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If it's cold where you live, then pay attention this week as we profile a few Perfect Weather destinations.
Brazil is so hot right now.
Coming off 2014, the year the country successfully hosted the World Cup, energy is still high and airfare deals are plenty. For Rio de Janeiro in particular, tourism has never been better, and it’ll only continue trending upward as the city preps for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Rio is tropical and temperate year-round, but there are some distinct times of the year when it’s best to go, or best to stay away.
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Have you always wanted to live in Rio? What if you could live there rent free?
The Discovery Hostel in Rio de Janeiro is now giving travelers the chance to live for free in exchange for working the front desk. This is a common practice at hostels around the world, but Rio presents the unique opportunity of getting in and becoming familiar with the vibrant city ahead of the 2016 Olympics.
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The 2016 Summer Olympics won't take place for two more years but planning is well underway, including the search for helpers.
Every four years hundreds of volunteers from around the world travel to the Olympics' host city to be a part of the festivities. Volunteer responsibilities range from providing transportation for the athletes and VIPs, to pointing tourists in the right direction.
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Brazil is so hot right now. Actually, Brazil is one of those perpetually hot places, topping travel bucketlists for decades, but especially so now with both the World Cup and Summer Olympics on the calendar. Thanks to TAM Airlines and Brazil Nuts tours, we journey south to see why.
Just as travel expands horizons, so it also does vocabulary. Even without a trip to Brazil, you'll have heard of at least a few words that matter, like "Copacabana," "Caipirinha" and "Capoeira," but Rio de Janeiro requires fewer inhibitions and more twists of the tongue.
Here are the words to help you on your way in Rio:
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Fun fact: Brazil is nearly the same size as the entire United States. Fun idea: go there! All this week, we'll be sharing our best Brazil tips for a primer on this diverse and spectacular country, in partnership with LATAM Airlines' Only in South America project. Enter the contest (by March 5) to win this trip!
As you can probably tell from our photo of Iguaçu Falls above, Brazil is a place where wild nature easily awes the wildly curious. The key to enjoying it is to tack a few more days onto a trip, head outside the usual spots of Rio and Sao Paulo, and be sure to pack appropriately.
Brazil boasts a coastline of 4,655 miles, so beach wear is a big duh, but what about the Amazon as well, or the "cultural capital" of Salvador da Bahia? The Amazon alone is 40% of the entire country, and requires a whole different wardrobe of tropical attire, and Salvador has its own sand style apart from the thongs of Ipanema.
Aside from the basics, we've created packing lists for four Brazilian destinations we just visited ourselves: Rio de Janeiro, Salvador da Bahia, Iguaçu Falls, and the Amazon:
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Last chance to book travel to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup! Regular flights, both into and around the sprawling country, are nearly sold out during the World Cup dates of June 12 - July 13. This means it's time for airlines to announce how many extra planes they'll be running for fans to reach the 12 host cities.
Leading the pack is TAM, Brazil's largest airline, which only just dropped the huge news that they'll add 750 domestic and 300 international flights to supplement their usual schedule, all for travelers and soccer fans eager to visit during the World Cup.
TAM's competitors in the region (Avianca, GOL and Azul) are also throwing extra planes into the sky to help the rush, but nowhere near TAM's outlay. Azul, which only flies domestic routes in Brazil (and was actually created by the same man who founded JetBlue, David Neeleman), will only add around 350 flights during the World Cup period, for example.
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Without a doubt, Brazil is cool. Many elements combine to make it so; Brazil is fortunate to have some of the world's best beaches, liveliest music, sexiest people, most exotic flora and fauna, and tastiest food. Still, there is one bit about Brazil that's not so cool: going through the process of obtaining the visa necessary for US citizens to visit.
It's our own fault, really. Brazil is only doing to us what we do to their citizens wanting to visit the US; it's called reciprocity. Still, the Brazilian visa process is necessary evil of traveling to this beautiful country, and since we just sweated through it ourselves, we thought we'd break it down into simple steps.
Note that spectators, staff and volunteers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup have abbreviated visa requirements for what is a free "temporary special visa" with 90 days validity. If you're heading to the World Cup and think you'll return to Brazil at some point, then opt for the regular tourist visa, which comes with ten years of validity but costs $160-$180.
* Instructions and links below are intended for one regular adult tourist of US citizenship, holding a US passport.
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The excitement is beginning to build for next year's World Cup because not only does the massive soccer event attract world-wide spectators, but the 2014 version will happen in a country known for partying: Brazil!
If you're planning to pop down to Brazil to watch a little soccer and partake in a few caipirinhas, travel there may not go as smoothly as you'd hope. Along with some heavy-duty pre-planning, travelers might need to fork over more Reals than originally planned if the Brazilian government doesn't implement the Open-Skies agreement signed in 2010.
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Last week Pope Francis made his first international trip as the pontiff to trek from Italy over to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day on Copacabana Beach. While we think it's great the head of the Catholic Church has decided to return to the continent where he got his start in the organization, we also found the details of his travels most intriguing.
First off, Pope Francis flies commercial; well, kind of. His ride is a chartered Alitalia A330 officially named Volo Papale (papal flight in Italian) and unofficially, Shepherd One. The crew is made up of Alitalia's very own pilots and cabin crew, ensuring all aboard are safe and comfy. This particular flight took the pontiff from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport non-stop to Rio's Galeão International Airport and clocked in at just over 12 hours.
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We remember the last World Cup like it was yesterday. You knowSouth Africa, vuvuzelas, "tekkies," picturesque stadiums in a country that seems (and is) so very far away, and Spain's victory over the Netherlands. In reality, that was a whole three years ago and the world is quickly moving on to celebrate today as the one-year mark before yet another FIFA World Cup.
The soccer championship series occurs every four years, changing host countries in a wooing process similar to that of the Olympic Games. The last five destinations have been South Africa, Germany, Japan, France and the United States. For 2014, it'll be Brazil's time to shine as the major cities see their stadiums transformed into seething hoards of soccer hooligans wearing their team colors in every manner possible.
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First row: Bangkok, Mexico City, Doha, Santiago. Second row: Jakarta, Rio, Minneapolis, St. Paul.
Yet more international city badges have just dropped, in time for your summer travels! Location-based social network Foursquare is deep into the city badge awarding, and the last week has seen eight new ones, for your checking-in pleasure.
These newest city badges go to Mexico City, Minneapolis and St. Paul in North America; Rio and Santiago in South America; Bangkok and Jakarta in Asia; and Doha in the Middle East.
How to get the badges: First, follow 4sqCities, and just to be safe, it wouldn't hurt to also follow the individual city lists: Rio (list); Bangkok (list); Jakarta (list); Doha (list); Mexico City (list); Santiago (list); Minneapolis (list); and St. Paul (list). Then travel to the cities and clickety-click to check-in to the places on the recommended lists. Five places earns the badge.
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Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson didn't let a little thing like a hostage situation keep them from filming in Brazil. After hostages were taken at the Intercontinental Rio de Janeiro back in August, there was some speculation that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn's pivotal honeymoon scenes would be shot somewhere else.
Despite the controversy, the producers of Breaking Dawn decided to shoot in Brazil anyway and filming is officially underway this week.