Monthly Archives: January 2013

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PortAventura: a world in our world. Two parks, Six Mundos, Four hotels. Experience the highest roller coaster in Europe.

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Beneath the Brazilian sky lies the beautiful city of Sao Paulo

If I were to describe the city of Sao Paulo using the first letters of it two words S&P, I would call it a “Sensational Paradise” or better still a “Statuesque Paradise” thanks to its breathtaking and medieval buildings. The beauty of this city is captivating and one thing I’m sure about is that a visit to this city will forever remain engraved in your memory.

Sao Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often overshadowed by other places in the Brazilian sun & beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is in fact a great city to explore, with its own idiosyncrasies, the exquisite way of living of its inhabitants, not to mention the world-class restaurants and diverse regional and international cuisine available to all tastes. If there is a major attraction to this city, it is the excellent quality of its restaurants and the variety of cultural activities on display.

The towering landmarks of Sao Paulo have certainly given this city a very unique character and many of its tallest skyscrapers actually date from the middle of the 20th century and often boast a strong Art Deco flavour. Although Brasilia may be the capital of Brazil, Sao Paulo is actually by far the biggest city and plays an integral part in the country’s economy and tourism industry.

The vibrant Brazilian city of Sao Paulo is the world’s third largest city and is quickly rising to become the country’s cultural centre. On the surface Sao Paulo might be ugly, grey and polluted, but within it you can find a huge selection of tourist attractions if you know where to look. Indisputably a vibrant and energetic place, Sao Paulo can be intimidating, but tourists will find it is well worth taking the effort to get to know it and to visit some of its many attractions.

ACTIVITIES

Sao Paulo, Brazil has a remarkable range of activities catering to almost every market segment. There are plenty of family friendly activities in Sao Paulo, and children are never bored when holidaying anywhere in Brazil. For young couples and singles, Sao Paulo offers an exciting and diverse nightlife and is considered one of the culinary capitals of Brazil. Sao Paulo is also a world-class shopping venue for shopaholics.

Below are some activities Sao Paulo has in offer;

Brazilian Art Museum in Sao Paulo

If you like art, you won’t want to pass up a chance to see the Brazilian Art Museum, otherwise called the FAAP. Here, you’ll find works by top artists like Portinari. Additionally, there are many travelling exhibitions.

Art museum Sao Paulo

Art museum Sao Paulo

Fun for the family

Both adults and kids are ensured to have fun by seeing the animals in the Sao Paulo Zoo, in the Sao Paulo Aquarium and riding the roller coasters of the theme park Play centre. Sao Paulo also has educative spaces aimed both at adults and children, including Catavento Cultural and Espaço Ciência. Finally, Mundo da Xuxa is a theme park only for the small ones.

Sao Paulo Aquarium

Sao Paulo Aquarium

Sao Paulo Zoo

Sao Paulo Zoo

Watch football/soccer

If you are a soccer loving person, then the name Sao Paulo FC sure does ring a bell. Sao Paulo FC is one of the biggest sides in the Brazilian league by no doubts. Football is an inherent part of Brazilian culture, and Sao Paulo is no exception, being home of four football teams that generally run in the 1st division: Corinthians (world club champions), Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and Portuguesa. The four large football stadiums in the city are Morumbi, Parque Antarctica, Pacaembu and Canindé. A new stadium is being constructed in the Sao Paulo/Far East region, and it will host the opening of the FIFA World Cup 2014. Although most matches are safe and fun events, games between the biggest local rivals (Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and, to a smaller extent, Santos) have had episodes of violence flaring up (the majority of cases, such incidents happening outside of the stadium), due to a minority of violent fans (ultras). Going to such games can be a risky proposition.

The Stadium

The Stadium

Sao Paulo FC

Sao Paulo FC

Food

Sao Paulo is home to a superb diversity of restaurants and cuisines, where you can enjoy typical dishes from literally all over the world. The price range is as wide as the diversity of the restaurants in the city, from cheap snacks and meals in simple and cozy restaurants and food tents in popular markets, to the hugely expensive high end cuisine and internationally recognized restaurants, such as D.O.M, which was (in 2012) elected the 4th best restaurant in the World and the best in South America by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

The city is also home to a vast array of Brazilian and international fast-food chains, offering varying options ranging from burgers, to sushi and kebab. The fast-food chain Habib’s, which originated in Sao Paulo, is the favourite of lower class Paulistanos due to its cheap “Arab-Brazilian” snacks.

