I lived in Brazil for a year from 2003-2004 and I traveled back to Brazil for five weeks in 2007. I have seen a lot of the country, but I still have a lot more to see. Here are my recommendations of the MUST SEE spots in Brazil:
Iguacu Falls: Cute animals. Beautiful waterfalls. Easy to get to Paraguay for a day of shopping.
Sao Paulo: Huge city. Tons to do. Recommend exploring for at least a day!
Santos, Sao Paulo: Beautiful beach town with few non-Brazilian tourists (since most everyone goes up to Rio). Highly recommend.
Northeast Brazil: If you love beaches and culture then you must head to the northeast of Brazil. I especially love the state of Bahia. Amazing culture, beaches, and food. MUST MUST MUST!
Rio: MUST SEE. Obviously go to Sugar Loaf Mountain. Hang out on the beaches. Just explore! Amazing city!
Florianopolis, Santa Catarina: Another amazing, beautiful city that does not get a lot of non-Brazilian tourists. There is an island and main land and so much to do including eating seafood, sand boarding, and tons more.
Curitiba, Parana: I love this city. Not a huge tourist destination, but nice to visit if you have time. Can get really cold in winter.
Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais: Must see if you like history and/or historical towns! Lots of culture here!
(Digital photo taken by Marc Averette; Found on Wikipedia)
- If you happen to be in Miami on the last Friday of the month (check the website to be sure of the date: http://www.viernesculturales.org/ ), then go to Little Havana’s monthly street festival called Viernes Culturales. It’s a festival with live salsa bands, live cuban folk bands, live contemporary bands, artists selling paintings/crafts on the street, street vendors selling food, coffee, etc. People dance in the street, sing to their favorite songs, restaurants stay open later than normal and you get to see the best in Cuban and Cuban-American art, crafts, culture and politics. Absolutely amazing experience and it ends by 11pm/12pm so you ca still hit up bars and clubs afterwards. It’s 100% cuban culture and something that can only be seen in Miami. Also, it’s free, costs about $5 to park just off calle ocho.
If you are in DC in the month of May, make sure to check out Cultural Tourism DC’s website for a list of events. May is “International Cultural Awareness Month” in DC and, to celebrate, Cultural Tourism DC puts on a month-long festival called Passport DC. The Around the World Embassy Tour, which is part of Passport DC, is one of my most favorite DC events. This year it is to take place on Saturday, May 5. The event includes over 40 embassies opening to the public and having food, drinks and cultural events (many of which are free). There is also a similar European-centric event taking place on Saturday, May 12. I HIGHLY recommend these events. Two years ago when I went I visited the Afghan (interesting food), British (beautiful grounds), Belgian (awesome beer tasting), Finnish (a lot of fish foods), Hungarian (cute dogs), Czech, Cape Verde, Austrian, Slovakian, and other embassies. DO DO DO take advantage of the month-long celebration put on by Cultural Tourism DC.
Here are some DOs for Jamaica travelers:
- Take only a red plate cab. They are licensed to drive on the road.
- If you want to go shopping, change your US dollars for Jamaican money. Hotels will change the money for you, but you can get more for your US dollar at a place called a Cambio. You can ask to see if the hotel has a shuttle to take you to a Cambio where you would get more for your dollar (e.g., 1 US dollar in Jamaica is worth from 82.00 to 83.00 or 84.00 Jamaican dollars depending on where you go). You can also change your cash at the airport in Jamaica when you arrive.
- DO go to Margueritaville Sports Bar & Grill and enjoy a lovely glass of margarita
- DO go to Half Moon Shopping Center or other duty free shops where you get can get some of the best coffee in the world, “Blue Mountain Coffee,” perfumes, souvenirs and boutique clothing.
- DO try our jelly coconut water
- DO try our jerk chicken or jerk pork (very tasty; finger licking good)
- DO try our curry goat with white rice
- DO go see Rose Hall Great House (It’s a museum that has existed since the 18th century)
- If you rent a car, DO remember to drive on the left.
- DO learn a little patois (a dialect that everyone speaks).
- If you rent a car, make sure your insurance company will cover you driving in Jamaica.
- People will come up to you to try to sell you crafts or other stuff. If you are not interested, just say no thank you.
Jamaica is really a beautiful place. And, as a final note, DO stay at an all inclusive resort.
Every spring and fall the White House’s gardens and grounds open to tourists. Tickets are free and are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. The tickets are timed and are distributed by the National Park Service at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion the day of the tour. I have had the opportunity to visit the gardens (see photos below) and I believe that is a MUST DO if you are in Washington, DC, the weekend of the gardens and grounds tour. I was unable to find the dates for the 2012 spring tours, but the tours tend to be in April so continue to check online for the 2012 schedule.