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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.
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Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Rio de Janeiro is a magnificent city for travelers looking for a well-rounded experience of Brazil. Rio is more than a popular backdrop for countless movies. It’s home to iconic soccer players like Pelé, the popular Christ the Redeemer, the classic bossa nova, the most beautiful beaches in the world and  the world’s most entertaining carnival. Rio de Janeiro’s laidback culture and natural beauty will leave a lasting impression to adventure seekers, soccer fans and history lovers making their way to Brazil for the World Cup.

Rio de Janeiro, The City of Yellow, Green, Blue Through and Through
In 1950, Brazil hosted the World Cup, which left the country heartbroken and disappointed when the championship title was awarded to Uruguay after the team won the final game by 1 point in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, the sport and the country of Brazil have drastically evolved, and locals are ecstatic to experience with visitors the fruits of their labor after  more than 4 years of preparation for the 2014 World Cup. It all ends here in Rio de Janeiro, and only 1 team will win the title of  2014 FIFA World Cup champions.
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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.
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(Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Recife will set the scene for the much-anticipated USA vs. Germany World Cup game, scheduled for June 26. In addition to being an entertaining host for the big game, Recife is also an ideal destination for a relaxing vacation full of adventure, culture and beaches just waiting to be explored. Recife is a popular city that is no stranger to grand celebrations and festivals. In the upcoming months, travelers can experience various events with the locals.

Recife, the City of Many Bridges
Recife is referred to as the “Brazilian Venice” because of its 50 bridges, which cross over various waterways and rivers similar to the ones in Venice, Italy. These bridges serve the purpose of connecting the city’s smaller surrounding islands like Santo Antonio, Sao Jose and Bairro do Recife. Nestled in Recife’s modern metropolitan style, the city also has an “Old Recife,” known as Recife Antigo, which is the oldest, most traditional district in the state of Pernambuco. Visitors can appreciate the city’s cultural and historical landmarks, all while enjoying its modern attractions, like the dozens of restaurants and craft fairs that are attended by locals and visitors alike.

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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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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.

 

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