Dec 25, 2010

New Year´s Eve resolutions

by Antonella Kann

As I told you a while before, I´m off to one of the most amazing spots in the northeastern shore of Brazil - Tibau do Sul, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
There will be dolphins swimming by my side, dunes and miles of sandy beaches to stroll on, coconut water galore and peace.
And NO internet.
So, I apologise for those who will feel a bit postless for a few days, but it´s only a matter of days, really, while I´m spending New Year´s Eve in one of my favorite places. And as you can´t have it all, not being connected is the only caveat.
The good news is that everything that´s new will be transmitted to you as soon as I come back.
Have a happy New Year and try to make as many resolutions as you can.
Mine are: to travel more in 2011 and keep you posted even more next year!

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Dec 21, 2010

Horseriding holidays in the south region: a must for horse fans.

by Antonella Kann

If there´s a region in Brazil which can be defined as ideal for horseriding, it´s certainly the south. Thanks to its topography, and the endless grassy highlands, allied with a fascinating landscape, the serra gaúcha – the gaúcho mountain chain – in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is a world away from any other ladnscape you´ve ever seen.

I´ve been a couple of times to S. Francisco de Paula, Cambará and the surroundings of these typical locations, where you can ride for miles without seeing another human being. Also, there´s a very calm and sturdy breed of horse called the “crioulo”, bred and raised in the South and extremely adapted to Brazilian soil.

The pretty setting is only another attribute, but after galloping on the rolling hills of the Aparados da Serra, any horse lover will not want to ride anywhere else than across those green and fenceless fields, crossing natural obstacle like rivers and canyons, sitting around a bondfire at the end of the day, sipping “chimarrão”, the non-alcooholic local beverage made from the leaf of erva mate, very popular in this part of Brazil.

The character behind the reins is a (special) gaúcho named Paulo Hafner , and the mentor of these fabulous horseriding holidays, something he introduced almost two decades ago. On the program, he´s offering all sorts of experiences, so you can choose between a few days on the saddle, with overnight stays in typical colono´s houses, where you´ll enjoy the hospitality of the gaúchos and their culinary specialities. Or, for those who are looking for something a little more comfy and luxurious, there´s also an option where you can spend the nights in a hotel, but then the atmosphere will be less personal.

I do prefer to meet the locals , taste their homey cuisine and sit by the fireplace in their kitchen, doing small talk with the family of owners. I should add that the south is an entirely different Brazil altogether, and the atmosphere is very distinct from the southeast or the northeast, to say the least!

A pit-stop to admire a waterfall in the region of the Aparados da Serra.

Best of all is that those riding expeditions can be scheduled all year-round, with higher temperatures in the summer but with freezing ones in winter. Both periods are nice, with different highlights due to weather conditions and itineraries. Do check Paulo´s website to have an idea of the incredible journeys offered on horseback. Something to think about when you are longing for something out-of-the-beaten-trail.

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Dec 13, 2010

Diamantina, land of Chica da Silva, Juscelino Kubitschek

by Antonella Kann

I am a passionate about colonial towns and there are quite a few in Brazil. Most of them in the State of Minas Gerais.

Diamantina, one of the most genuine, is not the most sought-after, as far as a massive tourist hub , although it boasts history in every corner. Maybe because it´s not at easy reach like many other towns. You have to drive for 300 kilometers from capital Belo Horizonte towards Brasília on the BR-040 to get to the birth place of ex-president Juscelino Kubitschek.

But Diamantina is also known as the venue of famous slave-turned-into-mistress Chica da Silva during the diamond fever in the 18th century. The African lady became a despotic “first lady” after seducing the Portuguese governor , during a period when Diamantina ( which owes its name to the portuguese word “diamante” - diamond) was sought after for its precious metal, abundantly found in its riverbeds.

Besides cobbled streets and authentic façades, you can enjoy the great outdoors all year-round, as the region is surrounded by impressive waterfalls and panoramic hikes.
Once in town, do not miss the municipal market, which retains a nostalgic feel and where you´ll find all sorts of home-made food, artcrafts from the Vale do Jequitinhonha , local cachaça and, naturally, semi-precious stones – also found in several little shops spread around the narrow alleys and old city center.

But Diamantina is also known as the venue of famous slave-turned-into-mistress Chica da Silva during the diamond fever in the 18th century. The so-called beauty became a despotic “first lady” after seducing the Portuguese governor and "ruling" as his mistress , during a period when Diamantina ( which owes its name to the portuguese word “diamante” - diamond) was sought after for its precious metal, abundantly found in its riverbeds.

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Dec 8, 2010

In Sanpa, as a carioca.

the view from the breakfast room on the 15th floor of Sheraton WTC

by Antonella Kann

Even though I´ve been visiting São Paulo since I was a little girl, this huge and buzzling metropolis always leaves me in a state of confusion. I wouldn´t take the wheel for the sake of my dear life, for instance…
Anyhow, I do come quite often for dear friends and work - both are meaningful in this palpitating city. This time, it was for the launching ( or re-launching) of my travel photography book “Flashes of the World”, an event which was kindly sponsored by Sheraton WTC hotel ( ) and italian restaurant Mercatto Caffé.
You may have different opinions and say whatever you want about the "looks" of São Paulo – not a feather of beauty compared to Rio – but I insist to say that in the matter of service and quality, everything is grand.

