Monday May 20, 2013
Gruta do Lago Azul (Blue Lake Cave). Photo courtesy of Hostel Beija-Flor. View full-size
A super backpacker destination and an ecotourism and adventure travel paradise, Bonito, in Mato Grosso do Sul, has gotten a little more feasible for student travel with the opening of Hostel Beija-Flor and its travel agency.
Brigitte, the owner, is from Switzerland. English, French, German and Portuguese are spoken at the hostel with a family atmosphere, with a continental buffet breakfast included in the rates and rooms (2-4 beds) with A/C and a bathroom. Wi-Fi is included.
Blue Lake Cave (above), waterfalls, white water rafting, diving and snorkeling in Bonito and neighboring areas in Southern Pantanal can all be arranged through Brigitte's agency; so can visits to local farms.
Rua Luiz da Costa Leite 1028
Bonito - MS
Monday May 20, 2013
A symbol of luxury travel in Brazil, Hotel Unique is on many of the world's it-lists; one of my favorite is "30 projetos - Obras-chave para entender a arquitetura nacional" ("30 Projects - Key Works to Understand National Architecture"), on ARCOWeb. The hotel's crimson rooftop pool with one of the best views of the São Paulo skyline has celebrity status.
Aesthetics and service really come together at the Ruy Ohtake-designed hotel in the Jardins district, which I thoroughly enjoyed visiting for a tour, even more so because I admire Ohtake's architecture immensely (as I do the art of his mother, Tomie Ohtake, and the research work and publications by his brother, designer and graphic artist Ricardo Ohtake).
The hotel's 7.5-meter-tall door and the reception area. Patricia Ribeiro. View full-size
Senses are alternately jolted and soothed at the Unique, also thanks to landscaping by Gilberto Elkis, interiors by João Armentano, and intriguing objects everywhere, like this large statue of Saint George to the left of the hotel entrance (the dragon is an addition, staff said) or the Boa sofa by the Campana brothers.
The avenue the hotel is located on is busy - after the tour, I took a bus at a stop across the street to Paulista Avenue - but the suites are islands of peace in the megalopolis, and nearby Ibirapuera Park is like a green shield.
Culinary by Emmanuel Bassoleil, one of Brazil's greatest chefs, attracts guests and non-guests from all over the world to rooftop Skye Bar & Restaurant, here seen with the water mirror which lights up the lobby six floors below.
Last September, the Unique turned 10, without fuss. But Ruy Ohtake specially designed limited edition t-shirts for the occasion, benefiting Laramara - an association supporting people with visual impairments, founded by Mara and Victor Siaulys in 1991 and directed by their youngest daughter Lara Siaulys, who lost her sight as an infant. Her siblings, Jonas Siaulys and Tatiana Siaulys Zanchetta, own the Unique and the also stunning Unique Garden, respectively.
Thursday May 16, 2013
Rio de Janeiro's Historic Downtown (Centro Histórico) just keeps getting better and better, thanks to the reurbanization of the area, restored cultural landmarks such as Theatro Municipal and its restaurants and happy hour.
Rua do Rosário is one of the attractive streets in Centro Histórico which has a string of handsome historical constructions, some of which now house eateries. The rosary in the street's name evokes a church located on Rua Uruguaiana where it intersects with Rosário: Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário e São Benedito dos Homens Pretos, where a new museum dedicated to African-Brazilian heritage opened last Monday, May 13 (Abolition of Slavery Day in Brazil).
Rua do Rosário has a historic church of its own - Igreja da Venerável Ordem de Nossa Senhora da Conceição e Boa Morte, built in 1735. It's on the corner of Avenida Rio Branco.
The street has several places to eat, from nice franchises such as Spoleto (at #140) to one-of-a-kind spots or branches of nice multi-address restaurants such as these:
- At #24:Casual Retro
Portuguese food is one of Rio's strengths, and this place is no exception to the appetizing rule.
- At #30: Al-Farabi
A unique spot (restaurant + book shop) serving Middle Eastern food.
- At #34: Brasserie Rosario
A well-known Rio fave with live music (including fine jazz)
- At #36: Lampadosa
I learned from Rio de Janeiro culinary writer Fabio Codeço about this new place (opened last April) by Luciano Pires, owner of Cais do Oriente, and his fiancee, chef Simone Almeida.
- At #84: Expresso dos Alpes
Ana Rita Ulyssea's cute cafe serves light meals as well as coffee, chocolate and pastries.
- At #107: Esch
The Leblon branch of Rio's famous cigar lounge (which also has a São Paulo address) gets more hype and celebs, but this spot has a vibe all its own.
Right across from Expresso dos Alpes is one side of the outstanding Galeria Sul America, designed by J. Gire and R. Prentice and with retrofit by Tishman Speyer. The building with a ground floor open to the public occupies the block outlined by Rua da Quitanda, Rua do Rosário, Rua do Carmo and Rua do Ouvidor.
Note that because the area has so many office buildings, public institutions and shops, many of the eateries close on weekends; check opening hours before you go.
Photos by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur
Wednesday May 15, 2013
Unidos da Tijuca MC Juninho, Paulo Barros, Fernando Horta, Viviane Senna and Unidos da Tijuca flag bearer Rute in the official theme launch yesterday. Exclusiva Comunicação/Unidos da Tijuca. View full-size
Unidos da Tijuca, one of the top samba schools in Rio de Janeiro, will commemorate F1 racing car driver Ayrton Senna (1960-1994) in their 2014 Carnival parade.
The theme was officially announced last night in an event at Cidade do Samba which was attended by Viviane Senna, Ayrton's sister and the president of Instituto Ayrton Senna, as well as by carnavalesco (Carnival director) Paulo Barros and Unidos da Tijuca president Fernando Horta.
Horta said that he had long wanted to pay homage to the famous driver, who died in an accident on Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. "I always followed F1 and I was an Ayrton Senna fan," said Horta. "It is fitting that I should fulfill my old wish [and pay homage to Senna] in 2014, when it will be 20 years since he left us."
Paulo Barros, whose creativity has led to a series of stunning Unidos da Tijuca parades in recent years, including the 2010 and 2012 titles, said that this is more than a biographical theme. "Ayrton is symbol of heroism, thrills, emotion, passion. That's what I'll bring to the avenue."
Viviane Senna said she felt honored by the school's decision: "It couldn't be in better hands; Paulo puts feeling and his heart into his work, as my brother did." As president of IAS, she continues her brother's wish to do something for Brazilian children. The non-governmental organization dedicated to education and development has helped 2 million children in 1,500 cities.
Unidos da Tijuca: