Drew

Party #15: Carnival in Brazil with Jennifer

by Drew on May 9, 2016 No comments

Welcome to the 15th edition of my series “A Party to Remember!”

In this interview-based web series, you’ll learn about the best parties and nightlife all over the world from other travelers and travel bloggers.

In this week’s episode, I am excited to have Jennifer share her experience at one of Brazil’s wildest festivals!

If you want to be the next person featured in this series, then please contact me with your party idea and I will send you the guidelines.  My aim is to cover nightlife all over the globe, so please try to contribute a party that hasn’t already been covered.

Ok, now I’ll let Jennifer take over!

Meet Jennifer

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Jennifer Schlueter quit her job in April to travel the world full-time. Her journey, tips, food, and stories about expats and inspirational people are shared on her blog Discovering LegaciesInstagramFacebook, and Snapchat (@discoveringleg).

She lives and breathes her motto “Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.” Her goal is to create a better mutual understanding among cultures and inspire others to travel and live the life of their dreams.

 

Question 1: What was the party/event and where was it?

Last year, I attended Carnival in the Afro-Brazilian capital of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. It’s five days long and attracts millions of people.

Question 2: How did you hear about this party/event? Did you stumble upon it, or plan to go?

I’ve always wanted to go to carnival in Rio de Janeiro because I had seen it on TV. I was fascinated by Samba, the music, crazy costumes, and beautiful people. Then, my friend, who had been to Salvador as an exchange student, recommended to go there. According to her, it was better than Rio; thus, we booked two days of carnival in Rio and the other three in Salvador.

Question 3: Did anything funny or ‘out of the ordinary’ happen that night? Please share the story. 

Everything during carnival is out of the ordinary. The parties are not only at night, but last all day from about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Random guys try to make out with you literally without even saying hello. Due to our obvious European looks, my friend and I often stuck out in the crowd and got smacked, sprayed on with “holy water” and otherwise “harassed.” If you join a bloco with an abada (a T-Shirt you buy with which you are allowed to walk inside ropes next to a music truck), you will find that they have guys carrying a porter potty during the whole parade. If you want to, you can pee while people are carrying you and others are knocking on the walls.

Question 4: What were the top 3 highlights from that night?

  1. As soon as the music on a truck starts, people fall into a trance and EVERYONE is super happy, dancing, and smiling, and you just can’t help it to be in the same state of mind as well.
  2. Seeing all the costumes and learning their meaning.
  3. Spending the money on an abada to experience what it’s like to walk inside the parade rather than just watching from the sidewalk.

Question 5: What advice can you give for  anyone else that wants to attend this event and party like you did?

  • Book in advance. By that I mean at least 6 months in advance because accommodations and flights fill up super quickly.
  • Research bands and their music and THEN buy an abada. Buy it from a hotel employee you can trust – there are too many scammers out there unfortunately.
  • Experience both carnival in Rio and Salvador.

Question 6: Which city do you think has the best nightlife?

For me, it’d be Atlanta because the dancefloors pack super early and people actually dance until they get kicked out. After that, it’s Lapa in Rio de Janeiro – the whole area parties inside and outside of establishments – it’s hot & humid, guys walk around topless, the music just makes you want to dance, and all kinds of cultures come together.

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! Have YOU ever been to Carnival?

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DrewParty #15: Carnival in Brazil with Jennifer

I Just Went Skydiving in Australia!

by Drew on May 9, 2016 4 comments

In April of 2016, I spent 3 days in Melbourne on a long layover from Fiji to Singapore. It was my second visit to Australia (my first was to Sydney back in 2014) – and I enjoyed Melbourne MUCH more than Sydney.

Melbourne is a city that I could actually see myself living in. The city is very diverse, and the culture has influences from both Europe (architecture) and Asia (food).   It’s both artsy and hipster – packed with cafes, shops, restaurants, bars and graffitied walls. It’s also very affordable (unlike Sydney!)

