Apr 30, 2009

Index of all Bahia posts, by town


  1. What to do in Salvador according to The New York Times
  2. 10 top restaurants in Salvador according to Joyce Pascowitch
  3. Top 5 things to do in Salvador by Brazilian foodie Constance Escobar

Barra Grande

  1. All the best restaurants and beach bars

  1. Uxua, a new luxury boutique hotel in Trancoso
  2. Jacaré do Brasil: my favourite Trancoso pousada
  3. A complete listing of hotels and pousadas that I recommend
  4. Terravista: one of the world's most beautiful golf courses
  5. Trancoso: all the best restaurants
  6. Trancoso and Espelho: top 5 things to do
  7. A slideshow of my favourite Trancoso photos
  8. Tauana hotel, in Corumbau, South of Trancoso

Salvador, Bahia: the 5 best tips for visitors

Photos: Constance Escobar

My friend Constance Escobar, who is a Rio-based foodie, just got back from a trip to Salvador, the capital of Bahia. She's got impeccable taste and was kind enough to share with us her 5 top tips.

Salvador by Constance Escobar

Every city has its must-sees, or “les incontournables” - but I admit that my must-sees are often quite different from everyone else's. On my first day in Paris I surely didn't run to the the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, but preferred to visit the pastry shops Ladurée and Pierre Hermé - my cup of tea. Same goes for Salvador. Instead of lunching at perennial favourite Dadá, which has become a bit of a tourist den, I chose to go instead to Paraíso Tropical, where I ate the best moqueca (seafood and coconut milk stew) of my life.

Here are my top 5:

1 - Lunch at Paraíso Tropical
Best food in town. Very simple, but serves amazing moquecas.
Rua Edgar Loureiro, 98-B (Cabula), tel. (71) 3384-7464

2 - Lunch Amado
Not only is the food marvellous, but you eat with a stunning view of Todos os Santos Bay.
Amado: Av. Contorno, 660, Cidade Baixa, Tel. (55-71)3322-3520

3 - Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia
From Amado, it's an easy stroll to Solar do Unhão, where a historic manor houses the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia. Fantastic spot.
Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia: Avenida Contorno, s/n, tel. (71) 3117-6141

4 - Old Downtown, a.k.a. Pelourinho
Cobbled streets, colonial candy-colored houses, magical atmosphere. Make time for a stop at the Le Glacier Laporte ice cream shop or have a tapioca milk shake at Sorveteria da Ribeira.

5- Convento do Carmo
Poshest hotel in town, set, as the name implies, in an old monastery.
Convento do Carmo: Rua do Carmo, 1, tel. (71) 3327-8400

Gisele on the cover of V magazine's summer swimsuit issue

Brazilian models show no sign of falling out of vogue. Still not tired of Gisele on mag covers? Then check out the brand new V swimsuit issue.

V59 is the first ever swimsuit issue - and was photographed entirely by Mario Testino, and including the best bodies in the biz—from Daria to David Gandy, Naomi to Natalia, and every Kate, Gisele, Carmen, and Carolyn in between. Here's a video preview of it, edited by Tiffany Chang and, as soundtrack, "Let's Buy Happiness" by Boys Noize:

Apr 29, 2009

Gaston Acurio opens a La Mar in São Paulo, his first restaurant in Brazil

Gaston Acurio is definitely the most ambicious and self-assured chef working today in Latin America. Even Alex Atala doesn't come close. The man is on a mission to get the world hooked on Peruvian cuisine, which he plans to achieve by opening restaurants in as many world capitals and the markets' meltdown will allow.

Last week he opened the first Acurio restaurant in Brazil. The La Mar Cebicheria is in the
trendy Itaim district.
Needless to say, the big draw are the cebiches (a.k.a. ceviches), like the mixed seafood one pictured below.

He opened the first La Mar in Lima, in 2004 em Lima. It now has branches in San Francisco, Santiago, Costa Rica and Mexico City.

