6/8/14


Porto Covo is one of the two civil parishes in the municipality of Sines and it's located in the western coast of Portugal (part of the Sudoeste Alentejano and Costa Vicentina Natural Park), about 170 km from Lisbon and is well known for its beaches. 


Porto Covo was a small fishing village and the name "Covo" probably comes from covo, a kind of fishing nest to capture lobsters and crabs.
Since 1990, it has become a popular destination for tourism due to its beaches (many of them being only small coves between rocks), natural beauty, the charming rows of immaculately whitewashed houses and fine dining. 


Porto Covo is a popular holiday destination among the Portuguese. No mass tourism, but in summer just pretty busy.
Right by the village, Praia Grande Beach has all the characteristics of an urban beach with 
both good means of access and services and facilities. Surrounded by rocky cliffs, the sheltered sands are bathed in clean waters that on occasion throw up waves capable of attracting the surfing community.



Praia Grande and the Beach of Pessegueiro Island are the widest and the most accessible, but the whole parish’s coast is full of small beaches with fine sand and clear waters, separated by large rocks, that look like they were made to create a feeling of intimacy and exclusivity.
Vieirinha, Oliveirinha, Foz, Burrinho, Samouqueira (the magnificent Samouqueira…), Pequena, Espingardeiro, Búzios, are some of the names of these treasures as small as they are precious. All these beaches have good sanitary conditions, but some of them have a difficult access and have no permanent surveillance.
 

Near the village there are two fortresses from the end of the sixteenth century, the time of King Filipe I of Portugal (Filipe II of Spain): one in the Island of Pessegueiro, which is now in ruins, and the other in the coast, just in front of it. These were built to contribute to the defense and surveillance of the area, which was supposed to become an important maritime port.

Pessegueiro Island

Pessegueiro Island is one of the municipality’s most interesting places, either from the historic or from the landscape point of view. The island has ruins of a Roman port and in the cliff in front of it stands the Pessegueiro Fort. A channel separates the island from mainland, crating a beautiful beach with good conditions for windsurfing and spear-fishing. During summer it’s possible to visit the island on organized boat trips from Sines and Porto Covo. 
Pessegueiro Island is a part of the parish and a song of Rui Veloso took the name of these parishes, and made it known among the Portuguese.


The climate is warm and temperate in Porto Covo. In winter there is much more rainfall in Porto Covo than in summer.  The average temperature in Porto Covo in winter months can go as low as 4ºC and in summer up to 40ºC.

e Autumn months are generally quite mild, with the ocean waters reaching pleasant  temperatures and the winds dying down. - See more at: http://www.rotavicentina.com/the-region/clima/?lang=en#sthash.VpH7ShvM.dpuf

From March on, sunny days alternate with rainy days and temperatures start to rise. The reborn landscape and the intensity of the colours and aromas make Spring one of the best seasons to visit the area. - See more at: http://www.rotavicentina.com/the-region/clima/?lang=en#sthash.VpH7ShvM.dpuf
All Summer season, particularly July and August, when is too warm, is not the best season to walk in the Rota Vicentina. - See more at: http://www.rotavicentina.com/the-region/clima/?lang=en#sthash.VpH7ShvM.dpuf
The Autumn months are generally quite mild, with the ocean waters reaching pleasant  temperatures and the winds dying down. - See more at: http://www.rotavicentina.com/the-region/clima/?lang=en#sthash.VpH7ShvM.dpuf

















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6/6/14



Cabo San Lucas, commonly called Cabo, is a varied destination that captures the essence of Baja Peninsula in its many resorts, championship golf courses, world-class dining and amazing outdoor activities.


For much of its history, Cabo was a sleepy, remote fishing port which was generally accessed either by ship or a three-hour drive from La Paz. In 1977, the airport to the north of San Jose del Cabo was expanded to handle jet aircraft and international flights, thereby launching the transformation of Cabo into one of the most popular resort destinations in Mexico.



During the 1980s and 1990s, Cabo San Lucas grew into a bustling hub for sport fishermen, cruise ships, handicraft vendors, water sport aficionados and nightlife seekers.


Cabo's growth was further accelerated after Hurricane Wilma erased large parts of Cancun's legendary white sand beaches in 2005. During the four years it took to fully rebuild Cancun, many tourists looked at other parts of Mexico for their vacation options, and discovered Cabo.


