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IMG_1232250 steps of Escadaria Selaron, connecting Santa Teresa and Lapa, Rio de Janerio

Oh it was so not easy to find these steps covered in all sort of colored tiles as it’s tucked in between hill top of Santa Teresa and the small side street next to aqueduct at Lapa.  Steps are covered in mainly yellow, green and red as the Artist calls the red portion is his “personal problem” which he did not explain why but you and I can understand the reasons behind the yellow and green. See I totally remember watching the music video, “Beautiful” of Snoop Dogg featuring Pharell cheerfully singing on these steps and fearlessly cruising Favelas and Copacabana with hot Brazilian ladies, and I used to say to myself, if I go to Rio then I’ll go see that steps!  and Here I am finally at the top and the bottom of the very famous steps, Escadaria Selaron!!!

So here, Watch this!

IMG_1186The very first step on the top looking down. See you would not expect to see the grand colorful view just yet. You can only see it by looking up!

The Chilean born artist Jorge Selaron began renovating a dilapidated steps that ran along the front of his house back in 1990.  It started as his side project along his painting but this soon became the main project and real passion still continuing till today and he claims to do so until he dies. There are many tiles were sent or given to the artist from people around the world for him to add on within his own tile work. You can see small individual tiles designed with names of cities such NYC as well.

Here, I’ll lead you step by step!

IMG_1187The first top portion of the steps.



IMG_1194Along the steps, the side walls of the houses are all dolled up too!



IMG_1203Here’s the artist himself painting. Jorge Selaron. He’s sitting in front of his Gallery.






IMG_1231That white flag is from my home, South Korea!

IMG_1235Yeap! My tourist moment.

IMG_1240Getting closer to the bottom of the steps. It get’s more elaborate.  See I think it is good to start from the top. So you don’t have to walk up that 250 steps! Get there through Santa Teresa Convent form Santa Teresa rather than from Lapa.

IMG_1245One more pic with the very man, Jorge Selaron. Yes all of this work is done by him!

IMG_1249Here’s the manifesto of Mr. Selaron about the steps.



If you are ever in Rio, You can’t miss this.

It’s one big color result of one small artist’s passion that is recognized internationally!

Viva, Escadaria Selaron!!

IMG_1053The view to Corcovado and the city of Rio from Sugarloaf Mountain, “Pao de Acucar”.  You can see tiny “Cristo” on the top of Corcovado looking over Rio.  It’s almost surreal and I must say it’s quite cool!

The director of Casa Amarelo, Matthieu told us a few times. “Don’t pass 4:30 for the sunset!”  And we just made it! We haven’t stopped at all since we left the Casa Amarelo around 10:00 am to shop Ipanema and Leblon, walk, walk and walk, took pictures, stop for lunch, the markets then back home then literally 2 minutes to drop off our bags, brushed teeth and out the home with a scarf around the neck as the late evening temperature drops quite quickly in Rio now. The line is quite long to get on a cable car up to Sugar Mountain but also it’s moving quite fast. Fast enough. Feeling getting quite tired yet bit excite to get on the cable car, we are patient.  22 Real ( about $20.00) for the ride for both ways per person. The ride itself is quite quick. It’s the wait and the amount of time how much you want to stay up at the deck on the top of the mountain.  The view is absolutely amazing and you get to really understand the beauty of the bays of Rio and the physical relationship among the Rio, Christo, the beaches and the people reside within all. Cariocas.

IMG_1027At the bottom of all. The Cable car station. We are only imagine what it would be like while waiting…




IMG_1036The view to the right going up.

IMG_1044The view to the left going up.

IMG_1059The camera just doesn’t do the justice of the actual view for the top. You get the 360 degree views all around the mountain and it’s just breathtaking…!

IMG_1045We did not get to go up to the Corcovado to visit Cristo and I am learning now, Corcovado would have had the better view for me as you get to see several favelas, Ipanema, Copacabana, Sugarloaf Mountain and the lake Rodrigo de Freitas.  A good excuse to return to Rio actually!

cristo-redentor-1No this pic is not taken by me as we did not go up to the Corcovado but if you do a Helicopter tour, You can see this view from the Cristo too!

