Vanessa is a long time friend who lived in Madrid, Fortaleza, Barcelona and now calls Rio home. With her French husband David and daughter Chloé, the family is always on the lookout of interesting new areas to explore. I asked her to give me a few local tips and here they are:
A place to eat
After a day at the beach a stop at the botecos (bars) is a must. They are Rio’s classic meeting points and very much the face of the city. In Ipanema I like Bar Lagoa. In Leblon, Bracarense. Adega Pérola is in Copacabana. Braseiro da Gávea, at Gávea, is not so close to the beach, but is worth the extra walk.
Canastra Bar is Ipanema’s French meeting point, serving cheeses, good wines and fresh oysters on Tuesdays. It fills up and people spill over to the sidewalk and the street in front of it. Very lively.
We live close to Lagoa, it is practically our garden. We take Chloé for walks Saturday mornings, meet friends after work, have a drink at Palaphita Kitch, go cycling, watch the sunset and so on. During summer, when the beach is overcrowded, the Lagoa is a great option to escape the crowds.
The Centro (Downtown) during the week is good for strolls around the Paço Imperial or lunch at one of the restaurants at Travessa do Comércio or Rua do Ouvidor. The art exhibitions at CCBB (Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil) are great. If you have time, walk all the way to Praça Mauá to visit MAR (Museu de Arte do Rio) or the brand new Museum of Tomorrow.
The Instituto Moreira Salles at Gávea is a beautiful place to visit, even when there is not exhibit in place. Just walk around the modernist house, the garden and sit down for a coffee.
The Feira do Lavradio, every first Saturday of the month from 10am in Centro, is a flea market where you can find special trinkets and antiques. The street is full of small stores, restaurants and cafés. It is a charming spot amidst the chaos of Downtown Rio.
The Carnival blocos (groups) preparing for Carnival. Before the mayhem in February, it is great to enjoy the bands and discover the true spirit of the celebration. I recommend Orquestra Voadora and Fanfarra Black Clube.
The Junta Local street fair belongs to a community that values the local artisans and producers and sell organic produce. They get together at Casa da Glória, a beautiful house near Gloria Church with a huge garden and swimming pool open to the public. Other venues include the old Urca Casino, now home of IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) and the MAM (Museu de Arte Moderna) gardens.