Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The best beach in Brazil?

Well thats quite a statement considering there seem to be soo many. But according to Backpacker Ben, Praia de Pipa takes the cake. Known for fine cuisine and gorgeous beaches, this small fishing village was discovered by backpackers and surfers in the 70´s and is also a dolphin haven. It is located about 85 km from the city of Natal in Rio Grande do Norte which is very very.....norte!  So in honor of Brazilian Independence Day off we go for a much needed vacation in the sun. When is a vacation not needed?

Praia de Pipa here we come... ohh I´m so excited!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rio or Sao Paulo?

While I am in Article Forwarding mode...this article is taken from The Economist (scroll to the bottom for an audio guide)

Doing Business in Brazil

Rio or São Paulo?

Aug 24th 2011, 18:31 by H.J | RIO DE JANEIRO AND SÃO PAULO

LAST year Paulo Rezende, a Brazilian private-equity investor, and two partners decided to set up a fund investing in suppliers to oil and gas companies. Although this industry is centred on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second-largest city, with its huge offshore oilfields—and fabulous beaches, dramatic scenery and outdoor lifestyle—they instead established the Brasil Oil and Gas Fund 430km (270 miles) away, in São Paulo’s concrete sprawl. Even though it means flying to Rio once or twice a week, Mr Rezende, like many other businesspeople, decided that São Paulo’s economic heft outweighed Rio’s charms. But the choice is harder than it used to be.

For many years, São Paulo has been the place for multinationals to open a Brazil office. It may be less glamorous than Rio, as the two cities’ nicknames suggest: Rio is Cidade Maravilhosa (the Marvellous City); São Paulo is Cidade da Garoa (the City of Drizzle). But as Mr Rezende sadly concluded: “São Paulo is the financial centre, and that’s where the money is.”

Edilson Camara of Egon Zehnder International, an executive-search firm with offices in both cities, does 12 searches in São Paulo for each one in Rio. The biggest mistake, he reckons, is for firms to let future expatriates visit Rio at all. “They are seduced by the scenery and lifestyle, and it’s a move they can sell to their families. But many have ended up moving their office to São Paulo a couple of years later, with all the upheaval that entails.”

From a hamlet founded by Jesuit missionaries in 1554, São Paulo grew on coffee in the 19th century, industry in the first half of the 20th—and then on the misfortunes of Rio, once Brazil’s capital and its richest, biggest city. The federal government abandoned Rio for the newly built Brasília in 1960, starting a half-century of decline. Misgoverned by politicians and fought over by drug gangs and corrupt police, Rio became dangerous, even by Brazilian standards. The exodus gained pace as businesses and the rich fled, mostly for São Paulo.

Now, though, there are signs that the cost-benefit calculation is shifting. São Paulo’s economy has done well in Brazil’s recent boom years and it is still much bigger, but Rio’s is growing faster, boosted by oil discoveries and winning its bid to host the 2016 Olympics (see table below). Last year Rio received $7.3 billion in foreign direct investment—seven times more than the year before, and more than twice as much as São Paulo. Prime office rents in Rio are now higher than anywhere else in the Americas, north or south, according to Cushman and Wakefield, a property consultancy.

Community-policing projects are taming its infamous favelas, or shanty towns: its murder rate, though still very high at 26 per 100,000 people per year (two-and-a-half times São Paulo’s), is at last falling. Brazil’s soaring real is pricing expats paid in foreign currencies out of São Paulo’s classy restaurants and shopping malls; Rio’s recipe of sun, sea and samba is still free. Even Hollywood seems to be on Rio’s side: an eponymous animation, with its lush depictions of rainforest and carnival, is one of the year’s highest-grossing films.

Red-carpet treatmentRio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, has big plans for capitalising on the city’s magic moment. The sharp-suited, English-speaking lawyer has set up a business-development agency, Rio Negócios, to market the city, help businesspeople find investment opportunities, and advise on paperwork and tax breaks. Though all investors are welcome, it concentrates on those in sectors where it reckons Rio has an edge: tourism, energy, infrastructure and creative industries such as fashion and film. “A couple of years ago, foreign businessmen would come to Rio and ask what we had to offer,” says Mr Paes. “We had no answer. Now we roll out the red carpet.”

The political balance between the two cities has changed too. In the 1990s São Paulo was more influential and better run: it is the stronghold of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), the national party of government from 1995 to 2002. Now the PSDB is in its third term of opposition in Brasília, and though it still governs São Paulo state, it is weakened by internal feuds. In Rio, by contrast, the political stars are aligned. The state governor, Sérgio Cabral, campaigned tirelessly for the current president, Dilma Rousseff—and received his reward when police actions in an unruly favela late last year were backed up by federal forces. Mr Paes and Mr Cabral are from the same party, and their pre-Olympic plans for security, housing and transport mesh well.