IMG_1073Cristo almost looks like a U.F.O

IMG_1075The beach on the let is the Copacabana. The right one is the lake. You still see Cristo on the back.

IMG_1076A wonderful experience to understand the whole layout of Rio and enjoy the amazing view! It’s one magical city you are Rio!

After, we had returned and had one caipirinha at Casa Amarelo ( thanks Sammy!)  munching on couple pieces of bread pre-packing our bags and stuff. We had changed one more time to freshen up but something conservative. No high heels. No flash outfits here!  Just comfy shoes and something warm and we were going to walk down to the Lapa from Santa Teresa to check out couple Samba clubs or more like Samba music hall and Dance hall.

IMG_1106It’s a Saturday night and Cynthia and I are determined to go listen to live Samba otherwise we are  complete losers with big capital L as we are for God sake in Rio De Janeiro!!!  The streets are closed and filled with people in groups and couples hanging out by the side walk bars and cafes eating and drinking. The Vibe is fantastic! It’s lively but also quite quiet. I can’t imagine what it would be like during the carnival.

Lapa is an area located by the bottom end of Santa Teresa and next to Downtown. Lapa is now a real heart where live Samba clubs and dance halls are  and once used to be the red light district but  since the 1950′s, Lapa has been one of the most important area for the Intellectuals, artist, politicians and writers do come and socialize  and celebrate Samba.  Lapa also houses on eimportant historical architecture, Carioca Aqueduct. Below.

aqueductCarioca Aqueduct, Lapa.  The aqueduct was built back in 1723 to supply the water for Santa Teresa from Carioca River but the water pipes were not even until the century later.  Now it’s used for part of the Tram rail ( the Rail run on the top of the aqueduct offering the view of the Lapa and Downtown).

IMG_1122I had looked up a few Samba clubs and 2 of them happened to be the best in town. One place is this guy  right here you see, “Carioca da Gema”, more of a Music Hall rather than a dance hall. You pay 25 real to get in and they’ll give you drink and food order sheet with your name on to hold on to it. ( anything else from entrance fee is extra charge)  We decided to go in!  It’s still early as 9:30 ish but Carioca da Gema runs the first show at 9:00 with rotating live Samba bands.

IMG_1089Inside! It’s already getting filled up! but I have to say club crowd at least here was very civilized. No pushing or harassing sort of. everyone keeps their pace  and space focusing on music, it was very peaceful and well behaving.




IMG_1108Couple Caipirinha and taste of Samba at Gema, now we are out to street to go check out one more place!

IMG_1109Cigarett, gums and candy guy. When was the last time I saw such?  Learnt you can also by single cigarette for 1 real.



IMG_1154Now entering to our real deal of then night. Democraticas!  Love the entrance and warm rundown feeling.

IMG_1129Would Cuba would be like sort of?  A mansion built in 1807 turned into a Live Samba club, This place is a definitely a dance hall. I feel like I am back in 1950′s. The whole place reminds me of the documentary, Buena vista social club. It has this wonderful old school vibe. I am loving this.  Its 11:30 but the night has not really started yet so we are going for another caipirinha!

IMG_1150Down and humble bar at Democratica.


IMG_1143A big wonderful band! Awesome beautiful music you want to dance to again and again and again!


I’ll say Samba is the half of Rio. You just can’t miss it. Ever!!!!

ipanemaIpanema  Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ahhh, I so wished it was warmer, no actually really hotter!  See Brazil right now is in winter even though it’s around 65-70 degrees, it just does not do the justice of hot hot sun slowly baking you to the sexy glowing golden goddess in bright fun bikinis!  But we were lucky on Sunday to have descent temperature and lovely sun caressing the city, it was the best day to hit the actual Ipanema beach and markets for a day!