The Cabo area is now considered the second fastest growing resort destination in all of Mexico. It is particularly busy with visitors during the winter high season, November to February. With some of the best all-around sport fishing in the world and every water sport imaginable, Cabo is the ultimate destination for travelers looking for outdoor adventure.
In part, Cabo has become a hot vacation destination for its convenience; it’s just a quick jaunt from most U.S. gateways and English is widely spoken. And of course, there are the luxurious accommodations, magnificent private villas and amazing resorts.



The city’s action is centered around Cabo’s first-class marina where beautiful yachts dock and fishing charters  head out in search of marlin, dorado and other big-game species. In the surrounding streets you’ll find a lively scene teeming with restaurants, all-night party spots and shops selling everything from local handicrafts to designer clothing.

You’ll love every minute you spend in Los Cabos whether you’re walking along its secluded beaches, parasailing, snorkeling, diving along a coral, enjoying five-star cuisine, playing golf on some of the world’s best championship courses, reeling in trophy game fish from our bountiful waters off the coast, discovering the rugged beauty of the countryside or the cultural heritage of the city, or just sipping a margarita with your toes in the sand.



In the winter, pods of whales can be observed in the area. They bear their calves in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez after completing their six-thousand-mile migration from Alaska and Siberia.
Sea of Cortez offers a lot more beneath its surface: gigantic whale sharks, loggerhead sea turtles, gliding manta rays, migrating whales, sea lions and an endless palette of colorful tropical fishes

Chileno Beach, located in the Chileno Bay, is one of the most frequented beaches in the Corridor. It is home to tropical fish, sea turtles, invertebrates, and sponges. Snorkelers often visit Chileno Bay to observe the underwater sea life.

For ecotourism enthusiasts Los Cabos is the place to be, because it is such a diverse and rich area offering the desert, the ocean and the mountains to explore.


Language
Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken by those employed in tourism.

Climate
Subtropical desert. During the summer, highs can be in the 32ºC with occasional showers. Winter evenings may drop to the 15ºC, with daytime highs near 28ºC.




With 360 days of sunshine, there is really no bad time to be in Cabo San Lucas.
High season runs from November to May - which is when the prices are the highest. Christmas is the busiest time in Cabo. Spring Break (mid-March) tend to be very popular for college students and families. Carnival (February – March) is also a very busy time in Cabo.
Low season is June – Mid-November. This season has the hot summer months of July and August and the tropical storm and hurricane months of September and October.
- See more at: http://www.allaboutcabo.com/about-cabo#sthash.bF1inLA0.dpuf
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Puntarenas (from "punta arenas" or "sand point") is the capital and largest city in the Puntarenas province, in Costa Rica.
Situated at the end of a sandy peninsula (8 km long but only 100m to 600m wide), Puntarenas is just 110km west of San Jose. The city has 60 streets (calles) running north to south, but only 5 avenues (avenidas) running west to east at its widest point. As in all of Costa Rica, street names are not relevant and landmarks are used for orientation.


Once one of the most important cargo ports, Puntarenas is nowadays an important docking location for cruise ships and remains the country's most important fishing port as well.
From the docks, visitors can catch the ferry over to the tip Nicoya Peninsula, abundant in pristine white sand beaches, quaint communities alongside nature reserves.


South of Puntarenas lies the bustling beach town of Jaco, a very popular tourist destination full of great restaurants, bars, hotels and markets. Surfers from around the world flock here to take advantage of the waves and great breaks.
The side walks are lined with street venders selling their treasures which make excellent souvenirs.


What to do and see: 

Mangrove Forest.  On the north side of the peninsula, crocodiles, herons, and red snappers can be found in and around the mangrove forest that grows here. The forest can be seen from any pier on the north side of the city, and some fishermen with small boats on these piers may be able to take you for a small tour if asked and offered compensation. 

Paseo de los turistas (Tourist walk). This stretch is located along the main beach in Puntarenas and is one of the most visited places because of its variety of high-quality services for tourists. It runs from the Marino del Pacífico to La punta. Around the cruise line pier there are many kiosks and places to buy arts and crafts as well as traditional fruit salad and frozen drinks.

