Mar 2, 2013

The Cavalhadas of Pirenópolis

by Antonella Kann
No, it´s not a horse which has to be protected from the sun or anything...A hooded horse is not, I agree, a very common site, but I will explain asap what´s this all about.  Well, this animal is just doing his part in an extremely popular event, called the Cavalhadas, which takes place every year since the 17th century in a small colonial town of the state of Goiás, Pirenópolis. 
Count 40 days after Easter and you´ll see hundreds of  horsemen riding across this small town, many of them  wearing masks and hoods as well as disguising their horses with funny-looking costumes. These guys are known as the Mascarados ( Mascarades) and their presence are never discreet. They shout, laugh and tease people, but they are part of this traditional popular festivity which lasts 3 whole days. 
If you have a spare time and happen to be in Brasilia, capital, don´t hesitate to rent a car and drive 140 kilometers to Pirenópolis, where besides watching this spectacular event, along with locals ( this is NOT Carnival and not the least a mass tourism attraction, as it´s not well known even among the Brazilians) and enjoy the atmosphere of this charming place. You´ll find very good pousadas as well as fantastic food, both regional as international. Also, the people of Goiás are (truly) reputed to be extremely hospitable- their doors are supposed to remain open all the time, to welcome visitors.
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Mar 16, 2012

Under the spell of Boipeba´s charms

by Antonella Kann

Long time no see, you´ll say. And you´re right. I´ve been deep in travels, but very bad in posting something new since...well, you tell me. But during these trips I´ve visited places that you ought to go, either for a long vacation or short stay. One of those is Boipeba, very off the beaten track. It´s Bahia old-style in its true essence. You can fly from Salvador on a small plane from a tiny company called Addey ( ) which drops you off on that charming "airport" which you see on the first picture...

You then take a small canoe and jump off on a beach in central Boipeba. No cars, no motorized vehicles. The pousadas send a porter with a yellow wheelbarrow which will lift your luggage to your final destination. Best place to go is the Pousada Mangabeiras ( , fabulous location on the top of a hill with eye-filling views. Check it out from the picture above. All of the rooms from cozy bungalows have this privilege. Note that you have to climb over 70 steps to reach your kingsize bed...
Sunshine, a good book and your favorite companion with you - this is basically the recipe if you want a perfect place. But if you are not the sort of person who slips from the room straight into a lounge chair by the pool, then try walking miles and miles around the island ( yes, you´ve guessed, Boipeba is an island) and discover unspoilt beaches, calm and pristine waters and, at low tide, natural pools.
Being miles from anywhere of consequences, framed by a picturesque landscape, Boipeba harbors the atmosphere of old-style Bahia. Relaxed, and affordable -chic. Try to go off-season and do not stay less than 3 nights. Ah, indulge in a fantastic massage with the therapist recommended in Pousada Mangabeiras´front desk. I did forget her name, but I remember that she is a very sweet American lady and you will be in heaven for an hour - I promise!

Late afternoon, sunset time, go for a walk around the village, all sand alleys, fishermen´s atrium, some tourists - lots of backpackers heading for smaller pousadas which used to be locals´home.
Although Boipeba is googleable by now, it still is that divine laidback sort of place.

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Feb 2, 2012

São Paulo hotels and restaurants for high-rollers: top addresses

By Alexandra Forbes

Although the  bustling city of 19 million has long reigned as Brazil’s gastronomic and shopping meca, for years its restaurants remained an insider’s secret, as tourists preferred the sunnier and more laid-back cities to the North, such as Rio or Salvador. No more: the recent economic boom has drawn attention to the increasingly opulent metropolis boasting world-class restaurants, shops and hotels.

D.O.M. restaurant


For seasoned foodies, no visit to São Paulo is complete without a visit to Maní ( and D.O.M. (, restaurants which, in very novel ways, give little-known Brazilian ingredients a new guise.

Just as importantly, paulistanos (as São Paulo natives are referred to) saw their long-lived infatuation with sushi take flight: today, there are an eye-popping 600 Japanese restaurants in town. At the city’s premium Japanese restaurants, dish presentation and raw fish quality rival the best in Japan. Competing for the title of best sushiman in São Paulo are Jun Sakamoto (no website, tel. 55-11-3088-6019) – cerebral, temperamental, traditionalist, owner of the celebrated eponymous restaurant – and Tsuyoshi Murakami, a born showman whose wildly creative and artfully presented tasting menus served at Kinoshita ( dazzle locals and tourists alike.

