Brazil commemorated a record 6 million visitors in 2013 with a party for Nadia Panis, a tourist from Argentina who arrived at Tom Jobim International Airport (Galeão) in Rio de Janeiro this morning aboard TAM flight JJ8003, from Buenos Aires. She was greeted by representatives of Embratur, Brazil's official tourism institute, and local tourism officials with a jingle created specially for the occasion, big screens showing her reception, brigadeiros and a big gift - a trip to Búzios.
Reaching 6 million international visitors in a year is a milestone which has broken a 5-million mark Brazil first reached in 2005.
"Despite international crises, Brazil is establishing itself as as a touristic destination in the eyes of the world," said Embratur president Flávio Dino. "We hope to reach 10 million international tourists in 2020, but with great events such as the World Cup, our expectation is to reach that number in 2017."
Nadia Panis is visiting Rio on vacation with a group of friends. Argentina leads the ranking of international visitors in Brazil, with 1,671,604 tourists in 2012 (29.4% of the total), followed by the US, with 586,463 visitors (10.3%) in 2012, according to Brazil's Ministry of Tourism.
Porto de Galinhas, a district of Ipojuca located about 40 miles south of central Recife, is one of the top beach destinations near the capital of Pernambuco. High-end Village Porto de Galinhas, on Praia do Cupe, is unfolding a series of special events this month which show why culinary and entertainment are among its strongest suits.
This week, the toes-in-the-sand hotel is hosting the Village Wine & Gourmet Week, featuring wine tasting (60 labels!) and pairing with the culinary of Spain, Italy, Portugal and Spain in theme dinners, plus lectures and workshops, cocktails, wine- and culinary-themed movies and musical performances. A sure-handed ensemble of chefs - Brazilian Leandro Ricardo, from Pernambuco, and Italian Augusto Piras, from S. Paulo; boulangers - Eda Tavares and Mariane Bagodi, from S. Paulo; and performers such as Spanish musician Fernando Arroyo and flamenco dancers are making the event happen, hopefully one of many more to come.
Kids are in for a treat with Recife-based Circo da Trindade, setting up tent at the hotel from Dec. 19 to 22 and 26 to 29 as a sequence to a partnership started in 2012. There's more family time with Natal Village Porto de Galinhas, Christmas packages with promotional prices for families with young kids, a visit from Santa, live music by the pool and Christmas dinner included.
Then there's Réveillon Canarinho, the New Year's Eve party with dinner, a show with Gustavo Travassos, official singer for Galo da Madrugada parades, and his band, and Banda Britannia Project and DJs till sunrise.
For more information, call 55-81-3552-2945 / 55-81-3552-4222 / 55-81-3552-4200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recife, Host City in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
Photo courtesy of Village Porto de Galinhas
The lighting celebration of the Bradesco Christmas Tree at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, in Rio de Janeiro, is starting at 8 p.m. at the Cantagalo Park, and it will be shown live online ("ao vivo") on the official website (www.arvorenatalbradescoseguros.com.br).
Rio's most famous Christmas season symbol is, according to Bradesco, the world's largest floating Christmas tree. In its 18th edition, this year the 85-meter tall, 542-ton tree has the theme "A Celebration of Life", with decorations revolving around Water, Air, Forests and Humans - there will be dolphins, birds, butterflies, tamarins and many other related elements . The lighting festival is a musical inspired in Charles Dickens and Chris Van Allsburg.
As of tomorrow, the tree will be lit daily until January 6 from Monday to Thursday from dusk to 2 a.m. and from Friday to Sunday from dusk to 3 a.m.
World travelers with an eye on Brazil as it gets ready for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will hear more and more about Grande Tijuca from now on. This region on the southern end of Rio's North Side (Zona Norte) comprises several districts - Tijuca, Alto da Boa Vista (with the gate to Tijuca Forest), Grajaú, Praça da Bandeira, Vila Isabel, Andaraí (where I spent my childhood) and, most importantly for the soccer traveler, Maracanã, the neighborhood around the Maracanã Stadium.
