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29th Apr 2014
Beaches, bars and babes in Buzios
Guest travel editor Carine Buncsi recently touched down in Brazil for the first of many stops on her tour of Latin America on the Argentina and Brazilian Experience. She kicked things off at a leisurely pace in Rio before heading north-east to Buzios - a nearby resort town that brings together the best elements of the cosmopolitan metropolis with all the splendour and ease of a coastal getaway.
Rio de Janeiro, the booming Brazilian Beauty, host city for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the site for 2016 Olympics. Surrounded by pre-football mania and post Carnival mayhem, this colourful and vibrant city is a non-stop party. But before taking in the sights of this culturally diverse and pumping city, it's off to the Lapa district, circling around the Santa Teresa neighbourhood followed by a few days of blissful R&R in the quaint and sophisticated resort town of Buzios.
Welcome to Lapa, a bohemian, artistic neighbourhood in central Rio, known for its sultry signature rhythm, artistic flair, historical monuments, party times and colourful residents. This is a place to enjoy the sounds of samba, forró and bosso nova booming out of the cafés and clubs.
The neighbourhood's heart is the whitewashed Arches of Lapa (the Carioca Aqueduct), an impressive colonial structure built in the 18th century. Since the end of the 19th century the aqueduct has served as a bridge for the tram. The area also boasts the famous candy tiled coloured-steps, known as Escadaria Selarón (the Selaron Stairs) a 215 step staircase in the bohemian neighbourhood.
They were the life's work of Chilean street artist Jorge Selarón (made famous in Snoop Dogg's 'Beautiful' and the U2 music video 'Walk On').
The steps straddle both Lapa and Santa Teresa, another district worth a wander for its quirky cafes, unpretentious bars, charming colonial style buildings and vintage stores for the ultimate treasure finds.
The famous staircase leads up to St Teresa Convent. Once a dilapidated and decaying scene, with the rebirth of Selarón's artistic vision and determination it was transformed into a multi-coloured art form – a tribute to the vibrant Brazilian people. Friendly folk and collaborators from around the globe admired the whimsical character and contributed to the steps' facade, sending and delivering an array of tiles to the artist. Old porcelain bathtubs were used as planters along the sides of the steps.
The hundreds of tiles depict subjects widely ranging from Indian deities to iconic cartoon characters, antique French designs and Arabic calligraphy alongside kitsch and colourful postcard inspired tiles, just to name a few.
Sadly the Chilean artist was found dead in January, 2013, on the famous Brazilian staircase he spent his life transforming into a work of art.
"I will only end this mad and singular dream on the last day of my life," he wrote on the wall nearby. Obrigada, Selarón.
BUZIOS BEACH CHARM
Whilst the Brazilian beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana have relished in most of the notoriety, Buzios is pushing its wondrous way into the limelight.
Buzios is located two and half hours up the Atlantic coast of Rio de Janeiro. Hemmed in by splendid beaches with pristine blue waters, Buzios was once a simple fishing village and is now a popular sun-seeking holiday destination. The city is known for its chic boutiques and stores galore, ranging from high-end to prized tourist trinkets and restaurants (a pay by kilo trend is catching on with the masses) which line the charming cobblestone streets.
Whilst hanging out at the local beach bar, have a shot of cachaça with the dread-locked boat captain.
At the port you can can take a gander at the native fisherman coming back with their daily catch, whilst hungry, large turtles circle playfully in the water beneath as the cruise ships bob up and down against the peaceful backdrop.
The fresh local seafood is spectacular in Buzios. For dishes made with local ingredients head into town for an authentic Brazilian mouth-watering feast at Taverne 67 Restaurant. Start off with a refreshing Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime.
The salad pie with seafood and capers went down a treat, a perfect sized entrée that will certainly whet your appetite before you feast on traditional seafood dishes Moqueca and Feijoada. As you can see I couldn't say no to the waiter - the Banana Flambé was calling.
In the evening head down Rua das Pedras for shopping indulgence, ideal OTT people watching and for painting the town red. For some weekend mayhem there's Pacha and Privilege nightclub around the corner and along the waterfront for a beachy bender. Or for a low key night, spend the evening on a bench with a glass of wine, accompanied by a bronze statue of the French actress and singer Brigitte Bardot, admiring the Buzios lights and listening to the soundtrack of the lapping waves.
A fun way to explore Buzios and the surrounding areas is by renting a beach buggy, it's both affordable and totally worth it!
For beaches off the beaten track and away from the horde of baking tourists, Praia da Ferradurinha offers picture perfect views and swish villas; for some fluffy dunes and beach babes flaunting their sporty physiques relax by Praia de Geribá.
The pace of life is somewhat slower in Buzios and a perfect breather away from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro.
STREET STYLE IN BUZIOS
The trick for the perfect Buzios beach look is versatile, comfy separates and interchangeable pieces with Havaianas or Ipanema flip flops, then rocking jeans or dressy pants with tropical coloured sandals for those breezy nights on the stretch.
Philippa from Kiama, Australia
What brings you to Buzios? Travelling around South America for a swimwear label.
Matheus from Buzios, Brazil
What do you do? Boss of Surf/Skate Store
What brings you to Buzios? Praia (beach) of course.
Natali from Argentina
What do you do? Manage a boutique
What brings you to Buzios? I came with friends seven years ago and fell in love with the place. I love the weather and people.
Jordi from Girona, Catalonia
What do you do? Wanderluster
What brings you to Buzios? I heard there were turtles.
The floaty sarong is the best beach and travel accessory - lie on it or wrap it around you at the beach and on a summers evening, fling it over your shoulders. On the plane ride home, simply curl up under it and catch up on some Z's. For the ultimate luxury purchase, you can't go wrong with a super-soft sarong in cashmere or silk. There's an array of unique styles to choose from at the Buzios boutiques and local markets.
Photography and words courtesy of Carine Bunsci.