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Your Preferred Home Exchange Destinations

posted by admin
archived in Tips, communicating with fellow exchangers, using the website

We will leave Brazil now to travel with our words to another exciting destination. There are certainly so many things to be discovered in Brazil that is unlikely that we would not find a future pretext to suggest a house swap to this marvellous country. We hope to have shared enough so you added it to your list of Destination preferences - If you are unfamiliar with this feature, let’s take a moment to explain how it works and how to use it because it adds valuable information to attract other users interested in your location:

Users may add a list of preferred destinations that will be shown in their personal profile page under Destination preferences. To add a destination you need to login to your account, click on Edit Profile and scroll down until you find the boxes under the title Countries you would like to go to (see image). To mark a country as a destination you would be interested in visiting you need to click on it and then click on the arrow pointing to the right-hand box. All the countries that you leave in this box will be shown in your profile page after you confirm the changes by clicking on the Modify button. To remove a country from the list, just select it on the right-hand box and click on the left-pointing arrow.

Choosing your preferred destinations - Click on the image to see a larger version Please note that since it is not a mandatory field, there are many users that have not completed this information. However, it is useful data for someone that is looking to swap to your area, because if they see beforehand that you are interested in travelling to their country, the chances they will decide to contact you will increase.

Rhythms Of Brazil: The Soundtrack For Your Home Exchange II

posted by admin
archived in places, tips for going abroad

This second part of the rhythms of Brazil includes samba-reggae, choro, frevo, lambada and sertanejo - Enough for a long and diverse soundtrack in case your home exchange is not a short one.

Samba has been fused with several genres, one example would be samba-reggae, the fusion of Brazilian samba and Jamaican reggae. This genre has a strong percussion pattern and like other rhythms had its origins in the Bahian carnival, where the group Olodum first introduced it.

Choro (cry) or chorinho, was originally played with three instruments: guitar, flute and cavaquinho. Its origins can be traced back to Rio de Janeiro in the late 1800s and it was revitalized in the last 50 years.

Frevo is another simple rhythm with an energetic melody. It originated in the Northeastern states of Brazil and it is still played by some bands during the carnival.

Lambada is a genre that is most known for the particularity of its dance. Movements are very sensual and there is a characteristic whip-type move.

Guitar - Image by luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Sertanejo is a very popular type of country music originated in Southern Brazil. It could be compared to the country music of the USA, with melodies mostly accompanied by melancholic or romantic lyrics referring to the daily lives of the men of the rural areas Brazil in opposition to the men of the big cities.

HomeForHome has always tried to share advice on safe travelling, and Brazil is not the exception. There are several things you will need to consider before you get in a plane to Brazil. It is always advisable to check your country’s foreign affairs office for requirements and recommendations before you travel to any place you are unfamiliar with. For example, there could be things you need to consider regarding health (vaccination are a clear example), security, safety, and entry requirements. Most foreign affairs offices have information in their websites, so it could be a good place to get started. Here we share some links with information related to travelling to Brazil:

Australia - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Travel Advice Brazil
Canada - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: TRAVEL REPORT Brazil
United Kingdom - Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Travel advice: Brazil
USA - Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State: Brazil Country Specific Information

Rhythms Of Brazil: The Soundtrack For Your Home Exchange

posted by admin
archived in places

Brazilian musicians have created many original genres like bossa nova, samba and its sub-genres, choro, forró, frevo, lambada and axé. If you travel to Brazil you will discover that music is always around the corner. Instruments like cuicas, pans, berimbaus, pandeiros, tambourines, atabaques can start the fun almost anywhere. Today and tomorrow we are going to explore these genres so you have a preview of what you will find depending on where you go in your house swap to Brazil.

Bossa nova is the second most renown Brazilian genre after samba. Its origins come from fusion, like many rhythms from Brazil, in this case it is the fission of jazz with the local popular music. Bossa nova was first played in intimate reunions of the elite in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s but it was not until the 1960s that “The Girl From Ipanema” gained international recognition taking the bossa nova movement beyond borders.

Axé is the newest genre we are going to tell you about. This style originated in Bahia, and more specifically in Salvador in the late 1980s. Axé is one of the most popular genres nowadays, probably the most important in Brazilian pop music. Axé is a simple genre where percussion is the base, taking beats from Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonial songs, and accompanies a simple melody.

Forró is a danceable rhythm from the Northeast, played with accordion, flute, guitar and percussion. Another rhythm directly related to dancing is capoeira music. Capoeira is a dance ritual that is usually accompanied by its own music that has a call-and-response style.

