Last week, I got back from a whirlwind of a trip throughout Brazil for the World Cup. I flew into Sao Paulo and spent a few days in the city before the World Cup home opener game between Brazil and Croatia. Afterwards, I flew from Sao Paulo to Curitiba and spent one night. Then, I flew from Curitiba to Belo Horizonte and spent three nights. Lastly, I flew from Belo Horizonte to Rio de Janeiro and had a 14 hour layover before going back to the United States. I’ve been to Rio de Janeiro before and this was my 3rd visit to the Carioca city. Here are 10 things I learned from my recent trip to Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup in Brazil.
1. There’s a Transcarioca BRT at Rio International Airport – The Transcarioca Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) recently opened earlier this month for the World Cup. The BRT stations are at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of Tom Jobim’s Rio de Janeiro International Airport. I didn’t get a chance to try this new service out, but hopefully I can next time.
2. The Premium Auto Onibus is amazing – I take the Premium Auto Onibus from Tom Jobim GIG International Airport to the city center of Rio de Janeiro. There are two buses; one that goes to Centro (Rio Branco) continuing to Barra da Tijuca and the other one goes to Zona Sul (Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon). I’ve taken the Premium Onibus three times back to the international airport as well and the best part, it’s only R$12.00 reais ~ $5.45 USD each way.
3. The traffic is horrible – The traffic in Rio de Janeiro is legendary and it’s even worse with the World Cup in town. It can take 30 minutes to move 1km.
4. The Rio metro system is awesome – It’s really easy to navigate Rio’s metro system because there are only currently two lines. There is a metro subway expansion going on in Zona Sul which will eventually reach to Barra da Tijuca. I wish the metro in Rio de Janeiro could be expanded north towards the international airport airport.
5. The beaches are absolutely stunning – Rio is famous for their beautiful beaches. Enough said.
6. There are too many gringos – The World Cup draws too many tourists and most of them are located in Rio de Janeiro. When Americans think of Brazil, they automatically think of Rio de Janeiro. There are many other beautiful states of Brazil to visit like Parana and Minas Gerias.
7. FIFA Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach is not regulated – What I mean to say is that there are two sides of the FIFA Fan Fest, one with security and one without. The FIFA Fan Fest beach side is totally unregulated. There is no security and it’s easy for thieves to ransack your belongings on the beach. Apparently, anyone can set up shop and sell alcohol without a permit. Check out the street caipirinhas for R$5.00 reais ~ $2.27 USD.
8. It’s okay to be served alcohol by a minor – During FIFA Fan fest on the unregulated side of Copacabana Beach, I saw kids selling tequila shots and even serve beer. Apparently the Rio de Janeiro police don’t care.
9. Rio empties out when the national team plays – Whenver the national team of Brazil plays, the streets are totally silent. You won’t see any cars on the streets and hardly any people walking. Everyone is glued to the television and that’s how die-hard of a sport futebol is in Brazil. You’ll know when Brazil scores even if you’re not watching the game.
10. Street crime is a reality – I almost got robbed of all my belongings last week in Rio and I wrote a blog on how I Was Held at Knifepoint in Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup in Brazil. You never think it would happen to you, until it does.