Top Places to Visit in Brazil

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Famous for Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and the incredible Iguazu Falls, Brazil is one of the world’s most exciting travel destinations. As South America’s largest country, Brazil covers most of the continent’s northeastern area. From the Amazon rainforest in the north to tropical beaches along the Atlantic coast, to the Pantanal wetlands and vibrant metropolises of the southeast, there are plenty of interesting places to visit in Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro

Top Places to Visit in Brazil. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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This fascinating city beckons with its white beaches, crystal clear water, and beautiful nature. One of the best places is the sandy beach of Copacabana, which stretches more than 4 kilometers. There is a wonderful atmosphere here that combines family beach vacation with entertainment such as volleyball tournaments and beauty contests.

The weather is always nice, regardless of the season, due to Rio’s geographic location and unique climate. Separate two-piece swimsuits made their debut in Copacabana, and now they are the calling card of this beach – which, unfortunately, makes them rather expensive to purchase.

The area of ​​Copacabana before 1920 was separated from the rest of the city by a mountain. It was a pristine jungle with wild parrots and palm trees. At the beginning of the century, a tunnel was cut into the rock to develop the future beach. By 1950, the tourist business reached its peak, and ​​Copacabana has since become one of the most prestigious and expensive places in the city.

Iguazu

Top Places to Visit in Brazil. Iguacu (Iguazu) water falls on a border of Brazil and Argentina

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One of the three greatest waterfalls in the world, whose name means “great water” in the Guarani language, is located on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

In the 16th century, the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca discovered these waterfalls while wandering through the jungle in search of the legendary treasures of Eldorado. According to his travel notes, these huge streams of water did not make a strong impression on him. Maybe he was a calm and unemotional person; we don’t know for sure now – but one thing is clear: Cabeza de Vaca was probably the only person in history who reacted so indifferently to these waterfalls.

The Iguazu Cascade, divided into separate streams by islets, tends to descend at such a speed that it captures the spirit. To observe the falling waters, you can hike across wooden bridges entangled with spider webs. Of course, it is worthwhile to stock up on waterproof raincoats. Whatever you choose to do, a thrill is guaranteed!  

The most famous waterfall is called “Devil’s Throat.” Crowds of tourists from all over the world gather on suspension bridges every day to look into the heart of the underworld.

The Statue of Christ the Redeemer

Top Places to Visit in Brazil. The Statue of Christ the Redeemer

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This amazing world landmark has for more than 80 years been considered a cultural icon of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro. In 2007, it was added to the list “New7Wonders of the World.” The height of the statue is 38 meters, the range of Christ’s arms is 30 meters, and the sculpture weighs more than 1,145 tons. From the statue’s pedestal there is a panoramic view of the city and bay with picturesque Sugar Loaf Mountain, the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, and the huge bowl of Maracana Stadium.

The original sketch of the monument was designed by the artist Carlos Osvald. He suggested the idea that from afar the statue should resemble a large cross. Therefore, the position of Jesus with arms opened wide was chosen. The final design of the statue was done by the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa.

The opening and lighting of this monument took place on October 12, 1931; later in 1965 the Statue of Christ the Redeemer was consecrated by Pope Paul VI. The statue has been repaired and modernized repeatedly, and in 2003 it was equipped with escalators.

Flamengo Park

Top Places to Visit in Brazil. Flamengo Park in Rio de Janeiro

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The giant Flamengo Park (also called Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes Park) in Rio de Janeiro is one of the largest in the world. Created in the mid-sixties by decree of Governor Carlos Lacerda, Flamengo Park covers an area of ​​1.2 million square meters.

The park’s amazing landscapes and colorful gardens are striking; it holds over three thousand different species of trees. The park contains many pedestrian and bicycle paths that make it a favorite holiday destination for locals.

Flamengo Park has its own sights as well – the Museum of Modern Art and the Carmen Miranda Museum. There is also a monument erected in memory of the victims of World War II.

