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Visiting Four Soccer Meccas in Latin America

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The power of soccer moves people. Not only does the world’s favorite sport move fans emotionally, it also moves them out of their chairs, out of their homes, and often out of their countries, to experience the one-of-a-kind sensation that only the world’s greatest stadiums can provide.

And for true soccer fans — regardless of the team you cheer for — there are some you simply cannot miss.

Maracanã Stadium in Río de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, lined with its iconic black and white mosaic sidewalks, is built on one of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world. From Ipanema to Copacabana, the unforgettable ambience offers idyllic views of the ocean lapping at the feet of mountains. Elements of the beautiful game, or the jogo bonito, live on the sands of these beaches in the form of Futevolei, a sport that combines the skillsets of volleyball and soccer.

Brazilians have always had a love affair with soccer. A tribute to this passionate love is the Maracanã Stadium, which was built as a temple to the sport.

The famed statue of Cristo Redentor overlooks the stadium, where players like Ronaldinho and Ronaldo went from rookies to legends. Not only is it one of the largest structures of its kind in South America, but is also the home to Pelé’s legendary 1000th goal in 1969.

If you are looking to spend time in Río de Janeiro to witness the next wave of future soccer legends, a great option is the JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro. The luxury hotel offers elegant accommodations and sweeping views of Copacabana beach.

JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro

The Bombonera in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, the glamorous Argentine metropolis, is a hub of vibrant architecture, bustling restaurants, and a passionate culture that brought tango to the world.

La Boca, one of the city’s neighborhoods, represents Buenos Aires’ cultural richness particularly well. The colorful streets are alive with local music and an infectious energy that lead all the way to Diego Maradona’s old stomping grounds, La Bombonera. At the famed stadium soccer fans will discover the Pasión Boquense Museum, a magnet for true admirers of the sport.

Gameday in “La Bombonera” is a unique experience, filled with colorfully painted faces shouting out emphatic chants. These fans also sing hinchas, which are wildly creative remixes of popular, contemporary songs that reflect the fans’ loyalty to their team.

The architecture of the stadium itself is a unique attribute as three sections are built almost vertically, putting fans as close as possible to the action.

For those wishing to participate in this unforgettable energy, the Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center offers stunning views of Buenos Aires right in the heart of the city’s action and culture.

Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center

Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay
Montevideo is recognized for its easy-going lifestyle, where quaint neighborhoods meet miles of beautiful, sandy beaches. To discover the city’s diverse environment, take a stroll along La Rambla, the longest continuous sidewalk in the world.

Despite these moments of tranquility, the love for soccer that runs through Uruguayan veins is fervent and passionate in nearly all parts of Montevideo.

This passion developed after the population experienced exponential growth in the early 20th century. Soccer gave many immigrants their own identity and further united them, serving as a common interest among the new citizens.

This history is on display in the Centenario Stadium, the site of the first World Cup in 1930. Here, soccer fans can not only witness today’s highest echelons of soccer talent, but also delve into Uruguayan soccer’s rich past, at the adjoining Museo del Fútbol.

Ideal for world travelers, the Aloft Montevideo Hotel boasts modern facilities and is located only a few minutes away from La Rambla and Centenario Stadium.

Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is one of the most fascinating capital cities in the world, offering incredible diversity forged through a long history stretching back to ancient times. There is much to see, and many ways to see it. Visitors can experience the city on bicycle, for example, riding through beautiful streets like the Paseo de la Reforma. They can also visit spectacular museums like the Museo del Templo Mayor to appreciate the remains of the original Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. However, perhaps no aspect of Mexican culture is quite loved as much as soccer. Mexico City is home to three major professional teams and an iconic stadium, known as Estadio Azteca. A pilgrimage to Estadio Azteca is a required stop for soccer fans and curious travelers alike. With a capacity of 105,064 people, the stadium is one of the largest in the world.

Estadio Azteca is home to one of the greatest moments in soccer history, the Hand of God goal, infamously scored by Diego Maradona against England in the World Cup of 1986.

Watching a match at the Azteca is a one-of-a-kind experience true soccer fans should not miss.

A good option for soccer pilgrims is the St. Regis Hotel Mexico City, located at the center of the capital, a vibrant area ideal for exploring.

Regardless of where the pilgrimage takes you, you are sure to discover an array of soccer experiences throughout Latin America. From the historic grounds of Maracanã to the bright lights of Estadio Azteca, each soccer mecca moves fans in a unique way, immersing them in the rich history of the game.

