Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's your friendly neighborhood AIRPORT BLOGPOST!

Rather than pay $249 for seven hours in a hotel at the Vancouver Airport, H and I have opted to drink coffee instead and DO ALL THE THINGS! ALL NIGHT! until we fly home at 6am tomorrow.

Peoplefriends, I just crossed off an item that had been on my to do list for 228 days.

I'm pretty manic about my to do list on a normal day, but when christmas rolls around and the new year approaches I get MANIC. I really really really really like to cross things off my list. Or, alternatively, delete things from my list. Like, "post radish recipe."

Were more than two of you actually hoping for a radish update?*

I've also been toying with a list of new year's resolutions, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to share them with you. Mostly because they are incredibly boring. I can't get past "Write every morning" and "Exercise every afternoon." If I could find the discipline to do those two things, I'd be the happiest clam in the world. Fuck the to do list.

Olga Khristolyubova by Sergey Rogov via Amores Peros via Kylea Borges via LINA HITOMI

*If so, here it is: David Lebovitz's recipe is terrific. Use rice vinegar and toss in a whole (unsliced) habenero pepper. Done.

Friday, December 21, 2012

merry merry merry

to the brides and the almost-brides and the far-from-being-a-brides

to the anonymous snarks and the excellent shoppers and the has-no-sense-of-humors

to the five-time-writer-inners

here's to the shortest day of the year and the return of the sun* and the eating of too much cheese. slash chocolate. slash whiskey.

i ♥ you one and all

Mert & Marcus for LOVE Magazine via Fashion Gone Rogue

*provided the world doesn't end.

What to wear on NYE?

(No, not this.)

Hey ESB,

Was teetering between possible escape-Manhattan NYE travel destinations when I stumbled upon your Oct 10 post outlining things to do around Montreal. Anna's city outline totally convinced me, and by proxie my handful of mid-twenty something Manhattanite girl friends, to hoof it to Montreal.

Now that we have a December 31st where (thank you!), we're still lacking a what (and wear), and would be so grateful if you could share a few recommendations as to what there is to do in Montreal to ring in the New Year?

As for wear, I'm thinking a DIY sequined parka isn't going to cut it in terms of NYE garb... how do the women of Canada stay chic in the sub arctic winter temps?


How do the woman of Canada stay chic...? implies that they were chic to begin with.

Ladyfriend, I spend yesterday tromping around Courtenay, BC (which is nowhere near as cold as Montreal) in a pair of Walmart gumboots. AND I WAS NOT ASHAMED.

So, yah. Don't sweat the what-to-wear. As for the what-to-do… Can anyone help these Manhattan ladies out?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I told you this was a thing.

What would you guys do without me to keep you in the loop?

Flowers by Amy Merrick + Photos by Parker Fitzgerald for Kinfolk Magazine

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Is it horribly tacky.....

I never thought of myself as one of those brides who would get myself into a situation that I would need your advice. Turns out, this sh*t is hard!

I am from a small town in East Texas, moved to the big city of Austin, met a man, and left small town life behind. Now that we're planning a smallish wedding here in Austin, my complicated family life that I thought I left behind is coming back to bite me. You see my mother and step father were married most of my life, my mother passed away when I was 20. I have since distanced myself from my step family, mostly because of my asshole step dad.

It has always been my dream to have a small wedding with just very close friends and family. In order to do this, we are only including family that we see on a regular basis and that have been instrumental in our lives. Hence the step family just did not make the cut.

Now, my mother's wonderful group of girlfriends are coming together to give me and FH a shower/engagement party type celebration in my hometown. I am so grateful to these women for still thinking of me enough to to this. However, being form a small town the hostesses are friendly with my step family and will surely be discussing the upcoming party with them. It's not that I don't want them to come to the shower, only that I have heard that you should never invite people to a shower that you do not invite to the wedding. I have thought of calling them up and letting them know that our wedding is going to be very small, but we would still love the opportunity to celebrate with them by having them at the shower.

