Brazil

Brazil

on Saturday, 17 September 2011. Posted in Brazil

Brazil is the biggest country in South America. It borders every other country of the continent except Chile and Ecuador.
Brazil is very much a country of contrasts. When someone hears the word Brazil, one thinks of the great Amazon forest, fantastic beaches, great soccer players, Carnival time - and that's all. Well, Brazil, the most important country in South America, certainly has MUCH more to offer - warm people, great cities with everything from slums to high technology, a wide range of weather patterns, an awesome mixture of cultures and races - and much more!     
There is nothing in the whole wide world like Carnival in Rio. Brasilia, the capital city of the country, is known by its great architecture. It is a planned city.
The most up-and-coming resort in Brazil is now the small friendly Praia de Pipa, in the NE of the country; serviced by international airports at Natal and Recife, this small town is popular with both Brazilians and foreign tourists. The laid back attitude of the open and friendly locals make this a welcome change to some of the more recognised but less safe and inviting destinations.
In Southern Brazil you can visit the state of Santa Catarina, which is visited every year by people who prefer not too crowded spots like major cities or places where all tourists go. Small beaches like Mariscal, Garopaba, Taquaras or Estaleiro beach are not too far away from medium size cities, so they provide all necessary structure, but at the same time still conserve their natural enchantments. Praia do Pinho (close to Balneario Camboriu - the most important touristic spot in southern Brazil) is the paradise for naturists as it is the first official nude beach in Brazil (http://www.praiadopinho.com.br). Many options of adventure activities such as rafting, diving, fishing, trekking are aso available in this beautiful region.

The most visited places in Brazil includes Fernando de Noronha Island, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (the two bustling megacities of the south-east), the more relaxed city of Salvador in the northeast, or the old colonial towns of Ouro Preto and Olinda. For natural beauty, try a visit to Iguacu Falls. If you have the chance the best time to visit is Carniv
Brazil enjoys a strong economy with thriving business and a strong currency. Most recently, the trend has been for Brazilians to purchase real estate in Florida. This is due to the combination of their strong currency, coupled with the weak US dollar, plus Florida real estate prices are currently depressed by 30% or more. Add to this the Florida sales tax of approximately 6% compared to a VAT tax in Brazil and shopping for cars, cloths, electronics, etc are all much cheaper in the US which is why Brazilians are choosing to earn their money in Brazil and spend it in Florida.

Belo Horizonte

on Saturday, 30 July 2011. Posted in Brazil

Belo Horizonte, a Portuguese name meaning "beautiful horizon", is the third largest metropolitan area in Brazil. You'll find this city at about 2/3 of the way from Brasilia to Rio. It is the capital of Minas Gerais state. The name means Beautiful Horizon. The city of Belo Horizonte was completely built on a plan corresponding to that of Washington D.C., with a very long highway circling the whole city. It is considered to be one of the cities with the best quality of life in Latin America. Belo Horizonte was founded in 1897 and is Brazil’s third largest city with a population of some 2.5 million inhabitants and over 5.1 million inhabitants in metropolitan area. The city is also a leading cultural center, with more than three universities, a historical museum, numerous libraries, and sports stadiums.
Belo is built on several hills and completely surrounded by mountains. The constant rising and falling of the streets sometimes makes navigation a bit tricky, but the wide avenues lined with trees are always easy guidelines. Unfortunately, the growth of the population has been bigger than anticipated 100 years ago. So there's a lot of poorly built architecture and slums, but also still some excellent colonial buildings. You should not miss the fin-de siecle buildings around the Praca da Liberdade and the market on Av. Afonso Pena, each sunday.
Located about 100 kms from Belo Horizonte you will find the charming city of Ouro preto (which means "Black Gold"), a colonial city with great churches and impressive pieces of work.
The city is often referred to as BH, which is pronunciated as "Beagá". Created to replace Ouro Preto as the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte is one of the few Brazilian towns that were planned (other major cities which were planned before construction are Brasilia and Palmas). Situated at an altitude of 858.3 metres, its construction began in 1893 and it was inaugurated four years later with the name Cidade de Minas Gerais. In planning it, the engineers, Aarão Reis and Francisco Bicalho, found their inspiration in the town plan of Washington DC (USA).
Because it is a city that was actually planned, and also because of its neoclassical and modern architectural features, Belo Horizonte can be regarded as a landmark for town planning and for architecture in Brazil. Visitors should not miss the Pampulha Center, the site of the first revolutionary works of Oscar Niemeyer, the best known Brazilian architect. The Pampulha also has works by the artist Cândido Portinari, by the world famous landscape architect Burle Marx and by sculptor Ceschiatti, and includes the church of São Francisco de Assis, the Belo Horizonte Museum of Art, the Yacht Club, the Dancing Academy, the House of Juscelino Kubitschek, the Headquarters of the Zoo-Botanical Foundation, the monument to Iemanjá and the Mineirão and Mineirinho stadiums, registered as historic heritage.
Another of the important architectural works of Belo Horizonte is the Palace of Liberty, the seat of the State Government. Constructed in the neoclassical style, it is the result of the influence exercised on Brazilian architecture by a French mission that visited the country at the end of last century. Particularly interesting as places to be visited in the capital are the Mineralogy and Historical Museums and the Palace of the Arts, situated in the Municipal Park, with a modern theatre, cinema, craft shop and space for exhibitions of plastic arts.

