RIO RESTAURANT WEEK (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) May 21st-June 3rd, 2012…ok, maybe more than a week! :)

With more than 50 restaurants joining the list for this year’s Rio Restaurant Week, there are sure to be too many choices to be able to hit all that will end up on your TOP choices list.  This year the price is R$31,90 for lunch and R$43,90 for dinner (these set prices do not include service fees or any covers).  Most restaurants have at least two selections of each an appetizer, main course and desert.  For more information and to see the prefixed menus at all the listed restaurants, please visit the official site:

http://www.restaurantweek.com.br/rj

 

Santa Teresa: neighbourhood guide-TimeOut Rio de Janeiro

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Santa Teresa: neighbourhood guide

Discover a romantic land of cobbled streets a world away from Ipanema

 
Photo by Julia Martin

While the majority of Rio’s new arrivals will head straight to the golden sands of Ipanema and Copacabana, Santa Teresa has become a rival for the more adventurous tourists’ affections over the past few years. Cobbled streets, idiosyncratic architecture and its remote hillside location make Santa, as the locals call it, an enchanting diversion from the high-rise apartments of Zona Sul.

Romantic certainly, but also a bit of a pain to get to. Until August 2011, jumping aboard the rickety yellow trams to get to this secluded spot was a staple on the tourist agenda, but following a tragic accident in which six people died, all the trams have been taken off the road for major repairs. Your best bet is either to take the 006 or 014 bus from Centro, or see if you can persuade a taxi driver to make the climb.

Get out at Largo do Curvelo and drink in the sweeping view of Guanabara Bay before taking the short walk to Parque das Ruínas. This once-grand mansion fell into ruins after the death of its owner in 1946, and its innovative glass-and-ironwork restoration uses the shell of what was left in a striking fusion of the old and the new. As well as having a spectacular view of its own, Parque das Ruínas sits alongside Museu da Chácara do Céu, the neighbourhood’s principal art museum that includes works by Miró and Matisse and was the site of a famous robbery in 2006.

Santa Teresa is synonymous with bohemian living, and the largely arty population opens its studio doors to the public once a year for a weekend of festivities known as Portas Abertas (Open Doors). Usually held around June, expect impromptu jazz in the streets and a feast of exhibitions all day and night long.

From Largo do Curvelo, head up to Largo do Guimarães, the closest thing this neighbourhood has to a centre. The flocks of tourists have precipitated a crop of stores and street stalls here flogging as much ten-a-penny jewellery as original artefacts you might actually want to take home with you, so a safer bet for art lovers is to ring ahead and make an appointment at one of the many studios such as the unusual Ateliê Pedro Grapiuna. Also worth a visit is the Casa Alegre gallery and pousada, where guests are treated to works of art from new artists even in their bedrooms. Run by long-time Santa resident and Italian native Stefano, the pousada also offers cooking courses, massage and yoga as well as the exhibition space in a beautiful old house.

There are many winding routes down from Santa to ground level. Some are safer than others as a result of the surrounding poverty, but a daylight wander down Rua Monte Alegre offers up the incongruous sight of the Russian orthodox church, Santa Zenaide (Rua Monte Alegre 210, 21 2252 1471), it’s golden dome visible from various viewpoints across Santa. Further up the same road is the Centro Cultural Laurinda Santos Lobo (Rua Monte Alegre 306, 21 2242 9741), which has a rather haphazard selection of cultural events showing, from photographic exhibitions to yoga weekends.

The white Castelo Valentim is another striking curio, and at almost the highest point of Rua Almirante Alexandro is visible even from some parts of Centro. The fairytale castle, now divided into flats, was commissioned by a loner Belgian immigrant to Santa Teresa at the beginning of the last century and left to his architect when he died. It is not open to visitors but makes for some dramatic photos with its rich green backdrop of the forest. SImilarly stand-out from afar is the old Convento Santa Teresa (Ladeira Santa Teresa 52,21 2224 1040). Though a pleasant enough building in itself, the convent is significant in this neighbourhood’s history as Santa Teresa itself developed after sisters Jacinta and Francisca Rodrigues Ayres gained permission to build the convent in 1750.

Culinarily speaking, Santa Teresa is crammed with restaurants making the most of the scenic setting. Those feeling flush shouldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the view from Térèze, the sublimely romantic bar and restaurant in Hotel Santa Teresa but a “treehouse” booth in nearby Aprazível with its views of Centro and beyond, makes for a memorable meal too. Hearty dishes to suit more modest budgets can be found at Simplesmente or Bar do Arnaudo, both close to Guimarães, while seafood lovers are in for a treat at both Sobrenatural and Amazonian specialists Espirito Santa a little further down the track. For a totally authentic experience, Quentinha on Rua Almirante Alexandro just beyond Espirito Santa looks like someone’s front room, but serves home cooked plates of meat, beans and rice with a spectacular view of Centro, at great prices. Just don’t expect the speediest service in the world.