I am complete ogre when it comes to social etiquette. I am rarely offended by anything, therefore have a tendency to offend others unknowingly. Is it horribly tacky to invite people to a shower/wedding related party who are not going to be invited to the wedding?

Social Piranha



Photo by Diana Scheunemann via Franziska HOLZER

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best things to do/see/eat in BUENOS AIRES?

Dear ESB,

Since I am a newly married lady (who totally took advantage of BRIDE HULK* to vent by the way) and don't have any wedding-y related things to ask you, I figured I'd ask you about our upcoming belated honeymoon in Argentina. Everyone else seems to be asking you what should I see/do/eat in _____ city, so I'll just jump on the bandwagon if you don't mind.

We are specifically going to Buenos Aires, then Iguazu Falls and then Mendoza, but since the last two are pretty self-explanatory (duh, waterfalls and wine) I'd like to ask you if you know the best things to do/see/eat in Buenos Aires, or if you would be willing to ask your readers (who are a wealth of info, obv.).



Jessica just got engaged in Buenos Aires........! Clearly she's the perfect on to give you a little advice:

Buenos Aires is by far my favorite city in the world. We've been twice—once in 2009 and once last month (a trip from which we came back engaged!!!). When we described our recent South America trip to people, their response was, "wow, that sounds like the trip of a lifetime!" It was, but it wasn't, because we know we'll be going back whenever time and finances allow it. Imagine a city with the cosmopolitan vibe of New York and the architectural beauty of Paris, but where the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming across the board and everything costs about half as much as it does in either of those places.

I realize I'm providing you with about two weeks' worth of activities here. Hopefully a few of them appeal!


First, if you haven't already, get some tango tunes by Carlos Gardel or Osvaldo Pugliese to listen to while you're getting psyched for your trip. If you love tango a little (or if you're not sure you love it yet), visit Caminito in La Boca (where you're sure to see people tangoing in the street) or take in a tango show. (Your hotel or travel agent can recommend a show. Be forewarned that the majority of the shows are VERY cheesy and touristy though.) If you love tango a lot, take a lesson and/or attend a milonga.

Go shopping! The US Dollar is super-strong in Argentina right now, so it'll go a very long way. Visit Calle Murillo for anything and everything leather—shoes, belts, wallets, coats! From quite a few of the shops along Calle Murillo, you can get a leather jacket custom-made and delivered to your hotel in under 24 hours for $200-400 US, and you can have your pick of coats off the rack starting at much less than that. Typically you get a big discount for paying in cash and an even bigger discount if that cash is in US dollars. The two most famous malls, Galerias Pacifico and Abasto, are worth visiting just as architectural marvels, as is El Ateneo, an enormous bookstore built inside an old theater.

I can't recommend this one enough: take a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. It's about an hour away by ferry. Colonia's city center is full of beautiful little 16th-century buildings, cobblestone streets, and there are flowers everywhere. There's a lighthouse to climb that gives you an epic panorama of the town and the Rio de la Plata. I admit that I may be slightly biased because Colonia is where my boyfriend asked me to marry him, but trust me when I say that it's the kind of place that brings out that much romance in you. For lunch, get a bottle of Uruguayan tannat and some Colonia cheese at El Buen Suspiro.

We also had an awesome time at the Lujan Zoo, which is a sort of extreme petting zoo where you get into the cage with the tigers, which I recognize is not to everyone's taste.


The major sites, hittable on your own or with a city tour: the big obelisk on Av. 9 de Julio, Plaza de Mayo, Casa Rosada, Plaza de las Naciones Unidas (where the "Floralis Generica" sculpture is), Plaza San Martin, Puente de la Mujer.

La Recoleta Cemetery, the mausoleum where Eva Peron and several other national heroes are buried, is worth a visit. I know, creepy, but the architecture and art there is phenomenal. On weekends there's a giant craft fair nearby where you can easily spend an entire day—great shopping, but also good food and awesome people-watching.

Things we have heard are awesome but have not done: estancia tour, El Tigre, Japanese gardens.