Some of the cebiches on the menu are:
Clássico (robalo) R$35
Criollo (manjuba, octopus and mussels in leche de tigre criolla) R$30
Elegante (fish and shellfish in leche de tigre spiked with rocoto- a mild pepper sauce) R$39

And also:
Laqueado (grilled tuna, passion fruit salsa, honey) R$34
Trio (tuna, salmon, corvina, each topped with a different sauce: aji amarillo, aji panca e aji rocoto) R$36.

The design, said to be inspired by the beach but in actual fact quite urban-looking, was done by two Peruvian architects. They tried to stick to natural materials: iron, cement, bamboo, wood, stone.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Rua Tabapuã, 1410 – Jardins
Tel.: (11) 3073-1213

Apr 28, 2009

The great Portuguese winemaker Luis Pato is in São Paulo

Wine importer Mistral has invited Luis Pato to lead a tasting dinner at São Paulo's famed Portuguese restaurant Antiquarius, May 4.

Known as the “revolutionary of the Bairrada”, he's considered a living legend in Portugal.
and described by wine writer Jancis Robinson as a “visionary”.

Here's what will be poured:

● Espumante Touriga Nacional rosado bruto
● Vinhas Velhas branco 2007
● Vinhas Velhas tinto 2005
● Quinta do Ribeirinho Primeira Escolha 2003
● Vinha Pan 2003
● Quinta do Ribeirinho Pé Franco 2005
● Graham’s Six Grapes (with dessert)

And on the menu there will be:

- the heavenly classic amuse bouches of Antiquarius
- Açorda de bacalhau
- Rice with duck
- Lamb shank with potatoes
- Toucinho do céu almond and yolk tart.

Restaurante Antiquarius
Alameda Lorena, 1884 - Jardins - São Paulo
Price: R$ 460 per person
Reservations: (11) 3372 3401

More dining in São Paulo on this blog:

Alex Atala:
Coffee Shops, Pastry Shops, snacks:

Japanese restaurants:

Snoop Dog music video showcases Rio: favelas, hot women, beaches

Channel-flipping last night, sudenly... BAM! A typical Rio kid running through the alleyway of a favela. Hey, hold on a second, that's Rio! And there's Snoop Dog, sitting on the tiled steps of the Lapa district! What the...?!

The video is great, and shows the city better than many websites out there, plus a whole lotta Rio ass, but... it ain't exactly new. Still, definitely worth a watch, here goes:

Vik Muniz art show opens at the Masp, in São Paulo

The wildly popular Vik Muniz show in Rio, which drew nearly 50 000 visitors, is now in São Paulo, where it will surely beat that record by the time it closes, on July 12.

The show has been set up at Masp, São Paulo's most important museum, and is a bit different than the Rio version. Long hallways have been set up in the basement. There are portraits of the artist himself, Che, Mona Lisa and Liz Taylor, all done in unexpected materials, like peanut butter and jelly, for example.

His awesome works made of junk and garbage (below), which are his most recent, are also well represented.

Avenida Paulista, 1578, tel. 55-11- 3251-5644. The museums opens from 11 am until 6 pm. Tickets cost R$ 15,00.

There's also a cool little video of Vik himself snapping pictures in São Paulo and talking about his art-making process. Very interesting, but it's in Portuguese. Here's the link.

Apr 23, 2009

Manacá, the best restaurant in São Paulo's Litoral Norte

Manacá. No other restaurant on the coast of São Paulo state is better known or more reputable. It's been around forever and is a favourite of well-to-do paulistas. At dusk, the setting is magical: elevated passarelles cross thick tropical foliage and deliver guests to an open-air restaurants with separate dining areas.

Don't be fooled by the menu focusing on fish and seafood: dinners at Manacá aren't exactly light. Even the white fish tartare is tossed with cream, and is cloyingly rich. The delicious

Spaghetti al Mare is a good bet for those with no plans to kiss anyone. The sole with peas and potato mash glistens under a big helping of truffled butter. Hearty indeed.

Manacá is, in short, a great little beach restaurant with big ambitions and is what the French would call an incontournable. You can't really go to Litoral Norte and not give it a try...

