ALL POSTS IN [Culture]

Most seasoned travelers have probably heard of (and dreamt about) the amazing train ride through the Tijuca Rainforest to see the 125-foot Christ the Redeemer statue high atop Corcovado Mountain. And who hasn’t heard the gossip about the Brazilians’ buff beach bodies and the droves of scantily-clad women who sunbathe on the world-famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.

Well now, you can get your chance to see Rio de Janeiro – free of charge! Enter to win a trip for 2 to the Marvelous City and see why it’s such a hot vacation destination. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that tourists are flocking to the tropical city not only for its beaches, but also because it will host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

See Rio for yourself! Explore this Brazilian city and its secret treasures like Leblon, Rio’s most affluent neighborhood with a beautiful beach that’s known for being much quieter than Ipanema or Copacabana. See Rio from above and go hang-gliding off Sugarloaf Mountain, or just lay low and spend the day on Paqueta Island, where it’s not uncommon to see a horse-drawn carriage.

There’s something for everyone in this Brazilian city, so take the first step and enter to win a free trip — your next adventure awaits you in Rio de Janeiro!

“$5000. Take it or leave it.”

“I can’t go above $3500.”

“Split the difference, and make it an even $4000.”

“Deal!”

On an all-new Toy Hunter, Jordan and his amateur toy collecting pal, Travis, head to Massachusetts in search of big ticket items to sell at one of the biggest pop culture events in the country: Chicago’s C2E2.

During his journey in New England, Jordan comes away with a bunch of classic toys he thinks will sell at C2E2, but no toy is more crucial then the GI USS Flagg Aircraft Carrier he picks up for $4,000 while haggling with Rob. In order to reach his goal of selling $20,000 in toys, Jordan must sell the USS Flagg for nearly double what he paid for it.

Will Jordan find someone to take the GI Joe aircraft carrier off his hands? Will he reach his lofty goal of making $20,000? Find out on an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Plus, don’t forget to check out Jordan’s thoughts on the episode with these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos of “Toy Tycoon.”

On an all-new episode of Toy Hunter, Jordan heads to Colorado on a Rocky Mountain mission for comedy writer Dave Hill. Most buyers are usually looking for mint condition toys still in the box, but Dave is willing to pay thousands to get his hands on out-of-the-box toys.

Jordan’s biggest challenge is to find opened toys that are still extremely valuable, so his assistant, Steve, gets to work. Steve manages to arrive at Mile High Comics before Jordan and starts to dig – against Jordan’s wishes. Chuck, the owner of Mile High Comics, takes Steve to the back of the store where he keeps some vintage toys, and Steve gets a head start with the collection. Jordan shows up a bit late, but starts searching immediately to reclaim his lead.

After Jordan comes across several toys that he thinks will suit Dave Hill perfectly, Steve makes an impulsive and pricey purchase of his own, banking on a strange action figure that may not even peak Dave’s interest.

To find out what out-of-the-box toys Jordan and Steve collected for the up-and-coming comedian, Dave Hill, tune in for an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Plus, check out Jordan’s commentary on these behind-the-scenes photos from the episode, Playing With Fire.

“It’s the most WonderCon time of the year…”

Wait, what’s WonderCon? It’s only one of the largest comic conventions in the country, located at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. And not only will Jordan be there, but he’s also set an unbelievably high goal of selling $25,000 in merchandise.

But before Jordan goes to WonderCon, there’s one line of toys that he has yet to find – a line that he knows will be a huge hit if he can track them down: vintage GI Joe collectibles.

Jordan is in toy heaven at his first stop when he checks out Tim’s garage that’s filled to the brim with vintage GI Joe, Bucky O’Hare and Thundercats toys. Jordan quickly snatches up a few GI Joe play sets, a GI Joe Mobile Command Center and a GI Joe Tomahawk. After spending a large amount of money in Tim’s garage, Jordan finally feels like he’s ready to head to WonderCon.