Radio - Image by renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Stay tuned for tomorrow… (maybe we should have HomeForHome radio :) )

Travelling to Brazil

posted by admin
archived in Home Exchange, cities, places

There is still a lot of Brazil for us to discover, we are in the middle of unravelling what this exuberant nation has to offer to those who decide to make it the destination of their house swap. Brazilian music can help us show just the tip of the iceberg.

Travelling can mean many different things. Some people travel because they have to, for example there are many who travel because they have jobs that imply going to different places. Being Brazil an emergent market with a growing economy, it offers many opportunity to make business. There are others who travel to study and learn, and a home exchange to Brazil is a perfect way to learn or practice the Portuguese language, but Brazil also has several centres of higher education that could be an interesting option for those looking to study abroad for a year or a semester. There is another side to travelling, and there are many who travel for recreational purposes, not meaning that when you travel to study or work you cannot have some fun ;)

Rio de Janeiro - Photo by parramitta / Flickr We can say that the recreational side of travelling is associated with vacations, resting, relaxing, having fun, spending time with your family or friends and discovering new places. For this kind of travelling, Brazil is perfect, like we have shown in our previous posts the Brazilian carnival is perfect for those looking to load themselves with endorphins and memories. Additionally, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia, where the largest carnival events take place, both have gorgeous beaches to relax during the daytime and recharge your batteries, similar to a solar panel. Maybe you thought of Brazil as a destination before and then decided to travel somewhere closer to stay within your budget, but remember that with HomeForHome you can make great savings and travel farther away.

Brazil - Part Four: Carnival in Salvador da Bahia II

posted by admin
archived in cities, events, places

We could not tell you about our world’s largest street party in only one article, so here is the second part :)

The “carnaval” in Bahia and specially in Salvador has many distinctive points. It is said that when the Bahians are not partying they are preparing for the next party, so you should get a fairly accurate image of what having fun means for them. Salvador da Bahia has a carnival were approximately 2 million people participate, and locals and tourists dance and singe along the parades that take place through 25 Km of streets, avenues and squares divided in three circuits:

Barra-Ondina Circuit Photo by Rodrigo Sá / flickr 1) Osmar, from Campo Grande to Praça Castro Alves
2) Dodô, from Barra to Ondina
3) Batatinha, within the historic centre known as “Pelourinho”

The Bahian Carnival nowadays is “organized” around the “trio elétricos” and “blocos”. A trio elétrico is a float that carries amplifiers and serves as moving band-stand for performers to share their music with the spectators in the street. People can choose to follow one “trio elétrico” along the whole circuit to the beat of samba, samba-de-roda, axé, pagode or other characteristic rhythms, they may choose to stand in one place to watch many pass by or they may even join a bloco nucleated by a specific trio elétrico. A bloco is a group of people, similar to the samba schools of Rio de Janeiro, and people within a bloco parade together through the whole circuit. The names of the first two circuits we mentioned above, Osmar and Dodô, are to honour the creators of the first “trio elétrico” in 1951.

In 2012, the Carnival will last from February 16th till February 21st, so check out your calendar, save some days from your work vacations and prepare to swap houses to the Capital of Happiness during Carnaval.

Brazil - Part Three: Carnival in Salvador da Bahia I

posted by admin
archived in cities, places

Rio de Janeiro may be the most famous city related to the Brazilian carnival, but there is another city, over 1600 Km away from Rio, where you can enjoy the largest carnival: Salvador. So, we are going to invite you to travel to Salvador and experience a unique open event, a celebration were millions gather to sing, dance and party!

Salvador is the capital of the Northeastern state of Bahia. It has many distinctive characteristics, one of the most notable ones is that its population has the largest African ancestry, which has given its cultural expressions a characteristic imprint, which you will notice in the music, food, dances and hospitality. Another interesting characteristic is that it was one of the first settlements in the New World and the first capital of Brazil, so its colonial city centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and preserves several historic buildings and monuments, specially from 16th to 18th centuries. It has beautiful sandy beaches bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, perfect weather for tourism with warm temperatures fairly constant year-round and a lot of sunshine, and its inhabitants are so friendly and host so lively open door events that Salvador is also known as the Capital of Happiness.

Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com
Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com

Being a city that has tourism as one of the main income sources, if you visit Salvador in your next home exchange you will find a city that has good services and that treats visitors in a way that will make you want to return. Tomorrow we will get into the carnaval celebration in Salvador da Bahia and some interesting music related facts about Salvador and Bahia.

Brazil - Part Two: Samba

posted by admin
archived in fun activities ideas, places

In our last post we remembered a previous article about Rio de Janeiro, the most famous city to discover the Brazilian carnival. The Rio carnival is the reason why thousands of tourists visit Brazil every February, and it may be specially attractive to many of the HomeForHome users that are looking for a house swap opportunity to visit Brazil. This “festival” revolves around a music genre that is proper of Brazil and that seems to serve to identify the Brazilian culture: Samba. The association Brazil+music probably receives the answer “samba” more often than any other result.