Destinations

Rediscover Istanbul: Last Step in Europe, First Step in Asia

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Housed in a century-old neoclassical Turkish prison, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet offers a genuine Istanbul experience just a few steps from city’s important landmarks in Sultanahmet with the Suite Authentic luxury accommodation package. One can escape to Four Seasons Hotel Sultanahmet to indulge in a memorable Istanbul experience in fall enjoying city’s mild climate, historical attractions surrounding the Hotel, cultural events and festivals, last but not least various shopping alternatives including designer labels and traditional souvenirs. Set in the historical peninsula, the Hotel is neighbour to the city’s most significant souks such as Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.

Although Istanbul has become a year-round destination, fall is a perfect season to enjoy city’s magnificent vistas, traditional shopping stops and designer shops. It is also an ideal time to discover the art scene in the city, such as Contemporary Istanbul, Akbank Jazz Festival or Istanbul Design Biennale. Designed to offer multiple delights to visitors of Istanbul, the Suite Authentic accommodation package includes daily American breakfast in Seasons Restaurant or through In-Room Dining for two and offers 30 percent off the room rate.

The Hotel’s beautifully designed suites relate directly to the rich history and layers of Istanbul, offering a strong sense of place with their breathtaking views of the manicured courtyard as well as St. Sophia and Blue Mosque. With one of the most authentic and one-of-a-kind suite collections in Istanbul, guests can choose from an impressive Executive Suite to two Presidential Suites, St. Sophia and Marmara, each containing a living room with fireplace, dining area for 6-8 guests and three private terraces offering exceptional city views. In their intimate residential setting, guests can truly make themselves at home – whether they wish to lounge around in the living area or enjoy a magnificent Old Town silhouette from their balcony.

Inspired from Istanbul’s heritage, the interior design in suites reflects the footsteps of past empires. Understated Four Seasons elegance and the mysticism of Old Town show itself in the tiny details of each suite. This indigenous indulgence is now offered to ensure a luxury accommodation at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. the Suite Authentic accommodation package is valid for three-night minimum stays until March 31, 2019.

Not-to-Miss Attractions in Old Town

Visit Spice Bazaar and Covered Bazaar: Home to the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered market in the world, Istanbul boasts a vibrant and unforgettable shopping scene. More than 4,000 shops on 58 streets feature goods and fine crafts from all over Turkey and beyond, and the Grand Bazaar is one big Aladdin’s cave.

Go underground at the Basilica Cistern: The Basilica Cistern is the largest of the ancient underground water cisterns found across Istanbul.

Visit Hagia Sophia: One of the most visited museums and most prominent monuments in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture, Hagia Sophia should be at the top of a to-see list for Istanbul. Do not miss the upstairs gallery to catch the best views and to glimpse the surviving mosaics, in particular the golden mosaic of the Virgin and Child in the apse.

Visit the Blue Mosque: Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque’s two most striking features are its six minarets and blue domed exterior.

Get a taste of royal life at Topkapi Palace: Topkapi Palace is the largest royal residence in Istanbul and it served as the main residence to the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.

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Destinations

Shop like a local in Guadalajara

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As one of Mexico’s top artisanal hubs, Guadalajara offers the best in culture, cuisine and shopping. Travelers can find everything from expertly crafted pottery to luxe leather goods in unique markets throughout the city. For those who travel the world in search of the best locally-produced, stylish souvenirs, Guadalajara provides the ultimate in retail therapy in a vibrant, festive atmosphere — after all, this is the birthplace of mariachi, tequila, and charrería, the Mexican rodeo!

Follow these tips for shopping, eating, and playing like a local in Guadalajara, and you are sure to leave with as many memories as one-of-a-kind purchases.

Largest indoor market in Latin America

Visitors to the historic center of Guadalajara will enjoy sightseeing with a backdrop of the beautiful architecture of the double-spired Guadalajara Cathedral. This area is home to Mercado Libertad, the largest indoor market in Latin America with three floors and nearly 3,000 stands featuring everything from apparel and handbags to fresh produce and local delicacies. Stop for a meal or browse endless options. Mexican cowboys, known locally as charros, frequent leather vendors in search of saddles, boots, and belts. Across the street in the jewelry market, gold and silver pieces will add just the right Mexican accent to your wardrobe.