When the sun goes down the hillside springs to life and the bohemian residents of Santa line the streets outside the numerous bars for a spot of bate-papo (chat). Join them for a shot of artesanal cachaça at time-honoured Bar do Gomes, or admire the art on the walls of Bar do Mineiro while sipping an ice-cold beer. German-themed Mike’s Haus may not attract the same size of crowds, but the towering, juicy house Mike’s Burger is the perfect late-night filler to round off the day.

10 of the world's best city beaches…and #1 is….Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro!

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10 of the world’s best city beaches

Strip away the suit and indulge your tropical fantasies at these cities by the sea

By Duncan Forgan 23 May, 2012

When you hear the word “city,” what do you think of?

Skyscrapers? Traffic jams? Great restaurants? Bad service?

How about beaches?

There are some cities where the working class can strip off the suit and tie, jump into the swimming shorts or bikini and enjoy a day with their toes in the sand without having to leave the urban perimieter.

By talking with our well-traveled friends and colleagues, collating data from tourism authorities and using our own experiences, we’ve put together a list of what we think make up 10 of the best city beaches in the world.

No doubt you’ve got your own. We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

 

1. Ipanema Beach, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Ipanema Beach, Rio De Janiero

A beautiful beach, but take care in the currents.

Ipanema was famed long before Vinícius de Moraes and Tom Jobim composed their 1962 ode to one of the “tall and tanned and young and lovely” females that still throng the beach.

“The Girl From Ipanema,” however, perfectly encapsulates the eternal allure of the 1,600-meter-long, 90-meter deep stretch of white sand. Majestic granite peaks create a spectacular backdrop while the Cagarras Islands in the distance offer a counterpoint to the brilliant blue of the Atlantic.

This is the place where the dental-floss bikini and the crocheted G-string for men made their debuts, however, and it’s the sight of the beautiful people of the Cidade Maravilhosa strutting their scantily clad stuff that makes for arguably the most compelling spectacle.

Lowdown (marks out of 5)

Cleanliness: 4 — Ipanema is regarded by Cariocas (Rio natives) as the city’s cleanest beach.

Visual stimulus: 5 — Need we explain?

Food/drink options: 5 — Hawkers ply the sand selling everything from cold beer and caipirinhas to grilled sticks of halloumi cheese, while the streets that back the beach host some of the Rio’s best restaurants.

Safe swimming: 2 — The word Ipanema translates from native Indian as “bad, dangerous waters” and the undertow and the crashing waves should not be underestimated.

Party factor: 5 — Rio’s inland districts have the edge when it comes to partying down but Ipanema’s clubs are no slouches either.


CNN ranks the coolest nationalities….and the winner is…..Brazilians?

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The world’s coolest nationalities: Where do you rank?

We know, we’re lame for ranking the world’s coolest people — which is why we can only wish we were on the list

By Barry Neild 21 January, 2011

s it possible to call an entire nation cool? Is it fair to say one nation is more cool than another?

Given that most countries have their own share of murderers, tyrants and reality TV stars, the answer is unequivocally — yes.

To help sort the cool from the less fortunate, we’ve compiled this list of the hippest peoples on the planet. No easy task when faced with almost 250 possible candidates.

The main problem is, of course, every nationality in the world believes it is the coolest — with the exception of Canadians, who are far too self-deprecating for that sort of thing.

Ask a man from Kyrgyzstan which people cut the biggest dash and he will say, “the Kyrgyz.” Who knows (seriously, who would know?) he might be right.

Ask a Norwegian and he will carefully finish chewing his mouthful of Thai green curry, take a swig of Thai Singha beer, gaze wistfully across the Thai resort of Phuket at the sunshine that eludes his country for 10 months of the year, then mumble softly, with a semi-suicidal lack of conviction: “Norwegians.”

Equally perplexing is how to define cool. Are Italians cool because some wear tightly fitting designer suits? Are the Russians uncool because some favor outmoded sportswear and pro-wrestling hairstyles?

Are the Swiss too neutral to be cool or uncool?

Before you start punching your computer screen in nationalistic indignation at your own country’s omission from our cool list — or the lazy stereotypes it inevitably falls back on for cheap laughs — remember, if you care that much about being cool then you, valued reader, simply ain’t cool.

 

1. Brazilians

Brazillians

Celebrating their number-one ranking at Copacabana Beach is way cooler than reading this article.

