Your Smart Travel Assistant!

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”

Rent a Local Friend is a global platform that connects people who love to travel with those who are passionate about where they live and have a great story to tell. More than just an outing, we aspire the sharing of local tips and contents, information that will be revealed in no travel book or guide and last but certainly not least the essence of each local culture and spirit. All of this is done in a spontaneous, genuine, collaborative, and interest based way allowing people to connect with those that posess similarities or own characteristics that will allow a full immersion in the visiting destination.

Given excess of information and increasing demand to experience the unique and customized, it is getting harder and harder to filter what is relevant and select where to go and what to do when you travel. Local Friends are also travellers but within their own homes and thus do this homework for you while putting together an itinerary that is 100% customized suiting your needs, interests and making sure to take you to the most authentic and sometimes even traditional little places, guiding you on what and where to shop, teaching about local eating habbits, and showing what is truly authentic while keeping you up to date with the new and noteworthy.

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A true local gem in: Rio

Rio de Janeiro is definetely a must-see stop when coming to Brazil (already presented here on this other post as well). But with so many options (and too many visitors everywhere!), is there a special local place that is not so much on the touristic track?

One of our local friends there, Mariana Zurc, tells us today about one of her favorite places in town. An actress and Drama teacher, graduated from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State (UNIRIO), she also teaches people recipes on a Youtube Channel, Tudo Gostoso, where the viewers can see her hands preparing the most tasty stuff ever!

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“Rio de Janeiro is a Marvelous City no doubts. But people usually think that the beauty consists only at the incredible beaches, forest, nature and city all mixed together. Indeed that is part of the charm – however, there are a lot of “hidden” places that are so outstanding and unfortunately not everyone gets the chance to see it. Sometimes not even the Cariocas, those who are born here, know those places!

image1I have my favourite place here, that is not easy to know about and not easy to go by yourself, specially if it is your first time here. It is an old palace, like a small palace, in Santa Teresa neighborhood, called The Ruins Park. The owner was a very special woman, Laurinda Santos Lobo, and she used to receive guests, such as intellectuals, morden artists, influent people from the government for balls and reunions. It was the Belle Époque Carioca (1889-1931), when everything happened there. She was ahead of her time and help to bring progress to Brazilian Woman’s Right. She received artists such as Tarsila do Amaral, Brazilian famous art painter and Villa-Lobos, Brazilian famous musician, important artists on the Modern Art Week in 1922.

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Besides its history, the place is beautiful: the ruins of that old palace surrounded by nature, contemporary arts and a lot of culture. Twenty years ago it became a Cultural Centre and its ruins now is a venue for Theatre plays, Music concerts and has a lovely view from the top of the city. It is a very special and quiet place to turn off the business mode, and get in contact with nature, arts and yourself. To look outside and see how life is wonderful, and to look inside and be able to listen to yourself.

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All the tourists that I take there are very charmed by the architecture. The usually ask me for a few minutes (sometimes those minutes became hours) just to stay there and absorb the peace. I love to see how pleased they are and how relax they get after visit that place.

Whenever I feel that I need a break from the rush, I go there with a book, or just me. 

Take touristis there is my way to share not only my city with them, but also a little bit of me, my essence.”

Go there: Parque das Ruínas R. Murtinho Nobre, 169 – Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
From Monday to Sundays, 8am-8pm

Do not miss the chance to have Mariana as your amazing local friend in Rio de Janeiro: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

A true local gem in: São Paulo

A massive city like São Paulo (already presented here on this other post) surely needs a local friend to show you its special places!

Here again to show you all its gems is Kika, a ‘gringa’ herself who fell in love with São Paulo and set foot there. A local friend since 2014, she is an Interculturalist with China-Brazil focus, language professional and writer, and has a published work with a Brazilian flavour: “Sete Dias em Busca da Brasilidade” (2016). You can also check out more of her amazing work in her Understanding Brazil channel, with a deep dive into Brazilian culture; and with her YouTube playlist, where she teaches Portuguese idioms.