Will Jordan be able to hit his goal of $25,000 in sales, or will he fall short and be forced to keep some of the GI Joe toys for himself? Find out on an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Plus, don’t forget to check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from GI Jackpot.

Photography by Clint Johnston

The Philippines is home to over 7,000 islands with picturesque beaches and turquoise seas, which is why the rice terraces of Batad — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — are often forgotten. The terraces are a stunning scene to behold, sculpted like giant staircases from the mountains of Ifugao. Sadly, they have begun to deteriorate due to climate and abandonment. So make the trek now to Batad before the world loses another wonder. I chose to travel there by Jeepney, the local transportation found all over the islands.

My Jeepney was an old military vehicle, leftover in the Philippines by the US army during World War II. The hulking beast had been converted into a passenger bus —  like thousands of others — each jeep uniquely festooned in a colorful and loud fashion. I climbed to the roof of the vehicle when I realized there was no room down below. I gripped firmly on a support bar and swung my legs over the side where they dangled freely.

The road to Batad begins in Manila with a 9-hour overnight bus to Banaue. While Batad is not a long journey from Banaue, it can be a difficult one. Washed out bridges, landslides and neglected roads are just the beginning. Riding on the roof of  a Jeepney may be common practice for a local, but it is a thrilling experience for a foreigner.

Upon reaching the entrance to the village of Batad, a 45-minute descent winds to the center of town. There are no roads that lead to the quiet village of 1,500 people, which means that walking is the only mode of transportation. There are limited guesthouses in Batad, however many villagers will welcome you into their home, cook for you, and share a glass of traditional rice wine.

Trekking around Batad is a challenge worthy of any traveler. The 2,000-year-old terraces require careful navigation and balance. With paths only wide enough for one person  and steep drops of 10 or more feet in some places, I needed to watch my step. But there is no greater reward than reaching the promontory overlooking the magnificent terraces carved from the mountains of Ifugao.

Don’t overlook the road to Batad. The journey from Manila is long but the 8th wonder of the world awaits. The homestays, people, and culture will embrace you. Make the trek so you can call the rice terraces your home, if only for a few days.

Photography by Clint Johnston

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Toy Hunter extraordinaire Jordan Hembrough to appear on the Mike Lawrence podcast, Nerd of Mouth. I repeat, Jordan Hembrough to appear on the Mike Lawrence podcast that specializes in all things nerd!

Word of mouth is a tried-and-true marketing concept, and Jordan plans to take full advantage of spreading the word on the podcast. Of course, nothing comes for free, and Mike is looking for something in exchange. Mike is an up-and-coming comedian and comic book enthusiast who lost his interest in collecting somewhere along the way … until now.

A decent portion of Mike’s stand-up routine includes bits about Batman, so Jordan thinks he may have found the perfect piece for Mike — the original Batman Ray Gun.

What other vintage toy collectibles will Jordan dig up? Will he be able to rekindle Mike’s love for collecting? Tune in to an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c to find out.

Plus, don’t miss the exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from Jordan’s trip to Pennsylvania.

Calling all Millennials and Generation Y’ers! If you happen to have been born in the 1980s, 80’s Flashbax should tug at some very special heartstrings.

In this all-new episode of Toy Hunter, Jordan heads to the “Show-Me” state of Missouri in the hopes that collectors will “show him” some great, vintage toys from the ’80s. While in Missouri, Jordan comes away with a special Star Wars collectible — a Darth Vader collector case, as well as an immensely popular Pee-wee Herman doll. Did I mention that this is just the first stop of Jordan’s journey through Missouri?

To find out more about Jordan’s trip to Missouri and to see what other vintage toy collectibles he picked up, tune in for an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Plus, don’t forget to check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from tonight’s episode.

In this all-new episode of Toy Hunter, Jordan embarks on one of his most nostalgic hunts of all time. While minding his own business at Seattle Comic Con — trying to make his sales mark of $15,000 — Jordan receives a surprise visit from ’70s child star, Danny Bonaduce of The Partridge Family.

