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Brazilian Protests

No sooner than we leave, Brazil is in the midst of a country-wide protest, a social revolution of sorts.

Thousands of protesters line the streets in Rio De Janeiro  Courtesy of CNN

Thousands of protesters line the streets in Rio De Janeiro
Courtesy of CNN

While seemingly mundane, the protests began in Rio De Janeiro a couple nights ago in response to bus fares being raised. But the younger generations of Brazil, the college students and recently graduated, are feeling left out and forgotten about in the booming country.

Brazil as you know is on the cliff of economic progressiveness or utter recession. They’re currently hosting the Confederation’s Cup, a trial for the World Cup next summer, and the Olympics are in 2016. But, they’ve been held down by gross inflation and corruption, which most people will note, has prevented the country rich with economic resources from reaching its potential.

But despite it’s legislative and financial downsides, the country is in the public light. They don’t have a choice, they fought hard for the chance to be the world stage for two major sporting events, so now they’re stuck with it. They began building incredulously fast once the bids were in, spending billions of dollars on new stadiums and public transportation throughout the country, specifically Brazil.

But during this time period of massive spending, they have figured out ways to isolate some of the country’s most influential people. The indigenous Brazilians, whose museum was housed just outside Maracanã stadium, were forced out of their museum for expansion. And while the current government is much more democratic than the dictatorship during the 80’s, they have a tendency to spend billions of dollars for short term gain, despite the the long term consequences.

Outside the National Congress building in Brasilia, the country's capital

Outside the National Congress building in Brasilia, the country’s capital
Courtesy of CNN

This is where the younger generation of Brazilians come into play. During my time in São Paulo, we spent a couple of hours with Brazilian graduate students, discussing life and journalism, as well as the future of our two seemingly colliding countries. At the time, they said they had little faith in their current government (sound familiar?) because of their corruption issues and restrictive policies.

Now we’re watching on CNN as thousands of Brazilians take to the streets to complain about the lack of insight they have on the closed-doored government. The scary part about this protest is, because of the ones occuring in Turkey, this is not picking up the national media’s eye as it should. And because of that, as typically happens, local governments are able to get away with more while the world’s gaze is fixed to another part of the country.

Let’s hope we don’t have that here.

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Apple’s 2013 WWDC live blog

Tim Cook and Apple are set to start their annual WWDC developer’s conference momentarily, where new products like iOS7 and iRadio are expected to be released. I’ll be providing updates here as the keynote address goes on, as well as the four day event occurs as well. Watch the event live at Apple’s Events page. 

  • WWDC sold out in 71 seconds flat. Wow.
  • 50 billion apps downloaded. That’s billion, with a B.
  • ANKI, a robotics company, is starting off the keynote new product release. Debuting their ANKI drive product, which are electric cars that drive and steer themselves.
  • Coming to the Mac and Macbook section of the keynote, sites like mashable are predicting an update of the hardware. Let’s see what happens.
  • 35% of mac users are using Mountain Lion, vs. less than 5% for Windows 8.
  • Updates for OS 10 possibly coming up.
  • New OS software is going to be called OS X Mavericks. Leaving the “lion and big cat” concept behind. Extending battery life and new apps available.
  • Three new features being highlighted. The first. Finder Tabs. Allowing you to use multiple screens in Finder. Tagging is also available which will show up in Finder Sidebar, allowing you to track certain topics and subjects more easily.
  • Multiple Displays is the third feature. Allowing complete functionality between two Macs. Essentially allowing two seperate computers.
  • Airplay TVs will also act as a separate display, INCLUDING APPLE TV
  • More efficient power usage through the new MAVERICK update, saving significant battery life for Mac and Macbook users.
  • Better social media integration through Safari, allowing RTs and posts through the safari application.
  • iCloud Keychain: secure password and credit card changes
  • push notifications are going to be allowed on mac for more applications like Fantasy Football, Breaking News. Showing up right on the lock screen.
  • Also, apps will be updated automatically.
  • iCal getting a facelift. Maps on the Mac as well.
  • Integration allowing iCal to help suggest where to go and where to eat based off searched items like “Pizza”
  • Revamps for Macbook Air, big feature: increased battery life
  • new generation of mac pros.
  • iOS 7 just announced
  • aesthetics look completely different, crisp.
  • color schemes, logos changed.
  • looks like a completely new software
  • Iphone moves as your hands do, changing the icon perspective and background.
  • very nervous about original idea of redesign. However, very excited for iOS7 now. looks great.
  • Notification center available on Lockscreen. This was big hack for jailbreak users
  • 10 new features to be released
  1. Control Center: available at bottom of phone, able to do a variety of functions
  2. Multitasking: available on all apps. Notices usage of apps and provides the background activity when you use it.
  3. Safari: revitalized, content based.
  4. airdrop: sharing content through wifi
  5. Camera: different features, and photo filters built into native camera app
  6. Photos: photographs managed almost automatically through location and other services, similar to iPhoto on mac
  7. Siri: new look, and a new voice. Also allows you to increase brightness, play voicemails. Also allows you  access wikipedia and twitter.
  8. iOS in the Car: A new feature to help answer the calling for new cars coming out with compatibility features to new car models. All integration in 2014
  9. App Store: New app searches, by age and location. Also will update apps automatically
  10. Music app redesigned
  • iRadio is official. Integrates directly into the music app, which is incredibly smart because it allows users to find music they, and their friends love (and presumably by it on iTunes)
  • standard stations and custom stations are available.
  • iRadio is available on all iOS and OS devices, including Macs and Apple TV. Free with ads or free for iTunes match users
  • Audio calls for facetime on wifi, notification sync, phone facetime and message blocking.
  • iOS7 will also be able to block thieves from reactivating and rebooting iphone and ipads because it will require icloud logins.

