Avoid taxis. The trouble is, sometimes you don't know where you are, and you don't know where you're going. You're vulnerable, and want a nice safe warm taxi. But taking a taxi will make it worse, you won't learn anything by taking a taxi. Apart from maybe the wisdom of my words. And they will rip you off, sometimes blatantly, sometimes subtly. In Cholula Christian and I asked about the bar district and were advised to take a taxi. The taxi went around the houses and the fare seemed fair (sorry). Our taxi back only needed to drive about four blocks. Really, we could have walked thanks. If we'd only known the direction. And so it was that I arrived in Rio and headed for the bus stop, despite the Lying Planet's dire warnings about how dodgy the area was. And did I get mugged? No, I got onto the waiting bus, followed the journey on my map, learnt the layout of the city and saved myself about $15 in the process.*
An observation rather than a tip, hotels and hostels always have pros and cons. Even the cheapo shit ones have good points (usually the price) and even the expensive hotels have bad points (usually the price). For example, I may be staying at one of the plushest places I've stayed at so far. I have a six bed dorm to myself, an on-suite bathroom and, get this, an on-suite kitchen! And by Brazilian standards it's cheap. But the trouble is, there's no one here. So I am hanging out at the more expensive and crappy, but popular, place down the road and sleeping and eating my breakfasts here in solitary luxury.
Caipirinhas are strong! I went to my first Brazilian party last night. It was much like other parties in other parts of the world, except that as the night wore on more and more of the men started to take their T-shirts off in order to exhibit their breast like pecs to the women. The funny thing was though that it ended up being extremely gay as the women thinned out and the guys began hanging round in groups admiring and preening each other. Anyway, I only had about four caipirinhas and I think I am still drunk. 12 hours later.
The Swiss are nice. I think they are my second favourite nationality after the Germans. And it seems really easy to dislike your own countrymen, but maybe that's just because I am British ;)
* Although of course there was the time with Maddy when our bus skirted the outskirts, we got off way too late, got another bus back into town and still had to get a taxi to where we were going. We could have saved money by just taking a taxi in the first place.