As I mentioned we put ourselves on a $50 USD per day, total for both of us, budget during this trip. We have to have a budget, or we will be crying when we return to normalcy after 5-6 weeks away. The budget has its challenges, it isn't that much or that little either. It might sound like a lot, but that is just $25 per person, to be divvied up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus any transportation, snacks and activities.
In Peru, it was easier to stick to the budget given the exchange rate; however in Lima we indulged in gastronomy and blew the budget. The result was that we spent an average of $68 per day, which includes food, activities, going to the market, and transportation, and the fancy meals we had at Nobu's Matsuei, Astrid & Gaston, and the uber-pricey Central Restaurante. We didn't have to pay for breakfast ever, since that was included in our accomodations.
In Rio, it is more difficult as it is an expensive, big tourist city. After being here for 1 week now (we arrived Thursday, May 2), we've come up with somewhat of a strategy. It is called, “Pobrecito Lunch.” And this is what that strategy looks like:
Let me just say this is definitely a First World Problem. We eat a simple, but filling lunch which we make at home. Then we can eat a nice, economical dinner (not as easy as you might think here in Rio, and not always delicious), and possibly a treat too. Our Pobrecito Lunch (we lovingly call Poor People's Lunch, as we are poor here in Rio) is comprised of the following:
- Homemade White Rice – first time in a long time making rice in a pot over the burner; we've been spoiled by the rice cooker
- Homemade Lentils – first time I've made beans from its dry form, turned out pretty good, I must say
- 2 Fried Eggs – with olive oil and a bit of butter
- A Fruit Course – pictured is local green melon like we ate in Barcelona (so good and sweet) plus papaya (which is not my favorite)
- A Dessert Course – 1 slice of Bolo de Laranja (yummy, Orange Cake)
- Small Coffee – Popular to make instant coffee at home here; we have no choice as the apartment doesn't have a mechanism to brew coffee. It's fine once you get used to it.
It's not too bad, pretty good actually. This is the 2nd homemade meal of each day, which first we have a nice breakfast of toast (a treat because normally we would eat healty oatmeal) with butter (for Fernando) topped with requeijão cremoso (creamy cheese, not like our cream cheese) and goiabada (for me, ultra-thick guava preserve, to make a sweet treat of “romeu-e-julieta”); fruit and/or fruit with yogurt; and cafe con leche.
Sticking to this ritual, we can eat a nice(ish) meal for dinner like when we went to Leblon to a chic Uruguayan restaurant called Gonzalo Parilla, and ordered Choripán (chorizo sandwich) and a parrilla of fire roasted vegetables that came with a mini sides spread, a chopp (draft beer) and suco de maracuja (fresh passion fruit juice).
Of course Fernando must have his espresso to conclude dinner. This was like the smallest and cutest espresso ever:
There is also a “voluntary 10% gratuity” but is always added when you pay with credit card. It isn't too difficult to stick to the budget if you just eat dinner and possibly get a snack (like a juice at a bar or a beer before dinner). But, it is difficult if you have to go to the supermarket too, which has the same prices as the US, and need to pay for transportation as well. That evening of Gonzalo, we walked all the way to Leblon after going to Arpoador Beach, and then walked home too. Good for digestion, exercise, and the wallet – we walked more than 5 miles that day (a bit excessive, but we survived). That day, our expenses totaled $50.47 for beer in Leblon before dinner and a nice dinner at Gonzalo! But last night, we had to shop for essentials at the market, ate a not-so-good dinner by the kilo, and had good coffee and dessert (also Bolo de Laranja, so yummy!) and blew the budget at R$134.62 or $67.31. Oh well, we will try better today.
Being on a budget is kinda fun and like a game – we've never been good at budgeting or do it, so it is a good exercise for us.