Machu Picchu, Peru
Sometimes the journey teaches us about the destination, and in this case, it couldn’t be more true. Walking the same path that was used by the ancient Inca in their pilgrimage to the top of Machu Picchu was surreal. I learned to pause along the way and admire the quiet beauty of nature. The days it took to reach Machu Picchu were hard, pushed me to my limits, and made me appreciate this magnificent sight that much more. On the fourth day, we woke up early to make it to the Sun Gate in time for sunrise. Looking down at this sacred city with the sun light breaking through the clouds is an image I’ll never forget.
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Rio de Janeiro is a huge seaside city in Brazil, famed for its golden beaches, lush mountains, iconic landmarks and sprawling favelas. There is really no other place quite like the fun loving city of Rio. With the recent World Cup and upcoming Olympics, the city is drawing more people to its shores than ever before. Here is the breakdown of our trip to Rio:
Travel involves a lot of uncertainty, where things like cancelled flights or theft can really put a damper on your vacation. Some things are out of your control – like weather, while others just require some common sense. Don’t let Rio’s reputation for being unsafe deter you from visiting this beautiful city. However, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself. Based on our experience, we put together a short list of things NOT to do: Continue reading
Rio de Janeiro is one of the largest cities in South America, known for many things: its world famous beaches, magnificent natural landscapes, and its iconic landmarks. This sprawling metropolis has everything you’ll need for a good time. Naturally, we were excited and looked forward to our first trip to Brazil. We booked months in advance and planned out all the places we wanted to see. Unfortunately all of that planning did not ensure a drama-free trip as we found out that our flight was canceled two hours before take-off and rescheduled to the next day – our already short trip became even shorter. When we finally made it there, we were greeted with crappy weather. Ironically, it rained every single day that we were there during the hottest and driest year in the country’s recent history. Even with all the problems, we still had a great time. Here are a few things that we did and a few things that we didn’t get to do due to weather:
As well as being known for its natural beauty and iconic landmarks, Brazil is also known for its many favelas. A favela is a slum in that exists within the urban areas of big cities, often carved out of a hillside overlooking the rest of the city. There are over 700 favelas in Rio alone, housing about 1.1 million people – about 1/6th of the general population.
In Rio de Janeiro, street art can be found everywhere from the walls of the favelas to buildings in upper class neighborhoods. The graffiti and artwork are both bold and diverse. The ever-evolving Brazilian street art scene was further fostered by a law that was passed in 2009 that decriminalized graffiti. Like many other cities around world, street art in Brazil is completely legal if done with the consent of the owner. Continue reading
Rio is often known for its gorgeous beaches and natural attractions, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t try the amazing food. It’s normal to over-indulge when you visit Brazil. The country’s rich history and diverse culture results in a mix of cuisine with flavors influenced from Africa, Portugal, and Japan. The city’s unique atmosphere makes the eating and drinking experience even more enjoyable. It’s no surprise that the people here love to eat, especially meat. From street food to traditional BBQs to upscale restaurants, there is a place to suit every palette. The meals in Rio can be long drawn out affairs with many side dishes. The remarkable thing is how everyone manages stay fit after so much food! Based on our short stay, here are a few places to eat and drink in Rio:
It’s our last day in Rio and the sky is still overcast and ominous looking. We were excited to go hang gliding on this trip, but due to unfavorable weather conditions, we had to reschedule 4 different times. Today was our last chance, and after waiting around for 3 hours, we were finally given the all-clear to head up the mountain. Unfortunately when we got there, the wind picked back up and it was too dangerous to take off. This picture was as far as I got to becoming a bird. It was not meant to be.
This trip had it’s fair share of bad luck for us, starting with the canceled flight to the crappy weather, to the hang gliding. Ironically, this was the hottest winter in Brazil and it only rained 4 times throughout the whole season. Lucky for us, it rained all 4 days we were here. I am not complaining, we had a great time bad weather and all, and Rio can only get better from here. Time to head back to New York.
Today we visited Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro built on the side of a steep hill. This small area of about one square kilometer holds over 80,000 people. There are over 700 favelas of various sizes throughout Rio. These shanty towns were made famous in the movie City of God, showing the rampant crime and drug activity festering in these close quarters. Today, the government with the help of the military have attempted to overtake the area, drive down crime, and improve infrastructure. Our visit was pretty safe, we walked through the alleyways while learning a bit about the history of favelas got a glimpse into the life of its inhabitants.
This morning we woke up to more rain and clouds. Since we weren’t able to go to the beach, we decided to head over to Parque Lage, a public park area that sits at the foot of the Corcovado in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer above . Inside this preserved tropical forest is a quiet English garden and an old palazzo, built by Henrique Lage for his wife. This impressive mansion was later turned into a public area where you can sit and have lunch in the courtyard while enjoying the view.