The word “Ipanema” comes from “Tupi Language” which means “Bad water” and what it really means in this case is bad water for fishing since the surf dies too close to the sand that it pushes the fish away.  The surf can reach up to high as 9ft in winter time, Ipanema beach is filled with surfers as well as many volley ball & soccer players and also was packed with many Cariocas strolling, running and roller blading along the beautiful and famous mosaic tiled board walk enjoying beautiful Sunday afternoon. Ipanema belongs to the safest area called ” Zona Sul” in Rio and  I totally felt it was quite safe and neighborhood like with smaller streets and colorful homes with couple markets like Fiera Hippie on Sundays and everyday vegetables and fish market called Fiera Ipanema where there are many  small boutiques and typical Carioca style easy restaurants are.   Cynthia and I had walked everywhere to hunt down good images, colors and some good artisanal props and anything that could be great inspiration for our work for Summer 12!



IMG_1307Through out the city, You sill see much of these Mosaic tile work for pedestrian side walks to walls to these major beach like Ipanema and Copacabana. Copacabana’s tile work carries more of big wave like pattern which actually I personally prefer. Quite cool, Ha?

IMG_1328We did NOT see Gisele Bundchen. Or some sort of Rio beauties At ALL this time!! Is it because the weather is not hot as their summer which is more from December to March, the temperature reaches around to 86-87 degrees.  Actually I am convinced that those hot Brazilian babes are not form Rio. Maybe from Sao Paolo vacationing in Rio? Or are they all hiding…?





IMG_0986Typical drink and snack shacks along the board walk.

IMG_0766Now walking into the farmer’s market, Fiera Ipanema on Rua Maria Quiteria. It’s a friendly and vibrant awesome market!

IMG_0767 I fell in love with Simple and bold bright striped tents!


IMG_0769Samplers are everywhere!!! Sweet as honey, gorgeous strawberries, juicy water melons, Amazonian fruits and so much more. By the time you are done with one isle, you will be already full from shower or free samples offered by the friendly vendors!









IMG_0787Love sardine!!





IMG_0796An awesome Veggie station. You know I’ll eat every leaf hanging off the stand!



IMG_0964OK we are starving and stopping for some typical Carioca food at one of these restaurants by the board walk. I did order this fizzy drink ( non alcoholic drink made by Brazilian Coca Cola company and heard there are many versions including ones you make at home to bars…).  I did hear about ‘ Guarana’, this sort of thing that gives you energy. Guarana is a small bright red fruit that contains lots of Caffeine. (about double of coffee beans).  The taste?  This particular drink right here, Kuat! just tasted like sweet syrupy water with very light fizz in it. I did not care for it much. It didn’t feel like it made me all energetic either. but it sure gave me stomach upset!!!  It got me all nauseous!

IMG_0965My order. Rice with mixed sea food in tomato coconut milk sauce. Delicious!  But I have to tell you, one called ” Moqueca soup” at long time NY restaurant on Union square, ” The Coffee shop” makes the best one so far I have to say. Is that why we live in NYC?  Cynthia, you still don’t believe me about this, but they serve the best kind!  I have to say I loved the addition of this hard boiled egg in this dish. You know it’s just so comforting with nice sauce over it with rice… YUM!

IMG_0966Cynthia’s dish. Broiled Cod with fresh fried chips with garlic oil and crumbled hard boiled egg! Com on, You have to love this!  Sooo good! Don;t you love her red nail against bright neon strip eon back drop anyway?

IMG_0803One of residential building in Ipanema and the typical yellow cab of Rio.

IMG_1264Now we are at the Hippie market in Ipanema, Only a couple blocks into the town from the Gay beach area of Ipanema beach. Every Sunday. We totally learnt that Rio is an expensive city.  This hand made artisanal pieces are quite expensive and also everything else. Taxi, drink, food, clothing… Everything id quite expensive especially if you are brining the US $$. ( the exchange rate is terrible now)






IMG_1288There were couple food stands that run by these lovely Bahian ladies. Bahia is located on north east side of Brazil which is definitely above the Rio. All those good Samba and Bossa Nova was also born in Bahia.  Ahh we didn’t really taste any food here as we just ate!  But it must be really good and authentic as the stands were really crowded. Next time!






