cheaper to fly!

Ok, enough of the negatives, there are also a lot of great things about this country too. The beaches are amazing, even in the city centre you can find beautiful white sand and very few people, something especially nice when you compare to beaches in Europe where people sometimes sit almost shoulder to shoulder!

Croco Beach in Fortaleza

The food is also great, unless you're trying to lose weight which I'm obviously not! Most meals come with very generous amounts of meat in a heavy sauce with beans or a type of yam. You can also try a frozen blended fruit desert called acai which is very popular here. Or grab a salgado (deep fried snack) if you get hungry when your out.

Brazilian food

Acai in Recife

But the best thing about Brazil is the people! (excluding the ones who want to rob you).

Brazilians are maybe the most crazy and care free people I have ever met anywhere in the world! They are also extremely welcoming and very hospitable.

They absolutely love to party, even when they have work the next day. In fact I realized yesterday that out of five Brazilian hosts who had to work the day after we arrived NONE of them went! And for my birthday we actually partied until 2pm, slept a few hours then continued partying again!

Brazilian House party

I also love their drinking style, they share from the same bottle, and when the bottle is empty another magically appears without being ordered! The empty ones gather under the table and this later becomes your bill. Alcohol is also one of the only things that is reasonably cheap here (thank god!)

So overall, while Brazil does have A LOT of problems I am still really enjoying this place, and hopefully the south will have even more excitement and craziness awaiting me!

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Posted in Beaches, South America, Trip Stories
15 comments on “First Impressions of Brazil
  1. Mann, I’m waiting you here in the South, the people are as nice, but is safer and the food is just awesome. You’ll see another country, definitely. Cheersss! Enjoyyyyy hehahha

  2. This is very interesting. Brazil is a country that I’d like to visit for sure. I wonder if the negative things you mentioned are going to be addressed during the future sport events Brazil is hosting. At that moment the country is going to be under a huge spotlight…

    • Dan Norris says:

      I am more wondering how they will host such a huge event in such a dangerous country, I’m sure there will be many stupid football fans wandering into the wrong neighbourhoods and getting into trouble… But I guess it was the same in South Africa so hopefully will all be ok.

  3. Felipe says:

    I realized I know your hosts from the picture… They’re batshit crazy and somewhat irresponsible people, I wouldn’t really define brazilians on the impression you got from them. 😛

    Lots of us might party ’til the morning light, but mostly go to work anyway. These guys…

    • Dan Norris says:

      I agree, they are absolutely crazy but DEFINITELY not in a bad way 🙂 But it wasn’t just these guys who missed work the next day, several of our hosts in Rio and the south missed work or at least turned up a bit late 🙂

  4. It’s cool to hear about your first impressions of Brazil. I’ll be heading there for the first time with my girlfriend Audrey this year. Considering she has family there it should help make things a bit easier for us.

    • Dan Norris says:

      Thanks for the comment Samuel!

      Yeah Brazil is a pretty tough place to travel but if you know people it should be much better. It really depends on where you will go though, the south is A LOT safer than the north. Especially be careful if you ever visit Salvador, I’ve heard of people being robbed there three times in a single day!

  5. Mike says:

    I heard stories like this about Brazil when I went on a cuise ship that had Santos for home port. I heard that even if you walk on the street with a coke, that would get stolen from you. So imagine if you have some electronics or jewelry. I personally didn’t have time to go out in Santos, so I did that in other South American destinations, such as Buenos Aires in Argentina, where I thought those stories don’t apply and the local hobos mind their own business, which was totally a wrong idea, I myself was put in the situation where I was threatened with a jack knife to give away my cheap laptop. Thank God that I was very cool and didn’t act scared and they freaked out and left by themselves without having to take any action.

    • Dan Norris says:

      Wow you were robbed in Buenos Aires? I was just there for three weeks and felt very safe there!

      The Argentinians constantly keep telling me that everything in their country is dangerous but I figured they are just paranoid. Or maybe I just felt that way compared to the north of Brazil… Still… Every big city has it’s dangers.

  6. Selina says:

    I’m a dedicated budget traveler so I really enjoy your posts. It’s always good to hear negatives as well as positives of any country – I definitely like to be prepared!

  7. henrique says:

    this report can’t be more real, it’s almost as if a brazilian wrote it.

    regards from brazil.

  8. Nikolas says:

    Sometimes we brazilians exaggerate when we say things about the crimes here, but it have a reason: since american movies and music is very popular around the world and on them they seams to show only good and rich things about america, we have this feeling/impression that everything out there in the north is wonderful… so when we met someone that is not from here, we automatically want to act to them like: “YO DOG! BE CAREFUL, YOU’RE NOT IN THE US WHERE EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL, KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR THINGS” lol but actually i heard of people who feel the same unsafety on NYC and especially LA
    I’m not saying that is not dangerous, it is, the whole world is dangerous… but sometimes i feel like we kinda exaggerate a lil bit, especially knowing that the person that is visiting don’t know the language and their culture is different.

    Have a wonderful day/night!

  9. paulbroad says:

    It’s the best article so far i have read!! we are going to do the ring road on Dec 14-20, our plan is very similar as yours!
    Is it worth to visit Rio?
    P.S. Epic photography

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