One pleasant surprise at the Olympics has been how well Uber works in Rio, which is to say, it works just as well as it does back home and is dramatically cheaper to boot.
I've taken Uber twice in the past two days to get out to the golf course, the first time to talk to Ray Whitney, which saved me at least 2 ½ hours of travel time, and the 45-minute ride was less than $15 each time.
There are a few quirks – the pin isn't very accurate for some reason, so it's better to put in a specific address or location for pickup, and the Uber map app drivers use here doesn't have the Olympic roadblocks in it, so you need to be on top of things as you approach venues – but it has been cheap and efficient, just like it's supposed to be, with the same app you use at home (once you switch the language from Portuguese to English).
Most drivers don't speak English, but Uber is a pretty universal language these days, and those who do are thrilled to speak it. My first night in Rio, after a dinner with a few expats in a wonderful Portuguese restaurant about 15 minutes from Copacabana, I took an Uber back to the hotel. My driver, Sergio, not only spoke English but was a former basketball coach thrilled to discuss the U.S. team and its Olympic competition. (The 11-minute ride cost about $4.)
Unfortunately, Uber can't get close to many venues, so it's better for dropping off than picking up (and can't get near the increasingly infamous Deodoro venues at all, because of the Army blockades). It may or may not be useful getting to the Olympic Stadium when track starts, but we're going to have to figure out some kind of alternate transportation because the Olympic Stadium sits by itself in the middle of nowhere and there's no direct bus to Copacabana, an untenable state of affairs given late nights in what is apparently a very dodgy neighborhood.
But for the most part, Uber here can get you where you need to go at a very reasonable price.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, email@example.com, @LukeDeCock