Bazaar Shows: Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is one of the world's most stunning
cities. With its wonderful beaches, colourful multicultural
identity, fascinating history and unrepentant lust for life
it never fails to seduce visitors. KT Comer heads out
into the Cidade Maravilhosa (the magnificent city) to find
out what makes it tick.
Rio is renowned as the playground of South America so what
better place to start our trip than at the beach? It's the
focus of the Carioca (the nickname for Rio's inhabitants)
social scene - so much so that it's a wonder any work gets
done in Rio at all! The beautiful people are out in force
among the volleyball players and beach vendors who sell you
anything you imagine; KT tries the fresh oysters, a bargain
at 25 cents a go. If you really want to fit in here though
you've got to have a bikini - and not just any kind
- the Brazilian variety is the smallest in the world. For
a cheap pick me up, KT heads off to the Sara district,
a lively local shopping area downtown. For something more
upmarket, it's off to Blueman Swimwear shop which specialises
in those must-have itsy bitsies. There are plenty of hotels
lining the beach. The oldest, Copacabana, dates back
to the 1920s but the newer concrete blocks are beginning to
improve their interiors and KT nips inside one for a quick
KT Comer relaxes after a hard day's shopping!
Dazzled by all those bronzed bodies, KT heads downtown for
a look at the architectural styles that represent the city's
vibrant past. In among the drab slabs of modernity she finds
the flamboyant Portuguese Library with its high gothic
style and Café Columbo, a cake-lover's heaven
and an art nouveau, belle époque gem.
Rio's predominance is based on the colonial exploitation of
gold mines and its gem trade - Brazil produces 80 per cent
of the world's coloured precious stones. KT gets up close
to some fabulous contemporary designs at the jewellery shop
H. Stern whose pieces fuse beauty with functionality.
For more of an insight into Brazil's burgeoning design talents
KT stops off at Contemporaneo where she falls in love
with design pieces that cost a fraction of what they would
in Paris and the Babilonia Feira Hype market which supports
up-and-coming designers whose ranges include recycled glass
ornaments and furniture made from plastic bottles. All this
creativity isn't just the preserve of artists as KT discovers
when she takes a well-deserved rest at the Rio Scenarium
Bar. She's amazed by its eccentric extravagance; it's
just like walking into the props room of a multi-era film.
Another must-do for KT's Rio reconnaissance is the cable
car trip up the 4,600 feet of Sugar Loaf Mountain.
The view is more proof of the city's stunning location but
also reminds us that the city isn't all about glitz and glamour.
KT spies the rash of favelas surrounding the city and sets
off to discover how the city is coping with its dispossessed
millions in the new century. Here she meets Christiano
de Silva, one of a string of new self-taught artists trying
to break into the mainstream, who shows her his studio and
a selection of his colourful, vivid designs. He sells his
work at the weekend markets across the town so KT makes her
way to one of these, the Ipanema hippy market that
plugs arts and crafts from across Brazil and stumbles across
an impromptu performance of capioera, a Brazilian martial
A capioera display
You can't truly experience a city without tasting some of
its native food. Always adventurous, KT seeks out a national
delicacy, a black bean stew with pork off-cuts, at the Casa
de Feijouda. Originally slave food, it has become a Brazilian
favourite although KT's not so sure she'll be trying it again!
Full (although not necessarily satisfied!), KT trips up a
unique tile staircase, carefully designed and tended by local
artist Selabon, on her way to the Academia de Cachacon.
This houses a museum dedicated to another Brazilian passion
- cachaca. This spirit, made from sugarcane, is known
as firewater and KT soon finds out why in a tasting session!
To round off her tour KT has saved the most iconic - and
many would say still the best feature of Rio - till last,
the 125 foot tall Christ the Redeemer statue that looms
over the city from the Hunchback mountain. With this final
stunning sight, KT signs off, taking her bulging suitcases