Favorite thing: This part of Brazil is rich in African history. The Portuguese brought over 2 million slaves from Africa in colonial times. The black influence is obvious in Salvador, bright colours everywhere. Rich cuisine with lots of beans, plantains and cassava flour.
Praia do Porto da Barra is the closest beach to the centre of town.
The beach is really popular among the locals and can be very crowded (especially on Sundays), but is a fun place to hang out.
It not the biggest beach in the world, but it’s sandy and the water is clear and calm.
The beach is loaded with vendors selling anything you can think about and along the waterfront you’ll find many bars and restaurants.
Pelourinho used to be a very dangorous place but today it has become a very safe place as the place is swarming with tourist police who are there only to make sure nothing happens to the visitng tourists.
They are almost on every street corner and are very easy to recognise if you need help.
I send lots of postcards. I get a local paper in the language of the country, and find a quiet spot to write to friends. I copy the headlines so that my cards are exotic. Foreighn papers are fairly easy to read, you may not get every word, but you can tell the gist of the story.
Fondest memory: Salvador is a very beautiful place to sit and enjoy the scenery. Don't try to do too much. Just let things come to you.
On Reveillon (the New Year's Eve) Bahian capital Salvador becomes one big party. Although there are parties throughout the city, the main street celebrations happen in Barra district. They start in the early evening and continue until the early hours of the New Year's Day.
In front of the Farol da Barra (Bara Lighthouse) they build a huge stage where local stars perform. Streets are full of stalls selling traditional food and drink for all tastes. Thousands of people, most of them wearing white, are there ready for the longest night. Baianas on the beach in typical white dresses sing, dance and make offerings of flowers to Orixas (Candomble gods). New Year opens with synchronised fireworks at various points around the city that fill the sky with light and colour for 15 minutes.
more pics in the Travelogue
Tropicalia was a movement that shook Brazilian popular music and culture in the late 1960s. It manifested itself in music, theatre, poetry and plastic arts, however it's associated almost exclusively with the movement's musical expression that combined North American rock, psychedelic, avantgarde music, funk and soul with Brazilian and other latin american styles. Leaders were Bahian singer-songwriters Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and other musicians associated with the movement Gal Costa, Tom Ze and Os Mutantes. The 1968 collaboration album Tropicalia: ou Panis et Circenses is considered the musical manifesto and the songs Alegria, Alegria (Joy, Joy) by Caetano and Domingo no Parque (Sunday in the Park) by Gilberto Gil the milestones of the new movement.
Tropicalia was a passionate and inteligently articulated response to military dictatorship which had taken over the country in 1964 and the ultimate counter-cultural statement - a true revolution that re-defined Brazilian art and re-shaped Brazilian identity. In part, tropicalia was also a reaction to the perceived stodginess of bossa nova music, which had been the dominant pop style since the late 1950s. Tropicalia and bossa nova have both come to be referred to as part of MPB, Musica Popular Brasileira.
This revolucionary artistic movement lasted for a little more than a year and ended up being repressed by the military government. Its end began with the imprisonment of Gil and Caetano in December 1968. Ironically, Gilberto Gil, one of the prime architects of Tropicalia and one-time thorn in the side of then military regime, is now minister of culture in the government of president Lula. In the joyously anarchic spirit of Tropicalia, Gil juggles his music career and politics with some style, regularly getting his guitar out and singing songs in the middle of government meetings.
By the 1980s Bahia's musical scene had become thoroughly Africanized. The influence of the Filhos de Gandhi, Olodum, Ile Aiye and other blocos inspired a surge in Afro-Brazilian consciousness. Bahian popular music was suddenly full of Yoruba words, Candomble images and references to Africa and Jamaica. And the trios electricos started to present afro-electrico music.
Axe music is not exactly about a style or musical movement, but rather about a useful brand name given to artists from Salvador da Bahia who made music upon northeastern Brazilian, Caribbean and African rhythms with a pop-rock twist, which helped them take over the Brazilian hit parades since 1992. Axe is a ritual greeting used in Candomble and Umbanda (African-Brazilian religions), meaning 'good vibrations'.
Tested within the height of Carnival heat, axe songs have been commercially successful in Brazil throughout the past decade. It was particularly fortunate for the artists Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo, Banda Eva, Chiclete com Banana, Ara Ketu, Banda Beijo, Banda Cheiro de Amor, Asa de Aguia, Terra Samba and E o Tchan.
As axe relished with commercial popularity, several artists were searching for creative alternatives for the music from Bahia. The most significant step was taken by Timbalada, percussion/vocal group led by Carlinhos Brown, whose idea was to rescue the sound of the timbaus (bass drums), long restricted to Candomble rituals. Carlinhos Brown later left Timbalada and started his solo career while Timbalada continued. I have to say that I really admire all his work and projects. He's sooo good... he's just amazing!! You can convince yourself by watching those excellent video clips:
Carlinhos Brown & Timbalada - Yemanja Moderna (1998)
Timbalada no Carnaval de Salvador (2006)
Carlinhos Brown: Garoa (2007)
Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador da Bahia, has been restored to much of it's original beauty. The are, once a slave market (Pelourinho is the Portuguese word for "whipping post"), is a maze of cobblestone streets lined with restaurants, art galleries selling traditional arts and crafts, outdoor music stages and (best of all) Baianos!
