Ipanema Hippie Fair

Everywhere you go in the world you will find some form of a street fair, each unique with different items, vendors, local merchants, specialties etc…..If you are a New Yorker reading this, the first that comes to mind would be the street fairs that take over 3rd ave (and other various avenues) during the year (but you would only consider going in the spring or fall).  The Ipanema Hippie Fair has a tropical flavor to it that makes it fun to explore:

The ‘Hippie Fair’ takes place every Sunday, from 7am to 7pm (since 1968) in large square/park: Praça General Ozório Ipanema.  The outer edges of the square are lined (about 2 rows) with different vendors on each side.  Within each of these rows you will find vendors selling all sorts of things from religious or traditional Brazilian hand-made items (see below- there were a bunch of these), to

clothes/bathing suits/flip flops (think a tropical version of Florence’s San Lorenzo Square -which is actually what the entire ‘fair’ reminded me of. If you have been to Florence and know what I am talking about then you too have a ‘Ciao Bella’ t-shirt!).  As you can see below, instead of ‘Ciao Bella’ they went with Caipirinha (the drink of choice here).  For those of you questioning my fashion sense— there is a nicer, higher quality selection of clothing and bikinis (not just these t-shirts). You will also find some very nice jewelry; not just beading, there were a lot of silver/other jewelry vendors. Also— if you are looking for any leather items you will find excellent quality, stunning leather goods, belts etc (usually for around R$20 as opposed to R$200 in the stores!)

The inside of the square is full of different artists exhibiting their work. Think ‘outdoor art museum’.  Some of the pieces are absolutely magnificent.

From paintings, to sculptures there is something that everyone will appreciate.  Many of the paintings depict scenes of Brazil, Carnival, the beaches and mountains while others are more basic or simple home decor.  The miniature life like wall hangings below were probably the most creative items inside the ‘art section’ of the fair.  Hard to tell from the picture (I was sneaking the pic), but they are extremely detailed and true to the real buildings they represent.

If you are looking to find your quintessential souvenir, hunting for something small (specifically for a gift/you/your home) or just want to spend the afternoon perusing a fair full of different things, this is an excellent place to go.


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From High Society Tea to Saara.. There is something for everyone

After the seeing the beautiful churches (see my last post), it was time for a ‘snack’. We headed to Confeitaria Colombo, a well known Belle Époque’ tearoom that opened its doors in 1894; quickly becoming the ’ rendez-vous’ place of choice for Rio’s high society members. The ornate late 19th century decor really did remind me of Belle Epoque Paris — or a painting by Monet. At the front of the restaurant is a bakery and candy shop so you can see all of the wonderful goodies right away.

The very high ceiling (which has a stained glass circle in the center) is ringed by a balcony of people who want something more than just a snack or sweet. The room itself is surrounded by enormous Jacaranda-framed mirrors which are absolutely stunning!

There are hundreds of different ‘snacks’ (if you are craving something salty and or fried) as well as a wide selection of different desserts.  We started out with some of my favorite snacks: a pastel carne (ie ground beef in a pocket), empada( little pastry filled with either chicken, shrimp or cheese) and I tried my first camarao frito a meaipe (large friend shrimp with too much batter— if you take off half the batter it is delicious!) Then it was on to desserts….As you can see we got a chocolate napoleon (something safe-I know I like these!) and we tried a few traditional Brazilian and Portuguese desserts…

  The Pasteis de Nata (custard tart traditionally Portuguese) which was good, but extremely sweet, so I would recommend sharing it even though it is small.  We also tried something similar to quindim (basically egg yolks, sugar and butter)… I was not a fan.  In general the desserts here are either chocolate (safe for me), passion fruit (it is huge here) or ‘egg yolk’…they love their egg yolks here….personally, I will be sticking to sorvete (ice cream!)

In a city that has replaced much of the old with less attractive modern construction, Confeitaria Colombo was a welcomed surprise.

Then it was off to Saara, which is like NYC’s Chinatown during a New Year festival every day. Syrian, Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, Jewish, Spanish, Portuguese and Argentinean immigrants are among the pioneer merchants in what is known as ‘Saara’ and thousands of people fill these streets daily.  Saara (ie Chiantown) is a mixture of all sorts of vendors.

   On the street level there are tons of different merchants selling everything from different foods/spices to clothing and home goods. As you can see from the picture below, this store had containers of everything you could think of (olives, cherries, cake decoration sprinkles, spices etc).  Very convenient to do a ton of shopping in one place, and everything here is 10times cheaper than the rest of the city.  However, beware… these little stores are VERY hot (no ac here), get crowded and there are flies buzzing around.  In general, because of the bacalhau it doesn’t smell great…wouldn’t want to be here on a really hot, crowded day!

The second stories are old art deco buildings that are falling apart. If you stare at it long enough you can see that once upon a time they were beautifully colored buildings.  We were going to explore the National Library but since Obama is coming to town this weekend people were ‘practicing’ their protests in the square…so decided to call it a day and we will venture downtown another day.