Jordan and Danny strike up a quick friendship, and Danny asks Jordan to go in search of one Partridge Family item Danny has been unable to track down: the 1971 Partridge Family Board Game by Milton Bradley. Jordan agrees to search for Danny’s request, and in turn, Danny asks Jordan to come on his Seattle radio show once he has found it, to talk about the game and Jordan’s rare toy-finding abilities. Jordan ultimately finds the board game, but also comes across many other rare vintage Partridge Family toys that he hopes will strike Danny’s interest enough to take them off his hands.

To find out more about Jordan’s visit with Danny, and to find out what other amazing items Jordan tracked down, tune in for an all-new episode, tonight at 9|8c.

Plus, check out these exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos from Toy Hunter’s Buying 4 Bonaduce.

Photo by Thinkstock

Recently, I went to St. Louis to visit a friend, where we shared a room at the Hyatt right downtown, directly across from the Arch. That first day, we ate a late lunch at a great Irish pub about 4 blocks from the hotel. After a lot of walking around and shopping, we ended the evening by eating at the Brewhouse restaurant in the hotel. The atmosphere was very festive, as the Blues Hockey team was in town and on TV. They won and the bar flooded with happy attendees shortly after. St. Louis is a great sports town and we experienced it firsthand.

The next day, we got up early and walked about 2 miles to the famous Soulard Farmers Market, where we enjoyed people watching and drinking the best Bloody Marys I have ever had. Afterward we ate a great breakfast at a local hot spot, where we sat by the window watching people preparing for the annual Tap ‘N’ Run 4K.

After breakfast, we walked to the Busch Brewery and took a great tour, enjoying libations at the end. While walking all the way back to the Arch we definitely enjoyed the antics of the 4K runners along the way.

That evening we went to another hotel for a drink accompanied by a beautiful view of the Arch, then headed to another local hot spot for dinner, ending up at Laclede’s Landing where we enjoyed a great dueling piano bar.

Up again early the next day, we ate breakfast at a great local hot spot that specializes in all local foods before heading to the Arch. No trip to St. Louis is complete without going to the Arch. Unfortunately, my claustrophobia did not permit me to partake, but my companions did go inside and enjoyed it very much.

Before heading to the airport, we traveled to the quaint town of St. Charles where they were having their first monthly “Sunday Funday” of the year.

This was a great, quick, local flavor trip and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

- Written by Connie Schmid

Courtesy of Thinkstock

“¡Cuidado con los pajaros!” said the counter guy, as he pointed to my food on the table outside. I quickly figured out what he was saying, meanwhile birds were descending on our food.

After shooing the feathered scavengers away, my dad and I dove into our roasted chicken and Magna beers at El Verde BBQ.  It’s the very definition of roadside dive as we could almost touch the cars going by. Following the advice of Anthony Bourdain, we had taken a chance on the place, pulled in, and began eating without fear.

Randomly, a grizzled man plopped down at our table. He said a greeting in Spanish that my dad responded to in between bites of juicy chicken. One reason I choose Puerto Rico for this father-son trip was because my dad taught himself Spanish. I figured he’d enjoy getting to use it.

Then the old man spoke to me in English: “It’s good that you bring your dad here. My dad is 90 now and we see each other often. That is good.” He also told us how long he had lived in the Puerto Rico, how much he liked his homeland and he offered some of his thoughts about life in general. Then he said goodbye and left.

As he got into his truck, all of the workers waved goodbye.  We soon learned that  the man we were talking to was the owner of the restaurant.

I liked his style. No showy welcome to his restaurant, no attempts to win our attention with a free beer and no questions about what we thought about the food. It was just a pleasant conversation from a pleasant man while eating pleasant food.

In the space of an hour, Puerto Rico taught us three lessons: watch out for birds stealing your food, random roadside dives are delicious and always welcome a stranger to the table.

Courtesy of Greg Stroud

- Written by Greg Stroud

 

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