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Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Photo: Getty Images)

The final countdown has begun to “Fat Tuesday” around the world. But only in New Orleans can you celebrate with the true flair of a party-ragin’ Cajun. There’s plenty to do during one of the biggest annual celebrations in America. And in a multilingual city with a rich French colonial history, there are myriad options for Carnival fun. It’s no coincidence that The Big Easy is sometimes referred to as the “most unique in the United States,” and this annual bead-begging bash shows exactly why.

A direct flight from New York to New Orleans is about 3 hours. From Los Angeles it’s just 1 hour more. And from Washington, DC, it’s only a 2 1/2 -hour jaunt, all of which makes it easy to jump right into the Mardi Gras mix. Once you arrive in New Orleans you’ll want a comfy place to rest up and energize from the day’s travels. Here are a few suggestions for enjoying Mardi Gras in New Orleans that will fit almost any budget. READ MORE

Photography by iStock

Tour Thomas Jefferson’s ancestral home just outside of Charlottesville, and discover more than just the history of a President.
Daily Escapes!

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.
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Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

The World Cup is a momentous occasion that sets the stage for the world’s greatest soccer athletes. Thousands of people will travel to  12 cities in Brazil to see their favorite teams play an international sport that will bring people together from all around the globe.  And there are several reasons why Fortaleza is the perfect  city to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup games.

Fortaleza, the City of “Fortalezenses”
Fortaleza is known for its people, “Fortalezenses.” Although the city on its own is aesthetically beautiful, it’s the good-humored nature of its people that automatically make it a charming destination. Fortalezenses are known for being helpful, hospitable and caring hosts to tourists. They stay active by walking around in urban parks or by the seafront.

The History of the Fortress
In case you didn’t know, Fortaleza in Portuguese translates to “fortress.” In 1649, the Dutch settled and built Fort Schoonemborch. A few years later, in 1655, the Portuguese seized the fort and renamed it Nossa Senhora da Assunção, after the patron saint of the city, the Lady of the Assumption. Visitors can visit  the beautiful fortress on Monte Marajaitiba for free. Today, the fortress is home to the Army Military Headquarters.

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Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Music fans will be cozied up by the TV tonight to watch the 56th annual Grammy Awards, broadcast live from LA.  Not only will fans be sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation of who will win the coveted award, but they will also be poised to see and hear some top-notched performances that are creating a lot of buzz.

Sunday is a big Nielsen ratings night for the popular TV show, Downton Abbey, but producers of the awards show are hoping to attract more viewers by including some exciting collaborative performances like Jay-Z and Beyonce; Robin Thicke and Chicago; and yes, a Beatles reunion with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. The remaining members of the ’60s band will take the stage to perform in a tribute to commemorate the British rockers’ first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago.

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How far did Martin Luther King Jr. travel in his life?

Over the course of the civil rights leader’s 39 years, MLK marched with tens of thousands of civil rights activists from Selma to Montgomery; spoke before tens of thousands more on DC’s National Mall; and in an eerie premonition, told an audience at Mason Temple church in Memphis that “we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” MLK was shot the very next evening, on a balcony, at Memphis’s Lorraine Motel.

While MLK’s domestic trips are well-documented, especially through the South, Dr. King was also a world traveler. In the last 11 years of his life, Dr. King traveled some 6 million miles. READ MORE

Fans gather at Graceland to celebrate Elvis’s birthday (photo: Reuters)

Seventy-nine years ago today, in the Mississippi town of Tupelo, the future King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was born. This morning, in celebration of the life of Elvis Aaron Presley — the singer, actor and legend who turned rockabilly into a sound all his own and forever changed how we view slicked-back hair, leather pants and Hawaii’s shores – Graceland kicks off a 3-day Elvis Birthday Celebration.

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Cathedral of Brasília (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

One might assume that Brasília, the capital of Brazil, has been around for more than a century, but in reality, it was built on an impressive timeline of just 41 months, from 1956 to 1960. Brazil’s capital for the longest time was the extremely populated Rio de Janeiro, but then the government decided it was essential for the capital to be moved to the center of the country. And so, Brasília was born!

Brasília, the Capital of Innovation
Unlike other host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2014, Brasília is unique in that it was entirely a planned city. As part of the country’s “50 years of prosperity in 5″ plan, Brazil’s president at the time, Juscelino Kubitschek, and urban planner Lúcio Costa approached Oscar Niemeyer about becoming the chief architect in designing the new city’s public buildings.

At the time, Niemeyer was the youngest and most influential designer on the team, having served as the architectural mastermind behind the United Nations Headquarters in New York City roughly a decade before. From the moment he signed onto the project, Niemeyer turned Brasilia into his playground, creating buildings with modern and surreal architecture that could reflect the young capital’s innovativeness. Years later, UNESCO cited Brasília as a World Heritage site.

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Bonnie and Clyde

Ain’t they sweet: Bonnie and Clyde (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Bonnie and Clyde, there’s just something about this gun-toting, crime-loving pair of love birds that continues to intrigue. The 3-network, 2-night event that kicks off Sunday is just the latest example of the decades-long affair with this spunky Texas duo.

Over the years, crooners from Merle Haggard to Mel Torme have sung about them, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway offered a ’60s-chic spin on them, and in recent years, the famed La Jolla Playhouse staged an award-winning musical about them, entitled, aptly enough, Bonnie & Clyde.

But let’s get real. The real Bonnie Parker didn’t look like Faye Dunaway or Holliday Grainger, and Clyde Barrow didn’t look like Warren Beatty or Emile Hirsch. This duo did more than pose in chic photo stills with guns — they actually robbed banks … and killed people, a total of 12, during some of their bungled robberies. But we just can’t let this story go, thanks, in no small part, to the black-and-white images from the early 1930s showing Bonnie in a really cool-looking beret, as she points a gun in jest toward her fedora-wearing guy pal, Clyde. So sweet.

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Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa's first black president.

Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa’s first black president. (Photo: Getty)

The father of a nation has died, and flags throughout Nelson Mandela’s beloved South Africa were lowered to half-staff yesterday.

Tributes to Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s first black president, after 3 centuries of white domination — extended far beyond the country he helped free from a government-sponsored system of apartheid which, between 1948 and 1994, denied South Africa’s majority equal treatment under the law, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Jim Crow South.

Upon learning of Mandela’s death yesterday at the age of 95, Harlem’s Apollo Theater quickly adjusted its marquee to read, “He Changed Our World.” President Obama ordered all flags flying throughout Washington, DC, lowered to half-staff. And the South African embassy in Washington, DC, saw passersby leaving flowers and mementos by the statue of Nelson Mandela.

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