Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Sea Trek Scuba Diving

Most of the world is covered with water. Take the PADI Scuba Diver course onboard and discover what you've been missing. This quick and easy course was designed with the vacationer in mind.

The PADI Scuba Diver program is a wonderful and exciting opportunity to explore the underwater world with the comfort and safety of having an experienced PADI SeaTrek Dive Instructor beside you every step of the way. Throughout the course you'll learn the basics of diving through participation in pool dives, knowledge development sessions and two exciting dives in some of the best locations in the world. Upon completion of the short course, you will be awarded the PADI Scuba Diver certification. PADI certifications are the most recognized forms of diver education worldwide. Your certification is like a passport, allowing you beginner level access to some of the best diving in the world. It also allows you to pursue further training in diving. You can sign up onboard.

In addition, scuba gear, dive computers, mask/snorkel and fins packages can be purchased onboard at no-tax and duty-free prices. Participants must be at least 12 years old.

Image reprinted with permission of International PADI, Inc. ©2005 All rights reserved.



PADI Scuba Diver


If your time is limited, the scuba diver certification is for you. The class consists of academic training, pool skills, and two open water dives. $249 USD per person Note: You can save study time on your cruise by purchasing and reading the PADI Open Water Manual or Interactive CD-ROM at your local PADI Dive Center or at Padi.com .




Complete your training in the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean. This course is an extension of the Scuba Diver or Open Water Diver Course for guests who have already completed all academics and confined water training.

Two open-water dives at $175 USD per person and 4 open-water dives at $225 USD per person.


Scuba Tune-Up


Been a while since your last dive? Refresh your knowledge and skills at sea with your SeaTrek Instructors. Even if you have made a dive recently, this course will boost your confidence and enjoyment.
$49 USD per person.


Discover Scuba Experience


Join your PADI SeaTrek Dive Instructor on the pool deck for this unique opportunity to experience scuba firsthand. No prior training is necessary for this safe, instructor-accompanied pool dive.
$29.95 USD per person.


Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth (SASY)


This program is designed for children 5 to 10 years of age (under 100 lbs.) who want to use real scuba equipment while staying at the surface of the water. Believe it or not, SASY is easier than snorkeling and kids love it! $25 USD per person.



The best dive site is the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. It's the most untouched spot, and it's simply gorgeous on the surface, appealing to everyone. The difficulty ranges from beginner to advance. Best time of the year is from July to December for beginners, all year round for advanced divers. It's one of the most expensive dive sites to go.

The second best is Abrolhos. It's an archipelago some four to six hours from land, where you can't go on shore, so either you make one-day trips or take a live-aboard on one of several boats. The dives are very, very calm, shallow and relaxed, and though the visibility is not as good as Noronha, but the richness of the corals and marine life is incredible. It's good for all levels of experience. Best time of the year is November to March, when it is also possible to watch whales.

The region between Recife/Olinda in the north and Maceio in the south is named the Golden Coast, and here are several excellent spots of scuba diving and the access is much easier than mentioned archipelagos. Around Recife & Olinda is considered excellent for advanced divers, rich of marine life like turtles and sharks, and many sunk ships, but the sea is usually very, very rough. To the south there are many dive friendly spots for snorkeling, scuba dive beginners and also advanced diving. In Porto de Galinhas for instance, is a very pleasant village with many nice sites for good diving and an excellent area for diving courses. In this region the diving is good during the whole year.

The best spots for scuba diving in the south of Brazil are between São Paulo & Rio de Janeiro. Of course they are not as good as mentioned sites in the northeast, but comparing world wide, this region is very good as well. To indicate some spots in the area should be Barra do Una, Ubatuba, Paraty, Ilha Grande and Arraial do Cabo.

Last but not least, there are two islands near Santos / São Vicente where you can take a day trip for two dives - Laje de Santos and Queimada Grande. But it might be very tricky to reach the area: the boat trip usually takes 2 hours or maybe more, and is often rough. Many times the trips are cancelled due to bad weather, so it's always a lottery. From May to July, manta rays are common in Laje de Santos; possible to see ones with a "wingspan" of about 2 meters, and even some big ones, as they can grow up to 6m!

Taking about Diving & Brazil, we shouldn’t forget the country-side town of Bonito, which is more than 1.000km from the sea. This is a paradise of sweet water snorkeling & diving, with beautiful nature and rivers of crystal-clear warm waters with lots of fish. In the region there are also several unexplored caves, where you can practice scuba diving in cavesNOTE: a special certificate is needed for scuba diving in these caves.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Top 10 forgotten spots of paradises!!!!

Men's web portal AskMen.com has come up with a list of its top 10 paradises on earth that have long been forgotten. This list is not endorsed by Reuters:


9. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Sitting 380kms off Brazil's northeastern coast, only 240 people are allowed on the archipelago at any one time, all of whom are required to pay environmental taxes to preserve the beauty of the 21 islands. Only the main island is inhabited, and that's where you stay in boutique-style bed-and-breakfasts.

There's not much to do other than swim in the Atlantic Ocean and bask beneath the sun.


Monday, 14 April 2008


Rio's has an active clubber circuit. If you love to dance the night away, you will not run out of options. Local and guest DJ's spin every night the latest disco, house, garage, techno, trance, pop, funk, hip-hop and other dancy beats. Things never really pick up until after midnight, so you have time to enjoy a good meal, or warm up at the bars and cafes.

