Brasilia: Brazil’s Fantasy Island

South America is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

The continent is home to twelve independent countries (and three territories). The countries (from roughly north to south and east to west) are:

Venezuela, capital Caracas
Guyana, capital Georgetown
Suriname, capital Paramaribo
Colombia, capital Bogotá
Brazil, capital Brasilia
Ecuador, capital Quito
Peru, capital Lima
Bolivia, capital La Paz
Chile, capital Santiago
Argentina, capital Buenos Aires
Paraguay, capital Asunción
Uruguay, capital Montevideo

Nature lovers come here to see the vast array of birds and wildlife, particularly along the Amazon River which runs roughly east-west, mostly through Peru and Brazil, with many tributaries which reach out into Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Several companies offer tour boats to take passengers up and down the river for birding and wild-animal viewing.

Archaeology and history enthusiasts come to South America to view the many Incan ruins. Machu Picchu, located in Peru, is perhaps the most famous of these. It was built in 1450, abandoned in about 1550, and unknown (except to natives indigenous to the region) until it was discovered by an American historian, Hiram Bingham in 1911. While Machu Picchu is the most famous, it is certainly not the only Incan ruin in South America which draws the curious traveler.

People are fascinated by the architectural remains of these Incan ruins, built over 500 years ago with a precision that astounds the modern day tourist who find it difficult to believe that “primitive” people could construct buildings of such magnificence.

But when it comes to a modern-day wonder, Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil, has got to be on the list.

Capital Cities

Most cities have both an “old town” – the site of the original area of the city, with buildings hundreds of years old; and then acres and acres of new buildings, roads and so on which are built gradually over the course of time, with the roads meandering here and there and no planning to it.

Of all the capital cities of the South American countries, that of Brasilia, capital of Brazil, is unique. It’s the only city that was actually planned, with the entire layout of the city being designed by an architect.

The centers of all three branches of the federal government of Brazil are in Brasília, including the Congress, President, and Supreme Court. The city also hosts 124 foreign embassies. Brasília International Airport connects the capital to all major Brazilian cities and many international destinations, and is the third busiest airport in Brazil.

The city has a unique status in Brazil, as it is an administrative division rather than a legal municipality like other cities in Brazil. The name ‘Brasília’ is commonly used as a synonym for the Federal District through synecdoche; However, the Federal District is composed of 31 administrative regions, only one of which is Brasília proper, with a population of 209,926 in a 2011 survey; Demographic publications generally do not make this distinction and list the population of Brasília as synonymous with the population of the Federal District, considering the whole of it as its metropolitan area. The city was one of the main host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Additionally, Brasília hosted the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Brasilia: Planned Beauty

There are many reasons to visit Brasilia, of course, but the main reason is to take in the beauty of the design and see how it has grown and evolved over the 55 years since its founding. In 1987, UNESCO acknowledged the uniqueness of Brasilia by making it a World Heritage Site.

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and until 1960 its capital city was Rio de Janeiro. In that year, the brand-new city of Brasilia was named the capital.

Brasilia didn’t spring up overnight. The new city took four years to build, beginning in 1956.

It was planned and designed by three Brazilians: architect and urban planner Lúcio Costa, architect Oscar Niemeyer who designed the government buildings, and landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.

The city is built along the Monumental Axis, or main avenue running the width of the city, with six lanes running north and six lanes running south. Most of the government buildings, as well as dozens of monuments and memorials line the Monumental Axis, and it is this avenue that will enable the tourist to get the full impact of this unique city.

The residential areas of the inner city are arranged with precision into “superblocks,” each one consisting of several apartment buildings and schools, retail stores, and parkland to serve the inhabitants.
Brasilia features a metro (or Underground), and is served by buses and of course taxis, for those who don’t wish to drive themselves. The city is served by the Brasília-Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport.

Visit the Alluring, Old Yet New Kolkata

Long being known for its artistic, literary and revolutionary heritage, Kolkata is the cultural capital of India. Formerly known as Calcutta, the name changed to Kolkata since 2001. It is hard to find a description for the city. Though youngest of India’s four great cities, Kolkata still retains its good old charm. Kolkata was the capital of India during the British period. However, now the city is well-developed and it has well-maintained its heritages. The city including the suburbs is a home to over 15 million people.

This vibrant city is passionate about Maach (fish), Mishti (sweets), football, politics, Rabindranath Sangeet and, of course, the Durga Pujo. Kolkata proudly knows how to shares its sweetness. All these are world-famous. Kolkata is a beautiful destination to spend a quality time with your family, friends or alone. People often get attracted with its unusual pace of life. The city offers some wonderful array of spots to enjoy. There are several cheap hotels in Kolkata scattered around the city. Especially near the airport and south Kolkata.

