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Salvador

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Salvador

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Salvador is the capital of the state of Bahia, Brazil. With a charming Old Town (a World Heritage Site), a vibrant musical scene and popular Carnival celebrations, it is considered one of the birthplaces of Brazilian culture.

Salvador

Understand

Salvador de Bahia

History

Founded in 1549, Salvador was the capital in the heyday of the slave trade. The legacy remains today in its large black population, and the resulting culture in many ways outshines the rest of Brazil; in music, many of the greatest names from the mid-20th century to the present hail from Salvador, such as Dorival Caymmi, Gilberto Gil, and Caetano Veloso. In literature, the late Jorge Amado was also from the region. It's a vibrant, exciting city, and its people are quite friendly.

Orientation

Salvador is on a peninsula which shields the large Baía de Todos os Santos ("Bay of All Saints") from the Atlantic Ocean. The city is the third largest in Brazil, sprawling for dozens of kilometers inland from the coast. Most visitors head for the coastal neighborhoods that cluster around where the bay meets the ocean.

A 100m cliff runs along the entire bayshore, dividing the city into Cidade Alta, up on the cliff, and the Cidade Baixa down by the bay. The former features Pelourinho, the old city center that packs historical sites, colonial architecture, museums, restaurants, bars, hostels, artisanal shops, and music/dance/capoeira academies into a convenient, albeit tourist-swarmed, set of winding cobblestone streets. The latter features a commercial center with lots of bus traffic coming in from all over Salvador.

Outside of this area, there are many beach districts that stretch from the tip of the peninsula northeast along the Atlantic coast. The Barra neighborhood at the tip of the peninsula is the main alternative jumping-off point to Pelourinho, and a little further to the northeast are the hip neighborhoods of Rio Vermelho and Amaralina, which feature a nightlife less geared to the foreign tourism industry. A decent bus ride beyond these is the neighborhood of Itapuã, which has an energetic beach side nightlife and relatively few foreign visitors. Northward from there are kilometers and kilometers of gorgeous beaches, all accessible by bus.

The bayshore coast north beyond Pelourinho features a more tranquil atmosphere and a locally patronized, though less scenic, beach life. The interior of Salvador is where the "new city" has developed, full of residential neighborhoods, shopping megaplexes, and knotted highways, all of which can be quite alienating without actually having a friend to show you around.

Get in

By plane

The Salvador's Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhães Int'l Airport is one of Brazil's main airports, all biggest Brazilian airlines have flights to the Bahia capital city. The city also receives flights from the main hubs of Europe, South America and United States.

Scheduled Airlines:

The airport is 28km from the city centre (via Paralela express way) or 32km (via seaside). Two kinds of taxis are available in the airport, the executive taxis (Coometas and Comtas), and the normal taxis. Executive taxis are pre-paid, they have a table of prices rather than a meters. The other taxi option would be the normal taxis which are metered. A third option would be the executive air-conditionedminibuses which depart every 20 minutes to the Praça da Sé, in downtown near Pelourinho via the seaside, stopping in famous beaches like Ondina, Pituba, Amaralina and Itapuã, and Barra as well as stopping by Shopping Barra--an American-like shopping mall located not too far from the Farol da Barra The fare for these buses is R$4. Another option is the urban buses that go to many parts of the city, for the tourist the options are Lapa, Campo Grande and São Joaquim buses, the best thing is ask the driver before taking an urban bus, the fare is R$2,20 (2 reals and 20 centavos). Linha Verde executive buses go to Praia do Forte and depart often from the airport.

By bus

Salvador's long-distance bus station is in the middle of the new city, 14km from downtown. Salvador is accessible via scheduled buses from all around the country and from Paraguay. Inside the bus stations there are taxis (local taxis and executive taxis) and local buses which can all take you to many places in Salvador and the metropolitan area. Executive buses in the Iguatemi Station can be accessed from the Iguatemi Mall by way of a busy walkway. Bus travel in and out of Salvador can take a lot more time than expected. Count on an average speed of 50-60 km/h when planning your itinerary.

By boat

Salvador is a common stop on international cruise routes and was once visited by the Queen Elizabeth 2 during her sailing career. Note that the docks area can be dangerous. This area is linked to the Pelourinho historic centre by the Elevador Lacerda, and to the city by urban buses and executive buses to Iguatemi.

Get around

By foot

The Lacerda Elevator

The old city center can be easily explored on foot. To get between the upper and lower sections, take the Elevador Lacerda or the cable car, remember to take small change as the fare is just R$0.05. The streets between the two are considered dangerous even during the day.

By bus

City buses, as in other Brazilian cities, are constant and confusing. Fares are normally R$2.20 (R$2.15 for buses into the neighboring city of Lauro de Freitas). There is also the option of the air-conditioned executive buses for R$4. Remember to board in the back for the full-sized buses.

Know your landmarks and neighborhood names. Any large shopping area will have a complimentary frequented bus stop, and the major intercity terminal, Lapa, is next to Shopping Lapa.

Other major bus terminals include: Estação Iguatemi (between the Rodoviaria and Shopping Iguatemi), and Estação Mussurunga (located on the Paralela with buses usually connecting to Praia do Flamengo interior neighborhoods in Salvador).

If you are trying to make your way out of Pelourinho, you can either take the Elevador Lacerda down to the Comercio and find buses for just about every route, or walk to the Praca da Sé bus stop just south of the elevator, which has a much smaller selection of buses passing through, and many options of executive buses.