Minors are not legally allowed at night clubs, but sometimes it seems they forgot to warn the door people about it. Beer and liquor are served at most venues, usually without the need to present any I.D. You do not have to tip bartenders, but tips are appreciated. Now that you know all the basics, let's go club-hopping!

You don't have to go far from your hotel to reach the clubs. Try Baronetti, Cristal Lounge and Spazio in Ipanema, Melt, in Leblon, Sky Lounge in Lagoa, and 00 (Zero Zero) in Gavea.

In Copa the scene is a very mixed. Bunker has different parties every weekend with guest DJ's, and attracts an alternative crowd. Mariuzinn, with 30 years of tradition, moved on to the main street (the old headquarters is now home to a lesbian club).

Humaitá, Flamengo, Botafogo and Centro also have good dance clubs. The area around Lapa is now very popular, with clubs like Rio Scenarium and Carioca da Gema. Many rave parties happen in Centro, too. The piers, an old train station, warehouses, and a movie theater of the turn of the century have already been the setting of unforgettable parties. Fundição Progresso is where mega-parties usually happen, attracting as many as 5,000!

In Barra the clubs are predictably located in the malls, like São Thome or the Hard Rock Cafe. Av. Armando Lombardi is known as Baixo Barra due to the concentration of night clubs. Nuth Lounge since its opening gathers a lot of beautiful people, and some of the best DJ`s. Bombar and Guapo Loco with their branches in Barra are also guaranteed fun alternatives. Rave parties sometimes happen in locations off-Barra like Vargem Grande. On Friday local newspapers publish an entertainment supplement with listings of the main parties happening on the weekend. Flyers are distributed on the beach, and at some cool boutiques in Ipanema, Leblon or the malls.

01. Baronetti Ipanema Rua Barão da Torre, 354
Ipanema Rua Barão da Torre, 334
03. Dama de Ferro Ipanema Rua Vinícius de Morais, 288
04. Galeria Café Ipanema Rua Teixeira de Melo, 31
05. Lounge 69 Ipanema Rua Farme de Amoedo, 50
06. Mistura Fina Ipanema Av. Rainha Elizabeth, 769
07. Spazio Ipanema Rua Paul Redfern, 36
Leblon Rua Rainha Guilhermina, 48
09. Melt Leblon Rua Rita Ludolf, 47
10. The House Leblon Rua General San Martin, 1011
11. Bunker Copa Rua Raul Pompéia, 94
12. Fosfobox Copa Rua Siqueira Campos, 143/22A
13. Help Copa Av. Atlântica, 3432
14. La Girl (lesbian) Copa Rua Raul Pompéia, 102
15. Le Boy (gay) Copa Rua Raul Pompéia, 102
16. Mariuzinn Copa Av. Copacabana, 435
17. Mutante Copa Rua Rodolfo Dantas, 16
18. The Copa Copa Rua Aires Saldanha, 13A
Gávea Av. Padre Leonel Franca, 240
20. Pátio Lounge Gávea Praça Santos Dumont, 31
21. Sitio Lounge Gávea Rua Marques de São Vicente,10
22. Sky Lounge Lagoa Av. Borges de Medeiros, 1426
23. Bukowski Botafogo Rua Paulino Fernandes, 7
24. Casa da Matriz Botafogo Rua Henrique Novaes, 107
25. Pista 3 Botafogo Rua Sao Joao Batista, 14
26. Jump Club Botafogo Rua Visconde Silva, 22
27. Espaço Marun Flamengo Rua do Catete, 124
Laranjeiras Rua Alice, 550
29. Cine Buraco Laranjeiras Rua das Laranjeiras, 336/39
30. Hide Away Laranjeiras Rua das Laranjeiras, 308
31. Buraco da Lacraia Downtown Rua Andre Cavalcante, 58
32. Cine Iris Downtown Rua da Carioca, 51
33. Cine Lapa Downtown Av. Mem de Sá, 23
34. Club Six Downtown Rua das Marrecas, 38
35. Dito & Feito Downtown Rua do Mercado, 21
36. Passeio Público Downtown Av. Rio Branco, 277
37. Carioca da Gema Lapa Av. Mem de Sá, 79
38. Fundição Progresso Lapa Rua dos Arcos, 24
39. Rio Scenarium Lapa Rua do Lavradio, 20
40. Teatro Odisseia Lapa Av. Mem de Sá, 66
41. Bombar Barra Av. Armando Lombardi, 601
42. Hard Rock Cafe Barra Av. das Américas, 700
43. Nuth Lounge Barra Av. Armando Lombardi, 999
44. São Thomé Barra Av. das Américas, 7.907 bl C

Rio For..............SINGLE MEN!

Some of our male visitors used to send us e-mails asking for more details on the spicier sides of Rio's nightlife. Others contributed saying which were their favorite spots, and why. It is common knowledge that Rio has more than its fair share of go-go bars and strip joints. Most are concentrated in an area known as Lido, that starts at the border of Copacabana and Leme.

In addition to nightclubs featuring erotic performances and burlesque shows with nude dancers, this is also a traditional residential area with a rich history. This bohemian vocation dates back to the bossa nova years, in the 1950's. There are good hotels, bars, and restaurants that remain open until very late. You may start your walking tour on Av. Atlântica, almost at the corner of Av. Princesa Isabel. Walk along Av. Princesa Isabel, explore Rua Ministro Viveiros de Castro, Rua Prado Junior, Rua Duvivier and the Lido Square (see map).