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Today she introduces us to one of her favourite places in town:

“Dear Visitors,

It is a pleasure to introduce you to a very special bar in Vila Madalena, São Paulo, my favourite city in Brazil. And what makes this place so special are the following points:

The Galeria 540 is a container bar and there aren’t many projects like that over here. The outer space is open air, which allows people to chill under the sun in the afternoon. Also, it is a place where many families and dog-owners find their trouble-free peace.

For foreigners it is a great place to taste great artisan Brazilian beers and make new friends. People who come to this place are usually very open and start chatting with others easily. Most of the guests are Brazilians but from time to time a foreigner walks in. I have already met people from around the globe here, since you can find me there almost every weekend.

Art lovers will enjoy the wall gallery, which shows graffiti from local artists – but actually art is something you can find in every little corner there, in the toilets, on the trashcans and even in some temporary exhibitions. On Sundays you can find sometimes stands from people selling handcrafts or organic foods.

I really hope you’ll like this tip and that I can take you there, soon!

Cheers,
Kristina”

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The Galeria 540 is located at the Rua Mourato Coelho, 540 and open from Wednesday-Friday (5pm-10pm), on Saturdays and Sundays (2pm – 10pm).

Do not miss the chance to have Kika as your amazing local friend in São Paulo: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

Buenos Aires from another point of view

Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and the most visited city in South America – and the second-most visited in Latin America (only behind México City). A multicultural destination and home to multiple ethnic and religious groups, it’s considered one of the most diverse Latin American cities – and the “Paris of South America”, due to its cultural lifestyle and abundance of cafes and bookshops.

luciana jornalistaLucy is a Brazilian journalist working in Buenos Aires as a foreign correspondent to Sportv, covering Argentinian issues. She says that even after over five years living there, the city still keeps surprising her “through its architecture, cuisine, and immense culture that branches from its one-of-a-kind mix of an old Europe with Latin character”

Here she shares with us some of her impressions:

 

1. What makes your city unique?
Buenos Aires is one of the most interesting cities in Latin America because of its cultural and gastronomic offers.

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend.
I decided to be a local friend because I really love this city and I think is an excellent opportunity to share my experience of living here for 6 years with visitors who don’t have enough time to live this city the way I do.Captura de Tela 2017-05-12 às 15.31.32

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend?
I don’t have any favourite story – each visitor is one world and live the tour with a very specific perspective. I enjoy every one of them.

4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?
My favourite place in Buenos Aires is Plaza Francia, but I also like the San Telmo bohemian atmosphere and the charming French-look design of Recoleta streets.

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5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?
I love traveling, and I fell in love with New York and México City. I think these cities have everything I love to find when traveling: a lot of culture activities and young sympathetic and enthusiastic people.

6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?
R
omantic.

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Do not miss the chance to have Lucy as your amazing local friend in Buenos Aires: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

Bogotá from another point of view

Bogotá is the capital and largest city of Colombia. Its attractiveness resides in the fact that it has a very cosmopolitan atmosphere combined with historical sites and vibrant culture – and its transformation over the past few years (implementing modern ways to overcome daily issues, such as encouraging the use of bicycles to reduce car traffic) has seen this place flourish. Lovely people, amazing food, great music and an upbeat lifestyle also help to make this one of the most special destinations in South America.

IMG_0009Hada Luz Andrade Angel is an actress and TV host, who’s been a local friend in Bogotá since last year. Here she shares some of her insider tips of this must-see Latin America capital:

1. What makes your city unique?
The giant mountains of the Andes that are seen from all over the city.

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend:
Because I love meeting people and walking around my city.

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend? 
Have been so many experiences with people so wonderful that to name just one is very difficult. But the first time we never forget, and it was with my new friend Jeff: we went to so many places and we had so much fun that my jaw hurt from so much laughing the whole day. We went to a jazz show with the right to enter the director’s dressing room, we walked around the city and also went on the same night to dance salsa and then to dance crossover.