Steak steak steak, obvs. There's really no bad meal to be had in BA if a big chunk of grass-fed cow is involved. ("Jugoso" means "medium rare," and "muy jugoso" means "really rare.") La Cabrera, in Palermo, is a little touristy but the meal is epic and the service is wonderful. Make a reservation the night before you go. You can get less fancy, but no less super-tasty, grilled meats of all shapes and sizes at parilladas all over the city. Just find a spot with a big grill in the front window and you can't go wrong.

When you hit your meat limit (or if you are just not a meat person), BA has amazing pasta. Nearly every steakhouse has a lengthy pasta menu in addition to their beef. You should be able to get empanadas almost anywhere, too, and they're equally delicious.

Try to find choripan—an awesome sausage sandwich that you smother with chimichurri. You'll find choripan trucks or stands in most public parks or any big outdoor event, and a lot of lunch spots serve them as well.

And don't skip dessert! Argentina has the best ice cream in the world—superior dairy products plus Italian gelato techniques combine for absolutely otherworldly helado. Un'Altra Volta, Cadore, Freddo, Munchi's, and Persicco are just a few heladerias we tried, but I can't imagine any of them being bad. Dulce de leche flavors will be everywhere and are amazeballs. Freddo has a particularly amazing flavor called "Dulce de Leche Tentación." Dulce de leche is in everything—porteños even put it on toast in the mornings. Alfajores are chocolate-dipped cookies that typically have dulce de leche filling, and they, too, are awesome. You can get them almost anywhere and the prepackaged ones make a great treat to bring back to friends or coworkers.

Like you said, you're probably set for Mendoza, but I do have to give a shout-out to the Tempus Alba Winery. All of the wineries we visited—from enormous multi-vineyard operations to tiny family-owned farms—were phenomenal, but this one was my favorite in terms of friendly staff, tasty wine, and amazing scenery. You can buy bottles at the wineries themselves, and there's something undeniably cool about that, but Mendoza wines are also crazy-cheap at supermarkets in BA. We found delicious, surprisingly high-quality bottles for around $4-5 US, and that was kind of a middle-of-the-road price.

(The gorg photos are all by Lauren McClure, and are all of Buenos Aires, though I have sprinkled them into the post with no particular logic. Lo blatantly disregarded my request for an image of STEAK.)

*Founded by this rad bride.

Monday, December 17, 2012

please help me find this thing


Can you or your readers help me find this outfit (minus the hat?) for my wedding reception?

Wedding, which is fast approaching, consists of 3 (count 'em 3) receptions. One that follows directly after the wedding for which I will be wearing this exquisite beaded creation that took tons of time and energy first shopping in many, many horrible wedding dress showrooms and then finally designing myself. Looks sort of like an off-white version of this. It is unbelievably gorgeous but is pretty much the opposite of this look I'm hoping to wear at the other more low-key 2nd and 3rd (I know) receptions. 

For these other events I'd like to wear something simple, white and fun. Preferably short (though it will be winter). I have missed out on two options so far (vintage wedding dress from etsy - listing gone and new dress from barneys) because I didn't act fast enough so I could really use your help. Budget is under $1000. Would love to find something under $500 even.

thank you!


Just wear the damn beaded thing. GAH.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I really want to like this Mara Hoffman....

It's $312. It's 100% cotton.

And yet.... Is that weird upper-stomach region really a place that anyone wants to show off?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why are all the low heels so FUGLY?


I am getting married in April in a simple but pretty, all lace but no sparklies dress made by a local seamstress. I would love to wear any of the super cute heels and shoes that you and the other commenters have posted about in the past, particularly the Loeffler Randalls. Ugh, I drool.

However, I need a heel that is >1 inch tall to lift my hem off the ground so I don't have to hem the dress in alterations, and yet, not over 2 inches tall, since my fiance asked me to not be much taller than him on the wedding day (we're the same height).

I'd really prefer not to spend over $200; though if something is just killer, maybe I will. I feel like they are only selling ugly shoes of the kitten heel variety, so I need professional shoe shopping help.

Thanks in advance!


Madewell has some cute "mini-wedges" with a 1 1/8" heel.