Marino del Pacífico Park. A park established in 2002 and located where the historic train station is, and its main attraction is the fish aquariums where you can see species native to the Pacific Ocean.

Puntarenas and its surrounding area offer an excellent assortment of activities such as sea kayaking, sports fishing, and tours to Tortuga Island. Walk along the river and over bridges to a series of waterfalls on the Waterfall Canopy Tour or enjoy snorkeling in calm waters with picturesque surroundings. Whatever your pleasure there’s sure to be something here for you.


Climate: 
Puntarenas is generally hotter than the Costa Rican Central Valley, with daytime highs ranging from 30°C to 35°C in the coldest/hottest months, respectively.

Language:
Official language is Spanish.
Most people in touristic sites speak English.
Besides Spanish other Costa Rica spoken languages or Indigenous languages spoken in Costa Rica are Bribri, Maleku, Guaymí, Cabécar and Boruca, however the Indigenous peoples of Costa Rica represent only a 1% of the Costa Rican population and they occupied only 350000 hectares of the territory for these reason the indigenous languages of Costa Rica are only spoken in isolated areas off the beaten path, in places such as the Talamanca Mountain Range.






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Barbados is a coral island, pushed out of sea by volcanic activity in a far away time.
On the West Coast, coral shore beaches of fine white sand stretch along a blue-green sea. Coral reefs fringe the Barbados shoreline providing excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.
On the East Coast, strong and constant winds pounding the waves against a rocky shore, creates a perfect scenario for surfers.

 
The origin of the name Barbados  is either Portuguese or Spanish, meaning "the bearded ones", which could be referring to the long hanging roots of the bearded fig-trees indigenous from the island or, to the allegedly Caribs once inhabiting the island. Its uncertain which European nation arrived first in Barbados. According to some sources it was the Spanish during Columbus early voyages; others believe the Portuguese were the first Europeans on the way to Brazil.


Mostly, a flat coral island with excellent beaches, but also some rolling hills and many deep ridges and gullies, with and interesting distribution of flora and fauna.
Within the Barbados coral core, there is a vast array of caves and underground lakes which provides and excellent supply of drinking water that is amongst the purest in the world.
A unique paradise, surprisingly sophisticated, friendly, fun and naturally charming, with lots of activities, night life, music, history, art and some of the best restaurants. The people, Barbadians, often called Bajans, are warm and friendly souls, always ready to greet you with a sincere smile and welcome you into this beautiful Caribbean Island.

At Bridgetown Marina

What to do and see:

Scuba diving. An amazing experience to explore coral reefs blossoming with sponge, coral and plant life as well as spotting turtles, giant sand eels, sea horses and shipwrecks. The waters around Barbados are some of the most transparent in the Caribbean.

Swimming with sea turtles. Several catamarans offer sailing tours that include stops to swim and snorkel with sea turtles. A unique experience.

Botanical Gardens. A beautiful Botanical Garden with more fauna information than most similar places across the planet.

Golf. Several international golf on the island offer world class courses.

Nightclubbing. St Lawrence Gap  (a strip of bars, restaurants and hotels), where the party stops when you say so. A place where bars and nightclubs rub shoulders with old rum shops and karaoke dens.

Mount Gay Rum Distillery. A distillery that can offer a bit more than just a tour, also a taste of the local rum and local food.

Harrison's cave. Underground cave with stalactites, stalagmites, small waterfalls and pools. Ride by tram through the cave and you can disembark at different points.

For fitness fanatics there are also guided hikes and horse riding trails along coasts, on beaches, and through the countryside and, for an extra kick, a zipline experience.

If you prefer to explore the history of the island's colonial past, visit Nelson´s Statue, St Michaels Cathedral or the National Heroes Square.

Or, just enjoy the perfect white sandy beaches and swim in the emerald seas.



Climate



The best time to visit Barbados is from December to May when there is little rain, lots of sun, and humidity is lower. Typically Barbados is hot year round but constant trade winds help keep humidity down. The months from June to November are the wettest although days can pass without any rain and, as is normal in the Caribbean, there is a hurricane season between July and November although they are very rare.
From December to May the average temperatures range from 21 to 31ºC, while between June and November, they range from 23 to 31ºC.
 