In Sao Paulo, the ever-present beans-and-rice accompaniment typically involves brown beans instead of black beans, as in Rio. Another typical food in Sao Paulo is the Virado à Paulista, which consists of rice, tutu de feijão (a paste of beans and manioc flour; sometimes made of corn flour, in order to be drier than the manioc flour one), sautéed collard greens (couve) and pork chops, typically bisteca. It is usually accompanied by pork rinds, bits of sausage, a fried egg and a fried banana.

The cuisine of Sao Paulo shows the influence of European, Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. The majority of immigrants in Sao Paulo arrived from Italy, and other European countries like Portugal, Spain and Germany. There’s also big numbers of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants from Japan, Lebanon and many other nationalities. Therefore, it is possible to find a wide array of cuisines in the city of Sao Paulo. Pizza is a particularly popular dish, which can be found with and endless range of toppings and Paulistas will swear their city has the best pizza in the country, if not in the world.

Adventures of a Lifetime

Adventure can be defined as an unusual, exciting, and a typically hazardous experience or activity. It involves engaging in perilous but yet thrilling activities, especially the exploration of unknown territories.

One of the advantages of retiring early is that you can seek out travel adventures before you reach the expiration date of your knees. But do you really need to retire to get to experience adventures. I guess no!

There are so many adventurous activities one can engage in, like cruising in the Island of Maldives, skiing in the indoor ski resort in Dubai, surfing in the beaches of Seychelles, diving into the floating water of the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe, biking in the table mountain in South Africa, kayaking in the shores of Australia, swimming in the Maui island. Whatever your passion is, this is the season to try them out.

The world is an adventure-lovers delight. For some the feeling of dancing with danger and emerging unscathed in the crucible of nature’s playground is unquenchable while for others the  exciting feeling of taking a scenic flight or a wild ride with extreme dives and wing-overs, while getting close to the clouds is quite cool for them.

Life is too short and the world is too big to confine your travels to the well-worn paths. Whatever your dream adventure may be; climbing a high peak, rafting a wild river, or immersing yourself in an exotic culture, you can make it a reality with careful destination research.

Quickly breeze through some adventures I find exciting to whet your appetite.

Sky-diving

Nothing can make you smile as much as the realization that you are not dead after jumping out of a plane, that’s the feeling you get after sky-diving.

For those who derive pleasure in engaging in hazardous activities, sky diving is seen as an ideal rush for adventure.

Sky diving

Sky diving

Mountain biking – This is a high speed, gravity fuelled adventure for the outdoor enthusiast who is willing to risk both broken bikes and broken bones. The UK offers some excellent trails for Downhill Mountain biking, particularly in areas such as North Wales.

The pinnacle of this activity, as with most gravity activities, is in the undertaking of impossible jumps and vertical drops which I find breathtaking.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking

Kite Surfing – This is a high-octane activity that is taking the water sports world by storm, due to its speed, power and endless possibilities. The kite surfer harnesses themselves in to a giant parachute shaped kite, by which they can sail by the wind at rip-roaring speed upon a specialised board.

This adventurous activity is not easy to learn, but in high winds the kite surfer can take off, attaining huge air time, during which acrobatic tricks can be performed.

Kite Surfing

Kite Surfing

 Skiing/Snowboarding – A progression of the more controlled downhill skiing, this involves getting high up on a snow-capped mountain by lift, helicopter or mountaineering. Skiing and Snowboarding is enjoyed in all of the world’s major ski areas.

So for those who wish to graduate from the skateboarding, skiing or snowboarding is one adventurous activity that is worth trying.

Snowboarding

Snowboarding

 White-water rafting/kayaking – For those who love aquatic adventures, rafting or kayaking is just that perfect activity.

It is about getting from the ‘put in’ to the ‘take out’, getting very wet and scared along the way and running rapids and waterfalls of Grade 5 plus. Rafting or kayaking is often the only way to negotiate some rivers and offers a unique view of nature.

So anyone in fair shape can have a go at rafting, provided they are escorted by an experienced river guide. Rivers such as the Colorado in the Grand Canyon or the mighty Zambezi at Victoria Falls are tourist sites worth trying.

