Photo: Kevin Raub
You’ve arrived in São Paulo and it doesn’t take long for you to realize that the options for getting yourself out of the airport are as dizzying and overwhelming as the city itself! But rest assured, that’s only because you probably aren’t familiar with GRU Airport and you probably don’t speak Portuguese. But calma, as Brazilians would say. We’re here for you.
One notable pleasantry that differs significantly from the arrivals hall of other countries in South America is that in Brazil, you don’t have an army of unauthorized transport services screaming at you and tugging at your sleeves as you emerge from customs. You might have one or two folks ask you politely if you need a taxi, but it’s rare, less insistent and certainly less obnoxious than Spanish-speaking countries.
Here are your options (from the costliest to the cheapest)!
Planes, trains and automobiles are old news, but what about Willys?
Due to its historic isolation, varied terrain and natural barriers, Colombia has been forced to get creative over the decades when it comes to moving people and things around the country. Of course, there are plenty (some might even say too many) of trucks, cars, taxis and buses circulating throughout Colombia’s major cities, but what about the farmland that makes up the rest of the country? From the rivers of the Amazon to the rolling hills of the coffee region, there are still plenty of places in the country where people still get around in ways that make cars look boring.
São Paulo’s Liberdade neighborhood is the epicenter of what is said to be the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Brazil is home to an estimated 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians, many of them living right here in this bustling neighborhood 1km south of Centro, with a tad bit of Chinese and Korean sprinkled in for good measure (some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants are here and South Korea’s Melona honeydew melon-flavored popsicles are wildly popular in the streets as well).
Photo: Lee McCoy
Though not as famous as the chocolate produced in other Andean nations (looking at you, Ecuador!), Colombian-made chocolate can still hold its own. Whether you like your chocolate liquid, solid, gooey, bitter, crunchy, melted or filled with fruit, there’s a place in this dessert-loving country that’s got just what you need.
Starting in about October and November, the Andean snowpack in Chile starts to melt, increasing water flow to the country’s many rivers. By December, they are in full force, and, not coincidentally, that is when some of Chile’s best river rafting starts. There are four main places where river rafting takes place in this long, skinny country, and below are details of each, what to expect, and how long to plan for.
Photo: Pedro Kirilos
In honor of Rio de Janeiro’s 450th birthday, Riotur, the city’s tourism agency, is offering a menu of six free themed walking tours that explore Rio from urban or natural points of view – lines which are usually blurred in this gorgeous urban cityscape, anyway. The tours began earlier this month and will continue until March 1.
Ask any Bogotá native what you should do in the city, and one of the first words out of his or her mouth will doubtless be “Monserrate.” Along with the famed Gold Museum, this mountain is one of the absolute musts on a Bogotá visitor’s to-do list, and you’ll never be forgiven if you leave the capital without making the mandatory pilgrimage to the famous peak.
So what’s the big deal about some mountain, anyway?
Photo: Eileen Smith
One of the fun things about visiting a new city is finding something perfect to bring back with you that reminds you of where you’ve been. Maybe it’s something small, like jewelry, something you forgot to pack, like a sun hat or an exquisitely woven or knitted sweater, or something you thought you’d never buy, like an antique milk bottle, scale or even a chandelier.
Santiago has a neighborhood for everything, and in fact, souvenirs aside, much of the commerce in the city is arranged in zones, where certain streets have certain items, such as Bandera for used clothes, 10 de julio for car parts, and San Diego for bicycles. And while you might not need any of the above items as souvenirs from your trip to Santiago, the following three neighborhoods might yield something more memorable or useful. And if not, or you’re just not a souvenir person, all three are also pleasant places to stroll.
Photo: Terra Hall
When I travel in my native U.S.A., I know exactly what to do to get from point A (usually the airport) to point B (usually my hotel). I always have a friend or family member pick me up, rent a car or take a cab. Little preparation needs to be made prior to my trip because the process is straightforward in the states. Plus, even if it isn’t, everyone speaks my language, so I can easily ask for help should I need it.
Traveling abroad, however, is a different story. It always gives me a bit of anxiety. Will there be cabs waiting for me? How will I know which one to take? How do I give the driver directions? How do I make sure they charge me the right amount?
Colombia’s famous Eje Cafetero (Coffee Axis) has earned UNESCO recognition and is generally acknowledged as one of the most beautiful regions in the country. However, it isn’t necessary to go all the way out to the provinces of Risaralda, Caldas and Quindío to find quality Colombian coffee. Though they don’t get the same amount of attention (or visitors), there are plenty of other excellent fincas (coffee plantations) and production centers from the Caribbean coast all the way down to the Ecuadorean border. If you don’t have time to make the trek out to the Eje Cafetero, here are some of the other places in the country to get your coffee fix: