Caipi, Samba, Salvador

After a week of kitesurfing and a very relaxed lifestyle in Jeri, we headed back to Fortaleza airport with a 4×4 jeep, with the same operator as on the way here. We were picked up at 6am and drove about 4.5 hours back to the airport. I fully enjoyed the last minutes driving along the beach, catching more views of the beautiful sea and with the sunrise setting in, the good-bye moment was beautifully special.

We had booked a flight with Avianca Brazil a few weeks in advance, next stop: Salvador, the capital city of the state Bahia. We were attracted to the city for its architecture from the Portuguese colonial times, its African-Brazilian culture, and the tropical coast.

Having arrived at Salvador airport, we took a taxi to our hotel A Casa das Portas Velhas in the vibrant, colourful and historic neighbourhood Pelourinho. So special it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The taxi cost us 140 Rs and took 35 minutes. The cheaper version is taking the bus for 25 Rs one way, but it takes about 1.5 hours, because of the many stops in between. Remember that on Mondays there is loads of traffic, so plan in way more time. We arrived on a Sunday and the traffic was “nothing” according to our taxi driver. The hotel is cute and employees very helpful and welcoming.

After freshening up, we headed for an early dinner in our hood, which is probably the hippest in town. We chose a restaurant just around the corner of our hotel and ordered some typical food for Salvador. We didn’t really know what to expect, but trusted the waiter and luckily we were rewarded with some really tasty food, starting with mussels, continuing with shrimps in some sort of red sauce. Accompanied by some Heineken beer, which everyone seems to drink.  What a fab start.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel to order an Uber with the destination Bar O Cravinho.  Uber is really cheap in Salvador – this trip cost us only 7 Rs, which are not even 2 Euros, so we always gave a generous tip. We just couldn’t see how this would be commercially viable for the drivers. The bar is so cool. Great atmosphere, nice mixture of locals and tourists, and of course the super tasty Cachaca and Caipirinha. By far the best Caipi I’ve ever had. They also have a good collection of bar snacks and we enviously looked at other peoples’ plates, but since we just had dinner, we successfully resisted. Only to realise afterwards, that the Caipis were strong. Strong and good. We had 2 Caipis each, really enjoying the vibe of this place and having a comprehensive girls talk.

Whilst in the bar, we were already observing the occurrences next door, in the adjacent court yard. A samba party! We are in Brazil, in Salvador, we just had an amazing drink and we are just about to dance Samba. Jackpot!!! We wandered over to the next entrance and found ourselves, within minutes, amongst the locals who took us by our hand to show us the samba moves. They offered us beer, they offered us their help, they were simply kind. A wonderful feeling. The band playing percussion is so worth mentioning, they weren’t only playing an instrument, they put all their emotions, their ambition, their fun, their enjoyment of life into the music, that it was such a bliss to listen to it and to let the music flood my body. Just before 11pm they finished the music and hence the dancing stopped too, so my friend and me went back to the hotel, by Uber.

The next morning, we woke up at 8.30am and had a very relaxed breakfast at the hotel. They offer a good breakfast selection, with toast, ham, cheese, eggs, fruit, cakes and best of all, the coffee. It seems like Brazil knows how to prepare coffee. Italy, be aware! Afterwards we walked through our neighbourhood, to get a feel for the city. I personally love exploring cities by walking. You can walk into all the tiny streets, and you will see things that you wouldn’t see otherwise. And always look up, the most beautiful things are always to be seen above your head. Gorgeous house facades, a blooming tree or a beautifully looking sky.

Look up and see beauty!

We wanted to explore Salvador more by foot and decided for the free walking tour, but unfortunately nobody turned up. This was the first time for me that a free walking tour didn’t take place and I was disappointed, since it is such a nice way to explore town and meet other travellers at the same time. Instead, we browsed the internet for nice cafés and walked to Café Zulu in a quiet lovely area of Pelourinho. I can recommend the Guacamole there with homemade bread and of course, since I’m Acai addicted, I can also recommend the Acai bowl for 15 Rs. In the evening, my friend and me headed to another part of Salvador looking for a restaurant called Armazém do Reino, which is not a normal restaurant. Instead, they create a sensorial dinner experience. Funniest experience ever… We were the only guests in the small restaurant, which is beautifully decorated by the way. This dinner is very special, since you drink red wine and eat the dishes in turns. The intention is to feel the wine develop its various tastes subject to the food you are having and that the wine is supporting the taste of the food. We started with homemade bread and different dips, we continued with a risotto, and finished the meal with an apple-beetroot dessert and some tea infusion. If you are curious about special dinner experiences, go! The owners are lovely and pay attention to detail. However, if you are really hungry, I suggest going somewhere else. This experience is not only having food, it is about mindfulness, eating slowly, and experiencing the different tastes in your mouth.

The next day, we walked to the modern museum of art, Solar Unhão – MAM. It’s free entry and the museum has a nice garden, which can definitely serve as little city hide away. Also head here at around 5pm to enjoy the sunset. Also, head to Porto da Barra to have a brief look at the fortress. And: don’t miss out on the traditional Acarajé com Camarão. A street food snack based on beans; definitely worth a try, especially when enjoyed whilst looking at the sea.

On our last evening, we ate at the restaurant Poró, which was a recommendation of someone we met at the samba party. If it is not too late, ensure to have a look at the small boutiques on the same street, and maybe like us, you will find something nice to take home with you. I bought a printed dress which will always remind me of this trip.

To sum this up, 48 hours in Salvador are just perfect and in my opinion, you shouldn’t miss out on this city when heading to Brazil, as this is the real Brazil!

If you have any more questions about Salvador and the places I mentioned, please send me a message.

Yours, Nina

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