Some clubs don't have a cover charge, others do. Cover charges may include one or two drinks, ask before you get in. The photos of female performers outside should give you an idea of what to expect. Though most patrons at these venues are male, open-minded couples sometimes go together. Minors are not allowed, so you must be at least 18 years old. The most well-known clubs are listed below, some have been around for ages.

While you are in the neighborhood make sure to stop for a sandwich at Cervantes, at the corner of Rua Barata Ribeiro and Rua Prado Junior. They are considered the best in town by many experts. Drugstore Farmácia do Leme nearby is open around the clock. In the cosmetics department you will run into Zé das Medalhas, a cherished Copacabana character who wears at least something like 100 necklaces and flares, on any given night! Clovis Bornay, another Copacabana icon and Carnival extraordinaire, also lives nearby.

Now a word to the wise, if you don't mind. Most violence in Rio is drug-related, so by all means stay away from the drug scene. Beware that engaging in sexual relations with anyone under 18 in Brazil is considered a crime. There are plenty of people actually doing time for it, and you won't count on anyone's sympathy once you are perceived as a sexual hawk.

Another no-no: Taking a stranger you have just met back to your hotel room is the easiest way of getting into trouble while in Rio. To avoid putting yourself and your valuables at risk go to a neutral environment instead . There are hotels that charge by the hour, and don't ask any questions when you check-in without any luggage. Locals refer to them generally as motels, and everybody knows where to find them. If you need any excuses, just say that your actual hotel does not allow unregistered guests. It may well be true, anyway.

Help Copa Av. Atlantica, 3432
Barbarella Lido Rua Ministro Viveiros de Castro, 24
Doma Lido Av. Prado Júnior, 63
Don Juan Lido Rua Duvivier, 37
Frank's Bar Lido Av. Princesa Isabel, 185B
Holiday Lido Av. Atlântica, 1424
La Cicciolina Lido Av. Princesa Isabel, 185D
New Scotch Lido Av. Princesa Isabel, 7
Flórida Downtown Praça Mauá, 9
Scandinávia Downtown Praça Mauá, 19A

Friday, 11 April 2008

Dengue cases rising in Rio, at least 80 dead

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 10 (Reuters) - An epidemic of dengue fever has killed at least 80 people and sickened more than 75,000 in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state, authorities said on Thursday, warning that the outbreak may last another two months.

Another 79 deaths are suspected dengue cases and more than 15,000 new cases of the mosquito-borne disease were recorded in the state in the past week, the state health department said.

The tourist city of Rio de Janeiro continues to be the worst affected area with 45,000 people infected and 47 dead from the disease. Many of the victims are children living in the city's hundreds of slum areas.

A state official who did not want to be identified said the epidemic was unlikely to be contained before June, when rains ease and temperatures fall.

"The seriousness of the epidemic is because authorities had only been prepared for a small outbreak. That has affected the efficiency of the fight against mosquitoes," the official said.

Public health clinics in Rio have been overwhelmed by the worst dengue outbreak in years, forcing local authorities to call in military doctors and troops who are patrolling the streets looking for mosquito-breeding areas.

Officials and hotel operators say foreign tourists, of whom about 2 million visit the beach city every year, have so far not been scared away by the outbreak.

Portugal confirmed two dengue cases in tourists returning from Brazil this week, but the upscale Rio areas where most tourists stay have seen few cases.

"I don't think dengue is truly affecting tourism at the moment," said Lance Donald, the Australian owner of The Mango Tree hotel in the trendy Ipanema district, adding that insect repellent had sold out at nearby pharmacies.

Dengue is a viral disease spread by the small, stripe-bellied Aedes aegypti mosquito and there is no vaccine or drug to cure it. Treatment primarily involves increased fluid intake, administered orally and intravenously.

Dengue can cause high fevers, headaches, muscle and joint pain, lack of appetite and fatigue but some people can develop the potentially fatal hemorrhagic form of dengue from repeated exposure to more than one strain of the disease.


Wednesday, 9 April 2008

A decent Hostel in Copacabana


Check it out my man..

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Brazil's wild wetland

You won’t find many tourists in the Pantanal. What you will find are more than 35 million inquisitive alligators

I have been to the Amazon a dozen times. Its dimensions are certainly awe-inspiring, yet its wildlife often fails to live up to expectations. The animals are frustratingly unsociable, disappearing into the rainforest at the slightest rustle of binoculars.

But Brazil’s Pantanal – the world’s largest wetland, covering an area almost the size of the British Isles – is a carnival of flamboyant fauna. On my first day there, I saw more animals than in all my Amazon trips put together. Egrets, storks and herons assembled on the riverbanks, howler monkeys and iguanas crouched in the trees, and toucans and parakeets flew across my path.

For the past ten years, the Pantanal’s reputation as a wildlife paradise has attracted increasing numbers of visitors. Unknown even by most Brazilians, the region’s fame grew when it featured in John Grisham’s bestseller The Testament, and it was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 2000.

Yet tourists go almost exclusively to the southern part, which is nearer to Brazil’s built-up coastal region. I visited the Pantanal from the northern side, which is largely undisturbed by human activity. Arriving at the eco-lodge Pousada Rio Mutum by boat, I passed through a submerged landscape of flooded rivers and lakes.

The Pantanal remains one of the world’s most vibrant wildlife areas. Human beings here are vastly outnumbered by animals. The region has between 10 and 35 million caiman, the South American alligator. I was the only guest staying at the Pousada Rio Mutum, although I didn’t feel alone: several pairs of reptilian eyes observed me as I stepped off the boat on to the wooden jetty.