There are lots of great places to eat in Tijuca, some of them with a lot of history, which is why I'm kicking off a series on the area's attractions with Bar Varnhagen, opened in 1944 and which happens to be located just half a mile from the arena. Last time I was in Tijuca, I had no time to stop by, so I asked them for recent photos to help show what an authentic, laid-back Tijuca botequim is all about.
The bar is at Varnhagen Square, currently under construction as it's the site for one of the deep detention reservoirs (informally known as piscinões, or big pools) that are part of a broader project for the prevention of flash floods in the Mangrove Canal Basin (you may remember how the stadium, then under reconstruction, was flooded last March after a storm). But that's not stopping customers from enjoying this corner with large trees.
Pet birds in cages, if not a unanimous crowd-pleaser, are part of the local culture as well; in the past, the bar became informally known as Bar dos Passarinhos for being a meeting point for pet bird owners.
Inside, the shelf in baby blue, the counters and wall tiles in lavender and white say this is an old botequim.
Note the Portugal flag: until not long ago, the Portuguese owner of the Varnhagen, Dona Natalina, was still cooking her famous codfish appetizers and chatting with the customers. Sadly, she passed away last September, but her family continues the culinary she and husband Alberto had going for many years, which includes bacalhau à Portuguesa, a codfish special.
More food: fried pork chops - here, with a cerveja gelada, or an icy cold beer.
The octopus rice and broccoli.
With many thanks to Cidália, Toninho and Andréa. All photos courtesy of Andréa Mendes for Bar Varnhagen.
Rio is getting ready for the first phase of the implosion of the Perimetral Viaduct. The implosion, part of Porto Maravilha, the revitalization project for Rio's port zone, is scheduled for 7 a.m. tomorrow.
The demolition of the first 1,050 meters of the viaduct's 4,790 meters will make room for the construction of Via Expressa, the expressway which will replace Perimetral in connecting Aterro do Flamengo to Avenida Brasil and the Rio-Niterói Bridge.
Built in several phases, with its first stretch opened in 1960, Perimetral took a toll on traditional landmarks, mainly a 1908 central market which had replaced a 19th century building. The market, except for one of its five octagonal towers, was torn down to make way for the viaduct. The surviving tower has housed Albamar, one of the city's best seafood restaurants, since 1933.
According to a press release issued by CDURP (the Company for the Urban Development of Rio's Port Region), 1,200 kilograms of explosives will be used tomorrow in an operation involving 232 beams. To cushion the impact, 2,512 tires filled with sand and 2,240 pillars in drums will be used. All posts, wiring and traffic signs were removed from the area; 215,340 square meters of safety netting and 12 seismographs have been installed. Debris cleanup is expected to last at least 60 days, and all the concrete will be recycled and reused in paving projects.
Over 500 professionals are involved in the process, with general coordination by the Civil Defense. At 5 a.m., residents in a radius of 150 meters from the implosion will be evacuated and treated to breakfast in a support area, according to the Company for the Urban Development of Rio's Port Region.
At nearby Morro da Providência, Rio de Janeiro's oldest favela, there's excitement about the implosion despite the fact that Porto Maravilha includes a polemic removal and relocation plan for many of the community members.
Some residents with panoramic views of the port area are renting space on their rooftops. One of the hottest vantage points will be Laje da Jura, or Jura's Rooftop, the weekend restaurant in the home of Juraci Vilela Gomes. According to Jura's FB page (www.facebook.com/lajedajura), reservations have closed. For R$50, the lucky few who made the list will be treated to a hearty breakfast to go with the view of the implosion. Those who didn't can always stop by any other weekend for Jura's award-winning shrimp gnocchi - and remember, there are still 3,740 meters (more than 2.3 miles) of viaduct that will have to go.
Nov.24 update: See photos and watch videos of the implosion on G1.
Photo: Fernando Maia/Riotur (The credit for Fernando Maia has been corrected under the photo.)
Terceira Praia (Third Beach) is one of the delightful beaches in Morro de São Paulo, Cairu. You'll probably visit it at one time or another, no matter where you stay in Morro, since boat tours of Tinharé, the island where Morro is located, and neighboring Boipeba depart from here.