Fasano restaurant


A great luxury hotel is one thing, but one where there are almost always well-known figures of the local business and arts crowds milling around the lobby at happy hour, drink in hand? Only at the Fasano ( , to be sure, the most glamorous of the city’s growing number of five stars. It also holds the title of hotel with the best piano bar (where even big stars like Caetano Veloso have sung) and the poshest Italian restaurant in town (also called Fasano).

Worthiest competitors include the design-driven Emiliano (, a mere four blocks away – with rooftop pool, spa and helipad – and the Grand Hyatt ( , favoured by the business crowd, located in the modern, office-tower-heavy Berrini district.

Shopping Cidade Jardim


It’s amazing how many new shopping centers pop up each year in the city, such as  the Vila Olímpia, opened in 2010.  The granddaddy of them all, the Shopping Iguatemi (, is going as strong as ever: it houses the Tiffany flagship and many of Brazil’s most desireable brands, like Carlos Miele and Cris Barros.
But no mall comes close to matching the new Cidade Jardim in sheer refinement and beauty. Its open-air, tastefully-landscaped esplanades are home to some of the world’s chicest brands, including the biggest Louis Vuitton and first Hermès stores in Latin America. Petrossian opened its first boutique there a few months ago. London-based Issa and the American Tory Burch are next. 

Jan 26, 2012

Speto's grafitti art: from São Paulo to Miami's Primary Flight

I've been a longtime fan of many of São Paulo's great grafitti artists, of which Speto is my favourite. 

After years of not seeing him, we ran into each other at Cavalera's fashion show, which was held at the Estação da Luz, a gorgeous old train station in São Paulo's Centro (Old Downtown).

That was enough excuse for me to write up a little post on him, so I could share some of his favourite work with you (photos below were taken from Speto's Flickr feed).

At the last Art Basel Miami, Speto's gallerist Baixo Ribeiro, who owns Choque Cultural gallery, accompanied him as Speto worked on his first work for  Primary Flight - an open-air museum. 

The work, pictured below, will be on show until the next editon of the art fair, in December.

Photo: Moro no Rio

Jan 3, 2012

Brazil: its history, summarized, and a few of its architectural highlights

Recife, in Northeastern Brazil

by Alexandra Forbes

The Portuguese admiral Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil by accident in 1500. His fleet had set out in search of Indian spices, but favorable winds pushed them towards an exuberant and unknown land. They dropped anchor in the palm-lined bay of Porto Seguro, in what is today the southern part of the state of Bahia. There are still signs of their arrival: the first whitewashed churches in Porto Seguro and in the neighboring Arraial d’Ajuda attract curious tourists to this day.

The Portuguese organized their new territory into two captaincies (the administrative order of the time) – Pernambuco, north of Bahia, and São Vicente, in what is now the state of São Paulo – and they flourished. Pernambuco in particular grew and prospered thanks to the sugar trade, and soon the colony’s de facto capital was Olinda – Pernambuco’s main city, perched on a hill for protection. Its highest point is home to the São Salvador do Mundo church, better known as Alto da Sé. Built in 1537 as a testament to the wealth of the sugar magnates, this ornate church was adorned with an intricate design of gold leaf and painted tiles. Even today, the church and its surroundings are the nucleus of Olinda’s tourist hub.

Recife's Capela Dourada

The nearby village of Recife boasted deeper waters and a better port, so it soon surpassed Olinda as Brazil’s most prominent city. As Recife’s prosperity grew, the local churches became more luxurious. The Capela Dourada (Golden Chapel) was opened to the public in 1697, taking its name from the tremendous quantity of gold that covers its complex wooden engravings. The chapel is part of the Santo Antônio convent and remains one of the city’s most glorious legacies from this period.