At the lodge, you do not need to be adventurous to see colourful species. From my breakfast table, and before I had finished my coffee, I counted caracaras, cardinals, flickers, kiskadees and a purplish jay in a neighbouring tree. Lala, a domesticated macaw, kept me company by squawking in Portuguese. (She has a vocabulary of about 700 words.) If birdwatching was this easy, we would all be doing it.

I had flown to Cuiab�, a city that has become rich through Brazil’s soya boom. Alice Galvão, who owns the Pousada Rio Mutum, is a former bank manager who retired when she saw the chance to develop environmentally conscious tourism in the Pantanal. “It’s all new here. The first lodge isn’t even 20 years old,” she says. “Tourism hasn’t been prioritised because the state is preoccupied with soya. And it’s difficult to get here – in the wet season, the roads are all flooded.”

Galvão bought the land, a disused ranch holding, and has built 22 small cabins and a large circular central hut.

The lodge blends in with the scenery – in fact, it is the scenery. The lawn was overrun with dozens of wild capybara, the world’s largest rodent, a dog-sized guinea-pig with a rectangular head. Their incessant grass-munching makes a remarkable sound like the pattering of rain.

More than half the 652 bird species in the Pantanal have been spotted from the Pousada Rio Mutum. At the entrance, high in a tree, is the bird that is the symbol of the region. The jabiru stork has a wingspan up to 6ft (1.8m). The Pantanal has more large birds than any other region in the world.

Which animals you see depends on the time of year you visit, and on a fair amount of luck. In the wet season, from November to March, the water level is high and it is particularly good for birds. In the dry season, river levels are lower and animals congregate in huge numbers by the shrunken water sources. I did not see any big cats, but visitors at Rio Mutum have seen jaguars, panthers and pumas, as well as anacondas and rare creatures, such as giant anteater and marsh deer.

When the water level is low, the lodge organises walking treks through the vegetation. During the wet season you use the local transport instead – the Pantanal horse. Descended from the Andalucian horse introduced by Portuguese explorers, the Pantanal horse has adapted superbly to its new environment. It has uncharacteristically strong feet to wade through muddy water and can eat submerged grass.

I took a ride. The water reached the stirrups as the horse negotiated the flooded path. A few metres away, a caiman ogled as we passed. “The caiman aren’t aggressive and wouldn’t go for the horse,” my guide said. “The only problem comes if the horse stands on one by accident.”

As we trundled through reeds and bushes I saw howler monkeys and, in the clear water, shoals of small fish. In this fecund landscape, even the trees seemed to come alive – especially the “strangle-tree”, whose trunk and branches entwine dramatically around other species.

Late one evening we took the dinghy to a road, where a four-wheel drive was parked. For a couple of hours we drove down a track with torches trying to look for big cats – we were unlucky, and saw only a few foxes, but the landscape at night had a magical charm.

Need to know

Alex Bellos travelled with Journey Latin America (020-8747 8315, www.journey latinamerica. co.uk), which includes three nights at Pousada Rio Mutum (www.pousadamutum.com.br) as part of a 13-night holiday in Brazil. The cost, from £1,953pp, includes domestic flights, accommodation with some meals, and excursions, but not international flights, which can be arranged from £728. Reading: Insight Guide Brazil (£16.99).

Toucans, boobies, howler monkeys and more
Caroline Hendrie

Abundant jungle and waterways make Belize a top destination for birdwatching, river trips and snorkelling. Last Frontiers (01296 653000, www.lastfrontiers.com) has a tailormade two-week trip with flights and some meals combining the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve – home to orange-breasted falcons, the New River Lagoon and its howler monkeys, and the barrier reef at South Water Caye. From £2,765pp including flights and most meals.

Costa Rica has child-friendly jungles and long, sandy beaches, making it a great place for Easter holidays. A 16-day group tour for families with Explore (0870 3334001, www.explore.co.uk) takes in the sea turtles of Tortuguero National Park, cloud forests, volcanoes, iguanas and sloths. The cost of £1,829 per adult and £1,769 per child includes flights and some meals. Leaves on March 22, 2008.

An Essential Venezuela ten-night tour includes a three-day safari of the plains known as Los Llanos, inhabited by anacondas, ocelot, river dolphins and caiman. Individual trips by Sunvil (020-8758 4774, www.sunvil.co.uk) from £2,152pp, including flights and most meals.

A 20-day tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays (01707 331133, www.ramblers holidays.co.uk) includes land and sea with a three-night Galapagos cruise with sea lions, iguanas, blue-footed boobies and dolphins galore, plus two nights on the island of Santa Cruz, walking the paths taken by giant tortoises. Departures in November, January, February and July, from £2,766pp, including flights and most meals.

Where to samba in Rio

Stanley Stewart heads to Lapa, the old quarter of Brazil’s ultimate party town, for caipirinhas and twirls

Nana Gouveia (C), Queen of the Drums of the Caprichosos de Pilares samba school, dances between two musicians during Rio de Janeiro's Carnival at the Sambadrome arena, in Brazil, 22 February 2004.

Brazilians are to a good time what the English are to queuing or the Italians to overtaking at speed on the hard shoulder while chatting on the mobile and eating an ice cream. They are naturals. They are party people.

Rio is Brazil’s ultimate party town. It not only stages the most outrageous carnival in the world, it has the best New Year’s Eve party, too, attended by up to a million samba-dancing ravers on Copacabana beach. I was going out for a night on the town. I had my flip-flops, my linen shirt, my baggy shorts. How wrong could things go if I simply tried to blend in?

