Photo: Kevin Raub
It’s not often we speak of American ruins – after all, the country isn’t old enough to have had anything crumble under the weight of history. You might think, anyway. But deep in the Amazon rainforest, Henry Ford and his Ford Motor Company, on the front end of the 20th Century, took a wildly ambitious yet woefully overreaching idea to task: Build a perfect prefabricated American industrial town – complete with fire hydrants, golf courses, front porches, water towers and sassafras tea – in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, where everyone could ride a carrot-dangled wave of rubber riches to the promised land.
Photo: Foto by Rudy Huhold, courtesy of EMBRATUR
The annual rivalry between the football teams from the universities of Georgia and Florida may bill itself as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, but anyone who knows anything about Carnival in Brazil would only laugh at such sentiments. There is no party on Earth that rivals Carnival in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro, where millions of revelers fill the streets for days on end. Exultant mayhem is the only way to describe it – and it must be experienced to be believed.
The Southern Hemisphere’s largest city is about as intimidating as cities come: A mindblowingly immense concrete jungle of cloud-kissing skyscrapers, intertwining streets and avenues sprouting in all directions with no rhyme or reason, 21 million people going about their hard working, hard playing lives, eating at 12,500 restaurants, drinking 15,000 bars and going home to their houses, condos and high-rise apartments in 96 different neighborhoods, most of which are home to more people than entire cities elsewhere.
It’s a beast.
If you show up in São Paulo without a local to lean on, you’re likely to be overcome with a sensation of “I’m Not a Celebrity but Get Me Outta Here!” very quickly. It’s a city that chews you up and spits you out like no other I have ever visited. But now that I live here, I navigate the streets like I own the place. You can too!
Photo: Fogo de Chao
Almost every carnivore who visits Brazil finds themselves – probably on the first day or two – in a showdown with a Brazilian churrascaria. These all-you-can-eat meat restaurants, where waiters dance around the room carrying long spits of fresh-off-the-rotisserie meats of dozens of varieties which are carved onto your plate until you cry, “Uncle!,” is one of the most typical experiences you can have in the country. If you’re a novice, though, this whole beef bonanza can be more overwhelming than a ménage à dix!
Photo: Mae Natureza Ecoturismo
Most folks assume they need to make a choice when debating a trip to Brazil: Beach or jungle? The Amazon rainforest; or the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and beyond? To say nothing of the fact that Brazil offers so much more than sun and sand or flora and fauna, the reality is that in Alter Do Chão, you can have both!
Photo: Ana Carina Lauriano
It’s no short order to escape the tourists in Rio de Janeiro. The city easily finds itself near the top of almost everyone’s to-visit list. And as one of the most beautiful and exotic urban landscapes on the planet, rightfully so. According to figures from Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism, over 9.2 million tourists disembarked in Brazil in 2012 – and almost every single one planted their toes into Rio’s remarkable city sands.
The allure of the Cidade Maravilhosa is, in fact, too powerful to ignore for some, who find themselves back on their favorite air travel search site a few months down the line, frantically playing with dates and routes to find the most economic way in which they can return to lap up even more sun, sand and samba. Those folks have already visited Rio’s 5-star attractions – Christ the Redeemer, Pão de Açúcar, Copacobana, Ipanema, Santa Teresa etc. – and are looking to escape fellow nomads and go a little more local. The good news is it’s not an impossible wish, but you’ll need to be committed to the effort. Here are a few places in Brazil’s most visited city where you can (maybe!) escape most fellow foreigners …
Photo: Casa Ramona
Burgers in the traditional fast-food sense (flash-unfrozen grilled meat between two buns, maybe with cheese and your choice of lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise) have always been popular in Brazil – heated arguments over who makes the best homemade mayo (once a major quality-control base here) and who delivered the best burger were as common as arguments over caipirinhas and football (well, not quite …).
If there ever was a city from which one might to need to occasionally flee to the countryside, it’s São Paulo, Brazil’s concrete jungle, home to nearly 21 million people and traffic jams the length of marathons. The numbers alone will stop you in your tracks (12,500 restaurants, 420 cinemas and theaters, 15,000 bars and so on), while the skyscrapers – endless in all directions and beyond – make Manhattan look like a paltry suburb. Now, let’s not get it twisted, as far as urban playgrounds go, you’ll nearly want for nothing here (maybe reasonable prices!), but anyone living and working here will surely agree: Sometimes a little Zen is in order. That’s where Unique Garden Spa & Resort comes in.
Photo: Tadeu Brunelli, MAREMONTI
We’re going to let you in on a little culinary secret that for the most part, Paulistanos – as natives of Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, are known – tend to keep all to themselves:
The pizza here is so good, even the Italians are jealous.
Rio de Janeiro needs no excuse to throw a party. In fact, the word for “party,” (festa) might just be one of the first words in Portuguese you master on a visit to the most beautiful city in the Southern Hemisphere, right after caipirinha, cerveja (beer) and ressaca (hangover)!
Seriously, though, New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro – known as Reveillon – is second only to Carnival in all stops being thrown out by the cariocas, as residents of Rio are known. Here’s what to expect:
Terms & Conditions
Comments or opinions expressed in the Only in South America blog (the “Blog”) are those of their respective authors and contributors only. LATAM Airlines Group S.A. does not guarantee that the information contained on this blog is accurate or complete, and that it does not necessarily represent the views of the company, its management or employees. LATAM Airlines Group S.A. is not responsible for, and disclaims any and all liability for the content of comments written by authors to the Blog.
Although the Company welcomes feedback from customers, this Blog is not intended to replace its Customer Relations Service. Comments or queries relating to specific issues beyond the scope of the Blog discussions should be directed to email@example.com×