5 Things Melanie Abrantes Says You Gotta Check Out in Rio de Janeiro
Before Melanie Abrantes got way into wood and cork—turning the straight-from-nature materials into tremendously cool planters and cake stands—she had another infatuation: soccer. “I played all through high school; I was obsessed,” she says. “I had to go to Brazil for the World Cup!” Between games and celebrations, here’s what she explored in and around Rio de Janeiro—stuff totally worth planning a trip around now that those festive Germans have packed their bags.
Do: Chill at the beach!
“If Brazilians are not at the beach, I really don’t know where they are. It’s definitely the thing to do. People from Rio do this thing where they go to a specific beach every week at the same time with the same group of friends. Each beach has a very specific audience and also has a very unique tile pattern that was designed by artist Roberto Burle Marx. I would recommend Ipanema for younger people—lots of beautiful-people watching!”
Shop: Dona Coisa
“There are a lot of artist studios in the area around Jardim Botânico, and one store in particular that I loved was Dona Coisa—they have a coffee shop on the top floor, a really adorable apothecary-type store below, and avant-garde fashion on the floor below that. Brazilian arts and crafts make the best souvenirs—anything imported is super-expensive, but they have very reasonably priced and beautiful trinkets—and hammocks. After you lay in one, you’re going to want one for sure.”
(R. Lopes Quintas, 153)
Eat: Pastel de Nata
“There’s a place in downtown Rio that’s been around since the 1800s called Confeitaria Colombo. It’s in the middle of the city and is two floors, lined with mirrors and glass. A must-try is their pastel de nata, or Portuguese egg tart, which has now also become a Brazilian tradition. Literally nothing has changed at Confeitaria Colombo since it first opened—you can see a photo of what it looked like previously, and the only things different are people’s clothes!”
(Rua Goncalves Dias, 32)
“This is a beach town around three hours south of Rio. We had to take a boat there, and there are a lot of beaches that you can only access by water taxis. It’s where all the Brazilians go to vacation.”