Authors Posts by Fly Brother

Fly Brother

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Nickname: A Cidade Maravilhosa (The Marvelous City) | Population: 6.5 million cariocas/12 million in metro | Area: 486.5 sq mi | Airports: Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport – Galeao (GIG) and Santos-Dumont Airport (SDU) | Time Zone: -3h from UTC/-2h DST | Famous for: beaches, booties, samba, soccer, Cristo Redentor, crime

Rio de Janeiro is the official calling card of Brazil. No other city in Latin America has been photographed, sung about, or dreamed about more than the Marvelous City. With world-famous beaches, stunning landscapes, spectacular views, hip-swaying music, and scores of tall, tan young-and-lovelies, Rio is the one city that should be experienced at least once in every human being’s life. True, it’s got plenty of social problems and it may not end up being your favorite city in the world, but Rio’s palpable sensuality and peerless natural beauty make it a place that you will never forget.

On arrival: Use the free airport wifi to order a ride via Uber, or take a cab from one of the prepaid taxi offices closest to the terminal exit; insist that the driver uses GPS. The best and least-expensive way to get reais (Brazilian currency) is to withdraw money from the ATM; many Brazilian ATMs do not operate using the U.S. bank card network, but at least one or two will.

Best ‘hoods: Copacabana is the world’s most famous beach, still fun despite being well past its glory days. Ipanema and Leblon hold court as the city’s chic beaches. The beaches of Barra da Tijuca are calmer, but a bit far from the in-town action. Centrally-located Lapa is home to Rio’s iconic samba spots. Santa Teresa’s curvy, cobblestone streets evoke an artsy, bohemian vibe. Flamengo, Botafogo, and Urca offer affordable, interesting dining and lodging conveniently located between the beaches and Centro (Downtown), which is great for exploring during the day. These neighborhoods are part of the Zona Sul (South Zone), which is where most of Rio’s tourist-friendly attractions are located. Be street-smart everywhere.

Best beaches: Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon for swimming, sunbathing, and flirting; Arpoador for great sunset views; Barra da Tijuca for surfing; São Conrado for hang gliding; Prainha for peace and quiet.

Best sights: Christ the Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca Forest, Santa Teresa, Selarón Steps, Municipal Theatre, Museum of Tomorrow, Museum of Modern Art, ferry to Niterói, Maracanã Stadium, tour of Rocinha, and the Sambadrome during Carnival.

Best eats: Churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) at Porcão Rio’s, feijoada (the national dish) at Casa da Feijoada, por kilo (Brazilian buffet) at Kilograma or Couve Flor, comida mineira (rustic Brazilian food) at À Mineira, açaí na tigela (frozen açaí) at Bibi Sucos, pork sandwiches at Cervantes, pizza at Mamma Jamma, sushi at Azumi, burgers at Comuna, Brazilian vegan/veg at Vegetariano Social Clube.

Best dranks: Juices at Dona Vitamina or Frutaria Oscar Freire, beers at Espaço Carioquinha or Lapa Café, happy hour at Astor or in the Arcos dos Teles area, views and friends at Bar do Alto, Palaphita Kitch, or Bar Urca.

Best hypes: Any samba school rehearsal, Lapa at night for live Brazilian music and a wild party vibe, upscale partying at 00, LGBT club nights at The Week Rio, Copacabana for New Years (Reveillon) and during Carnival.

Best advice: Remember to be street-smart at all times; leave unnecessary valuables at home. Try to speak a little bit of Portuguese; you’ll make new friends that way. Service in restaurants and other establishments can be slow; try not to let that ruin your trip to one of the world’s most enjoyable cities. Use condoms. Have fun!

And for the ultimate luxury experience in Rio, book an Up in the Air Life adventure today!

