By Mark Hillary
July 22, 2011

Being a Brit living in Brazil is always a pleasure when people ask about sport. Having the next Olympic games in London, then the World Cup in Brazil, followed by the Olympics in Rio means that this is a great place to be for major sporting events.

And it’s even better for me because I am one of just one hundred official Olympic bloggers – I will be writing about the run-up to London 2012 from my base here in São Paulo as well as going over to London for the games. I plan to try to continue the Olympic blog so it runs all the way up to Rio 2016.

I’m hosting a launch party for the blog at the British consulate general in São Paulo on Wednesday afternoon next week. There will be Champagne, and a big screen showing the Trafalgar Square ‘one year to go’ ceremony live. This will be 2:30pm on the 27th July at the British Consulate, Rua Ferreira de Araujo 741, Pinheiros.

I will be live blogging from the event and should even be streaming some video online from the party.

Gringoes readers are welcome to come along for a chat with me – and the consulate staff – over a glass of Champagne – come and start the countdown to London 2012 right here in Brazil!

Click here for RSVP details:
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By Alison McGowan
July 12, 2011

Bahia is huge and full of wonderful places to escape to breath some clean air and unwind in astounding tropical surroundings. Although Salvador is the place most foreign travellers find themselves staying, because of the international airport, it is just a fraction of what Bahia really has to offer. Catch a plane or take an extended road trip outside the city and you will discover rural Bahia. Deserted beaches, clear waters, jungle and dirt roads are backdrops to some idyllic pousadas, where eco-consciousness, pampering activities and incredible landscapes, provide great ways to simply chill out off the beaten track. Here are just a few:

Massage and rejuvenation: Art Jungle Eco Lodge & Spa, Itacar
Amazing tree & stilt-houses with beautiful views over the river. Enjoy Reike, energy balance and massage treatments to rejuvenate in jungle paradise. Get a special 20% book direct discount

Snorkelling paradise: Pousada Lagoa do Cassange, Lagoa do Cassange, Mara
Eco-lodge offering sophistication and informality-right on the beach. A trip wouldn’t be complete without snorkelling in the crystal waters of Taipu de Fora.

Ocean life and natural swimming pools: Pousada Mangueira, Boipeba (Morer)
Lush gardens and hidden tranquility only a minute from Morere beach. Swim in the natural swimming pools of the island, and be at one with ocean life, feeding the amazing tropical fish and snorkelling amidst breathtaking varieties of coral.

alison@hiddenpousadasbrazil.com. Visit her site at http://www.hiddenpousadasbrazil.com/.

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Tanara, Itacare, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Vila dos Orixas Boutique Hotel, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa da Carmen e do Fernando, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Lagoa das Cores, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Naturalia, Ilha Grande (Abraao), Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ilha de Toque Toque Boutique Hotel, São Sebastiao, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Eco-Rio Lodge, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Amazon Tupana Lodge, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Luar do Rosario, Milho Verde, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Chal Oasis, Galinhos, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijo do Vento, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Artjungle Eco Lodge & Spa, Itacare, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada 0031, Cumbuco, Cear
Brazil: Maguire’s Guesthouse, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel Casa do Amarelindo, Salvador, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel BeloAlter, Alter do Chão, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Fazenda Santa Marina, Santana dos Montes, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casarão da Amaznia, Soure, Ilha de Marajo, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Mila, nr. Ubatuba, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Beleza, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Bambu Bamboo Pousada and Spa, Parati, Rio de Janeiro
Random Ramblings on the Weather in Brazil
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijamar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel 7 Colinas, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada dos Quatro Cantos, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Estrela do Mar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Vivenda, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Terra, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Mirante de Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada do Caju, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Amendoeira, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Estalagem Caiuia, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Lagoa do Cassange, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ponta do Muta, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Santa Clara, Boipeba, Bahia

July 12, 2011

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Augusto Uehara. Read on as Augusto tells us about his impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.

1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?

I’m from the east side of São Paulo city, from a lower middle class neighbourhood, boring place to grow up, but it had a good bus service into the town centre.

2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?

