From Rio With Love
Rio is everything. Ok, that’s a bold statement. But it really is. Take all your pre-conceived thoughts about Rio – the sex, the glamour, the gorgeous people, the beaches, the sheer expanse of it all – multiply it by about 1,000, and you have today’s Rio de Janeiro. This city is exploding. If you don’t go tomorrow, go next month; but at the very least go before the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Rio 2016 Olympics (when the rest of the world will be going).
I was here to experience it all, but my trip centered on the city’s fantastic restaurants. If you’re a true Japanese-food lover, like me, bypass the trendy Sushi Leblon (it’s Nobu on a smaller scale, but even more delicious – however, it’s not traditional), and head to Azumi in Copacabana. Sit in the back sushi bar (far cooler) and you can watch the sushiman prepare traditional langoustine ikizukuri (live sashimi). Controversial? Yes. Delicious? Afraid so.
Bed down at Caesar Park Ipanema. Madonna has slept here along with countless other VIPs, but I chose the hotel for its location. Ipanema is bustling and the beach, well, you can’t get more classic than this.
My room at the hotel was modern and comfortable with a gorgeous view of the beach below. I always test my hotels based on two key things: a quick answer when I call the concierge or front desk, and super-fast room service. If these tests pass, then I know I’m in good hands. Here at Caesar Park, it was seamless. A quick call down to organize a trip to H. Stern (Brazil has two famous “H’s” – H. Stern and Havaiana) was answered graciously and the trip was quickly organized for me. A call for a coffee and a quick bite was executed without a hitch. I was prepped and ready to head out.
So I channeled my inner girl from Ipanema and hit the sand. The hotel has sunbeds and umbrellas (and lovely beach boys) to attend to you while you’re soaking up the Brazilian sun. Lying here is a virtual shopping mall as well, and I picked up little textile purses for gifts, a couple pareos and of course indulged in the occasional caipirinha alternated with a fresh coconut. Staying at Caesar Park gave me the chance to be at the center of everything. My go-to-guide for this trip was Rio for Partiers (OK, the name is a bit much). I was introduced to the author through a friend of mine, and this book saved me. It was filled with all the right spots to hit for dining, dancing (yes, I took Samba lessons too!), spas and shopping. I had already loaded up on Havaianas for friends back home, indulged myself at H. Stern post-tour, and nearly perfected the samba. Next stop? Spa.
We all know that beauty addicts flock to Brazil for its affordable and effective body treatments. I wasn’t about to go under the knife, but after a week in the sun, my skin needed a bit of help. One spa I was referred to by Rio for Partiers was AmaDerm, located just around the corner from the hotel. Under dermatologist Dr. Adriana Aquino’s control, AmaDerm has built a multi-disciplinary center with experts in dermatology, endocrinology, aesthetics, physiotherapy and homeopathy. I tried their signature facial done with an ultrasonic peeling. Besides evening out my skin tone after the beach, the treatment removed dead cells from the skin’s surface and also intensified the results of my own products. Glowing, I left the office. I was hooked.
Sushi. Sun. Shopping. Samba. Spa….Rio. I love you.
Follow my trips around the world on Twitter @wanderlista.