Language
 
English is the official language. 
Bajan, a regional variant of English, is spoken by most Barbadians in everyday life, especially in informal settings.










 
 
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San Diego is California's second largest city, relatively free from smog and overbuilt freeways, is set around a gracefully curving bay, where blue skies keep watch over this 70 miles of majestic and pristine coastline and a gentle Mediterranean climate and friendly locals create a welcoming vibe all its own.


 Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Anza-Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains to the east and Mexico to the south, San Diego offers endless opportunities for exploration and activities.

My view of San Diego from the top deck on a cruise ship

Although it was the site of the first mission in California, San Diego only really took off with the arrival of the Santa Fé Railroad in the 1880s, and has long been in the shadow of Los Angeles. However, during World War II the US Navy made San Diego its Pacific Command Center, and the military continues to dominate the local economy, alongside tourism.


If San Diego is known for one thing, it would be for the gorgeous long white beaches, sunny weather, and bronzed bodies give rise to the city's well-deserved nickname, "Sandy Ego."
With all year-around sunshine and mild temperatures, you can enjoy the surf and sand almost any day of the year. From expansive sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, reefs and tide pools, the beaches in San Diego are as varied as the California beach towns that were built around them.


A plethora of options await for recreation on the water; from fishing, sailing and jet-skiing, scuba diving to surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and kite boarding. On land, explorers can enjoy gorgeous hikes in the desert or a trek up mountains to take in beautiful views, tour the terrain on horseback or on a mountain bike, or enjoy the lush greens of the many golf courses spotted throughout the region.
San Diego has unlimited outdoor recreation, a thriving arts and culture community, lots sightseeing, bird and whale watch tours and award-winning restaurants, you’re sure to find a host of things to entertain and inspire you.



Things to do and see:

San Diego Zoo. An urban paradise for all ages. A tropical oasis with amazing habitats for animals such as gorillas, tigers, sun bears, flamingos, mandrills, polar bears, birds of para dise, giant tortoises, leopards and lot more. Discover the wonders of wildlife with animal encounters, interactive experiences, and keeper presentations. A leader in animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo is at the heart of the San Diego experience.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park. One of the wildest stretches of land on the Southern California coast, is dedicated to preserve its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. A coastal wilderness of pine forests and sandstone canyons, the park offers hiking trails that wind their way along the cliffs, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Flower fields in Carlsbad. Enjoy a spectacle of wild desert blooms or walk a rainbow of colours at the fields of Carlsbad. No matter what time of the year, there's always a garden in bloom in San Diego.

Balboa Park. Often referred to as the "Smithsonian of the West", this is the largest urban park with cultural institutions in the United States. Fifteen museums cover topics including anthropology, art, aviation, natural science and technology.

Old Town San Diego. Considered the "birth place" of California, it gives visitors a glimpse into colonial life in San Diego from 1821 to 1872. Mixed among award-winning restaurants and lots of shops, you will find historical sites and museums, many with free admission.

LEGOLAND California Resort. It's a hands-on experience with more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. It's home to LEGOLAND Water Park, Sea Life Aquarium and LEGO Legends of CHIMA Water Park.

Aquatica San Diego. A Sea World water park, which features exciting water slides, a sandy beach and close-up animal encounters.


Climate
San Diego enjoys beautiful weather all year round with an average daily temperature 22º C.

Language
English



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6/5/14

Cajun cuisine was brought to Louisiana, America's Deep South, by the Cajuns of southern France, who emigrated there via Nova Scotia. This recipe isn't popcorn at all but roughly chopped prawns or crabmeat mixed in batter and fried in small clumps to resemble popcorn.Great as a savoury snack with drinks, or as a main course served with salad.