The streets are mostly blocked reserved for pedestrians and the restaurants take advantage of this, placing tables and chairs right in the street where you can enjoy a wonderful meal in the cool (compared to the daytime) night breeze as musicians play folk music (called "Forro"). Every so often one of the area's famous drum bands will come by, dancing brilliant Samba as they pound out their syncopated beat -- with a few score and sometimes a hundred or more followers dancing and whirling along behind.
There are countless restaurants in Pelourinho serving every kind of dish imaginable. One of my favorites is Jardim de Delicias. The restaurant is set in a court yard separated from the street. To enter you pass through a long hallway that opens onto a tiny museum on the right. In the court yard are a dozen or so tables and, off to one side, a small stage where musicians play soft Brazilian music. The Brazilian steaks (picanha), Italian pasta dishes and fresh seafood are to die for.
Fondest memory: One afternoon we traveled by ferry to the Ilha Itaparica, a large Island in the middle of the bay with newfound friends. There we visited a restaurant by the waterside, at a place called "Point of Sand" and watched a fabulous demonstration of Capoeira (Brazilian martial art mixed with dance). Afterward, as we rode the ferry back to the mainland we watched one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen.
Those newfound friends? An American couple we bumped into on the beach the day before. We discovered that they live only a few minutes from my childhood home. Fast friends, we spent the next two days island hopping and laughing our way around Salvador.
This was all last year -- 2006. This year we went back for another month and went to Carnaval. More about that in my next post.
Until then... tchau, gente
Brazil offers a number of banks, unfortunately not all accept international cards. In a number of cases I was not able to draw money at all, even though the bank should have accepted the card or the ATM was simply broken.
If you arrive in Brazil during carnival you will find all banks closed and hardly any foreign exchanges open. What makes matters worse that some shops during this time do not accept foreign currency.
This was my experience during carnival 2007 where I could not get Brazilian currency and could at some points not pay, even in tourist shops!!
If you have fake nails you may have a problem getting a refill in Salvador.
I searched high and low until I found BarberBeauty in Barra Shopping. It is on the third floor.
This is a hairdresser/barber/beauty salon.
Here is the website:
Fondest memory: I had an acrylic refill done on my hands and then a pedicure. All of it together cost sixty something reais.
Trust me this is extortionate. If I had known it would have been that much (They told me a cheaper price originally) I would have just got a refill and painted my finger and toenails myself, this would have cut the cost by 70%.
Here a pedicure cost 32 RS whereas in other places it is between 8-15.
So here is my tip, if you need a refill get it done here but as for anything else... give it a miss!
You may find there comes a time, especially with luggage allowances decreasing year by year, that you have run out of clothes and you need to wash them.
Fondest memory: This laundrette is self service and located in the Porto Barra area on Rua Cesar Zama.
This travel agency is in Barra on Sete de Stembro. We used it too book a trip to Mangue seco. the head guy is called Reginanld and he is very helpful and will find you a trip to suit your needs.
Fondest memory: The agency is called Busola Turismo
Well...there is not a speoifically a favorite thing but many things that I like around here in Salvador:
*Firstly our history: We´ve kept all the history of the country as We were the very first capital of Brazil so around here people can check our history in our colonial houses spread all around the city specially at the Old Historical District that we call "Pelourinho".
*Our Culture: We´ve got a cultural influence of many people like portuguese, indians and specially african and once You´re around here in Salvador these influences are very visible in the people, customs, music and rhythmns, cuisine and so.
*Beaches and Sighseeings: Not only mentioning the history and culture we also have around here nice and beautiful beaches round all over the city, a local island into our "All Saints Bay" and incredible sightseeings spreaded around the city like fortress, churches, palaces and so...
Fondest memory: I miss the friendly way of the local people, the sunny days, the parties and celebrations, the beaches, the delicious food, exotical drinks,the energy and vibrations in the air and the provencial & laidback atmosphere which makes this place of the uniques around the world...I miss all of that and much more!!
Here's Elevador Lacerda. It gets you between Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa. It was only 5 cents when I was there, it may be a little more now.
This elevator was built in 1873 and is 236ft (72m) high. I believe it was the tallest elevator in the world at the time it was built.
To the right of Elevador Lacerda is the Palácio Rio Branco, Brazil's first seat of government.
Fondest memory: Better than buying your stuff at Mercado Modelo - although you should go to Mercado Modelo anyway - Maua has wonderful prices and magnificent handcraft from all the places in the state. Check their homepage - the site is not so good, but....