8 preconceptions about Brazil which aren’t true

One of the good things about traveling is that you get to know things about a country that are different than you had previously thought. I had a few preconceptions about Brazil before I came here, and now that I’m here, I notice things are different. These are 8 preconceptions about Brazil you might have, but which aren’t true.

  1. Brazil is about soccer, carnaval and jungle.

Like I wrote the intro of my page about, Brazil has a lot of each, but the country has way more to offer than that. For example, Foz de Iguaçu on the border with Argentina and Paraguay, historic cities like Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais and in the South of Brazil you will discover multiple Italian, Japanese and German influences because of the immigration in the 19th and 20th century, more about that later.

For me the incredible architecture of Oscar Niemeyer was something I didn’t expect when I came to Brazil. After designing multiple magnificent buildings in and outside Brazil he created together with Lucio Costa the planned capital Brasilia. If you are interested in architecture and urbanism, this is a must-see city. Here are a few photos below, but also have a look on Google, it’s worth it.

2. Rio de Janeiro is a party city

When I arrived in Rio for the first time, just a few days before the Olympics in August, I expected a city full of parties and nightlife. Unfortunately, my friend Roy and I had to search a lot for good parties, or, how we say in Dutch “we kwamen van een koude kermis thuis”, because there wasn’t a lot to do. Ok, it was during the week, but in world city as Rio, with 4 million people, we expected every day at least some good parties. Some bars were open and that was it. The street parties in city centre Lapa are amazing to experience, but only in the weekends. With an exception of New Years Eve and Carnaval, I wouldn’t say Rio is a party city. Florianopolis and Sao Paulo are better cities to go for that.


3. Brazil is too dangerous to travel alone

This is something that most of the Brazilians think as well, and of course, it depends also on the way you look at it, but I think it’s not. I’ve been robbed twice, in Salvador and in Fortaleza, and it wasn’t a nice experience, but I was a little bit out of the safe area. Both times it was that I approached people to ask something instead of approaching me. I know, I was a bit naive at the beginning of my travel;), but when you stay inside the tourist areas, you don’t walk with your phone in your hands and you don’t enter the beach at night, you will not have a problem. 95% of the Brazilians are very friendly people. I’m not saying everywhere in Brazil it is safe, but to travel it isn’t a problem, you just have to be a bit more alert.

4. The Amazon is only jungle, very hot and has a lot of mosquitos

There are almost no roads in the Amazon area from city to city, the most common way of transport is by boat. So to go from Belem to Manaus I took a ferry. More than 1200 km, 5 nights, sleeping in a hammock, together with 200 Brazilians and some other travelers. I expected very hot days and nights with a few hours sleep accompanied by mosquitos searching for some fresh ‘gringo’ blood. However, during my trip and during my stay in Manaus and Santarem I didn’t notice even one mosquito!! It was the time of the year when it is winter in Manaus, but still, it was a big surprise for me.

The super-hot, tropical climate people told me to expect, was with a top of 28 degrees not that bad either. Unfortunately, there wasn’t that much wildlife to see. Not everywhere along the river was jungle, sometimes it was as flat with meadows. It looked as if it could be in the Netherlands;p. However, the trip was still amazing, with Brazilian music and parties every night on the deck of the boat.

5. Brazilians work less than Europeans

It depends a lot on the job of course, but in Brazil, it’s normal to work 6 days instead of 5 per week, mostly with the lower-income society. Also, the working hours are longer. Most of the Brazilians start working at 8 and don’t finish until 6 pm. Their work pace might be slower. Actually, I’m sure about that hehe;p, but when it comes to the number of hours they work, in general, they work more than Europeans.

6. The Dutch companies Shell, C&A and Heineken are bigger in Brazil than in the Netherlands

This is not really a pre-conception, but still very surprising. You see Heineken in nearly every bar, supermarket, restaurant and club. Even in bars in small villages in the middle of nowhere. When I made a trip in the North of Brazil from Parnaiba to Sao Luiz I made a stop in some small not touristic village between where less than 1000 people are living and even there they sell Heineken. There is a big Heineken factory in São Paulo whereby Heineken avoids the import taxes and because of that, make more profit.

Shell is spread over Brazil as well and in every big shopping mall C&A is always presented. I think the reason behind this is because there are less competitors here in Brazil, mostly for Heineken. It is one of the less Premium beers here in Brazil, compared to the Netherlands where you find plenty.

7. Brazilian girls like strangers because they want to move to Europe or the US for a better life

Yeah the girls… It depends on your preference, but for me the Brazilian girls are the best. They are ‘more woman’ how I would describe. Sweet, sexual, funny, but sometimes a bit more jealous I have to admit. They like it if you take care on them and if they can take care of you.

I know not everybody in Europe has this pre-conceptions, but girls don’t like you because they think you are rich, they like you because you look different. As gringo (blond hair, blue eyes) you have a benefit, but not even for all the girls in Brazil. Brazilian girls are not looking for money or a better life, most of them like it here and want to stay in Brazil. Mostly girls from Rio and Sao Paulo are very independent as well and just want to meet up, they don’t want a relationship to go to Europe or any other commitment.

8. Most of the Brazilians look like Ronaldo, Romario or Rivaldo

Ok, I have to admit, until 2 years ago, I thought that most of the Brazilians were natives and just a few people with origins from Portugal or Africa (I know pretty stupid). However, Brazil has a lot of different kinds of people. The Portuguese and African people were the first people who came to Brazil, African unfortunately because of the slavery. Later on, during the 19th and 20th century a lot of Italians, Spanish, Germans, Japanese and even people from Ukraine, Poland, Lebanon, Syria and Korea came to Brazil to start a new life. Because of this, almost every kind of person could be a Brazilian, even me with my blond hair and blue eyes. In the south of Brazil there are a lot of Italians and Germans. There are towns like Blumenau, where still some people speak German as main language. This city is known for the third largest Oktoberfest in the world even though just 300.000 people are living there. The picture below is from 2 weeks ago, when a Catholic priest invited me for a diner with friends. They look all different, but all Brazilian.diner

So far my third blog, let me know what you think about it!


3 thoughts on “8 preconceptions about Brazil which aren’t true

  1. Nas suas caminhadas, ainda vai conhecer muita coisa boa que o Brasil tem a oferecer aos seus visitantes. Aqui tudo se mistura e surge uma coisa nova. Mas confesso que este pais ainda pode ser melhor. Bem vindo a esta terra querida.


  2. Oh que ótimo texto. Os brasileiros deveriam saber sobre isso. Acredite, muitos de nós temos uma visão distorcida de nós mesmos.
    Sua viagem me inspira.
    Your trip inspires me.


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