Swappin' Stilettos for Freestyles
Even before RAD AND HUNGRY, I was on a non-stop world tour. Five years before launching RAH, on an almost monthly basis, I’d book a ticket and meet a friend in some random city in the US. And there was my annual summer trip where I’d knock out a different baseball stadium. Plus one international trip a year, usually in November when my sun-deprived self was fiendin’ for some rays.
I’d prep for those trips by reading magazines and visiting websites featuring’ super exclusive experiences. Fast forward to now – I’ve swapped stilettos with Reebok Freestyles, the hottest new restaurants with divey spots and street vendors, trendy boutique hotels with posadas. No shame in admitting that I love glitter, I love getting dolled up. But what I really love? The grimey, the divey, the real. Wipe away the layers of dust, get beyond the weathered faces, walk down that alley… I’m driven by the day-to-day grind. I strike up conversations with locals ‘cause I wanna hear their stories, I wanna eat what they eat, I wanna do how they do. I don’t want a hotel concierge’s “local” recommendation.
When did this shift happen? It’s hard to say. But if it wasn’t for this shift, I would of never met Ewa Priester, or connected with Jorge and the super loving papelaria family. Would I have met other locals? Of course. But I doubt that I would spend my nights drinking on street corners, hitting up the best local spots to grub, and getting personalized guided tours of museums.
I met Ewa and her husband when I booked a room in their posada. It was my first booking through Airbnb. A bit nervous, yes. But expected the best. From the moment I booked a private room to the very last minute when I was waving bye from the back seat of the taxi, they were nothing short of awesome and accomodating.
Ewa and Davi greeted me with a map of Rio marked with all the essentials. As their guest, you can borrow a Rio travel guide series (broken by neighborhood) designed by Ewa. Each guide includes a map, tips on what to see, do, eat, public transportation schedules, general costs, and photographs snapped by Ewa.
Their posada is gorgeous. They’ve been remodeling it for the last 4 years. It’s spacious, super comfy, and located in my favorite neighborhood in Rio, Santa Teresa. Minimally decorated with intention. From the art on the walls (some are Ewa’s photographs) to the tables and bed frames designed and built by Davi. It’s a mix of Brazil x Sweden with a nod to German design. (Ewa was born in Germany, her mother is Swedish and her father German.)
It didn’t take long for Ewa and I to connect. We spent most days together hittin’ every papelaria in Rio and snapping photos. Sometimes I barely take five steps before I have to stop again to snap another photo. It’s why I often prefer to travel alone, but not this time. I loved how different our photos were of the same spot! Ewa’s photos are moody, they’re mysterious, they draw me in. Her EVERYDAYRIO series shares a side of Rio that rarely gets noticed – little corners, rich textures, people that fade into the background. She has the magic ability to capture the invisible.
One afternoon I was flipping through a stack of photography books left out for guests to borrow. I was instantly drawn to the first book, Transporte. Handmade and lo-fi with obvious signs of love. It spoke to me. Ewa mentioned it was one of her books. We’ve shied away from stocking good other than office supplies, but Transporte seemed like a natural fit for RAD AND HUNGRY. The book combines my love of all things public transportation, travel, and photography. Wasn’t a hard decision to make Transporte now available for purchase on RAD AND HUNGRY.
There’s so much to love about the STMT X Brazil sourcing trip despite all the crazy. A definite highlight was meeting Ewa, from her wealth of knowledge about all things Rio to always being down to hunt down office supplies with me. I can’t wait to swing through Rio again so we can hang again, even if it’s only a night.