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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.
This week we've learned there is at least one thing that can scare off vampires and werewolves: hostage situations.
The next installment of the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn, was expected to shoot a few key scenes in Rio de Janeiro. But, after last weekend's deadly shootout between cops and gang members at the InterContinental Rio de Janeiro, they may be backing out.
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These first few months of 2010 have welcomed everything but tourists it seems, as natural disasters like earthquakes, floods ands even volcanoes put a crimp in itineraries. And although we're hoping that the sun of summer will wipe the problems away, it looks like Mother Nature will have her last laugh...in shutting down the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
What they've got down there is a Machu Picchu-type flooding and mudslide emergency. Already the torrential rains and mudslides have killed 246 people, with almost another 200 still missing. And they're not risking more lives just so people can take a quick picture of themselves with one of the seven "new" wonders of the world.
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If it's good enough for Madonna and Jesus, then it's good enough for you. As we reported today, the transformative Queen of Pop recently landed in Rio de Janiero for "humanitarian" work and quite possibly to meet her boyfriend's parents. We're not sure if this contributes to Rio's international appeal or detracts from it, but we did happen to stumble across a four-night travel package, airfare included, for Thanksgiving travel to the Brazilian city.
Travelzoo recently posted a $699 (base price) all-inclusive deal which includes roundtrip travel from New York City, daily breakfast, four nights accommodations, and the option to tack tour extras onto your package. The catch is, as we mentioned, the date that you'll have to depart—either dangerously close to Thanksgiving on the 19th, or the day itself. So, you'll have to decide whether forgoing turkey, football, and that yearly screening of the MACY*S parade is worth the $700 pricetag.
Madonna landed in Rio de Janeiro yesterday for a week long trip that may include meeting her boyfriend's mother and speaking with government officials about poverty.
Several reports are saying that the superstar is nervous about meeting Jesus Luz' family for the first time and that it may be a sign things are heating up between them. But Madge told Page Six the rumors aren't true and she is "there strictly for fundraising and humanitarian purposes.” We find it suspect that she would visit her boyfriend's hometown with him and not stop by to say hi to his moms. Maybe it's the age difference that is keeping her away, and we're not talking about the age difference between her and Jesus. Madonna also happens to be 14 years older than his mother!