One of my favorite ways to explore a city is with the Free Walking Tour groups. Before visiting Rio de Janeiro, I had seen images of Corcovado, Sugarloaf, and the world-famous beaches, but hardly ever the city center. I was curious to know what Rio is like outside of the touristic areas, so I booked a walking tour. I was surprised to find European style architecture, colorful street art, many city improvements since the Olympics, and much more.
Here are the top places to visit in the Rio De Janeiro downtown:
Lapa is a neighborhood in the downtown with a bohemian vibe, buzzing with nightclubs, street art, and music
One of the most touristic and recognizable sights in Rio is the "Seleron Stairs", a sweeping staircase made up of tiles from the colors of the Brazil flag. It was created by Chilean born artist Jorge Selaron in 1990 who started renovating the dilapidated staircase in his neighborhood.
Today, there are over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries,. The line to take a photo on the steps is buzzing with tourists and locals, and can last for over 20 minutes long. This work of art is proclaimed to be a tribute to the Brazilian people and is admired by people from around the world.
This two story coffee shop was ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world, found right here in Rio Centro.
Centro features European architecture inspired by France and Portugal, with a unique Brazilian flair. It is mostly a commercial district and much of the area is closed on Sundays, so be sure to visit during the week to catch the downtown during its liveliest moments.
This stunning Art Nouveau opera house is a highlight of Rio De Janeiro's classic architecture. The theater was created during the early twentieth century with a luxurious facade. The interior is just as grandiose, and features nightly dance and musical performances.
Selina Hostel and Coworking Space
One of the best ways to enjoy the city center is from a rooftop. Check out the top floor of Selina for an epic view of Centro, where you can spot Rio's most unique architecture highlights all in one place, including the Petrobas Building, Carioca Aqueduct, Rio Cathedral. You can even grab a caipirinha at the bar and catch a musical performance.
What are your favorite places in the Rio downtown? Comment below!
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Welcome to Tozeur, Tunisia! This city was made famous in iconic films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the English Patient. In this vlog, we explore the desert regions featured in these films: Sidi Bouhlel Canyon, Oasis Chebika, and Tamaghza.
Tozeur Travel Vlog:
0:25 - 4:00 Chebika
We travel from Tozeur to Chebika, a mountain oasis in western Tunisia, where we hike through a desolate canyon reminiscent of Arizona. Atop the canyon is a village that was abandoned after a catastrophic flood. As we trek the canyon, the valley becomes more lush and we were surprised to find a hot spring with crystal clear water. Along the way, we discovered a waterfall flowing in the middle of the desert like a mirage.
4:04 - 5:08 Sidi Bouhlel (aka Star Wars Canyon)
Sidi Bouhlel is a canyon located near the oasis city of Tozeur in Southern Tunisia. It is also commonly known as the Star Wars Canyon since it was the film location of the desert planet of Tatooine in Star Wars: A New Hope. Star Wars fans may recognize it from the famous pod racing scene as well as the scene where R2D2 gets kidnapped by the Jawas. Other popular films such as Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark and The English Patient were also shot in Sidi Bouhlel.
5:00 Off Roading Adventure and Waterfall!
We gear up for an off roading adventure with our tour Off Season Adventures, where we cross the rocky terrain in a 4x4 jeep. As we drive through the canyon, we cross rivers and valleys until we reach a mountain oasis. Above the canyon, we see a lush palm grove and a waterfall streaming in full force.
8:25 - 9:55 Tunisian feast in the oasis
After the off roading adventure, it is time to eat. One of the best parts about Tunisia is the hospitality and the cuisine. In the middle of Tamaghza, we stop to enjoy the Tunisian food grown and made here in the oasis, including Sharba Frik soup, Mechouia salad, brik which is a savory pastry filled with egg.
This Tunisia Tour is offered with Off Season Adventures:
Custom group tours available with Fresh Traveler
After many years of connecting through the Frankfurt FRA, I finally was able get out of the airport and see the city. From the window seat of the airplane, I caught my first glimpse of Frankfurt. The countryside is green, dotted with villages, and I could spot the Main river. All of this whet my appetite to explore the city.
Finally, the travel gods smiled on me. I booked a trip to Tunisia that included a 24 hour layover in Frankfurt! As I found out, Frankfurt is the perfect city for a layover because of its walkable city center and efficient train system. I was surprised at the amount of ground I was able to cover in a short time.
Here's what we were able to cover in a day:
Accommodations: Five Elements Hostel
First, we needed a centrally located comfortable place to stay and rest during our layover. We checked into the Five Elements Hostel which is conveniently situated near the Hauptbahnhof. Everything we saw in the city was walkable from this hostel.
Located only 3 train station stops and 15 minutes from the airport is the stylish and cozy 5 Elements Hostel. We booked a private room which came with a stunning top floor view of the city center:
Frankfurt is a modern city. It is nicknamed Mainhattan for its tall buildings and "Bankfurt" because of its banking industry. In fact, the European Central Bank is headquartered here. But don't let the buildings fool you - Frankfurt has plenty of historic and cultural sights.
We crossed the footbridge to the "new" old town, the recently renovated Altstadt.
House of the Golden Scales
While Frankfurt's skyline looks as cosmopolitan as Hong Kong or Manhattan, the city historically was known as having one of the most beautiful and largest Medieval old towns in Germany. In 1944, Frankfurt was bombed in a WW2 air raid, destroying 2,000 of the city's historic half timbered buildings. The DomRÃ¶mer Project is a building project that worked to restore and rebuild much of the city center to its historic Medieval design. Many of the buildings were recently unveiled in 2018.
Below is one of the most famous buildings, called the Goldene Waage, which was meticulously restored to its Medieval architecture using old photographs, blueprints, and expert craftsmanship.
âA few of the historic buildings in the old town survived the war relatively intact, including the medieval church, Old St. Nicholas, which is famous for its 47 bells.
To add a bit of culture to your layover trip, check out the StÃ¤del Museum, which has an impressive gallery of European art as well as a Picasso print exhibit on display through June. The museum also has a restaurant and free WiFi.
One of the best parts about visiting Germany is the food! Be sure to order the Frankfurters (of course!) and Apfelwein, which is a apple cider typical of the region. Another unique dish to the region is the Frankfurt Green Sauce, which is potatoes and eggs in an herb sauce that reminded me a blend of Peruvian Papa a la Huancaina in pesto sauce (aka. delicious).
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