Which look to me like a knock-off of the Marais studded t-bar flats......

Probably you should just find a pair of flats you love and hem the damn dress.

Fugly shoes at top from Suitster via I'm Revolting via SUMI HA

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Should I Bother With A Wedding Video?? An Incredibly Earnest Case For The Videographer (Sponsored by Love + Brain)

As you may have noticed, I never post wedding videos on the ol blog. I mean, who the eff wants to watch someone else's wedding video??

But Courtney of Love + Brain makes a compelling argument for why you should bother with a wedding video for YOU. (In fact, she actually makes me want to edit the footage from our wedding that I still haven't seen...)

Here she is....

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth? As you struggle to cough up the funds for a “must have” wedding photographer, it’s hard to imagine shelling out even more cash for a wedding videographer.

Hi, my name is Courtney Arcese, and I'm 1/2 of Love + Brain Films, an indie wedding videography team based in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been there. And I get it. As a former bride-to-be, I understand how stressful it can be to wrestle with a wedding budget. The following are, I hope, a few good reasons to consider saying, “hell yes!” to videography on your big day.


Indie and intimate? Glamorous and cinematic? Whatever you and your groom’s wedding style is, there is a videographer or videography team perfect for your special day. There may be a lot more wedding photographers than there are videographers out there, but the diversity within videography is impressive. Check out an awesome wedding blog, 100 Layer Cake (full disclosure: I’m a vendor on their site!), which is an incredible resource to see film styles from Super 8 to HD movie productions.


Photographers capture singular moments, but videographers are able to capture the memories within the movement. Using wireless mics and videocameras with interchangeable lenses, we can document your wedding day and create beautiful films that are on par (or..... almost on par) with blockbuster movies. Videography allows you to watch and re-watch yourself and your partner recite your vows, hear and re-hear the words from your maid-of-honor’s speech, and scrutinize your first dance (moves that you practiced for six months after you bought ballroom dance lessons on Groupon).

The Future (and for your unborn children, of course)

Have you seen your grandparent’s wedding video? Your parent’s wedding video? I’m going to guess no, since wedding videography wasn’t widely available when our parents + grandparents were our age. But how amazing would it be now, to have video of them tying the knot? Consider it a digital heirloom. Do your kids and grandkids a favor; let’s hope they thank you when you’re old.

...But Why Is It So Much #$%*-ing Money?

A videographer’s equipment ain’t cheap. Top of the line DSLR cameras (what most videographers use for weddings) cost $3,000+ ... and they probably have two (or three) just for back-up on your big day. Lenses, the good ones, are anywhere from $800-$2,000 each! Videographers, depending how long they’ve been in the biz, have a handful of different lenses that allow them to capture moments and provide different effects for the final video. Videographers also have a wide range of accessories that help create fluid moving footage. Monopods, tripods and steadicams are all tools that we use to make our work look professional (not like your teenage cousin used her flip cam to record the entire day). Those accessories, along with editing software like Final Cut Pro, all add up to be a huge investment that videographers take on, because we want to provide a professional service to couples.

Alternatively, the wedding video sector is still continuing to evolve and grow, and there are always options like hiring a newbie, or negotiating a deal with a videographer that allows them to capture a unique wedding or gives them option to travel (hello! destination weddings, anyone?!). I can’t speak for all videographers here, but I almost always have a little room to negotiate for the right couple or situation. Things like off-season weddings or non-Saturday weddings are also all great ways to find a deal!


Whether or not you’re on a budget, videography can be a big financial commitment (though not necessarily as big as you think). But hey, it’s your wedding day and it’s hopefully only going to happen once. You’ve spent a whole lotta time preparing for this one day, so rally the troops, cut a few non-important people off your guest list and invest in capturing your day through video. Your wedding day will fly by, but you can continue to enjoy and remember how amazing it was!

p.s. If you couldn't be bothered to read the above, you can watch this cheesy stop-motion movie I made as an alternative.

Gaaaaaaaaaah it's a letter to esb! I am so famous!!

