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Twenty-Four-Hour Brazilian Beach Party

A couple discovers more to do in their bikini bottoms than lie in the sand.


Illustrations by James Taylor.  

GROOVY ROMANTICS

Kelly, 28, resident physician, and
Andy, 29, broker
East Village

Date: April 2007
Budget: He said: $8,000 to $10,000;
She said: Did Andy say $11,000? $3,000.
Duration: Two weeks


Andy Said: “I’m curious about Thailand and Vietnam; Japan would be my first choice. I keep an open mind because I’ve enjoyed visiting places like Iceland. I’ve scuba dived, bungee jumped, and hiked glacier-capped mountains, but Kelly is less of an activities girl and she’s not into cold weather. If there’s nightlife to be found, Kelly and I both like to seek it out, and shopping is fun—if the exchange rate is in our favor.”

Kelly Said: “I want to go somewhere beachy that feels extravagant but isn’t prohibitively expensive—somewhere off-center. I don’t want a honeymoon package with roses set up for us. Although Andy’s happy to sit on the beach, he also needs to do stuff—he’s more balanced in that way than I am. But it’s not like I need to paint my nails on the sand either. I love to dance and find the local-legit places at night. I’ve joked about going to Jamaica and finding the hot underground reggae clubs.”

Runner-Up Destinations: Thailand and Mauritius

DESTINATION: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL


Copacabana Beach as seen from the Rio de Janeiro Guesthouse terrace.   

Getting There: Fly directly from New York to Rio in ten hours.

Where to Stay: For immediate immersion in Brazilian life, check into the Rio de Janeiro Guesthouse. This bed-and-breakfast-style hotel, located on the top two penthouse floors of a forties Art Deco apartment building that overlooks Copacabana Beach and Pão de Açúcar, is run by a Rio native and her Australian husband (from $120; rioguesthouse.com).

Fun at the Beach: Brazil has 5,000 miles of coast dotted with tropical islands and beaches. Sunbathe among an international crowd at Rio’s iconic Ipanema; play pick-up soccer with the locals at Copacabana. On the car-free Bahian island of Tinharé, find respite on the quiet shores of Fourth Beach.

Seek Adventure: In Paraná, visit Cataratas do Iguaçu, one of the world’s greatest waterfalls, with 275 cascades. In Rio, admire the view from the summit of Corcovado Mountain, where a giant statue of Jesus towers over the city. If you’re so inclined, consider scaling the mountain’s south face, which has rock-climbing routes.

Explore Bahia: Wander the cobblestone streets and sixteenth-century churches. Take in the trance-inducing dance of a Candomblé ceremony, the animist religion brought to Bahia by West African slaves, by scheduling a visit to terreiros de candomblé (places of worship) like llé Axé Opô Afonjá.

Where to Eat: Although feijoada, Brazil’s national dish of black beans, rice, and meat with vegetables, can be found everywhere and anywhere, don’t skip the Saturday feijoada buffet at Confeitaria Colombo, an elegant teahouse in Rio’s downtown Centro neighborhood. For fusion food and a funkier atmosphere, try Zazá Bistrô Tropical, a popular spot located a block away from Ipanema Beach. Savor Bahian specialties like moqueqa, a coconut-based fish stew, at Jardim das Delícias, in Salvador’s Pelourinho neighborhood.

To Do, by Night: Nightlife in Brazil really starts around midnight, with the doors to most clubs and samba spots opening at eleven. Kick off the evening on the early side—in Rio, that means around nine—with a caipirinha made from one of 80 different types of cachaça at the local drinking spot Academia da Cachaça on Leblon Beach. For something more stylish that’s still within earshot of the ocean, try Bar D’Hotel. Next, take a cab to Lapa, a quirky up-and-coming neighborhood with colonial architecture and a happening samba scene that draws people from throughout the city. Dance all night at Rio Scenarium. On Tuesday nights, take part in the lively street party that forms in Pelourinho following the 6 p.m. mass at São Francisco Church, or observe the action from the patio of the Cantina da Lua bar.

Itineraries by Gabe Struck.

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