Marg and Leigh's travels around the world

We are two retired women from New Zealand, busy travelling the world. Our quest is to experience other cultures before they are changed beyond recognition, and see endangered animals and environments before they disappear. We hope you like our blog and enjoy our exploits. We sure have had fun getting here.

Sunday, 17 September 2017


After our fabulous trip to the Pantanal, we flew out of Cuiaba at 6 am. We had a brief stop in Brasilia (capital of Brazil), before landing in Salvador, our next stop.

Salvador is in the north-eastern part of Brazil on the Atlantic coast. It is known for its Portuguese colonial architecture, Afro-Brazilian culture, and tropical climate. Its old city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

View from our Salvador apartment
We had booked a one-bedroom apartment on Airbnb, in the beach side area of Barra. Unfortunately, the apartment did not live up to its description on Airbnb in terms of cleanliness and maintenance.

However, it had an incredibly redeeming feature – its fabulous view of the sea, coast, and sunsets. It also had a great view to the street so we had ample opportunity to people-watch.

Salvador is big (4th largest city in Brazil with around 2.9 mil people), so we decided to take a tourist bus to give us an overview of the city.

Marg at the Mercado
Our first stop was the city centre at the Mercado Modelo. This was full of tourist stuff, so we passed through quickly.

As we were given time to look around the city, we caught the Elevador Lacerda, a restored art deco elevator connecting Salvador's sea level commercial area, with its clifftop historic area called Pelourinho. 

The Elevador queue was long but moved quickly as there were two elevators working. 

Elevador Lacerda, taking us up to the old centre
At the top we called into the tourist office and had some fabulous help from a young woman there.

She spent ages on the phone on our behalf, helping us to pay for luggage for our next flight.

Luggage is charged separately to the seat ticket by South American airlines, and it’s much cheaper to pay in advance (it’s twice the rate once at the airport).

That sorted, we continued on our bus trip, planning to come back to the Pelourinho historic centre the next day.

Shops covered in mould - many others were worse
The bus took us through an incredibly diverse range of neighbourhoods from the rich and prosperous, to the favelas (slums) where we saw some very depressing sights. 

Houses and shops were in absolutely terrible condition, and with dampness everywhere.

It was pretty ghastly and we were shocked at how bad the conditions were. There was colour and vibrancy, but heaps of collapsing structures and decaying facades.

Favelas 10 minutes away from expensive yachts
Our bus driver went really fast through one particular area, and we were pleased not to stop there because of the big groups of shouting men.

We continued on and were struck by the huge difference in living conditions when we drove through the different suburbs. Certainly a city of extremes!

We saw many favela areas then within 10 minutes, we drove past lovely marinas with expensive yachts.

At one point, we drove alongside the metro which was raised up between the lanes of traffic.

Some of Salvador's interesting public art
Beneath it was a walkway and cycle way, two lanes going each way to keep everyone away from the traffic. We reckon this approach would work well in Wellington.

We saw some wonderful street art and creative spaces that help give this city its vibe.

By then we had crossed the city and come out on the Atlantic coast where we saw beach after beach after beach - big sandy beaches and quite windy when we were there. There was a walk/cycle way running for many kilometres along the sea front, giving wonderful access to these beaches. About 6 hrs later we were pleased to be home.

Largo do Pelourinho - Salvador's historic centre
The next day we caught a very crowded bus into the historic centre to go exploring. There we saw some amazing colonial buildings, some colourful deco ones, and not so good old ones, all in differing stages of wellbeing.

Having been to Portugal, we could easily identify the Portuguese style architecture.

Salvador was the first colonial capital of Portuguese Brazil and is one of the oldest cities in the Americas (est. 1549). 

Salvador's Pelourinho historic centre
Within a decade, it became the first slave market in the New World, with slaves, mostly from Africa, arriving to work on the sugar plantations. Apparently, the African culture survived better in Brazil than in North America, because Portuguese law prohibited owners from separating slave families, and slaves could buy their freedom.

The city has many squares reached by cobbled hilly streets, crowded with small and large, and often colourful houses and shops.

Salvador's Pelourinho historic centre
We found Salvador people to be incredibly friendly and helpful, but with not much English spoken. Those who do speak English, seemed to really enjoy practicing it on us.

We however, struggled along with our poor version of Portuguese.

We keep lapsing into a mix of Portuguese, Spanish and English: Bom dia (good day in Portuguese); por favor (thank you in Spanish); bye (goodbye in English)!

Marg cracking crab
Meanwhile, back in Barra near our Airbnb, we enjoyed some nice seafood meals, including an amazing crab dish (6 crabs in one dish!).

One night, we were offered a free caipirinha drink to entice us into a restaurant - how could we refuse? A caipirinha is made with the local spirit cachaça, topped up with pounded ice and limes. Very moreish. So we decided to continue with them as our drinks with the meal.

However, we seriously underestimated the potency of cachaça and had a very wobbly stroll home that night - perhaps one less next time!

We enjoyed having our own space for several days at the Airbnb, rather than a hotel. But suddenly, it was time to move on.

So after some lovely down-time, laundry sorted and refreshed, blog updated, and great sightseeing, it was time to move on.

Next stop, Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto, a UNESCO town.

1 comment:

  1. We were in Salvador on 17 February this year. Your pictures are just as we remember it - we even went into the same tourist office!