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Thomson Reuters-Brazil

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 12.47.33 PMThomson Reuters operates in a decent sized facility in São Paulo. In fact, it’s bursting at the seams. Two or three reporters operate in what many would consider one desk space, due in part of the fact that they’re trying to expand their local reporters as well as their small workspace. Reuters is working on developing video content for some stories for the web, and the TV room is located in the corner, with the camera placed on top of a footstool.

Hey, whatever works, right?

Reuters is different than Wall Street or Bloomberg, however. Even though it is based in New York City now as opposed to its former London HQ, Reuters is still very much an unAmericanized company. The other key difference, more specifically in Brazil, is where its niche lies. While Bloomberg corners the financial markets like the BOLSA, and Wall Street more exposé pieces, Reuters locks its feet in the political economy corner. Basically, the reporters are focusing on how legislative policy affects the businesses in Brazil and elsewhere, in large part because of their European roots, Reuters is able to gain a different perspective compared to American companies.

Brian Winter, the chief correspondent for Reuters in Brazil, isn’t the typical foreign correspondent. While Reuters has had a foreign correspondent policy in the past of moving reporters around every 2-3 years to prevent them from becoming nationalized, recently it starting to change its outlook, said Winter. Brian has been in Brazil for longer, and sees himself remaining there for the foreseeable future.

“Journalism itself doesn’t have much value anymore,” said Winter. ” What does have value is specialist knowledge.”

For Winter, and most journalists for that matter, there is the realization that general news isn’t holding as much weight as before. For Winter, the key to success for journalists is specialization. Brazil and business are key specializations.

“Just being a journalist isn’t enough, I don’t think there’s money in that,” he said.

He sees specialization as the key to being successful, and for him, Brazil is an relatively untapped market for the new journalist.

“The gap between information given of Brazil and the information need is big” for American journalism, he said. There is a small group of people who are truly capable of writing about this booming country, and with the economy of Brazil becoming a bigger idea in everyone’s mind the opportunity to become a Brazil expert could potentially be lucrative.

Not many American journalists know the Portuguese language, let alone the layout of the Brazilian government, so Winter has pretty solid job security. He’s traveled throughout Latin America, but notes that Brazil is a “great place to be a journalist,” because of the people themselves.

“The people are talkative, and terrible at keeping secrets. There is also still a respect for journalists, unlike in the United States.”

The American spectrum is facing a massive test in reliability and confidence from the consumer. The polarization of politics ties into economics, and also journalism. In Brazil, Winter notes, “it’s amazing how civilized politics are here.”

“You don’t see the bizarrely polarized like you see in the States, it’s different here,” he said.

