Manaus (I): Semi-final Sadness

My initial two night stay in Manaus was geared towards watching both World Cup semi-finals and organising a trip into the surrounding Amazon Jungle.  A dream Brazil v Argentina final was still possible but the hosts faced Germany as significant under-dogs with captain Thiago Silva suspended and star player Neymar injured.  The second semi-final pitted my other favourite team Holland against South American giants, Argentina.  Was it to be a surprise or sadness, cause for celebration or catastrophe?

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Salvador: Opportunities gained, Opportunities missed

Belo Horizonte was hot, Rio was hotter, but heading North to Salvador felt more like tropical Brazilian climate.  I ended up spending 5 nights in the state capital of Bahia, visiting the old town of Pelourinho, watching the scintillating World Cup quarter final ties and trying to soak up some sun.  My visit didn’t go exactly to plan but I will describe my changing fortunes…

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São Paulo: Rendez-vous and Re-education

Back in São Paulo.  Was 9 days not enough?  Probably.  But I achieved just as much in the centre of the city in this 36 hour period as anyone visiting São Paulo needs to: a night in Vila Madalena, a visit to the excellent ‘Museu do Futebol’ and a stroll along Paulista Avenue.  More importantly, I met up with some friends (both old and new) and had a blast!

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A Brief Escape to Paraty

The over-indulgence fueled by World Cup fever was responsible for another rushed visit to one of Brazil’s cinematic colonial towns, Paraty.  It was a desperately needed escape from big cities, hectic street parties and bustling crowds.  The slow-paced, laid-back vibe of Paraty soothed me from the outset and left me wishing I could stay days or weeks longer!

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The Highs and Lows of Rio

‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ (Marvellous City) is an accurate nickname for Rio de Janeiro, home to towering mountains, lush rainforest, sandy beaches and blue seas, as well as buzzing nightlife in its many lively neighbourhoods.  I have had the fortune of living in the spectacular lakeside town of Queenstown, New Zealand, in the gorgeous harbour city of Sydney, Australia, and I am even fond of commuting to and from work back home in London, seeing Big Ben through the London Eye and glimpsing Tower Bridge beautifully lit up at night.  Rio would be another city I would be grateful to call my home, but in just four and a half days I merely scratched the surface.  I also came at a time when World Cup tourists created a different (yet still amazing) atmosphere, so Rio is firmly etched in my list of places I must visit again.  I will take you through my journey of views from the tops of spectacular outlooks to lying face down on sandy beaches; identifying the highs of World Cup fever to the lows of harsh Rio hangovers!

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A Beautiful Detour to Ouro Preto

I managed to squeeze in a day-trip (well, a few hours between the packed World Cup schedule) to visit the beautiful Colonial town of Ouro Preto.  Nestled in the green mountains of Minas Gerais, my visit was blessed with beautiful sunshine and a spectacular sunset.  The town is home to a great concentration of Colonial churches housing many works of a Brazilian sculptor, Aleijadinho.  Amazingly, the sculptor worked with a hammer and chisel strapped to his arms, having lost the use of his hands and legs at the age of 30.  I will write only a short narrative of my day (sigh of relief) and let my photos show you all that I saw as I wandered the cobbled streets, inspected the crafts market and admired the architecture.

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