São Paulo’s socioeconomic segregation, long part of its appeal to expats, is starting to look like less of an advantage. Most of its nicer bits are clustered together, allowing rich paulistanos to ignore the vast favelas on the periphery. In Rio, selective blindness is harder with favelas perched on hilltops overlooking all the best neighbourhoods. But proximity seems to be teaching well-off cariocas that abandonment is no solution for poverty and violence. Community policing and urban-renewal schemes are bringing safety and public services. Chapéu Mangueira and Babilônia, twin favelas a 20-minute uphill scramble from Copacabana beach, are being rebuilt, with a health clinic, nursery and a 24-hour police presence. The price of nearby apartments has already soared. Several other slums are also getting similar make-overs.

Central do BrasilRio’s Olympic preparations include extending its metro and building lots of dedicated bus lanes, including one linking the international airport to the city centre. By 2016, predicts City Hall, half of all journeys in the city will be by high-quality public transport, up from 16% today. São Paulo’s metro extensions are years behind schedule, and the city is grinding towards gridlock. Its plans to link the city centre to its main international airport (recently voted Latin America’s most-hated by business travellers) rely on a grandiose federal high-speed train project, bidding for which was recently postponed for the third time.

Rio is still unpredictably dangerous, and decades of poor infrastructure maintenance have left their mark. Its mobile-phone and electricity networks are outage-prone; the língua negra (“black tongue”, a sudden overflow of water and sewage from inadequate hillside culverts) is a staple of the rainy season; exploding manholes, caused by subterranean gas leaks meeting sparks from electricity lines, are a hazard all year round. All in all, still not an easy choice for a multinational business—but it is no longer foolish to let prospective expats fly down to Rio to take a look.

Audio guide:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sao Paulo: Brazilian Beauty

Aug 20th Wall Street Journal Article

[S?o Paulo]Rafael Pinho for The Wall Street Journal
Figueira Rubaiyat

Beaches, bikinis and feathered headdresses are not reasons to visit the biggest city in Brazil—that's Rio you're dreaming of. What São Paulo lacks in sea and sand, it more than makes up for with sophisticated style, can't-look-away architecture and a rich culture influenced by immigrants from around the globe.

This megatropolis of 11 million is the pounding heart of South America's biggest economic success story. A city on the make, it's dynamic and teeming, yet noticeably…happy. Despite the frequently rainy weather, locals have a rep for offering easy smiles.

