Brazilian Brilliance: Exploring Rio de Janeiro

Brazil is South America’s largest country and is home to some of the world’s most diverse destinations. Tropical islands, amazon forests and sun-blessed beaches are a few of its natural tourist attractions but this country is also home to one of the world’s most popular destinations — Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil’s second largest city is also the most visited city in the Southern Hemisphere, but a trip to Rio should include more than just its city delights.

 

Rio highlights

 

Relaxing in Rio

Relaxing in Rio

 

Understandably, a trip to Rio city wouldn’t be complete without a spot of gentle relaxation on, or a stroll along one of the world’s most famous beaches, the 4 kilometer long Copacabana. This is one of the world’s most picturesque destinations and you’ll find no better place to view Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain and the city landscape than from the summit of the 700 meter Corcovado Mountain, home of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Rio has also been called one of the world’s happiest destinations, which is exemplified every year during the wild and colorful carnival, a tradition that dates back to 1723. You can visit Rio if you book with Saga Travel.

 

Out of the city

 

Take a day away from the city to explore some of Rio’s treasures, including Itatiaia, Brazil’s oldest national park. The Serra dos Órgãos is another amazing national park, stretching 110 square kilometers and featuring a mountain range dating back around 60 million years; it’s here that you’ll find the ‘God’s Finger’ formation resembling a hand with index finger pointing upwards. If you’re visiting the Órgaos, don’t miss a trip to the imperial city of Petropolis, founded around 1722 and home to the Imperial Museum, some beautiful canals and many idyllic little parks. Sightseeing can also include Costa Verde in the west where you can enjoy hillside jungles, near deserted bays and sparkling lagoons.

 

God's Finger

God’s Finger

 

The restaurant scene

 

Once the sun goes down it’s time to head away from the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches to indulge in the country’s cuisine. Rio does cater to every taste and you’ll easily find French, Italian, Spanish and Lebanese restaurants in the city. But make sure to try out some authentic Brazilian dishes such as the coconut-infused seafood stews or the tender jerked meat (carne seca). As you’d expect the seafood dishes are as fresh as they come and there’s plenty of shrimp and Amazonian fish choices available. Barbecue restaurants or churrascarias are ubiquitous throughout the city and you can enjoy freshly-cooked meats on sizzling spits, sliced directly onto the plate at your table.

 

This is just a flavor of the many highlights in and around one of Brazil’s most sublime cities. You might come for the beaches, but make sure to get out of the city and explore some of the world’s most unforgettable beauty spots.

 

Images by Rocco Lucia and Glauco Umbelino, used under Creative Commons license

In collaboration with Saga Travel.

 

Turkey’s Best Festivals

Turkey, as the melting pot of the East and West, brandishes plenty of religious and cultural festivals.  As a traveler and a keen observer, much can be learned of the country through these festivals. If you happen to be traveling in the country during any one of these, don’t miss out the chance to observe and participate in one.

 

While Turkey is a secular state with no official religion, 99.8% of Turkish people follow the Islam religion and uses the Muslim Hijra calendar in the observance of religious festivals.  Here are the most important events practiced in the country:

 

  • The Ramadan or Ramazan in Turkish is the most essential Islamic festival. The Ramadan is observed throughout the ninth month of the Muslim year, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Non-Muslims must be mindful of eating and drinking in front of Muslims observing the fast during the day as a sign of respect. After dark, practicing Muslims go to iftar tents to break their fast with family and friends. Travelers and non-Muslims are welcome to join the dinner.

 

  • The Ramadan month is followed by a three-day Sugar Holiday or Şeker Bayramı in Turkish. It marks the end of the 30-days fast. During this time, families meet for reunions and visit the elderly. Children also go around the neighborhood wishing everyone a happy bayram. Adults give them sweets in return. Restaurants are full with families celebrating and it’s always a good idea to call ahead for a reservation.

 

In case you miss the religious festivals, there’s a long list of arts and cultural festivals to choose from.  Some are held in the culture and entertainment hub of Istanbul, and other more quirky and intriguing festivals in smaller towns and villages around the country. Here’s our top arts and culture festivals around Turkey:

 

  • Witness a major Oil Wrestling event between June-July. Oil wrestling is Turkey’s national sport. This week-long event is held in Yağlı Güreş. Players from all-over the country flock here to compete. Watch men doused in olive oil try to pin each other down in attempt to expose the opponents navel to the sky. The rule is first wrestler whose “umbilicus is exposed to heaven” loses. Audiences are also treated to a fun week of music and dance performances.

 

  • Camel Wrestling Festival is also one of the festivals that takes its roots from the ancient times. The main event is held in Selçuk on the last two weekends of January. Camels are led to the grounds to fight and the first camel to fall on the ground or flee from the fight loses. In the recent years, animal welfare groups have protested citing the practice as a form of animal cruelty. Organisers have responded with modified rules and practices to prevent animal injury.

 

Camel-Wrestling

Camel-Wrestling

 

 

  • Art lovers can explore Turkish creative works. In the month of April, the much-celebrated Istanbul International Film Festival commences and Turkish films of good quality are shown in the movie theaters. Classical music fans can visit from June-July to witness extraordinary performances from orchestras and solo singers set in historical locations at the Istanbul International Classical Music Festival.

 

  • The whirling Dervishes performance at the Mevlâna Festival is held during December in Konya. The dance is one of the highest forms of ceremonies from Mevlâna, an Islamic philosopher who believed that union with God is possible through dance. Another festive event happens to welcome spring known as the Hıdırellez Gypsy festival. Street parties are held in Edirne with performances from the local Gypsy bands. The tradition is to make a wish while jumping over bonfires.

