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  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Pop-Up Pizza in Rio de Janiero

    São Paulo has always been Brazil’s pizza city; in fact, it ranks right up there with New York, New Haven, Naples or any other of the world’s best places for a little dough, tomato sauce and cheese. Rio de Janeiro, on the other hand, is not a pizza city. Not at all. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have great pizza.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Weekend Getaway: Recife

    Most tourists to the Northeast capital of Recife – outside of its spectacular Carnaval, anyway – see little more than what flies by their taxi windows on the way to the city’s far more picturesque and tranquil colonial neighbor of Olinda – located six miles north – Recife itself is not without its charms. While Brazil’s sixth biggest city (population: 3.7 million) can be a gritty and grimy mess, its culture, historic areas, restaurants and urban beaches are worth a day or two of your time. For those interested in visiting a living, breathing Brazilian city going about its business, an idea that provided the focal point of Kleber Mendonça Filho’s 2012 haunting indie hit Neighboring Sounds, Recife deserves a chance. 

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    A Stroll Down Rua Oscar Freire

    Although it’s not a household name like some of the famous streets in the world – Rodeo Drive, the Champs-Élysées, Lombard Street, 5th Avenue – São Paulo’s Rua Oscar Freire certainly holds its own against the big boys, clocking in at the 8th most luxurious street in the world and hands-down the most coveted real estate for luxury in Brazil.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Weekend Getaway: Salvador

    Easily Brazil’s richest capital for history and culture, Salvador is the big and bountiful jewel of Bahia, arguably Brazil’s most vivid and beautiful state. The city’s history, steeped heavily in Afro-Brazilian culture, manifests itself in many ways, namely in the colorful colonial center of Pelourinho and, most importantly (in my humble opinion, anyway!), the food, but also in the religion (Candomblé is strongest here), the sport (this capoeira central) and the deeply African-influenced habits, customs and appearances of the population. A weekend in Salvador is a journey through all that makes up the diverse recipe called Brazil in one immensely cinematic city. And just to spice things up a bit, everything here is hot – the people, the weather and the food.

  • 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).

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