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4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?
1. the view from Monserrate
2. the restaurant Andante Ma non troppo, with its handmade food. Fresh pasta and spectacular desserts, as well as incredible meats and salads.
3. Area T: It is an area of ​​10 to 15 blocks with a lot of diversity of parties and restaurants. There is fun for all tastes.

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5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?
Yes, I love traveling. It’s my passion. I’ve travelled to:  Mexico, where I was in Cancun, in Tchetenitza and in the cenotes. I was also in Guatemala, the complete trip. It was 15 days of magic and adventure. I went to the Dominican Republic, where I visited Punta Cana and its hotel Hard Rock Café, a paradise on Earth. In Brazil where I am, I have traveled almost everywhere; and every time I am more surprised by its culture and diversity. And I had the pleasure of traveling with Nat-Geo throughout Colombia, where I was able to know the diversity of food and culture so wide that this beautiful country has.

I still have a lot to travel and that is a huge reason to live!!!

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6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?
Diversity.

Do not miss the chance to have Hada as your amazing local friend in Bogotá: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

 

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São Paulo from (another) local point of view

The largest city of Brazil and South America definetly needs more than one local friend to present different aspects of such a big, complex and diverse atmosphere. Here you had Kika’s relationship with her adopted city, and now we’ll see how Renato sees São Paulo.

Screenshot_20170509-204959Renato Crestincov is a tour guide and language instructor who loves showing visitors a different side of this multifaceted city. Here, he shares with us some of his insider’s point of view:

1. What makes your city unique?
Diversity and contrast: it’s the largest city in the southern hemisphere. A huge concrete jungle with a pinch of the atlantic jungle. An enormous vibrating and cosmopolitan metropolis with indigenous land within its territory, where the native Guarani people live, speak their language and keep their culture. It also hosts large communities of immigrants from all over the world and has plenty of things to see and do.

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Ipiranga Museum (where D. Pedro I declared independence from Portugal in 1822)

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend.
I worked as a tour manager of international music artists performing in Brazil for a few years, and then started working as a tour guide. Sometimes, friends would recommend my services to friends visiting SP, and it was a completely different approach. I could design much more authentic and personalized experiences for those clients and was very excited when I found this platform with this purpose.

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend?
Local friendship turns into real friendship sometimes – including one of my best friends and best travel buddy, a friend from Argentina. We see each other quite often and travel a lot together!

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Paulista Avenue

4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?
Ibirapuera Park, Mercadão and Paulista Avenue.

5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?
I spent a few months studying in France, where I learned the French language; and a few weeks in Buenos Aires improving my Spanish. I also have been to most countries in South America and Europe, and a few islands in the Caribbean. The USA I visited a few times, and spent a few days in South Africa and Hong Kong. There is still a lot to see, actually. I am pretty much into kitesurfing now, so I have been traveling to Kite spots lately – especially in the northeast of Brazil.

6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?
Neverending.

Anything else you would like to add?
About São Paulo: it’s not only an amazing destination itself, but an incredible base for day-trips and weekend escapes: close to beautiful beaches, to the Atlantic forest, interesting villages in the countryside, and a magnificent caves park.

About being a local friend: do you know that exciting feeling you have when you come back home after traveling that you have changed and your mind have opened? Working as a local friend gives me the same feeling when I come back home – I really love meeting different people from arround the world! It motivates me and makes me passionate about being a local friend!

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Do not miss the chance to have Renato as your amazing local friend in São Paulo: you can book him here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

Brasília from a local point of view

Our destination today is Brasília, the capital of Brazil. Founded on 1960 to serve as the new national capital, the Federal District has seen lately a booming young culture – outdoor events are now taking place in a city that was not projected having pedestrians in mind, and currently has an ecosystem full of innovation and local initiatives focusing on culture taking off.

