Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dois Dias em Salvador, Brasil

We spent two days in Salvador Brasil, which according to Wikipedia "is a city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. The city is one of the oldest in Brazil and the New world." The city, founded in 1502, is large by American standards with a metro population of approximately 3.5M. Pelourinho, which translates as pillory (a horrible device used to shame and punish slaves), is high above sea level and the oldest part of the city. The neighborhood offers visitors an excellent example of Portuguese colonial architecture and is very well preserved. Pictures of the churches and architecture above show how beautiful this neighborhood remain despite its shameful name.

Salvador claims to have 365 Catholic churches (one for every day of the year), but easily the most impressive must be the Church and Convent of St. Francis which was built in the early 1700s and includes 37 beautifully tiled mosaics and a profusion of carvings covered in more gold leaf than I have ever seen in my life. The affect is awesome (to use a truly Bostonian adjective).

Truthfully, Salvador was not one of my favorite cities to visit, but it was one of my favorite places to eat. While in Salvador we ate at two restaurants that anyone visiting should try. The first and more famous restaurant is Sorriso da Dada (loosely translated as Dada's Smile). Located in the Pelourinho district, the restaurant is not fancy but provides a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The woman for whom the restaurant is named leaves a lasting impression and represents the best of traditional Bahian cuisine I have ever had. We also ate at a newer restaurant in Barra (pronounced ba-ha) called Pereira. The restaurant is across from the beach and provides a more modern take on Brasilian cuisine in a very cool setting. Here you will see tourists mingling with young, wealthy Bahians enjoying an evening out. It is next to a Japanese Sushi restaurant (same owners) called Sato which we did not eat at but also looked fun. Sato was busier at night but Pereira always had people out on their beautiful patio / deck.

While in Salvador we stayed at Grande Hotel de Barra. The hotel was conveniently located across from a small beach, and while the accomodations were clean I found the rooms lacking in almost every creature comfort. The rooms were spartan and old (despite being assured we were in a newly renovated room). However, for two days - it was easy to deal with and the location was both safe and seemingly fairly central. Moreover, the hotel was quite affordable costing approximately $90/ day (keep in mind when I was in Brasil the US dollar was quite weak - the rates in Brasilian currency was 190 / night). If one were to book a room at the Grande Hotel de Barra, I would strongly recommend requesting a room facing the beach. We stayed in room 511 which was a corner room, closest to the beach and five stories above the street noise and smells. While walking through Barra, we stumbled across Pousada Manga Rosa which looked beautiful from the outside. According to the B&B website, rooms range from $70 - $100/ night.

No comments: