Olympic awe in Rio is no match for its natural attractions.

Secret Rio   All eyes are on the 2016 Olympics now, but the real Rio de Janeiro has centuries of fantastic architecture and natural beauty that will inspire visitors to dig deep and find the best secrets the city has to offer. Secret Rio, by Jonglez Publishing is a pocket-sized guide to the off-beat, unusual and secrets mostly seen only by locals.

Rio is the second largest city in Brazil, and the perfect place where every traveler will find natural beauty, history, and spectacular architecture amid huge forests to explore.

Rio was home to the first World’s Fair after the 1914-1918 war, built on land reclaimed from the sea, and its treasures abound at every turn. The National Historical Museum and the United States Consulate still remain there, long after that first World’s Fair. What might you find there? If you visit the Historical Museum, past the main entrance you will see a terrace on the first floor. There you will see a spectacular library with ceilings painted by Carlos Oswald, who also decorated the Large Industries Pavilion at the 1922 International Exhibition. Try to spend a little time at Rio’s National Academy of Letters and the Biblioteca Nacional, which is one of the world’s largest libraries, with over nine million items.

Faced with such rich history to explore, consider taking a break from antiquity, and visit the amazing Caminho do Grafite. This graffiti-rich area is home to high quality urban art, comprising a permanent exhibition of over eighty murals. Take some time to explore over a mile of this fantastic artwork. There is also an art and education center in a former school building.

Wherever you turn, you are sure to be impressed with the city. Let Secret Rio guide you to culture and bring yourself back to earth by enjoying Brazilian music, and follow the Samba Train if you happen to visit in December. The Samba Train runs only on Samba Day, December 2nd, every year. Lastly, before your whirlwind Rio visit ends, spend some time at the deserted urban beaches. Follow the Transcarioca Trail for access to five beaches. Managed by the Grumari Municipal Natural Park they are maintained and kept clean by a volunteer group.  What a wonderful way to end your stay in Rio.
[First published in Blogcritics Magazine, Helen Gallagher.]

Travel without stress: NapAnywhere

Having trouble resting on flights? Unable to find a proper travel pillow, or tired of trying to sleep on your bunched-up jacket? Well, thanks to this invention by a physician, Dr. Ravi Shamaiengar, you can now hold your head high and sleep without neck pain on planes, trains, or as a passenger during a long car ride. NapAnywhereI was mystified by the design until I tested the NapAnywhere Head Support pillow.It folds flat for packing in a briefcase or backpack and has a cloth pouch for storage. It is not soft and squishy, which is often the problem with most travel pillows… no support.

NapAnywhere’s one piece design bends to rest your head, while the weight is distributed across your shoulder (left or right). Tighten the strap and it stays in place with no pressure. Instead of a mushy pillow that offers no support, the sturdy head rest, gently supported on the shoulder, creates a stable posture to relax and fall asleep.

Interested? Learn more about NapAnywhere and its inventor at  www.napanywhere.net, before your next journey. You may never travel without it.

Happy well-rested travels!

 

Book Review Chance Enounters: Travel Tales from Around the World

Chance Encounters: Travel Tales from Around the WorldThe chance encounters in this anthology leave lasting impressions on the traveler, and on the reader. After enjoying details of others experiences, your future travels will likely include new ways to see, hear and connect with fellow travelers and locals wherever you roam.

Each submission in the anthology, edited by Janna Graber, brings the reader into the heart of the story:

—“I’m in a bikini, dangling from the edge of a granite cliff, holding my sarong out to a man in white shorts.”

—“Standing at the edge of Alexanderplatz, I watch Berlin pass by.”

—“It’s hard to hang on to your shoes in Africa.”

—And the exotic world of Iceland in the essay, “White Nights,” which begins: “Two steps down the Finnair ramp onto the tarmac at the Helsinki Airport and I knew I had made a mistake wearing cowboy boots.” The frozen ground shot an almost electric jolt up through my heels to my calves. A third step landed me backside down on the ice-coated passenger walkway.”

Readers and writers alike can learn a great deal about story-telling, structure and narrative from these skilled writers, as we are invited to travel along. Unique experiences and adventure are at the heart of travel. With over twenty unique essays/stories written by seasoned travel writers, ‘Chance Encounters‘ takes the reader around the world, from thrilling adventures to the emotion of a traveler holding the hand of a little girl left alone in a Kathmandu bookshop.

Travel, often a glorious experience, deepens when we open our eyes. ‘Chance Encounters‘ is an endearing collection to inspire our own global journeys, to go beyond the ordinary, make new friends, and maybe even change a life.

99 Years and Counting: National Park System

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In honor of its 99th birthday, the National Park Service created a list of 99 ways to #FindYourPark. On August 25, 2015, the National Park Service will begin the countdown to their 100th anniversary. The national parks belong to all Americans, and we are all invited to join in celebrating this special day. Until then, to honor its 99th birthday, the National Park Service created a list of 99 ways to #FindYourPark
99 ways to #findyourpark

Pick a Park for Summer Fun!

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With more than 400 national parks and thousands of historic and recreational lands across the country, including natural, cultural, and urban treasures, there are endless opportunities to explore and find your own personal connections to our National Parks.

Whether you wander north, south, east or west, there is a majestic park experience waiting for you. Use this neat infographic to chart your course in history this Summer:

Extreme Journaling

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Cover image for Ongoingness : the end of a diaryMuch has been written about Sarah Manguso’s new book: Ongoingness: The End of a Diary. After keeping a diary for 25 years, wouldn’t you find it hard to stop? Yet, Ongoingness is a small essay collection, at less than 100 pages, that considers the essence of finding meaning amid the noise of life.

For the author, journaling became a spiritual practice, giving more meaning to her events in the present, and more opportunity to reflect on the past. Manguso felt the writing was essential because she could not think of another way to avoid getting lost in time. As a New York Times essay by Michelle Orange (5/24/15) states, perhaps Manguso’s diary was a way to extract from life some persuasive hedge against death. The book’s overview states it is a “spare, meditative work that stands in stark contrast to the volubility of the diary–it is a haunting account of mortality and impermanence, of how we struggle to find clarity in the chaos of time that rushes around and over and through us.”

paperpenFor many of us, journaling is an essential part of our lives and a trusted companion when thinking about good times and bad. For many travelers, myself included, the best journal writing comes about while traveling. Perhaps we have more time to reflect, away from our daily routine, and want to document details of our days on the road, and capture memories beyond what we can do with tweets and Instagram.

All too often, our travels seems well placed in our mind, until we fail to recall whether it was Italy or Portugal where we had a fabulous experience that is now fading from memory. Looking at a photo of an amazing bridge, we wonder if it was in Barcelona or Portugal. Travel journals, well written, allow you to bring back the experiences of your trip, to ensure you bring home more than fleeting memories. Over time, the only events and impressions of the world that can return home with us are those in our journals. There they can augment memories that fade, and reawaken the pressing urge to travel again and again.

Write where you are,

Helen

Kick up your heels at the 42nd Kilkenny Arts Festival

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If you need an incentive to visit Ireland, there’s none better than Kilkenney, which was once the ‘medieval capital’ of Ireland.

KILKENNY CASTLE, IRELAND.

The Kilkenny Arts Festival, now in its 42nd year, runs in August and is a beautiful event with international performers and stunning venues including St Canice’s Cathedral, a jewel of Gothic architecture, historic Kilkenny Castle (above), the Black Abbey and
St John’s Priory.

The renowned arts festival will feature a unique series of 18 concerts offering once-in-a-lifetime chances to experience the diversity of the music of JS Bach performed by extraordinary artists in some of the country’s most beautiful venues.

The ‘Eternal Harmony: The Music of JS Bach’ series runs through the ten days of the festival (7 – 16 August) and ranges through one of the German composer’s largest masterpieces, concertos, cantatas, chamber music and his incomparable works for solo instruments.

The full Kilkenny Arts Festival program will also include exhibitions, dance, literature, street and children’s events and will feature a rare Irish appearance from Sir András Schiff, one of the finest pianists alive, and grand master of the viol, Jordi Savall.

Kilkenny is in Ireland’s Ancient East, an exciting new touring region encapsulating 5,000 years of history. With its maze of cobbled lanes and narrow alleyways, the backdrop to its festival is always a mix of the medieval and the cosmopolitan.

For more information: http://www.kilkennyarts.ie/

Its time we go back!