I am very grateful to Brazilian journalist Eliane de Souza, who I made friends with on a recent press trip to Belém, for sharing her impressions and photos of Terceira Praia. She took them last weekend when she visited Morro during the annual Spring Festival and covered the opening of Bahia Bacana, a pousada on Primeira Praia (First Beach).
As shared in recent posts, my first visit to Cairu was during a very rainy spell in June of last year, the lowest of seasons, when some pousadas and restaurants close for a while. The boats our group took to Boipeba:
The boat had to stay where you see it so it wouldn't get stuck in the sand. I'm 5'10'' tall and therefore made it aboard with only the rims of my shorts wet. Still, that was a very chilly ride to Boipeba, at high speed and with the rain beating on our faces. What helped was the life vest.
In this other photo, you can see Terceira Praia boats in the center. The shot was taken from the corner of Terceira and Quarta Praias, where our group stayed at the gorgeous Villa dos Corais. I'd gone for an early run on Quarta Praia and when I returned I saw this couple with their dog in the area exposed by the low tide. I'd been thinking that the weather reminded me of photos of the New England coast on cloudy days, and suddenly the dog looked all the more like the one in Andrew Wyeth's Master Bedroom.
I like running on beaches even when it's rainy (for one, because they're more deserted) and only lightning or excessive wind or cold can stop me from going - but I understand it when another traveler responds to that with "What?" Now that June and the rainiest season on the Dende Coast are past, your experience of this beautiful beach is likely to be as warm and sunny as Eliane's, who told me:
"Terceira Praia is cool because it has good restaurants and pousadas, but it's quieter than Segunda, where the real buzz is. There are 4-wheel vehicles transporting tourists around from the pousadas, but it's a short distance to Segunda Praia on the boardwalk.
"The sand on Terceira Praia is soft and in the morning, when the tide is low, you can walk among the coral reefs. The water is warm, and so blue.
"Around lunch time, the tide rises. That's when you can enjoy lobster and seafood dishes at toes-in-the-sand restaurant tables.
"I ate at Baiano, specialized in seafood and regional dishes - fine food, bistro style. I had the shrimp risotto in cachaça with mango. Divine!
"The restaurants offer live music during the meals. Some people mistakenly think arrocha and axé are the only styles you hear in Bahia, but they played lots of rock and Brazilian pop music.
"At night, the shore is again a good bet, with bars playing live music, young people walking around and several fruit kiosks selling caipirinhas. I drank cacao caipirinha, which is served inside the fruit."
- Terceira Praia - Morro de São Paulo, Cairu, Bahia
Now, that sounds and looks more like the tropical paradise Bahia really is, rain or shine. Thank you Eliane!
- Cairu Attractions: Saint Anthony Convent
São Paulo Travel: "Parreiras Family", a Landscape Painting Exhibition at the Maria Luisa and Oscar Americano Foundation
Art lovers traveling in São Paulo before December 15 have the opportunity to enjoy an unprecedented exhibition featuring three outstanding Brazilian landscape painters - "Parreiras Family: Antonio, Edgard and Dakir". The exhibition comprises about 50 works from private collections.
The event presented by SOCIARTE - Friends of the Arts of São Paulo - is also a great reason to visit the splendid Maria Luisa and Oscar Americano Foundation. This immersion into Brazilian art is one of my top picks for things to do in São Paulo if you're in town for the F1 Brazil GP (www.formula1.com) this weekend. The Foundation is in a particularly convenient location for travelers staying in Berrini area hotels.
The artists represented are Antonio Parreiras (Niterói, RJ, 1860-1937), his son Dakir Parreiras (Niterói, RJ, 1894 - Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 1967) and his nephew Edgar Parreiras (Niterói, RJ, 1885-1964). One of the characteristics shared by the three painters is their interest in Brazilian themes, which creates a perfect fit for the venue: the Americanos greatly appreciated Brazil, its art, culture and history.
While browsing photos of the works included and researching more about the three painters, I realized that one of the featured paintings by Antonio Parreiras is "Ventania" ("Strong Wind"), another version of a painting by the same name in Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (see it here, on the Pinacoteca's list of their Antonio Parreiras collection).
Antonio Parreiras, whose house in Niterói became Brazil's first museum dedicated to a single artist (www.museusdoestado.rj.gov.br/map/museu.htm), spent most of his career on the creation of landscapes, but also became known for his nudes and representations of historic themes.
