Hi everyone! I love this website and read it all the time. I'm finally getting a chance to begin my own travels with my first trip taking me to Brazil! I have some friends that live in Belo Horizonte and I will be staying with them for about two weeks in July. I have one slight problem though, I could only manage to get a plane ticket to Sao Paulo, which means I will need to find my own way to get to BH from SP once I arrive there. I'm thinking a bus or train would be the best bet as well as my preferred way since I can see some scenery along the way, although I am open to any option, I just don't have a huge budget to work with. I'll be arriving at the airport in SP about 1:30 in the afternoon so I should have a decent amount of time to find some transportation but I've also been looking into some hostels just in case. One of my bigger concerns is lugging around my bags while trying to find transportation, so I'm hoping there is something that I can take from the airport.
Also, I've heard about crime being a slight problem in some Brazilian cities, is this true? Again, I don't really want to be wandering around the city carrying my bags, looking all lost if this is the case. Any insight from people who have been here already?
Since this is my first time traveling abroad on a leisure trip, and alone at that, I'm a little nervous, but also really excited! Any pro travelers have any tips for me? Where and when is the best time to exchange currency? Before I leave or once I get there? How about an international cell phone or calling card. I'm certainly going to need a way to contact my friends in BH once I get down there so I'll probably go with one of them.
Also, I need to get my visa before heading down since I'm from the US, yet I won't be able to get to the consulate until about 1 1/2 weeks before I leave. I need to get it from the one in Miami, and I'm up in Mass until July. Any suggestions from people who have gotten theirs before. My plan is to drive down and be there first thing in the morning when the open, and the website said visas are usually ready by the next business day, so I'm hoping all goes smoothly. I'm also planning on getting a Yellow Fever vaccination even though I don't believe it will be required, just to be safe.
Thanks in advance!