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Every aviation museum worth its salt these days can boast of classic warplanes, military fighter jets here and there, and perhaps a pre-jet-age Lockheed Constellation, but few go the extra mile to secure and preserve the rarest, most historic, and, in some cases, most expensive airplanes nearly lost to history as does the Museu TAM.
The museum is the baby of TAM Airlines and is now the largest museum in the world maintained by an airline. Unfortunately it isn't the easiest daytrip destination; the Museu sits in a spacious pair of hangars just outside the town of São Carlos, an hour's drive from the city of Ribeirão Preto (location of the nearest commercial airport), which is itself an hour's flight (or 3-hour drive) from São Paulo. You'd never expect to find one of the world's most important aviation museums way out here, in this part of rural Brazil better known for sugarcane plantations, but here it is.
The museum opened to the public in 2006 with only around 32 aircraft, but they've been quite busy since and the collection now numbers 89 vintage and rare flying machines (49 of which are incredibly still in flying condition).
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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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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.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted at: Morro de São Paulo, Brasil.
This week's Travel Cat comes from Instagrammer @dogstalkpoetry, who recently spotted this mustachioed friend in Brazil, though a little too late for Movember. She says of this Travel Cat: "Moustache Cat! Cat reminds me of Charlie Chaplin."
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Last week we told you about the slurry of airlines using this year to refresh their aircraft cabins and service. Not a few days later, American Airlines dropped some major news as well, and they supplemented it with Instagram shots of the goods.
AA will take delivery of their first Boeing 777-300ER late this year and, from photos posted on Instagram last week, the big birds will look pretty flash on the inside. Since the airline is the first US carrier to take delivery of the shiny, new aircraft type, the introduction will surely be huge.
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London, Paris and Istanbul only just their own Foursquare badges, and now the location-based social networking app has gone even further afield with an additional four badges for more world cities. If you're traveling to New Orleans, Atlanta, Singapore or Sao Paulo, you're going to want to make sure you're not only hitting the top spots in the city, but that you're checking into them as well.
How to get the badges: First, follow 4sqCities, and just to be safe, it wouldn't hurt to also follow the individual city lists here: New Orleans, Atlanta, Singapore, Sao Paulo. Then travel to one or all of the cities and clickety-click to check-in to the places on the recommended lists. Five places earns the badge.
Now with a total of 8 city badges (a Chicago "Windy City" one has existed for a little longer than all the rest), Foursquare is still looking for more cities that deserve the creation of a badge and must-visit list. Suggest another city here.
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Diane von Furstenberg is many great thingsan iconic womenswear designer, a philanthropist, the President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and a model for healthy livingbut she is also a consummate world traveler (and travel tweeter). In fact, when she starred in recent American Express commercials, she credited experiencing the world with giving her the inspiration to create beautiful clothing and become a stronger, independent woman. We kind of love her, if you haven't already gotten that.
Thus, it's about time she launches her first store in South America, at the Iguatemi Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The grand opening of the boutique comes on Thursday night, when Diane herself hosts a huge Brazilian bash and also inaugurates the start of the Sao Paulo leg of the traveling exhibition "Journey of a Dress," curated by Vogue's Andre Leon Talley.