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The best of Brazil

Brazil is a massive, marvellous country. Manuel Innocencio de Lacerda Santos Jr, the Brazilian Ambassador in Australia, gives his tips on how to make the most out of a visit.

 

MUST READ BOOK

Jorge Amado (1912-2001) is one of Brazil’s best known writers who captured the country’s tumultuous yet optimistic mood during the mid-twentieth century. Often dealing with concepts such as regional culture and folklore in Brazil, Amado’s stories, which were published in 49 languages, often include themes of the supernatural in an often realistic context. One of Amado’s most notable works is his novel Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1966), which tells the story of a recently widowed and re-married woman who is visited by the ghost of her ex-husband whilst attempting to move on with her life in the Northeast of Brazil.

MUST LISTEN (AND DANCE) MUSIC

Music and dance are part of the everyday life in Brazil. Two of the most popular genres are samba and bossa nova. The latter was developed by João Gilberto in the blending samba and jazz. Although there are many different styles of music in Brazil, try listening to the bossa Garota de Ipanema (“The Girl from Ipanema”) which won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965; the samba Aquarela do Brasil (“Watercolours of Brazil”) used by Disney in the animation Alô, Amigos; or the choro Brasileirinho, an instrumental song composed by Waldir Azevedo which will surely leave an impression due to its complex and patterned rhythms. In Brazil live music is widely performed and a great way to enjoy a night with friends. To dance with a partner, the rhythm you should look for is forró. When Feira de Mangaio (“Mangaio Fair”, a song by Sivuca) plays, it is impossible not to dance!

Costumes from carnaval in Bahia. © J.Freitas-Saltur

Costumes from carnaval in Bahia. © J.Freitas-Saltur

MUST DO EXPERIENCES

A lifetime would be too short to experience all the activities and excursions Brazil has to offer, however there are several that will leave you with such an impact you will certainly not forget any time soon. Of course, Carnaval is a must do as the country becomes even brighter as the festival brings parades to the streets accompanied by live music and mesmerising dancers. Although it’s the most famous, Rio’s Carnaval is not the only one. You can also have an amazing time following a trio eletrico in Salvador or dance frevo in Olinda, both in the Northeast. While there, enjoy the beaches, famous for their warm waters. Almost 60% of Brazil is covered in rainforests, so a trip to see them is highly recommend, especially if you can go on a boat trip up the Amazon river until you see the Meeting of the Waters (where the brown waters of the Solimões river meet the darker waters of the Rio Negro). On Central-West region, go floating on the pristine rivers in Bonito and be surrounded by fishes of all colours, after abseiling into stunning caves. In the South, take the time to surf in Florianopolis, an island surrounded by 42 beaches that host stages of the World Surf Championship.

MUST VISIT TOURIST SITE

The splendid interior of Teatro Amazonas in Manaus. © Embratur.

The splendid interior of Teatro Amazonas in Manaus. © Embratur.

If live theatre is of interest to you, Teatro Amazonas, located in Manaus is one spot you won’t want to miss. Not only will visitors enjoy the live shows performed but also the opulent and ornate architecture adorning the opera house built so close to the forest. Salvador, the capital of Bahia, is a favoured spot for tourists, whether you choose to lay on the white sandy beaches or take in the sights of the historic city that has a history spanning back to 1549. A trip to the capital of the nation, Brasilia, can showcase a very different side of the country, from unique modernist architecture, museums, theatres and nearby natural attractions it is a city offering something for everyone. At the southern border of Brazil, shared with Paraguay and Argentina, the waterfall Foz do Iguaçu draws crowds from all over the world to view the falls. Finally no trip to Brazil is complete without a visit to Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue at the top of Corcovado mountain, where you are greeted with breathtaking views of Rio. The towering monument is just as impressive as the surrounding views of the city and ocean. Of course, don’t be afraid to take some selfies while there, everyone else will be doing the same.

MUST SAMPLE FOOD/DRINK

Churrasco, southern style. © Embratur.

Churrasco, southern style. © Embratur.

Any trip to Brazil would not be complete without sampling recipes made by the locals. The cuisine of Brazil is high influenced by each region, reflecting their history and culture. In the North, pato no tucupi – slow-cooked duck in a fermented broth made from cassava – is highly recommended. In the North-east you can try acarajé – a mixture of black eyed peas which is deep-fried and served with a spicy paste of prawns and cashews (vatapá). While passing through the central-western region arroz com pequi cannot be missed, chicken and rice seasoned with the local souari nut. One of the most popular dishes for Brazilians living in the south-eastern part of the country is feijoada – a mouth-watering stew of black beans and pork. Lastly, if you simply cannot get enough, its recommend to satisfy your desires with a churrasco – a feast of meats cooked in a unique barbecue-grill called a churrasqueira, popular across all of Brazil but especially in the south. If you possibly saved room for dessert, a small, simple brigadeiro made from condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter can help resolve your sweet cravings. And of course the best beverage to finish a meal would be a caipirinha – a cocktail of lime, sugar and cachaça (Brazilian spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice).

SECRET SUGGESTION

For a high-end dining experience make a reservation at Restaurante Aprazível nestled atop the Santa Teresa district of Rio de Janeiro. Before the meal even begins you will be afforded spectacular views over the city of Rio, a great treat as the sun sets. Once your meals are served it only gets better as you taste the traditional dishes served with an original flair and make sure to try their home brewed line of beers as well. TTW

 

Restaurante Aprazível looks over Guanabara Bay. © Restaurante Aprazível

Restaurante Aprazível looks over Guanabara Bay. © Restaurante Aprazível

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