Photo of Courtney and her husband Brian (the other half of Love + Brain) by For You Love Me

My Mom's Big Gay Wedding

Hello East Side Bride! 

Your blog was a lifesaver for me as I planned my own wedding, and now I'm hoping you can help out my sweet Mom while she plans hers! 

Unfortunately, even with all the recent good news for Gay Rights, she still can't marry her longtime partner here in New Orleans. They've grown tired of waiting, and are heading to D.C. in March to do the deed legally. Only problem is, they know almost nothing about the city. 

Maybe some of your readers would have some suggestions? They're looking for a place to hold the ceremony (extremely small, probably just 10 people or less), a nice restaurant to head to after, and a photographer to capture the day. The only thing she's thought about so far is to have the ceremony in a nice park, but we're not sure of the weather in March.

Thanks so much!


Good news! Cevd (who lives in DC) tells me that March is cherry blossom season. Maybe your mom knew that already? Cevd says:

The weather should be brisk, not freezing, and there will be a chance of rain, it's DC after all, but BEAUTIFUL. You can get married in only two spots on the mall, from what I hear, which is technically a national park. One of those spots is the Tidal Basin, i.e. BEST CHERRY BLOSSOMS. Here's the link, and they should likely get on it.

She also recommended a few restaurants (with the caveat that they're all a little spendy):

Fiola - Shit ass website, best italian food.
City Zen 
Obelisk - I've not been but people fucking love it.

I'm not sure if these two take groups that large, maybe for a special occasion? But they are ABSOLUTELY worth looking in to:


The photo is by Amber Mahoney, a DC-based alternative wedding and documentary photographer, who also started this super cool project. I'd hire her in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dear ESB: What should we register for?? (Plus a giveaway from Pierrepont Hicks!)


I'm trying to put together a wedding registry for myself and my man and we are struggling to decide what to put on it. My mom is a potter and has already given us tons of plates and mugs and bowls, and is making us a bunch more over the next few years, so a matched set of everyday dinnerware is not necessary (and not our style anyway). We are not huge bakers, so we don't need that huge kitchenaid mixer that everyone wants.  

We have a close friend with a lovely high-end home goods (and jewelry, but that can't go on the registry, alas) shop and are setting up a little registry with her, plus we've got a MyRegistry site set up to aggregate items from the web, where we've put up the requisite food processor, some Reidel wine glasses, some long-coveted blankets, Santa Fe Stoneworks fanciness, a drill... We also have a cash "future adventures" fund for people to contribute to, as well as a few charities we'd like people to donate to in our name, so perhaps we should just leave it at that and move on to other things (like sending out our paper invitations, oops).

But I don't want to be too casual about what is, for practical purposes, a rare opportunity to make the transformation from having a big kid house to a Grown Up house. Any suggestions? We've been to enough weddings to know people always put flatware/silverware on the registry... And we should probably replace the hodgepodge set we've accumulated over the years mostly from stealing from dining halls, friends and neighbors... But we don't know anything about flatware/silverware and what differentiates good from bad. Should we put on stuff for our dog and cat? Would that be weird?

Our general parameters for buying things are that we try to buy from independent shops in person (Brooklyn) or online, made-in-usa or fair trade/well-paid workers, etc. Unfortunately, unlike the areas of clothing and food, where we have our go-to favorite and trusted brands/stores, we don't know where to go for feel-good but also attractive and high quality homegoods (that's why we will not go the etsy route--no offense to those few gems who use that selling platform despite the shoddy company it puts them in). 

We also don't want our registry to be totally out of reach to our guests. Cost-wise, we usually spend $100 on gifts for our friends getting married (and that's a joint present from us as a couple) and wouldn't want others to spend more on ours...

Any advice? Items? Kitchen/household gold standards we would be fools not to ask for?

-- Having trouble asking for stuff for the first time in her life


Coupla things we registered for that we use the shit out of: All Clad pans (made in the USA), a Henckels chef's knife and a pair of Wüsthof kitchen shears (both made in Germany). No idea what to tell you about flatware. I inherited my grandmother's silver, which we use every day because why not.