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Congresso Nacional

One of our local friends there and with Rent a Local Friend since the very beginning, Maira is a passionate traveler, always hitting the road whenever she has a chance – her Somos do Mundo project is where she collects her travel memories and local tips & impressions about Brasília. Originally from Minas Gerais and living in Brasília for over ten years now, she graduated in Tourism and has some local insights to share:

1. What makes your city unique?
It’s the capital of Brazil, known as “the Architectural capital”. Also the Capital of urban parks, and the city where neighbors are under the buildings to talk. Due to its political nature, it has people from all over the country and the world – therefore, it’s also a very multicultural capital.

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend.
Because I love to be in contact with other cultures, to show visitors my city, and also to practice other languages.

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend?
With a tourist  who loved taking pictures and enjoying the sunset – we have a gorgeous view here.

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Playing tourist with a friend visiting

4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?
– JK Bridge
– Sunset on the Cruzeiro square
– Eixo Monumental – Ministérios

5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?
Yes, I traveled a few times alone and I love this type of experience! I also have lived in three other countries by myself (USA, Argentina and France). 
It is very difficult to choose just one or a few travel experiences, because for me each place is unique – we visited over 17 countries, from New Zealand and Australia to Costa Rica and the UK, México… therefore each trip is unique. But I have to say I loved camping in the Grand Canyon – USA.

6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?
Sculptural!

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Do not miss the chance to have Maira as your amazing local friend in Brasília: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

Lisboa from a local point of view

Our destination today is the new European creative hub: Lisbon. Considered “the new Berlin” and “the Silicon Valley of Europe, the capital of Portugal has fallen into the radar of the young people looking for a beautiful location, great weather, amazing food, friendly population, cheap cost of living and cozy atmosphere.

Andreia is one of our oldest local friends there, and has been showing visitors around for a few years now. An experienced traveler and a local full of sensitive insights, she’s a Landscape Architect and Urban Designer who was born in the Alentejo, Southern Portugal, but calls Lisbon home:

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clicked by a visitor during lunch at one of her favorite spots

1. What makes your city unique?
Every city is unique. Lisbon has this beautiful light and atmosphere that takes us to somewhere in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, a very important Portuguese geographer from the 20th century wrote: “Portugal is Mediterranean by nature and Atlantic by position”. In Lisbon you can definitely understand and feel this. As one of the most ancient European capitals, Lisbon is monumental and full of history, but at the same time is modern and contemporary, energetic and full of life due to its incredible weather.

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend.
I became a local friend in 2011 through an invitation from another local friend, Nathalia, from São Paulo (Brazil). I remember that I thought that it was an amazing idea the opportunity to show the city where I live through my eyes as I would show it to my friends who came visit and at the same time to meet travelers from around the world.
In my opinion no one says that you cannot or should not feel at home when you travel.

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend?
I cherish all my experiences as a local friend. But my most memorable experience was with this american couple from Chicago. We got along so, so well that it looked as we were friends for a decade or more. We went to dinner and afterwards we went for drinks, and we had a lot fun.

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The Mãe d’Água water Reservoir

4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?
The River Front – Lisbon has this amazing relation with Tagus River, and from some years now the city has been redesigning and improving much of the city river front.
The Mãe d’Água water Reservoir and the Great Arch of the Águas Livres Aqueduct – the Águas Livres Aqueduct is probably the greatest patrimonial asset of Lisbon and is at the same time one of the less explored and known monuments. An incredible and complex network that was built to take water to the city in the 18th century. Nowadays Lisbon has a much more modern water supply system, but the Aqueduct and its fountains, reservoirs and built elements are very interesting historic sites to visit.
Any belvedere (there are many) – Lisbon is also known for its hills. You will find a belvedere in witch normally with a kiosk to take a coffee or refreshment.