Kayaking

Kayaking

Experience the exhilaration that adventures gives to the soul, and have that adventure of a lifetime this holiday.

AFCON 2013 is ON. See what South Africa looks like

Eden Island

Lovely clips of this beautiful destination in Seychelles Island

La Reunion Islands

Seated in the middle of the Indian Ocean is Reunion, a French island which takes its pride in contrasting natural climates with some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the Indian Ocean. One of the intriguing and unique features of this island is its possession of different destinations in the middle of the Ocean; an active volcano on its south coast, 17 miles of warm, welcoming beach in the west with lots of mountains and forest scenery between them, cultural treasures and unspoilt interior, the island offers holiday opportunities ranging from relaxing to true adventure to satisfy every taste.

Le Reunion

Le Reunion Island

 

The volcano magic is one of the island’s greatest assets that attract visitors to it. The two major volcanoes that attract tourist to the island are the inactive piton des Neiges located at the northern part of the island and the active piton de la fournaise located at the southern part. Stretched to about 2,631 meters in height, the Piton de la fournaise first eruption occurred about 50,000 years ago and kept counting with its latest eruption in 2004. The total number of eruption from 1640 – 2004 is 180 times. The volcano has been under proper monitor since 1980 for immediate evacuation of locals and guests if need arises. Piton de la Fournaise spews orange and yellow lava day and night, with the evening pyrotechnics topping any first-class fireworks display you’ve ever experienced.

 

The island’s most intriguing natural formations are the three cirques; cirque de mafate, cirque de salazie, cirque de cilaos, formed as the inside of Piton des Neiges which was further shaped by countless numbers of erosions subsequently. Though formed by same volcano, each of the three cirques are different in shapes and activities, they have different theme of attraction. The first cirque mafate, is beautifully formed and surrounded by mountains. Wild and untamed, it is the only one amongst the three that is accessible by foot or by helicopter, thinking of taking a long stroll, mafate gracefully gives you the arena. The flowery cilaos cirque treats its visitors to colorful fields of flowers. The cirque is rugged with forests of unique indigenous trees, soaring walls and pounding waterfalls. The majestic salazie is the largest of the three. Beautifully laced with green hues, the cirque is lined with over 50 different waterfalls, hills and valleys waiting to be explored.

Volcano

Volcano at Le Reunion

 

Away from the volcanoes and natural beauties, the island has a varied nightlife scene and has something to offer for every style, every taste and every budget.   The streets are full of life and bars and music can be heard here and there to indicate the change of over from the activities full day to the bubbling night.  Partying plays an important role in the life style of locals. In the evening you can go out for a drink and enjoy party-like atmosphere, put the world to rights or even meet your soul mate.  During weekends, parties start at the bar and everybody ends up at the nightclub.  Most of the nightclubs are situated between Saint-Paul and Saint-Pierre.  Entrance is free for ladies during the first hour.  This special offer is much appreciated among both ladies and gents.  The atmosphere usually remains warm and friendly.

The beauty of the island can be seen from its enchanting cities with different tropical taste and colors, oceanic treasures¸ rich diverse cultures and heritage which blend together in harmony, and most especially, the sweet and simple lifestyle of friendly and ever happy people. True to its name, the island is indeed a reunion island as all of these varieties coexist as one, giving the island one unique identity and also making it one of the most intriguing spots on earth.

What you should know about Maui: The Island

If you don’t believe in magic then I bet you have no other option than to believe in the magical power of the Maui Island when you get to see it. From the scenic slopes to its heavenly beaches , a visit to the Magic Isle recharges the senses. But like every good magic trick, you’ll have to see it for yourself to believe it.

Maui Island

Maui Island

Discover your own reasons to love Maui as you stroll the seaside streets of Lahaina and the lovely beaches of Kaanapali. Feel the mana (power) of Haleakala National Park or discover the arts and culture of Kahului and Upcountry Maui. From championship golf courses to the scenic road to Hana, your vacation on the “Valley Isle” promises to be unforgettable. It’s no wonder why thousands of humpback whales migrate to Maui’s warm waters year after year.

