Saturday, May 31, 2014

20 Things You Need To Know About Brazil

With FIFA 2014 passed, and the Rio Summer Olympics taking place in 2016, Brazil has been all the buzz around the internet and in conversation. But how much do you really know about the country?
Did you know that in the city of Laguna, fishermen use dolphins as their assistants to help catch fish? After they cast their nets into the murky water, they wait for dolphins to show them where the fish are. If no dolphins show up that morning, the locals will pack up and leave. Here are 20 more things you may not know about Brazil:
(Photo Courtesy of FIFA World Cup Brazil)
The national football (soccer) team of Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup a record five times.
Every Brazilian city has at least one soccer stadium.
The best coffee in the world is said to come from Brazil.
Caipirinhas are the national drink of Brazilians.
(Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock)
Brazil is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese (not Spanish or Brazilian).
Brazil contains almost 60 percent of the Amazon rain forest.
There are more species of monkeys in Brazil than anywhere else in the world.
The Christ Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
(Photo Courtesy of Stanislaw Tokarski/Shutterstock)
Brazil covers three time zones.
Brazil shares a border with all South American countries except for Chile and Ecuador.
Brazil has 13 cities with over one million residents.
Brazil is 100 percent energy independent.
(Photo Courtesy of Celso Pupo/Shutterstock)
Brazil has the most famous and celebrated carnival festival in the world.
Brazil has the world's largest beach at 24,606 feet long.
It is the longest country in the world from north to south via land, spanning approximately 2,800 miles.
By 2032, Brazil's economy will overtake Germany's in size.
(Photo Courtesy of Adriana Lima)
Brazilian models are generally considered to be some of the most gorgeous women in the world.
The Brazilian bikini wax was invented in New York in 1987 by seven Brazilian-born sisters.
Brazil has the ninth highest number of billionaires in the world.
The prisoners of Brazil's Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary wait out their sentences by knitting, thanks to a partnership with Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes.
Contributed by Nicolle Monico
[Top Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock]

Travelore Tips: 5 Free Things To See In Budapest

Contributed by Pablo Gorondi, AP.

FILE – This June 20, 2010, file photo shows Kopaszi Dam, a leisure park on the bank of River Danube in Budapest, Hungary. Since the fall of communism in 1990, Budapest’s central districts, mainly those straddling the Danube River, have undergone several stages of renewal _ raging from simple cosmetic improvements to full reconstructions. Development funds from the European Union over the past 10 years have helped accelerate the process and Hungary’s capital city is now stunning from many angles. (AP Photo/MTI, Sandor H. Szabo, file) Since the fall of communism in 1990, Budapest's central districts, mainly those straddling the Danube River, have undergone several stages of renewal - raging from simple cosmetic improvements to full reconstructions. Development funds from the European Union over the past 10 years have helped accelerate the process, and Hungary's capital city is now stunning from many angles.
Budapest was formally unified in 1873, but the city's two big parts, Buda on the Danube's right bank and Pest on the left, have maintained their unique identities. An expanding network of public transportation - including a new, oversized subway line - and relatively short distances downtown make it easy to get around.

Here are five free things to do in the city - two in Pest, two in Buda and one right in the middle of the river.

This Pest park near Parliament is home to debated symbols of Hungary's recent history, from a monument under construction to mark the 1944 Nazi occupation of the country to an obelisk topped off with a five-pointed communist star commemorating the Soviet troops who drove out the Nazis one year later.

Nearby, you can shake the hand of a larger-than-life Ronald Reagan statute depicting him mid-stride or let the kids play in playgrounds at the park's southern end. Surrounding the park, among others, are the National Bank of Hungary, the U.S. Embassy and the former Stock Exchange, which until recently was the headquarters of Hungarian state television.

At the southern end of Szabadsag ter, its Hungarian name, is an interactive water fountain. Stepping on tiles at the edge of the rectangular area will stop the jets of water shooting up in front of you for a few seconds, letting you in. You can exit by stepping on tiles inside. It's free, fun and children never seem to get bored with it.