That creates honest conversation, about politics, sports, fiscal policies and anything else that could be covered on the news. While people certainly disagree on some topics, a lot of people understand the big picture on what Brazil needs to do going forward.

The Brazilian Football Museum

Football is religion to Brazil.

We, as Americans, have the NFL, but it’s really not the same. The Pantheon is the Maracanã, and the deities include names like Ronaldinho Gaucho, Ronaldo, and Kaka. Pelé is Zeus and he rules his kingdom with grace and respect. Any true football fan would recognize that Pelé is the all time greatest, and Brazilians would fight over any discrepancy of that fact.

Football is the poor man’s, and the rich man’s game in Brazil. It is played in well-lit football fields in gated communities and on uncut grass along side a highway. There are those who are entitled to be on the field, with expensive Nikes and latest World Cup edition ball, and those who play bare foot, dribbling around broken glass and dumpsters. Footballers in Brazil are street artists and entertainers, businessmen and construction workers. Very few people in Brazil can say they haven’t tried playing the game, and while some aren’t talented, they still understand the beautiful game. The bright yellow jersey is like the second flag for brazil. It represents a higher calling; a chance to be a part of the upper echelon of Brazil. With that jersey, a Brazilian isn’t rich or poor, he is a god.

IMG_0327The Museu de futebol is located in São Paulo, inside the Municipal StadiumIMG_0331. You aren’t allowed to take any photos inside the museum, so my visuals are limited, however I can promise you it is truly a mecca of sorts for any football fan. Almost everything is in English, Spanish or Portuguese on some level, so you don’t need to be a native speaker to go there. It shows the high points, and low points, of Brazilian football and what it means to the country. It can’t truly depict the value of football though, but the dozens of fans of all ages waving their Corinthian or Flamengo flags around São Paulo or Rio can.

As you walk in, the top moments in Brazilian football history, International and domestic, are displayed in some exciting visuals. You listen (or read) the commentary from journalists, commentators and athletes who experienced the moment. World Cup Qualifiers, Brazilian championships are all on display, and each one of them makes you more and more inclined to celebrate yourself.

After a narrow flight of stairs through what appears to be a desolate corner of the museum, a reverberating drum beat starts vibrating your sternum. Communication to your companions is impossible. Flashes of light hit every corner of the room.

This is the fan display. Underneath the stands of the Municipal Stadium are 10 projection screens, portraying the fans dance, sing and beat the drum as they watch their team. This montage of support raises the hair on your neck and makes you a fan of whatever team is being shown. It’s remarkable. IMG_0332

The history of Brazilian football is inlayed in the muscle fibers of the country. Brought here hundreds of years ago, it was originally thought to be reserved for elite, but eventually over time because of the game’s lack of equipment, it was picked up. It is widely popular in the favelas of the cities, and the Brazilian countryside as well. Every corner of the country understands the game, far more so than our baseball, basketball or football knowledge can be extended.

The yellow jersey means so much more to Brazil than anything we can comprehend. We all love the Bears or 49ers, maybe even the Patriots, but we don’t have that unifying support behind a national pass time. We’ve been overwhelmingly dominate for the longest time in sports like Basketball and American Football, that there is no competition, and as far as baseball’s “America’s pass time” is concerned, it’s played more in Central and South America than the United States. Soccer for these countries is all three of those sports combined. It’s what everyone plays, or understands. Everyone follows a team, and every four years, school shuts down so students can watch their God’s enter the arena to defend their country.

Joga Bonito.

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The Brazilian Diet

Traveling to a new country is tough. There are a lot of unexpected obstacles in the road, from hitches with documents, to language barriers to the simple things like food.

The Brazilian diet, thankfully for my relatively mundane diet, isn’t that hard to adapt to for Americans. The best part about it (and the worst), is the french fries. Potatoes, fried for the most part, are a staple of the Brazilian side dish. Along rice and beans, fresh veggies and fruits, the fries go right there on the plate. Now for any 12 year old kid and their digestive system this isn’t a problem, but for a slower metabolism weight gain is certainly inevitable. My problem is that I have the mindset of a 12 year old diet with the metabolism of a 21-year-old. So while my eyes lit up at the buffet lines, my gut is kicking me now.

