Posted by: Josey | February 14, 2009

Visiting Brazil, Visiting Israel: Is It Safe?

I recently mentioned an upcoming China, but that trip’s been scrapped. Instead I have the opportunity to go to Brazil. Since I’d be tagging along with Jeff’s MBA program crew, I’d have my days to myself; they’re all in class until 4pm. I absolutely love exploring new cities alone—in this case, Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro—so that sounds good to me. But, if I go… yes, if… it will not be without warning: One person said, “Never leave your hotel alone.” Another said, “Only leave your hotel in a bullet-proof car [whether or not you’re accompanied].” And a Web article I read while doing research assured me: “You’ll be fine. Just be sure to carry a ‘rape alarm.'”


Could it possibly be that bad? I’m not one to turn down a free hotel room, and I’m a very savvy traveler. (I write a travel blog for cryin’ out loud.) But I’m not stupid either. I have no interest in getting myself into a scary, if not downright dangerous situation.

Should I go and camp out on the hotel grounds each day until the group joins me? Should I take “bullet-proof” cars and then do my sightseeing in as inconspicuous a manner as possible? Should I spend my days with guided tour groups of strangers? Should Jeff drink caipirinhas, dance the samba and befriend Sergio Mendes while I sit on my couch, eating Lean Pockets and watching Grey’s Anatomy with my cat?

I’m undecided.

Similarly, I’ve always wanted to visit Israel. In fact, I even wrote an essay once in elementary school for a chance to win a trip for me and my family. But it’s so easy to let news headlines cloud your view of magical places—even though the odds of anything bad happening are so slim. If I won the Israel essay contest today, would I go? I’d probably be asking the same questions I’m asking in regards to Brazil.

If you’re considering traveling to Israel, I may have a fact that actually will comfort you. I stopped by the Israel tourism table at the NY Times travel show and approached the representative: “I’m sure you get this question all the time, but is it safe to travel to Israel?” She responded, “A record high of three million people from all over the world visited Israel in 2008.” [Dramatic pause.] All three million people came home safely. Tourism is Israel’s third-largest industry.”

Now if only someone would offer up a statistic like that for Brazil…


I did end up traveling to Brazil! Check out my post-Brazil travel ideas and suggestions here:


  1. Hi, i’m a Brazilian, but i live in Cuiabá, almost 1.300 miles away from Rio or São Paulo, and because of that, I will always be looked as a tourist in those cities, specially on Rio.

    Last October, I took my fiance to Rio, and most of the time we did the tourist sites, like the Christ, and even a soccer game in Maracanã.

    In all those places i never felt in danger, and walked a lot in the neighborhood of Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon, with my camera and wallet.

    About Rio, i think the only security problem is going to crowded beaches, or with people who mess with drugs and prostitution.

    My fiance, wich was very worried about Rio bad fame, became goodly surprised, and we will go back there soon.

    São Paulo looks even less scarrier to me, as a more cosmopolitan city, nobody looks like a tourist, and you’ll need to keep an eye for pickpocket acts, like you need to do in Paris (near some sighseing places), for example.

    Sorry for my English, it is a little rusted, but don’t fear, you will love Brazil.

    Gabriel Lucas

  2. Hi Josey
    I love reading your blog, it’s so entertaining! I wish I could travel as much as you do…
    As for Brasil, well, I’ve never been myself (ojala!) but my dad and my sister’s best friend have been there. My sister’s friend absolutely adored it and travelled a whole month around the country with another (girl) friend, they never had any troubles or problems. Now, my dad went to Sao Paulo for work and he said it’s one of the scariest cities he’s ever been. He was warned not to go through a road next to his hotel (in the city centre) in broad daylight because it was “dangerous”. While he was mugged at gunpoint in Buenos Aires, nothing ever happened to him in Brasil, but he told me he wouldn’t go back there unless it was absolutely necessary.
    So there you go, two more point of views for you. Whatever you do, have fun and keep writing!

  3. On the contrary, Gabriel: Your English is excellent. Thank you so much for your insight. …And, Danae, I didn’t know you were a reader–that makes me so happy! Thank you for your feedback, too. :)

  4. Well, I must say one more thing or two. First, about São Paulo, its a very big city, with lots of transit problems, if you could reserve a weekend to visit it, you should like it more.

    I love travelling to “Sampa” to go shopping, clubbing and making some cultural activities, they have lots os museuns (the new Soccer high tech museum is very well commented) and lots of nice plays.

    But Brasil offers much more different places like the cities in the northeast (Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza and so on), wich have the best beaches and beatiful cultural expressions.

    There is the amazon cities like Manaus and Belém.

    In the south, we have the Iguaçu Falls, and beautiful cities like Curitiba or Florianopolis.

    And in my region, we have the Pantanal, the brazilian everglade, with beautiful natural places. Or the cities of Bonito and Nobres, wich offers nice eco-rides and let the travellers swim with the river fishs, an astounding experience.

  5. Just got back from South America. Visited mostly beaches in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Did the Samba but watched the Tango. Wandered into a small cabaret in one cruise destination and sang Like a Lover for the singer and she promptly sang three songs from Brazil 66. They love their Portugese and are almost as offended as the French if you don’t speak the language. I got lost and aqua, porto and crusetta did not help me find my way.

  6. how safe is to buy farm land in brasil also to live there?

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