 

Whirling-Dervishes

Whirling-Dervishes

 

 

  • Last but not least, the Marmaris Maritime and Spring Festival is gaining enourmous traction from not only visitors from Turkey but international guests as well. Held in mid May, this festival is all about celebrating the coastal region with sand sculpture competitions, fishing competitions, to markets, beach parties and concerts. The International Yachting Exhibition is held at the same time and most tourists and travelers will join a Marmaris to Fethiye gulet cruise following the festival and to top their holiday!

 

Blue-cruise-Marmaris

Blue-cruise-Marmaris

 

 

 

To make your stay in Turkey more memorable it’s definitely worth checking out one of Turkey’s festivals; it’s a true insight into the people and culture of this amazing country.

 

In collaboration with Alaturka Yachting & Travel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medicine Has Gone to Pot!!!

Our medical situation in the US is growing more and more ridiculous day by day and costs have forced many individuals to search out medical procedures and medicine in foreign locations. It is called Medical Tourism and the countries involved are growing daily. The costs vary enormously, depending on the world status of the country involved. This chart in the link gives you an idea of what each procedure would cost in the US and in other countries. I know the first thought will be, “Are the facilities clean and up to par”? I will answer with a resounding yes, in most situations.

 

As a child I remember our family Doctor actually making house calls for my Mother, with her serious back issues. He would come early in the morning. during the middle of the day or even late at night after most people had gone home. It was expected back then. This past year I fell sick in Cuenca Ecuador and was traveling alone. I went to a Doctor I met next door to a Tour company I work with, when I am in Ecuador. He assessed my condition and charged me $20.00 for my visit, blood tests, etc. He then escorted me to the pharmacy to ensure I obtained the correct medicine, etc. The pharmacy was 5 blocks away I must add. It took me back to when I was a child and our Doctors really cared about their patients, not just spending time and money, avoiding malpractice lawsuits and raking in the cash trying to pay off their sizable student loans in most cases. I have heard some Doctors do not really begin to make any income until their mid forties or even later. Is it worth it you have to ask and are talented individuals avoiding the stress and financial issues associated with being a Doctor?

 

I am a Baby Boomer and a child of the sixties. So did I inhale? Of course I did. At least I will be honest and admit this, contrary to many of our politicians and public figures who have blatantly spoke falsehoods in this regard. We are not daft, oh illustrious people and you are not fooling us a bit. I have not partaken in at least thirty five or more years and from what I understand the strength of Marijuana is a great deal more than in my day. I have been deeply saddened over the years, seeing young individuals incarcerated basically for possession of a plant and in most cases a minor portion. One of the reasons I stopped its use, along with impact on my job, ability to function and the fact I got married and started a family.

 

Through the years I have seen it legalized in a couple of states now and a large portion of the country has made it accessible for Medical purposes, which I favor completely. I have suffered five back surgeries, a heart attack and a complete rebuild of my rear end and my nose (completely separate and unrelated operations), from a deviated septum. Through all of these operations I was supplied with heavy opiates. Over the years these pharmaceuticals tended to make me somewhat of an addict and it became harder and harder to jettison these horrible drugs each time I suffered through a surgery. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to kill a portion of my pain with Marijuana instead of Oxycodone or Oxycontin or Hydrocodone.

 

Hippies

Hippies

 

I live in Texas as most of you know and I thought I would never see the day that our great state would catch up with the more progressive states and countries around the world and actually consider a Medical Marijuana law, yet it is being strongly considered this year and has a fairly decent possibility of passing. Of course the recent law for Washington DC, secretly hid the fact that Federal police groups would no longer actively try to incarcerate legal state distributors will probably help Texas along. This topic wasn’t talked about, even in our Liberally slanted press. That surprised me greatly!

 

Hopefully the Texas law will allow cultivation of a few personal plants and I can order my cannabis seeds from The Netherlands or some other reputable source. I am visiting Amsterdam in December and shall give it a go! When I was single I had all kinds of plants and really have a green thumb. I would relish getting back into cultivating my own plants. Even though Texas has a substantial financial position with their economy, I would think they would love the additional tax revenue generated, as evidenced in the huge success of Colorado’s Hemp Law. Even overall crime has been effected in a positive manner in Colorado. Not quite what was projected by the naysayers.

 

Perhaps the most satisfying factor in the eventual legalization of Marijuana, would be the end of the insane territorial wars carried on along our border with Mexico and at the expense of the Mexican population. My heart has been profoundly traumatized by the magnitude and scope of deaths associated with the drug wars along our border with Mexico. I feel so ashamed of the total loss of life and the billions of dollars our government has spent with their futile efforts in this area. It is a joke, as anyone from Texas and I am sure the other states that  share a boundary with Mexico can tell you.

 

Growing up as a young man and adult I always felt comfortable crossing the border for a night or even a weekend. I felt secure even when I first married taking my wife at that time across the border and sharing a fantastic meal, a shopping excursion or maybe a drink at a Cantina or two. But now I wouldn’t feel safe going alone, much less with a woman. it’s just too dangerous. I fully believe and am confident in stating when we legalize Marijuana and treat it just like alcohol, taxes will decrease, crime will decrease and our penal system will have its population cut in half. Not to mention the medical and research impact for those of us with severe pain issues as I experience on a regular basis, glaucoma, anxiety, issues associated with chemotherapy like vomiting and nausea, insomnia associated with spinal cord injuries, pain issues, stiffness and muscle spasticity from multiple sclerosis and finally weight loss and loss of appetite from HIV. The article referenced in the link states both positive and negative reactions, but I would like the ability to see if it works for me. Only through the passage of these laws will I be able to explore additional pain remedies. I hope it is soon!

Thanks to our Sponsors


Recognition and Awards


Interviews



Latest Tweets

Flag Counter



Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



css.php