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net The origins of samba are unclear, some say it is a mixture of Portuguese, African and native contributions, while others believe its origin was mostly influenced by African rhythms. One thing is clear, since the beginning it involved a marked beat based in percussion and dancing. Samba originated several derivative sub-genres, like samba-enredo, and also served to create fusion genres like samba-rock or samba-reggae.

The cathedral of samba, specially samba-enredo, and the samba schools is the Sambodromo of Rio de Janeiro, a long run-way on avenue Marques de Sapucai where the samba parade takes place each year. It is really like a sports stadium, it can sit thousands of spectators but instead of sitting most of them usually prefer to watch the parade standing and dancing to the rhythm of the samba-enredos. An interesting fact about Rio de Janeiro’s Sambodromo, inaugurated in 1984, is that it was designed by the famous architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Swap to Brazil to enjoy a batucada!

Brazil: Part One

posted by admin
archived in places

There are not many populations with a deep connection to music like Brazilians have. Even the Portuguese language in Brazil has a unique musicality to it. Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Apparently, there is something in the ground that makes Brazil such a vibrant musical country. Even the indigenous populations found by the Europeans during the colonization had rituals that included musical performances with both instruments and singing. This was used by the Catholic missionaries in their effort to convert them to the Catholic religion, specially the Jesuit priests who introduced religious lyrics to replace the original words sang by the indigenous tribes and even founded music schools were they taught the locals how to play several instruments and basic vocal techniques.

But the stronger influences were those of the Europeans and the Africans that brought their music to Brazil. The European music and its instruments were first brought by the Portuguese conquerors and the African rhythms came with the slaves. The first was more classical and the second more popular, and their blending and mutual influencing has resulted in today’s diverse and sophisticated panorama.

Some of the cities you can house swap to in Brazil are Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Recife, Florianopolis. We already wrote about some of these destinations, or mentioned them in previous blog posts, so we are going to refer you back to two previous posts as a preview to our future articles:

Florianopolis - Beaches of South America: Brazil

Rio de Janeiro - Carnival in Rio

Back to Music: Brazil

posted by admin
archived in places

We are going back to our inspiration for the past months: music. And where are we going to let music take us now? To Brazil. Like in our tour throughout the United States following the footsteps left behind by the rise and development of Jazz and the Blues, we are probably going to need several posts to explore the musical Brazil.

There are several things Brazil is know for, including soccer players, “Carnaval”, the Amazon Rainforest and its  But the fifth largest country in extension and the fifth most populated certainly has many more things to offer. Footsteps by Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net One of the recurring things you are going to read about in our posts about Brazil are its sandy beaches, because it has a coastline bathed by the Atlantic Ocean that stretches over 7000 Km. This combined with its nice climate, mostly tropical and sub-tropical, makes it a perfect destination for beach lovers.

From the 16th century, with the merge of Portuguese (colonizers), Africans (slaves) and Amerindian (indigenous) populations, a diverse culture developed, that was further enriched with the later arrival of immigrants from different parts of the world, including Italic, Arabic and German immigrants that travelled to the New World searching for new opportunities. There are many music styles that originated in this cultural fermentation broth, like samba, axé, choro and bossa nova.

Come with us to explore Brazi in our nexts posts and then let yourself be amazed by the beauty of its natural resources, the warmth of its people and the richness of its culture. A home exchange to Brazil may be just right for you.

What Are You Waiting For?

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archived in Home Exchange

We will continue with our posts inspired by music, but today we wanted to make a pause to remind you that a perfect home swap may be waiting for you just a few clicks away. We are now in April and many swappers have already found their opportunities for the coming months, which for most people are the preferred ones for travelling. There are even some users that have already scheduled more than one house swap and have “closed” their availability calendars for many months. What about you?

Remember that home exchange is for regular people, there are others, just like you, looking for a family with kids to trade houses over the summer, or looking for another retired couple that wants to exchange houses for a longer time, or looking for a family that loves pets that would be willing to take care of their beloved “Fluffy” while staying at their home. Home exchange is for anyone who wants to try something different. You need to be willing to put a little effort into it because a successful home exchange implies not only finding a good partner but also presenting your house and location in a way that would make it interesting and also getting to know your the other party, exchanging emails, maybe chatting and even (at least) one talk over the phone or using the Internet to confirm the agreement’s details.

More and more people are trying it every month, so the opportunities are increasing for everyone. HomeForHome makes it simple. What are you waiting for?

Waiting - Image by Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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