The biggest thing that I noticed is the portion sizes and the quality of the meat restaurants served. Typically, unless at a buffet, you order meals for 2-3 people. The entree would come on a giant hot plate with rice, beans vegetables, and the center of it, a small mountain of protein. Steak of almost any cut, chicken so tender it melts, and sausage. The seafood is fresh as well.

Cake is a cornerstone of their breakfast menu. We traveled to three different hotels, all with a varying service for breakfast, but each hotel made it a point to provide breakfast cake every morning. Eggs weren’t as big, nor were bacon, instead it was ham and cheese sandwiches, and cake.

This is a nod to the Brazilian sweet tooth. Obesity has become a prevalent problem for the Brazilian people, similar to the United States, and it’s no wonder. The Brazilians have a liquor called Cachaca, the “brazilian tequila” as the locals called it. It’s made from sugar cane and is incredibly sweet. Mixed mainly in cocktails, a common Brazilian beverage is the caipirinha,

source: wikipedia

source: wikipedia

Cachaca, lime ice and more sugar. The 40-50% ABV liquor mixed with more sugar is bound to give you the most pounding headache on the planet the next morning.

the Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

The Murdoch-owned newspaper has a fairly small sized holding in Sao Paulo, Brazil. A small little office across the hall from the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal’s foreign correspondent for Brazil is John Lyons, husband to the Bloomberg chief we met the day before, Adriana Lyons.

There are sizable differences between the two offices, Bloomberg carrying 40-some reporters, a TV studio, full conference and teaching center, kitchen and many more amenities, while Wall Street Journal’s office was almost cramped with the 15 staff members and computers.

The mentality itself was different as well. In Bloomberg there seemed to be a rush around the newsroom, conversations and phone calls happening in almost every corner. There was a rush to push out content for the world-wide market on the Bloomberg terminal, where as at the Wall Street bureau, it was a little more relaxed.

John Lyons has been covering Brazil for several years, and he notices a big difference between writing in the U.S. and abroad. Every morning the first big question is “is there a big Brazil story today that needs to be done?” he said.

If not, Lyons spends a majority of his day fostering out more in-depth stories. Frequently, as cocaine and crack are becoming problems in the blossoming country, John Lyons has traveled into the Amazon to uncover the trail of drugs being smuggled from Columbia and abroad.

“When a country grows, creating a middle class, there are hidden problems,” said Lyons. “It is similar to the the 1970’s in the United States”

Brazil’s boom is in connection with the massive construction projects underway in preparation for the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Billions of dollars are being flushed into projects nation-wide to prepare the country for the millions of tourists that will be visiting the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, as well as the inland cities like Brasilia.

For the World Cup, Lyons seeing it being a potential disaster. The problem is infrastructure he said. The airports, hotels and transportation is a “mess,” but in the end it really won’t matter.

“Soccer is a rough and tumble sport with rough and tumble fans.”

What he means is that, at the end of the World Cup people will leave Brazil hungover and moderately happy with the country overall. They won’t be the ones criticizing taxi drivers and hotel rooms, and as long as there is cheap beer and good soccer, the World Cup fans will be OK.

The Olympics on the other hand, is a different story. Not only does an Olympic bid spur billions of dollars in construction for a city, but it also means potentially big bucks from outside investors. For 2016, Lyons seems a little more optimistic.

“Rio is Making a big effort to make the Olympics happen,” he said. “Everyone, from the rich to the poor loves that city. My bet is that they do it.”

Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Home

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I am home from brazil. The whole travel day was around 27 hours. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. WIFI wasn’t ideal in Brazil, and I still have a couple of more posts about Boeing, the diet, São Paulo and more, so subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already!

Obrigado,
Joe

Bloomberg Brazil

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The Bloomberg terminal is the key to knowledge in the financial and business markets around the world. It offers the latest breaking news from the commodity market in Chicago, to the BOLSA markets here in Brazil. If something is happening involving money and public companies and interest, Bloomberg has its finger on it.

What drives Bloomberg’s growing success in the current times of dying media, crushed by advertiser pullouts and free information on the internet, is the way they deliver it. The Bloomberg terminal gives journalists, investors, stockbrokers and whoever else can afford it the insider eye to what is going on. It offers more information than six generations of encyclopedias (if they all focused on business), and the two-screen portal provides the latest and most accurate source of information across the world.