Who's got an opinion about flatware?

Recommendations for must-have registry items?

Just want to yell at the nice lady for registering for cash?

Mrs. Pierrepont Hicks has offered to give away a blue Backseat Blanket (100% Minnesota-made) to one lucky reader. Offer your two cents in the comments by 12pm on Friday and I'll select a winner at random.

p.s. pls do not register for gifts for your PETS. that would indeed be weird.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wedding planning is bringing out the worst....


Please help - I need your (and your readers) help on some drama that's come up. 

A bit of background: we live ~ 6 hours away from our families, are not religious, and want a chill outdoor wedding close to where we live. My parents, specifically my mom, want us to get married where THEY live, in a church - they are very Catholic - and have the reception in a "regular" venue like a hall or somesuch. 

After many awkward, painful, and kinda passive aggressive conversations about faith, family, etc., we have reached something of a compromise with them by choosing to get married on a family friend's property near where they live. The friends have 30 acres of beautiful land located about an hour away from where my parents live, and we'll have both the (secular) ceremony and reception on the property. There are a couple of very pretty meadows, and a large empty building on the property that can be a backup in case of either crazy heat or rain. Best of all, it's FREE. My mom has made her disapproval known of all the other venues I suggested, but she suggested this property so I was sure that once we settled on that option that everything would be hunky-dory.  

NOT SO. My mom is a champion guilt-tripper and feels that outdoor weddings are a "trendy fad" and actually straight up asked me if I really and truly wanted an outdoor wedding or if i was just having one "to keep up with my hipster friends." She also is constantly reminding me of the numerous stories she claims to have heard of outdoor weddings being besieged by rain and/or heat and how everyone hated them and left super early. 

She has also said that someone as anxiety-prone as myself shouldn't have an outdoor wedding since it's way too stressful to worry about the weather during the entire process of planning. I realize that I sound like a child with all the complaints about my mom's BS (for the record, I'm 28), but despite her faults I really love my mom and have always envisioned having her be a part of the planning process. Wedding planning is bringing out the worst in me, as I'm a people pleaser with strong tendencies towards anxiety and catholic guilt (just like alec baldwin says ... it never leaves you!) 

Anyways, I'll wind this up since this is getting crazy long: basically, my confidence in what I want for my wedding day has eroded to the point where I'm basically convinced that it's going to rain and everyone will judge me and hate me for dragging them out into a soggy meadow to watch me get married. I find myself staying up late either obsessing over long-term weather forecasts or looking longingly at photos of destination weddings in Italy. I also feel sad that what I hoped would be a happy time is essentially one of the shittier periods in my life. 

Please talk some sense into me.  




And your mom is being an asshole. She straight-up called you "anxiety-prone"? Tell her she's the one who's fucking anxiety-prone and it's rubbing off on you and if she doesn't chill out and start doing some fucking yoga (or maybe take a B-complex? everyone should take a B-complex) you'll run off and get married at the fucking courthouse like a real hipster.

Lydia Carron by Takahiro Ogawa for Amica December 2012 via Fashion Gone Rogue

Friday, December 7, 2012

What do I wear to the courthouse in January?

Dear ESB,

I'm getting hitched in January at the courthouse down the street from our house. No family, no flowers, no hassle. He will wear his standard nice outfit of clean Wranglers, snap front shirt and black cowboy hat. I'd like to wear something special that will look good in photographs but I rarely dress up and have no idea where to start or where to shop.

My everyday style is western work wear and I'm a member of the big boobs club. I like black, plaid and big turquoise jewelry. I don't like sparkles, tulle or wearing stilettos. I would be happy in pants or a dress. Keep in mind that Washington state is cold, rainy and possibly snowy in mid January and I'm willing to drop around a grand for my wedding day outfit.

Maybe you and the gang could help me out?

Thank you so much.


Boy did you just lob me a softball.


With some heather grey tights and your favorite boots? BOOM.

(On sale here and here and here.)