Edgard Parreiras, who studied with his uncle, has the use of earth tones and greens among his strengths.
Dakir Parreiras, who also studied with his father, had a great inclination for painting waterscapes.
SOCIARTE, founded on Jan.25, 1969 when São Paulo was commemorating its 415th anniversary, is a nonprofit organization which has exhibitions, publishing and the cooperation with public institutions as some of their activities in the promotion of São Paulo and Brazilian art. SOCIARTE members frequently loan works from their collections to major exhibitions in Brazil and abroad.
Fundação Maria Luisa e Oscar Americano
Av. Morumbi 4077
Tue-Sun 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission: R$10 (free on the first Saturday of the month)
Like the rest of Cairu, Segunda Praia is a place to enjoy nature, and also to stay busy: lots of special events and great nightlife take place on this beach year round. In June - usually rainier than the rest of the year, but especially so when I visited and took the photo below - there might not be much of a crowd on the beach itself, but plenty of people were just strolling along the boardwalk (part of a great urban requalification project inaugurated in 2011) and enjoying the bars and restaurants along the shore.
- Segunda Praia - Morro de São Paulo, Cairu, Bahia
Other Beaches in Morro de São Paulo:
The author's photo was taken during a press trip to Cairu. Read more on About.com's Ethics Policy.
Morro de São Paulo, one of the top beach destinations in Bahia, will host its 4th Spring Festival (IV Festival de Primavera) next weekend (Nov.14 to 16), an extended holiday in Brazil since Proclamation of the Republic is commemorated on November 15. About 15,000 people are expected on each night of the festival, which will feature shows with famous Brazilian artists and local attractions, including folkloric groups. All the performances are free.
The festival is considered one of the top three events in Morro, along with New Year's Eve and Ressaca de Morro ("Morro Hangover"), a post-Carnival festival. Spring is a great time to visit, with plenty of warm weather and sunshine.
Morro de São Paulo is part of Cairu, an archipelago town comprising 26 islands, which also includes Boipeba, recently chosen by Trip Advisor users as Brazil's most beautiful island. Morro alone, the third most popular tourist destination in the state, receives about 100,000 visitors each year.
Local hotels and pousadas are booked way in advance for the Spring Festival. Earlier this month, the occupancy rate was already at 90%. The event's impact on regional economy is estimated at R$ 7M.
The top shows take place on a stage set up on Segunda Praia. This year, Ju Moraes, Rock'n Rumba and Juliana Moreno will be the headliners on Thursday, November 14. Nando Reis, Diamba and RAM will perform on the 15th. On Saturday, the festival will close with Carlinhos Brown, Batifun and singer Inatê.
If you're going to be in Morro this weekend, look up the complete list of attractions on the official Festival de Primavera website: www.festivaldeprimavera.com.br
Correction: Cairu is completely and exclusively formed by islands; it does not have continental territory.
About 14,000 visitors are expected to attend the 25th Gramado Tourism Festival (Festuris), which starts today in Rio Grande do Sul. One of country's most important tourism trade fairs, Festuris will present 2,500 exhibitors in 350 stands at Serra Park, Gramado's convention center. This year, 65 destinations are represented.
The official opening ceremony will take place at 8 p.m. tonight at Palácio dos Festivais, a venue across from Rua Coberta (Covered Street), a top attraction in Gramado which, like the rest of the town center, is decked out for the ongoing Christmas of Light (Natal Luz).
Last year, the singing of Rio Grande do Sul State's anthem was one of the best moments in the opening ceremony, which included a celebration of Brazil tourism with a samba school performance and the projection of images of outstanding Brazil destinations on a big screen.
This year's main theme in Festuris is sustainability. Other themes and segments to be featured are wine tourism (a top reason to visit Rio Grande do Sul), the meetings industry, LGBT travel, and accessibility - last year's main theme - with the launching of the Mamuth, an equipment for more inclusive airports, as one of the highlights (see the previous post).
The author visited the 24th Festuris on a press trip. See About.com's Ethics Policy.
Photos courtesy of Festuris.