Though numerous historic buildings in the old Jewish Quarter have been demolished and replaced by new apartments, there is still plenty to see in this part of Erzsebetvaros (Elizabethtown), as the 7th district is known. Near the end of World War II, its streets were walled off and turned into a ghetto and many thousands of Jews perished.
Today, there are a handful of synagogues, including Europe's largest on Dohany utca (street), old stores and workshops with the fading names of the original Jewish merchants and craftsmen and new generations of designers and restaurateurs helping to make the area popular among tourists and young locals alike.
Greatly enhancing the neighborhood's hip factor are the romkocsmak (ruin pubs). They sprung up about a decade ago, occupying abandoned buildings. Though some retain their allure of decay and quirky interiors, many of the newer bars and cafes in the vicinity offer all modern conveniences.

Nearly 250 acres in the middle of the Danube River, Margit Island can be accessed from the Margit Bridge on the south end and the Arpad Bridge on the north. It includes playgrounds, an imposing musical fountain, a petting zoo, paths for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as a track for joggers around its edge.
The middle of the Margit Bridge, right across the ramp leading to Margit Island, is an ideal spot to get a panoramic view of Buda and Pest - the neo-Gothic Parliament on the left, the Chain Bridge and Gellert Hill in the center and Buda Castle up on the right. Day or night, when many of the structures are beautifully lit, it is a breathtaking sight.
Near the Buda side of the Margit Bridge is Gul Baba's Tomb, the resting place of a Turkish poet and dervish who was killed in the city in 1541, when it was occupied for over 140 years by the Turks. The memorial, which includes a rose garden around the octagonal tomb, is open daily 10 a.m-6 p.m. It has become a popular pilgrimage place for Muslims. The most rewarding way there is a walk up the narrow, steep and cobblestoned Gul Baba utca, an inimitable path with distinctive houses and a timeless atmosphere.

The woods of Normafa, high in the Buda hills, are a favored weekend destination for picnickers, families with kids, joggers and mountain bikers. At the end of the line of the 21A bus starting from Szell Kalman ter (square), a major Buda transport hub, Normafa offers sundry trees and trails. It rarely gets lonely but there is plenty of space and fresh air. The Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Observation Tower, a 30-minute walk from the last bus stop, has narrow staircases and circular terraces with spectacular views high above the city.

Just below Kossuth Bridge in southern Buda, the Kopaszi gat (dam) is a park on a narrow peninsula between the Danube River and Lagymanyosi Bay. About half a mile long and mostly 70 yards wide, it has been recently developed and landscaped in a modern style. The dam includes a sandy beach, playgrounds and several restaurants. You can get there with bus 103. If you are coming from Pest, you can board above the Nepliget station of the M3 subway line. From Buda, it leaves from Kelenfold train station.

Cathay Pacific Is The Latest Airline To Explore Auctioning Upgrades To The Highest Bidder

Hate your airline seat? Bid higher next time.
That's right, it's auction time in the skies as airlines are creating a unique way of determining seating by actually allowing customers to bid on their upgrade. In a process that has been likened to the way eBay does business, this move would allow airlines to not only make sure every seat is booked, but also make a lot more money.
As one Cathay Pacific spokesperson explained it,"Customers would be invited to place an offer for their booked flights via a website prior to their departure date. If their offer was successful they would be advised around four days prior to departure and the offer payment collected." Basically, it just means that if you have a seat in economy and want to upgrade to business class, you can put in a bid for the empty seat you strive to sit in.
cathay pacific
Some international airlines began the "upgrade auction" as early as 2011 (JetBlue even did something similar in 2008), using programs like Plusgrade that allows passengers to bid. That doesn't mean that high-flyers have adapted well to the program, and after the announcement, many loyal to Cathay said that it would make the airline seem "cheap" and "alienate customers." Despite the negative response online, it appears Cathay is still going to "study" the auction alternative to empty seats, and continue to find ways to upgrade their passengers.
 | Contributed by Carly LedbetterThe Huffington Post 
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What Does An Airline Owe You If It Loses Your Valuables?

