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  • 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! 😉

     



  • Recife from a local point of view

    Today, our stop is in Recife: the fourth-largest urban agglomeration in Brazil. With almost 4 million inhabitants, it’s the largest urban agglomeration of the North/Northeast regions, and the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco. 

    The person in charge of telling us more about this amazing city is Roderick Jordão, a local friend there since 2014. Graduated in Tourism and with a postgraduation study in Environmental management, his full time occupation is as a communication coordinator in a bike activist association (as a volunteer) and working on in a project that offers walking and bike tours around the city centre.

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    Here, an interview where he tells us more about being a local in Recife:

    1. What makes your city unique?

    Recife is the oldest capital of Brazil (480 years old), so it has a very strong culture scene around here. It also has a natural reef that literary divides our two main rivers with the Atlantic Ocean, making our city centre’s design very unique. And, by the way, reef in Brazilian-Portuguese means “arrecife”, and when we split the word: Recife!

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

    When I visit a new place, I’m always curious to get to know the “B” side, the non-touristic attractions. So I try to find the best way to do it, including the main spots, but skipping the “high-level” touristic ones. I really like to be amongst the locals and do like they do: eating, drinking, listening to the same music etc. So, why not offering a local experience to other people with the same spirit?

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

    So far I had a lot of fun and experiences being a local friend. One of the best times was when I accompanied a family of eight people from Norway for two days. One day they visited the Cais do Sertão Museum, which is a very nice and modern museum, featuring the culture and the way of life from our countryside’s people. Inside the museum, there’s a room where you are able to learn and play some local instruments. In 5 minutes, everyone was with an instrument playing a Norwegian folk song!!!     

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    The Norwegian family playing instruments at Museu Cais do Sertão

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

    1 – The cycle path that links the south side of the town (Boa Viagem beach) to the city centre. The landscape is very unique, with a river on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other one. The view of the sunset from this point is gorgeous, a true not-to-miss local experience.

    2 – Praça da República square – A very beautiful square where you will find at the same time: the Campo das Princesas Palace (Governor’s Palace), the Palace of Justice, the Santa Isabel Theatre, the view of Capibaribe river and one big old “Baobá” tree.

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    With two visitors, Terry and Cathy, in the boat to cross the reefs

    3 – The Capela Dourada – built at the end of the 17th century, the Capela Dourada (Golden Chapel), also known as the Capela dos Noviços, is a chapel of the Franciscan Order, inside the larger building complex of the Santo Antônio Church and Convent, which includes the Franciscan Museum of Sacred Art. The chapel is covered by golden leaves and painted in a “barroco” style from the XVI century.

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

    I’ve started to travel very late in my life. I did my first international trip when I was 29 years old, but now I’m addicted to it! Over the past two years, I’ve been in Bogotá/Medellín, Europe (2nd time, 01 month, 6 countries), Santiago de Chile/Atacama Desert and Buenos Aires. My favourite travel experiences are: to stay in airbnbs meeting local people that give some really nice local tips, finding local places/tours and doing them; and, at most part, when possible, just walking and cycling around. I believe walking is essential to have a true feel of the city, find new places, explore typical food, local music scene etc.

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

    Surprise!

     

    Do not miss the chance to have Roderick, this amazing guy, as your local friend in Recife: you can book him here >>

    Boa viagem! 😉

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  • Local Food

    If you are in London now run for an amazing pie at Pieminister!

    And Rent a Local Friend for exclusive tips from this unique city! 

    “All Pieminister’s products are made in-house with the finest, fresh ingredients including 100% free range British meat. Pieminister’s vegetarian products are Vegetarian Society Approved. And the latest range of Pie Pots also have two gluten free recipes.”
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  • Local Place: Dubai!

    In a few years, Dubai has raised more skyscrapers than any other city in the world. Among them the highest in the world, the Burj Khalifa. But it’s worth to take a day away from the big hotels. To know more about the cultural part, the ideal is a walk by the river Creek. Small wooden boats take people to the Deira neighborhood. This boat is called Abra and it’s also very cheap. The cool thing is that local people really use this transport. And don’t forget to know the Al Bastakiya, built in 1890. To see everything in Dubai, Rent Renata!

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  • Local Nightlife

    Sirocco Sky Bar

    Located on the 64th floor of the Sirocco Hotel in Bangkok, this bar has a jaw-dropping view that only Thailand can offer. At the bar’s counter, the atmosphere created by the changing colors as the bartenders prepare the drinks give a special touch. The must-drink of the house is Hagovertini, named after the film “The Hangover – 2” which had scenes shot on the spot!

    Rent a Local Friend in Bangkok Now! 

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  • Local Culture

    World’s largest Cashew Tree is in Natal, Brazil.

    Local Friend Ricardo sent us this beautiful picture. Many thanks!

    Book him for more Local Culture!

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