Mar 30, 2010

Tiradentes, a return to the past

the Maria Fumaça old fashioned train

by Antonella Kann
The 21st of April is approaching and it´s a National Holiday in Brazil, as it celebrates the execution of a martyr named Joaquim da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes. He was one of the revolutionary leaders of the Inconfidencia Mineira in the 17th century, a conspiration against the government, which shook the country´s History and was crucial for our Independence.

But let´s take this opportunity to talk about the small mining town which now bears its name: Tiradentes, which was after all the headquarters of this very important political movement. Located in the state of Minas Gerais, only 300 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro, it was designated a National Historic Site in 1938. Tiradentes has managed to preserve its architectural wonders from the past, as well as an 18th century atmosphere, and nowadays it´s considered one of Brazil´s most picturesque colonial towns.

the Matriz Church

The Maria Fumaça train is one of the symbol of this historic spot. It was inaugurated in 1881 by D. Pedro II and is a tourist attraction that links the neighboring city of São João del Rey to Tiradentes. The journey takes half an hour and most people just come to spend a few hours in town.

typical restaurant

Due to several cultural events, there´s a constant flow of visitors all year round. In January, there´s a film festival, in June the annual encounter of Harley´s bikers and a very competitive gastronomy festival in August. Besides this, the surrounding hills that frame Tiradentes attract crowds of eco-tourists hiking the pathways used in the past by the Inconfidentes.

Pousada Solar da Ponte

Cars seem out of place in a small town where all the streets are paved with uneven stones. Best way to visit the sights of Tiradentes is either by foot, exploring every little alley and narrow street, or by horse-drawn carriages, which can be hailed in the Largo das Forras, which is the main square. Some paths are really steep, so if you choose to walk, wear appropriate shoes.

Pousada dos Inconfidentes

Cars seem out of place in a small town where all the streets are paved with uneven stones. Best way to visit the sights of Tiradentes is either by foot, exploring every little alley and narrow street, or by horse-drawn carriages, which can be hailed in the Largo das Forras, which is the main square. Some paths are really steep, so if you choose to walk, wear appropriate shoes.

Praça das Forras, main square

Don´t forget to visit the Rosário church , also known as the church of the Negroes. Slaves were able to build it with the gold they used to hide underneath their fingernails. Have a look at the Largo do Ó, the Padre Toledo Museum and the former prison.

You will be delighted with Tiradentes´historical atmosphere, and surprised by the excellency of its hotels, two of which were selected by the prestigious Conde Nast Johansen´s guide. Check for the Pousada dos Inconfidentes (, a sophisticated establishment located a couple of kilometers away from the town center, and the Solar da Ponte ( , a traditional hotel a stone´s throw from the main square and the historic center, restaurants and shops.

As far as food is concerned, this is certainly one of the few places in Brazil gathering so many restaurants boasting a star from reputed Guia 4 Rodas. You can choose from the typical mineiro to sushi, but French and Italian as well. And they all are walking distance from any place you´re staying.

Micos at the Solar da Ponte: tea time

the Chafariz

Carved wood, iron sculptures, decorative wood sculptures, ceramics, cloths, bed spreads, carpets, rugs, pewter, you name it. There are souvenirs shops galore selling all kind of art crafts for reasonable prices. Besides eating and sightseeing, you can shop until you drop in Tiradentes.

typical mineira food: pork chops, sausage and couve
artcrafts found in several shops

Rua Direita, one of the famous alleys

Mar 25, 2010

Búzios: chicest hotel is owned by countess Emmanuelle de Clermont Tonnerre

By Alexandra Forbes

Búzios.... a mere two-hour drive from Rio, but a whole different world. Brazil's answer to Saint-Tropez, made famous by habitué Brigitte Bardot, is positively charming - providing you know exactly where to stay and eat...

The chicest hotel, the Insólito, is owned by countess Emmanuelle Meeus de Clermont Tonnerre.

It sits perched above the Praia da Ferradura and has all those comforts we expect from a 5-star: Egyptian cotton sheets, iPods, flatscreen TVs, etc.

Here are photos of the top 2 suites:



Praia da Ferradura – Rua E1 - Lotes 3 e 4
Condomínio Atlântico
Tel.  +55 22 2623 2172

Click here to read more about Búzios on this blog

Mar 22, 2010

Best boutiques in Brazil, according to Ana Beatriz Barros

By Beatriz Tasso Fragoso, special contributor

First Brazilian top model to join the Victoria’s Secret team of “angels” – the lingerie-clad winged goddesses that strut the catwalk once a year for the world’s biggest televised fashion show – Ana Beatriz Barros is a green-eyed stunner from a small town in Minas Gerais state.

She splits her time between New York, São Paulo and runways on both sides of the Atlantic and made her name for starring in several Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues and landing countless magazine covers. The latest two? Vogue Homme and Vogue España.