Manacá: Rua do Manacá, 102
Tel. (12)3865-1566


Estrada do Camburi, 2000 (Camburi)
Tel: (12)3865-1866

Estrada do Camburi, 696 (Camburi)
Tel: (12)3865-2204

Juqueí, in São Paulo state: Gulero and other restaurants

The Northern part of São Paulo state's coastline is called the Litoral Norte.
Although the beaches that line this part of the coast are beautiful, they've been
over-developed and get crowded during the high-season, between Christmas
and Carnaval.

A good time to go is in the Brazilian fall and spring. Best beaches, with
the highest concentration of pousadas (inns) and restaurants,
are Juqueí and Camburi.

A great bet in Juqueí is Gulero, on the main drag. Cute colonial house with potted
tropical plants. It gets a high rating in the Guia Brasil Quatro Rodas 2008.
Av. Mãe Bernarda, 271 (Juqueí)
Tel: (12)3863-1397

Other restaurants in Juqueí include:

Madre - Mexican food
R. Claudio Izidoro Espírito Santo, 251 (Juqueí)
Tel: (12)3863-3064

Chapéu de Sol - fish and seafood
Av. Mãe Bernarda, 2001 (Juqueí)
Tel: (12)3863-3028

Badauê - fish and seafood
Av. Mãe Bernarda, 2005 (Juqueí)
Tel: (12)3863-3028

Av. Mãe Bernarda, 856 (Juqueí)
Tel: (12)3863-2907

Av. Mãe Bernarda, 637 (Juqueí)
Tel: (12)3863-2609

R. Argemiro Amâncio dos Santos, 181 (Juqueí)
Tel: (12)3863-2174

Marina de la Riva sings at Baretto, the coolest bar in São Paulo

If you're in town this April, go to the show. If you're not in town, go to Baretto anyways. I'll keep it short and sweet: best manhattans made by best barman in town. The name? Célio. This is a very grown-up bar with live music and elegant patrons. Love it.

Michael Roberts and Cacá de Souza host party in São Paulo

I write for Brazil's #1 lifestyle magazine, which is called Wish Report. And the latest edition, hitting newstands today, was guest-edited by Vanity Fair's Michael Roberts and Cacá de Souza, who was Valentino's right-hand man for years.

The new edition will be launched with a big party tonight at the new Tivoli Mofarrej hotel (pictured above and below) in São Paulo. Top models Ana Claudia Michels and Carol Francischini have already RSVP'd. For more, in Portuguese, please click here.

And more São Paulo in this blog:




Alex Atala:
Coffee Shops, Pastry Shops, snacks:

Japanese restaurants:

Apr 19, 2009

Louboutin throws party this Wednesday in São Paulo

The party that will take place on Wednesday, April 22 to lauch Christian Louboutin's shop in the Shopping Iguatemi (invite pictured above) is the hottest ticket since... well... since Marc Jacobs was in town last month! Fashionistas are descending en masse. Diane von Furstenberg, Vogue editor Hamish Bowles, ex-Valentino P.R. Cacá de Souza and many others are in Rio, party-hopping, and will fly to São Paulo for the Wednesday fête. (To find out why DVF is in Brazil, just scroll down).

It's no secret that the designers behind high-end brands looooove Brazilian women. Brasileiras love to shop, aren't afraid to flaunt what they've got and are super in tune with what`s in vogue all over the world. That's why in recent years many big-name brands like Tiffany&Co. and Diesel have decided to open stores in São Paulo.

The chosen address is usually either the Shopping Iguatemi or the Jardins district (rua Oscar Freire being the most desireable street to be on). But in recent years other ultra-high end addresses have popped on the map, like the Shopping Cidade Jardim (more on that later) and the new Daslu megastore.

The latest arrival to the São Paulo shopping scene is Christian Louboutin, he of the coveted red-soled pumps. His store is also in - surprise! - the Shopping Iguatemi.

This is his first store in Latin America, and already has in stock mr. Louboutin`s summer 09 collection. He'll be in town in April for a party to be thrown in his honour and to officially cut the ribbon. Fashionistas, take note!
Christian Louboutin São Paulo: Shopping Center Iguatemi, Faria Lima floor, tel. (55-11) 3032-0233

Apr 18, 2009

The 10 best beaches in Brazil

Everywhere I look there’s a list of best beaches in Brazil. Condé Nast Traveler did one in its last issue, for example.
It wasn’t a top 10 list per se, but rather, a “South American Beach Finder”. My #1 travel guru Ricardo Freire found their choices faulty and did a scathing point-by-point critique of the chosen beaches, here.

