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May 16, 16:02

Going to Brazil with Mary and Ruby

I'll be undertaking another twenty hours of traveling next Monday to get Mary and myself from Copenhagen to Porto Alegre, Brazil. That'll give us a week's worth of vacation time before the International Free Software Forum starts. I think I did mention that I'll be speaking about Rails there. Thanks to Pablo Lorenzzoni for making that happen.

Anyway, we're Brazilian newbies, so we're looking for advice. Taking outset from the Coral Tower Hotel where should we go? What to see? Where to eat? As many suggestions as you can come up with.

Also, stories of how the world works in Rio and San Paulo are not exactly calming our minds. Is Porto Alegre also a place where you don't want to be caught in a bad neighborhood without armed guards? If so, where would those neighborhoods be, such that we can avoid them. I've promised Jason not to get killed :)

Challenge by Demetrius Nunes on May 16, 19:10

Hi David,

Porto Alegre is certainly not as dangerous as Rio and Sao Paulo, but as it is a fairly big city as well, it is wise to be aware of the good and bad places to go, and for this you'll have to ask a local (i'm from Rio). Anyway, walking around with cameras, iPods and other gadgets hanging around is not wise.

However, always remember that things around here is not as bad as the news like to show anyway. It is pretty safe if you just take some basic precautions.

If you change your mind, and decide to spend a couple of days in Rio, I'd be happy to guide you around the city.


Challenge by Leonardo Brondani Schenkel on May 16, 21:02

Hi. I was born in Porto Alegre, but currently I'm living 200km away from there. I can give you some advice, but please forgive my terrible English. :-)

You should be safe in Porto Alegre, it's not as dangerous as Rio and São Paulo, as long as you obey Demetrius' suggestion of avoiding to show expensive stuff like digital cameras. Do not be afraid to use you camera, just don't walk around with it clearly visible, put it in your pocket or something.

I don't know if you're vegetarian. If you aren't, you should certainly go to a kind of restaurant we call "churrascaria rodízio". You pay a flat fee (about US$ 10 at the most expensive places) and you can eat as much as you want all kinds of barbecue and meat. The Rio Grande do Sul state (the state in which Porto Alegre is the capital) is famous all over the country because of its delicious barbecue. Porto Alegre has many of them, ask someone there which are the city best ones.

If you want to go shopping, you should go to the "Praia de Belas" and/or the "Iguatemi". These are the biggest malls in the city.

I can bet someone in the event staff will be happy to give you some advice or even guide you through the city.


Challenge by /me on May 16, 21:55

Just read what John 'maddog' Hall wrote:

No fear, please. You are wellcome.

Challenge by Rodrigo Kochenburger on May 16, 21:56

Like Leonardo said, its not dangerous .
"Moinhos de Vento" is a nice neighborhood with a lot of greats place to visit, specially at Padre Chagas Street.
There's nice places at the North of the city, and probably one of the best sunshines of the world at Gasômetro in downton.
Barbecue is really good down here, we call it "Churrasco" ;)
I'll be in the forum, its in my university.
Maybe we could do a rails meeting there.
If you want more specific advices about what to do and where to go, send me a email or something.

Challenge by Cassio Pennachin on May 16, 22:23


I think previous posters got Porto Alegre covered. My suggestion, however, is that you spend your vacation time away from that city ;-). Nothing against Porto Alegre, and it's not particularly dangerous, ugly or boring. But there are a couple of other destinations nearby that are far more interesting.

The mountain areas upstate (known as Serras Gaúchas) are very scenic, and definitely worth a road trip. The wineries that abound in that area aren't worth your time, though. Brazilian wine has improved steadily over the past few years, but it's still not very good, the exception being the excellent sparking wines.

If you feel like taking a short plane trip, I would highly recommend spending a couple of days if Florianopolis, an island in the nearby stare of Sta. Catarina. It's a beautiful place with dozens of beaches and a nice lake as well.

Finally, this is a longer plane trip away, but Foz do Iguacu, in the border of Paraguay and Argentina, has falls that make Niagara Falls pale in comparison.

Ah, if you like tea, you HAVE to try some "chimarrao".

Challenge by Rodrigo Kochenburger on May 16, 23:48

Yeah. What Cassio said is true.
The "Serra Gauchas" is amazing.
You should go to "Gramado" and "Canela".
Its near from Porto Alegre and its awesome.
Florianópolis is amazing too, but you'll need to take an airplane and flight for 45min.
I think you'll like the south of Brazil.

Challenge by Kevin Barnes on May 17, 2:17

I went to Rio for a couple days with a buddy and no hotel reservations or plans. We ended up renting an apartment for next-to-nothing and just asking locals what to do for fun. Once or twice we were "had" by fake tickets to a nightclub, but other than that the trip was without incident - most everyone was extremely gracious and helpful.

Challenge by hammett on May 17, 5:32

Yeah, PA is not dangerous at all. And you definitely should go to Gramado and buy loads of chocolate! It's GREAT!

Challenge by Giovanni on May 17, 16:07

Hi! Im from Porto Alegre and i will be at the you presentation!
Any questions you can e-mail directly to
And i can give you some tip's!

Challenge by Giovanni on May 17, 16:12

If you like to see some images from porto alegre, you can try this link below:

Challenge by Pedro - Brazil on May 18, 0:42

Hello David, I'll probably travel to Porto Alegre and check your presentation together with some others (I'm from Sao Paulo). Thanks for coming, I'm sure you'll enjoy!

Ah, please consider bringing Building of Basecamp someday, hehe.

Challenge by oliver on June 05, 0:17

damn, I only found out now about the forum and will be missing your Rails talk. any chance of you coming to São Paulo in the future?

and I second Pedro on bringing Building of Basecamp here. I can offer to show the best dives in SP in exchange ;)

hope you enjoyed porto alegre, I have family there and miss it a lot.