She’s not a big party girl, but on the rare occasions when she goes clubbing, favourite night spots include Disco, in São Paulo. She loves to dress up at night – heels are a must - but during the day, she prefers dressing down (jeans, flat sandals and a plain t-shirt are her standard get-up). Ana’s favourite shops in Brazil are Daslu, Forum, Reinaldo Lourenço and, for beachwear, Lenny.


Daslu: Av. Juscelino Kubitschek, 2041, São Paulo, tel. (55-11) 4841-4000
Click here to see map

Forum: Rua Oscar Freire, 916, São Paulo, tel. (55-11) 3085-6269

Reinaldo Lourenço: Rua Bela Cintra, 2167, Jardins
São Paulo Telefones 55 11 3085-8150 / 7755-2429

Lenny boutiques in Rio:

Lenny boutiques in São Paulo:

More São Paulo shopping on this blog:

Mar 21, 2010

Pedra Azul : trekking the mountains of Espírito Santo state

by Antonella Kann

You won´t find the name of Pedra Azul ( Blue Rock) by itself in a common guide book. That´s because this place is best known for being the landmark of the Parque Florestal of Pedra Azul, a state park located in the county of Domingos Martins, 88 quilometres away from Vitória´s airport.

And if you think that the state of Espírito Santo is only about its coastline, here´s the surprise: there´s much more than sea and beach to look forward to, and you should definitely check this mountain range close to the capital.

The landmark Pedra Azul and its famous "Lizzard "rock
Although off-the-beaten path and not so popular as many other fancy spots of this southeastern state, the region is worth visiting, specially for its great surroundings, fresh air and preserved natural beauty. The main attraction is the 12km2 park, of course, and its 1909 meters high peak, which got its name due to the blue tonality reflected on the rock at some moments of the day.

But the original touch is due to a natural sculpture on its right slope, known as the Pedra do Lagarto ( the Lizzard Rock), because depending from which angle the sun is, it really resembles to a gigantic reptile climbing up the slope. Seen from the bottom , it´s really impressing.

A perfect choice for those fans of ecotourism, as there are long walks around the park, in open fields, during which you can pick up wild berries and watch wild animals from the brazilian fauna, like the tamanduá and threatened species of micos ( tiny monkeys ).

For those really fit, there´s a trail to reach the upper levels of the Pedra Azul, where there are a few natural pools carved inside the rock. So, after at least one hour hike, you´ll be able to refresh and admire the idyllic view while taking a rewarding dip in the icy waters.

You can go trekking all year round, at any day of the week. But, bear in mind that it´s a state park, where it´s not allowed to hike on your own. Local guides are available to take people up the rock, and the hikes are scheduled to start every morning around 8 and finish at noon.

Lately, several hotels have opened around the park and tourism has developed pretty fast. Almost all the pousadas have sauna, swimming pool and sometimes even a tennis court. Most of the rooms have their own fireplace, as in the forthcoming months of winter, temperatures tend to drop quite heavily if compared to the ones in coastal towns. That's why it became fashionable for local restaurants to offer fondue on their menu.
Wild little monkeys, called "micos", come as close as they can.

Mar 16, 2010

Papagaio, a refuge under the southern sun

by Antonella Kann

In the southern state of Santa Catarina, only 40 kms from the airport of capital Florianopolis, there is an island called Papagaio - which means parrot. It´s not exactly Fantasy Island, but almost. Framed by abundant tropical vegetation, it´s home to one and only property, the exclusive Pousada Papagaio, member of the Conde Nast Johansens chain as well as Brazil´s Roteiros de Charme, which selects the best establishments in the country.
An ideal spot for those seeking coziness and complete privacy, allied with comfort and pampering. Only 20 bungalows are spread out within a huge setting, some have seaviews and others garden views. I suggest either number 1 or 2, as they almost drop into the water and from your private veranda you can watch the sunset - it´s really awesome. Fireplace, internet, plasma TV, dvd, you name it – they´ve got everything on the list to make your stay memorable.

Although you may expect an early winter, with cooler temperatures around 20º C , you can still lounge on the pousada´s private beach, have a swim in the sea or the pool, enjoy watersports or do a bit of exploring walking through trails around the island. At some point, there´s a chance of spotting migrating whales.

You´ll be agreeably surprised by local gastronomy : the pousada has its own restaurant where guests are offered Thai specialties, Japanese and Italian food, plus a signature dish, the home made paella.

The climate there is always cooler and the sea hosts the most reputed quality of oysters and clams. Be sure to visit one of those farms and enjoy the best seafood for incredible prices.

Pousada Ilha do Papagaio.

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Mar 12, 2010

Rio guide, this month in übercool Monocle magazine

By Alexandra Forbes

The world's coolest magazines are V, Wallpaper and Monocle. In my opinion, of course.