Photo at top: Chloe Moretz by Aitken Jolly for Wonderland Magazine Nov/Dec 2010 via myfdb

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I try to avoid posting dresses that I can't find for sale anywhere.............

But oh well.

(Biyan 2013 via Gary Rader via Bad Bride)

hung up on Valentino


I wrote previously regarding my long-term blah blah who cares. It all worked out and we are getting married in September! I am hung up on this dress (image attached that I shot hastily of a magazine ad).

I can see that it's Valentino and therefore about $10k out of my budget. Do you or your readers have any ideas of where I could find something similar? It is perfection.  

I will cross my fingers. I don't even know quite how to begin to search for something like this!


Good news! I found the dress on sale. ($15,000 down from 22K!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

a flower collar

Could this be the next big thing?

Floral Design by PETALOS + Photos by Jon Duenas (via Fieldguided)

What should a trio of Aussies do in SAO PAULO?

Hey ESB,

I'm heading to São Paulo for a friend's wedding in December. I'm hoping you or your fine readers can help me out with tips, accommodation, food and bars, day trips, etc.

We have over a week in SP but we can also take off for a night or two, or even day trips out of the city. I've pretty much ruled out overnight trips or anywhere over a three hour flight away just to avoid too much travel hassle. (I know this means we won't see a lot of what Brazil has to offer but that is simply not achievable in two weeks anyway. We're from Australia, we understand how geographically big countries affect your holiday plans.)

Overall we are looking for a fun and relaxing trip and are willing to spend mid-range prices. We will happily part with more money if it will save time and hassle.

A final fashion question. The wedding is formal so I have a long one-shoulder dress to wear. It's very simple so should I fancy it up with a jacket or shawl? Or is it just too hot in December?? How formal is formal in Brazil?

Thanks thanks thanks


The lovely Mari (a real live BRAZILIAN!) stepped up to offer some recommends.

Disclaimer: I'm a little late getting this up for the lady who wrote in, I.E. she's already in SP, but I figured what the hell. We should all go to São Paulo! (For the cocktails alone!)

Here's Mari....

São Paulo is a huge city. It has a population of more than 11 million people, and if we count the metro area that number grows to over 25. Brazil has a large number of immigrants and descendants, so anything and everyone are found there. If you want to eat Greek food, or learn Finnish, or dance like the Italians you can do it there. But I'll try to stay on Brazilian examples or extraordinary international ones.

I need to begin by saying that São Paulo has its fare share of urban violence. I've never had a bad experience, but to ease my conscience I feel like I should mention it. I would advise those same security measures that any big city kid (or experienced tourist) knows by heart: don't wear super expensive flashy jewelry, never keep all of your money in the same place, be mindful of purse and backpacks (especially on public transportation, I have heard quite a few stories about backpacks getting emptied on the subway), don't carry around your original passport (carry a copy), don't flaunt your latest and super expensive phone and know what I mean?!

Favorite sights are:

Paulista Avenue: is the modern heart of the city, is full of commercial buildings and filled of museums, art galleries, cinemas and shops on the street levels, and it ends at MASP (museum of art of São Paulo) and Trianon Park. I like to make a day of it -- if you like to sleep in, start with MASP and make your way down. MASP has, surprising to some, a great collection of European artists, from Renoir to Cezanne to Picasso. I also recommend the restaurant in the basement, which has an all-you-can-eat buffet with Brazilian food (Feijoada on Saturdays), a great meal for a reasonable price. Walk around Trianon Park, magically 5 degrees Celsius cooler inside. And this time of the year the whole avenue is decorated for Christmas, so stay well until the night to see it and later walk to Augusta Street, perpendicular to Paulista Avenue, which is full of bars, botecos, pubs, clubs, etc.

Downtown + Pateo do Colégio (School Yard): You can do it by walking and taking the subway the larger bits. The Cathedral da Sé, a huge Neo-Gothic church, brands the middle of the city (personal opinion time: it is beautiful and makes you feel in the Old World for a moment and brings thoughts of older times, but then I found out it was built in the 50's!! And somehow all the wonderment vanished). Nearby we have the Monastery of São Bento, I have actually never been inside...heheh...but the building is gorgeous  and if you are a careful planner they have an open mass with Gregorian chanting (if that is your thing, I for one would skip it!).