It is better to start your journey right from the very famous Howrah Bridge. Howrah Bridge is one of the finest cantilever bridge in the world. Once a floating Pontoon bridge is now an important link between two districts of West Bengal. Being one of the busiest bridges of the world, Howrah bridge is a heritage of the city. As soon as you cross the bridge, you enter the well-known BurraBazaar. The market place which is now frequented with Marwari and Bihari traders primary sell everything. It is also a residential complex of the merchants where South Indian community is also present. A very much cluttered place, it is one of the oldest places of the city. Well, you can take a straight road along the Hooghly river and reach Princep Ghat and Kidderpore dock or slowly move towards central and witness the famous Writer’s Building, Eden Garden, Fort William, the very famous Park Street, Asiatic Society of India and the Indian Museum Kolkata. Founded by Asiatic Society of Bengal, it is the largest and oldest museum of the country. Besides, some rare collections of prehistoric items it houses a 4000 years old Mummy. After this if you turn slightly right you will stand in front of the Victoria Memorial and gradually you will pass St Paul’s Cathedral and Nandan. The best part is the major attractions are all in the vicinity.

Gariahat and Esplanade are the two big market places. They are the apt places for the shopaholics. Restaurants, Cinema halls and the malls are mostly scattered between the central and South Kolkata. Well, the northern part offers alluring old essence than the modern South. However, if you are visiting during Durga Pujo, Pandals are placed in every corner of the city. Even, the Mishti shops are also scattered throughout Kolkata.

Reaching the City of Joy is not a difficult task. It is well-connected with all parts of the country by railways, airways and roadways. If you are travelling from North India, browse through the time-table for information, such as 13005 train running status, and plan your journey accordingly.

Lisbon City

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with a population of 552,700 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km². Its urban area extends beyond the city’s administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 2.8 million people live in the Lisbon (Lisboa) Metropolitan Area, which represents approximately 27% of the country’s population. (Wikipedia Info).

The geography of Lisbon can be confusing, It’s a very hilly city ( 7 hills ). Lisbon is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of History and the capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147,

The Alfama quarter is one of the oldest in Lisbon, since it survived the earthquake, the area still looks much of its original layout. Next to Alfama are the old quarters of Castelo and Mouraria, the western and northern slopes of the hill that is crowned by St. George’s Castle.

To the west of Praça do Comercio is Bairro Alto and Madragoa, with their typical streets, and on the western extreme is Belém, with its Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery and the Cultural Center of Belém.

In Lisbon you can experience springtime temperatures during the winter and cool summers freshened by a breeze blowing in from the Atlantic.

Lisbon Downtown

The big square near the river (Praça do Comercio) is the Baixa Pombalina, stretching from the Rossio (Praça Dom Pedro IV). The Baixa is the area of town which was rebuilt first after the big earthquake (1755), which destroyed the area. Spreading along the Tagus river, Lisbon downtown is from the XVIII century (Rossio). The Rossio is packed with shops of all kinds, and during the day it’s packed with shoppers as well. It’s great fun, and a great place to find clothes and souvenirs. There are some wonderful shops for wine, try Napoleao at Rua dos Fanqueiros 70, where you can taste almost any bottle before you buy.

Every year in June, the streets of all three quarters come alive with the feasts in honor of the popular Saint Antony. The Graça quarter and the churches of São Vicente de Fora and Santa Engrácia are within walking distance of this area. Blue skies and sunshine brightens the city most of the year. Lisbon is typical tile building facades with every color and narrow Medieval streets, where one can hear the fado being sung at night.

Lisbon is also the stage for modern art, summer music festivals, exquisite shopping and exciting nightlife.

Lisbon Museums to visit:

National Ancient Art Museum, Chiado (Contemporary Art), Tile (Mother of God Monastery), Archaeology, Ethnology, National Coach Museum, Costume, Theater, Maritime, Military, City, Gulbenkian, Modern Art Center, and the Ricardo Espirito Santo Silva Foundation.

Lisbon Palaces open to the public:

Ajuda and Fronteira.

Churches:

Cathedral (with Treasury); São Vicente de Fora; Conceição Velha (Manueline), São Roque and Sacred Art; Madre Deus; Santa Engrácia Pantheon (Baroque), and the Estrela Basilica.

Shopping Downtown:

Avenida da Liberdade, Avenida de Roma, Praça de Londres, Avenida Guerra Junqueiro, and Amoreiras.

Nightlife:

Bairro Alto and Avenida 24 de Julho.

Places to Visit Around Lisbon:

Arrábida Natural Park and Sesimbra Day Trip from Lisbon – Mediterranean vegetation by the Atlantic; Azeitão – Sleepy village with fine mansions and wine; Cascais – Playground of nobility; picturesque resort; a surfer’s, windsurfer and kite paradise; Ericeira – Traditional seaside village; surfing mecca, superb seafood; Estoril – The inspiration for James Bond; Europe’s largest casino; Golf courses; Mafra – One of Europe’s biggest palaces, the building that bankrupted the nation; Óbidos – A medieval village, not to be missed; Queluz – Palace mixing Versailles’ French grandeur and Portuguese eclecticism; Sintra – Enchanting with mystery atmosphere; Romantic; Europe’s western point; Sesimbra – Calm waters in a fishing village, mystical cape; Setubal – Busy port; the birthplace of Manueline architecture; dolphin-watching.