Someone in England had given me Ricardo’s number. On the telephone he had enthused about the nightlife in the old Lapa district of central Rio. He offered to show me around.

Ricardo had been to England.

He had once spent a month in Colchester, doing English-language immersion. He was still wrestling with the demons.

“Four sunny days in the whole month,” he said glumly. “Four.” He held up four fingers. “And people said I was lucky.”

We were driving along the Ipanema Avenida Atlantica with the top down, past the great sweep of Copacabana beach. Out on the sands, young men in Speedo briefs were doing impossible things with footballs, while girls in buttock-baring thongs – known here as fio dental, or dental floss – strolled arm in arm against a setting sun.

It is impossible not to love Rio, and it is not just the shapely bottoms. The moment you see it from the plane, nestled into its glorious bays, your heart misses a beat. Cariocas – as the inhabitants of Rio are called – go to the beach the way the English go to the pub. Everywhere you look in Rio there are people in swimsuits. It feels like a city on permanent holiday.

In Rio the nightlife options are manifold – indoor discos in Ipanema and Leblon, outdoor discos on the Morro da Urca; ladies in feathers at the Churrascaria Plataforma, ladies without feathers in Leme. But Lapa, Ricardo insisted, is the place to be.

Lapa is 20 minutes and 200 years away from the beaches of Copacabana. Lapa is old Rio, built in the 18th century, Rio before the beaches and the tourists and the international fame. By the 1920s and 1930s, Lapa had a reputation as South America’s Montmartre, a bohemian quarter with a liberal mix of lowlife and high living. Samba was Lapa’s soundtrack.

It came to an end in the 1940s, when the government clamped down on the lowlife bit. Lapa’s decline was further hastened by the flight of the middle classes to security-conscious suburbs, and then by the rise of beach culture, which drew visitors and Cariocas away from the centre to Copacabana and Ipanema. Distracted by rock and disco, young people stopped listening to samba, and Lapa became a rundown inner-city problem.

Sixty years on, samba is trendy again, as are forro and chorinho and pagode and all the other myriad forms of traditional Brazilian music. Young people have abandoned the sterility of international rave music for the funky dance music of their roots. In Lapa, home to some of the great samba names of the past, music clubs have sprung up. After 50 years of neglect, Lapa is buzzing again, and the neighbourhood is being transformed.

But, actually, what I love about Lapa is how little it is transformed. In London’s Hoxton, or in New York’s meat-packing district, gentrification has a way of sucking out the original atmosphere, leaving only a kind of self-parody, turning everything that moves into a steel and waxed-wood sofa bar with aproned waiters and goat’s-cheese salad. In Lapa, the vibe of the old dilapidated neighbourhood is indomitable.

We crossed a square where the statue of a forgotten Portuguese hero, his shoulders spattered with guano, presided over a dusty garden. Round his feet, old women doing lace work had colonised the benches. Men in sleeveless vests sat on the kerbs drinking beer, while girls in shorts danced to tunes from the radio in the doorway of a late-night tobacconist. The mouldering colonial mansions looked as if they had been unoccupied since muttonchop whiskers went out of style. Shutters hung off their hinges. Cats eyeballed us from wrought-iron balconies.

One of the mansions was Rio Scenarium, unusual only in that all the lights were on. A pioneer in transforming Lapa’s fortunes in the mid1990s, it sprawls over three floors. Crowded with vintage junk, from Bakelite radios to 1950s mannequins, it doubles as a film-prop store. On the ground floor, a live samba band was pumping it out to a crowd of liquid-limbed dancers. People gazed down from galleries, while on all sides packed tables filled the great cavernous spaces of what was once one of Rio’s grandest houses.

Nobody in Colchester can dance, Avenida Ricardo declared as we ordered a Atlantica couple of caipirinhas. Standing on the edge of the dancefloor, I could see how right he was. Nobody in a thousand years had danced like this in Colchester.

Nothing really prepares you for a dancefloor of Brazilians in full swing. In Brazil, everyone dances as if they were the love child of John Travolta and a Vegas lap dancer. It is not just that they are brilliant, that they seem to have joints other people lack, that their sense for complex rhythms is astonishing, that they swim through the music like dolphins through a clear sea – it is not just all that. To see Brazilians dancing is to see how sex would be if they set it to music.

All over the world, in unlikely places such as Japan and Colchester, people attend samba classes as an innocent pursuit, a bit of exercise, a way to meet new people. I have seen samba classes advertised in church halls, in school gyms. But samba is only innocent if you are not doing it right. In Brazil, samba is so erotic it is eyewatering.

Ricardo was gone in an instant. A young woman in a very fetching pair of jeans was already grinding her pelvis with bewitching rhythm on his upper thigh. I ordered another caipirinha. I realised that I was not going to cut it. The sort of free-form do-your-own-thing kind of arm-waving, feet-shuffling stuff that passed for dancing in Colchester would be laughable among this lot. I felt I had fallen into one of those nightmares where you are about to go on stage at the Royal Opera House in spite of the fact you don’t know the opera, haven’t been to rehearsal and can’t sing a note. I decided on a low profile. I hid behind a vase of flowers.

But eventually an Amazon spotted me through the lilies and swooped. My merit as a partner was that I was one of the few men in the place who was almost as tall as she was. She was not to know that it would be my only merit. Before I knew what had happened, she had me in an arm lock in the midst of the jiving crowds. A moment later, she was doing things I generally only see behind closed doors.

