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GRINGO JIU JITSU!: Why only train and visit Rio? The real carnival is in Salvador!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why only train and visit Rio? The real carnival is in Salvador!


Salvador, capital of the northeastern state of Bahia, is one of Brazil's cultural highlights. The city's population of over 2 million people is renowned for its spontaneity and easy relaxed manner. The city is an ethnic melting pot and is rich in African culture and colonial legacy. Initially finding your way around the city's winding narrow streets can seem difficult but as most activity is centered around the recently reformed Pelourinho region it can be easily managed on foot (if you can manage the steep hills). The Cidade Alta (or upper city) is the historic center of Salvador full of old churches and other colonial buildings while the Cidade Baixa (lower city) is the city's commercial and financial center. The beaches around Salvador are not so clean but if you travel a little further a field they get better. Some of the best nearby beaches are Pituba, Armacao, Piatas and Itapoaa which are within 45 minutes by bus from the center. The best time to visit Salvador is during Carnival (usually in February), which involves street partying and dancing for the best part of a whole week. Hotels fill up quickly during Carnival so make sure to book a few months in advance. The best place to stay is close to Pelourinho or else in the Barra neighborhood, but don't expect to get much sleep. Other highlights are the Festa de Lemanja on February 2 on the Rio Vermelho beach and Lavagem do Bonfim, between December and Janeiro, on the steps of the Nossa Senhora do Bonfim church. For day trips, there are frequent boats leaving from the Maritimo Terminal, behind the Mercado Modelo, in the lower city, to islands in the Baia de Todos os Santos and other locations.