You Know You’re in Brazil When…

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You can buy delicious savoury empadas (mini pot pies) which are a nice change from empanadas found in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Common fillings are frango com requeijão (chicken and cream cheese), presunto e queijo (ham and cheese), espinafre e ricotta (spinach with ricotta), camarão (shrimp) or bacalhau (dried and salted cod).

You eat at the comida a quilo, buffet-style restaurants where food is priced per 100 grams. It’s usually cheap and it’s a great way to try new specialties.

Goodbyes facturas, here comes the bolo! Brazilians seem to love cake and you can buy a slice of carrot cake, banana cake, apple cake, etc. pretty much anywhere.

City centres empty out around 6 p.m. and most small shops close from Saturday around noon to Monday. Good luck finding the above-mentioned buffets past 3 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are taken seriously but you’re on your own for dinner—or you have to wait for the serviço de entrega, food delivery is always an option.

You stop at the posto de gasolina at least once a day even though you don’t have a car. The loja de conveniência is usually open 24/7 and well stocked with drinks and salgadinhos like warm pão de queijo (cheese bread), fresh bread, ham, cheese, cake, etc.

You can see the German influence—beer is the beverage of choice. Brahma, Skol and Antarctica are the most popular brands I’ve seen so far.

Any public square or street is a jungle with trees you’ve never seen before. I walked by trees with spikes, trees with trees growing on them, straight palm trees, tipuana trees, trees creating incredible green archways, trees that make me feel like I’m in a mythical forest… and I’m just in Porto Alegre, not in the Amazonas.

Coffee is delicious. For 50 cents, I can get a small cup of black coffee anywhere and it tastes awesome. Gas stations or tiny hole-in-the-wall lanchonetes get me a cup ready in less than a minute, offered with sugar or sweetener at any time of the day.

Street names are long because Brazilian names are long. Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, Avenida Borges de Medeiros, rua Antônio Klinger Filho… finally a country with my hyphenated last name is perfectly normal!

Men walk around wearing Havaianas sandals even if there’s no beach around. Women do too, but most wear high heels or fancy sandals. You can also buy Havaianas straps in different colours to customize your two-element footwear.

You “oi” people to greet them. I don’t know, it sounds cool, right?

Gas station in Porto Alegre: all kinds of coffee available, but tea? NO!

Tree at the Parque Farroupilha in Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre in bloom

Parque Farroupilha in Porto Alegre

Parque Farroupilha in Porto Alegre

Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, Porto Alegre

R. Gen. João Telles, Porto Alegre

Empadas in Centro Histórico, Porto Alegre

Havaianas straps in Centro Histórico


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I am from Porto Alegre and follow your blog for a while. Love to read your perspective from the city! Hope you enjoy your stay, let me know if you need any help.


    • Thank you Carolina! We’re leaving Porto Alegre now (we stayed a few days) and I loved the city. More to follow on it… It’s a great place with great people, I’m glad we stopped again.

  2. The colored straps are cheaper than buying new havaianas, so when the straps brake you just replace them. More an economical choice than a fashion statement. You do find tea to drink (cha in Portuguese), but it’s usually cha mate torrado, not the black tea that you might expect.

    • Oops I just read what’s written in the picture about the tea, hee hee 🙂 Yeah, tea is not as popular as coffee in Brazil. I was an oddity. Cha mate is pretty good though, even if it’s usually prepared too sweet for my taste.

    • Ah, very good point! When I wrote this last night, the first thing that came to mind where the rich girls in Ipanema I saw customizing their brand new pair of shoes. But in the streets of Porto Alegre, yes, I think it’s a practical solution to buy new straps. Havaianas are really good sandals, well made. I have a few pairs and they are as good as new!

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