 

5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?
Travelling is my favorite thing to do (after eating) ☺. I already traveled considerably trough many countries of Europe, but I also went to China, Brazil, and Morocco.
One of my favorite travel experiences was when I traveled alone for a month, from Berlin trough the Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia) most of the time by train. It was an amazing experience in many ways. Another amazing experience that I already repeated is Macau and Hong Kong, the two special administrative regions in the south of China. In Macau it is amazing, almost surreal, to walk the streets and to see everything written in Portuguese and Chinese – the buses, the name of the streets, the neons – as Macau was a former Portuguese colony.

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the famous local golden light

6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?    
Luminous!

7. Anything else you would like to us to add to the interview?
My experience of traveling alone showed me that even if traveling alone is a “must do” experience at least one time in your life, to have company while traveling is also so enriching, because for me experiences are better when they are shared. So next time you travel, rent a local friend.

 

Do not miss the chance to have Andreia, this amazing guy, as your local friend in Lisbon: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

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México City from a local point of view

Today we stop in the capital of México, Ciudad de México (or México City, for English-speakers ; ) One of the largest cities in the world, it is both the oldest city in the Americas as well as one of its most important financial centers. Full of personality, this friendly destination has vibrant colors, great parties, amazing food and tons of historical sights.

One of our local friends there is Claudia Hernandez, aka Clau – a Financial Planning and Business Analyst, with a Bachelor in Actuarial Sciences. Here she tells us more about her city and the incredible experiences she’s had as a curious traveler and local expert:

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at Glorieta de las cibeles, Mexico City (the city is popular known as CDMX)

1. What makes your city unique?
Once upon a time, there was a tribe called Mexicas – they were a nomad warrior tribe, and of course they offered their services to some lords in the Mesoamerica area, but their main god, the god of war (Huitzilopochtli) told the leaders that the promised place to live at would be the place where they saw an eagle defeating a snake. They then walked arround 200 years but finally they found and eagle eating a snake on a nopal plant (cactus), so the promised place finally was reached. But there was a problem: the nopal plant was in a center of a lake; so the Mexicas built a structure called chinampas on the water. In order to build the city, that place was called Tenochititlan city, with waterways as streets. That city now is called Mexico City and yes, this 20 million population city is sinking and the eagle eating the snake on a nopal plant (on a lake) is the national emblem of México. As you can see, every inch of Mexico City has a tale to tell!
So what makes Mexico City Unique? Come discover it for yourself!

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend.
In my early twenties I had the chance to participate in this amazing project with a few friends, called Integrate Mexico, where we had the chance to help exchange students and expats to discover that other part of my beautiful country, the local part by doing monthly trips within the country, museum nights, parties and also providing housing. This experience made me fall in love even more not only with Mexico City but also with the whole country, and now I want to share that feeling with as much people as possible!

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View from Latin Tower (Downtown), with French friends

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend?
During all these year s I’ve had the chance to be a local friend for many people around the world, I even had the chance to share a flat with some of them, each one of these experiences had been memorable but I think the best one was when I had the chance to show a personal part of me by introducing them with my family life, which is a big deal in Mexico, and made them feel at home away from home.

4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?
– The Plaza de la Constitución, more commonly known as the “Zócalo” is a must on any visitor’s list of things to do in México City.  Within just a few blocks of the Zócalo, in all directions, are some of the city’s finest examples of city history, architecture and art. The Zócalo once contained the pyramids and palaces of Moctezuma and was the exact center of the Aztec empire.
 The colonial history comes to life up at the top of Chapultepec hill where you can tour Chapultepec Castle (now a National History Museum). This castle is in the middle of the biggest park in the city, and offers a amazing view of Reforma, the business part of the city.
– The National Museum of Anthropology is one of the world’s great museums, and could easily occupy a short vacation by itself – it’s not only the biggest but it’s also the most beautiful and full with history of the city.