Be careful what you put in your checked baggage; keep valuables in your carry-on.
Q: On a flight from Paris to San Francisco, three new handbags worth $9,800 were stolen from my checked luggage. The airline has offered compensation of only $1,710. Can you help?
A: Unfortunately, even though our reader had receipts for her Céline handbags, the airline’s liability was limited under the Montreal Convention to “1,131 Special Drawing Rights” (an SDR is an artificial-currency unit) for each passenger—$1,710 at the conversion rate at that time. Some homeowners’ insurance policies and credit cards do include lost-luggage coverage, but if you’re traveling with valuable items, it’s best to pack them in your carry-on.
Got a travel problem? E-mail

Travelore Tips: Here Are 14 Tips For A More Stress-Free Flying Experience:

Air Travel Tips: airport lounge
Courtesy of Airspace Lounge
Endless security lines, jet lag, and middle seats don't have to be necessary evils of flying—not if you follow T+L's best tips for smoother air travel.
Consider that security line: TSA's PreCheck expedited program will be in 100 domestic airports by the end of 2013, and there are three ways to join.
As for jet lag, your strategy should be to get on the right schedule while in transit, with some help from The site tailors a personalized hour-by-hour schedule for meals, rest time, and even sun exposure based on your itinerary.
Timing is also key when it comes to avoiding the middle. Ask for a new seat 24 hours before your flight; that's when airlines start upgrading their elite fliers, opening up the "preferred" seats in economy that were initially been assigned to those travelers.
Perhaps the ultimate air travel dilemma is when to buy your ticket in the first place. We asked to crunch the numbers to reveal when the average fares from the U.S. are at their lowest. Daydreaming about a Caribbean getaway? Procrastinators will be rewarded with an average low of $482 just one to two weeks out.
Air Travel Tips: Flyertalk
Courtesy of FlyerTalk

Eavesdrop on the Airline Experts

Full of opinions and insights from serious road warriors, the Flyertalk online forums are invaluable. Use them to size up airlines, loyalty programs, and even travel gadgets.

Air Travel Tips: Kayak
Courtesy of Kayak

Time Your Tickets

We asked Kayak to crunch the numbers to determine when the average airfares from the United States to regions around the world are at their lowest.
U.S.A.: 3–5 weeks out $351
Caribbean: 1–2 weeks out $482
Central America: 5–8 weeks out $622
South America: 5 ½ months out $953
Europe: 7–8 weeks out $1,041
Asia: 8–9 months out $1,313

Find the Best Airfare

GetGoing: This blind-booking site nets up to 40 percent off flights if you let it pick between two destinations.
TripWatcher: Sign up to receive instant e-mail alerts when fares for a particular route drop.
Airfarewatchdog: The site’s analysts comb airline websites and other sources for the best deals, which appear in a daily e-mail newsletter.
Refund.meIf you think you might be owed money for a delayed or canceled European flight, it’ll help you file a claim
Air Travel Tips: Award Seat
Philip Toledano

Snag an Award Seat

Some airlines make it easier than others to cash in miles for a ticket. According to the annual Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey, this year’s standouts include Southwest, which had 100 percent availability in tests, followed by AirTran (95 percent), JetBlue (88.6 percent), and United (80 percent).

Air Travel Tips: TripIt
Courtesy of Tripit Pro

Manage Your Itinerary

Best for Business: Worldmate ($9.99)integrates with your calendar and LinkedIn, making it easy to network while on the road.
Best for Families: The Seat Tracker fromTripIt Pro ($49 per year) keeps tabs on cabin seat inventory and will alert you when elusive blocks of up to four seats open up.
Best for Road Warriors: The more trips you log using Traxo (free), the more perks from partner companies you receive: car-rental vouchers, free travel insurance, and even free flights.