Image credit: Christian Haugen via Flickr

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With welcoming cultures, natural and urban wonders, and innumerable experiences to be had, Africa is an inviting, underrated place to visit. Possessing 54 independent countries, each with a complex political, social, and economic history, most places on the continent—in fairness—require US citizens to obtain a visa in advance of any trip. Still, some countries have extended a visa-free* welcome mat that lets Americans simply book and go with passport in-hand, and maybe a pre-trip vaccination or two (after all, in some places, it’s literally a jungle out there). And they’re all no more than one flight connection away from most major American air hubs. It’s time for Africa.

Leopard in Botswana by Gregory Slobirdr Smith via Flickr

Botswana
A nature-lover’s paradise where the river meets the desert, Botswana hosts some of the planet’s oldest landforms and lifeforms. The largest group of Bushmen—who, incidentally, constitute the world’s oldest human civilization—call the country home, roaming the vast Kalahari Desert into which the ancient Okavango River flows. The fertile soils of the resulting delta sustain one of the world’s largest concentrations of game animals, protected by several natural preserves that can be visited by safari.
Fly to Gaborone (GBE) from the USA via Addis Ababa and Johannesburg.

 

Sunset Near Bangui by Afrika Force via Flickr

Central African Republic
Located literally at the heart of the continent, the Central African Republic offers visitors a modest, low-rise capital city with bright marketplace and bustling riverfront, safaris with an immense array of wildlife—including elephants and lowland gorillas—and the lovely, 165-foot-high Boali Waterfalls. Be aware, however, that the country has had more than a few security issues over the past couple of years, leading the State Department to issue a travel warning that has been in effect since April 2016.
Fly to Bangui (BGF) from the USA via Casablanca and Paris.

 

Malabo Harbour by Wapster via Flickr

Equatorial Guinea
Tiny and tropical, this former Spanish colonial enclave has got oil money to spare and gleaming new high-rises and shopping malls to prove it. The capital city, Malabo, is a mix of colonial and modern architectural styles, reflecting its history as a strategic outpost for during the Triangular Trade; Malabo was also a haven for freed slaves during the 19th century. Outside the city, pristine beaches, jungle treks, and the lush Monte Alen National Park on the mainland pack a big punch within a small area.
Fly to Malabo (SSG) from the USA via Casablanca, Frankfurt, and Madrid.

 

Snow in Lesotho by Di Malealea via Flickr

Lesotho
Landlocked and entirely surrounded by the country of South Africa, mountainous Lesotho is called the “Kingdom in the Sky” for good reason. Living in one of the few places on the continent with regular snowfall every winter, the citizens of the kingdom wrap themselves in warm blankets and wear a distinctive conical hat, almost like a crown. Aside from spectacular trekking and horseback riding in dramatic valleys and gorges, Lesotho welcomes visitors with a friendly local culture and a flavor and atmosphere utterly distinct from its more renowned neighbor.
Fly to Maseru (MSU) from the USA via Johannesburg.

 

Essaouira by Caroline Granycome via Flickr

Morocco
One of Africa’s most easily-accessible destinations by virtue of its proximity to the air hubs of Europe, Morocco melds the cultures of Africa and Europe in an exotic, dream-like haze. Buzzing markets, striking architecture, and scrumptious food define cities such as Marrakech, Fez, and Casablanca, while the endless coastline and cool Atlas Mountains provide plenty of opportunity for outdoor diversion. And despite being at one of the world’s oldest crossroads, Moroccans still welcome visitors warmly.
Fly nonstop to Casablanca (CMN) from New York and Washington.

 

Ostriches in Namib Desert by Greg Willis via Flickr

Namibia
Sprawling along the remote, sun-drenched southwestern coast of Africa, Namibia’s ancient landscapes appear more out-of-this-world than down-to-earth. Indeed, the Namib Desert is the oldest on the planet and the country’s Bushmen are among the world’s oldest civilizations. Natural and manmade wonders collide on the Skeleton Coast, littered with the remains of innumerable shipwrecks along the beaches, while Etosha National Park shelters plenty of mammals and reptiles, including the endangered black rhino.
Fly to Windhoek (WDH) from the USA via Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, Doha, Frankfurt, and Johannesburg.