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

Top Places to Visit in Brazil. Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil.

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It is one of those places that you will never forget. Due to the unique natural conditions in Lençóis Park, the snow-white sand dunes (whose heights reach up to 40 meters) are adjacent to emerald-blue lagoons. The area of ​​the park is spread over one and a half thousand square kilometers.

The park of Lençóis is inconstant as its sand dunes are always shifting. The landscapes you see will very soon change and turn into new, even more picturesque ones. The best time to visit the park is from June to October when the rainy season comes and the formation of azure lakes reaches its peak. Then the desert comes to life, lakes are filled with fish, and exotic birds fly by. If you are lucky, you can spot wild hares or even some  moose.

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Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa, Florida

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Tampa, the third largest city in Florida, is cozily located on the shores of Tampa Bay. According to one version, the city got its name from the Indian word “tampa,” which meant “fiery sticks” – “lightning” to the Indians. Indeed, this natural phenomenon occurs here very often during summer storms.

Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa. Tampa, Florida, USA

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Tampa has its own international airport along with the largest sea port in Florida. Lowry Park Zoo is in town with a large aviary where birds live in a natural habitat; there are also places here where visitors can pet the animals and even feed them.

“Tampa means “fiery sticks” – “lightning” to the Indians”

The reptile exhibit and terrarium are especially popular, too. While touring Tampa, you can ride on a very old tram that rolled the city’s streets about 50 years ago. Incidentally, several main servers of Wikipedia are located in Tampa, and one of the four Salvador Dali museums of the world is here – this one known eponymously.

The oldest district of Tampa is called Ybor City; it once had a large diaspora of Hispanics and was famous for its cigar factories – which produced some of the best cigars outside of Latin America.

Now the district is a tourist resort area, and there are a lot of museums dedicated to the city’s history. Among them is an excellent cigar museum where you can trace the complete history and process of making the one-time best cigars in all of Florida – possibly of the whole U.S.

Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa. Tampa, Florida, USA downtown city skyline over the Hillsborough Riv

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Another favorite spot is “Adventure Island” water park. On this 30-acre territory there are all kinds of water slides and activities. If you love adrenaline rushes, there are several high-speed slides – one a 25-meter plunge named “Water Typhoon.”

For kids, there is an entertainment paradise called “Splash Attack.” This place has plenty of carousels, swings, water slides, and other exciting rides.

Tampa is a fun city

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival, the most anticipated of the year, takes place at the end of January. According to legend, a pirate named José Gaspare (Gasparilla) once sailed in the waters of Tampa Bay.

This event was organized in honor of his brave and grandiose adventures. In 2015, the parade was the third largest in the United States, and the celebration had a $23 million impact on Tampa’s economy.

One of the largest architectural/engineering sites here is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge: at a length of nearly 7 kilometers, it is one of the longest continuous bridge spans in the Western Hemisphere. It connects St. Petersburg (yes, there is a city in the USA named St. Petersburg) with Terra Ceia on the southern shore of Tampa Bay.

This bridge was opened in 1987 to replace an old one of the same name, which collapsed in 1980 when a freighter collided with a support column.

Tips for Visiting Amazing Tampa. Tampa, Florida, USA

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The Sunshine Skyway Bridge looks fantastic from any angle. Its pylons are painted yellow, a symbol of sunlight – since Florida is called the “Sunshine State.” At night, the pylons are backlit in gold, emphasizing their graceful shape.

The bridge connects the main resorts along the Gulf Coast of Florida and is a spectacular sight from both land and sea.

Because of the excellent climate, this nice sunny town attracts a large number of tourists every year. If you get tired of wandering and sightseeing, you can just loll on the white sand beach and enjoy the emerald waters of Tampa Bay.

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Top Vacation Destinations in Spain, 2017

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The official slogan of Spain’s national tourism bureau TURESPAÑA is “Spain is what you want. Spain is what you need.” Enough said! We propose the following as the best sites to visit in this sunny, cheerful country:

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Alhambra de Granada.