Soon thereafter, UK’s The Guardian published its list of best Brazil beaches.
Interesting choices.... The list starts off with Fernando de Noronha, which isn't a beach, but rather, an ISLAND, which happens to contain several of Brazil's most untouched and gorgeous beaches.

Also on the list is Arpoador. But… since when is Arpoador a beach?! It’s actually just the tip of Ipanema beach, as far as I know. Editor Gavin McOwan says “At the end of Ipanema when the traffic curves round to Copacabana, pedestrians can carry on walking to Arpoador. A continuation of Ipanema beach, Arpoador ends with a tall rocky headline, an easy 60m climb, offering stunning views of the whole length of Ipanema, Leblon and the famous Dois Irmãos mountain.”

Ok, so far, so good, we agree that it's just the continuation of Ipanema.

But then he goes on to say “the Azul Marinho restaurant, the only beachside restaurant in Arpoador and Ipanema”. Say WHAT?! What does he mean by beachside? As far as I know, the Al Mare, at the Fasano hotel, is beachside AND has a view of the Arpoador! And it sure beats Azul Marinho… In fact, they're worlds apart.

Differences aside, below you'll find the (quite useful) The Guardian’s list, as well as two other lists published recently by the Brazilian guide Quatro Rodas (the country's version of the Michelin) and by Brazil’s biggest travel magazine, Viagem e Turismo. At first glance, you'll soon discover that when it comes to Brazilian beaches, only one thing is for sure: other than Baía do Sancho, in the stunning island of Fernando de Noronha, nobody agrees on anything!

TOP 10 BEACHES IN BRAZIL according to the Guardian
(from North to South and NOT in order of preference)

  1. Alter do Chão (Santarém), Paraíba state
  2. Fernando de Noronha, PERNAMBUCO STATE
  3. Praia do Toque (São Miguel dos Milagres), PERNAMBUCO STATE
  4. Taipu de Fora (Maraú), Bahia state
  5. Caraíva (Porto Seguro), Bahia state
  6. Arpoador (Rio de Janeiro), Rio de Janeiro state
  7. Lopes Mendes (Angra dos Reis), Rio de Janeiro state
  8. Praia da Fazenda (Ubatuba), SÃO PAULO STATE
  9. Bonete (Ilhabela), SÃO PAULO STATE
  10. Lagoinha do Leste (Florianópolis), SANTA CATARINA STATE

TOP 10 BEACHES IN BRAZIL according to the Guia Quatro Rodas

  1. Baía do Sancho (Fernando de Noronha), PERNAMBUCO STATE
  2. Baía dos Porcos (Fernando de Noronha), PERNAMBUCO
  3. Praia do Leão (Fernando de Noronha), PERNAMBUCO
  4. Praia do Espelho, Bahia state
  5. Carneiros (Tamandaré), PERNAMBUCO STATE
  6. Jericoacoara (Jericoacoara), Ceará state
  7. Taipu de Fora (Barra Grande), Bahia state
  8. Lagoinha do Leste (Florianópolis), SANTA CATARINA STATE
  9. Praia do Amor (Pipa), RIO GRANDE DO NORTE STATE
  10. Antigos e Antiguinhos (Parati), Rio de Janeiro state

TOP 10 BEACHES IN BRAZIL according to Viagem e Turismo magazine:

  1. Porto de Galinhas (Ipojuca), PERNAMBUCO STATE
  2. Jericoacoara (Jijoca de Jericoacoara), Ceará state
  3. Bombinhas (Bombinhas), SANTA CATARINA STATE
  4. Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro), Rio de Janeiro state
  5. Praia da Pipa (Tibau do Sul), RIO GRANDE DO NORTE STATE
  6. Praia da Joaquina (Florianópolis), SANTA CATARINA STATE
  7. Canoa Quebrada (Aracati), Ceará state
  8. Baía do Sancho (Fernando de Noronha), PERNAMBUCO STATE
  9. Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
  10. Praia do Gunga (Barra de São Miguel), Alagoas state