I tried to rally, but it was at this moment that the caipirinhas began to kick in. All around me now were couples who seemed to have stepped from the stage of Come Dancing. Their hips were a blur of syncopated rhythms. They were moving their feet in a way that would require an algebraic equation to express accurately. I had the sense that the dancefloor was beginning to part, the way it does in movies. But the parting was not for some spectacular couple. It was so that everyone could get a better look at the gringo apparently trying to swat flies with his flailing arms while tripping over his own feet.

Mercifully, it didn’t last long. I was dumped back behind the vase before you could say two-step, while the Amazon twirled away with a more suitable, if rather shorter, victim.

A moment later, Ricardo arrived in a sweaty, tousled state. He looked as though he had been getting jiggy with a combine harvester.

“Let’s go,” he said. “Where?” I asked. “Another club,” he said. “Where the real dancers are.”

Four of the best clubs in Lapa

These all have live music and serious dancing. All are closed on Sundays and some on Mondays as well. Most serve food. Entry charges range between £3 and £6.

Rio Scenarium (20 Rua do Lavradio; 00 55-21 3852 5516, www.rioscenarium.com.br ) is a great place to start. A big place with a big heart. People of all ages.

Carioca da Gema (79 Avenida Mem de Sa; 21 2221 0043, www.barcariocadagema.com.br ) was one of the first clubs to bring samba back to Lapa. More mature crowd.

Clube dos Democraticos (91 Rua do Riachuelo; 21 2252 4611). An 1867 ballroom now transformed by a young and enthusiastic crowd.

Centro Cultural Carioca (237 Rua Sete de Setembro; 21 2252 6468, www.centroculturalcarioca.com.br ). Stripped-brick walls and huge windows create a modern industrial atmosphere. A place for serious aficionados.

Travel brief

Getting there: only British Airways (0870 850 9850, www.ba.com ) flies direct from Heathrow to Rio, though it makes a stop in Sao Paulo; from £387.

Where to stay: the Copacabana Palace hotel (00 55-21 2548 7070, www.copacabanapalace.com.br ) is the best in Rio and is opposite the beach. Doubles start at about £180. There are no decent hotels yet in Lapa itself. However, neighbouring Santa Teresa, a more residential quarter, has an excellent association for bed-and-breakfast options, known as Cama e Cafe (21 2221 7635, www.camaecafe.com.br ), which features more than 50 properties. Prices start from about £45 for a double with private bathroom.

Tour operators: The Ultimate Travel Company (020 7386 4646, www.theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk ) can arrange tailor-made tours throughout Brazil. A four-night stay in Rio, with flights, accommodation in an ocean-view room at the Copacabana Palace, breakfasts, private transfers, and a hang-gliding flight over Rio, costs from £1,444pp. Or try Steppes Travel (01285 651010, www.steppestravel.co.uk ) or Trips Worldwide (0117 311 4400, www.tripsworldwide.co.uk ).

Dance classes: you may want to polish your technique before you go. In London, check out the Paraiso School of Samba (020 3291 2391, www.paraisosamba.co.uk ).

Pure shores of Brazil's Bahia

Virgin sands, sexy sounds, pretty towns – Bahia blends the best of Brazil. Get there before it’s fashionable

Domini is running towards me in his swimming shorts, scattering words of broken English, his hands crisscrossing the air. ‘You must have lunch,’ he says, motioning me to a lopsided bench hooded with palm trees. His wife Françoise, dressed in a casual Day-Glo sarong, tries to rub suncream on his nose as he goes.

The pair have reason to be excited – they’ve bought a chunk of paradise, turned it into a petit France and built a boutique hotel on it. Four hours by car and boat from Salvador in northeastern Brazil, their bit of beach on the island of Boipeba is utterly deserted, the kind of place where you are scared to mar snow-white virgin sand with footprints. The sea ebbs and flows cheerfully on their doorstep like a set of bobbing, white-maned carousel ponies. Coconut palms swoop in from the forests beyond. And you could actually hear the brooding, beautiful silence? if Domini would just be quiet for a moment.

But the French and Italians slowly colonising this state at the top of Brazil like to shout about it – and Europe’s in-crowd has been listening. Bahia is about to have a fashion moment: London’s chicest hotelier, Anouska Hempel, is opening a five-star here this year, and the capital, Salvador, just acquired its first design hotel. Get there now, however, and you won’t have to worry about the label in your swimsuit. It’s currently so undeveloped, I found myself navigating the coast on my own – with a compass (‘You’ll need it,’ said the man who’d rented me my car. ‘They don’t do road signs in paradise’).

Though Domini is a middle-aged man from Biarritz with a career in advertising behind him, his hotel, Aliz�e Morere, is bound to be a gold star on the fashion map. It looks like something from Hip Hotels – a collection of glass bungalows gazing out towards the sea but hidden from each other among swathes of rainforest. Two kilometres away, along barely trodden jungle paths, the Pousada Mangabeiras is the only other interruption on the landscape: balanced on a cliff, with a few chic bungalows accessorised simply with views of the beach below. And the only way to access either is to walk along the sand from the sole cafe – seeing nobody, obviously.

Boipeba is so unspoilt that it’s been wired to electricity for just a decade and, at times, it feels as if nobody’s visited since the Tupi Indians left, 600 years ago. But then, between kilometre-stretches of unblemished sand, you stumble across people like Domini and Françoise, setting up home and hotel.

