Fernanda de Paula is a television presenter, producer, journalist and author who is passionate about her homeland of Brazil — the rich food culture, the passion for life and the magnificent scenery. Fernanda has recently co-developed, produced and presented the SBS series “This is Brazil!” and presented nightly “The World Cup Show” during the FIFA 2014 World Cup coverage.
We sat down with Fernanda to ask her about Brazil’s best kept secrets, how to spend an unforgettable day in Rio and her pick of the country’s finest beaches and restaurants.
1. In your opinion, what are the top 3 “must-dos” on a visit to Brazil?
So many things are crossing my mind, but here we go:
- Watching the sunset at Ipanema Beach. It’s something you have to experience to be able to fully appreciate how awesome it is!
- Walking through the old cobbled streets in historical town in Salvador and grabbing a street food snack called Acarajé, a delicious deep fried prawn sandwich.
- And finally, going for a river swim when it’s raining in the Amazon forest (there are daily afternoon showers) is one of the best things I’ve ever done!
2. Do you support a local soccer (or football!) team?
Yes, I do. I support the best team in the country! It’s called Cruzeiro and it’s from my home state of Minas Gerais.
3. If you had only one day in Rio de Janeiro… where would you go and what would you do?
I would start the day standing with locals at a local bakery counter having a coffee with cheese bread balls. Then I would head to Ipanema beach to enjoy the morning. At lunchtime I would go to the atmospheric and bohemian suburb of Santa Tereza. Then back to Ipanema - I love shopping in Rio and few streets behind the beach is shop paradise!
Later in the afternoon I would head to a bar or public square, whenever I can find musicians playing samba. Nothing like a dance and a cold beer to recharge the energy. I would end the night at a churrascaria to taste the mouth-watering Brazilian barbecue!
4. I am sure there are many - but what is Brazil’s best kept secret?
If you think Churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) is delicious, wait till you try Amazonian river fish on the barbecue. It’s unbelievable! There are over 2000 species of fish to choose from.
5. What do you think travellers will find surprising when they visit Brazil for the first time?
I think Brazil is a place that visitors find hard to get their head around. The contrasts are in your face and you can’t help but notice them everywhere.
When you’re travelling in Brazil it feels like you’re visiting many countries. The people, the landscapes even the weather… it all varies with the regions.
I think travellers may also not realise how cosmopolitan the cities are, and that Brazil is one of the most multicultural nations on the planet. So there is not a Brazilian look as such – pretty much anyone could look like a Brazilian!
6. What are you most looking forward to on your trip to Brazil with WE in August?
I can’t wait to see travellers falling in love with the places, people and sounds that I treasure so much. I know it will happen and I am so proud and excited to share this experience.
7. Tough question, but where’s the best place to head out to in Rio for a great meal?
Rio has some great restaurants. I would not miss the chance of going to a Churrascaria (restaurants that specialize in Brazilian barbecue); it’s truly amazing. The variety, the flavours, the portion sizes! And the bohemian suburb of Santa Tereza has some incredible restaurants serving the best native ingredients; we will definitely go there on my trip in August.
8. To samba or not to samba – what does a novice need to know?
To samba, for sure! Trust me, it’s so easy to dance samba. There is no secret, anyone can do the steps and I have no modesty in saying that I’m a great samba teacher.
The tricky bit is the way we move our bodies, I think you have to be Brazilian to do it. It’s in our DNA. So while anyone can samba, I think it’s easy to spot who’s Brazilian and who’s not!
9. What’s the strangest animal you have come across in the Amazon or the Pantanal?
Piranhas. They are weird creatures. Ferocious and so damn ugly! I would be terrified to swim in a river with them.
10. Best beach in Brazil?
It’s very hard to pick one when you have a coastline like Brazil. There is a place called Pontal do Coruripe, in the northeast state of Alagoas that I think it’s spectacular. And there is Prainha, a small beach in Rio that is just gorgeous.
11. For a bit of local competition… Bondi or Copacabana – what’s the difference!?
Hmmm…Can’t choose one over the other. The key difference is the beach culture. In Australia you go to the beach to play sports, go for a swim and maybe read a book. Over there you do all of this plus much more, because in Brazil the beach is a social event in it’s own right.
You just need bring yourself and the rest will follow. Pick a spot and soon a chair; umbrella and drinks will come to you. There is music and people walking up and down… It’s one of the few places where people from all walks of life meet; it’s bubbling and it’s a haven for people watching.
SEE BRAZIL WITH FERNANDA
This year Fernanda will be escorting an exciting new trip with World Expeditions - 'My Brazil' with Fernanda de Paula.
Departing on 13 August 2015, this 18 day itinerary is your chance to experience this fascinating and diverse country through Fernanda's eyes. Don't miss out!