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Teotihuacan pyramids, another big highlight of México

5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?
I’ve had the chance to live abroad when I was a teenager, this experience made me want to discover my own country – that’s when I joined the project, that not only gave me the chance to travel through all the country but I also had the chance to travel to Europe for almost two months, where I visited 15 cities within 4 countries – then I had the chance to visit friends that I met in Mexico, and experienced a local point of view in some of this cities. My favorite one was without a doubt Paris, since I not only lived at my friends’ place but I felt like I was at home.

6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?
Family!
Mi casa es tu casa!

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Downtown (Zocalo) view from Latin Tower

 

Do not miss the chance to have Clau as your amazing local friend in México City: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

 

Rio from a local point of view

Today our destination is the one a lot of people dream about: Rio de Janeiro. This gorgeous city, a mixture of splendid beauty and a decadent urban charm from its golden years, has gained a new breathe of fresh air with the preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games and new modern buildings, such as Museu do Amanhã.

One of our local friends there is Mariana Zurc, an actress and Drama teacher, graduated from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State (UNIRIO). She also teaches people recipes on a Youtube Channel, Tudo Gostoso, where the viewers can see her hands preparing the most tasty stuff ever! She says her life is like her city “Marvelous and it never stops, always with something new and interesting happening!“. Here she shares with us some of her local insights as a true carioca:

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With a Vietnamese couple that lives in the US, at Vista Chinesa

1. What makes your city unique?

It’s the perfect mix between the big city and its facilities, with the amazing view and nature all around. This combination makes people so happy that is pretty common to see silly faces, smiling all over the city. It is the beauty and simplicity that you can find everywhere here. A Carioca (whoever feels that belongs here) is a happy person, that knows his/her responsibilities and also know how to enjoy life. It’s the ability of going out of a stressful job day, and chill out on the beach, listening to a Samba or a Jazz, just enjoying the amazing view, knowing that life is made of these moments.

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend.

I always had the ability to express myself and to communicate with people, combined to a huge curiosity about other cultures and for sharing my own culture. My city is full of tourist hotspots and others places that I always considered as important as those, but they were not seen at all by the visitors. During college, which was near Sugar Loaf (one of the greatest tourist hotspots here), I lost many classes helping people that were lost, showing them new places. A friend of mine told me about Rent a Local Friend and I thought it could be a perfect way to connect to more people and keep doing what I love the most: tell everybody how awesome it is here and ensuring they have an amazing, beautiful experience!

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With Chris, from the US, at Arcos da Lapa

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend?

It was when I met Chris on 2015. He was coming to Rock in Rio Festival and wanted to know every rock’n’roll place in the city. I am a huge fan of rock music style, so the night was amazing, we went everywhere, enjoying the music and different scenarios. Turns out that he was doing I life changing trip, and I had the chance to be part of it. It was very special to be able to share my passion about my city and music, to listen to his stories… At the end we became friends and still talk to each other nowadays.

4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?

  • The Chinese View
  • Quinta da Boa Vista
  • Sugar Loaf hiking trail

5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?

I’ve traveled much around Brazil (I have never been to the Amazon, but the rest I’ve pretty much been everywhere). I also went to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay; and now I have a trip to Europe on my way. The best experience was in Argentina (2014) where I spent one month living like a local person – at the north of the country (Chaco), I spent 10 days fishing and eating my own fish, at the Paraguay River. The colours, tastes and smells are still fresh on my mind. I could get in touch with another kind of nature and find out another part of me.

6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?

Joy!!!

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Quinta da Boa Vista, in the northern area of Rio – not frequently visited by tourists, it was the Royal Family’s Palace for several years in the 19th century. Today it is a Museum and a Park. 

Do not miss the chance to have Mariana as your amazing local friend in Rio de Janeiro: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉

 

 

São Paulo from a local point of view

Our stop today is São Paulo: the most populous city in Brazil as well as in the Southern Hemisphere. Filled with tall skyscrapers, with a diverse population coming from different parts of Brazil (and the rest of the world!), the “concrete jungle“, as it’s called, is full of surprises in every corner.