Insider's Guide to São Paulo

Rafael Pinho for The Wall Street Journal
Chef Helena Rizzo at Mani
And why not? Paulistas are blessed with stunning buildings, including several by celebrated Brazilian modernist Oscar Niemeyer. The city's diversity is on display in Liberdade, also known as Little Tokyo. In Vila Madalena, a bohemian outpost set in rolling hills, the nighttime vibe is one of all-out revelry. Street art graces miles of concrete walls around town; avant-folk fashion turns heads on the streets.
September will bring some bikini sightings with the Miss Universe pageant, as well as rain-free fall weather. If it does drizzle, at least there are plenty of sunny dispositions to enjoy.
—Sameer Reddy
The Hotelier
Rogerio Fasano
Head of the Fasano Group, which owns the Hotel Fasano São Paulo
Mega Food Market: Mercado Municipal. For me this amazing indoor food market represents the plurality and the multiculturalism of São Paulo. It also reminds me of my grandfather, who used to go there all the time. 306 Rua da Cantareira,
Landmark Museum: Museu de Arte de São Paulo. MASP is my favorite museum in town. Its modern architecture is a landmark and represents the feeling and spirit of São Paulo. 1578 Ave. Paulista,
Petite Park:Trianon Park. I like this small park because I used to spend a lot of time there when I was a kid. My school, Dante Alighieri, was just across the street. Its location is a breath of fresh air on the city's most business oriented avenue—the contrast is nice. 850 Alameda Jaú
Escape Route:Congonhas Airport. I love the feeling of going there, because it usually means that I will be boarding a flight to Rio de Janeiro, my second home in Brazil.
Memorable Building:Edifício Matarazzo. It was designed by the Italian architect Marcello Piacentini in the 1940s, and in my opinion it is the most beautiful building in the city. It was one of the inspirations for the Hotel Fasano in São Paulo. 15 Viaduto do Chá
The Chef
Alex Atala
Chef and owner of award-winning restaurant D.O.M.
Authentic Eats:Mocotó Restaurant & Cachaçaria. Far from the city center, but it's a must. This picturesque restaurant has unforgettable food based on traditional Brazilian dishes, and very reasonable prices. It's been open since 1973; these days chef Rodrigo Oliveira carries on his father's work. 1100 Ave. Nossa Senhora do Loreto,
Street Art: Beco do Batman. "Batman's Alley" is more than just a street—it's an open-air graffiti gallery in the heart of the bohemian Vila Madalena neighborhood. Worth the trip. Rua Gonçalo Afonso
Asian Bazaar: Liberdade Street Market. Hosts the best of Japanese culture and cuisine—São Paulo, after all, has the biggest Japanese community outside Japan. Saturdays and Sundays on Praça da Liberdade
Modern Fare: Maní. Chef Helena Rizzo does wonderful work alongside her husband, Spaniard Daniel Redondo, creating nouvelle Brazilian cuisine. It's one restaurant I truly recommend. 210 Rua Joaquim Antunes,
Cultural Complex: Latin American Memorial. I believe Oscar Niemeyer is a revolutionary and a genius. Make sure to see his soaring, curving design that showcases Latin American art, theater, music, dance and more. 664 Ave. Áuro Soares de Moura Andrade,
The Style Editor
Erika Palomino
Editor of Plastic Dreams magazine, columnist for Brazilian web portal iG and TV commentator
Sleek Museum: Museu Lasar Segall. The movie theater and gardens form a modernist space in which you can walk around, and watch art films sitting on antique chairs. You can also see the atelier of gravures and enjoy a late afternoon coffee in the calm. 111 Rua Berta,
Sports Arena:Estádio do Pacaembu. I like to go there to watch the Corinthians' soccer matches—my team! Also great for a visit to the Soccer Museum or to hang out at the low-key Art Deco pub. Praça Charles Miller,
Art Showcase: Pinacoteca. A beautiful building that hosts great exhibitions, completely restored by Brazilian starchitect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Afterwards, have a wonderful lunch at Acrópoles, a nearby Greek restaurant. 2 Praça da Luz,; 364 Rua da Graça,
Boutique and Bite: Surface to Air and Lorena 1989. Check the new arrivals in the city's best multi-brand store, then have a delicious meal at the attached terrace restaurant, which has a charming view. 1989 Alameda Lorena,,
Top Design: Micasa. A spectacular design store, they have pieces from Vitra, the Bouroullec brothers and special collections from young Brazilian furniture designers. 2109 Rua Estados Unidos,
The Fashion Designer
Oskar Metsavaht
Designer and owner of Brazilian luxury brand Osklen
Modernist Masterpiece: Pavilhão Lucas Nogueira Garcez (Oca).The dome-shaped building, designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1951, once housed the Museu da Aeronáutica and the Museu do Folclore, and was renovated in part by Paulo Mendes da Rocha. It's now used for temporary exhibitions and events. Ibirapuera Park,
Go-To Gallery: Galeria Fortes Vilaça. One of the most important galleries in São Paulo. It represents artists I really appreciate, like Vik Muniz, Janaina Tschäpe and Ernesto Neto. 1500 Rua Fradique Coutinho,
Local Snack Spot: Frevo. One of the most traditional snack bars in the city. Its Beirute sandwich, made with pita, roast beef, cheese and tomato, is famous—and delicious! 603 Rua Oscar Freire and other locations,
Edgy Art: Instituto Tomie Ohtake. Designed by Ruy Ohtake, the center is named after his father, a well-known Japanese artist, and the center reflects a contemporary view of the city, where culture, art and entertainment are all integrated. 201 Ave. Faria Lima,
Power Tower: Edifício Itália. São Paulo's second-tallest building, located in the city center, offers an amazing view of the skyline. Don't miss the rooftop restaurant for a 360-degree perspective. 344 Ave. Ipiranga,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

they got an awful lot of coffee in brazil....

oh yes they do and its gooooooood, and did you know mr. sinatra did a song about coffee in brazil? well I didnt and I feel silly and one of my best friends shared it with me.. because its a great little song

my favorite sunday ritual

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vila Madalena Street Fair this weekend!!

´´About 500 exhibitors will offer crafts, food, sculptures, paintings and fashion to the public. In addition, there will be a bike ride sponsored by the local group "Pedal da Vila Madalena." The street Mourato Coelho will host a pool table, basketball games, soccer games, and skateboarding activities.``

Read more here 

Looking forward to it...I love a good street fair!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

puppy time

Recently I've been craving a furry friend at my feet during some of these wintery evenings. I attempt a pat on every hairy animal head I pass on the street and have a coffee as close to the pet store in the mall as possible. Short of throwing a 3 year old tantrum, I've begged and pleaded my husband for a dog. I'd rescue one tomorrow at a shelter but I can't go near those places because I'd sleep on the couch just to fit them all in my apartment. In fact, I would be relegated to the couch anyways because I would be in so much trouble.