I love Pateo do Colégio! This is a place that fills me up with Brazilian pride. I love the idea that what began as a school founded by a priest and a handful of boys is now the biggest city South of the Ecuador Line in the Americas. There's part of the college still standing, the church and an underground native museum.

Luz + Pinacoteca + Portuguese Language Museum: You can find all these attractions at the Luz subway station, which is very pretty. Pinacoteca is a museum, this time filled with Brazilian work! I'm not sure what sort of experience non-Portuguese speakers would have in The Portuguese Language Museum. They usually pick a author for each month and make a showing of his/her work and life.

Ipiranga: here was where the famous scream for independence from Portugal happened in 1822. Now it houses a museum on Brazilian history and XIX century way of life.

Ibirapuera: is the biggest park around, it has a few museums (and a planetarium) around and in it. But is great for a stroll on weekdays, is insanely full of people on the weekends, and dogs, and kids, and bicycles, and skates...It is just full!

Personal favorites:

Museu da Casa Brasileira (Brazilian House Museum): is a old mansion that nowadays houses art expositions and a permanent furniture showing. They have a lovely restaurant in the back, right by the garden, my family and I love to go on Sundays to have lunch and wander around the gardens. (This is my second museum+restaurant recommendation, you just wait there are more!) 

MIS (Museum of Image and Sound): exactly what the name suggests...hehehe...every time I go there there is something different to see, and they have all these sculptures outside… I have never eaten in the restaurant, but it's on my list for my next trip to São Paulo. The little bistro is always open for a cold drink or a coffee, and they serve lunch until 15:00 (oh yeah in Brazil we use military time).

SubAstor: the greatest cocktail bar! Ever! It is located under the Astor Bar, get the name Subastor?! I always make suggestions to everyone at the table so I can have a taste of everything...hehe...they have a immense variety of drinks and mixology options.

(SubAstor via Time Out São Paulo)

Hecho in México: best Mexican restaurant outside of México! My trips to São Paulo are not complete until I come here. Surprisingly, their margarita is just ordinary, but they have michelada so they're forgiven.

I usually complete my weekend trips with a movie (or theater) or even some shopping, São Paulo has so many things to do.... There are a bunch of options for clubs and late nights entertainment (one of biggest surprises the first time I went to US was that everything closes at 2am, there's no such thing in Brazil if you want to spend the night dancing you can). But when I'm in the city I don't really go out I really don't have any pointers on the topic.

Ideas for day trips:

Pico do Jaraguá: The highest peak on the metro area is located on a State Park, in the outskirts of the city, about 40 minutes if you believe in Google Maps from Jardim Paulista to the park. You can get up there using the road, or a track. I went once years ago and don't really remember how I got there, but the view alone was worth it.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Beach: I always go to Guarujá, which is right next to Santos. It has a special place in my heart because I've been there at least once every year of my life, I'm actually curious to hear what international tourists would think about it. The city is filled with locals and people from the area, I have never seen anyone who came from far. If you're looking for a taste of Brazilian beach life this is it. There are urban beaches like Pitangueiras (my family has a summer apartment here), or Enseada and a few more deserts, nature-like beaches.

(Guarujá via IRG)

To answer your fashion question, December is very hot. I usually spend Christmas in the area and only wore a jacket once (!!) in my entire life. Brazilian people are by definition pretty casual, and though we sometimes take an opportunity like a wedding to be fancy, even then our interpretation of formal, black-tie is very broad. I have been to formal wedding parties where even the mother of the bride was wearing a knee length dress. 

I personally don't think that a shawl or jacket is necessary, especially if the weather doesn't fit. I love my country and the people here, but we have no idea how to dress fancy for the cold.

I was very surprised by the lack of soccer inquires...heheheh...If anybody else has more interesting suggestions, add them, please.


(Photo at top: Wikipedia)