Over a meal of juicy steak barbecued right on the beach, I overhear Domini evangelising to one of his guests: ‘There are no cars here, and most of the boats are just for fishing lobster, crab and clams. You can feel the ghosts of the Indians in the patches of dense rainforest. And you should see the villagers,’ he squeals, with scant regard for political correctness, and flashing shots of unsuspecting residents on his digital camera. ‘They’re straight out of Gauguin!’

Salvador, where I’d started my trip, was equally photogenic: a sugary dollop of faded, wedding-cake buildings, iced in strawberry and lemon, and edged in bright advertisements for politicians. Once the slave capital of Brazil, the city earned its reputation and wealth with sugar, shipping in West Africans to work the plantations, building another colonial confection with each small fortune. When they were finally freed, those slaves stamped their culture on the city with rhythmic ax� music, the balletic martial art Capoeira, and their own lilting accent on the Portuguese language.

Despite the proximity of paradise (Boipeba is only hours away),

I spent a couple of days in Salvador – browsing relics and rosaries in dusty junk shops, and visiting some of the city’s 365 churches. But, from my terrace at the Pousada do Pilar in the old town, the ocean beckoned. In sleeping hours, when the heat rose and my room glowed with the dawn, I fought jet lag by watching a somnambulistic sun crawl from the sea. Ships ferried freight out of the city, sending rippling waves to the shore, and either side of me a hundred neighbours were gazing at the water in silence, too.

The sea, you see, is where the Brazilian soul wants to be. Or perhaps it’s simpler than that, and they just like a nice beach. Either way, once morning hits, Salvador seems to move en masse to Barra – an urban beach 10 minutes from the centre. This sunny stretch has always exerted a siren-like pull – it’s the first place the Europeans settled in Bahia, and Gilberto Gil used to hang out here in the ’60s, when he fancied a break from ‘The Girl from Ipanema’, his annoyingly ubiquitous worldwide hit. Enterprising teens serve fruit juice and fiery cachaça spirit as you bronze. Then, when the sun gets too hot, you can retreat to a beachside cafe for churrascaria – slabs of cooked meat served on skewers. By early afternoon the whole city seems to be there.

Which helps explain why inveterate sunworshippers are already looking beyond, and moving on, to more deserted beaches further south. ‘Morro is where you should go,’ says the young guy who rattles me up a Caipirinha from his makeshift beach bar. ‘It’s a long journey, but I promise you won’t have seen anything like it.’

He’s referring to Morro de São Paulo, capital of the island of Tinhar�. Getting there means a four-hour drive from Salvador along jungle-edged highway, then a choppy dinghy voyage. As I wedged myself between a high-spirited group of middle-agers and a young couple cooing over a baby, the exhilaration was apparent – drinkers getting more boisterous with each cracked-open beer, the jokes and laughter growing dirtier on the blustery night air.

Eventually a cluster of lights blinked out from the darkness, heralding Morro harbour, white in places below a megawatt moon. It was the sort of first impression the Portuguese must have had back in 1531, when they colonised Tinhar�. In the 16th century, Morro was a fortress town, bristling with grand government buildings. Now it’s defined by beaches: First Beach is full of pousadas; Third Beach has a smattering of restaurants; Fourth Beach is the most beautiful. But Second Beach is the place to be at night – it’s busy with bars and restaurants, but has managed to remain beachshack chic rather than degenerate into a tourist trap.

The old colonial buildings in the town square are crumbling alluringly behind hundreds of restaurant and bar facades. ‘It’s hectic here,’ said the owner of my pousada, as we dodged cosmetically enhanced girls from São Paulo queuing for

drinks at stalls above the harbour. ‘When I came 20 years ago, the weed was good and the living was leisurely. It’s not like that anymore.’

The route to Second Beach teems with girls in tiny dresses and high heels. At Real Pizza – Morro’s most popular restaurant – there’s a rush on chocolate-sauce pizzas as groups descend to try the famous dish (my advice – stick with the Margherita). Most bars have a guitarist, playing Brazilian covers of The Beatles or James Blunt. Some have lazy, drunken sambas seeping from the stereo. But at midnight, nature trounces it all with a light show of shooting stars that everyone watches lying flat out on the beach.

Morro de São Paulo is buzzy, in an enjoyable kind of way. But the next day, when I finally shake off sleep and leave my hotel, it’s a different story. The whole kilometre swathe is utterly deserted. I can move my hands and watch their shadows dance into the distance, uninterrupted on the sand. Rivulets of water run from inland rivers to play in the sea, creating tiny puddles of cool underfoot. The sea is as blue as the sky.

Morro’s charm is that you can do as much or as little as you like. And, after a few days basking in Fourth Beach’s isolation, I was ready to explore again. I enlisted Penir – Morro’s most wanted water chauffeur and (if rumours are to be believed) a bit of a ladykiller – to take me back to Boipeba in his speedboat. It’s the only way to get there, unless you want to wait a few days for the occasional tourist daytrip. As I jumped in, Penir tied a ribbon round my wrist and instructed me to make three wishes – a sign of friendship that had made its way to Morro from the Church of Bonfim in Salvador. You have to be gifted one of these ribbons before you can wear it, and, when it falls, the wishes come true. They’ve become a bit of a fashion statement themselves in Salvador, and Penir had at least 20 tied around his tanned wrist.

As we cruised off into the empty blue expanse, I made my wishes. ‘Please let me stay a bit longer,’ I whispered to myself. ‘Please let me stay a bit longer. Please let me stay a bit longer.’


The only direct flights from the UK to Salvador are with MyTravel (0871 664 7970, www.mytravel.co.uk), from £265pp. For flights via Lisbon, try TAP Portugal (01293 507 100, www.flytap.com), from £650pp, or a consolidator such as www.opodo.co.uk or www.expedia.co.uk .


