The best thing about living in Ipanema is that you are surrounded by water—on one side, you have the glorious beach, and on the other, the lesser-known but equally beautiful Lagoa. The isthmus poses a daily dilemma for runners and bikers who enjoy outdoor activities. Today, I’m thinking lagoon. To get there, I have to walk down Garcia d’Ávila, a charming, tree-lined street that connects both bodies of water and passes though one of Rio’s most fabulous shopping routes on the way.
I can never resist a visit to jeweler Antonio Bernardo’s store. His minimal creations in white, yellow, and rose gold are my favorite. Architecturally inspired, they often create optical illusions with beautiful movement. Across the street, heavy female foot traffic gathers in front of Schutz, Alexandre Birman’s diffusion line that offers the latest trends in footwear at accessible prices, so you can purchase those oh-so-pretty four-inch yellow pumps that you’ll probably only wear once, guilt-free. World-renowned brands like Louis Vuitton and a newly inaugurated Nike flagship store add international flair to the tropical window-shopping.
I peek into Lenny, the most fabulous beachwear boutique by designer Lenny Niemeyer, whose talent can only be eclipsed by her gorgeous heart. Her generosity and warmth have earned her the title of the “Queen of Rio”. With striking prints and sophisticated laser-cut techniques, Niemeyer’s bikinis offer the perfect balance between elegant and sexy, a rare find in the land of abundant fio dental (dental floss, as the thong is humorously known in Brazil).
Regardless of the extra inch of fabric, a trip to Lenny reminds me of my much needed one-hour cardio session, but that thought gets interrupted as I notice the new array of macaroons on display at Aquim, the dangerously delicious chocolate store owned by Samantha Aquim. These world-class chocolates are true delicacies—the unique flavor melts in your mouth because of the artisanal, processed cacao (cocoa) from Ilhéus, in the northeastern state of Bahia (Seriously, whoever decided to put that store next to a boutique that sells bikinis has a very dark sense of humor.). Speaking of dark, the 75 percent Q cocoa bar has almost no cocoa butter, no lactose, and lots of flavor. Just the boost I need before hitting 8 kilometers around the lagoon.
Photos: Courtesy of Hotel Fasano; Courtesy of Antonio Bernardo; Courtesy of Lenny Niemeyer; Courtesy of Aquim