TOP 10 BEACHES IN BRAZIL according to Viaje na Viagem by Ricardo Freire:
  1. Praia do Gunga (Barra de São Miguel), Alagoas state
  2. Baía do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha
  3. Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia
  4. Arraial do Cabo, Rio state
  5. Praia do Espelho, Bahia (near Trancoso)
  6. Praia do Toque, Pernambuco state
  7. Ipioca, Maceió, Alagoas state
  8. Porto da Barra, Salvador, capital of Bahia state
  9. Azeda, Búzios, Rio state
  10. Lopes Mendes, Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro state
  11. Praia Mole, Santa Catarina
  12. Praia do Amor, Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte state

More about Brazilian beaches on this blog:

Photos of São Paulo: graffiti, Iran do Espírito Santo's house, etc.

Apr 16, 2009

Diane von Furstenberg in São Paulo to announce opening of two stores in Brazil

There seems to be no end to fashion’s love affair with Brazil. This just in: Diane von Furstenberg, who is in São Paulo to launch her line of watches for top-jeweller H. Stern, called Sutra, had lunch with fashion journos today. She announced that next year she’ll open a store in Shopping Iguatemi – the best mall in town – and then a second one in Brasília, que country’s capital.
This news comes right after Marc Jacobs' whirlwind visit to São Paulo to open HIS boutique, a partnership with NK Store. Christian Louboutin was also there, to celebrate the opening of his flagship, also at the Shopping Iguatemi. Phew! I guess they're all sniffing the gold: Brazilians seem to be hurting little or not at all during the current recession.

La Furstenberg dazzled everyone with her mane of blondish hair, and her good looks at the press lunch which was held at Fasano, the poshest hotel in town.

For those out there who don’t already know this, here’s a summarized Diane von Furstenberg bio, from her site: She “first arrived in the fashion world in 1972 with her iconic wrap dress, the seed of what is today a full fashion house. By 1976, Diane had sold millions of her dresses, coming to symbolize female power and freedom to an entire generation. In 1997, after a hiatus from fashion, Diane reemerged on the New York fashion scene with the re-launch of the dress that had started it all and began transforming her company into the global luxury lifestyle brand it is today. In 2005, Diane was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) for her impact on fashion, and one year later, was elected the CFDA's new president, an office she continues to hold. A firm believer in the power of women, Diane sits on the board of Vital Voices, a women's leadership organization that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the world.”

More fashion and shopping in São Paulo:

Apr 15, 2009

Le Pré Catalan, in Rio: when hotel dining is done right

I'm always wary of hotel restaurants in Brazil - many tend to be souless and corporate-feeling, especially when they're in a big chain hotel.

Rio`s Le Pré Catalan is an exception to the rule. It's located in the mezanine of the Sofitel and serves some of the most refined and inventive food in Rio. Chef Roland Villard, a Frenchman, bien sur, serves high-end food that combines French technique and Brazilian ingredients. Examples? Rack of tambaqui, a huge Amazonian fish.

Some dishes don't seem the most appropriate for the tropics - like his rigatoni stuffed with shredded quail and foie gras, au gratin.

Le Pré Catalan's claim to fame is its dessert cart, also done à la française. Think crème brulée, mousses and fruit tartelettes. But the view, too, is hard to beat: the salon faces famed Copacabana beach.

Le Pré Catelan (Hotel Sofitel Rio)

Apr 13, 2009

Yves Saint Laurent show opens in Rio next month at the CCBB

On May 25, the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil Rio de Janeiro will unveil the show “Yves Saint Laurent – Viagens Extraordinárias”, which aims to shed some light on a lesser-known side of the great fashion designer.

Some might be surprised to learn that Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) was also an artist. The show, which is part of the festivities celebrating the “Year of France” in Brazil, is curated by the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent and had Saint Laurent's approval - he oversaw all the details before passing away last June.