Stand above a sea of clouds high atop Haleakala. Watch a 45-foot whale breach off the coast of Lahaina.  Lose count of the waterfalls along the road as you manoeuvre the hairpin turns of the Hana highway. One visit and it’s easy to see why Maui in Hawaii is called “The Magic Isle.” Though second in size among the Hawaiian Islands, the Maui Island is first in people’s hearts. Repeatedly at the top of the “best island” surveys of consumer travel magazines, Maui possesses a magic that lingers in the heart and grows.

Getting to Maui
Kahului Airport (OGG) is the Maui’s main airport. There are two smaller commuter airports as well: Kapalua Airport (JHM) in West Maui and Hana Airport (HNM) in East Maui. Many airlines offer non-stop flights direct to Maui. You may also fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu before heading to Maui on a short, 30-minute flight. There is also daily ferry service to and from the nearby islands of Lanai and Molokai.

Getting around on Maui 
You can get around Maui by shuttle, tour bus, taxi, or public transportation. But to really experience all that Maui offers you should consider reserving a rental car in advance from the Kahului or Kapalua Airport.

The main airport on Maui

The main airport on Maui is Kahului Airport (OGG). There are smaller commuter airports in Kapalua (West Maui) and Hana (East Maui). It’s about a 45-minute drive from Kahului Airport to Lahaina. Both Molokai and Lanai are served by their own airports.

Dining

Pack a hearty appetite because Maui offers an exotic blend of savoury dining. Indulge in the flavours of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, made from produce, picked right from the farms of Kulaand and fish caught fresh from the sea. Try a traditional Hawaiian meal at a sunset luau or get off the beaten path to try some local favourites in small towns like Wailuku and Paia. In Maui you can feast on everything from haupia to hamburgers. Learn more about Maui restaurants in KaanapaliKahuluiKapaluaKiheiLahaina and Wailuku. Visit www.gohawaii.com or www.worldtraveland.com

Accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodations on Maui, including resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and condominium rentals. You’ll find resorts and hotels of every size and budget in KapaluaKaanapaliLahainaKiheiMakena and Wailea on the sunny western coast as well as one resort in Hana in East Maui. Whether you’re looking for a 5 Diamond resort or a seaside cottage, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Maui. Learn more about Maui hotelsbed and breakfastscondominiumshostelsvacation rentalsKapalua vacation rentalsKaanapali hotelsKapalua hotelsKihei hotels, and Hana hotels. Visit www.gohawaii.com or www.worldtraveland.com

Activities: Places to be on Maui

From Luau to land adventures, fine art to fine dining, Maui has a wide range of activities to make your vacation unforgettable. From whale watching to surfing, you’ll have plenty of chances to experience an array of outdoor adventures on Maui.

On Maui, you’ll have plenty of chances to try an array of outdoor adventures you’ve never experienced before. Snorkelers will be rewarded with unforgettable sights in Molokini’s luminous waters. See your first humpback spout as you whale-watch from Kaanapali Beach . Or feel the rush of your first surf lesson off the shores of historic Lahaina .
On land, horseback ride atop Haleakala: Maui’s highest peak. You can even take your first helicopter ride to see breathtaking views of Maui’s pristine valleys and waterfalls.
Plan your trip during one of Maui’s many special events. Experience one-of-a-kind cultural performances, stage shows, musical events and sports competitions throughout the year on Maui. But if you didn’t have enough time to do it all, you can always come back for more. For most visitors, their first adventures on this miraculous island are rarely their last.

Some places you should consider visiting on the Island includes:

Haleakala National Park, Maui

Stretching across Maui’s southern and eastern coastline, Haleakala National Park is home to Maui’s highest peak. Rising 10,023 feet above sea level, Haleakala’s graceful slopes can be seen from just about any point on the island. Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian, and legend has it that the demigod Maui lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky as he stood on the volcano’s summit, slowing its descent to make the day last even longer.

Haleakala National park

Haleakala National park

The park is comprised of over 30,000 acres of public land, has three separate visitors’ centres and covers a range of natural environments. You can travel atop the highest peaks of Haleakala, hiking above the clouds and horseback riding across otherworldly deserts. As the park stretches out to the coast towards sea level you can even visit lush tropical areas full of waterfalls and streams.