Air Travel Tips: Speed Through the Airport
Tom Batchell

Speed Through the Airport

TSA’s PreCheck expedited security program will be in 100 domestic airports by the end of the year. Here, three ways to join.
Sign up on the Go: The TSA’s new airport enrollment centers ($85 for five years) are currently in Washington Dulles and Indianapolis airports, and expanding to others soon.
Be a Trusted Traveler: Join through one of Customs & Border Patrol’s Trusted Traveler programs, such as the popular Global Entry ($100 for five years), which also speeds you through U.S. immigration lines.
Rely on Loyalty: Enroll through the frequent-flier program of one of TSA’s partner airlines. Note: if you choose this method you’re only eligible for flights on that carrier.

Air Travel Tips: Stopjetlag
Courtesy of StopJetLag

Beat Jet Lag

The trick is to get on the right schedule while in transit. Sign up for a personalized plan with the websiteStopjetlag, which will give you an hour-by-hour schedule for meals, rest time, and even sunlight exposure, based on your travel itinerary.

Air Travel Tips: airport lounge
Courtesy of Airspace Lounge

Wait in Comfort in an Airport Lounge

Buy a Day Pass: All the legacy carriers sell them for their lounges both here and abroad for roughly $50.
Find an Independent Lounge: Airspace has a small network of lounges in domestic airports, which American Express Platinum card members can access for free. In Asia and Canada, look for spaces fromPlaza Premium ($49 per visit); No. 1 Traveller ($45 per visit) and Servisair ($28 per visit) have lounges throughout the U.K. Services such as Lounge Pass(from $35 per visit) and Priority Pass ($27 per visit, plus $99 annually) partner with airlines and independent companies to offer access to locations worldwide.
Choose the Right Card: For an annual fee, some credit cards—including American Express Platinum($450) and Chase’s United MileagePlus Club Card($395)—offer complimentary access to both airline and independent lounges. American Express also recently opened the Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas McCarran and at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Access is free for travelers with Centurion and Platinum Cards, and $50 for all other American Express cardholders.

Air Travel Tips: Wear the Right Fabrics
Ben Wiseman

Wear the Right Fabrics

Stay Warm: Cashmere wraps and sweaters are lightweight, but perfect for chilly planes.
Stretch Out: Lycra jeans move with you but maintain their shape. The best contain at least 10 percent Lycra.
Keep It Crisp: Look for wrinkle-free twill shirts and pants from brands such as L.L. Bean and Brooks Brothers.
Consider Comfort: Knit blazers are more pliable for ease of movement and less creasing.

Air Travel Tips: Don’t Lose Your Luggage
Philip Toledano

Don’t Lose Your Luggage

Spy on Your Suitcase: Plant it with the palm-size Trakdot ($50, plus $13 annual fee). The small box automatically transmits its location using a GSM chip, allowing you to follow your bag’s route via SMS, e-mail, or the Trakdot app and website.
Pick the Right Carriers: The airline with the best record for luggage handling over the past two years? Virgin America, which averages just 0.88 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Following close behind: JetBlue (1.88) and AirTran (2.02). American Eagle, on the other hand, averaged 6 incidents per 1,000 passengers.
Ship Your Bags: Consider sending your bags straight to the hotel (or golf course, or cruise ship) through a service such as Luggage Forward or Luggage FreeOvernight delivery of a 25-pound bag from New York to L.A. will run about $150—more than your airline charges, but considerably less than UPS.

Air Travel Tips: Find a Better Sandwich
C Squared Studios/Getty Images

Find a Better Sandwich

The GateGuru app has detailed terminal maps and restaurant reviews for more than 100 airports around the world.

