THE GREAT CROSSROADS
“Ah! Se ela soubesse que quando ela passa / O mundo inteirinho se enche de graça / E fica mais lindo por causa do amor.” * Cooled by fresh coconut milk, the days drift by on the beaches to the bossa nova rhythm of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s The Girl From Ipanema. The black and white mosaic sidewalks are lined with juice bars serving the sucos of exotic fruits: graviola, cupuaçu, açaï... The cariocas play volleyball in bikinis and the boys sport soccer jerseys emblazoned with the names of their idols: Neymar, Lucas, Ronaldinho. The foundations of the Brazilian national character are always in evidence: religion, a passion for sports and a love of celebration — the colossal Sambódromo fills up at carnival time, and the samba is more popular than ever.
* “Ah, if she but knew that when she passes by / The whole world fills with grace / And becomes more beautiful because of love.”
But beyond its enchanting coast, this is a vast country whose mystery has shaped its pioneer spirit. The Jesuits arrived in the 17th century, building missions to convert the natives, who lived according to their ancestral customs. A century later, a gold rush drew hordes of European adventurers to the mines of Minas Gerais. Some struck it rich, while others kept going deeper inland, up the rivers of Mato Grosso in search of new Eldorados. Coffee and cotton made the plantation owners wealthy, while the landless peasants struggled on in poverty. Some became bandits, the cangaçeiros, phantom-like nomads of the arid sertão of the northeast, fueling a folk legend that lives on today. Brazil is as multiform as the trunks of the red tree that gave the country its name. From the Amazon Basin, dominion of the world’s most powerful river, to the Lençóis, white sand dunes ringed by crystal-clear water, from the baroque churches of Salvador to the modernist concrete jungle of Brasilia, who can say how many identities, how many hybrid facets this land has spawned? In the course of his career, the great novelist Jorge Amado created more than 5,000 characters. It’s an apt metaphor for his country: profuse and exuberant, with myriad faces and voices, Brazil defies typification.
Hotel and restaurant in the country. A few kilometers through the Serra, along the “Romantic Route” on your way to the hotel Saint Andrews, is enough to set the scene: this is a place of surprises. The architecture of the building is impressive in itself, inspired by Scotland’s Saint Andrews Castle, and each elegantly furnished room bears the name of the precious stone that lent its color to the décor. Dine by the light of Bohemian crystal chandeliers in a restaurant serving sophisticated international cuisine, after enjoying a cocktail or a glass of wine from the well-stocked cellar. The peaceful landscaped garden is the ideal spot for enjoying a balmy evening and the spectacular views of the Quilombo Valley. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. At the edge of the Atlantic Forest, Itacarezinho beach stretches out as far as the eye can see. Coconut palms, white sand, warm crystalline blue ocean the year round – and some bungalows nestling in the shade of the trees in this idyllic setting. Built mainly from wood and natural materials, they sit on stilts either at the waterside or perched on the slopes of the hill and enjoy superb views of the beach. Shamash Spa, also built on the slopes with sweeping views over the ocean, offers a range of beauty rituals using natural Bahia products. No less impressive are its culinary delights, with fresh, healthy, fragrant cuisine – a blend of Brazilian and European influences. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. The atmosphere of this colonial fazenda combines traditional authenticity with “tropical chic” design. Whether by the pool or in the tropical gardens, the Santa Teresa boasts spectacular panoramic views of the Bay of Rio and the Centro. The unique décor of the rooms features exotic woods, natural fibers and golden slate. The wellness center invites to Xingu massages and Amazonian oil baths. The rising-star chef reinterprets contemporary Brazilian cuisine using fresh and local ingredients. Under the century old arches of the mansion’s former senzala (slave quarters), the lounge of Bar dos Descasados, designed by a local artist, offers a selection of the finest caipirinha. ... Learn moreless