Brazil’s Bloomberg life cycle is in its infant stages, recently added to its bureau in 2010, by creating a Portuguese language service, directly tailored for the Brazilian market. The New York based media company realized that to truly make an impact in the growing economic country, Bloomberg needed to provide its information in real time, on the ground level in Brazil.

“It makes a big difference if you’re covering the country from the country,” said Lyons. She notes that the quality of information, scoops and face-to-face contact plays a huge role in readership (and sales of the Bloomberg terminal).

No one can attest to that better than Lucchesi, a senior writer in Brazil for Bloomberg. Lucchesi covers finance for Bloomberg and has written stories that have changed market forecasts and people’s wallets.

Bloomberg currently carries around 4500 terminals in Brazil and roughly 40 reporters, but Adriana Arai Lyons, the managing editor in Brazil says the company is growing. So much in fact, that in some respects they’re struggling to find reporters who can speak and write both Portuguese and English.

“I need bilingual people,” she said.

A majority of Bloomberg’s customers are located in America or are English speaking, and although Brazil is becoming more of a Latin American sanctuary of sorts for international business, it is still behind the curve when it comes to English in business.

“We are like the United States, we are a huge country. But to cover business here you need to speak Portuguese,” said Cristiane Lucchesi, a senior reporter for Bloomberg. “There is a big internal market.”

Most major companies and CEO’s do understand and speak some English, both Lyons and Lucchesi noted, however they are sometimes uncomfortable with the language in press conferences and boardrooms due to potential gaffes and embarrassments.

Lucchesi says people need to know internal credit stories, even if the company doesn’t want them public yet. The information and back room dealings that some of these companies try to do has the potential to move massive amounts of stock and bonds, she said.

While a majority of the conversation dealt with the types of stories Bloomberg deals with in Brazil, as with most journalists’ discussions the topics swayed towards accuracy and efficiency, an on-going issue in today’s instantaneous news cycle.

“Sometimes we lose [a scoop], but we’d rather lose because our reputation is on the line,” Lucchesi said.

“If you make a mistake, someone is going to lose money,” said Lyons.

Bloomberg’s reputation is what makes it so successful in the markets around the world. It is used by almost every major hedge fund and investment bank, as most of them have a dedicated Bloomberg terminal employee focused on what is happening world wide and locally.

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Petrobras: The Oil Giant

In 2006, Brazil’s economic dynamic changed completely. Off the coast, but still in Brazilian waters, the largest deposit of oil was discovered in what has been called the pre-salt layer, and Brazil’s oil (and energy) company, Petrobras is leading the way in discovering and recovering the black gold.

To accurately portray the hold that Petrobras has on the Brazilian energy and petroleum markets is nearly impossible. In the Pre-Salt layer alone, it has complete favoritism in discovering and fracking the new deposits. While other companies like Chevron and British Petroleum have the capability to work in the Pre-Salt layer, it is only with the approval of Petrobras that they are allowed to do so.

On Wednesday, May 15, we met Carlos Henrique Dumortout Castro, a business consultant with the oil giant. Castro and Petrobras are currently pumping out 311,000 barrels of oil a day through the Pre-Salt layer and by the end of 2020 they predict the massive oil field will produce close to 2 million barrels per day.

Although the Brazilian government gives Petrobras preference in the Pre-Salt layer, Castro sees this as a “big mistake by the government”. Even though the Brazilian federal government controls the company, it does not mean Petrobras always agrees with the legislative policy it produces.

The current party in power, the Workers party, aims to grow the Brazilian domestic markets and job force without much consideration to the global impact, but Castro, and some others within Petrobras believe that this restricts the immense potential that a free and open market could hold.

“Free market is the best because you have more chances to discover,” said Castro.

He sees the Workers Party’s initiatives as counterproductive to the big picture, because it restricts competition, which allows more oil finds, and thus creates massive amounts of reserves of oil, but no revenue, he said.

“If you have to do something, do it today, it may not be there tomorrow.”

