Brazil Hosts 3-D Show Over Thames River To Start Countdown To 2016 Rio Olympics

On Monday night, spectators lined up along the Thames River in London to take in the sights and sounds of Brazil. A projection of eye-popping images splashed across the water to mark the end of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, and begin the countdown to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As part of a $40 million campaign investment put on by Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism and the Brazilian Tourism Board to attract travelers for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, the free show featured images projected onto a wall of water created by massive pumps. Computer programs Maya 2012, Real Flow and After Effects were used by designers to display 3-D images of iconic Brazilian attractions like Christ the Redeemer and Cathedral of Brasília, plus various sporting activities including kite surfing, hand-gliding and Capoeira. The entire event ended with the closing message: “Thank you London. See you in Brazil. Come celebrate life!”

For a more visual idea of the event, check out the video above and the gallery below.


[Images via Embratur, The Brazilian Tourism Board]

Waterfall Skyscraper To Power Rio And The 2016 Olympics

While the 2012 Olympic Games haven’t even finished yet, planning for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has already begun. And, one designer has dreams of taking solar power to new heights.

According to Digital Trends, Zurich-based RAFAA Architecture & Design wants to design an energy-generating waterfall skyscraper (shown above), that will not only power the Olympic Village, but also the city of Rio.

“It is less about an expressive, iconic architectural form; rather, it is a return to content and actual, real challenges for the imminent post-oil-era,” the firm says on their website. “This project represents a message of a society facing the future … Our project, standing in the tradition of ‘a building/city as a machine,’ shall provide energy both to the city of Rio de Janeiro and its citizens while using natural resources.”

Looking for some adventure with your ecotourism? The structure includes a bungee platform at level 90. Moreover, on special occasions water will be pumped over the sides to create an actual waterfall.

Stunning Aerial Shots Of Cities From Around The World

Experiencing an unknown city is always exciting. That’s the great thing about travel – it allows you to try new things and explore new places. While wandering through a city on the ground is interesting, it’s also worthwhile to see a destination from a unique perspective you normally wouldn’t get to view.

Below, you’ll find beautiful aerial shots taken above some of your favorite cities. The lit up Las Vegas skyline twinkling various colors against a nighttime backdrop, the grey and intimidating buildings of the Big Apple as seen from above and the glossy and luxurious architecture of Dubai from a bird’s-eye view, are some of the stunning shots captured by photographers.

To see some of the best aerial views of cities from around the world, check out the gallery below.

[photos via Big Stock]


Cockpit Chronicles: Getting More Out Of Layovers

For some, life couldn’t be any more perfect than if they were paid to travel. I’ve run across three airline crew members who have discovered ways to keep their jobs fresh and exciting by embracing what is for them the biggest benefit that comes with working for an airline: travel.

You hear about the turbulence in the airline industry nearly every week – layoffs, pay cuts, pensions lost and airlines shutting down. The echo chamber at work is enough to drive an airline employee crazy after hearing how these events are affecting everyone. But a few pilots and flight attendants I’ve worked with have come to the conclusion that they’re unable to change the situation materially, and so they may as well find a way to enjoy the job.


I like to think I’m an adventurous traveler, although my definition of adventurous is to try to avoid eating at the same place in a given city more than once. I rarely succeed, but it’s a goal at least.

Years ago, a flight attendant asked me for advice about purchasing a digital SLR camera. She started a blog called 2 Stews that revolved around eating and writing about various restaurants in Europe and recreating some of the amazing dishes. I was surprised when she heeded my advice not to skimp on the camera and began to take some eye-popping pictures of the food and sights she came across.Today, she looks forward to trips, planning them well in advance to secure reservations for herself and some of her fellow crew members. For her, the job no longer revolves around the work she does going back and forth across the Atlantic, it’s more about the next topic or theme she plans for her blog. I’m similarly motivated when I come across a subject I want to talk about in “Cockpit Chronicles,” which lately hasn’t been often enough.

Here, Diane catches us up on her schedule, which ends in Rome, so naturally she shares the recipe for a dish she had previously there that had an unusual mix of ingredients:

Lately I feel like the Johnny Cash song, I’ve Been Everywhere. In the past few weeks I’ve been to Dallas, Rome, Budapest, Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Boise, Idaho and back again. I’m off to Rome today. I’m not complaining, mind you, but my affairs aren’t in order. The weeds are growing, the dust is collecting and my computer time has been zero. If only I had an iPad for my journeys….plus a few days off! Oh yeah, don’t forget a house cleaner on that list of wants.

