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  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Saude! Brazil’s Boteco Culture

    Believe it or not, the first time you land in Brazil, it can be kind of hard to find a bar; at least, what most of us from North America and Europe think of as a bar. It is not, however, particularly difficult to find a place where people are drinking! That’s because most Brazilians, especially outside major metropolitan areas, drink at a Brazilian institution known as a boteco (aka buteco or botequim), which comes from the Portuguese word “botica and the Spanish word “bodega,” originally meaning a grocery store to buy goods. According to Wikipedia, “In Brazil, the boteco (buteco), or botequim, was traditionally known as a place where alcoholic beverages were sold, serving as a meeting place for ‘bohemians,’ who looked for a good drink, cheap snacks and a chat without obligation.”

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Going Insano at Beach Park

    I didn’t quite realize just how weird it was to be at a water park in the dead of winter without a wife and kids in tow until I got to dinner on my first night: I was alone in my solitude at the buffet at Beach Park Acqua Resort. But then the friendly waiter flipped-out on me, saying I reminded him of Coldplay singer Chris Martin (I usually get David Duchovny, so this was odd but nice; what’s not to like about Coldplay?); and then I stepped up to the buffet to find tacos and carnitas Michoacán – both rarer than a Coldplay spotting in Brazil! – and I decided I didn’t care.

    I got my ego pumped and my Mexican fix and tomorrow I shall take on Insano, which once held the Guinness Book of World Records record for the “World’s Tallest Water Slide” at 135-feet tall, today just a terrifying wet freefall that dominates the skyline near the suburban Fortaleza beach of Porto das Dunas 10 miles east of the city (the tallest in the world is now Kilimanjaro at Aldeia das Águas Park Resort in Barra do Piraí, Rio de Janeiro, in case you were wondering). What’s with Brazilians and these cloud-kissing waterslides? I head to Beach Park to find out.

  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at Ponta Dos Ganchos

    Let me preface this blog post by saying I have stayed in a lot of insane hotel rooms around the world. A lot. There was the absolutely ridiculous bungalow at the Six Senses Yao Noi, overlooking Phang Nga Bay in Ko Yao Noi, Thailand; there were the postcard-perfect vineyard views from the Poetry Inn in Sonoma, California; there was the memorable granite bathtub suite at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa; there was the insanely perfect Andes views from Cavas Wine Lodge in Mendoza, Argentina. The list goes on and on, nearly 80 countries deep at this point (don’t hate the player, hate the game).

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    The View from Rio De Janeiro: Previewing the World’s Biggest Football Tournament Finale

    It seems like only yesterday that Brazil defeated Croatia to kick off the world’s biggest football tournament and greatest month of nationalistic sport way back on June 12. Where did the time go? Brazil has proved itself a worthy host over the course of the last four weeks, putting to bed all of the pre-tournament panic that dominated news headlines for the two years leading up to this moment: The stadiums were gorgeous, the travel infrastructure didn’t collapse (in fact, it was efficiently glorious!) and the protests drifted off with a whimper after the tournament’s first week.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Weekend Getaway: Búzios

    French bombshell Brigitte Bardot didn’t discover Armação dos Búzios (Búzios for short) but when she decided in 1964, at the top of her fame, to hide away in this small, unknown fishing village north of Rio de Janeiro for three months, she helped the world discover Búzios. The timeline of this gorgeous Brazilian beach resort, home to 23 some-odd beaches, each more perfect than the next, can be divided in two parts: B.B (Before Bardot) and A.B (After Bardot).

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    The Buffalo Brigade: A Visit to Ilha do Marajó

    When the first thing I saw upon arrival was a young girl bathing her dog in the river, I knew things were different on Ilha do Marajó, a river island nearly the size of Switzerland at the mouth of the Amazonas, Tocantins and Xingú rivers on the northern tip of Pará state. Outside of urban areas, most Brazilians wouldn’t think twice about a dirty dog, but the Marajoara do things their own way. So much so that ironically enough, dogs aren’t even the usual pet of choice.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Cachaça for the Uninitiated

    If you’ve come to Brazil to take part in the national revelry of one of the world’s greatest sporting events, you no doubt weren’t in country all of an hour before a caipirinha ended up in your hands. Brazil is nearly as proud of its ubiquitous national cocktail as it is its national football team. Caipirinhas are so popular – and so good – that you now find them on bar menus the world over, the latest Latin cocktail, like the daiquiri, mojito and the pisco sour, to become the flavor of the month outside its borders. The ingredients of the classic caipirinha are simple: limes, sugar and cachaça, Brazil’s national spirit.

    Ca-what? Cuh-sha-shuh.

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