Petrobras began in Brazil as an oil monopoly but lost its monopoly status in 2002 with the Oil Law, which allowed other companies to work in Brazil. It is currently the fifth largest oil company in the world, in terms of oil and gas production, and they are growing.

Roughly every three months Brazilian laborers in places like Angra Dos Reis are building this year new oilrigs and platforms.

In the past 14 months, Petrobras has discovered 53 sources of oil in Brazil, a 64% success rate, double the industry expectations for oil discoveries. Castro associates this incredibly high success to knowledge of the Pre-Salt and Brazilian areas, giving Petrobras the edge against competitors in its own backyard. In fact, Petrobras and the Brazilian government are currently entering their 21st year with a Reserve Replacement Ratio of 103%, meaning they are finding more oil than they are using, a staggering statistic in the today’s oil consumption markets.

There is truly no way to comprehend the relationship between the Brazilian government and Petrobras in terms of American business. The Brazilian government holds the largest share in the company, 47%, with the rest of the investment carried in domestic or international trade. Petrobras is rated on the NYSE and is currently the 6th most active stock, says Castro.

This unique relationship with the government requires a lot of give and take. It allows the company to move freely through different discoveries and much more efficiently than others in the vastly bureaucratic country, however it is also limited by the state investment as well.

“If we ask for money, it is easy, if we try to raise gas prices, it is extremely difficult,” Castro joked.

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Preparing for the Olympics

We had the opportunity to meet with several people in charge of creating the infrastructure needed for the massive international crowd that will be arriving in the summer of 2016 for the Olympic games. Olimpica Municipal is in charge of the in’s and out’s for Rio 2016, and they have a lot to conquer. The entire event will take place within the city limits of Rio de Janeiro and in several areas that are in need of massive renovations to accommodate the world.

“Rio is going to be recognized as the best city of the Southern Hemisphere to live work and visit,” said Thais Oliveira of the Olimpica Municipal

Before I begin discussing the various changes set to take effect in the next several years, I’d like to say that this is a project unlike anything I’ve seen. While cities in the past have seen major facelifts due to international events, and thus great strides forward in their economies and tourism, I’m almost hesitant to believe that Brazil has the capability to accomplish such a feat. There are several pieces that place Brazil and Rio de Janeiro on the cusp of becoming a dynamic force in the global arena, including the oil finds at the Pre-Salt layers, the World Cup and Olympic games, which have the potential to blast through the glass ceiling currently restricting this country from reaching its full potential.

The original port region of Rio, home of the city’s old slave port and widely considered to be an incredible historic district, is run down. Graffiti is freckled across the yellow and blue buildings that line the street and the buildings themselves are old. The public transportation in the area is currently dismal, but in the next three years, major steps are going to be taken to develop a boardwalk with a light rail system. This is where the biggest changes and developments will be made in the next three years, with the goal of transforming a once forgotten area of the city into a hub of entertainment, shopping and dining. The 2.3 billion dollar renovation will cover a 5 million square meter area with an added four kilometers of tunnels and rail systems.

The biggest addition to the entire city is the public transportation. Rio de Janeiro is planning to reduce the transport time for its citizens by 50 percent by 2016, adding 4 new expressways and 152 kilometers of railways. This massive undertaking will reach the underdeveloped areas of Rio and is going to exist for much longer than the Olympic games.

The most unique thing about Rio preparing for the first Olympics in South America is the way they are planning on utilizing the buildings after the games are over. For instance, the handball courts they will be building will eventually be disassembled and used for public schools in the area. The Olympic Park, which will house 14 Olympic games, will become a subdivision of Rio de Janeiro after the games have concluded.

This is the first time an idea like this has come about. For those who have been to China after the Olympics that took place there, they have seen how the government in Beijing has struggled to find adequate uses for venues like the Birds Nest and the Cube. Rio de Janeiro is developing transportation, buildings and other things for the games that will become essential parts of the cities future. The goal for the Olimpica Municipal is to leave a legacy that will last in the city for the next 40 years.

With the immense addition to hotels, public transportation, and the revitalization of formerly lost areas of the city, Rio de Janeiro could very well become one of the best places to visit. I plan on trying to attend Rio 2016 to see if the plans in place will succeed, or if the city has bitten off more than they can chew.