“Yves Saint Laurent – Viagens Extraordinárias” will include 50 complete outfits from his Africa, Asia, Spain, Morocco, Russia and India collections; 20 photographs, 20 original drawings, a portrait of YSL by Andy Warhol. Two documentaries directed by David Teboul in 2002 will also be shown. To me, the most fascinating aspect of all is that YSL actually travelled very little – outside of France, he’d only been to Spain and Morocco (he owned a home Marrakesh). A must-see.

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
66, Primeiro de Março, St.
Downtown - Rio

Tuesdays to Sundays
10 am to 9 pm
Tel. (21) 38082020
e-mail address: ccbbrio@bb.com.br

More art and things to do in Rio:
  1. Rio Ferris wheel opens in Copacabana
  2. Osgemeos open show at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
  3. Artists Nuno Ramos and Vik Muniz open shows in Rio
  4. Corredor Chopin: new art hub nextdoor to the Copacabana Palace hotel
  5. Museu da República museum shows contemporary art

Apr 12, 2009

Rio: where to eat good cod (bacalhau), Portuguese-style

One of my all-time favorite blogs is called D.O.C. (De Origem Carioca), and is written by Veja Rio's restaurant critic Fernanda Thedim. Recently, she listed her favorite spots to eat bacalhau (salted cod) in Rio. Portuguese cuisine is alive and well in Rio - hence the abundance of places serving the country's national dish. In fact, Rio boasts even more Portuguese restaurants than São Paulo, which is Brazil's foodie capital. Here are some of the ones Fernanda recommends:

Rua Barata Ribeiro, 232, loja A, Copacabana, tel. 55-21 2547-3920
Bacalhau à mário soares: cod pan-fried with garlic, served with potatoes and a sauce of peppers, tomatoes and onions (R$ 110 for two).

Campo de São Cristóvão, 212, loja A, São Cristóvão, tel. 2580-7288/8689; Avenida das Américas, 7777, 3º piso (Rio Design Barra), Barra, tel. 2431-2958 e 2438-1178.
Bacalhau à lagareiro (roasted with olive oil, potatoes and broccoli; R$ 88,00 )

Rua Inhangá, 30, loja B, Copacabana, tel. 2236-1222 e 2255-8882.
Bacalhau à patuscada, with fried garlic, broccoli, boiled potatoes and black olives (R$ 123,00 for two)

Rua Aristides Espínola, 19, Leblon, tel. 2294-1049.
At Rio's most famous (and best) Portuguese restaurant, they serve bacalhau nunca chega (R$ 89,00): shredded and tossed with onion, chopped ham, eggs and shoestring fries.

Rua Marquês de São Vicente, 11, loja A, Gávea, tel. 2239-8945.
Bacalhau à gomes de sá (casserole of shredded cod, potatoes, garlic, onion, eggs and olives; R$ 104,00 for two).

Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, s/nº, loja 6, (Marina da Glória), Flamengo, tel. 2265-4641/2205-3346.
Tigelinha de bacalhau à conde da guarda: shredded cod mixed with potato mash and cream, served au gratin (R$ 31,00).

More dining in Rio:

  1. Roberta Sudbrack: the best chef in Rio?
  2. Terzetto Café: great breakfast spot in Ipanema
  3. The best restaurants in Rio according to the experts
  4. Bráz, Carlota... São Paulo restaurants open Rio outposts

Apr 11, 2009

Tiradentes weekend in Trancoso: two pousada deals

Got an email this morning with some interesting deals for Tiradentes weekend in Trancoso, Bahia:

At Pousada Vila Rio (pictured above):
Suite, 1220 reais for 4 nights
Suite + transfers from airport, 1520 reais for 4 nights
That means they're charging 300 reais for the transfers, which is a bit steep. Brazilians can negotiate a better rate with taxi drivers, but foreigners should take the included transfers and save themselves a big headache...

At Hotel da Praça:
Standard room, 1220 reais for 4 nights
Standard room + transfers, 1520 reais for 4 nights
Same as above: foreigners, take the package WITH transfers

The Pousada Vila Rio is a better deal: rooms at Hotel da Praça are very small and the pousada has no pool. All rates quoted above include breakfast.

