The Portuguese left an indelible mark on Brazil when they finally got out of town in 1822. There are number of charming colonial towns built by the Portuguese throughout the country. These sleepy towns and villages, flush with whitewashed architecture accented by a kaleidoscopic array of flash and color, are the perfect spots to kickback with nothing to do but wander the stuck-in-time cobblestoned streets. No photographic skills necessary, these gems do all the work for you, around each and every turn a new postcard Brazilian moment.
If you visit any of these sleepy Kodak-moment towns, you can impress the locals with your knowledge of the local vernacular. The word for “cobblestones” is one of the most entertaining words in Portuguese: Paralelepípedos.
Good luck with that!
No doubt due to an insufferable hangover, most folks already know that Brazil’s national cocktail is the caipirinha, made from the national spirit, cachaça, along with sugar and fresh limes, but what else is there to drink?
When you are ready to shake things up a bit, branch out and ask the bartender for Brazil’s next best cocktail, the Caju Amigo (Cashew Fruit Friend) – every bit as Brazilian as the caipirinha but not nearly as famous.
Photo: Holy Burger
If you have a sweet tooth – you know who you are – than Brazil is going to knock you out. Some foreigners even complain that some of Brazil’s most beloved desserts are just too sweet but no self-respecting sugar addict would ever say such a blasphemous thing, now would they?
Brazilian sweets come in all shapes and sizes and are available everywhere from the streets and beaches to padarias (bakeries) to dessert specialty cafes – you are never far from a sugar coma – and owe a debt to combined influences from Portugal (anything with eggs as the main ingredient!) to West Africa (certain pastries and the like).
Here’s how to get your sugar high in Brazil!
Photo: Ben K
Come to Brazil for a little fun in the sun? Well, you’re in luck. There’s 4654 miles of sun-toasted coastline for that. But therein lies the problem: How to choose? There are plenty of great beaches where tourists routinely go – Rio de Janeiro, Búzios, Salvador, Recife/Olinda, Fortaleza, etc – but these are urban destinations with urban beaches, so finding that postcard-perfect patch of paradise and having it all for you and yours just isn’t going to be in the cards.
And while there probably aren’t too many places left at all in Brazil where you can have an entire beach to yourself (it’s not impossible mind you!), you can do a whole lot better than the crowded city beaches in Brazil’s most on-the-beaten-path destinations. Brazil’s best beaches are the ones that few people visit, either due to isolation or legislation.
If you want to escape the crowds, the beach vendors, the wayward frescoballs and the surfers, keeping the sun and sand to pretty much yourself, look no further than these five, of all which you must see before you die (you and everybody else – just not at the same time!).
You’ve arrived in São Paulo and it doesn’t take long for you to realize that the options for getting yourself out of the airport are as dizzying and overwhelming as the city itself! But rest assured, that’s only because you probably aren’t familiar with GRU Airport and you probably don’t speak Portuguese. But calma, as Brazilians would say. We’re here for you.
One notable pleasantry that differs significantly from the arrivals hall of other countries in South America is that in Brazil, you don’t have an army of unauthorized transport services screaming at you and tugging at your sleeves as you emerge from customs. You might have one or two folks ask you politely if you need a taxi, but it’s rare, less insistent and certainly less obnoxious than Spanish-speaking countries.
Here are your options (from the costliest to the cheapest)!
São Paulo’s Liberdade neighborhood is the epicenter of what is said to be the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Brazil is home to an estimated 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians, many of them living right here in this bustling neighborhood 1km south of Centro, with a tad bit of Chinese and Korean sprinkled in for good measure (some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants are here and South Korea’s Melona honeydew melon-flavored popsicles are wildly popular in the streets as well).
Over the last five years or so, while the global financial crisis put a stranglehold on most of the world, Brazil was soaring. Although the country has finally crashed back down to Earth these days, its’ culinary scene, especially in São Paulo, saw a burst of creativity, innovation and immigration during this stretch of perceived prosperity, helping to bring a wealth of previously unseen dining trends long established elsewhere to Brazil’s food capital.
It’s that time of year again – the World’s Largest Catholic Party!
The official Carnival dates for 2015 are February 13-17 and no South American nation does Carnival better than Brazil (no offense, Barranquilla!). Whether you are with the millions crowded into the beaches and blocos in Rio de Janeiro or celebrating small-time on island paradises like Fernando de Noronha, Brazil has a Carnival for you. And even in places that don’t care much for Carnival (German-settled Blumenau in Santa Cantarina, for example), you still get a multi-day holiday where nothing much else happens other than drinking. But for the uninitiated, what exactly is it?
Photo: Pedro Kirilos
In honor of Rio de Janeiro’s 450th birthday, Riotur, the city’s tourism agency, is offering a menu of six free themed walking tours that explore Rio from urban or natural points of view – lines which are usually blurred in this gorgeous urban cityscape, anyway. The tours began earlier this month and will continue until March 1.
It came as no surprise to anyone that 34-year-old Rodrigo Oliveira from São Paulo’s Mocotó restaurant was named Chef of the Year in Veja‘s annual Comer & Beber issue for 2014-15, a bit of a gastronomic Bible for foodies in the city. The guy is humble, immediately likable, soft-spoken, good-looking, mild-mannered and knows his way around a kitchen. But what he has pulled off at Mocotó, and the more upscale Esquina Mocotó next door (which took home honors for Best Brazilian Restaurant, incidentally), is truly remarkable.