Anyways enough whining, I finally got my golden chance and it had a bit of a different outcome that I had imagined. A girl at work just got a Shih Tzu puppy from her parents a week before she had a planned a weekend in Argentina. Obviously the little guy was too young to go to the kennel without his proper shots so before it was even a question I had volunteered to borrow him for the weekend. With a smile ear to ear I took him home and created a little puppy perfect area in the laundry room. Fast forward 48 hours and many pees and poos throughout the apartment and under the bed later... I again with a smile ear to ear was happy to return him to his owner. Some might say it was because he is a little dog, and I am a big dog person or that I am a bit of a clean freak and puppies don't fit that mold whatsoever, but deep down I realized we just aren't ready. We like to run off to the beach at the drop of a hat, travel back to the US over breaks for weeks and we don't have a park or even a praca where I can let the dog just be a dog. Not to mention the guilt I got every time I was annoyed at his lack of potty training and put him in his bed so I could just have some piece of mind. It was a fun little experiment, and freedom and clean floors won for now. 

Of course I had to take a few glamour shots before he headed back home....he sure was a cutie!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hall Pass: Natura

Natura Cosmeticos is one of the most recognized brands in Brazil. Started over 40 years ago, they pride themselves on sustainability and that is evident from start to finish in the manufacturing of their naturally aromatic products. From the packaging to the ingredients everything is harvested and executed with Brazil's ecology in mind. The suppliers typically live in small areas within the amazon and it is an important part of Natura's business that even if they abandon a specific material they do their best to ensure that the community can sustain without them. Known for always giving back, be it through k-12 educational funding or environmental charity, the company is a poster child for sustainable marketing and business strategy. Their motto, "bem estar bem," means to live well, with yourself, your relationships, nature and the world around. The company is set up as a direct sales model only, so to purchase their products you either have to have a consultant in the same way that Avon and Mary Kay operate or you can pick them up at Duty free in the airport as well as at their first ever store in Paris, designed by a distinguished Sao Paulo architect, Arthur Casas.

I recently got a tour of their plant and central offices in Cajamar, which is about 40 minutes from downtown Sao Paulo.  It was a beautiful campus where people truly work, play, eat and nurse in nature! Nurse? Yes, there is a nursery and a children's day care on site next to the restaurant and cafe, as well as a large gym with a pool nestled into the hills. The building itself is completely open air with offices surrounded by windows for great daylighting. If LEED was around in Brazil at the time of design, this would surely be at least LEED Silver. If only everyone could work in an environment like this...

the pearly white halls...

boxes = furniture! 

employee store

educational wing

the picking area.... 7 days a week its rolling

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

move, eat, learn: incredible watch

"3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage... all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ....into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films.....

= a trip of a lifetime.

move, eat, learn"

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

*picture from their flickr site

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Reliving my childhood....Sao Paulo Style

I was a kid with an architect for a dad. No complaints, that just meant we got to travel a lot with one consistent caveat, it was always in search of some building. I remember arguing over an 8 hour drive on our way to some random house in the middle of nowhere that dad planned as a, "family outing." The moment I was old enough to compile a decent strategy to avoid such adventures, my mom finally chimed as well, as if she had needed reinforcements all those years and the architect lost his battle. But only briefly as I came to find it was hard to discover a new city without knowing its architectural bones.

The past few weeks my parents have been visting and guess what we spent our time doing?

Exhibit A.

And so somewhere in between all the trips to various pieces of architecture, I realized that I actually enjoyed it and probably took for granted all those years as a juvenile student of the modern american landscape. I feel like I could lead a tour now on all the prolific design spots in this city as my dad made a detailed map of everything we saw! I had a planned to check out a few before their visit and while at the the Building Museum (Museu de Casa Brasileira) on Faria Lima a few months ago, I met an architect couple setting up a wonderful exhibit on wood in architecture. Turned out they spent 2 years in Chicago living three streets from where my husband grew up. We've stayed in touch and they offered to have my family over to their beautiful home one evening.  Thanks to their gracious hospitality we filled in the missing pieces we hadn't yet found, and forged a global building friendship!

- SESC Pompeia

- Oscar Niemeyer's Latin American Memorial Campus

- MUBE (Museum of Brazilian Sculpture)

- MASP (Museum of Art Sao Paulo)

- Parque Burle Marx

- Niemeyer in Parque Ibirapuera

- Paulo Mendes da Rocha's addition to the Pinacoteca (he is a Pritzker Prize winner)

- Architecture School at University of Sao Paulo

- Centro Cultural (+sweet green roof)

- Home of our dear friends, Marta and Marcelo

And there are plenty more places. I didn't take my nice camera around the city as we criss crossed around but I managed to document those with a point and shoot and my phone.  It was a great trip; I enjoyed Sao Paulo's extensive collection of interesting buildings and I feel like I really know the city now (from a concrete perspective!) the end good ole dad won.