I settled yesterday for an easy and tasty pasta dish to keep me going. I have been wanting to make the Pater Nostri pasta I bought in Rome using a recipe that was inspired by a dish I had at Trattoria Moderne last month. It had Italian sausage, pear and radicchio. The flavors rounded out each other with a little sweet from the pear, some savory sausage, salty cheese and a slightly bitter taste from the radicchio. The essences of life.

Diane has collected so much about Paris that she’s started a blog featuring that work called Merci Paris.


Aspiring to learn everything there was to know about his favorite city, Rudy has ventured nearly everywhere in Rio de Janeiro and logged enough helpful tips that he’s become the go-to guy for other pilots and flight attendants interested in Rio. He put together a guide that he shares in paper form with crew members, which caused me to try things I never would have otherwise – such as a frango from a farmers market, for example.
I committed the Portuguese word for chicken to my short-term memory and marched down to the weekly market near our hotel and ordered a frango with some sort of sugar cane drink.

I’m convinced that Rudy may know more about the city than some of the locals. I thought I knew Paris well, but I couldn’t write anything for the City of Light that would approach what he’s done for Rio. In order to get around a little easier, Rudy has a bike in Rio and is planning on picking up another one so he can bring someone else from the crew along with him on his adventures.

On the day he leaves Rio, Rudy will routinely carve up some fruit purchased at a farmers market, some of which isn’t available in the states, and put it on a plate before delivering it to the rooms of the two other pilots he’s flying with hours before meeting for pickup.

Above and beyond, I’d say!

Rudy’s delicious fruit from the market in Rio prepared and delivered to our rooms!


I‘ve flown with Catherine Caldwell for years, but I never realized what a true expert she was on getting the most out of her trips until reading her recently published book, “Jet Vignettes.” (Available on Amazon, the Kindle and as an iBook from iTunes.)

Catherine’s advice for dining in Paris resonated with me:

When I first started flying to Paris, I knew nothing of where to eat in the city. My crew members and I would walk to the Latin Quarter because initially no matter who we asked – friends, passengers, other flight attendants – all said the Latin Quarter. All said this area hits the quota mark for the highest concentration of “cute” Parisian restaurants. Each layover we went to the Latin Quarter, layover after layover, in search of the holy grail of true Parisian cuisine, the kind we heard and read about, the dinner that was the true pinnacle of dining in Paris. Each time, we passed the restaurants with flower boxes, checked curtains, old architecture, and beckoning waitstaff holding enticing menus. After five subpar meals of so-so food, expensive bills, sitting next to table after table of American tourists, it dawned on me, this was not the place to eat at all in Paris. That was 1996, and I have eaten in the Latin Quarter only once since, at a Greek restaurant that was actually pretty good (I picked up a card).

She then went on to talk about a few of her favorites in Paris as well as other places in Europe, and includes a section on pastis in Paris and shopping in local grocery stores while abroad. She includes a few telling anecdotes about her job, such as the requisite chapter on the Mile High Club and 9/11 as well as helpful chapters such as “Big Cities on a Flight Attendant Budget” and how to look like a local in various countries. Like Diane, Catherine regularly updates her blog after nearly every trip, it seems.

I wholeheartedly recommend “Jet Vignettes.” I even learned a few things about her job, and picked up some tips that I’ll put to use on international layovers.

In fact, all three of these extraordinary people have inspired me to get out and explore more while traveling, and subsequently to enjoy my job more. And that’s something every airline employee could use right now.

Cockpit Chronicles” takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as a pilot based in New York. Have any questions for Kent? Check out the “Cockpit Chronicles” Facebook page or follow Kent on Twitter @veryjr.

10 Free Things To Do In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

For travelers heading to South America, Brazil is one of the more expensive countries on the continent. The popular Rio de Janeiro can be especially difficult to navigate on a budget. To help you plan a worthwhile trip to this beautiful area, here are 10 free things to do.


Although Rio de Janeiro is a city there are also a lot of natural experiences to be had. When I visited, one of my favorite activities I did was hiking Sugarloaf Mountain. There are two mountains encompassed in the walk and while it is not free to hike to the top of the higher mountain, you can trek about an hour up to the top of the smaller one. Keep in mind, it still isn’t “small,” and the hike will provide a beautiful setting as well as a physical challenge. In my opinion, the views from there were just as good as from the tallest point, especially because you could see a view of the bigger mountain (shown above).

You can also hike the trails of Tijuca Forest. One excellent spot to check out while there is the Chinese View. The spot gets its name from its cultural architecture as well as the many Chinese people who lived there in the past. You will be given an excellent view of the South Zone of Rio as well as Botafogo, Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Sugarloaf Mountain and the iconic Christ statue on top of Corcovado Mountain.Take a Stroll in Downtown Rio

In the downtown area, there are a lot of historic buildings, churches and the City Theater. Likewise, you’ll find the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB), the first bank in Brazil, which is now a museum. In 2010, it made the list of most visited museums in the world. Its programming includes exhibitions, theater, cinema and workshops. There is also a library, bookshop and cafe on the premises. Luckily, this museum is free to enter.

