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I spent 11 days during the Easter Holiday of 2014 in Salvador, Bahia, and Praia do Forte (see the specific post here), in Northeast of Brazil. Were wonderful days because I had the opportunity of getting to know a different face of Brazil. Who already lived in Brazil knows that moving from one state to another its like going to another country. the cultural and social diversity changes in every state. Bahia is not the exception. Moreover, the costs aren’t that high, if you know how to find cheap solutions.
For the experienced travelers around latin america, Salvador will remind will remind you to other cities of the continent. It’s a big city, with a lot of beaches, a beautiful Historic District and a population mainly of African descendent. In my case, it remind me of Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) because it’s a touristic city full of contrast. in one hand you have the prosperity generated by the tourism during the whole year (in Salvador as Cartagena is always summer time), but the social inequality is part of the everyday life of the city. Making of Salvador a mixture of parallel realities.
in Brazil people use to say that you love or you hate Salvador. As all the “first impressions”, I believe it’s a statement that should be based on the personal experience. I particularly loved it. The weather is always good, with a medium of 86 F with a dray air. when it rains, it rains really hard but usually stop quickly, and finally, it has everything that a city can offer (shopping, Cultural and artistic shows, etc) besides the beauty of the sea and the beaches.
When it comes to the people, they are receptive and warm, always offering you help when asked. They don’t know what it is rush and stress. it’s really rare to see a Soteropolitano (a person from Salvador) stressed out, and that why the have a huge stereotype of lazy people. But is mandatory to get a bit more close to get to know them, and understand the foundations of that stereotype. That is when you realize that is just the way they are, it’s deep in their culture. people burned and raised in huge cities with a rushed lifestyle will believe that the costumer service in Salvador is horrible. the waiter could be slow at taking your order, the food could delay, and so on. but is you, who has an accelerated lifestyle, who is entering to they city and their culture, don’t feel undeserved or offended, just take with you a little extra patience and relax. At the end, those are your holidays and if you slow down a little you’ll see the truly cozy and warm essence.
Arriving to Salvador…
There are direct flights from São Paulo and other capitals cities of Brazil. The international Airport Deputado Luís Eduardo Magalhães is located in the outside the metropolitan area, in Laureano Freitas, which Is one hour and a half from downtown (by bus).
Leaving the airport you’ll find official taxis and local cab drivers. the ride until Salvador is around 70-120 BRL You can negotiate with them about the price. You can also share a cab with other travelers and split the fare. A lot of people in Salvador do that, it’s up to you and you adventure spirit.
If you arrive during the day, I recommend taking a bus. This is what I did. Crossing the parking lot you’ll find the Bus stop. Take the S002 Aeroporto/Praça da Sê (rio vermelho company) the bus fare is 2,85 BRL.
In Salvador, different from other cities in Brazil, you enter the bus by the rear door and get off by the front door. Try to have some coins with you, usually they don’t have change for Big bills. The bus enters the city and goes around the shore, you will pass by the Barra neighborhood. There it pass close to the lighthouse of the Barra and keep going until the last stop Praça da Sé. Here you will find a lot of hostels besides the Elevador Lacerda and Pelourinho (historic district).
I stayed at the Barra. It’s just perfect. it’s a middle point of the city. There you´ll find the Barra Lighthouse and the Fort, two beaches and it’s just 15 min away from downtown by bus. There are also nice restaurants and Bars to enjoy at night.
Thereby, just at the beginning of my adventure, I already had the opportunity of getting in touch with the spirit of the city. I like the economic choices not only by the issue of cost, but because you can see with the view of those who live in the city that I’m visiting. I’m not a big fan of traditional touristic routes, although I always visit the touristic places, I try to find those hidden corners that shows me a bit more of the soul of the place. At the moment I arrived to Salvador I knew that the city was saving me wonderful surprises. And I was right. There were days when I had fantastic and cheap gastronomic experiences (read more about it here), I explored the city as local (read more about walking in Salvador), met amazing beaches (find more information here) and I went to Praia do Forte, one of the most charming places I’ve been in my life (find more info here).