It has a level of sophistication which pairs nowhere else in Brazil, with very few exceptions. My design suite, for instance, is one of the 67 exclusive rooms which bears the signature of a renowned interior designer and/or architect. This is an inovator project of personalizing a few floors of a five star hotel in order to make you feel more at home, let´s say. Well, I had a king size bed with fluffy pillows galore, comfy robe and wide LED screen with many channels in several languages. I almost lost my appointment watching a French thriller … And there were plenty of Granado´s ammenities in the bathroom, even a body scrub sponge.

São Paulo is indeed the richest town in this country and you can fulfill almost everything in your wishlist. From expensive cars to designers´clothes and furniture for your house. By the way, the Sheraton is right inside one of the most sophisticated shopping center called D& D, dedicated to design and decoration. You just walk out of your room and stroll up and down three floors of fantastic high end stores…Think fabrics, wall paper, tapestry….

And you eat well in Sanpa. Really well. Our venue, well located the Mercatto Caffé (Helio Pellegrino, 198, in Vila Nova Conceição) is an italian restaurant with good pasta, honestly cooked al dente, and reasonable prices. The atmosphere is very relaxed. You don´t even need to be launching a book – just enjoy the focaccia and draft beer at one of the al fresco tables on the terrace.

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Nov 28, 2010

Rio for tourists...

by Antonella Kann

Yes, indeed, Rio is one of the most stunning places on earth. A haven which has not yet been discovered by tourism, comparing with other places in the world. I daresay that the negative propaganda which spreads all over could be the reason for Brazil to have such a low number of visitors.
I realize that I am saying this in a very delicate moment, as you have been witnessing our momentaneous and vulnerable situation through international networks and newspapers.
Although the situation is still uncertain, I am not the least frightened. Nor were the hundred and some passengers in the flight which brought me home three days ago. Concerned, certainly, as I was, but so happy to be back to this luminous town, admire the beach and the sea, the tropical colors of summer, feel the heat in my bones.
Unfortunately, you usually hear the bad side of the story when it comes to Rio de Janeiro. And, unfortunately, this doesn´t help to bring tourists to this city or even to this country.
If you imagine that we have only 5,4 millions visitors per year, compared to France, which receives almost 60 million people...
For the last three days, my focus has been on Rio and how the police will detangle the situation.
We, the cariocas, are optimistic and willing to believe that soon we will be proud to offer our guests a refurbished town, where the word safety will be a reality.

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Nov 16, 2010

Where are you going for New Year´s Eve ( part III) ?

by Antonella Kann

Still not ready to decide your whereabouts for the last evening of the year? I would guess that by now, at least half of the readers know where they want to do on December 31st, one third doesn´t have a clue and the rest, well….is still thinking.

So I just want to help those who haven´t made up their mind. Good luck! Notice that this time we are far away from the beaches!

Located in the state of Minas Gerais, at 1900 meters above sea level, Do Lado de Lá is the highest pousada in Brazil. And a haven for nature lovers. But don´t expect luxury or pampering: there´ll be neither in-room massage nor personal 24hrs butler in this rustic pousada.

You feel like you are on top of the world, surrounded by the Atlantic forest, waterfalls and vegetation. And that´s all the luxurious atmosphere of the Serra do Papagaio, in Aiuruoca, a region located almost 270 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro. Even the name of the place is hard to pronounce - and even harder to remember.

With such a conspicuous name, which means On the Other Side has less than 10 accommodations and those range from standard rooms with shared bathroom up to bungalows with private Jacuzzi. As you have probably guessed, it’s an all-inclusive establishment (there´s nowhere else to eat, anyway!), with honest and simple home-made food cooked in the old fashioned way – on the woodstove.

A destination like Pirenópolis don´t come much more original than that. It´s not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but sure is off the beaten track as a New Year´s hub. But it´s a very attractive colonial town located in the state of Goiás. It´s tiny, genuine, and has small but comfortable pousadas and surprisingly good restaurants.

You can also amuse yourself by digging into antiques shops offering furniture and delicious old bric-à-brac. And, of course, there are the traditional small stores selling all sorts of regional artifacts. But strolling around the town is likely to find locations to captivate the eye.

the cachoeira do Abade, a few miles from the center of Pirenopolis

The local cachaça also is a must-try experience. There are more than a hundred labels waiting for you in several small bars. And, as you´re likely to be using your feet instead of your car ( which should definitely be left in the parking lot of your pousada!) feel free to go wild! But do drive to the nearby sites for amazing hikes and god refreshing plunges in waterfalls. Oh, sorry, I almost forgot: try the pousada O Casarão ( tel. 62 3331 2662)

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