The sky and water are a perfect hue of my dreams of Ipanema. I can only imagine how wonderful the water will be to the person about to go surfing.
There may be no better place in Rio to watch the sunset than Arpoador Rock. Wedged in between Ipanema and Copacabana, is it a gathering point for Cariocas and tourists alike to toast the day with a fresh caipirinha. Watch the sun fade behind Ipanema’s famed double peaks and Pedro Bonita, the rock structure where hang gliders launch into the clouds throughout the day. Time stands still at Arpoador rock, and everyone participating shares in the same goals in those moments: to enjoy life. As the sun cascades behind the rocks, people bask in its beauty, couples kiss and everyone erupts in clapping and cheering, saluting the earth for the magnificence it possesses and appreciating life for the fullness it offers. Surfers take a moment to sit on their boards and let the waves roll underneath them as they also salute the painted sky. It is a perfect ending to a perfect Rio-kind-of-day.
The Santa Teresa district is a tangle of cobblestone streets and crumbling landmarks perched above the city. It’s undergoing a renaissance thanks to anchors such as the restored Hotel Santa Teresa and the working-class eatery Bar do Mineiro. The latter lures diners with its feijoada (bean and mixed meat stew). This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
Everybody’s favorite Brazilian Street Fighter decided to follow me along on my trip, ya know, just to make sure I had back up. Blanka was posing for his life all over the place. I have never hung out with such a camera hogging vinyl toy. Blanka, for those who do not know, is a video game character created by Capcom for the classic Street Fighter game in 1987. Blanka makes a cameo appearance in Disney’s Wreck it Ralph. I know he looks grumpy in this picture, but Blanka loved Ipanema beach.
Open only on Saturdays, this large market has stalls selling lots of fresh fruits and fish for good prices. Everyone who lives in Rio is addicted to açai, the Amazonian berry that’s loaded with antioxidants. The berry doesn’t come from this region of Brazil, but you can get it fresh in the market in a big bowl mixed with strawberries or ice cream. Rua Frei Leandro As told to Heidi Mitchell. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue. See all of Batman Zavarese’s favorite places in Jardim Botânico.
While jogging off a huge dinner before hitting the beach in Ipanema one morning, my headphones became overwhelmed by drumming and whistles. When I lifted my sweat soaked head to check out the commotion ahead, I was amazed to see brightly colored dancers and a group of drummers parading down the boulevard and attracting a growing crowd of onlookers and partiers. I soon became one of the revelers and followed them all the way to Copacabana. The spontaneous outbreak of Samba was one of the highlights of Rio de Janeiro, especially since it wasn't even close to Carnival.
While in Rio you must go to Sugarloaf Mountain. It has beautiful views of the entire city. I went on a day that was misty and cloudy and was a little disappointed that I couldn't see the Christ the Redeemer statue from the mountain, but soon the wind started to blow and the clouds started to move and the statue stood among the clouds. It was beautiful and I ended up being happy it wasn't a crystal clear day.
Rio has never been busier. The city is building up and out for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Part of a massive port facelift, the Museum of Art of Rio opens later this year. But in colonial bairros, such as Santa Teresa, fresh paint hasn’t changed the carioca spirit. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
Leblon beach in Rio de Janeiro is a must. After going to a friends wedding in Belo Horizonte I could not leave Brazil before visiting the "cidade maravilhosa." Rio is so vibrant and what a better place to experience the city's culture than the beach. Make sure to have one of the cold coconuts and a caipirinha that are sold all throughout the boardwalk . This photo was taken from the roof top pool of our hotel. Even though the rooms were not superb the view was priceless.
Beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema are justifiably famous, but city insiders head southwest to Prainha for some of the area’s best surf and views. Join locals at Restaurante Bira for fish stewed in coconut milk or for an after-surf caipirinha while watching the waves. 55/(0) 21-2410-8304. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
This is a huge tropical park, with lakes and English gardens and the trailhead that leads up Corcovado mountain. I love having breakfast in the park at the Café du Lage, while everyone else is doing their morning exercise routine. Rua Jardim Botânico 414. As told to Heidi Mitchell. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue. See all of Batman Zavarese’s favorite places in Jardim Botânico.
Absolutely every type of person in Rio comes here, where city meets ocean. On Sundays, a section of road is closed to traffic and you see people walking, jogging, and rollerblading along the promenade, and playing volleyball on the beach. Most travelers frequent the Copacabana side, where you will find the beautiful black-and-gray mosaic promenade designed by Roberto Burle Marx. I like to run along the other side of the peninsula, between the Leblon and Arpoador neighborhoods. —Zahira Asmal This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue. Read more about Designing South Africa and Designing Brazil founder Zahira Asmal.
This bohemian nook on a hill in Rio de Janeiro is home to innovative art galleries, charming architecture and many great artists. A friend of mine led me there, and we spent the day soaking in the scene; peeking into studios and talking and laughing with the lovely local artists. We enjoyed walking up the hill and stopping into the beautiful shops along the way. It is the perfect place to get lost for a couple of hours. The art scene in Santa Teresa is vibrant and dynamic, celebrating both new and traditional art forms.
