A Last Minute Escape to Rio de Janeiro

Traveler: Naz Sirmen – Designer 

What is your most unforgettable escape? I just got back from Brazil – Rio de Janeiro . It was as wonderful as my previous get away to Northern Lights/Abisko -Stockholm. But the weather and the tropical climate of Rio stole my heart. I was totally mesmerized by the nature and culture. It was unforgettable.

What was the purpose of your travel? I was working on my first solo exhibition for the majority of 2019. At the end of the last year I also founded a brand called ‘Jaagravii’, which added tremendous amount of work to my busy schedule as I also act as a designer to the brand. As you can imagine I needed a break. My boyfriend Doruk had this amazing idea planned this trip last minute trip to Rio. This much needed break took most of my mental tiredness.

With how many people did you travel? Just me and Doruk.   

Where did you stay? We stayed at the Santa Teresa Hotel RJ MGallery in Santa Teresa which is called Old Rio. It was a very charming neighborhood, the birthplace of the Bohemian Carioca, for those who want a cultural experience it was the best. The region is a natural oasis for the creative minds. It was like St Paul de Vence, Côte d’Azur but in a Tropical way.

Beautiful sunsets by the pool accompanied by drinks, mostly Caipirinha.

What did you most like about the trip? In this case it is impossible to choose one thing. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s tropical metropolis, city life combined with tropical nature, rainforests, botanic gardens, mountain tops (Sugar Loaf and Corcovado). Rio is pumping with Music, Jazz – Bossa Nova- and Sensuous Samba! Glittering beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema and Praia do Leblon. It comes to life in its stylish bars and restaurants and the elegant boutiques showcasing local designers.

Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip?

The first day of the Carnival. The most important annual event in Rio. It starts with the largest street parties in the world, they call it ‘Blocos’. Rio Carnival is one not to miss. A palette of colour and dance, music and drums. Crazy kind of electric energy, by day as well as by night. Exploring samba street parties and endless parades, and your evenings with never-ending cocktails (for me mostly Caipirinhas). It was our first Bloco experience, a joyful sunny Carnival moment until the crazy monsoon rains fell on us. The last thing I remember was Doruk dragging both of us to the hotel and we were rising above the pool singing Brazilian songs and still ordering Brazilian Beers.:)

I realized what it meant to ‘dance in the rain’ that day. Our Carnival tickets were in the standard audience section. We watched half of the show there until the beers that we drank caused a toilet problem. The toilets were so bad that we looked for another solution. Luckily we discovered the VIP section, where they party, watch the show, eat, drink for free and have clean, like CLEAN bathrooms. We sneaked in the absence of security. And we watched the rest of the show from this favored area for free :).


Your most surprising find during the trip? I saw an apartment named Van Gogh. That was surprising.

Favorite restaurant(s) or food you have tried during your trip?

Heart of the palm Salad! We had it at Bar Do Mineiro, Aprazivel and Garato. I’ve been craving it since I came back, I wish I could bring all of it here.

I haven’t eaten red meat for a long time, but continuous table-side service of fire-roasted meats at Fogo de Chao made me do it. “Alcatra” Thin sliced top sirloin was the best I have ever had.

There is something you should never bother trying. which is Bob’s burger. Brazillian Fast food chain. No. No.

Aprazível: Artisan Brazilian cuisine & cachaça produced in a country-home setting with gardens & views of Rio.

Address: R. Aprazível, 62 – Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20241-270, Brazil

Térèze: This chic, trendy restaurant offers sophistication with panoramic bay views & fine dining.

Address: R. Felício dos Santos, 15 – Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20240-240, Brazil

Fogo de Chão Botafogo: Upscale Brazilian chain for all-you-can-eat meat carved table-side plus an extensive salad bar.

Address: Av. Reporter Nestor Moreira, s/n – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22290-210, Brazil

Zuka: Sophisticated seafood, meat & chicken dishes served in a minimalist setting with soft music.

Address: Rua Dias Ferreira, 233B – Leblon, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22431-050, Brazil

Garota de Ipanem : A rustic pub that serves draft beer & casual food. Must try.

Bar do Mineiro: An iconic local bar known for its feijoada, pastéis & cachaça, set in a modest neighborhood home.

Portella Bar & Restaurante – Santa Teresa: Informal spot serving various snacks & classic Northeastern Brazilian dishes, with sidewalk seating.

What are the must tries of the city?

Museu do Amanhã (Museum of tomorrow) is a new kind of Science museums. Here you can examine the past and possible scenarios for the next 50 years. Facing today’s global problems. Where we going as a humankind. Our actions and how their consequences have an impact on our world. Audiovisual environments and interactive installations that make you cry…

Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden) is a great place to observe a great variety of different plants and animal species.

Parque Lage is an old Mansion in a public park in the city, located in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood at the foot of the Corcovado. There is an Art School near by. Parque Lage is also known as the place Snoop Dog & Pharrell shot Beautiful, good for breakfast.

Niterói Contemporary Art Museum designed by the famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. I describe it as a UFO-like museum.

Mount Corcovado – Christ the Redeemer Statue.

We did a 30,000 step beach walk. Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon.

Santa Teresa & Lapa.


Would you go back? DEFINITELY! NOW.

Could you list a few of your favorite finds you came back with? Haight: Brazilian swimwear brand, a store made with organic ingredients from it’s walls to it’s clothings and bikinis. They display jewellery of selected designers, such as Paolas Vilas. I Hope our brand Jaagravii will appear there soon.

Any tips that might be useful to know before going there? If you’re in Rio during the Carnival time don’t try to attend every Bloco or street party you see. Don’t try to embrace everything. No one is smoking so try to quit there. We didn’t spent much time partying, we preferred to walk more, eat, discover, swim in the ocean, and visit the museums. We chose to get up early and accepted whatever the day brought us…

 Next stop you would like to visit? The only answer: JAPAN.

What does traveling mean to you? I’m a Gemini. My Element is Air, which is a very dynamic and lively in itself. Air represents the breath of life, survival nutrient. People who are born with this element, are distinct due to their dynamism and their detachment from all their immediate surroundings. One of the areas where I feel most alive is being on an Airplane or in an Airport. I always wonder in excitement what more is there to discover? What more is there to see? Being in the air is the most exciting and soothing thing for me, because it takes me somewhere else. Undiscovered.