 

Dakar From Ngor by Jeff Attaway via Flickr

Senegal
With a capital city that is one of the most exhilarating and underrated in the world, Senegal serves up a hefty side of sophisticated urban culture along with its beaches and national parks. Dakar’s nightlife, markets, and art scenes are legendary, while historical sites like the “Door of No Return” at Gorée Island and the colonial capital of Saint-Louis harken back to Senegal’s importance during the transatlantic slave trade. Not only are the Senegal’s sites sublime, sunsets from along its 330-mile coastline are spectacular.
Fly nonstop to Dakar (DKR) from New York.

 

The Orbit Jazz Club Johannesburg by South Africa Tourism via Flickr

South Africa
One of the most beautiful countries in the world, South Africa offers up an array of experiences unmatched by any other part of the continent: the urbane pulse of Johannesburg, the natural splendor of Cape Town, the cultural gumbo of Durban, big-game safaris, coastal drives, affordable luxury, and a home-grown house music scene that rivals Baltimore’s and Berlin’s. No wonder one of ZA’s catch phrases is “Better, Together.”
Fly nonstop to Johannesburg (JNB) from Atlanta and New York; fly direct (same-plane w/stop) from Washington.

 

Elder Swazi Warriors by Robert Staudhammer via Flickr

Swaziland
The tiniest country in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the last absolute monarchies in the world, Swaziland packs plenty of experiences within its 6,700 square miles. Traditional Swazi ceremonies and celebrations are held proudly and prominently year-round, culminating in the Umhlanga Festival each August, where young women honor the Queen Mother in full regalia. Safaris and adventure sports also feature high on the country’s to-do list, rendering little Swaziland a memorable place to visit.
Fly to Manzini (SHO) from the USA via Johannesburg.

 

Tunis Sunset by Mashhour Halawani via Flickr

Tunisia
Struggling to recover from two tragic attacks against foreign tourists in 2015, Tunisia still offers broad beaches, thriving marketplaces, and affordable luxury experiences. Many Europeans still book packages to surf and sun destinations, including Monastir and Nabeul, both built on the ruins of settlements from the Roman Empire. The country’s millennia-old history is showcased at the museums and cultural centers of the capital, Tunis, once known as the ancient city of Carthage. Tunisia has indeed been around.
Fly to Tunis (TUN) from the USA via Amsterdam, Barcelona, Casablanca, Frankfurt, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, and Rome.

 

*Visa requirements are always subject to change. Check the US Department of State website for the most current requirements for US citizens.

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On this episode, I talk to Richard Cantave, Haitian-born human rights advocate, humanitarian, and global explorer. Aside from working with non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that defend human rights, Richard also curates one-of-a-kind adventures to Haiti and Cambodia via his travel company Haitian Nomad, incorporating history, culture, and a sense of purpose, as well as fun, into his enlightening, exciting tours. Tune in and get lifted!

Music:
“Wherever I Go” – Michael Brun & The Audio Institute
“Carnival” – Wycleff Jean

Fly Brother Radio Show Theme Song:
“La Femme d’Argent” by Air

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Have you ever dreamed of Rio de Janeiro? Do the rolling waves of the South Atlantic and the undulating hills of the Brazilian coast call to you? Answer the call—in style—with a luxury adventure to Brazil’s Marvelous City with Up in the Air Life luxury tour designers.

Carefully curated by on-the-ground experts and encompassing food, music, art, dance, history, and, yes, a party or three, Up in the Air Life’s Rio experience is one of unexpected wonders and tropical magic. And like the defining qualities of a diamond, this upscale excursion covers the Four Cs of a memorable, once-(or twice)-in-a-lifetime adventure into the heart and soul of Brazil.

Cuisine (and cocktails)
The various cultural components to Brazil can be best experienced through the country’s cuisine, and Up in the Air Life sets the table with an array of options for edibles that sates even the most ravenous appetite, especially if that appetite is for meat. Topping Up in the Air’s list is Rio’s talked-about steakhouse, CT Boucherie, which serves up hearty meats and sides with succulent flavor and high-class flair. Rubaiyat, with views of the racetrack at the fabled Jockey Club, cooks its meats and pours its wines with Mediterranean panache.

