Disclaimer: I only spent a little over a month in Brazil and do not speak Portuguese so these views may be completely off.
I came to Brazil with so many expectations that it took me a few weeks to finally ignore them and really start enjoying the country.
It seems that Brazil is the least race conscious country I have visited. It was very common to see friends and couples of all different colors. I hung out with white and blacks friends, danced with white and black women, etc. It’s probably because Brazil is so racially mixed that white people have black ancestors and vice versa. When in Salvador (70+% black) and I was alone surrounded by black people, nobody stared or reacted at all. I felt very comfortable and it became something I did not really thing about anymore. I am comparing this all to the US where black and white culture feels very segregated and distinctly different.
Sexuality was treated very differently in Brazil. Brazilians tend to not treat making out with strangers as a big deal at all. For instance, I was waiting in line behind a woman to order a drink when she turned around, stared at me for less than a second, and then went in to kiss me. These types of situations where you make out with strangers when first meeting them is very common. Another time some friends and I wandered onto the beach at night, met another group of strangers, and everyone proceeded to make out with someone a few minutes later. Homosexuality is not treated as a big deal either. Rio is supposed to be the gay capital of South America and I can see why. Of course there are many gay clubs, but it is very common to find gay people making out in normal clubs as well. There are also marked gay sections of the beaches.
That leads me to another subject. Cariocas in Rio have a beach culture. Everyone, poor, rich, fat, fit, etc. all go to the beach in Rio. I have been told many times that it is the place where people are all treated equally. Some Brazilians told me a story about an American journalist who wrote an article about Brazilians becoming fatter in general. The Brazilians were outraged because the journalist went to the beach, took pictures of a few fat foreigners, and judged them while they were on the beach.
I found that the quality of food in Brazil goes from two extremes. You can either pay $8+ for a meal and get something tasty and more western. Or, if you pay less than $8 its just the standard rice, beans, and a piece of meat. They also have these snack bars that tons of people eat at that serve pizza, pastries, random meat dishes, etc. that are all really cheap. But I really did not enjoy the lower priced food much at all.
Brazil is supposed to have such extremes between the rich and poor. I found this to be true after visiting different parts of the cities and its a real shame. For instance, right before we entered a favela we passed by a nice Hilton hotel. I believe the mayor’s mansion can be seen from another favela. The rich and poor all live very close to each other. But I also saw that favelas are extremely safe as they are governed completely different than other parts of the cities. While the rulers of a favela control the drug trade, they also have a big handle on crime with harsh penalties. When I walked through the biggest favela in Rio it felt completely safe and I had my camera out in plain view the entire time.
Public transportation was pretty good if you are living in a popular area of Rio. For instance, while staying in Copacabana I had access to the subway, public vans that stopped anywhere, and public buses. I could usually get back to Copacabana very easily from anywhere in the city.
Lastly, Brazilians have some pretty unique parties. Every friday night in Rio everyone gathers in one part of the city (Lapa) for an enormous street party with live music, food vendors, and clubs to go inside. Most favelas also hold their own funk parties which means a few thousand people crammed in a warehouse dancing and grinding to some really sexual music.