May 2012

WALKING AROUND SAO PAULO

 

YOU SHOULD EAT HERE IN FERNANDO DE NORONHA

[FERNANDO DE NORONHA, BRAZIL] — As a still developing tourist destination..and only 450 tourists allowed on the island a day… the restaurant scene on Fernando de Noronha still has some ways to go.  But there are some incredible standouts I tried. And am still thinking about. About the most dramatic is Merhulhao, right overlooking the harbor. Perfectly positioned to catch the full length of the island at sunset, you just can’t beat the view….maybe one of the best in the world. Clouds, currents, boats sailing in and out, awesome chill music, extremely nice young couple that runs it. Oh…and the food. Perfect, clean, simple seafood. Excellently prepared. Man, the energy of this place is just really remarkable.  And one of the coolest coffee preparations I’ve ever

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OFF THE COAST OF BRAZIL, A LUXURY HOTEL THAT’S LIKE BEING IN YOUR OWN BOND FILM

(Fernando de Noronha, Brazil) — Now this place is truly special. On this magical isle is a magical place, Pousada Maravilha.  After doing some online scoping and then staying there and checking out the other top places, this is the nicest place on the island. There are other cool places, but the view and position of this small hotel is outstanding and one of the few that have direct ocean views. The former house of a Brazilian movie star, the pousada is built around the main house, restaurant and pool, sloping down the hill. With some inline rooms at the top, to me it is worth the expensive splurge on a bungalow. They are lower down the hill but are stand-alone places with their own

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A BREATH OF FRESH AIR…IN A CITY OF 20 MILLION

(Sao Paulo) — Sao Paulo is big. But when you want a break from the concrete, take a taxi to the Parque Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo’s Central Park. Walk among the walkers, with great stops at lakes and mini forests and make sure you duck into the Oscar Niemeyer designed music pavilion.

AN ENTIRE RESTAURANT TUCKED UNDER A 300 YEAR OLD TREE

(Sao Paulo) — Nicely tucked into the leafy Jardins neighborhood is the famous restaurant Figueira Rubaiyat, an outdoor restaurant set under about the biggest tree I’ve ever seen — a 300 year old fig tree. There must be seats for a couple hundred people underneath its limbs, with an ingenious glass canopy built under it all. I first noticed it while taking a short walk from the Fasano, right around the corner and instantly knew I had to come back. I was there over a Monday lunch, and as I sat there a host of SP’s business elite came to have long lunch meetings over grilled steak and some of the most attentive service I’ve seen at any restaurant….I take a dip of the appetizers

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A HOTEL LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE

(Sao Paulo) — Catching all the buzz in design circles, my excellent SP guide John took me by to see the boat/watermelon-shaped Hotel Unique.  It really is a stunning place, designed by Ruy Ohtake, the lobby bar being my favorite, with a towering, cantilevered bottle display that rises several stories. There’s a rooftop bar and restaurant where you can look out over Sao Paulo’s 20 million residents. Stop by for drink. I didn’t stay here, but Trip Advisor reviews are near perfect at 4 ½ stars. Here’s a great article in Conde Nast Traveler. Here’s a great video on Design Hotels

Like the perfect little black dress, but a hotel

(Sao Paulo) — There’s nothing over-the-top at the Fasano. Just classic, full-on attention to every simple detail — like a classic little black dress. It’s all the intense focus on details that rank it on nearly everyone’s Best Of hotels, not just in Brasil, but all of South America. It’s not opulent, it’s just right. The sleek rooms are roomy and fitted-out like the inside of a BMW. Taught. Necessary. Functional. Good to the touch.  At first, not fancy, but once you’re in there a bit, you realize every thing you see or touch has been well thought-out — from the incredible linens, to the floors, to the incredibly practical and spacious desks, to the feel to your toes of the Carrera marble showers. The

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LOOK OUT ALL OVER BARCELONA. AND MORE GAUDI.

(Barcelona) — I debated and debated: “Do I really want to go all the way out there?”  Boy, am I glad I did.  Park Guell is a park set in the high hills on the edge of Barcelona.  It’s a little bit of a hoof, but well worth it when you get there. There’s an amazing Guadi designed pavilion there, trails that loop up and down the mountain and stunning views over the whole city. Just keep going up. You will be rewarded. A great way to spend a half a day.      

A 300 HUNDRED YEAR WORK-IN-PROGRESS

(Barcelona) — You’ve read about it in your school textbooks. You’ve seen pictures of it. But once you get inside, it all makes sense. Really magical. You should go hang out here, wait for when the sun is out and streaming though the windows. Don’t let the constructions cranes scare you away, they’ll be there for awhile.      

GAUDI GAUDI GAUDI

(Barcelona) — If you’re going to Barcelona, you’re going to see a lot of Gaudi.  After all those schoolbooks and tests, never really got him. Walking around Barcelona with my head up for a week, I do now. These are some shots of two favorite houses along Passeig de Gracia.  Casa Mila and it’s rooftop where you can kill hours — make sure you go right at sunset.  Just a block or two away, Casa Batlló  Here’s a great article in the August 2012 Conde Nast Traveler called 5 Perfect Days in Barcelona and Girona.  And another good article in the August 25, 2012 Wall Street Journal called Insider’s Guide to Barcelona.    

A CHILL NEIGHBORHOOD IN BARCELONA

(BARCELONA) — El Born is a cool, quiet neighborhood away from the crazy crowds. Perfect for walking around, cool shops, mellow restaurants and beautiful streets.  There’s a great little square with four or five outdoor cafes, perfect to just sit and watch Barcelona go by.  Go here. Here’s a good article from The Guardian.   Last visited July 2015      

Just when you’re having fun, along comes a circus

(Barcelona) — Not much more to report here, just a nice surprise I ran into while walking along the waterfront over Christmas time.  I don’t think Spielberg’s set designers could have come up with a more perfect looking Old School circus.

Living like a rockstar, right on Passeig de Gracia

(Barcelona) — It’s rare when you arrive at your hotel and it is actually as good as the pictures, if not better.  El Palauet Living Barcelona is one of those places. Good lord, I literally dropped my bags and ran around my two bedroom flat like a little kid.  More like Richie Rich.  This place is off-the-charts good and is definitely in the Top Five of my favorite hotels, ever. It’s set up in a classic old town house, with about 5-6 apartments, but it is run as a hotel. You feel like you’re having a hedge fund vacation, with amazing details, with perfect restoration of the original details, mixed with a high tech amenities like a multi-million dollar apartment.  Whole-house audio, check. Chromatic therapy,

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A SMALL POCKET OF COLOR

(Buenos Aires) — La Boca, you’ll read all about it, see pictures of it in your Spanish textbook, but it’s kinda cool. I hear it is a little dicey at night, I was only there during the day. A little too touristy for me, but worth a stop.  

COOKING WITH FIRE IN BUENOS AIRES

(Buenos Aires) — Continuing my pursuit of visiting all the restaurants of my favorite chef, Francis Mallmann, after an all-night flight, I had a five hour layover at the Buenos Aires airport.  I planned to take a car into the city to have lunch at his famous restaurant Patagonia Sur in BA’s colorful La Boca neighborhood, then head back to the airport. I asked my travel agent to make a reservation and when I got there they unlocked the door and let me in. There was no one there but the extremely nice waiter. I asked “Where is everybody?” and he replied: “We’re normally not open for lunch, but you had made a reservation so we opened up early for you.”  I think that’s a perfect

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