In Morro, try Villa das Pedras (00 55 75 3652 1075, www.villadaspedras.com.br; doubles from £57) on Second Beach. With its all-glass bungalows and art books, the Aliz�e Morere on Boipeba is the place for eco-conscious trendies (no phone or website yet!). For a room with a truly unforgettable view, head up the hill to Pousada Mangabeiras (00 55 75 3653 6153; doubles from £100). For resort-style bungalows with five-star amenities, head to sleepy Barra Grande on the mainland and the Kiaroa Resort (00 55 73 3258 6212, www.kiaroa.com.br ; doubles from £250). This place is posh – they’ll even fly you in from Salvador by private plane. Meanwhile in Trancoso, the Txai Resort (00 55 73 2101 5000, www.txai.com.br; bungalows from £400) is like a safari camp in the middle of the rainforest. In Salvador, Pousada do Pilar (00 55 71 3241 2033, www.pousadadopilar.com; doubles from £50) has simple, homely rooms and good breakfasts. For a dose of luxury, the five-star Convento do Carmo (00 55 71 3327 8400, www.pestana.com; doubles from £200) is heavily accessorised with antiques, and has an impressive fountained courtyard. In Praia do Forte, Pousada dos Artistas (www.pousadadosartistas.com.br; doubles from £25) has simple, whitewashed rooms with stable doors opening onto terraces and hammocks by peaceful garden.


Journey Latin America (020 8747 8315, www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk ) can tailor-make trips to Bahia. One week, with time in Salvador at the Posada do Pilar, in Morro de São Paulo at Porto do Zimbo Hotel and in Barra Grande at the Kiaroa Resort, costs from £1,390pp, with flights from Heathrow, via Lisbon. Or try Exsus (020 7292 5060, www.exsus.com) or Steppes (01285 880980, www.steppestravel.co.uk). Sunvil (020 8758 4774, www.sunvil.co.uk) has beach holidays in the resort of Praia do Forte – a once tiny fishing village that’s now filled with impossibly beautiful people from São Paulo and Rio at weekends. One week at the five-star Praia do Forte Eco-Resort costs from £1,100pp.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

From: Iliopoulos, Antonis
Date: 2 Apr 2008 01:05
Subject: RE: http://projectobrazil.blogspot.com/
To: Elicitor, Mndfck

Sto “mati” den prepi na polipistevete apo oti exo katalavi…




Thanks for the comments... see photo attached!


Friday, 4 April 2008

ProjectoBrazil 2008 / Song

just follow the link, listen to the rythm... this is what is all about...


tom boxer anca parghel fly project - brasil


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The Beach Culture of Buzios, Brazil

Brazil is world renowned for its beaches. With a coastline of 4,578 miles and beautiful weather nearly year-round, it’s not surprising that the small town of Buzios near Rio de Janeiro is a phenomenal beachside destination. Buzios sits on a peninsula of twenty-two sparkling beaches where any day of the week you’ll see beautiful people basking in the sun at popular spots or relaxing in the tranquil atmosphere at one of the peninsula’s more secluded beaches.

Buzios started out as nothing more than a tiny fishing village on the Atlantic coast. Public curiosity increased in 1960 with the visit of French femme fatale actress Brigitte Bardot, who chose Buzios as a peaceful getaway. Since then, Buzios has made quite a splash on the international tourism circuit. Buzios continues to attract the elite Hollywood crowd today.

Despite its growing sophistication, Buzios still maintains the right amount of its fishing village roots, which lends itself a quaint, old world charm. The various dining and lodgings in the village create an atmosphere that is very special.

In Buzios, the best places to stay are called pousadas. A pousada is a type of bed-and-breakfast inn that is a refreshing accommodation option. The best pousadas are on the shores of the beautiful bay and are either located near the town center or right on the shore of one of its many alluring beaches.

The dining options in Buzios are plentiful. Authentic Brazilian restaurants are just the beginning of the South American cuisine experience. American, Asian, Mexican and French restaurants are widely available in the center of town, on the Rua de Pedras. Many beaches offer little cabanas serving up refreshing cocktails and tasty regional and Brazilian food. Try the seafood maceca, a delicious broth with rice and shrimp.

To cap off all the attractions of Buzios, the village offers world-class art galleries, clubs, and of course, shopping. Fine boutiques offer the latest fashions from the world over.

Buzios can be enjoyed year-round, with the most popular time to visit being between September and April, during the Brazilian summer. From May to July, there are numerous beautiful sunny days, but the temperature is a bit cooler and there is a bit of a higher chance of rain. The busiest time in Buzios is around the New Year holiday and of course, Carnival. Carnival, one of the world’s biggest and most colorful festivals celebrated every February/March in nearby Rio de Janeiro.

Overall, Buzios is a special destination and should be considered on every Brazilian tour circuit. Along with enjoying all the highlights of Rio de Janeiro, and some far-away Amazon or Pantanal jungle, Buzios will provide the repose that completes a full Brazilian visit.

By Michael Zurakhinsky
Travel Writer for www.BrazilTravelInformation.com http://www.BrazilTravelInformation.com - Brazil Travel Guide

Michael Zurakhinsky is a professional traveler that has travelled South America for the last 7 years. At the same time he is a writer of sections of www.braziltravelinformation.com http://www.braziltravelinformation.com - an independent resource, providing free, on-line information to the traveling public on South America and the many beautiful highlights it contains.

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