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
Salvador’s Pelourinho Neighborhood (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)
Salvador is known as Brazil’s “capital 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.
Photography by André Maceira
When you think of Brazil, do you think of cowboys in wide-brimmed hats and red neck kerchiefs, verdant canyons and apple strudel? Didn’t think so.
These things happen to be as Brazilian as a pulsating samba beat; Technicolor carnival costumes and intoxicatingly beautiful beaches, and you can find them in the country’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, which is getting ready for its star turn during the 2014 World Cup.
The region will reveal a side of Brazil that few know with culture and customs traced back to fiercely independent gauchos, along with determined Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian settlers. These customs show up mostly in the region’s foods. There’s chimarrao, the evra mate tea sipped from a communal cup called a cuia; galeterias, restaurants serving the pastas, polenta and grilled chicken of Italian immigrants; and café colonial, serving plate after plate of German-inspired dishes, including strudel. And then, there is churrasco, the gaucho parade of grilled beef, pork and chicken, probably Rio Grande do Sul’s most well-known export. READ MORE
Curitiba (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)
Curitiba is a city that advocates sustainable living. The name of the city originates from Guarani, an indigenous language in South America, and translates to “lots of pine trees.” People traveling to Curitiba for the World Cup will admire the Arena Da Baixada, which is considered to be one of the most modern stadiums, as it opens its doors to more than 40,000 fans from around the world. Even with all of the excitement and energy surrounding the games, guests will enjoy Curitiba’s hidden gems, including its urban parks and city center.
Curitiba, the City with Sustainable Living
With existing public policies that focus on sustainability in urban public areas, the city of Curitiba is at the forefront of environmentally friendly living. These policies helped build and maintain 30 parks and forests, and the government’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the United Nations Environment Program, who awarded Curitiba a prestigious award for its recycling waste project.
To start your tour of Curitiba’s urban parks, we recommend going to the Parque de Pedreiras (Quarries Park) where the marvelous Ópera de Arame (Wire Opera House) is located. This gorgeous, translucent structure is built out of steel tubes and is full of windows, and it only took an impressive 75 days to construct.
There are many things we love about Texans, and their barbecue is high on that list. The next time you’re in Dallas, check out Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, which packs a hot and spicy combination with their beef brisket, pork ribs and the “Big Chop,” a 2-inch thick pork chop dunked in vinegar and meat drippings. If pork and beef don’t get your glands salivating, then head over to Chicken Scratch Restaurant, The Revolver Taco Lounge, or Woodshed Smokehouse (Pictured above: slow-roasted pig on a spit) for their braised lamb belly with shallots and roasted garlic pureed in a bone broth. Yum! READ MORE
Who knew that Nashville had a thing for spicy chicken? We’ve just become “hip” to the idea, and now we gotta try some! Until your travel plans are finalized, live vicariously through Andrew Zimmern tonight during an all-new episode of Bizarre Foods America in Nashville! Andrew eats some iconic foods, including spicy chicken and fish, as well as a whole hog on the “Q.” Andrew also ventures off the beaten path to visit a local Kurdish family, cooking up some of the most flavorful foods in all of Tennessee.
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Cuiaba (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)
Cuiabá is a host city not to be overlooked by visitors when traveling to Brazil for the World Cup. In the 20th century, this gold-mining city drastically grew from 57,000 to 544,737 residents in 30 years. Today, the city’s 3 ecosystems (the wetlands of the Pantanal; the savannas of the Cerrado; and the Amazon), are treasured by locals and tourists. The city offers visitors magnificent opportunities to immerse themselves in nature, whether it be waterfalls, rivers, plateaus, or miles and miles of beautiful green landscape.
Cuiabá, The City of Picturesque Countryside
One of the many spots to hike and explore in Cuiabá is the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park (Parque Nacional Chapada dos Guimarães), a UNESCO World Heritage site located a few miles outside of the city. This enormous natural park gives people a place to go and explore the large orange and red-rock formations via guided hikes with varying levels of difficulty. Along the hike, visitors to the park see caves, canyons and beautiful outlooks.
Photography by Andre Maceira – Photo Courtesy of Embratur
Of all the 12 cities hosting the 2014 World Cup, Porto Alegre is the southernmost city in Brazil. Travelers heading down to the state of Rio Grande do Sul are recommended to pack warm coats and extra layers because unlike northern Brazil, the winter weather in Porto Alegre is usually between 44° and 55°F. Undoubtedly, the weather will not take away from the countless activities Porto Alegre has to offer both soccer fans and world travelers alike. Visitors should know that the citys offers great urban parks, wine tasting tours, cultural centers, delicious food and exhibits that feature some of the most important pieces of art in Brazil.
Porto Alegre, The City with Multiculturalism.
In the 19th century, Porto Alegre had a large influx of immigrants; the majority of which came from Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Africa and Lebanon. The immigrants that settled helped the city flourish as a melting pot of cultures. As a result, Porto Alegre has grown to become a diverse cosmopolitan city with over 1.5 million inhabitants known as Porto-Alegrenses. The city’s gastronomy and architecture is a mixture of Brazilian traditions infused with influences from different countries.
Red Fox Restaurant (Photo Courtesy of Lewis Johnson)
If someone dropped you off in the village of Rosa Khutor — in the Mountain Cluster of the Sochi Olympics — you get the feeling like you’re in western Europe. Everything is brand new. All of the village’s hotels, restaurants and nightlife were created for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The charm of this luxurious mountain ski village is amazing especially the panoramic views from a ski lift. You’ll love it!
So far, here are my 3 favorite spots to have a meal and a beverage, and chill with a nice mix of locals and fans of the Olympics.