First would be the language. The average Brazilian generally only speaks Portuguese, so speaking a second language is not common place and considering how language education is lacking there, even a reasonably educated person would not be expected to speak a second language.

Secondly, Brazil is not tourist-friendly. Wandering around in most cities is difficult even for Brazilians, with the exception of Brasilia and Rio do Janeiro, most cities won’t have a proper tourist infra-structure and with the exception of the largest cities, you won’t even find a tourist information centre easily.

3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?

Not getting the basic grasp of Portuguese to wander around is possibly the worst offender. Also, with regards to security, as pickpockets and the likes are everywhere, but I reckon this is an issue in any big urban centre.

Also, quite a few foreigners have GRINGO” written on their heads, which makes them prey to some sort of tourist exploitation.

4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?

Dress and formality. You can’t really tell social class from the way people dress here, also, in a general things are a lot more formal here as well.

5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?

Queen’s English. Or perhaps South Londoner. Cockney amuses me as well.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

There’s several amazing places I’ve been to, but if I have to choose only one, then it has to be Japan. I’ve been there a couple times and every time I go there, I feel like I there’s so much to explore from the traditional castles and temples to the hi-tech shops.

7. Favourite foreign food?

Japanese and Italian, both have amazing simple comfort food as well as sophisticated dishes that can match any occasion. Well, at least that’s my opinion.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

An American punk-cabaret band called The World/Inferno Friendship Society right now. But Canadians from Rush always creep back as my favourite band from time to time. I’ve liked Siddharta from Hermann Hesse a lot, but only read it twice. What gets several re-reads is actually a series of graphic novels called Sandman. And a movie has got to be the first Matrix. I believe I’ve watched it over a 100 times over the years.

9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?

The timelines are way too different. Also, Europeans in general seem way more straightforward and open. Strange as it may sound, Brazilians are very conservative on that regard.

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?

No incident comes to mind, but once I was offered a beer in a bus, simply because the guys never saw an oriental Brazilian before. Perhaps one “cultural shock” I had coming over here is that in Brazil races are a lot more mixed, so they hardly have a really “black” black person as we do here.

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?

Go to a Barbecue party and shop at an open market.

If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to gringoes@www.gringoes.com.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Ana da Silva
Daniel Bertorelli
Marco Cassol
Ana Clark
Vanessa Agricola
Ubiratan S. Malta
Brescia Terra
Renata Andraus
Ana Vitoria Joly
Helio Araujo
Adriano Abila
Anderson Ferreira
Sandra Partridge
Samara Klug Szachnowicz
Flavius Ferrari
Daniela Ribeiro
Adriano Gomes
Alexandre
Elizabeth Sacknus
Geberson Coelho
Rosaly Loula
Andreas Saller
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Bruno Santos
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Fernando Saffi
Gabriela Kluppel
Patrcia C. Ribeiro
Fabiano Deffenti

By Ricky Skelton
July 12, 2011

It is the little things you miss most about home when you live abroad, Marmite, HP Sauce, proper cheddar cheese, family… you know, the things you don’t find in Brazil. I try my best to feel homesick but I can’t even get as far as pretending to be honest. Life here is generally great. The one thing that I do genuinely miss is The Pub, and I’m not sure that many Brazilians would understand this, even those with experience of living in the British Isles. Much like cricket, it is hard for foreigners not brought up in the pub climate to understand the appeal that the pub has to the natives.

There are pubs in Brazil of course, although not many. The first was opened in 1974, the Lord Jim in Leblon. It is still there, mais ou menos, having moved slightly at one point. It was originally opened just to give its English landlord somewhere to play darts. Now if that isn’t as noble a reason as you’ve ever heard for a venture, then I don’t know what is. I know this because he told me the story on the oche while thrashing me at darts. Simon has now moved down to Florianopolis, where you can find him behind the bar in the Black Swan. Or in front of the dartboard.

These are two of Brazil’s pubs, there are not quite so many more proper ones, Shenanigans in Ipanema, All Black and O’Malley’s in Jardins, plus the pub in the English club in Pinheiros. These at least have the feel of a proper pub, and I’d be interested to hear of more throughout the country, but most of the buildings that claim to be pubs in Brazil should be prosecuted under the Trades Descriptions Act.