To book: (55-73) 3668-1456 or reservas@hoteldapraca.com.br

More about Trancoso:
  1. Uxua, a new luxury boutique hotel in Trancoso
  2. Jacaré do Brasil: my favourite Trancoso pousada
  3. A complete listing of hotels and pousadas that I recommend
  4. Terravista: one of the world's most beautiful golf courses
  5. Trancoso: all the best restaurants
  6. Trancoso and Espelho: top 5 things to do
  7. A slideshow of my favourite Trancoso photos
  8. Tauana hotel, in Corumbau, South of Trancoso

Apr 10, 2009

Brazilian travel pro appalled by Condé Nast Traveller’s Best Beaches list

I’ve already said here that Brazil’s best travel writer is Riq Freire, who also – NOT coincidentally – writes the country’s most popular travel blog, Viaje na Viagem.

Riq is a tireless traveller. Ever since giving up his ultra-successful career in advertising to, among other things, work on his excellent guide of Brazil beaches, Riq has been up and down Brazil’s cost countless times.

So when he wrote a lengthy put-down of Condé Nast Traveler’s list of top beaches in Brazil, I listened carefully. And it seems to her has a point. Or three. Want to know what he said? Here is a summarized translation of his critique:

“At first, I was thrilled that my favourite travel mag announced on its cover the South American chapter of The World’s Best Beaches. I thought, A-ha, finally they’ll pull together the few Brazil tips they’ve published in various editions, and give foreigners wanting to visit Brazil a comprehensive beach guide. Jeri would be in it, Fernando de Noronha too, and maybe even something between Recife and Maceió, plus the better spots in Bahia, like Boipeba, Barra Grande or Itacaré. And then some beaches near Rio, like Búzios or Arraial do Cabo, plus one or two near São Paulo, and, in the south, something in Florianópolis.

As if.

The 9 chosen beaches are all clustered around a mere 4 towns. Half of them didn’t make my “100 Best” list. And the where-to-stay list is PATHETIC.

The first on their list is Sibaúma, near Pipa. The only reason anyone would ever stay there is a small and pretentious hotel called Kilombo Villas. But even CNT doesn’t say nice things about the place. I wouldn’t pick the beach because the water is almost always murky, as CNT also points out. So why the heck would it be chosen as one of the 9 best?!

Next: Praia dos Nativos, Trancoso. For me, it’s the lesser of the Trancoso beaches (Rio Verde, Coqueiros and Itapororoca are better). At Praia dos Nativos, water is often murky. The piece says it “is speckled with cafés blasting Bob Marley remixes”. Hahahaha. The beach has three bars: Estrela d'Água, Tostex and a mega-tacky beach bar that caters to tour groups from Porto Seguro. I certainly wouldn’t refer to any of them as a "café" :lol:

Next on the list is Praia do Espelho. They got the beach right, of course, but said that “during low tide (from morning through mid-afternoon), the sea peels back from the shore”. Say what?! LOW TIDE GOES FROM MORNING TO MID AFTERNOON?! CNT has just invented the world’s first on-demand tide!

The only recommended hotel is the Pousada Etnia, in Trancoso – indeed excellent, but why not recmmend an inn on the Espelho beach? Especially considering the Etnia was already mentioned in the Trancoso part? Capping off the embarassment, Silvinha is recommended as the “sole dining establishment”. Holy mother of Jesus!

(Oh, and what's with photo of the Argentinian man dressed-up as a gaucho?).

From Bahia, the piece skips down to the Costa Verde.

First up: Lagoa Azul, on Ilha Grande. Beautiful indeed, but.. not a beach! It’s actually a diving spot. And filled with boats. Any foreigner who’s been to the Caribbean (probably all of CNT’s readers) would find it a disappointment.

Next, Praia do Dentista, in Gipóia. At least CNT doesn’t hide the fact that it turns into a marina in high season. I’d go further and say it’s like a huge aquatic parking lot.

They recommend readers stay at Pousada Pardieiro, in... Paraty! A whole 100 km away! If the writer had interviewed the first man on the street she’d find out that anyone who can afford to boat around the Dentista will be staying at one of the bungalows at Pestana.

