ALL POSTS IN [Culture]

Summer is coming to an end, and still there are 41% of you out there who don’t plan to use all of your PTO (paid time off) before the end of the year. But why are we so reluctant to hit the road for a little fresh air? The U.S. Travel Association released a survey of 1,300 employees and business leaders, and their findings explain why Americans take so few much-needed days of rest and relaxation.

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Machu Picchu (Photo Courtesy of ShermansTravel)

Book by September 4.

Is peering down at the awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu on your bucket list? How about a picturesque boat ride on Lake Titicaca or a stroll through the charming city of Cuzco? Check all of this off and more on an 8-night comprehensive tour of Peru while saving $1,000 from similar tours offered.

For $1,999 per person ($182 per day), this package from smarTours includes round-trip airfare on LAN Airlines, 8 nights of accommodations at first class hotels, all domestic flights, ground transportation and transfers, 11 meals (8 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners) and sightseeing with an English-speaking tour guide.
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Go behind the tent for a look at one of America’s last traveling sideshows in our brand new web series, All American Sideshow. Watch as the World of Wonders Sideshow kicks off circus season with eye-catching headliners including sword-swallower Tommy, knife-thrower Spif and “Diva of Danger” Sunshine. These daring performers share their unique take on travel while living in a tractor-trailer and entertaining the masses in towns across America.

 

When they’re not on the road, the sideshow crew heads to Gibsonton, FL. Dubbed the “weirdest place in America,” Gibtown has long been the winter retreat for the carnie and circus community. Watch as sideshow owner Ward Hall harkens back to the days when you could find yourself bellying up to the local bar with a giant, a bearded lady and the “living half-girl.”

To see even more freaky performances, check out the rest of the All American Sideshow web series, and get a look at some behind-the-tent photos.

Paris Plage (Photo Courtesy of Reuters / Charles Platiau)

Celebrated on July 14, French National Day or Bastille Day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution and the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Celebrations are held all over France, but thousands line up along the Champs-Elysees in Paris to watch the oldest and largest military parade in Europe. These annual festivities aren’t limited to the celebration on the ground, but locals and tourists can look high above the crowds to see the Patrouille de France aerobatics team in action.

Bastille Day isn’t the only thing tourists should add to their agenda when visiting Paris in the summer. Here’s a quick list of 5 fun summertime experiences you don’t want to miss when vacationing in Paris.
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Mercedes House (Photo Courtesy of Neil R)

Overwhelmed by New York’s neon canyons? Wary of running with the tourist hordes? If you’re “Times Squared-out,” you can visit an authentic part of New York City just a short distance away. Explore Hell’s Kitchen, the area roughly bordered by Port Authority and 57th Street to the north and south, and 8th Avenue and the Hudson River to the east and west.

This once-raffish neighborhood was home to bad-boy Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain. Today, it thrives with restaurants, bars and opinionated, demanding locals. Parts of Hell’s Kitchen also offer peace and quiet — something visitors may think is unattainable in New York. Here are a few rough and refined recommendations on what not to miss in this hood: READ MORE

Photo Courtesy of Embratur

“Belo Horizonte” means beautiful horizon in Portuguese, which is fitting for its magnificent landscape. When the city was first built, it was planned to house only a few hundreds of residents. No one ever expected that it would grow to have more than 5 million inhabitants. Unlike São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, tourists often overlook Belo Horizonte as a travel destination. That means those who venture out to Belo Horizonte gain unique experiences that most visitors don’t know exist.

Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s “Bar Capital.”
Belo Horizonte is the capital of Minas Gerais state, but it is also known as Brazil’s “bar capital.” The city has more than 14,000 bars for locals and tourists to choose from, which makes Belo Horizonte’s nightlife extremely animated. This is the ideal setting for people who don’t necessarily have tickets to the World Cup games in the Mineirão Stadium (Estádio do Mineirão), but want to celebrate with some of the world’s most spirited fans.
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Cinco de Mayo celebration

Photography by Reuters

Cinco de Mayo, which means “5th of May” in Spanish, celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. And in many cities in Mexico and in the US, Cinco de Mayo means it’s time for a fiesta.

Celebrated on May 5 each year, more than 120 cities across the US have Cinco de Mayo celebrations where you can listen to live Mariachi bands, enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine and throw back a few margaritas or cervezas. So grab your sombrero and maracas, and head to one of the best cities in the US to celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2014! READ MORE

Photo By: Jessica Menk

Asheville, NC: Known for having some of the best craft breweries on the East Coast, Asheville is an eclectic, artsy town that sits just outside the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. You can feel the city’s entrepreneurial spirit as you explore its various neighborhoods. The town is locally driven from restaurants to antique shops. This adorable town should be on your must-see list. READ MORE

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Photography by Getty Images

There’s no better way to experience the history, soul and charm of The Big Easy than at a festival. While Mardi Gras is the most popular and well-known festival in New Orleans, the celebrations don’t stop there. With more than 400,000 attendees each year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as Jazz Fest, is the city’s second most popular festival. 

Taking place from April 25 to May 4 this spring at the Fair Grounds Race Course, this 10-day, 2 weekend festival celebrates the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana with live music, authentic Louisiana cuisine and crafting. READ MORE

 

Salvador’s Pelourinho Neighborhood (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Salvador is known as Brazil’scapital of happiness” because of its countless number of popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. Its humble beginnings can be traced to 1549 when Portuguese settlers decided to colonize Brazil and make Salvador the capital of the country. As a result, this coastal city quickly became the main port of call for ships from all over the world that would dock and import their goods into South America. Salvador is no longer Brazil’s capital, but it is a magnificent city with unique architecture, historic museums, chic gastronomy restaurants and African-inspired music, which makes it a unique host city for the 2014 World Cup soccer games.

Salvador, the City of Music
Bahia is the musical state of Brazil. Its rich mixture of Brazilian, African and European cultures birthed genres and rhythms like axe, pagode and samba.. The state’s capital, Salvador, marches to its own beat. People here sing and play special percussion instruments like the berimbau, agogos and atabaques.
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