The less-haute, more-folksy options on the itinerary include Garota de Ipanema (Girl From Ipanema), an eatery named for the renowned paean to Rio’s supple young beach bunnies and the spot for delicious meats grilled at your table, Angu do Gomes, with its zesty classics influenced by the Afro-Brazilian fare of the country’s northeast, and at Praça dos Nordestinos for feijoada, a thick and, of course, meaty stew that is the national dish of Brazil. Of course, all of these places serve up frosty imported and domestic beers, as well as caipirinhas, the national cocktail, but the bar atop Sugarloaf Mountain has unsurpassed views, scrumptious beverages, and a thumping sound system.

Culture (and how!)
Obviously, food rates highly on the list of cultural attribute Brazil brings to the fore, but the country’s art, street style, music, dance, and joie de vivre are virtually unmatched. Up in the Air Life’s curated forays into Brazilian culture include excursions to the bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood with its cobblestone streets and colonial-era architecture, the Ipanema Hippie and Art Fair and its unsurpassed selection of one-of-a-kind souvenirs and authentic handicrafts, the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and striking Dois Irmaos massif, mansion-in-the-jungle Parque Lage (yes, where Snoop and Pharrell shot the “Beautiful” video), and, most interestingly, to the impactful, resilient community of Rocinha, one of Rio’s largest favelas.

Of course, music and dance reign supreme in the Marvelous City, as Rio is known, especially during the run-up to Carnival, and the Up in the Air Life sought out the best, most exciting events in town for ramp-shaking and samba-ing the night away. The central district of Lapa, tucked away under the whitewashed arches, buzzes with bars and botecos, where live musicians keep the dance floors hot while affable bartenders keep the libations flowing. Rio Scenarium is one of those oh-so-Rio nightspots where tourists and locals come together for a little flirting and foot-shuffling until the wee hours. But the real party is just getting started.

Carnival (well…pre-Carnival, actually)
During Up in the Air Life’s luxury Rio experience, the city is in the throes of Carnival season, and all the major parade organizations—called samba schools because the first one formed across the street from a teachers’ college—are wrapping up their final preparations for the big blow-out event the very next week. This means the Carnival spirit pervades every party and gathering, which may still be crowded, but without the crushing waves of revelers expected to descend on the city during Carnival itself. Up in the Air Life takes adventurers into the heart of the action, with pre-Carnival celebrations at the world-famous Sambadrome, where the samba schools perfect their dance moves in anticipation of the grand parade.

But it’s easy to join in on the fun, as escorted excursions to raucous pre-Carnival block parties, called blocos, and old school-style samba sets at various venues help revelers work off the calories from all those delectable dinners.

Comforts (aaaaaaah!)
And when the party’s finally over each night, Up in the Air Life sets you up in sparkling beachfront accommodations, such as the Sofitel Caesar Park or the iconic Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel. The epitome of tropical luxury, the Copacabana Palace has been hosting superstars for nearly 100 years; Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, the Rolling Stones, Princess Diana, Madonna, and Michael Jackson have all rested their heads, frolicked in the pools, and dined out at the Copa. And when not relaxing in the multi-level spa, or on beds as soft as clouds, guests swim or sun themselves along some of the world’s most celebrated beaches, alongside all the other tall, tan young lovelies Rio is so famous for.

Image credit: Charlie Phillips via Flickr

Are you ready to book your Carnival of luxury with Up in the Air Life? Do it…you know you want to. 😀

FLY BROTHER hanging out in Rio with Up in the Air Life!