Given that I only had 3 days in Melbourne, I wanted to make the most of my time. Skydiving has been at the top of my bucket list for a while, so I looked into various skydiving companies in Melbourne and I found an awesome one called Skydive the Beach!

Skydive the Beach operates in several cites across the Australian continent, and in the Victoria province, the jump is about 50 km outside Melbourne in the rich countryside area called Yarra Valley.  The company is very professional and has a great reputation of diving for more than 16 years. The staff at the office in Melbourne was so friendly and enjoyable to hang out with. They eased my stress and made me feel comfortable before jumping!

The days leading up to the jump, I was overwhelmingly nervous, excited and anxious. I had been bungy jumping 5 times in my life, but I had NEVER jumped out of a plane!

So, on the cold & breezy morning of May 2, 2016, I was picked up by a van and driven to Yarra Valley for the big jump!

Here’s how it went down.

When we arrived, we signed our lives away (literally) and then watched the mandatory 8 minute video with rules & instructions.

Then, I met my guide (who had already been on about 6,100 jumps) and he gave me a short briefing of what to expect.

A few minutes later, we were strapped into a small plane and up in the atmosphere, climbing above the clouds. On this particular day, there was a thick cloud shelf that we hovered above and it was really intimidating for my first jump!

I was trying to remain calm the entire way up, talking to my guide.   And then it was time…

The door opened, and a huge gust of cold wind hit my face and pierced my ears. My feet were the first limbs to hang outside the plane.

Before I had time to think, my head was positioned back on my guide’s shoulder and we jumped out!!

All of the nerves that I had before the jump had instantly disappeared after we jumped and hit terminal speed velocity. As cliché as it sounds, I was flying! I couldn’t feel anything because we were going so fast (220 km/hour).

The coolest part was when we zoomed through the cloud! I could feel the temperature suddenly drop (for about 2 second) and then everything cleared up and I could see planet earth below me.

After about 30 seconds of freefall, my guide pulled the parachute and we floated back down to earth. The views up in the sky were breathtaking – the valley below me and I could see all the way to the ocean!

It took about 5-6 minutes to parachute down and then I landed back on slid ground. I was alive!

Skydiving was one of the most thrilling and spectacular experiences I’ve ever had, and I am 100% going to go again somewhere else in the world.

If you head to Australia, then I highly recommend Skydive the Beach. It’ll be an experience that you won’t forget!

Disclaimer:  Skydive the Beach offered me compensation for going on their dive.  However, the words and recommendations in this post are my own and have not been altered in any way.

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DrewI Just Went Skydiving in Australia!

Singapore Travel Guide

by Drew on May 8, 2016 11 comments

*I’ve been to Singapore twice (in 2013 & 2016), and spent a total of 7 days in the city — it’s one of my favorite places in Asia!   In this blog post, I am going to give you an overview of the city, and provide travel tips and recommendations for things like culture, attractions, food, nightlife and more. Everything you read is based off my own experiences.

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DrewSingapore Travel Guide

Highlights from 1 Week in Vanuatu

by Drew on May 4, 2016 10 comments

I visited Vanuatu for 8 days in April 2016.   Before I boarded the flight from Fiji, I had no idea about anything in Vanuatu. All I knew was that it’s a country in the Pacific islands, and that’s about it!

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DrewHighlights from 1 Week in Vanuatu

5 Reasons to Visit Indonesia

by Drew on April 26, 2016 No comments

I’ve taken two separate trips to Indonesia and spent a total of 4 weeks in the country. I’ve spent most of my time in Bali, but I’ve also ventured out to other islands such as Sumba, Lombok and Gili.   Indonesia is such an amazing county and you have to visit!

From the local food, to the culture and the natural beauty – Indonesia is one of my favorite countries on earth. I might be a little biased, because I’ve spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia and it’s my favorite region on earth – but honestly, you must take a trip to Indonesia to see what it’s like.