Air Travel Tips: Routehappy
Courtesy of RouteHappy

Get a Better Seat

Find the Best Plane: Not all aircraft are created equal. Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner features higher humidity and lower pressure (to minimize jet lag) and smart-glass windows that dim on command. The carriers flying the new aircraft: British Airways, LAN, and Japan Airlines. If cabin design is important, you can also look to SeatGuruand Routehappy, which both have flight-search functions that let you prioritize legroom, Wi-Fi connectivity, and seatback entertainment over, say, price and flight time.
Time Your Request: Ask for a new seat 24 hours before a flight. That’s when airlines start upgrading their elite fliers, opening up the “preferred” seats in economy that had previously been assigned to those travelers. Repeat your request at the check-in desk and gate.
Look Into Premium Economy: Though they won’t give you all the plush comforts of business class, these seats are often worth the extra money for the added four or five inches of legroom alone. International carriers have 

Air Travel Tips: luggage delivery service
David Pearson / Alamy

Go Straight to Your Meeting

Tired of waiting around at the baggage carousel? US Airways, United, and American will now deliver your bags within 40 miles of a domestic airport within six hours of your flight’s arrival. The cost: $30 for one bag, $40 for two.

Air Travel Tips: Tip the skycap
ZUMA Press, Inc. /Alamy

Tip Like a Pro

Worried you’ll get hit with excess weight charges on your luggage? Use a skycap at the curb and tip well—you may receive some leniency.

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Just Revealed Food & Beverage Options Coming To The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley At The Universal Orlando Resort

Just Revealed: Food & Beverage Coming to Diagon Alley!

