Guest writer for the World Cup’s Host Cities Series, Lucas Almeida, tells The Wee G why Salvador is a friendly city.
Salvador of Bahia is an interesting blend of African, Portuguese and indigenous influences located in the sunny Northeast region of Brazil.
Also known as the Land of Happiness (Terra da Alegria in Portuguese ), its local people, called soteropolitanos, are very receptive and famous in Brazil for being relaxed, joyful and friendly.
Salvador is well-known by its rich and unique gastronomy, strongly influenced by the African heritage. Actually, the Africans are responsible for Bahia’s strong identity and culture, deep religiousness and electric musicality.
The weather is warm in most days of the year, but it may turn rainy and windy in the winter, between June and August. The high temperatures define the style of soteropolitanos, who prefer wearing light fabrics and bright colors.
The beaches and the historical center are the main attractions of the town. A visit to Pelourinho is a must-see for those interested in an in-depth look to Salvador’s history. The colorful constructions and colonial churches reveal the beauty of Baroque architectural style. The area is a museum under the open sky, and an afternoon walk around its slopes is mandatory. During the summer, many carnival pre-parties take place, gathering a lively crowd.
The most bohemian area of Salvador is called Rio Vermelho (Red River). The neighborhood is filled with bars, clubs, artists, poets, hippies and all kind of people. Here you can find pubs playing different styles of music, offering something cool to a wide range of tastes. You can also find the famous “baianas do acarajé”, women wearing traditional white costumes cooking the delicious acarajés (little fried balls made of beans).
As the city doesn’t offer an underground system you may find a little complicated to get around. The options are limited to buses and taxi cabs. Be careful when taking both transportations. Buses are cheap (R$ 2,80 one way, around £0.75) but not that safe and taxi drivers may charge you a little bit more than the usual price. In both cases, a little of Portuguese language skills will help you to get by. In fact, knowing something in Portuguese is essential as many people here are not able to communicate appropriately in English.
Some small cautions are also required to prevent you from thefts. Avoid carrying expensive things, like jewelry, watches and tablets and pay attention to the place you are in and the people around you. In general, the touristic areas are safe, but it is good to stay mindful and awake.
Once you take these simple advices, take a chance to enjoy the delicious roskas (drinks with a mixture of vodka and tropical fruits), drink coconut water on the seafront, swim in the warm and calm waters of Porto da Barra beach and risk some dance steps of the local rhythm axé-music.
To say goodbye, nothing better than to sit at the green grass around Farol da Barra and watch the magical spectacle of the sunset in the Baía de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay) and testimony how generous and graceful nature is in this exciting and charming city.