So this month Monocle did a Rio guide, and launched it with a party at the Fasano Rio rooftop pool lounge.

They got most of it right: Roberta Sudbrack is indeed a great spot for dinner à deux, and Bar do Copa is the hottest bar for late drinks, for example.

However, they also recommend a couple of places that... I certainly would NOT.

Marina All Suites is a "dependable chain" of hotels, they say. I say no way in hell, my good friend Karin had a nightmare experience there over New Year's, leaking toilets, horrible service, no umbrellas offered despite incessant rain, slow-to-arrive breakfast, etc.

Daniela, another good friend, also had a terrible experience at the Marina.
I myself have stayed there and... the rooms are small, the tall windows don't take advantage of the gorgeous views, the décor is on the tacky side...

Anyways, that's just an example. Overall, though, great tips for those traveling to Rio, and they even offer a PDF version of it on their site so you can download and print all the addresses.

Check them out clicking on this link.

Mar 7, 2010

Jericoacoara is still an authentic fishermens´village with special privileges

by Antonella Kann
Jericoacoara, a fishermen´s village located 330 kms from Fortaleza, was discovered by the hippies in the 70´s and remained untouched by “modern” civilization until a decade ago, as even electricity was unavailable. And when tourists slowly appeared, many from overseas, Jeri – as it is called among the Brazilians – became a favorite spot for those in search of unspoilt natural beauty, calm sea, hospitable people and warm climate.

Although now the village is boosting with all types of charming restaurants serving from typical seafood to sophisticated fusion recipes, cosy inns as well as boutique hotels, attractive shops and a wide range of outdoor activities offered by several local tour operators, it has not lost its original languorous and laid-back atmosphere, which are genuine characteristics of the northeastern part of Brazil.

The coast of Ceará runs parallel to the Equator, which makes it different from the rest of the Brazilian coastline. For this reason, the best time to go to Jeri is from June to January, which locals describe as “summer”, when it never rains. This period also attracts windsurfers, as weather conditions are perfect for the practice of all sports related to sailing.

Getting to Jericoacoara is not so complicated: from Fortaleza airport you can either rent a car at the airport ( Hertz, Avis, Localiza, Unidas, Europecar & other companies) and drive along the BR-222. Best option is to leave you car in Jijoca and have your hotel provide you with adequate 4x4 transfer from there to Jeri and back at the end of your stay. Your car will be kept safe too. It´s not advisable to risk driving by yourself as the sandy road is tricky.

One of the palafita´s room in Vila Kalango
Consider staying in one of these pousadas: Pousada Vila Kalango Charm and rusticity combined in comfy accommodations amidst coconut trees. If you can, book the rooms perched on “palafitas” (perched 5meters above the sand) with panoramic view to the sea, beach and dunes. Luxury with an Asian touch. Perfect choice for couples in search of total privacy. Check their interesting rates for March, April and May. Or MosquitoBlue .Top of the list hotel with large accommodations and international standard of comfort. Large swimming pool. Ideal for families with small children. Located in front of the beach and also at stone´s throw of the center of the village.

As the beaches are part of a National Park, you can walk for miles without a soul on sight. The sea is calm and the water warm. Now and then, there is a very simple and rustic hut selling beer and coconut water to quench your thirst and tempt you with grilled shrimps. On the other end, the devices used to carry the tourists from one place to another have been upgraded.

Though donkey rides are still available and quite folkloric, nowadays it became common practice to rent a buggy with a driver (it is mandatory) and explore the region through the coastline while the tides are down. This rustic vehicle with large tires is perfectly adequate for sandy terrain and the most reliable way to reach other attractive faraway sites and beaches. The journeys are thrilling as it will usually include river crossing and experience roller coasting on white sand dunes. Consider Tatajuba, 36 kilometers from Jeri, or the Blue Lagoon where you can soak in dark sweet water.

Mangue Seco is only 5 kilometers away from the village and Jijoca´s lagoon is an excellent spot for windsurfing. But before booking with the local tour operators located in the centre of the village, compare prices and discuss the fare beforehand. The former most attractive program still persists: walk or rent a horse and head for Pedra Furada, the rock formation with a hole- the eternal post card. It is a one- hour ride or two-hours hike to this small beach along trails and cliffs, and the view is fabulous. You can spend some time in the beach or take a rest before returning.

Beware of the heat and always protect head and body from the sun, which is known to be even stronger in this part of Brazil. And while talking about the sunset, it is still the most sought-after show on earth. Daily, around 5:30 p.m., a crowd begins the ascend to the 30 meters high Sunset Dune, the highest in Jeri. Some people walk, others ride up on horseback, with the same goal in mind: to watch step by step the rays as they start spreading across the ocean while the sun gently falls into the line of the horizon and disappear into the sea as an enormous ball of fire. When it´s over, the public cheers, acclaims and applauds.

The ritual of climbing the dune to watch the sunset