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Rent a friend for sightseeing in Brazil

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A French tourist in Brazil for the World Cup rents a local to show him the sights. (Source:CNN) A French tourist in Brazil for the World Cup rents a local to show him the sights. (Source:CNN)
Tourists in Rio have been looking for alternative and creative tours during the World Cup. (Source: CNN) Tourists in Rio have been looking for alternative and creative tours during the World Cup. (Source: CNN)
Locals can show tourists the hidden spots in a city that are often overlooked by guidebooks. (Source: CNN) Locals can show tourists the hidden spots in a city that are often overlooked by guidebooks. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) – Hundreds of thousands of fans from across the globe are in Brazil for the World Cup and many of them are traveling by themselves.

But some are pairing up by literally renting a friend and they’re getting to see the sights like a local.

Stephane Benfeghoul, a tourist from France, is about to take a tour with a complete stranger, a local who he has just hired for the day to be his friend.

He is paying Lais Goncalves, a lawyer based in Rio, to be his local friend to show him the hidden spots of the city, places that guide book fail to show.

A friend of his also joins the tour to see what it’s like. Their first stop is to try some of the city’s best savory pastries.

"You can see there the Mureta da Urca and everyone comes on Sunday for look the sunset,” Goncalves said.

Over a bite, they take in the view and with Lais, there is no need for a map.

"What's the building by the cross?" Benfeghoul said.

“Downtown, Botafogo there and the bridge Niteroi is another city," Goncalves said.

Renting a local friend has become a popular worldwide business, especially in Rio, where tourists look for alternative and creative tours during the World Cup.

Created by Danielle Cunha, the website Rent a Local Friend has more than 3,000 members, all who have been approved by the company.

“We have chefs, we have bankers, we have doctors, we have lawyers, we have people who work from start-ups,” Cunha said. “So there is basically everything you can imagine and the idea is that some do it for complementary income and others, and the majority, they do it for the interesting meet up.”

For Stephane, who is visiting Rio for only three days, and has no time to lose, this is more than just about making friends. It’s an opportunity to see how Brazilians live and play, what it’s like to be Brazilian.

“I decided to rent a local friend because I don't really like the standard tours, the tailor-made tours, Benfeghoul said. “So I prefer to discover places by myself or with my friends because sometimes I travel and I have some friends abroad and I think it's always the best way to discover a country or a city.”

So Lais is not taking him to Copacabana Beach, where all the tourists go. Instead, he’s showing him Rio’s unspoiled and pristine beaches.

“And this place is more for local people?” Benfeghoul said.

“I think more for local people,” Goncalves aid.

For Lais, this is an opportunity to show her Rio.

“I live here alone in Rio and I want to make friends.” Goncalves said. “But for me, I like to show my favorite places and make extra, make money in my free time.”

The local friend can charge anything up to $150 for four hours. From that, the company takes 30 percent. But for the local tourist, who has never been to Rio and who wants to see the city inside out, it may pay to hire a friend.

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