With more than 25,000 islands (no joke!) – there are literally unlimited beaches and places to explore.  In addition to the beautiful beaches, there are a variety of nice resorts around Bali. A good option is Conrad Bali (click here to book), or you can check out The Santai or The Four Seasons!

Still not convinced?

Here are 5 more reasons to visit Indonesia.

1. Eat Mie Goreng

Mie Goreng is the national dish of Indonesia, and it’s a staple food that you’ll find on any menu! Translated literally as “fried noodles,” Mie Goreng is a spicy and flavorful fried noodle dish, made with yellow noodles, oil, garlic, onions, chili, cabbage, tomatoes, egg, and your choice of meat (chicken, prawn, pork or beef).   The best part? It’s only about $2USD for a big plate!

2. Explore Untouched Beaches

With more than 25,000 islands, you can only imagine how many picture perfect beaches that Indonesia has. Hot sunshine, coconut trees, clear ocean water, fresh fruits, white sanded beaches and plenty more. You can find beaches everywhere, and almost all of them won’t be saturated with tourists (unless you’re in Bali).

3. Affordability

Along with the Philippines and Vietnam, I find Indonesia to be the cheapest country in Asia. Their currency (called the Rupiah) is super inflated, so $1USD = 15,000 Rupiah, but don’t let that distract you! Any local meal will cost you less than $3USD, and a 20 minute taxi ride will cost about $5USD. Most guesthouses, activities and groceries are cheap as well, so you are able to have fun exploring without burning a hole in your wallet.

4. Rent a Motorbike

Every time I visit Indonesia, I rent a motorbike so I have the freedom to explore around as I wish! The price is usually $5USD per day, but you can negotiate if you rent for a longer period of time.  Be careful though if you’re from the USA or any country that drives on the right side of the road, because they drive on the left side in Indonesia. And don’t forget to always wear a helmet!

5. Visit Temples

Last but not least, Indonesia has an abundance of temples that you are able to visit and learn about the culture. Especially in Bali, most of the temples are of Hindu beliefs, and they are beautiful to visit! If you are visiting any other island, then the temples will mostly be Muslim (mosques). Get your daily dose of Indonesia culture by visiting a temple!

Thanks for reading my blog post about Indonesia, and I hope you have the chance to visit! Feel free to comment below with any questions you may have.

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Drew5 Reasons to Visit Indonesia

10 Things to do in Dubai

by Drew on April 26, 2016 1 comment

Dubai is one of the most fascinating cities on earth.  Being a big-city lover myself, I had the chance to visit Dubai for 6 days and I really enjoyed the tech-savvy urban lifestyle that the city provides.

There are so many fun things to do (indoor skiing, golf, etc) that will keep you entertained during your visit.  And just prepare yourself to be awe-struck, beacuse Dubai is home to hundreds of skyscrapers and world records!

Are you planning to move to Dubai?  If so, then check out this awesome guide which will answer all of your questions.

Alright, without further adieu — Here are 10 Things to do in Dubai:

1. Go to the top of the Burj Khalifa

DSC02876Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world — The Burj Khalifa.  Sure, you’ve seen pictures of the Burj, or you’ve seen Tom Cruise bungee jump out the window in Mission Impossible 4, but nothing does justice until you see the 830 meter skyscraper with your bare eyes.   The elevator up to the top is one of the fastest in the world, so get prepared to lose your ear pressure and be mind-blown when you reach the top.  The views of the urban landscape, desert sand dunes and beautiful ocean are all visible at the same time.

2. Tour around the Palm Islands

Dubai has two sets of these incredible man-made islands, both in the shape of palm trees.  The two islands have over 100 luxury hotels, residential beach-side villa apartments, public beaches, water parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities, you name it!  The most famous hotel is the Atlantis Hotel is located at the far-edge of the island.   Everything on the island is really expensive, so be prepared to spend some money if you venture out there!