Many visitors and locals wake up early to drive up to the Haleakala Visitor Centre (9,740 feet), the best spot to watch the sunrise. On a clear morning, seeing the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala is an unforgettable experience. Even those who’ve witnessed the event many times say they’ve never seen the same sunrise twice. Perhaps just as spectacular are Haleakala’s sunsets and the bright, starry skies revealed at night.

The long, winding road to the summit of Haleakala takes some time to drive up, but is well worth the effort. There are numerous hiking trails that offer solitude and scenic vistas, while guided hikes provide an expert’s guidance and insight. You’ll discover more endangered species here than any other park in the National Park Service. You may even spot a Nene (Hawaiian goose) or a blooming ahinahina plant (silversword) on your visit. Visitors can also camp here, with two separate campgrounds and cabins available.

Iao Valley State Park, Maui

Towering emerald peaks guards the lush valley floor of Iao Valley State Park. Located in Central Maui just west of Wailuku, this peaceful 4,000-acre, 10-mile Long Park is home to one of Maui’s most recognizable landmarks, the 1,200-foot Iao Needle. This iconic green-mantled rock outcropping overlooks Iao stream and is an ideal attraction for easy hiking and sightseeing.

Iao Valley

Iao Valley

Aside from its natural tropical beautiful, sacred Iao Valley has great historical significance. It was here in 1790 at the Battle of Kepaniwai that King Kamehameha I clashed with Maui’s army in his quest to unite the islands. Even with Iao Needle serving as a lookout point, Kamehameha defeated Maui’s forces in a ferocious battle that ultimately changed the course of Hawaiian history.

There is a well-marked, paved pedestrian path leading from the parking lot to view Iao Needle and the ridge-top lookout provides incredible views of the valley. The needle is sometimes covered in clouds, so an early start is your best bet for a good view. Families can also take a rainforest walk or explore interactive exhibits at the Hawaii Nature Center, which is also located within Iao Valley. Restroom facilities are available

Lahaina Historic Trail, Maui

Lahaina is a town of major historical significance. Once the first capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, a busy whaling port and a plantation settlement, you can follow the Lahaina Historic Trail (Ala Moolelo O Lahaina) to walk in the footsteps of Lahaina’s past today.

This self-guided tour takes you to significant sites throughout 55 acres of Lahaina, many of which have been designated National Historic Landmarks. Look for the informative bronze plaques around and about Front Street, pointing out dozens of important points of interest.

Walk the trail and you’ll see a fascinating blend of influences covering Hawaiian history, the whaling era, the missionaries and immigrant plantation life. The Baldwin Home was the two-story house of Protestant missionaries in the mid-1830s. Hale Paahao, the “stuck-in-irons house,” was a jail for rowdy sailors in the 1850s. Structures like the Wo Hing Temple and the Lahaina Jodo Mission highlight the influences of Chinese and Japanese immigrants in Maui.

To get a historical walking guide highlighting all 62 historic sites, visit the Lahaina Visitor Center in the Old Lahaina Courthouse located between the Banyan Tree and Lahaina Harbor.

Lahaina Jodo Mission, Maui

Travel just north up Lahaina‘s Front Street and you’ll discover the Lahaina Jodo Mission.

Lahaina Jodo Mission

Lahaina Jodo Mission

This serene destination looks and feels more like Japan than Maui, featuring one of the largest statues of Buddha outside of Asia.
The mission is a replica of an authentic Japanese Buddhist Temple. Explore these peaceful grounds and you’ll discover a towering pagoda and an enormous bronze Buddha statue, 12 feet high and roughly three and a half tons. The statue was installed in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. The grounds and buildings of the mission are open to the public and voluntary contributions are accepted.

 

Health

Maui offers little in the way of risks to health although holidaymakers taking part in water sports or other outdoor activities expose themselves to a degree of danger. There are no vaccinations required for visiting the island and no water borne diseases present. Standards of hygiene are high in the preparation of food and drink in public establishments.

Language

Both Hawaiian and English are classed as official languages in the state of Hawaii although the latter is more commonly spoken these days. On Maui, some residents speak Hawaiian Creole English, a pidgin form of regular English that can sometimes be difficult for the unaccustomed ear to understand.

Now that you know, what more are you looking for in a vacation? Could it be an outdoor adventure? A romantic sunset cruise or better still, a family excursion that will always be remembered, the Maui Island is definitely the place to be.

Visit the magic isle for an experience of a lifetime.

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