The coffeeshop inside this bookstore is run by the Brazilian restaurant Ateliê Culinário, so the food is fantastic. But I come for the terrific collection of books. The store is small and cozy and feels like a reading room. Sometimes I’ll lose myself for hours in an obscure art book and a glass of red wine—then I feel compelled to buy the book. I always run into people from the art and music worlds here. Rua Jardim Botânico 585, 55/(21) 2259-8686, pontedetabuas.com.br As told to Heidi Mitchell. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue. See all of Batman Zavarese’s favorite places in Jardim Botânico.
My grandfather used to come here. The restaurant specializes in Portuguese cuisine and serves consistently good traditional dishes, including the bestpicanha (steak) in Rio. The food is simple, but you know it will be amazing. It reminds me of eating out in Europe. Rua Maria Angélica 57, 55/(21) 2286-1689 As told to Heidi Mitchell. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue. See all of Batman Zavarese’s favorite places in Jardim Botânico.
From the rooftop of Hotel Praia Ipanema you can view the fabulous beaches of Leblon and Ipenema on top of the world. Praia Ipanema straddles the boarder of Leblon and Ipanema, so you can easily experience both stetches of this urban oasis. Rio de Janeiro is the ultimate city destination, providing beaches, chic shopping and dining, varied cultural influences, unmatched nightlfe, urban jungle and sprinklings of colonial architecture. Rio must conform to its dramatic landscape, creating soaring views from high vistas and unique neighborhoods over and around every fold in the earth.
Behold the largest Art Deco statue in the world! The Cristo Redentor is one of the best monuments I’ve seen mostly because of it’s dramatic location with exceptional 360 degree views of Rio. It sits on top of the Corcovado mountain. The easiest thing to do, and please take my advice on this, is to get a taxi to drop you off at the ticket sales booth which is where you board the tram (Rua Cosme Velho). It costs about $20 dollars for the experience. The ride on the tram takes you through the Tijuca forest and lasts about 20 minutes. People really get creative with their Cristo pictures. I actually spent about half an hour just looking at all the fun posing people were doing. There was definitely a lot of prayer posing, as well as people imitating the statue with their arms spread out. You can also brag to your friends that you saw one of the new seven wonders of the world.
A new addition to the hopping Leblon neighborhood, Brigite’s is perfect for a low-key bite. Parquet floors and an open kitchen complement dishes that range from namorado whitefish with flaxseed farofa (a mix of flour and yuca) to steak tartare with plantain fritters. 55/(0) 21-2274-5590. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
This amazing "Ode to the Brazilian People" created by Chilean artist Selaron is located in the center of Rio de Janiero. We were told that this neighborhood was a bit rough and that proved correct. Our hotel provided us with a driver who promptly locked the doors to the car as soon as we got out, but the experience was still worth it. Selaron was out sitting on the steps for a while and we talked with him a bit about his work, although his English was about as limited as my Spanish. He has a studio in his home which is located just off the stairs as well which showcases his interesting art. If you are in Rio de Janiero this is a must see. You got to pull away from the beaches and tourist spots to get a glimpse of real Rio in a Favela and see this one of a kind piece of art.
The best view of Rio is still on top of the famous Sugar Loaf (Pao de Acucar), not only the city layout, but also the Corcovado where the Christ the Redeemer.
The pizza here is considered some of the best in Brazil. It’s fairly doughy, and my favorite type is called the bráz, which comes topped with zucchini. It goes great with a light beer like Brahma Chopp. Rua Maria Angélica 129, 55/(21) 2535-0687, casabraz.com.br As told to Heidi Mitchell. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue. See all of Batman Zavarese’s favorite places in Jardim Botânico.
This is a hard to find location, and not obviously mentioned in all the travel books like Sugar Loaf or the beach. However, once you arrived, it's a breath-taking moment! The scale and the color, and the detail of each of the tiles on the stairs are just unbelievable! It's a must see if you visit Rio.
Located on the craggy hills above the city, favelas, or shanty towns, house the city’s poorer residents (as well as people looking to escape Rio’s high rents). Favelas have long intrigued those travelers who seek a less polished perspective on the Marvelous City. Hire a local guide to lead you through the twisting alleys, and discover the entrepreneurial solutions developed by residents who, for many years, didn’t receive city services like running water. You’ll taste some of Rio's best food in favela restaurants, and you'll find that smiles are returned more readily and sincerely than on the streets below.
Jojö is a great place to try contemporary Brazilian-Asian fusion cooking. I love the risotto with shrimp and pepper mixed with curry. The place is tiny, maybe five tables. The owner, Joana, always makes sure I get a great dinner—and a treat, like a dessert or a glass of champagne. Rua Pacheco Leão 812, 55/(21) 3565-9007, jojocafe.com.br As told to Heidi Mitchell. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue. See all of Batman Zavarese’s favorite places in Jardim Botânico.
Ipanema’s iconic Fasano hotel, conceived by renowned designer Philippe Starck, features wooden armchairs by local architect Sergio Rodrigues and rooftop views of the city’s mountains. Expect three Fasano outposts to open elsewhere in Brazil before the World Cup. From $770. 55/(0) 21-3202-4000. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
Seeing this boy framed by bikini bottoms seemed to sum up the spirit of Copacabana – locals going for a swim in what was literally a sea of tourists. His ‘never say die’ attitude caught my attention as he braved the waves again and again. Standing on the beach proper, I finally caught him staring down the ocean one final time, daring it to try and throw him out again...
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