Salvador's Elevador Lacerda

But back to Bahia, where a Portuguese king eventually declared the region’s principal city, Salvador, to be capital of the colony. Salvador da Bahia flourished as a result, becoming the most important city in Brazil. Many of its buildings and churches date back to the 17th century and are concentrated in the historic Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa, the two levels of the city that since 1872 have been connected by the famous Lacerda Elevator.

After Brazil had been established as a major exporter of sugar, and later coffee and gold, the Portuguese colonists began to expand through the rest of the country. Much of the country’s architectural riches from these days can be found in cities like Paraty and Rio de Janeiro, as well as in the mountain cities of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes and Mariana, heart of the gold rush.

Paraty, near Rio

Strangely, São Paulo, the undisputed financial and cultural capital of the country, has its origins in poverty and neglect. Wealthy industrialists didn’t build large mansions on Avenida Paulista until the early 20th century. Only a few of these palaces have survived, but the avenue remains a symbol of the city’s economic dominance. The most iconic structure is the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP). A large box of glass and cement, held aloft by red pillars, this building was designed by renowned architect Lina Bo Bardi and is an essential stop for any tourist.

MASP Museum in São Paulo

Around the time when the MASP was constructed, in the 1950s and 60s, São Paulo also enjoyed an architectural boom thanks to the work of architect Oscar Niemeyer. Known primarily for Brasilia, the current capital of the country, Niemeyer’s buildings in São Paulo are just as extraordinary and, most importantly, are easily accessible to most travelers. They include the spectacular Auditório Ibirapuera, the OCA exhibition center and the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM), which are all located in Ibirapuera Park, as well as the city’s architectural landmark, the COPAN, in the city’s downtown.
It’s ironic that São Paulo, once known as a gray and industrial city, now possesses some of Brazil’s greatest architectural gems.

In fact, the country’s 500 years of history are most evident the largest cities, like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Each chapter, from the sugar and coffee eras to the discovery of gold, from independence to industrialization and now globalization, has left indelible marks on the urban tapestry. Each new wave of visitors – the Portuguese, African slaves and immigrants from Europe and Japan – has led to new neighborhoods and new architectural styles. The Portuguese may have imposed their tastes and customs over the first two centuries, but today the sheer variety of Brazil’s cities reveals the diversity of its people. In


Iglesia de São Salvador do Mundo
Alto da Sé

São Paulo

Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Masp
Av. Paulista 1578
Admission: US$8.50

Auditório Ibirapuera
Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral, (no address number) – Portão 2
Tel. 55-11-3629-1075

Parque do Ibirapuera, portão 1 y 2 – (no address number)
Parque do Ibirapuera, portão 3 – (no address number)
Admission: US$3.50

Av. Ipiranga 200, downtown


Capela Dourada
Rua Imperador Dom Pedro II, 206
Salvador da Bahia

Sep 18, 2011

Whale watching in Praia do Rosa

by Antonella Kann

Ok, I know, no excuse for me. I won´t spend time explaining why I haven´t posted anything for the last month. So, let me just introduce you to this wonderful place, called Praia do Rosa, in the southern state of Santa Catarina. It´s about 70 kilometers south from capital Florianópolis, but it can - and it will! - take you at least two hours by car to get there, because traffic congestion is a fact. Try getting there in midmorning instead of late afternoon, as you´ll have to cross city center and it means huge delays. But even these caveats are no reason to avoid visiting this gorgeous region where whale watching is a must during the months of july through october.

Everyone who has seen whales know that catching a glimpse of its tail is somewhat difficult. But in Praia do Rosa all the way to Garopaba - 15 kilometers away - and around, you can view as much as 5 of these enormous mammals in just a couple of minutes, depending where you stand. You might be on the beach and observe them playing, caring for their pup and take a lot of pictures such as those here. Or you can also board a 1,5 hr guided tour in Garopaba( and get so close that you could actually touch them - as they approach fearlessly and harmlessly.

We spent a lovely weekend in a charming pousada called Solar Mirador( from which we had an incredible view of the Praia do Rosa in its whole extension. You are also steps away from the beach ( surf, STP and good hiking around) and the setting is amazing, the service very kind and professional and we were extremely lucky with the weather. Two sunny days on a row after a week of rain. And if you´re around, don´t miss the whales, which are called francas, and I promise it´s one experience of a lifetime and you´ll be thrilled!

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