IMG_1364Hand drums for samba!


Now listen to this!  The very man, Vinicius de Moraes who wrote the song on his cigarette and a glass of cachaca, “Garota de Ipanema”


Can’t  imagine what would be like being in Ipanema surrounded by millions of people under the hot sun and sugar mountain enjoying the beach, the sun and the magical energy  of Rio!































They are everywhere and I’ll keep adding!






Rio_de_Janeiro_MapAn easy map of Rio de Janeiro for you. Today, we were at Santa Teresa, our home base and at Saara market in Downtown.

The most used One word in Rio today?  “Obrigado!” Then my poor tongue would keep spitting out ”Gracias!” or “ Grazie!” and what else.. Oh I even said, “Arigato!” Actually If didn’t say “Arigato!” that loud stupidly, I could have been almost heard as if I was saying ”Obrigado…!”
But gentile Cariocas were still friendly to us as we pulled out every possible language card we had out of our back pockets, and we did survive the very first day at this warm, raw, lush and quite interesting city, Rio de Janeiro!  ( yeah… Italian did help but not much really…)

From a little quick research I did before booking the trip, I knew we wanted to stay at Santa Teresa where is located between the heart of Samba scene area called “Lapa” and an another area where the old Rio meets the new Rio, a downtown typically named as “Centro”. See, Santa Teresa is sort of Montmarte of Rio to me.  Run down yet absolutely gorgeous colonial style villas with those pretty metal gates are lined up all along the sleepy cobble stoned hill tops and this quiet bohemian, and artists filled neighborhood houses small bodegas and charming little bars where you can taste authentic Brazilian or more like Amazonian food seasoned with exotic Brazilian nuts and herbs along the superb Caipirinha that is just perfectly prepared!

Then you will also find more than enough of quite amazing graffitied walls and maybe the last true Tram in the entire South America, the Bonde ( it pronounces “bonje”).  This bright yellow old school Tram is a little moving gem that provides you maybe the best transportation to access to Lapa and Centro with only 0.60 Real ( about $0.45) per ride or even for free if you dare to hang on to the bar outside the tram windows!  Me an Cynthia will try this tomorrow morning when we get down to Downtown to get to Ipanema Beach and Leblon to hunt down good inspirations and ideas for the next summer’s Gap women’s collection.

Today we had gone down to check out The “ Saara Market” in Centro, the traditional downtown shopping bazaar with bustling streets and hundreds of shops where you can buy stuff like Carnival costumes to batteries. It’s down and true to all that chachiki needs for everyday life of Cariocas ( Local of Rio). The streets of Saara consist of historical architecture, randomly located many churches and bustling people crossing the street regardless the color of the traffic lights ( I mean way more intense than NYC) and you can surely feel like you are in the heart of where the locals really hang out.

And…let me share some pics!

IMG_0486I tried to find the best option in our budget to really experience what Rio truly is about. We passed many swanky high rise hotels in the beaches and chose a small guest house in Santa Teresa. A sun room at Casa Amarelo.











IMG_0537Typical Colonial villas at Santa Teresa.


IMG_0585Saara market, Downtown Rio.

IMG_0587A man selling Sandal wood fiber balls. It smelled so good passing by!

IMG_0566Empanada and orange juice shop. Sort of Papaya’s Hot dog shop at NYC.







IMG_0592Fabric shopping with Cynthia!


IMG_0601Passion fruits.




IMG_0607Then we also checked out the Library of Portuguese Literature. AMAZING.







IMG_0552And hold your breath now. Here we were at one of the oldest church in Rio, Sao Fransisco da Penirencia. Baroque style. It was so intense , it was not easy to look at. Really.




IMG_0559I prayed.

OK, Now we are home stretching here. Santa Teresa by night.









Nite nite people!