I should feel a little shame walking into a pub in Brazil, with all the bars and botecos to choose from instead. I don’t. The beauty of the pub is that the doors are open to everyone. All over the British Isles, anybody can walk in to just about any pub. The origin of the word is Public House, the place where people gathered to drink, talk, sing, play music, drink some more, and generally enjoy the craic. This is the difference between a proper pub and the pretend ones. In the pretend ones, you walk in and head to the bar, but are shepherded off to a table, usually by somebody with a headset or clipboard. You see? Immediately it goes wrong.

The reason that we spend so much time in our pubs is that we enjoy them. The main reason that we enjoy them is that anything can happen, and you can meet anyone and spend the night with a completely separate group of people. Now you have to adapt to local tastes of course, there is no point having a pub in Brazil with service only at the bar. Groups of Brazilians would come in, sit at a table, wait for ten minutes to be served, look confused, then leave. You must have bar service though, and this is the crucial difference. At the bar is where you meet different people while waiting to buy your round, the place where you start conversations with male and female, old and ugly or young and beautiful. This is where the fun starts and the dynamics of the evening change, you join tables with a group that you were never likely to meet anywhere else, and you can have the time of your life just chatting and telling stories.

This doesn’t happen in Brazilian bars, not even in Brazilian ‘pubs’. People tend to sit on their own tables in their set groups and never move. Many Brazilians are not really open to being joined by strangers anyway, they seem to have a little fear of that, especially in the big cities. Perhaps they just didn’t want this drunken gringo though… Unfortunately also, the Pub in Brazil tends to thought of as a sophisticated place to go, with resultant high prices, queues for entry, reservations for tables, and a distinctly narrow clientele demographic. All of which drive me insane.

In the proper pubs, with bar service and a proper landlord and landlady though, this does happen, even in Brazil. There is far more social interaction. I have made more friends in pubs in Brazil than any other type of place, despite spending far more time in botecos, bars and clubs. Not just other semi-drunken, sweaty bar-fly gringoes either. The clientele might be more limited, but at least it does seem to be limited to a whole load of beautiful Brazilian girls, very often single as well, or at least without their boyfriends… Playing darts or pool, especially Killer, is the easiest way to bring other people into your social circle, and seems to be the only place for this particular gringo to talk to such beautiful Brasileiras desconhecidas without running the risk of actually being killed by his own one.

Perhaps I’ve just discovered the real reason why I seem to be spending more and more time in pubs. I tell myself that sometimes I need the feeling of a real pint glass, instead of those little thimbles half full of froth that you drain in one go in the boteco. A pint glass fits perfectly and feels as comfortable in my hand as I do sitting at the bar of a proper pub.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: Protesting
Understanding Brazil: General Elections
Around Brazil: Oktoberfest Parade in Blumenau
Cultural Brazil: The Alambique
Around Brazil: Whale-Watching in Santa Catarina
Brazil: Tainha Time
Deported from Brazil? Part 2
Deported from Brazil? Part 1
Brazil: The President in Florianópolis
Swine Flu in South America?
The Best Club in Brazil…?
The Great Brazilian Animal-Off (Land)
Understanding Brazil: Giving Directions
Understanding Brazil: Driving
Understanding Brazil: Farra do Boi
Brazil: Catching Flu’
Around Brazil: Garopaba
Understanding Brazil: Funerals
Brazil: Bernie the Berne
Around Brazil: Journey to the Amazon Jungle
Around Brazil: Crazy Town Ceremonies
Around Brazil: Crazy Town
Around Brazil: Manaus
Around Brazil: Santarem & Alter do Chao
Around Brazil: Amazon Swarms and Amazon Storms
Understanding Brazil: Playing Pool
Around Brazil: Gurup
Around South America: Peninsula Valdes
Around South America: Patagonia
Around South America: Montevideo, Uruguay
Around Brazil: The Amazon
Around South America: Bariloche, Argentina
Understanding Gringoes: Drinking
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 2
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 1
Understanding Brazil: The Kids
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: São Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?