Travel article: Salvador de Bahia

Travel blogger: Christelle & Cedric

Trip story: 3 months in South America!

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Salvador, State of Bahia, Brazil

Brazil 3 days - February 2019






We are ready to discover a new facet of the Brazilian Nordeste: Salvador de Bahia!


The history of colonial Brazil began in Salvador in 1549 when the Portuguese arrived and declared Salvador capital of Brazil. The city was infamous for being the first slave market of the new world with 4 million slaves arrived on the shores of Bahia. This heritage makes Salvador a center of Afro-Brazilian culture that we found in music, capoeira, religious holidays and cooking. As they say here: Brazil has its body in America and its soul in Africa. The streets are lively, the music is omnipresent.


After a sleepless night of transport (the life of travelers is not fun every day ...) we arrive at our hostel to discover that our reservation had been canceled. Hard find a room for this weekend with the city that will welcome more than a million people for a religious holiday. After some research, we found  a Pousada certainly off budget (that has refunded us later!) but very charming held by a Franco-Italian couple who was very good advice: thanks to them Salvador has left a lasting memory !


The neighborhood where we stayed is Santo Antônio, a bobo and hipster neighborhood with artists' studios, charming little shops and pretty colonial houses in cobblestone streets that we loved to roam. Much quieter than the city center (Pelourinho) and especially safer. To immerse ourselves in this Afro-Brazilian atmosphere what better than to test the cuisine? The moqueca (fish, shrimp, vegetables cooked in a coconut soup / spices) is delicious, the motoco (meats prepared in soft cooking) is very heavy but delicious. We repeat ourselves but the cuisine is surprising for Latin America, we are delighted!


During our second day a religious holiday happened, 1 million people were expected to celebrate and make offerings to Yemanja. The pilgrims line up to make offerings to Yemanja, goddess of the sea in the Candomble religion imported by African slaves in Brazil and mixed over time with Catholicism (and especially not to be totally banned by Portuguese settlers…). White and blue are the main colors and Yemanja is represented by a little doll or siren that is placed in a basket with colored ribbons and thrown into the sea.

It is also an opportunity to gather around capoeira, to wear the typical outfit of Salvador - which with its frills and shapes remind Africa again - and to dance samba (Cedric tried, not mastering it yet).


Finally, for our last day, we went to Bonfim Cathedral, famous for its ribbons that are attached to the facade to make a wish! I passed my turn following the double bad pick and double curse that I was given in Japan in 2016!

A group of capoeira made a ronda (show of a troop where each dancer clashes). It's beautiful, dynamic, the music is nice, it makes you want to try.

Then we joined the Pelourinho, historical center where rehearsals of samba rehearsed for the carnival. Once again, what an atmosphere! People dance, laugh, we follow the troupe, life is beautiful, we love this atmosphere. On the other hand the capoeira groups are clearly there for the tourists as well as the mama and their traditional outfits, we pass our tour, everything was more authentic at the Yemanja party.

The houses are colorful, the weather is nice, we visit a dozen churches- Salvador has 365, one for each day of the year. San Francisco and the basilica are the most beautiful with gilding, high ceilings, wall frescoes.

Be careful not to go past the glacier next to the San Francisco church, the junkies are there and the insecurity begins it is not nice to see ...

Many travelers tried to dissuade us to go to Salvador because of cut-throat streets so it was a real surprise to feel good and to discover this Brazilian culture so lively and dynamic.


Some recommendations:

# we recommend the Pousada Esmeralda! 220 real at night with a great breakfast and in an amazing neighborhood.

# be careful in the Pelourinho not to go behind the glacier which is on the main square next to the San Francisco church, crackland starts ...

# San Fransisco and Cathedral Basilica of Salvador: 5 real per person, not to be missed.

# staying in Santo Antônio is a very good idea. Super lively and safe neighborhood. Much better than the Pelourinho.

# we ate at Ulysse and at Cade Q Chama, we recommend both!

# Uber is a very good way to get around the city. Airport-Santo Antônio journey: 50 real.

#  We have not been to the beaches of Salvador because seen from the sky they did not look very beautiful ... on the opposite of those  2 hours from Salvador like Boipeba, Morro Sao Paulo, Itacare which looked very nice!

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Mar 1, 2019 - 06:34 AM

Bon anniversaire, Chrystelle ! avec tous ces danseurs et danseuses et musiciens , musiciennes bise