I finally get it. Everyone knows that Brazilian gals wear butt floss for a bikini bottom, but for some reason I’ve never put two and two together. When referring to the coochie wax that bears this great country’s name, I now see the light. Ofcourse they have to have that part of their bod waxed to perfection, those bikini bottoms do not leave much to the imagination. One false move – or even a slight sneeze – and WHAM, one could easily expose the entire farm. But Brazil isn’t just a place to ogle over fantastically fit people; it’s arguably the most passionate part of South America. Home to samba and serious public displays of affection, Brazil is the perfect place for adventure seekers or simply somewhere to fall in love.
First of all, Brazil is a massive and insanely diverse country. Unless you have several months to spend, don’t arrive with the expectation of seeing it all. If you only have a few weeks, pick 1 or 2 spots and really soak it in. For me it was Rio and an island in the south called Florianópolis, or Floripa as the locals call it. So I’m going to split this post into two sections, starting with what is now one of my fave cities.
If this city isn’t already on your bucket list, you may want to reconsider. Teeming with energy – and yes, beautiful people – Rio is the perfect mix of chaos and bohemian counterculture; sophistication and a poverty stricken subclass, making it the juxtaposition of South America. On one hand you have the 5th strongest economy in the world. On the other, you have Latin America’s largest favela housing 200,000 of the city’s poorest inhabitants. Sound familiar Vancouver?
We stayed in a hotel right on Copacabana beach (is the song in your head yet?), a few doors down from the famous Copacabana Palace. The beach is lined with universal gyms, misting machines and little cafes selling beer, empanadas and coconuts for 3 real apiece. With a few swings of the bartender’s machete, you are presented with the most refreshing bevie on the beach, aside from the ciprianis of course. The views are stunning as the beach is lined with palms and has giant, majestic peaks at either end. Christ the Redeemer is visible from a mountaintop to the west and hard bodies are a dime a dozen. In fact, Rio’s Gay Pride Parade made its way down the beach the first night we were there. Thousands of sculpted, scantily clad men coming at me in droves…talk about fantastic timing.
Next door to Copacabana is another famous beach, with a slightly more upscale vibe. Ipanema, which inspired a rather nostalgic song from the 60s, is where you’ll find your designer shops, high-end eateries and some of the city’s hottest night spots. Looking to hook up with a footballer who plays for Flamengo? Be sure to mingle your way through this stylish neighborhood.
You could easily spend all of your days lounging on the beach, but this city has so much more to offer. Here are some of my must-sees while in Rio:
Soak in some of the best city views from iconic Christ the Redeemer
Take the gondola to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain for sunset
Head to Lapa for some Samba and great live music venues
Take a street car to the quaint neighborhood of Santa Teresa
Visit Escadaria Selarón – a mosaic tile masterpiece
Stroll through Centro and stop by the super modern Metropolitan Cathedral
Do not miss out on touring a Favela – I recommend going with BeALocal.com
If you’re looking for a place to get yer party on, Baronetti and Nuth are probably Rio’s most popular nightclubs. However, I recommend the pedestrian streets of Lapa which are lined with locals, Samba clubs and live music. I was not at all a fan of the food, but if you like chop houses, deep-fried provolone and cod fish stew, you’ll be in gastronomic heaven.
Beautiful Floripa, 500 km southwest of Sao Paulo, is a massive island closely connected to the mainland by bridge, boasting about 50 different beaches. Mecca for surfers and sun worshipers – such as I – there are a few different ways to explore this increasingly popular part of Brazil. The northern part of the island is more populated and plays host to celebrities and the more deep pocketed travelers. The south is secluded, quiet and incredibly underdeveloped. The middle – where we stayed – offers the best vantage point if you hope to take in a little bit of both.
We stayed in Lagoa da Conceição, a quaint little town situated alongside the island’s massive fresh water lagoon. There’s a nice mix of restaurants, shops and bars and a handful of decent hotels. I say decent because Floripa is still an emerging destination, but there are a few viable options in terms of accommodation. We stayed at the Samuka Hotel, walking distance to Lagao Centro and Praia Mole, rated the best beach on the island. It’s also 1 block from the lagoon and a short walk to a charming strip of bars and popular local hangouts with live music, usually starting up around noon until late. Here’s my list of must-sees in Floripa:
Stroll the board walk along Lagoa da Conceição and lunch in Lagoa Centro
Watch word-class surfers while eating giant grilled shrimp at Praia Mole
Strap on a pseudo snowboard and tear down the Joaquina sand dunes
Spend the day at Praia da Joaquina for stellar swimming and beach time
Have lunch in the quaint fishing village of Barra da Lagoa
Grab a java and people watch at the foot of the cathedral in Floripa Centro
I found the food to be a bit more enticing here as seafood is abundant. Café Cultura in Lagoa Centro is a great place to grab coffee or lunch. Chilli Cocina Mexicana, again in Lagoa Centro, has surprisingly authentic Mexican and live music every night. There a several little family-run places along the Lagoon and no shortage of bars and cafes. If you’re in Floripa Centro, stop in at Cantina di Bernardi for a truly fabulous meal.
Stayed tuned for my next post on Buenos Aires. For now, I’ll leave you with a cool quote I spotted on a tile at Escadaria Selarón in Lapa…
Living in a favela is an art. Nobody robs. Nobody hears. Nothing is lost. Those who are wise obey those who give orders.