There are so many things I’m looking forward to experiencing when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opens this summer. But one of the things at the top of my list is trying all the amazing food and beverage options that I’ll be able to enjoy throughout the land. I’m a big Harry Potter fan and an even bigger foodie…so the thought of combining food and drink with one of my favorite series is absolutely amazing!
We’ll all have the opportunity to actually step inside places you've only seen in the films and read about in the books and actually taste some of the foods and drinks your favorite characters have enjoyed!
First up is the Leaky Cauldron – where I got to take a sneak peek earlier this week.  It looks just like it does in the films…all the way down to the huge cauldron that sits in the middle of the restaurant.  Here, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious British fare like…
  • Bangers and Mash (traditional roasted sausages with creamy mashed potatoes)
  • Toad in the Hole (traditional sausage baked into a Yorkshire pudding and served with onion gravy)
  • Cottage Pie (a savory combination of meat and vegetables in a potato crust)
  • Fisherman’s Pie (salmon, shrimp and cod baked together under a potato crust)
  • Beef, Lamb & Guinness Stew (served in a bread bowl)
  • Ploughman’s (a feast of English cheeses, crusty bread, cornichon pickles, apple beet salad, Branston pickle and a Scotch egg)
  • Split Pea Soup
  • Banger Pub Style Sandwich
  • Fish and Chips
  • And more!
Diagon Alley Food Beef Lamb and Guinness Stew
And you can finish off your meal with scrumptious desserts like Chocolate Potted Cream, Cranachan and Sticky Toffee Pudding.  There will also be breakfast served at the Leaky Cauldron with two new breakfast items, only available at Diagon Alley: an Apple Oatmeal Flan with Yogurt and Fruit and an Egg, Leek and Mushroom Pasty.
There will also be new beverages for you to enjoy in Diagon Alley like:
  • Fishy Green Ale (it’s Fishy Green Ale, use your imagination!)
  • Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice
  • Tongue Tying Lemon Squash
  • Peachtree Fizzing Tea
  • Wizard’s Brew (draught beer)
  • Dragon Scale (draught beer)
  • Gillywater
  • Pumpkin Juice
  • Butterbeer (of course!)
Another must-stop during your trip to Diagon Alley will be Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment, a cart located in Horizont Alley, where you can enjoy unique elixirs. Here’s how it works:  you select from a variety of elixirs like Draught of Peace, Babbling Beverage, Elixir to Induce Euphoria and Fire Protection Potion, and then add the elixir to Gillywater.  By mixing them, you’ll see your drink transform before your eyes and experience a delightful flavor surprise. Too cool!
And of course, to top it all off, you have Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. You may remember Florean Fortescue’s from the first book and film “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” when Hagrid bought Harry a chocolate and raspberry ice-cream with chopped nuts. You’ll be able to do the same with unique flavors of ice-cream like…
  • Granny Smith (pictured)
  • Early Grey and Lavender
  • Chocolate Chili
  • Clotted Cream
  • Apple Crumble
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Salted Caramel Blondie
  • Chocolate and Raspberry
  • Strawberry and Peanut-Butter
  • Orange Marmalade
  • Butterbeer (that’s right, Butterbeer-flavored ice cream!)
During my time learning about the new food and beverage options in Diagon Alley, I had the opportunity to sit with Ric Florell, the Senior Vice President of Revenue Operations at Universal Orlando Resort, and Executive Chef Steve Jayson to learn all the details. Here’s what they had to say:
Deni: How did you approach developing food or beverage that has only existed in the Harry Potter books and films and people’s imaginations?
Ric: The first thing we did was research. We took a look at the Harry Potter books and the films and determined which foods and beverages we wanted to concoct for our guests. Of course, we had to have the Leaky Cauldron. The tricky part was creating a menu when there was no mention of any of the food items in the books and only one mention in the films to Split Pea Soup. So, we devised a menu with delicious dishes you would find in a British pub. 
We also took into consideration what our guests wanted. For example, we received a lot of interest in having a larger beer selection in the Hog’s Head pub in Hogsmeade. We took that feedback and decided to offer more options in the Leaky Cauldron. 
Our goal is to give our guests a culinary experience that immerses them in the fun, excitement and wonder of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 
Deni: Did you work with J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. for the development and creation? 
Ric: Yes, we definitely worked closely with our partners to put together the menus and beverages that will be found in Diagon Alley. After we developed our recipes and dishes, we had multiple tastings with Warner Bros.
Deni: Speaking of Butterbeer, it has been so well received along with the rest of the Three Broomsticks menu at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. How have you continued the culinary progression from Hogsmeade into Diagon Alley?
Chef Jayson: We wanted to expand the dining from Hogsmeade into Diagon Alley by re-creating another beloved restaurant found in the Harry Potter books and films that delivers a completely different experience than the Three Broomsticks – yet, has the same magical feel. In the Leaky Cauldron, you actually feel as if you’re walking into a pub with dishes that are true to the British culture.  We even imported certain ingredients like English cheeses to add to our dishes. 
With Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, you can order flavors of ice-cream that were inspired by flavors associated with England, like Clotted Cream and Earl Grey and Lavender. You will also encounter fun flavors you would expect to only find in the wizarding world like Butterbeer.
Plus, there are a few surprises we’re leaving for our guests to discover. We challenged ourselves to bring the food and drink of Harry Potter’s world to life, and I feel our guests will leave here saying we were successful. 
Deni: How does the food and beverage in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley fit into the overall picture of Universal Orlando’s culinary experience?
Ric: When our guests dine with us in our restaurants, we want them to be fully immersed in the theme, so they feel as if they’re in that world. With The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we want our guests to feel as if they’re a part of the adventures that their favorite characters experienced. As they dine in the Leaky Cauldron, we want them to feel the authenticity of British cuisine as well as the magic of being in Diagon Alley. 
We’re bringing to life our guests’ favorite stories and giving them a chance to experience them firsthand – and we want our food and beverages to enhance that experience.
Deni: And now for the best question: what are your favorite dishes or drinks coming to Diagon Alley?
Ric: I really love the Bangers and Mash that will be served in the Leaky Cauldron. And I’ll have to say the Ploughman’s, because it’s a plate the whole table can enjoy. 
Chef Jayson: For me, I’m especially proud to be a part of the team that created Butterbeer, so that’s definitely a favorite. As for new dishes, I really enjoy our pies. Our classic Shepherd’s Pie is always delicious, and our new Fisherman’s Pie is especially tasty. 
 What are you looking forward to trying in Diagon Alley this summer? Tell us by commenting below.

Diagon Alley Food Mini Pie Platter
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Contributed by Deni Cox
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