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拉面 La Mian World

the quest for the perfect noodle

Recife has a lot of exciting things to do and see. Here is La Mian World’s personal tourist top ten list:

Top 1 – Museu-Oficina Francisco Brennand

A museum and workshop of local artist Francisco Brennand. It is located a bit outside of the city in an old factory surrounded by lush forests. You find his works also in a lot of places around the city.

Propriedade Santos Cosme e Damião – Cordeiro (Zona Oeste), near Avenida Caxangá and Rua Gastão Vidigal.

Top 2 – Cachaçaria Carvalheira

Visit this cachaça factory and try the Brazilian sugar cane schnapps that is the basis of Caipirinha. Cachaça Carvalheira comes in different versions from basic to aged in old wine barrels. Makes you dizzy – only buy as much as you can carry.

You need to call ahead of your visit. The location is in an industrial area of town: Rua Manuel Didier, 53, Imbiribeira – Recife, +55 81 3081 8130

Top 3 – Boa Viagem Beach

Go running, walking or sit on the beach in a folding chair with your ice-cold beer close by and watch the crowd. Swimming is not recommended though, there are hungry sharks in the water – so they say. In the Boa Viagem neighbourhood you also find a lot of restaurants and good bars. The fans of Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture may want to visit the Dona Lindu park.

Top 4 – Downtown Recife

Downtown Recife consists of several parts around the mouth of the river Capibaribe.

One is the small island, which houses Recife Antigo, the oldest part of the city with colonial buildings, the oldest synagogue in the Americas, an up-market shopping center in a nicely renovated old customs building with Recife’s best book shop next door and a lively Sunday market on Rua bom Jesus.

Across the Capibaribe river lies Santo Antônio. Another district of busy small lanes and colonial buildings, churches and squares. The capela dourada, an amazing golden chapel, is the sightseeing highlight. This whole area is not exactly touristy but very authentic.

Top 5 –  River Cruise

Recife is called the Amsterdam of Brazil because of its many canals, rivers and bridges throughout the city. Fortunately there is also a river cruise that starts from Santo Antônio and takes you around the city’s waterways and port. It is nice to go for the late afternoon tour. First, it is not so hot and second you can enjoy the sunset and city lights starting to glow.

Top 6 – Olinda

Olinda is actually a separate city north of Recife, although the two somehow merged into one metropolis. Olinda is in UNESCO’s world heritage list. It is a wonderful old little town on a hill. With nice Portuguese two-story houses and villas, churches and cobble stone streets.

There are some excellent restaurants here to try the local cuisine and it features the famous Olinda carnival.

It is home to many artists and there is a quite touristy street market around the square of the cathedral. This market also has a lot of stalls that sell tapioca, a kind of crepe made of manioc flour.

Top 7 –  Monte dos Guararapes

Like Olinda to the North, Jaboatão dos Guararapes is a city literally attached to Recife to its South. It considers itself the home of the nation as in some decisive battles on its hill the Dutch were defeated and ultimately driven out of the country. A drive up the hill, which is now a national park,  brings you to a viewpoint. From here you have an excellent view over the city, past the airport to the neighborhoods of Boa Viagem and to the city centre. Also, on one flank of the hill is the lovely  church Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres dos Montes Guararapes.

Top 8 – Food

The cuisine of Brazil’s North-East is something to be discovered. A mixture of European and African cooking together with local fruits, vegetable and spices make it unique.

The health conscious be warned, it is far from light. There are loads of cheese, coconut milk and roots of all unthinkable names involved. Of course it features a lot of sea-food and, hello, this is Brazil, MEAT. The world’s most favorite food, Italian, is also big here with some local touches (cheeeese).

So, don’t leave without having tried above mentioned tapioca filled with some special cheese (queijo de coalho) for breakfast, have caldinho de feijão (a mini bean soup) at the beach, ask only for the picanha piece of beef at the lunch buffet,  or eat Pirão de Peixe (thickened fish soup) and round it off with the ultimate Brazil-Italo dish of  Filé à Parmigiana (Wiener Schnitzel with pasta, mashed potatoes and rice on a table size plate).

Apart from the Pizza and Pasta the Italian immigrants also brought icecream to Brazil. Try fri-sabor, which has several outlets.

Top 9 – Museu do Homem do Nordeste

This Museum tells the story of the different cultures that make up the people of the Northeast of Brazil from the natives to the  Portuguese colonizers and the African cultures that were brought by the slaves. It also gives an insight into the sugar cane industry. Very interesting and nicely done small museum.

Top 10 – Shopping Brazilian Style

The Brazilian, or at least the Recife style of shopping is mostly Americanized: Shopping Malls! The largest one was Shopping Recife, where you will find both national and international brands. In October this year another massive complex called Shopping RioMar opened its doors. For a different shopping experience head to Recife Antigo’s Paço Alfândega, the renovated customs building or to the busy streets in Santo Antônio. One step up in terms of different is the Casa da Cultura, an old prison transformed into a local-arts market. Recife is working on changing the urban landscape with a project of the likes of Hamburg’s Hafencity or London’s Docklands called Porto Novo. The latest addition here is the Centro de Artesanato de Pernambuco which feature a great selection of local artist’s work.

What is there to shop in Brazil? Of course you have to stock up on the latest design of havaianas flip-flops. Next stop beach wear. Try Água de CocoBlueman and Salinas brands for bikinis and ‘sungas’ as the male swim wear is called.  Wear something on top: Hering is the Brazilian “The Gap”, only better, and Richards or Mitchell are great for sportsy outfits. Farm is a popular and super fashionable brand for women. So is the ubercool Melissa brand for, yes, designer plastic shoes. If you have some more Reals to spend, do so at Osklen, Brazil’s first global luxury fashion brand. Talking about luxury, of course there is H.Stern, Brazil’s most famous jeweler.

Some more tips:

Pick up the free Recife tourist map from the tourist information e.g. at the airport. It contains a good summary of places to visit and what to do from morning to evening.

Recife has a free event magazine or rather flyer called Agenda do Recife which is also available online.

For some more ideas of travel destinations around the North and North-East check our Tourist Guide.

Last up-dated: 13.12.2012

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