Fodor's Brazil 2000
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A Land of Contrast and Diversity
Brazil is truly a land of contrasts, and any visit here is likely to be a sensuous adventure. A variety of cultures, beliefs, and topographies make this warm nation a showcase of diversity. An array of nature's bounty -- from passion fruit and papaya to giant river fish and coastal crabs -- has inspired chefs from all over the world to come and try their hands in Brazilian restaurants (adding lightness and zest to the country's already exquisite cuisine). Spas -- with bubbling mineral water and soothing hot springs -- all over the land offer the best that both nature and technology can offer. Whether you travel to the Amazon rain forest, the mountain towns of Minas Gerais, the urban jungle of São Paulo, or the immense central plateau surrounding Brasília, you'll plunge into an exotic mix of colors, rhythms, and pastimes.
Brazil's Atlantic coast runs more than 7,300 km (4,600 mi), edging the country with sandy, palm-lined shores as well as some dramatic, rugged stretches. Many northeastern praias (beaches) offer sweeping, isolated expanses of gloriously high dunes; warm, aquamarine waters; and constant breezes. Of course Rio's famous beaches seem to embody the Brazilians themselves: vibrant, social, joyful, and beautiful. São Paulo's cleanest and best sands are along the North Shore, where mountains and bits of Atlantic forest hug small, sandy coves. In the south, some glorious sands and slightly cooler climes can be found in Paraná State as well as on Ilha de Santa Catarina; still farther south the Mata Atlântica gives way to cliffs that run into the sea. Not all the best beaches are on the ocean. The banks of the Amazon and its tributaries also have splendid sandy stretches.
Carnaval (Carnival) is the biggest party of the year. In some areas, events begin right after Reveillon (New Year's) and continue beyond the four main days of celebration (just before the start of Lent) with smaller feasts and festivities. At Carnaval's peak, businesses close throughout the country as Brazilians don costumes -- from the elaborate to the barely there -- and take to the streets singing and dancing. These four explosive days of color see formal parades as well as spontaneous street parties fueled by flatbed trucks that carry bands from neighborhood to neighborhood.
The music for which Brazil is most famous, samba, has its roots in lundu (a Bantu rhythm that's reminiscent of a fandango yet is characterized by a free-form, hip-swiveling style of dance) and maxixe (a mixture of polka as well as Portuguese and African rhythms). The more mournful samba (from the Bantu word semba, meaning "gyrating movement") originated in Rio de Janeiro in the early 20th century but wasn't refined until the 1940s, when Rio's Carnaval competitions began. Contributions by performers in Bahia led to further transformations. Today its many forms include the pure samba de morro (literally "of the hill," figuratively "of the poor neighborhood"), which is performed using only percussion instruments, and the samba cançao (the more familiar "samba song").
Titel: Fodor's Brazil 2000
Zustand: Very Good
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