14 July 2011
travel: florianopolis, brazil by sam saxton-beer
Sam Saxton-Beer returns to her former playground in Brazil to discover her old haunts are still top of the list.
An advocate for all things exotic and beautiful, it comes as no surprise that Sam Saxton-Beer heads up the kitchen design division at Matisse for one of the world’s most prestigious kitchen manufacturers – Arclinea. When she’s not busy in the kitchen – so to speak, she likes to travel and there is no place better than her former hometown Florianopolis, Brazil. After a two year stint living as a local, she’s more than qualified to guide us through the must-see spots in this coveted location.
“God was having a sensational day when he created Florianopolis. While New Zealand was being dished out pineapple lumps and a couple of other national assets, this wondrous island known as Floripa was busy blending up sand dunes and lagoons with lush mountains and glorious beaches – rolling out the perfect environment to nurture surfers and supermodels alike.
It’s no wonder the creatures who inhabit this slice of heaven are slightly protective about visitors. Living here in 2006 and 2007, I too developed my own sense of territorialism – so how then would I be treated, returning as a visitor for the first time in four years? Would my friends be frequenting the same hang-outs? Would any of the locals still recognize me? My reservations were quickly forgotten when on day one we arrived at my favourite lunch bar Uma Rosa, where the queue of patrons was flowing out the door. At just on midday, it was a promising sign that this was still one sought-after eating spot. Amazingly, the rest of the trip followed suit and I managed to keep my tour-guide status in tact – according to my partner in tow. Here are a handful of memorable places for you to make like a Brasileiro and check out when you are next in the Island of Magic.
Uma Rosa. Por-Quilo lunch bars are an institution in this health-conscious city and Uma Rosa is known as the best. The style is dubbed “Gastronomia Pop” and it was the first to offer a completely organic range of salads and hot dishes. Buffet dining has never looked so fashionable and best of all they weigh your plate so you simply pay for what you eat. The fresh daily juices are a must. (Uma Rosa, Avenida Afonso Delambert Neto, 315, Lagoa da Conceição www.umarosa.com.br)
Mar Massas. I’m not sure what it is about the allure of hard-to-find destinations but Mar Massas delivers an experience so good you’ll be in doubt about sharing the secret. Nestled in a bushy cliff overlooking the lagoon and Joaquina beach beyond, their hand-made parcels of ravioli contain unique and addictive flavours that will leave you wondering if the local myth about the female-only proprietors “practicing witchcraft” is really just a myth. (Mar Massas, Restaurante Italiano, Rua Laurinda Januário da Silveira, 3843, Lagoa da Conceição www.marmassas.com.br)
Praia Mole. Probably the most famous beach and surfing spot in Floripa, when you arrive at Praia Mole the DJ will be warming things up next to the bar and you’ll be thinking you’ve just arrived on set for your next role as the Coolest Guy Ever. Activities around this place definitely offer the best spectator’s sport.
Joaquina. One of the longest of the 42 beaches in Floripa, Joaquina has always shared a more relaxed, bohemian vibe often preferred by the locals. Drop in for a spot of sand-boarding on the way – the view from the top of the sand dunes is unbelievable.
Jurere. Great for a day of new-money madness, this is the place where the wealthy Paulista’s favour for holiday homes at the North of the island. Check yourself out in the reflective windows of someone’s palace on way to the sand – you’ll want to make sure you’re well groomed for this pose-athon.
Confraria Das Artes. From the outside this group of historical buildings look like static old shop-fronts but inside the walls vibrate with excellent sounds and well-heeled party people from 12am onwards. From the recent renovation they’ve retained some of the original antiques and eclectic feel but modernized the facilities to a world class standard. Expect to pay minimum US$100 on standard nights and upwards of $800 on club nights to get on the door list. It’s not possible to over-dress and if you want to look like a regular then order a bottle of Absolute Vodka for your table. (Confraria Das Artes, Rua Joao Pacheco Costa, 31, Lagoa da Conceição, www.confrariaclub.com)