Brasilia

on Saturday, 30 July 2011. Posted in Brazil

For centuries, civilization did not portrude into Brazil far from the coastline. The vast majority of the population was there, trade was there, cities were there. It has always been a dream of the Brazilian government to move the capital inland - thereby gaining more control of the vast interior of the country.
This dream did not become reality until the 1950's, when Brazilian president Kubitchek decided Brazil needed a monumental capital if it was ever to become a world power. As America had Washington DC, Australia had Canberra and Russia had once had St. Petersburg, so too would Brazil have its Brasilia.
Brasilia is the result of a modern urban project designed by Lúcio Costa. If seen from above, the city's pilot plan resembles the shape of an airplane; some people consider that it looks like a bird with open wings. The architect, Lúcio Costa's original urban concept arranged the city in the shape of a cross, to symbolize possession. He planned the city around large avenues which divided it into sectors.
The modernist architecture is stunning. No doubt about it. Many of the buildings set along the central axis are surrreal in their appearance. They are meant to impress. the houses along the wings of the airplane shaped city all look out onto parks, while wide boulevards lead into the center. It was a laboritory for modernist achitects and urban planners, and today the city is a Mecca for anyone interested in architecture.
The architectural dream of the 1950's turned out to be a nightmare for the people that had to populate the city: the civil servants. The government may have moved, all the excitement was left in Rio de Janeiro, the old capital. If you have more than a day to spend in Brasilia, you will notice that the city center is devoid of night- and daylife: it is surprisingly boring. It is as if the architects forgot to build the entertainment.
If you don't have a car, there is nothing more to do than cross the empty plain that is the heart of the city, have dinner at Brasilias only McDonalds and go to your hotel for an early nights' sleep.
However, if you do have access to a car (or speak enough portugese to tell a taxi driver where to go), things are looking more bright. Drive down the wings of the city, and go to one of the smaller neighbourhood centers: that's where you'll find the restaurants, bars, clubs.