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Fly Brother is proud to announce that it is an official media partner of the 5th annual New York Travel Festival (NY Trav Fest), happening April 20-23, 2017, at several locations in Manhattan. The festival is a series of engaging, educational events for people whose lives are touched by travel: members of the travel industry, travel media, lifelong travelers, long-term travelers, college students, and people in career transition. The festival provides attendees with the opportunity to participate in workshops, network with industry professionals, and attend panel discussions and presentations about trending topics in travel. These events also facilitate professional development opportunities for those in the travel industry, or wanting to join it, as well as inspirational talks to offer ideas about an array of destinations and types of travel.

NY Trav Fest is partnering with Tisch Center at New York University to host the Borough Tourism Summit on Thursday, April 20th, and the 3rd annual Travel Unity Summit, at NYU Woolworth Building (15 Barclay Street) on Friday, April 21st. Saturday and Sunday events of NY Trav Fest will take place at Bohemian National Hall (321 East 3rd Street) and Hostelling International NYC (891 Amsterdam Avenue), respectively. Doors are open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Thursday through Saturday, with registration beginning at 9:00 AM; Sunday starts one hour later (at 11:00 AM).

The Czech Republic is this year’s main sponsor, but many other destinations and travel industry brands from around the world will be represented as well. There will also be expert-led sessions and consultations throughout the event. Don’t miss this chance to discover, connect, and grow within the travel industry. Join Fly Brother and NY Trav Fest this April!

Ticket Options:

$130 – All Access Pass (early bird price until March 31, 2017)
$170 – All Access Pass (regular price)

Passes include access to all presentations, panels, workshops, and networking events part of the New York Travel Festival.

$50 – Borough Tourism Summit, April 20
$40 – Travel Unity Summit, April 21

$100 – Weekend Ticket, April 22-23
$40 – Sunday-only Ticket, April 23

 

A tentative schedule of events is available at bitly.com/NYTF2017Tentative
To order tickets, visit Eventbrite – bitly.com/NYTF2017Tickets

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On this week’s show, I’m interviewing photographer, entrepreneur, and trekker Alovaddin Kalonov of Paramount Journey, direct from the small Asian country of Tajikistan. Alovaddin is an avid trekker and adventure sports enthusiast whose love for the pristine beauty of the Tajik landscape, people, and culture led him to start his own tour company. We talk about the history and beauty of Tajikistan, and, of course, travel on the Fly Brother Radio Show. Tune in and get lifted!

Music:
“Eri Man” – Nobovar Chanorov & the Shams
“Mastam” – Daler Nazarov
“Kabki Danghara” – Mino

Fly Brother Radio Show Theme Song:
“La Femme d’Argent” by Air

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If you’re anything like me, you prefer the freedom and ease of traveling solo. When you’re alone, there’s no one else’s agenda to consider but yours. But, no (wo)man is an island, and sometimes, it’s nice to hit the islands, or wherever else strikes your fancy, with a group of like-minded individuals. Here are a few reasons why:

Connecting with Cool People
While traveling solo is indeed a great way to meet new people, so is traveling on a group tour. And if you choose the tour according to your level of interest in the destinations or experiences offered, you are likely to meet at least one other person who you can vibe with. You never know, your new friend might turn into a regular travel buddy, business partner, or significant other. Group trips create incredible opportunities for networking and, yes, matchmaking! And if you do get annoyed with the group, you can always opt out of larger group activities and do your own thing.

Minimal Dull Moments
Traveling alone often means solitude, even if you’re amid the hustle of New York or the bustle of London. Friends have to work during the day and while it’s sometimes nice to keep certain experiences and discoveries to yourself, there’s also the more mundane aspects of solo travel that would be exponentially better if you weren’t alone. If anything, traveling with a group ensures that you’ve always got someone to wait in line, sit around the airport, or do those other banal endeavors with you.

Expanded Experiences
Cost and time are factors that always affect travel plans, but when you’re traveling by yourself, these parameters can be quite challenging to optimize. While a solo traveler to Paris might have to schlep out to the Palace of Versailles on the train and wander the grounds alone, a group can more easily arrange nonstop transportation, a private tour of the palace, and lunch at a nearby winery. Likewise, a Nile River Cruise in Egypt, calling at some of the world’s oldest and most striking temples and monuments, would be an otherwise prohibitively expensive proposition. Excursions to localities a bit farther afield are always easier, or at least cheaper, in groups.