Our local friend there who will tell us more about this fascinating city is Kika, a ‘gringa’ herself who fell in love with São Paulo and set foot there. A local friend since 2014, she is an Interculturalist with China-Brazil focus, language professional and writer, and has a published work with a Brazilian flavour: “Sete Dias em Busca da Brasilidade” (2016). You can also check out more of her amazing work in her Understanding Brazil channel, with a deep dive into Brazilian culture; and with her YouTube playlist, where she teaches Portuguese idioms.

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Here she tells us a little bit more about her new found home:

1. What makes your city unique?

São Paulo is the biggest city in South America, a world city with its very distinct look. Due to a strong Asian and European immigration in the 20th century and due to inner country migrations between the 1950ies and our current days, you can find so different types of Brazilians living here and leaving their local cultural impact on daily life. Start breakfast at a Portuguese Bakery and have lunch at a typical Italian family place (don’t expect them to speak Italian). Why not having a Temaki (a giant Brazilian Sushi version) in the afternoon? In the evening I recommend some lighter Syrian food. And the best: you will always fit in, no matter the color of your hair, eyes or skin. For example, if you look Asian in Sao Paulo, nobody would usually consider you being part of a minority here.

2. Tell us about why you became a local friend.

I became a Local Friend two years ago after another Local Friend told me, what fun it was to have received people from all over the world who had come to Sao Paulo for the World Cup. I decided to create my profile and just give it a try, since I already had some previous experience in guiding foreigners in São Paulo due to being an accompanying translator. Of course, being a foreigner here, allows visitors spending time with me to see Brazil from another type of insider perspective, something like: “I am local and I totally get you.”

3. What was your most memorable experience as a local friend?

The best part is surely, that a personalized tour might change people’s minds when thinking of Brazil. For example, many foreigners are afraid when they come over due to news and chit-chat about criminality and some others believe that Brazil’s development stopped somewhen decades ago. Guiding foreigners especially here in São Paulo gives me a chance to show them true local culture, safety in an unsafe world and Brazil’s own share in international developments, too.

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4. If you could highlight 3 awesome sights in your city, what would they be?

The top must-see highlights, such as the Paulista avenue, the Ibirapuera Park, the Niemeyer buildings, are all worth a visit. But if your time is short and you are more interested in relaxing, then I suggest the following:

First: The neighborhood of Vila Madalena itself is a wonderful touristic sight with simple attractions such as local street art, its over 30 art galleries and its charming cafés and restaurants. It is a great place for shopping female clothing and handmade souvenirs, too. You can easily spend a whole day in the neighborhood, without being a bit bored.

Second: I wouldn’t miss the chance to visit a Brazilian farmer’s market. The one on Rua Mourato Coelho on Saturdays shows a huge variety of local fruits and vegetables. Vendors usually offer you a free tasting of fruit. There are also some cultural markets, such as the antique market one at the Benedito Calixto Square, where you can listen to a band playing Brazilian Chorinho while having some North-Eastern snacks. This market also takes place on Saturdays.

Third: Walking in the neighborhood of Liberdade, originally a Japanese neighborhood but now full of Chinese stores. There are plenty of original Asian restaurants and since it is very close to the old center, you can see a different part of the city’s reality.

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5. Have you traveled much yourself? What have been your favorite travel experiences?

One can’t travel enough in this incredible world with its incredible people. My husband and me travel pretty much inside Brazil, which gives me the opportunity to understand the regional cultural differences better. I also like to travel in my home country, Croatia, when I visit my mother once a year. It is just amazing – travelling from the mountains to the sea, discovering cities, villages and islands. My personal interests lie in Asia, especially Greater China and Japan. As a former student of Chinese culture and East Asian Art History, I just love to deepen my knowledge, whenever I get the opportunity to do so.

6. If you could describe your city in one word, what would it be?    

Diverse!

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Do not miss the chance to have Kika as your amazing local friend in São Paulo: you can book her here >>

Boa viagem! 😉