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Fortaleza: Culture, history and fun in the sun meet here

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is just a year away!A In this issue we start the World Cup host citiesA series that will help you learn more about theA places where soccer will reign next summer, andA help you plan your very own World Cup tour.
If you live in British Columbia and plan onA going to Fortaleza, the capital of the northeasternA Brazilian state of Ceara, do not”underA any circumstances”forget to pack yourA sunglasses and your sunblock. Ceara’s tourismA slogan is “Terra da Luz“ or “Land of Light“ andA it’s very well chosen. Located just 3.5 degreesA south of the Equator and blessed by almostA 300 days of sunshine annually, the city ofA Fortaleza is very bright for people arriving fromA often-gloomy Vancouver.
Due to its equatorial location, FortalezaA is always relatively hot and the temperatureA doesn’t vary much over the course of the year.A Daytime highs range from 28 to 31 degreesA Celsius and nightly lows are about 24 or 25A all year round. Although the city’s climate isA defined as semi-arid, there is a rainy seasonA from February to May. The rest of the year hasA almost no rain, though the heat is tempered byA constant sea breezes.
Brazilian tourists have long been flockingA to Fortaleza, and according to the most recentA statistics, Fortaleza is the third most-popularA domestic destination for Brazilian tourists,A following only Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.A International tourists are primarily European andA Fortaleza remains an undiscovered destinationA for most North American tourists.
What brings all these tourists to Fortaleza,A you may ask? Basically, three words, allA beginning with the letter S: sun, sand, and sea.A The city has 35 kilometres of beaches withinA the city limits, and virtually the entire coast ofA Ceara, which stretches 250 kilometres in eitherA direction, is one continuous beach. The greenA waters of the south Atlantic have an averageA temperature of 29 degrees all year round.
Fortaleza’s city beaches, including theA largest and most famous, the Praia do Futuro, allA feature beachfront complexes called barracas.A These establishments range from simple toA luxurious, but they all include bars and restaurants,A thatched-roof sun shelters on the beach,A baths and showers, and live music. Traditionally,A Thursday nights bring local residents and tourists
alike for a feast of crabs, served simply in aA flavourful coconut milk broth and eaten by hand.

Praia do Futuro - Fortaleza
Praia do Futuro – Fortaleza
Fortaleza doesn’t have the rich architecturalA heritage of other Brazilian touristA destinations, as, at 283 years old, it’s relativelyA young by Brazilian standards. There areA some must-see cultural venues in the city,A however. The 10-year-old municipal culturalA centre called Centro Cultural Dragao do MarA combines museums, theatres, cinemas, bars,A and restaurants in one giant complex. Fortaleza’sA city centre boasts the Mercado Central, whereA the best local arts and crafts are sold for veryA reasonable prices, and the 19th century jewel boxA that is the Josis de Alencar Theatre.
But, frankly, what draws such large numbersA of tourists to Brazil’s fifth-largest city isn’tA cultural riches. It’s the opportunity to lie in theA sun or shade on a beautiful beach, sipping aA caipirinha or cold beer, and doing nothing”nothing other than enjoying some of the best ofA what north-eastern Brazil has to offer.

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