Relax on the Beach

Rio de Janeiro is home to many beautiful and worthwhile beaches. The most famous is probably Copacabana Beach, with impressive surrounding architecture, ornate sand art creations and many water activities and beach sports. This is a great beach to go to if you’d like to try stand up paddle boarding or play some beach volleyball. Ipanema Beach and Leblon Beach tend to bring in a more hip crowd, while Macumba Beach is a more secluded beach surrounded by forest. These are just a few of the choices of sand and sea you will have when visiting Rio de Janeiro.

Browse a Local Market

There are numerous markets and fairs to choose from when visiting Rio de Janeiro. First, there is the Hippie Fair in Ipanema, which occurs each Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in General Osório Square. Here you will find everything – handicrafts, souvenirs, art and typical Brazilian foods. There’s also the Rio Antigo Fair in Lapa, which happens on the first Saturday of each month. You can browse antiques, crafts and watch talented street performers. Additionally, each evening (except for Sundays), there is a night market near Copacabana Beach at 6:00 p.m. This market is smaller than the others, but features goods like clothing, souvenirs and art.

Go For a Jog Around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

While jogging may not sound like the ultimate vacation experience, you’ve never done it around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. The area is very scenic and gets its name from its beautiful lagoon. It is one of the less commercialized areas of the city and features many parks, squares, trees and mountain views. Not only that, but locals in Rio are very into health and fitness, and jogging this circuit is a big part of their lives. Therefore, not only will you be doing something good for yourself, you’ll also be doing something cultural.

Visit the House of Rui Barbosa Museum

Located in the Botafogo neighborhood of Rio, this building has been open since 1849. The House of Rui Barbosa Museum, which is free to enter on Sundays, is an excellent way to view 19th century architecture and design in the city. Likewise, the museum works hard to preserve the memory of Rui Barbosa, a Brazilian politician, writer and jurist.

There are other free museums in Rio de Janeiro as well, such as the Casa Franca-Brasil cultural center, the Histórico Nacional Museum and the Museu da República (free on Wednesdays and Sundays).

Relax in Laje Park

This historical and naturally beautiful park resides in the Jardim Botanico neighborhood in Rio. Listed by the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage, it features houses, trails, playgrounds, picnic areas and artificial caves. There is a also a café inside the house where they serve breakfast around the pool on weekends.

Take in the Views at Parque das Ruinas Cultural Center

Located in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa, the Parque das Ruinas Cultural Center was once the home of Laurinda Santos Lobo, famous Patron of the Arts from the Rio Belle Époque. In her ornate mansion rooms, Laurinda would bring together artists and intellectuals. These rooms, which are one of the projects architect Ernani Freire’s is most proud of, can still be viewed today. The best part of the visit, however, is the observatory. Here you will see views of Guanabara Bay and central Rio. To make the experience even more interesting, you can take a cable car to Santa Teresa from Lapa. While not free, the ticket for this costs less than $1.

Explore the National Library of Brazil

If you want to learn about Brazil’s history and heritage, this is the place to go. Inaugurated in 1910, the National Library of Brazil contains an expansive collection of about 9 million rare pieces. Peruse letters written by Princess Isabel, the first newspapers printed in the country and many other historical documents. Outside, you can enjoy the neoclassical building surrounded by Corinthian columns.

Take in the Beautiful Public Art of Lapa

In the Lapa area of Rio, you will find one of the city’s most unique sites: The Selarón Steps. Created by artist Jorge Selarón as a tribute to the locals of Brazil, these steps have become an iconic part of the area. In 1990, the artist began turning the eroding stairs in front of his house into a vibrant and colorful piece of art. Considering the project “never complete,” Selarón is still constantly changing the tiles today, many of which are hand-painted by the artist with an image of a pregnant African woman or donated from various parts of the world. After viewing the steps, make sure to take a look at the nearby Arcos da Lapa. The structure is an 18th century aqueduct that was once used to bring the residents of Rio de Janeiro fresh water. Today, it is used as a tram viaduct. You’ll get to see the 42 impressive double-tiered arches of the site as well as enjoy some history. Additionally, if it is night there is usually live music and entertainment on the streets.

[Photos via JessieonaJourney, JessieonaJourney, Rodrigo_Soldon, Jonathas Rodrigues, National Library of Brazil]