Ingredients:
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp lager or milk
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 225g headless raw tiger prawns, roughly chopped (or an equivalent weight of peeled prawns or crabmeat or a mixture of the two)
  • vegetable oil for shallow frying
  • lemon or lime wedges to serve

Preparation:

Sift the self-raising flour and cornflour together, then stir in the remaining dry ingredients.
Add the eggs and lager or milk and beat the mixture to a thick batter. Stir in the spring onions and prawns.
Heat about 5 mm vegetable oil in a large frying pan and drop in spoonfuls of the mixture, making sure that they are well apart. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning once, until golden on both sides.
Drain on kitchen paper. Serve at once with lemon or lime wedges.
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Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 900g aubergines
  • 1kg fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley and fresh dill
  • 2 onions
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 350g white leek
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dired
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 strips of lemon zest
 
Preparation: 

Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC or Gas Mark 3. Cut the aubergines into large dice, sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside for at least half an hour, then rinse and squeeze out excess of moisture.
Meanwhile, plunge the tomatoes into boiling water, then rapidily into cold. Skin and chop them.
Roughly chop the fresh herbs, onion and green pepper.
Soften the chopped onion and garlic in half the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the aubergines. leeks, green pepper, dill and half of the parsley, and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, lemon zest, tomato purée and sugar and stir again. Pour over the remaining oil and transfer, if necessary, to an ovenproof casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.
Cook in the oven, tightly covered, for 1 and 1/2 hours or until perfectly tender.
This magnificent vegetable mixture can be served hot, garnished with the remaining herbs, but it shows off its flavours best when cold.
Try it with cold chicken or turkey, or warm cornbread.
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2/5/14


A tribute to my dear friend and famous guitar player Custódio Castelo

Fado is a national treasure and is a worldwide musical symbol of Portuguese culture and tradition.
Love, fate, sadness, nostalgia... feelings whispered on a strong, but gentle, voice that can never be explained but only felt...
In 2011, Fado was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Although its origins remain a mystery, it's thought that Fado originated in sailor's bars in Lisbon towards the end of the 18th century. The pain of those who watched their loved ones depart for the discoveries, without knowing if they would see them again, could have been the starting point for this sentimental song genre. Its name comes from the Latin 'fatum', meaning fate.
From the last quarter of the 19th century it was adopted by the aristocrats to express their romantic feelings using the words of great Portuguese poets and writers and became linked to the word "saudade" (a longing for home and familiar places).
One of the earliest manifestations of Fado was in a song depicting the forbidden love story between a gypsy woman by the name of Maria Severa and the Count de Vimioso, a man of nobility. Entrenched in the hopelessness of their love, as Chris Da Rosa of Vanguard Squad states, ‘Maria would find comfort in belting out her sorrows in the bars and clubs of Lisbon’s Bairro Alto, while strumming along on her guitarra portuguesa (a twelve-string mandolin-like instrument, possibly of Moorish origin)’. This story was depicted in Portugal’s first all talking sound film, A Severa.  
In the Fado, the singer - fadista - stands dressed in black in front of the audience and behind the fadista are the musicians playing the wonderful "guitarra portuguesa" (portuguese guitar). They sing of their loves, of their city, or the miseries of life, critical of society and its politicians. When the fadista sings a hush falls over the room and no food is served.

Some historical names are Carlos do Carmo, Alfredo Marceneiro, Hermínia Silva, Rodrigo, Maria Alice and Tristão da Silva. But the most famous and widely regarded as the best fadista was Amália Rodrigues (1920 – 1999), previously known as the ‘Rainha do Fado’ (Queen of Fado), who initially pushed the genre’s boundaries, helping to develop and define it into what it is today. Amália Rodrigues travelled the world performing and recording.
The new Queen of Fado is Mariza, a young and dynamic fadista that has moved the hearts of thousands of people around the globe, a multiple grammy nominee and a winner of the BBC Best European Act award, she represents a contemporary interpretation of this old musical tradition.
Other contemporary artists are Camané, Cristina Branco, Ana Moura and Carminho, just to name a few.

Portugal is proud of its music and it is best heard in the Fado houses. 
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2/3/14



Between September and March

 Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greenland, Svalbard, Alaska, Canada and Russia

The Northern Lights occur when solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and on impact emit burning gases that produce different coloured lights. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora. Pale green and pink are the most common.
The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.
The scientific term for the lights is the aurora borealis (named after the Roman goddess of the dawn).
The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south.