Without Brazilians we wouldn’t have samba and Rio carnival; we wouldn’t have the soccer beauty of Pele and Ronaldo; we wouldn’t have the minuscule swimwear and toned bodies of Copacabana beach; and we wouldn’t have certain eye-watering procedures performed with wax.

Unless they’re using their sexy, laid-back, party-loving reputation as a cover for exterminating dolphins or invading Poland, then we have no choice but to name Brazilians as the coolest people on the planet.

So, if you’re Brazilian and reading this, congratulations — although, since you’re sitting at a computer instead of showing off your six-pack on the shoreline, you probably aren’t that cool yourself.

Icon of cool: Seu Jorge. The favela-raised performer’s soulful Portuguese-language Bowie covers make you wish Ziggy Stardust was from Brazil, not space.

Not so cool: Mmmmm, Brazilian meat and cocoa — so delicious, but farming’s destruction of vast tracts of rainforest leaves a bitter aftertaste.

Rio de Janeiro #1 destination in Brazil-TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award (2012)

Travelers' Choice 2012THE BEST DESTINATIONS

Top 10 Destinations in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Rio has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world—and some of the skimpiest bikinis. That’s the norm here, so you’d better not stare. But you’ll also want to explore the city itself, which has beautiful architecture. The cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar) offers beautiful views of the city. Ride it at sunset if you can!

AND the rest of the TOP 10 DESTINATIONS IN BRAZIL:

Florianopolis was dubbed by Brazilian weekly Veja as “the best place to live in Brazil”, so it’s only natural that tourists would want to check it out, too. And do they ever. Florianopolis is a thriving destination for its perfect beaches, excellent surfing, amazing seafood, and juxtaposition of a modern megacity with 16th-century colonial fortresses and relaxed markets and parks.

The largest city in South America, Sao Paulo’s cuisine and art is as multinational as its diverse population of 10 million. With the restaurants of the Jardins district serving every food imaginable to diners from around the world, you wouldn’t be out of place going to Sao Paulo just for the dining. But you’d be missing out on world-class museums, diverse and vibrant neighborhood tours, and crazy-good shopping.

If there’s a “beach economy,” Buzios is its Wall Street. Its more than 20 beaches, world-class galleries, clubs and boutiques draw an elite set of travelers. Surfers love Geriba Beach, snorkelers enjoy Ferruda, hip Ossos Beach offers upscale beachside cafes and laid-back Ilhabela Beach offers a more down-to-earth Buzios experience.

Brazil’s former capital is renowned for its African-influenced cuisine, music and architecture. Known as “the Capital of Joy,” because of its exuberant week-long Carnaval celebrations, Salvador brims with contemporary music and art amid architecture that has gone untouched since the 17th century.

Giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, endangered jaguars and clouds of butterflies are among the attractions at this World Heritage-designated park that marks the border between Brazil and Argentina. By foot or by raft, explorers can view one of the world’s most stunning waterfalls, Iguazu Falls. Among the park’s 270 waterfalls, spectacular Devil’s Throat combines 14 falls and generates a “perpetual rainbow” in good weather.

Named for a local swamp fish, Paraty sits on Brazil’s southeastern coast, 125 miles south of Rio, with the Bocaino Mountains at its back. The small colonial town’s center is a national historic monument with well-preserved buildings on its pedestrian-only streets. Take a boat trip out into the bay to the flotillas of islands and coves nearby. Explore sugarcane plantations and hike or take a train through Atlantica Forest. Keep an eye out for the monkeys that roam the cobblestone streets.

When you can trek through the rainforests in the morning and take in a tear-jerking opera at night, you know you’re in a special place. Manaus offers a rich variety of nature, culture, art and dining. Explore the lush vegetation of Amazonian jungle on a guided backpacking or river tour, or sample the colorful bounty of the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa. The stately Amazonas Opera House was built with the finest materials, and inside you’ll be blown away by powerful performances.

The crystalline waters of Bonito are some of the purest in the world, thanks to natural deposits of limestone that act as an organic filter. Unsurprisingly, the snorkeling here is unparalleled, like swimming through liquid glass. High above sea level, you can brave the Circuito Arvorismo, a labyrinth of walkways that let you navigate the treetops with the ease of a mischievous monkey. A tour of the Blue Lake Cave is simply stunning—inside, a sapphire pool is framed by intricate rock formations that look like abstract art.

Silky beaches, coconut palms, and designer boutique hotels are mainstays of Trancoso’s casual/chic vibe. Candy-colored clay houses line the streets and squares, lending a bohemian vibe to this otherwise rustic destination. The world-famous beaches boast velvety white sands and natural pools created by coral reefs.