In Santa Catarina, they recommend... Siriú. OMG! I spent my teenage years there, my family owns a house near there. Deserted beach, has dunes, etc. But…. If I ever had the chance to tell CNT’s readers which are Brazil’s best beaches, never never never would Siriú be one of them. Paging CNT: ever heard of Guarda do Embaú? Same goes for Ferrugem, the next beach listed. Why not Mole instead?!

The only reason I don’t cancel my subscription is… well… that I don’t have one!

To visit Riq Freire's Viaje na Viagem blog, please click here.

Apr 7, 2009

Osgemeos, Brazil's most famous grafitti artists, open show in Rio

Great art show on in Rio. It's called Vertigem, and is the first exhibition to contain, exclusively, works by twin brothers Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo, a.k.a. osgemeos. The show is at CCBB Rio de Janeiro, and contains painting, sculptures, sound objects that can be played by the public and an oversize mural.

The famous yellow-skinned characters with eyes set wide apart that inhabit their art are instantly recognizeable and at once quaint and oddly disturbing. I just love their colorful, off-kilter look.

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
66, Primeiro de Março, St.
Downtown - Rio de Janeiro

Tuesdays to Sundays
10 am to 9 pm
Tel. (21) 38082020
e-mail address: ccbbrio@bb.com.br

Apr 6, 2009

New bungalows and amazing multi-course breakfast at Ponta dos Ganchos resort near Florianópolis

Ponta dos Ganchos Resort
is located on a privately-owned peninsula that juts out from the southern Brazilian coast between picturesque fishing villages, making it one of the most exclusive beach resorts in Brazil. A single hop from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, this romantic hideaway has a few ultra-luxe bungalows surrounded by postcard-worthy scenery: turquoise sea, lush forest.

Ponta dos Ganchos offers a fitness centre, cinema, restaurant, bar, lounge, games room, tennis court, heated swimming pool, massage tents, SPA by Christian Dior and nature trails. Close to the resort is the best site for scuba diving in South Brazil, Arvoredo Island, in addition to excellent destinations for boat trips, such as Anhatomirim Island and the Baía dos Golfinhos.

It is located just 25 miles (40 km) from the state capital Florianópolis, and is a region immersed in history and tradition, with its small fishing villages first settled by immigrants from the Azores.

I have a friend who is on the road most of the year staying at dozens of hotels (and always paying his bills so he can express his opinions freely). He writes Brazil's best travel blog, Viaje na Viagem.

Ricardo Freire calls himself a professional tourist, and that's exactly what he is. Although he tends to focus on mainstream travel, and gives lots of advice to first-time travellers, once in a while he goes upscale. And that's what he did recently, as he chronicled his stay at the ultraposh Ponta dos Ganchos.

It was Ricardo's third stay at Ponta dos Ganchos (he was also there in 2003 and 2005). I've taken the liberty of reproducing here, in a loose translation, what he said about his latest stay. Here it goees:

"My opinion about the hotel is that it couldn't be better, but I've thought that for years. I'd seen photos of their new wing of bungalows. And I'd already stayed in one of their top-of-the-line bungalows. So I must admit that even though my bungalow was indeed wow-worthy, I sort of already expected that...

But... who says I didn't end up being surprised? It turns out that Ponta dos Ganchos invented the most elegant breakfast I've ever heard of. You wake up and your breakfast is there to remind you: yes, you are at a Relais & Châteaux. It is a small banquet of mini-dishes, listed on a nicely printed menu that changes daily.


This is what I got:


Kake, pineaple and lime shot, to start me off on a healthy note.


Followed by watermelon and 2 melons with julienned mint, paired with a juice blending tangerine, prune and strawberry.


The yogurt changes daily; mine had berries and shaved almonds.


The basket of croissants was a problem, since I knew that next up were mini-sandwiches....


… like these, filled with salmon and cucumber…


… or these mini-croques-madames, made with quail eggs...

At this point I'd been knocked out long ago (remember the croissant basket?), so I just had a taste of the following rounds: omelet and mini-donut filled with papaya cream.



Only a breakfast like this could get one out of bed early, right?



To visit Ricardo Freire's blog please click here.

Ponta dos Ganchos
Rua Eupídeo Alves do Nascimento, 104
Ganchos de Fora
Governador Celso Ramos, Santa Catarina
Tel. +55 48 32625000