Rio de Janeiro is where Brazil starts to get interesting for the traveler as he heads north to the untamed tropical beaches. Rio is still modern enough in parts and is a major metropolis but it also has much of the Brazilian party spirit that the average traveler to Brazil is looking for.
Don’t fool yourself with the tourist hype about Rio being the nightlife capital of the world – it’s not by a long chalk – but this can be quite a special place to hang out for a while; it’s a cultural city with a lot going on, attitudes are modern and the people are mostly educated, there’s shitloads of areas to explore and the beaches are stunning.
Rio isn’t all that a relaxing place to hang out though and you have to constantly keep your eyes open for pickpockets, muggings and ‘lost bullets’ from the firefights between the drug lords and the military police. Oh and the Rio police will try to extort money from you if they catch you with something to smoke.
Once you learn how to stay safe in Rio de Janeiro you’ll be fine but all the taxis at night add to your budget and Rio is not a cheap place to travel or live. You can get by on the same budget in Barcelona or Sydney and if you’re travelling on the cheap then you’ll be better off heading up to the North East of Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro is a good place to learn Bossanova, jujitsu or capoeira, though the latter may be better up in Bahia. There are good jujitsu clubs in Copacabana and if you want to find a music teacher, your best bet is to ask some live musicians who they can recommend.
All in all, Rio de Janeiro is a good eye opener for the traveler and can be very educational once you understand the nuts and bolts of this beautiful and sinister city. At the very least you’ll never see so many beautiful girls on a beach ever again.