The perfect pair

Fashionistas rejoice. Whether it is pumps or loafers, sandals or sneakers you seek, Guadalajara is the place to find the perfect pair of shoes. Make a beeline to Galería del Calzado, a shopping center focused exclusively on your feet. Choose from 64 stores offering everything from jaw-dropping high fashion designs to the hottest streetwear trends.

Galleries galore

In the colonial town of Tlaquepaque, local arts and crafts fill market showrooms and upscale stores where you will find carved wooden furniture, colorful blown glass ceramics and hand-stitched clothing. The downtown area retains the traditional structure of a small Mexican community with a parish street, central market, main square, and many pedestrian-only streets, making this a good place to take a stroll. Catch the daily mariachi performances at the local restaurants and cantinas, some with outdoor seating perfect for people watching.

Bargain hunting

Some of the best bargains can be found among Tonalá’s narrow streets, where most of Guadalajara’s local goods can be purchased. In this neighborhood, you can find some of the best crafts in the country. This includes wide-mouth clay bowls designed to serve a cazuela cocktail, Guadalajara’s signature citrus punch. The area is particularly known for silver and gold crafts, hand-painted pottery, paper-mâché, and clay figurines. On Thursdays and Sundays, bargain-priced merchandise is sold at a vast street market where wholesalers arrive from all over the country to buy in bulk.

Lap of luxury

In the district of Zapopan, the Andares Mall offers shoppers top-of-the-line luxury brands. After a day of shopping, join the locals as they enjoy a pedestrian corridor filled with high-end restaurants and bars near the basilica.

Nature’s products

Just outside of Guadalajara are sprawling agave fields, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the world’s tequila is produced. Drive past fields of the blue agave plant that stretch out over the rugged, hilly terrain, en route to the town of Tequila. After visiting the distilleries and purchasing bottles to serve back home, peruse smaller shops and stalls for necklaces and earrings crafted using blue agave leaves, agave syrup, and figurines made from the obsidian of the nearby volcano.

For more information on Guadalajara, visit www.visitguadalajara.com.

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Destinations

Why Myrtle Beach is the perfect fall vacation for families

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When it comes to vacation planning, millennial families with young children have the edge over school-aged families — no strict school schedules to obey!

Take advantage of this flexibility while you can, and plan your escape to Myrtle Beach. This oceanside city along the beautiful South Carolina coastline features just about everything families with young children are looking for: family fun, engaging and interactive attractions, delicious food and relaxing places to chill out. Bonus: Now that school is in session, you’ll escape the summer crowds.

To help you plan, here are some of the things that await in Myrtle Beach.

Budget-friendly fun: As promised in the name, Myrtle Beach is the place to make oceanside memories: building sand castles, hunting for seashells and delighting in their giggles as the waves lap their little toes. As it turns out, fall is one of the best times of year to have that beach vacation without breaking the bank. Look for deep discounts and special lodging packages at hotels and resorts. While you search for fun things to do, be on the lookout for exclusive fall promotions. For example, Visit Myrtle Beach is offering a complimentary children’s beach photo session, which will create the perfect keepsake for your getaway.

Beautiful “summer” weather: Even if you feel a nip in the air in your region, the fall weather in South Carolina is still ideal for exploring wide open spaces and enjoying outdoor activities. Brookgreen Gardens features the Lowcountry Zoo, which houses animals in spaces as close to their natural habitat as possible. You’ll definitely want to get way up high and see the beaches and water stretch off into forever from atop the SkyWheel, a 200-foot Ferris wheel that’s right on the beach.

Enriching fun: Myrtle Beach has plenty of kid-friendly places to interact and build new connections to this wide, wonderful world. Kids can get an up-close look at the colorful fish and other sea creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium. After hearing stories about farm life in their favorite picture books, they can see the real thing at the L.W. Paul Living History Farm. Finally, WonderWorks Science Center has more than 100 hands-on exhibits that are designed to both thrill and teach children a thing or two about science.

Peaceful pursuits: While you’re enjoying all this family time (and seeing the smiles on those little faces), be sure to make time for the grownups to enjoy themselves, too, with solo outings at some point in the trip. All around Myrtle Beach you’ll find lots of options to chill and recharge, whether it’s a well-deserved spa treatment or discovering your new favorite wine at a tasting. We’ll lose the thought with this vision of heaven: You and your family relaxing along the seashore seashore. No one’s cranky, no one’s hungry, just … aaaaaaah!

For more ideas and inspiration to plan your fall family vacation to Myrtle Beach, visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.

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