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Known as the “City of Roses,” Taif is a city located on the slopes of the Hejaz Mountains in Saudi Arabia's province of Makkah. The sixth most popular city in the Kingdom, Taif enjoys moderate weather throughout the year, even in summer — making it a popular summertime destination for Saudis to escape the scorching heat typically experienced in lower-lying regions elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula.

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Julia Cosgrove is the award-winning Vice President and Editor-in-Chief at AFAR Media, based in San Francisco, which publishes the influential travel magazine AFAR and website. Born in New York and raised in Berkeley, she now lives in Oakland, California – where she's been sheltering in place since the pandemic.

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Ever since moving to Saudi Arabia, I've wanted to visit the enigmatic flower men living in the southern provinces of the country and extending into Yemen. They're the descendants of ancient Tihama and Asir tribes dating back two millennia who are known for wearing colourful and distinctive flower garlands on their heads. They also sport an ornate traditional curved dagger, called the jambiya, over a colourful and multi-patterned wrap-around male skirt known as a futa.

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One of the things I most looked forward to when visiting Brazil's northern city of Manaus, known as the Gateway to the Amazon Rainforest, was the opportunity to visit some of the aboriginal people living in the Amazon. The opportunity came when we sailed along the Rio Negro river towards a riverside village inhabited by the Tuyuca (Tuyaka) people. They also call themselves Dojkapuara or Utapinõmakãphõná. Their population is concentrated in Brazil and Colombia. Tuyuca is spoken by 500 to 1,000 people in these two South American countries.

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Continuing on my tradition to seek out the bohemian and artistic neighbourhoods when I travel to a new city, my first stop the morning after I landed in São Paulo, Brazil, recently was to visit the borough of Vila Madalena — located in Pinheiros district.

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Experiencing the Rio De Janeiro Carnaval has been a big item on my bucket list for a long time. I had the opportunity to make this dream a reality in 2020. The world-famous extravaganza is considered the biggest carnival in the world — bringing around 2 million people per day on the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Carnaval begins on the Friday preceding Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday. But the Winner's Parade takes place on the Saturday after the carnival ends.

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Cape Town, colloquially known as South Africa's Mother City, is the country's legislative capital and the main city of the Western Cape province. I first visited Cape Town in 2010, just after the FIFA World Cup. I still have the emblematic vuvuzela plastic monotone horn, which became part of the world's lexicon during the World Cup that year.

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I had planned a two-night stop-over in Johannesburg, South Africa, before Amaria and I headed on to our self-drive adventure in Namibia. It was our second time in Johannesburg. We had already experienced driving to Soweto, sampled the vibrant life there, as well as visited Pretoria the last time; so the idea this time was to explore more of Johannesburg itself.

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The Republic of Namibia is situated in the south-western part of the African continent. Positioned along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s bordered by the Republic of South Africa to the south, by both Angola and Zambia to the north, and Botswana to the east.

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Nearly five years into my experience as an expatriate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I can still point to the historical district of Old Jeddah, known as Al-Balad (translates as “The Town” in Arabic) as one of my all-time favourite travel destinations. Only a few places on earth provides visitors with a genuine feeling of travelling back in time to an authentic by-gone era, unspoiled by modern-day mass tourism. Al-Balad is literally an open-air, living, museum.

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