3. Go on a shopping spree at Dubai Mall

DSC02881If the Burj Khalifa and Palm Islands hasn’t blown your mind yet, get ready to hear about the world’s biggest shopping mall! Opened in 2008, this $20 BILLION dollar complex boasts over 1,200 shops with over 635 different retailers.  At 70 million visitors per year, the Dubai Mall alone attracts more visitors per year than New York City as well as any other landmark/leisure destination in the world.  I spent at least 4 hours there and it felt like I only saw the food court and 10% of this mall.  It’s insane.

Try some Dubai Food as well if you get the chance!

4. Hang out at Jumeriah Beach

DSC02975Dubai’s most popular leisure beach is a must visit on a scorching hot day.  Named after the Jumeriah district of Dubai, this beautiful beach stretches from the Palm Jumeriah hotel to the Jumeriah Beach Residence (next to the Dubai Marina).  Along the beach, you’ll find restaurants, hotels, water parks and shopping complexes.  It’s the best place to hang out and take photos of the amazing Burj Al Arab hotel in the background!

5. Be amazed by the Burj Al Arab

DSC02939The Burj Al Arab is the most expensive, most luxurious and only 7-star hotel in the world. Soaring at 321 meters tall, this sailboat-shaped hotel has a helicopter pad AND a tennis court on the top, where the famous Agassi vs. Federer match was played.  Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to go inside unless you have a reservation for a room, or you make a reservation for the restaurant, but you can get some excellent views from the nearby beaches.

6. Go skiing indoors at Ski Dubai

WHAT? Skiing in the desert? Yep, that’s right!  You can go skiing indoors in when it’s 110 degrees Fahrenheit outside.  This massive, 22,500 square meter building, is connected to the Mall of Emirates – one of the largest malls in the world.  Ski Dubai features an 85-meter high indoor mountain with 5 slopes of various steepness.  There is even a ski lift, real-life penguins and an ice cave inside.  Only in Dubai can you ski and relax on the beach in the same day.  For more information and ticket prices, go to their main website.

7. Watch the Dubai Fountain Show

DSC02992Trust me on this one, the Dubai Fountains put the Bellagio in Las Vegas to shame!  This production is taller, bigger, louder and overall much more amazing.  It’s best to go at night so you can see the light show as well, along with the signature Middle Eastern music!  The fountains are located at the base of the Burj Khalifa right next to the Dubai Mall.  There are some lovely restaurants and shops in the area, so it’s a great way to spend your evening.

8. Walk inside the Jumeriah Mosque

Get some culture by going inside Dubai’s only Mosque open to the general public.  This Mosque showcases the medieval Fatimid traditions and you will learn all about Muslim religious practices.  You can get a very informative tour inside that is only 10 AED ($3USD), but you have to get there early otherwise you won’t get let in.

9. Relax at the Dubai Creek

This saltwater creek is one of Dubai’s oldest and most attractive areas for tourists and locals.   And the best part is… It’s cheap!  It cost only 1 Dirham to get across to the Gold and Spice Souk area on the other side where you can buy some goodies.   During that ride, you can enjoy the beautiful sunset on the water.  It’s a very calm, quiet and relaxing atmosphere – a perfect escape from bustling craziness of downtown Dubai.

10. Get cultured at the Bastakia Quarter

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Photo by McKay Savage on Flickr

The Bastakia Quarter, also known as Al Bastakiya, is a historic district that is one of the oldest residential areas in Dubai.  This area was built in the late 17th Century, which was originally populated by many rich Persian merchants.   By visiting this district, you will get a sense of the ‘real’ cultural Dubai (before the country has all its oil money).  It’s a peaceful getaway from the busy center of Dubai, and it’s also where the Dubai Museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding are located.

Have you been to Dubai before? Comment below with your thoughts!

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Drew10 Things to do in Dubai