So is Brazil kid friendly? No. Brazil is a place you make babies, not take babies. Its a romantic country with the music and the mood, but certainly only the brave-hearted will venture there with a toddler in tow, or the ones who have husbands crazy enough to think it can be done.
First up – Food
The food all over South of South America is difficult. They are fond of their queijo breads which is just cheesy bread, that is the one thing you are guaranteed to get everywhere. So if you are not fine dining all the meals, be prepared to feed a toddler, cheesy bread, hamburger, fries and if you’re lucky, rice and beans (which works well for Indian children at least). We had a tough time with food on the go. The fast food places had just the above and the stadia dd not serve food. At all. The best case scenario is to raid the breakfast table wherever you are. By day 2 we were shamelessly packing boxes of fruit, bread sandwiches and cakes to take along for S for the day. The other option is to buy bread and ham and make your own sandwiches every morning supplemented by fruits on the go (juices are readily available) and generous amounts of chocolate milk.
1. Tupana Lodge in the Amazon Jungle had surprisingly good food. Home cooked meats, salads, and beans with rice – great for all of us. BUT no snacks.
2. Delirio Tropical (salad by the plate) in Rio – great selection of salads and meats along with soups – one good meal assured.
Again, nothing much to make them kid friendly. The best one was Brazilia and it did not have a play area. Rio, Salvador, Sao Paolo were quite tough, even with the food on offer was limited. Though all of them have elevators every where and are stroller friendly.
What To Do in the City
Sao Paolo – we had just about a day in the city this time, but the best thing to do is book a hotel with a pool. There isn’t much for children to do, unless a mall visit is exciting. You could always visit the zoo though, its not a big deal.
Salvador – ah now we are talking. Beach. That’s it, plan to stay within walking distance of the beach and you’re sorted. Take along some sand toys, beach balls and loads of sunscreen. Pelhorinho is an interesting area and one could spend an afternoon there walking along the cobbled streets admiring the shop windows. BUT, the cobbled hilly roads render a pram useless! We ended up carrying the pram and S separately.
Rio – back to the beach. Area 12 on Copacabana even has a children’s play area and some swings. If you plan to visit The Christ or Sugar Loaf, make the most of your toddler privileges. There are special queues for families with kids which practically cut down waiting time from hours to minutes. There’s also the Santa Teresa tram that runs through the old town – an enjoyable train ride for kids.
Bazilia – er..well the architecture is interesting, you gotta hand it to a city who thinks its an airplane 🙂 For toddlers – there is an evening by the grand fountains near the TV Tower. Its beautiful and has plenty of pigeons.
Amazon Jungle – never thought i’d visit there with a toddler, never. But turns out, it was quite an enjoyable time for S too. More than 1 boat expedition in a day can be too much though.
There is the bus network in most big cities, but the buses have a turnstile entry which makes it difficult to travel with strollers.
Taxis are readily available but very expensive.
Hiring your own car is a viable option, we did so in Brazilia. But you need to think through how much do you really need a car because parking spaces etc can be a pain in the other cities.
So if you do decide to travel to Brazil with a toddler, do it for something worth while like the world cup, otherwise its just a beachy holiday better enjoyed elsewhere.