Alhambra de Granada. Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Alhambra

L’Alhambra – the Moorish citadel in Granada formed by a complex of palaces, gardens and forts – is a place where you can plunge into several different cultures simultaneously. When most Spanish territory was conquered by Islam in the early 13th century, Granada became its cultural center, and Muslims decided to build a “paradise on earth” here.

Perhaps the world’s most refined examples of Islamic art are in The Alhambra. The mysterious red palace of is not only the most popular tourist monument in Spain but also in all of Europe. To preserve its historical beauty, the number of visitors is limited, and you must buy tickets in advance.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia

Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia. Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Sagrada Familia

This amazing temple is one of the greatest attractions in Spain, the creation of Antonio Gaudi. It was built in the Spanish modernism style. This bizarre and magnificent temple of Barcelona has become a symbol of the city.

Antonio Gaudi gave 43 years of his life to this creation, but only one-third of the design was built in his lifetime. The building was designed in the form of a Latin cross, and only this makes The Sagrada Familia similar to usual Catalan churches.

The decoration of the building strikes the imagination with many details. At the same time it has modern, Gothic, and Christian traditions.

For the moment, temple construction continues; completion is expected by 2030.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Panorámica de Sevilla

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Flamenco in Andalusia

The homeland of flamenco is Andalusia. This dance began its triumphal march through Barcelona in the 18th century.

A passion dance, a rhythmic guitar sound, girls in long beautiful frilly dresses, and real Spanish macho – all this is more than just a dance. It’s a virtuosic and unforgettable art combining different musical and dance styles. Flamenco performances are very colorful and stay in your memory for a long time.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Panorama of the Aragonese Pyrenees.

Panorama of the Aragonese Pyrenees. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Walking through the Aragonese Pyrenees

Spain offers a pedestrian traveler a lot of places for walking. The Aragonese Pyrenees are especially famous for being an ideal place for hiking. The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is one of the most outstanding places in the Pyrenees. The highest point of this mountain chain is the peak of Monte Perdido (3348 meters). Here you can climb the majestic rocks and ice fields, where sometimes you can meet chamois.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Zafra, patio del Castillo

Paradores

You can get a royal overnight stay in the Spanish state network of paradores. This word means a former castle, palace or monastery – luxurious and always comfortable. There are 86 such paradores throughout the country. They constitute the golden fund of European real estate service, and many are also located on the territory of historical complexes (for example, the Alhambra). Prices are not jaw-dropping, especially if you book the room online in advance.

Top Vacation Destinations in Spain. Mitjaneta beach

View of Mitjaneta beach, Menorca island, Spain. Photo: stock.adobe.com

The Beaches of Menorca

Menorca, which means “less” in Spanish, is the second largest island (after Mallorca – major) in the Balearic archipelago.

This island of Menorca is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and has a 216 kilometer coastline with many beaches that all deserve their own individual descriptions.

Menorca, despite its proximity to Mallorca, is a lot different. On the one hand, the island is considered one of the most expensive and luxurious resorts in Spain. On the other – you will not find any of the usual Mediterranean coast hotel complexes since construction of tall buildings is prohibited here. The regulations are that hotels should not be above three floors, their roofs must harmonize with the color of the soil, and the walls must always be painted white.

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The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn

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Many people like to travel to Korea in the summer. However, the best time to visit this country is autumn, and there are a lot of reasons why!

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn

Gyeongbokgung palace with Maple leaves, Seoul, South Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Pleasant weather

Autumn in Korea is called the “chhongomabi” season – “the time when the sky is higher and horses are gaining weight.” Fall is the most beautiful season here as the weather is ideal: not hot – not cold, perfectly suited for outdoor recreation.

In September, the air temperature is 20 – 22°С; in October, 15 – 17°С.  During the day, everything is warmed by a gentle sun, so this is the best time of year for touring.