Group Discounts
One constant in the travel industry is that traveling in a group lowers the individual cost of the trip, if only because tour operators, airlines, and other service providers offer discounts when multiple participants purchase their service. You can sometimes get discounts of up to half-off when you travel with a group.

Fly Photographs
Need I say more?

Luxury tour designers Up in the Air Life made this trip possible. FLY with them, won’t you?

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On this week’s show, I’m interviewing Fly Sister Claire Soares, Entrepreneuse, World Traveler, and Adventure Planner Extraordinaire from Egypt. Claire is the mastermind behind luxury travel company, Up in the Air Life, among many other ventures! We talk courage, completion, and, of course, travel on the Fly Brother Radio Show. Tune in and get lifted!

Music:
“Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles
“Nights Over Egypt” by The Jones Girls

Fly Brother Radio Show Theme Song:
“La Femme d’Argent” by Air

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As it flows northward from Aswan to Edfu to Luxor, the Nile River remains quiet and unbothered by little more than the small vessels zipping across the glassy surface. Over the course of the Nile’s various ages, it is the sturdy, wind-powered felucca that remains the most evocative and romantic of the river’s watercraft.

The name felucca, Italian in origin, is said to have come from a Greek word for “boat”—epholkion—via the Arabic fulk and Spanish faluca. Constructed mainly of wood, with three triangular-shaped sails made of Egyptian cotton and called lateens, feluccas rely on the brisk desert winds to sail upriver and the steady current of the Nile to float downriver. Plying the 300 km stretch of the river between Aswan and Luxor, feluccas are more often rented out, these days, for social events and tourist excursions, leaving the freight traffic to barges and the passenger traffic to cruise liners.

nile-river-map

While the average felucca ferries the average tourist up and down the Nile, when Up in the Air Life takes to the river, the feluccas play host to some of the flyest adventurers on the planet. Champagne pours as a mix of live, traditional Egyptian music and modern-day jams keep the atmosphere lit and live. As other feluccas pass by, the less-energetic passengers crane their necks to see what’s happening over on the hypest boats, and the pair of young guys who paddle up to the side to serenade unsuspecting foreigners with Euro-pop get a surprise themselves when our intrepid explorers launch into an impromptu rendition of “Rapper’s Delight.”
And as the lingering sun sets to the west, the energy of the river remains, constant and unchanged, as the feluccas carry history and culture with them to every port.

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Luxury tour designers Up in the Air Life made this trip possible. FLY with them, won’t you?

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“For, as Mr. Ferguson was saying at that minute in Luxor, it is not the past that matters but the future.”
–Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile

Ah, but the past informs the future, and with a past extending back four millennia, the lands and peoples and monuments of Nubia and Upper Egypt prove themselves as resilient as the very river that sustains them.
Exploring the shadowy colonnades and alcoves of the Temple at Luxor means stepping back into that past, when men-gods and women-goddesses commanded multitudes of builders, architects, artisans, and designers—many enslaved—and absorbing the energy of the ages, both light and dark. It is believed that many of the pharaohs of Egypt were crowned here, a monument to monarchy, unlike nearby temples dedicated to deities or deified rulers, and that even Alexander the Great claimed against all observable evidence, to be legitimized at what is now Luxor. Indeed, the French snagged a piece of Egyptian regalia, the obelisk at Place de la Concorde in Paris, leaving its companion to stand sole sentry over the entrance to the temple.

But to marvel at the intricate hieroglyphics—each symbol a story in itself—and the absolute size of a structure completed with ancient building technology only inspires the mind to wonder: what pasts, presents, and futures walk among the shadows and the sun of the Temple at Luxor on their way to greatness?

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Luxury tour designers Up in the Air Life made this trip possible. FLY with them, won’t you?