FORTALEZA : HAMMOCKS
Frankly, hammocks can be bought anywhere in Brazil, especially as one heads north.
But the best place to buy them is Fortaleza - the birthplace of hammocks.
If you are heading that way and you get really tempted by the lovely designs, hold onto to your desires until you get to Fortaleza and even then, get it from Mercado Central (Central Market).
This is a huge local market with several stories selling everything. Make your way around the Central Market and hunt for the best designs and bargain for the best prices. There are also many stores in the surrounding area near the Central Market that sell hammocks for really fair prices.
Earlier on in my trip, everyone told me I could get a hammock for R30 (less than US$14), more or less... which was quite a good price. But here, I managed to buy one (albeit, a simple one for the riverboat ride down the Amazon) for R15 (US$7) and I later saw the same ones priced at R11 (US$5) outside the Central Market.
Iguatemi: Top quality shopping
This is a high shopping centre with many top quality stores that you will find in all major cities. The food hall offers good quality at local prices, although fro breakfast I prefer the little cafe area in the Continente Hipermarket. A good half day out to get round enough of this place to fill your suitcase. Little pricey in some shops so be selective.
For those needing to contact home there is one of the few internet cafes outside of major hotels located just outside the contienente hipermarket
What to buy: Lots of everything !
What to pay: Not as much as home
Are around the tourist centre: So busy
A little north from the toursit centre and the colonial station is an excellent area for experiencing the real shopping experience of Fortaleza. Roads are narrow, and packed packed packed with shops. If you want a real taste of how local people live then avoid the Mercado Central and go to this area where you will see hundred or even thousands of people engaged in their daily commerce. A real treat
What to buy: As a tourist avoid electrical good. This is not because of quality but only if you have a problem then it is a long way to bring them back so better to buy this sort of stuff at home. Remember that whilst Brazil is cheaper than Europe and North America, you do get what you pay for in relative terms. If you want a dirt cheap pair of shoes they will last you a few weeks, otherwise spend more money and get better quality
Shopping Aldeota (Big Mall with many shops): Shopping Aldeota
This is one of the biggest Malls in Fortaleza, and one of the nicest ones too. It is also located in a very nice area of the city, Aldeota. It is close to most of the hotels so if you are staying at a hotel on Beira mar it is just up the street (R$5.00 by taxi or R$1.50 by bus) if you are staying at Praia do Futuro it is just down Ave. Santos Dumont. Either way when you get to the big turn about with the statue in the middle you are there.
There is every kind of shop that you can think of and every kind of food available in the food court. There are game places, a movie theater and it is all in the comfort of Air Conditioning.
What to buy: This mall offers a wide variety of commercially produced items, it is not a craft mall or anything like that if that is what your looking for check out my other shopping tips. This mall is going to have stuff at an average mall price, you probably are not going to find any great deals but prices will be clearly marked and they will not ask for more from Gringos.
What to pay: What are you buying? It all depends on what your buying.
Av Beira Mar: Market along Av Beira Mar
There is a big market just along Av Beira Mar that sells lots of crafts and everything else under the tropical sun! The market is open until night, and there's always a lot of people around. It feels very safe to be there even at night.
What to buy: crafts, tshirts, skirts, bikinis, earrings, necklaces, sandals, paintings, arts, everything under the sun!
Fortaleza beach area: Local craft fair
The local artists and vendors set up their colourful "shops" every night between 5 and 10 pm in front of the beach strip just a little west and within walking distance of the Ponta Mar hotel.
What to buy: There is a great variety of hand made crafts, oil paintings, clothing, jewellery, foot wear and some foods.
What to pay: Prices are low to begin with, but one can still get better bargains if so inclined.
- Arts and Culture
Super Mercado: Bargains...
At the Super Mercado one can buy fabulous items at even more fabulous prices. From handmade clothing, to crafts, oilpaintings to shoes, food to jewellery and most anything in between.
The market is conveniantly l.ocated not far from the beach.
- Budget Travel
Central market: Central market
Fortaleza’s new Central Market is a modern building bringing many stands, drugstore, restaurants and snack bars. The typical handicraft is the great attraction.
Open from Mondays through Fridays, from 8am to 6:30pm, and on Saturdays up to 4pm. Sometimes on Sundays, up to noon.
- Family Travel
....: Anything you need....
.... is pretty much available in Fortaleza. There are some super-modern malls where one can find stores that are no different than in any large city. From designer sunglasses for 1000 Reais to custom made Lycra swimsuits for about 60. Most also have a nice food-court to have a lunch, all of course in an air-conditioned environment. These malls are in stark contrast to many of the local poor settlements. Armed security of course everywhere. I felt like in Fort Knox, lol.
What to buy: Shoes seem to be a good bargain, of good quality soft leather. Electronics I found expensive compared to Toronto.
The "Mercado Central" is another terriffic place to buy many things, mostly handmade. Clothing, shoes, T-shirts, jewellery and much more all at prices almost too low, especially children clothing. I bought some wonderful suits and dresses for my 2 little grandkids, at about 7-8 reais each, unbelievable and good quality.
What to pay: MUCH less than I am used to. A Beer on the beach about 1.50 reais, a coke 1, so is the ever refreshing iced Coconut-water, a whole refrigerated coconut with a hole on top and a straw to drink the cool water. A decent dinner for 2 with refreshments / alcohol can be had for around 30-60 Reais.
- Budget Travel
Market: Morro Branco Market
It's a traditional market... They sell litlle bottles full of sand with nice designs.. The colours of the sand are original.. very nice.. you can see more photos about this sand in my travelogues
What to buy: Traditional artifacts...
"Feirinha da Beira Mar": Hand Craft
In Fortaleza, to be more exact in Avenida Beira Mar, you can find lots and lots of beautiful things made by hand by local artists. You can find shoes, clothes, jewelry, hats, decorations and much more, all made by hand. It is very special because the local people actually take their time and put their best into each of their items... It is also, how they earn their livings.
What to buy: You have to defenetly buy the little crafts and things that they sell in the "Feirinha"
What to pay: Well... It is pretty cheap actually, very very cheap. Specially if your money is the american Dollar. $1.00 = R$2.85 (approx). If you are going to Brazil, your money is probably worth a lot more!!
Handcraft street markets are nice
What to buy: Nice things are the colorful sand filled bottles they make in the 'Morro Branco Beach' area, the 'rendeiras' (lace makers) work and maybe you can risk getting a henna tattoo while on the beach. Take cashew nuts (castanha-de-caju as they call them)...they are a yummy appetizer to have with drinks! But don't get the cheap ones (A 1 kilo pack for 10 Brazilian Reais, for example...they taste awful!). Good quality nuts cost about 6 Reais a 500 grams pack.