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. autumn red leaves Seoul, Korea

Bongeunsa Temple in autumn red leaves Seoul, Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Stunning nature

Autumn in Seoul is, without exaggeration, magical. Leaves are all varieties of color, from the usual yellow to bright red and even purple. You can admire this splendor without leaving Seoul – just go to Pukhansan.

One of the few national parks in the world that is located within a city, the park is surrounded by urbanized territory of the capital and its suburbs and referred to as the city’s lungs. Imagine how colorful this park becomes in autumn when the foliage is painted in various shades from light green to maroon. It also has numerous waterfalls, cultural monuments, and overlooks.  

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. Seoul tower in Seoul city

Seoul tower in Seoul city , Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

Festivals

Korea is internationally famous for its festivals, and Koreans have great respect for festivity days, celebrating them colorfully and boisterously. Do not miss the chance to see these bright and fantastic holidays of life:

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. Seoul Korea

Spectacular fireworks at han River Seoul Korea. Photo: stock.adobe.com

International Fireworks Festival in Seoul

This annual festival on the Khangan River is one of the most spectacular events of autumn where thousands of firework masters from around the world are invited. It is interesting that each team presents a show concerning a unique national theme.

You can also see a truly amazing light and laser show here, as well as festive music performances. The entire pyrotechnic show is accompanied by music of various genres including rock, pop, and classical. Overall, more than 50,000 fireworks are launched throughout the festival.

Seoul Festival of Lanterns (03 – 19 November 2017)

The bright and mesmerizing Seoul Festival of Lanterns is held annually in November along approximately 1.2 kilometers of Cheonggye Stream. This festival first took place here in 2009, and in 2014 it officially changed its name.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang” – meaning the event is being conducted to support the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The Beauty of Seoul in Autumn. fish market, Seoul Korea

Sea shell at fish market, Seoul Korea.
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Korea Grand Sale

The Korea Grand Sale is an annual shopping festival. It was originally held in winter, but in 2017 it will be countrywide and last all through October. Approximately 20,000 shops from hundreds of business types are going to participate in the Korea Grand Sale.

What can you get there? A lot of significant discounts including 50% off admission to Everland amusement park, about 70% off at duty-free shops, and a free 24-hour stay at the Ibis Ambassador Hotel.

The Korea Grand Sale offers astonishing discounts on almost everything – food, entertainment, fashion, accommodations, beauty, and more.

Don’t miss these fantastic opportunities to enjoy everything South Korea has to offer!

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The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos

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The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos
A bison at Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch (All photos: Jen Judge).

How to Get the Shot

Photographer Jen Judge recently shot Virtuoso Life’s story about wildlife tours and photo workshops on Ted Turner’s 920-square-mile Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico. “The biggest challenge of wildlife photography is finding the animals,” Judge says. “With elk, you need to understand their behavior, terrain preferences, what they eat, and their mating patterns – and a little luck never hurts.” Whether you’re chasing the “big five” in Botswana or a Western version – say elk, black bears, bighorn sheep, bison, and wolves on Turner’s range – when it all aligns, here are her tips to make the most of the moment.

1. “Have patience: Wildlife photography happens on the animals’ schedule, so prepare to sit for long stretches, sometimes in uncomfortable positions.”

2. “Frame up simple backgrounds to set your subjects apart, then wait.”

3. “The best shot can happen quickly, so be ready: Set the appropriate focal length, shutter speed, ISO, and aperture long before you need to press the shutter.”

The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos
Mule deer in the early fall.

4. “I’ve seen wildlife photographers miss incredible photos because they only had a 400mm lens and the animal came too close. Be ready with a shorter lens on a spare body.”

5. “A UV filter and lens hood will protect your glass from damage in the field, but more important, they’ll minimize reflections that might give away your presence.”

6. “Leave the tripod at home and use a higher ISO. Animals move, and trying to shoot from a tripod often means missing a photo.”

The Big Picture: 6 Tips For Better Wildlife Photos
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