The best of Brazil

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Unless you have been living on another planet, you’ll know that the FIFA World Cup kicks off today in Brazil. But there’s more – much more –  to the fifth biggest country in the world (that’s also the fifth most populous)  than the ‘beautiful game’. Here Just About Travel reveals what we love most about Brazil

 

 

The beaches
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Regardless of whether you to choose to stretch out your beach towel along the world famous Copacabana or its more salubrious sibling Ipanema, expect to see Brazilians from all walks of life – families, favela kids, football players, pensioners, hawkers peddling sarongs and socialites in huge sunglasses – coming together to get their groove on.

 

Havaianas
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The humble rubber sandals are Brazil’s biggest export – two billion plus pairs have been sold since the company’s inception in 1862 – and come in every colour of the rainbow. In homage to their homeland, Havaianas  often sport a small Brazilian flag logo on the straps of their flip flops.


Coffee

The South American country produces 285 billion cups of coffee a year – that’s more than 40 per cent of the world’s coffee. Or as Frank Sinatra once sang:
“Way down among Brazilians,
Coffee beans grow by the billions,
So they’ve got to find those extra cups to fill,
They’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.”
Brazilian coffee tends to be much sweeter than elsewhere in the world owing to the copious amounts of sugar that is added.

 

The Copacabana Palace
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The neoclassical Copacabana Palace recently underwent a £20million refurb ahead of the FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics – and the results are incredible. An exercise in measured elegance, it’s almost impossible to exaggerate the glories of this property – with its dazzling white facade – that has hosted everyone who is anyone.

 

Bossa Nova
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While in Rio, take a trip to Toca do Vinicius in the Ipanema district. This small music emporium – named after lyricist-poet, Vinicius de Moraes, credited with creating the distinctive Bossa nova style of music – is the place to purchase your Bossa Nova CD. Don’t forget to factor in a visit to the tiny yet intriguing upstairs museum, dedicated to the life and works of the Brazilian music legend.

 

Caipirinhas
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The national cocktail made from cachaca (cane liquor), lime and two teaspoons of brown sugar is the tipple of choice in Brazil but be warned: they’re seriously strong (nothing like the weak, watered down imitations served in Blighty). They’re also highly addictive, given the purse pleasing prices: a caipirinha in a streetside bar will set you back around £2.35 (R$9).

 

The parties
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Make no mistake: Brazilians know how to party – and not just when Carnaval rolls round. Yet despite staying out dancing until dawn (this is how Brazil rolls) we guarantee you’ll return home energised and happy – and convinced that there is no more enticing place on the planet than the South American giant.

 

Iguacu Falls
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The crashing cascades occupying an area more than 80m high and 3km wide have the wow factor and no other water falls in the world can compete. Little wonder then that Eleanor Roosevelt gasped “Poor little Niagara” when she came up close at Iguacu. The 275 falls (shared between Brazil and Argentina) are so bedazzling that it comes as no surprise to learn that Hollywood covets them for one blockbuster after another  – scenes from Miami Vice, Mr Magoo, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and The River were all shot here.

 

Feijoada 
Brazil’s national dish is the feijoada – a hearty black bean and meat stew that’s served with rice, typically on a Saturday. If you try just one local dish when in Brazil, make it feijoada but keep in mind that feijoada is very filling – you won’t want to eat again that day.

 

And finally…

Football
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Brazilians are futebol mad and, even if you’re not crazy about the beautiful game, it’s worth watching a match for the atmosphere alone: passionate singing, samba drums and smoke bombs are all part of the colourful experience. Furthermore, unlike Premiership games back home, match tickets don’t have a perturbing price tag. Result!

Words and pics: Kaye Holland

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