ALL POSTS TAGGED "[Brazil]"

The Amazon (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

If there is something that should be well-known about Brazil, it is that ecotourism is taken just as seriously as soccer. Just ask Fuleco, the 2014 FIFA World Cup mascot whose name originates from “ful” for futbol and “eco” for ecology. This personable armadillo is native to Brazil, and symbolizes the importance of preserving the ecosystem, as well as a passion for soccer that is present in Brazil. The city of Manaus is a perfect marriage of the 2: the practice of street soccer and efforts to preserve the Amazon rainforest.

Manaus, the City of the Amazonas
In the 19th century, Manaus was known as the “Heart of the Amazon and City of the Forest,”  when the natural resources of the Amazon rainforest were used in creating rubber as an international export. The city instantly began to flourish, and with wealth exponentially growing, extravagant buildings were being constructed like the Amazon Theater (Teatro Amazonas). For a while, there was a strong European presence in the tropics, but the city’s economic success suffered when the Asian market discovered a way to create artificial rubber. Since then, Manaus has made a comeback.  Locals have continued to work hard to offer excellent tourism services and educational programs  to travelers interested in exploring the Amazon rainforest.
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Ponta Negra Beach (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

The city of Natal is “painted” with the same organic colors proudly displayed on the Brazilian flag: blue skies, golden-yellow sand dunes and green palm trees. During the FIFA final draw, it was announced that the USA team would be playing against Ghana in the Arena das Dunas for their first game on June 16, 2014. Even though the USA is in Group G — which is considered one of the hardest group’s in the 2014 World Cup — fans really hit the jackpot with having Natal as the perfect host city to cheer on the US team.

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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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Photo Courtesy of Embratur

The vigorous sounds of beating drums, flags flying, fans singing and chanting; finally, the FIFA World Cup 2014 has come to Brazil. With the excitement of the tournament setting the scene, visitors to the 12 host cities should take the opportunity to absorb themselves in the local culture and experience the hidden gems that make each location unique.

São Paulo, the City of Paulistanos
True to its city motto of “Non ducor, duco,” which translates to “I am not led, I lead,” São Paulo will lead the celebration by hosting the first games of the World Cup. Located in the southeastern part of Brazil, between Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo is a major business hub, but its hospitable people, the “Paulistanos,” know how to enjoy the diverse pleasures of life through food, art and music.

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Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Beating out Istanbul and Madrid, Tokyo has been tapped by the International Olympic Committee to be the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The race was really between the Istanbul and Tokyo — Madrid had been eliminated in a first-round ballot. The final tally wasn’t even close; Tokyo easily won by 24 votes.

In case you didn’t know, the last time Tokyo was host city for the Summer Olympics was in 1964. The city has now gained the unique distinction of becoming the first Asian city to host the games twice. City officials are already taking proactive steps to revitalize the city’s waterfront, where the Olympic Village will be situated, but there are several reasons why Tokyo is already a great tourist destination. We love the Japanese and Tokyo’s amazing attractions, including Mori Arts Centre, Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, Tsukiji Fish Market and Imperial Palace East Gardens.

But let’s not forget Brazil. With the 2020 Summer Olympics still a ways off, many sports fans are focused on Brazil as the hot destination for the next few years. Not only will Rio de Janeiro host the 2016 Summer Olympics, but it will also be one of 12 cities to host soccer matches for the FIFA World Cup 2014. If you’re a soccer fan, don’t delay! FIFA is already accepting applications for World Cup tickets. Score big and make plans to visit Brazil’s World Cup cities.

 

Photography by Getty Images

Brazil lost one of its geniuses this week. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer passed away on Wednesday, but he left behind a legacy of work that tourists and locals will admire forever. The 104-year-old architect was known for his modernist design style and he collaborated with other architects to design memorable works of art such as the United Nations building in NYC.

In 1959, Niemeyer was tasked with designing Brasilia from the ground up when it was chosen as Brazil’s new capital. He was the chief architect responsible for many public buildings — breathing life into a city once steeped in its colonial and baroque past.

Today, his architecture can be found all around the world, including Place du Colonel Fabien in Paris, the Cathedral of Brasilia, Mondadori Publishing Company’s headquarters in Milan and the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Niemeyer’s curvaceous style has inspired young architects to dream, and tourists may feel inspired after visiting the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Center in Asturias, Spain, or the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (NovoMuseu) in Curitiba, Brazil.

London's Olympic Stadium and the Orbit

Photography by Getty Images

Before the mass exodus from London’s Olympic Park, the Spice Girls, The Who, One Direction, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael — and other notable British singers and musicians — graced the stage in Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 closing ceremonies.

And just in case you didn’t know, Team USA will take home the most medals. US Olympic athletes won a total of 104 medals: 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze.  Team GB came in 3rd after China, winning a total of 65 Olympic medals.

During the closing ceremonies, spectators got a taste of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. But before you start making your travel plans to Rio, we suggest you think about the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for February 7 – 23, 2014.

If cold weather isn’t your cup of tea, then relive the magic of the past 2 weeks and visit Britain’s Olympic venues, including Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon.  Take a tour of Britain’s most amazing spots with 2012 gold medalist and Olympic swimmer Rebecca Soni, Olympic Soccer champion Heather Mitts and other world-renowned athletes.

Travel with gymnast Nastia Liukin to Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. Explore Scotland’s great outdoors with Track and Field champions Bryan Clay and Jeremy Campbell.

Visit Essex, Glasgow, Greenwich, Coventry, Manchester and Wales. Discover why US Olympic athletes enjoy visiting Britain as they show you some of their favorite spots in our London 2012 web series.

Brazil Mudslides

The official death toll from Brazil’s mudslide disaster has risen to 803. Nova Friburgo, near Rio de Janeiro, is the hardest-hit town, where 389 deaths were recorded. A total of 400 lives were lost in other towns, including Teresopolis, Peropolis and Sumidouro.

According to the LA Times, more than 14,000 people are homeless in one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s history. People were forced to abandon their homes in southeast Brazil, either because the houses were destroyed or deemed unsafe.

The World Bank donated $485 million to rebuild and provide prevention plans. The Brazilian government also plans to revamp its national alert system to warn of future flooding disasters.

More bad weather may be in Brazil’s future. Mudslides are probable as summer rainfall continues.

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