Rio de Janeiro

on Saturday, 30 July 2011. Posted in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, in english "River of January"; is the name of both a state and a city in southeastern Brazil. The city was the capital of Brazil (1763–1960) and of the Portuguese Empire (1808–1821). Commonly known as just Rio, the city is also nicknamed A Cidade Maravilhosa - "The Marvelous City".
It is famous for its spectacular natural setting, its Carnival celebrations, samba and other music, hotel-lined tourist beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon and pavements decorated with black and cream swirl pattern mosaics. Some of the most famous local landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Jesus, known as Christ the Redeemer "Cristo Redentor" atop Corcovado mountain; Sugarloaf mountain "Pão de Açúcar" with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a giant permanent parade stand used during Carnival; and Maracanã stadium, the world's largest. Rio also boasts the world's largest forest inside an urban area, called Floresta da Tijuca, or "Tijuca Forest".
Rio de Janeiro is located at 22 degrees, 54 minutes south latitude, 43 degrees 14 minutes west longitude (22°54'S 43°14'W). The population of the City of Rio de Janeiro is about 6,094,183 (2005 IBGE estimate), occupying an area of 1,182.3 square kilometres (456.5 sq mi). The larger metropolitan area population is estimated at 11-12 million. It is Brazil's second-largest city after São Paulo and was the country's capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place. Residents of the city are known as Cariocas. The city's current mayor (2006) is Cesar Maia. The official song of Rio is "Cidade Maravilhosa."
Rio de Janeiro is an awe-inspiring city of contrasts. Impossibly steep granite mountains jut out of the ocean between glorious stretches of golden sand, impeccable colonial buildings nestle in between modern glass skyscrapers and verdant forests tumble down hillsides into densely populated residential areas. It is a city high on life, a city of beach worship, football, samba and Carnival. And high above all this fun and frivolity stands Rio's ever-present, iconic landmark – the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
The continuing strength of foreign currencies against the Brazilian Real and the national football team's success in the 2002 World Cup have both helped to make Brazil, and Rio in particular, an increasingly popular and affordable year-round destination. And as the host of the forthcoming Pan American Games in 2007, the city is undergoing considerable regeneration and many new hotels are either built or being built. As well as the city's well-known landmarks of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf mountains, Rio boasts a wealth of attractions and activities, plus great food, music and entertainment – enough to keep a visitor busy for any length of stay.
Situated in southeast Brazil, on the natural port of the Baía de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay), Rio is a city of over 10 million people squeezed between the ocean and the mountains. The cidade maravilhosa (marvellous city) is a melting pot of cultures and peoples in varying degrees of wealth or poverty. In Rio, the rich and poor live together and the exclusive areas stand in stark contrast and close proximity to the slum areas or favelas. But no matter what their background or economic standing, the Cariocas (as the citizens of Rio are known) are characterised by a passion and enthusiasm for life, which is on full show during Rio's famous annual Carnival.
Central to the Carioca lifestyle is the beach. From dawn until dusk and even after dark, the residents of Rio can be found enjoying the long stretches of sandy coastline with which the city is blessed. The beach is not merely a place to absorb the sun's rays but also an important venue for sports, socialising and even business. It is a people-watcher's paradise – clothing is minimal and bodies are bronzed and beautiful. The famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are magnets for Brazilians and tourists alike.
It has taken 500 years for Rio to transform itself into one of the world's greatest cities. On 1 January 1502, Portuguese explorers sailed into Guanabara Bay and named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January), under the mistaken impression that it was an enormous river mouth. The French attempted to gain control of the bay in 1555 but were finally evicted by the Portuguese in 1567.
The Portuguese colony was based on sugar cane and agricultural products throughout the 17th century, until the discovery of gold in the nearby Minas Gerais region led to the city's emergence as a control, export and taxation centre. Black slaves formed the majority of the population in these early days of trading and the African influence is still present in the city's culture. The capital of colonial Brazil was moved from Bahia (now Salvador) in 1763 to Rio de Janeiro and the city began to flourish, especially when coffee became the predominant export in the 19th century. After the Portuguese monarchy was exiled from Portugal, when Napoleon conquered Lisbon, Rio became their home and eventually the capital of an independent Brazilian Empire. Finally, Brazil became a Republic in 1889; Rio de Janeiro remained its capital until 1960, when the Federal government was transferred to Brasilia.
Rio has continued to grow and has become a popular destination not only for tourists but also for migrants from other parts of the country. Despite its development, the city still has more than its fair share of social problems. Strong divisions exist between the ‘haves' and the ‘have-nots'. Attempts have been made to curtail crime, although both residents and tourists should remain alert to petty thieves.
Rio's best season is undoubtedly the summer months, between December and February, culminating with Carnival. Temperatures can rise to around 40ºC (104ºF) or more, which is ideal weather if tourists do as the Brazilians do and visit the beaches rather than rush around.

Sao Paulo

on Saturday, 30 July 2011. Posted in Brazil

São Paulo overwhelms the senses with its sheer size. With over 10 million inhabitants, it is the world's third largest city and the largest in South America. São Paulo and its rival Brazilian city, Rio de Janeiro, have often been compared to New York and Los Angeles respectively. If Rio has gained fame for its striking natural setting, São Paulo's attraction lies in its people and its vibrant cultures. The Avenida Paulista's canyon of upthrusting skyscrapers only hints at the city's sources of energy. A more cosmopolitan city than its counterpart, São Paulo possesses significant ethnic minority communities, including substantial Japanese, Italian, and Arab and Lebanese Christian neighbourhoods.
The array of nationalities living in São Paulo have made it a legendary city among gourmands: Japanese, Italian nuova cucina, Brazilian, Chinese, Jewish, and Arab restaurants are all familiar parts of the city's landscape. Brazil's famously good beef is put to good use at the numerous rodizios and churrascarias. Succulent, roasted cuts of meat are circulated around the tables and cut to patrons' order. In fact, people often visit São Paulo just to dine out. The Jardins district is the center of the dining scene, and thus the center of the São Paulo social scene. Paulistanos eat late--restaurants often don't begin serving until 9pm or 10pm, and it is common for them to stay open until 3am.
Brazil's most modern, cosmopolitan city has much to offer in addition to its outstanding cuisines. Its museums are among the finest in South America, its surrounding coastline is graced with many lovely beaches, and its entertainment and nightlife have for years attracted some of the best performers in the world. In recent years, the city has evolved into a center for Brazil's own martial art, capoeira, whose dance-like motions are performed to music. The art has its own traditional instruments: drums and the berimbau, a stringed rod used to keep time. Originally developed as the martial art of the slaves of the Bahia, capoeira was banned by the ruling classes. To keep their art alive, the slaves turned capoeira into a dance, and the berimbau, which had warned of an approaching master, began to accompany the dance itself. As late as the 1920s capoeira was still outlawed and practiced only underground; today, it is a well-known and much-loved spectacle.

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