The aurora borealis occurs in an oval doughnut-shaped area located above the magnetic pole. The best sightings are within the “doughnut” (rather than at the pole itself), and away from artificial light and moonlight.
The oval rotates with the sun, and it may grow and shrink in size considerably in only a matter of hours. The most spectacular displays occur in the northern parts of the following areas: the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland (including all of Greenland and Svalbard), Alaska, Canada and Russia. Fainter displays of the lights can regularly be seen from Scotland. During periods of “solar maximum”, as now, they have been viewed from southern England.

Displays of the lights are notoriously unpredictable and cannot be forecast in advance. In the northern hemisphere, the aurora season runs from late September or early October to late March. The lights may be seen at any time during this period, but late October, November, February and March are the best bets.
Displays are governed by an 11-year cycle and are at their most dramatic during times of high solar activity (last one was 2013) but sightings can be recorded at any time. It is impossible to guarantee a viewing even during a period of “solar maximum”; if the sky is cloudy, the lights will be concealed.


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28 February – 4 March 2014

Although Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World. The Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, it has also a benchmark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most interesting artistic events on the Globe. Almost everyone has heard of the Rio Carnaval. Foreign visitors to it alone number around 500,000 every year.

Carnival in Rio is a wild 5 days celebration, 40 days before Easter. It officially starts on Friday and finishes on Fat Tuesday with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday after which one is supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures. Carnival with all its excesses, celebrated as a profane event, can be considered an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. It usually happens in February, the hottest month in the Southern Hemisphere, when the Rio summer is at its peak
Often wearing masks and colorful costumes, they dance to the beats of drums and music, Samba being the most prevalent form of dancing here.
A major parade with beautifully dressed samba dancers and decorated moving vehicles goes through the stadium as hundreds of people keep joining the parade as the parade makes its way.

There are carnival celebrations in virtually every corner of Brazil, the best-known ones taking place in Recife together with the neighboring Olinda (in the North of Brazil) and Salvador Bahia. But the biggest and most famous carnival is undoubtedly the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
In Salvador de Bahia, carnival is celebrated a little differently. Street carnival is celebrated in this city rather than having a stadium as a venue for the parade. Thousands of people throng the streets from early dawn and dance their way through the city till late evenings. Carnival in Salvador also lasts a little longer than in Rio.

Carnival in Brazil is a major holiday when people shut shops and come out on the streets to celebrate life. The festival is organized by various samba schools in the country which are also involved in various community services.

The roots of Carnival trace back to the ancient Romans and Greeks who celebrated the rites of spring. Across Europe, including France, Spain and Portugal, people annually gave thanks by throwing parties, wearing masks and dancing in the streets. Such traditions were carried over to the New World.
The Portuguese first brought the concept of "celebration or carnival" to Rio around 1850. The practice of holding balls and masquerade parties was imported by the city’s bourgeoisie from Paris. However, in Brazil, the traditions soon became different. Over time, they acquired unique elements deriving from African and Amerindian cultures.
Groups of people would parade through the streets playing music and dancing. It was usual that during Carnival aristocrats would dress up as commoners, men would cross-dress as women and the poor dress up as princes and princesses - social roles and class differences were expected to be forgotten once a year but only for the duration of the festival.
Brazilians used to riot the Carnival until it was accepted by the government as an expression of culture. The black slaves became actively involved in the celebrations. They were able to be free for five days. Nowadays the slums' communities are still the most involved groups in all the carnival preparations and they are the ones for whom Rio Carnival means the most.
By the end of the 18 century the festivities were enriched by competitions. People would not just dress up in costumes but also perform a parade accompanied by an orchestra of strings, drums and other instruments. These ever more organized competitions became the main attractions of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, street carnival in Rio was musically a very euro centric affair - Polkas, Waltzes, Mazurkas and 'Scottish'. Meanwhile, the emergent working class (made up mainly of Afro Brazilians, along with some gypsies, Russian, Jews, Poles and etc.) developed their own music and rhythm. These people were mostly based in the central part of Rio, on a land that the rich did not want - on the hills and swamps behind the dockyards - an area which came to be known as 'Little Africa' now recognized as the cradle of samba.
The parades were halted during World War II and restarted in 1947. By then the main competition took place downtown on Avenida Rio Branco.
Carnival has gone a long way since it was brought to Rio, having become one of the biggest events in the World. One of the most important recent developments was that the biggest parade the Samba Parade  moved from the streets downtown to the purpose-built Sambodromo.



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