Buses are safe to ride at night, as long as you are on a frequented (i.e. coastal) route and dress/act inconspicuously. Service stops at midnight and begins again around 4:30-5AM. There are a limited number of lines that provide night service from midnight-4AM.

You can find more about about the Salvador bus routes and time tables one the website for the Superintendência de Transporte Público [3] (in Portuguese only).

By taxi

Salvador cab drivers must be competing with those in Rio for spots on Formula 1 racing teams. They will certainly get you where you're going quicker than the bus! However, as buses stop running after midnight, do be prepared to haggle quite a bit with taxistas who refuse to use the meter, especially if you've decided to explore far from your bed. Executive taxis (white and blue) don't have meters, and the prices are on a table, it's more expensive than city taxis, but they are much more comfortable, they are in stops in the main shopping malls, the airport, bus station, ferry-boat station and big hotels.

See

Salvador
  • At the center of the Cidade Alta there are the two large squares Praça da Sé and the Terreiro de Jesus which are connected at the corner by the cathedral. The latter is probably the most lively part of town, with food carts and stalls through the day and revelers in the evening hours.
  • Museu Afro-Brasileiro, [1]. M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. — A museum that documents the slave trade and subsequent development of the city. R$ 5.00.
  • Largo do Pelourinho — A fairly small triangular plaza, is among the oldest parts of town. You can guess from its name meaning "plaza of the pillory" what went on around there.
  • Mercado Modelo — The city's main market located in the lower town is and a good place for crafts and other souvenirs. In the adjacent square you can often see young men performing capoeira, the famous martial arts dance which originates from the area.
  • Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim — A small church located in a neighborhood to the north, is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in all of Brazil. The colorful votive ribbons or fitas of Bonfim are an easily recognizable item throughout Brazil and even beyond. Children outside the church will (for a small fee) tie them around your wrist and tell you to make a wish for each one. If the ribbon wears off naturally, the wish will come true; if you cut it off before then, it won't. You can get to Bonfim by city bus in about fifteen minutes.
  • Abaeté Park — A protected state park around the lake with same name. The lake is famous because of the stark contrast between the dark water and the very white sand dunes. There is a entertainment area with a lot of bars and live music.
  • Solar do Unhão — The best place in Salvador to watch the sunset. It is an old style house located at the Baía de Todos os Santos. Inside there is a small museum (Museu de Arte Moderna) with local art pieces. Sometimes on Saturday evening there is a jazz concert.

Do

  • Salvador's giant Carnival, the biggest of the world, according to the Guiness book of records, lasts for one week and is extremely popular with Brazilians and tourists alike.

Buy

Mercado Modelo

If you plan to buy popular art, crafts and clothing, check the small stores at the Old Town or head to the Mercado Modelo (Model Market). Locals like to shop at American-style shopping malls.

  • Shopping Center Iguatemi
  • Salvador Shopping
  • Shopping Barra
  • Shopping Itaigara
  • Shopping Center Lapa
  • Shopping Piedade
  • Bahia Outlet Center
  • Aeroclube Shopping & Office

Eat

The Terreiro de Jesus is a great place to sample the local cuisine from street stalls, served by Afro-Brazilian baianas in their traditional white dresses. In Salvador you will find many fast-food places like Burger King, McDonald's, Subway or Pizza Hut. You also will find casual dinner chains like Outback Steakhouse.

Be sure to try acarajé, small fritters made from black-eyed peas and onions fried in palm oil slathered with spicy vatapá (shrimp paste).

Budget

  • Acarajé da Cira, Largo de Itapuã, 3249-4170. Fresh acarajé daily from 10AM-11PM. There is also another location on the Largo da Mariquita in Rio Vermelho.
  • Acarajé da Dica, Rua J, Castro Rabelo, Pelourinho. Open T-Sa 3PM-11PM, Su 10AM-1AM.
  • Health Valley Brasil, Rua Direita da Piedade (in the city center). Vegetarian restaurant run by an African couple. Serving typical dishes based around ginger. Very popular with the local alternative crowd. Buffet including fruit juice and desert costs R$8.
  • Quiosque de Amaralina, Ave Otávio Mangabeira, Amaralina. Serving acarajé near the beach from 4PM to midnight.

Mid-range

  • Bistrô PortoSol, (on a cross-street near Porto da Barra). Small, cozy Austrian-Hungarian restaurant run by an Austrian and his wife. Simple accommodations decorated with posters of classic Hollywood movies. Quite delicious.
  • Companhia da Pizza, Rio Vermelho (on a cross-street near the Pestana Bahia and Blue Tree Towers hotels). One of the city's most popular pizza restaurants.
  • La Figa, Rua das Laranjeiras 17, Pelourinho (near Terreiro de Jesus). Italian restaurant with fresh pastas around R$35 for two people, appetizers around R$10, and deserts. The new owner changed the name in June 2007 (It was previously known as La Lupa), but the high quality, good service and good atmosphere remain the same.
  • Maria Mata Mouro, Pelourinho (near São Francisco church). Small, with only twelve tables but the service is great. Try the shrimp.
  • Meridiano, Ave Tancredo Neves (in front of the Casa do Comércio building). Gourmet cuisine at moderate prices. Excellent service.
  • São Salvador, (on the grounds of the Salvador Trade Center). Buffet with a refined atmosphere.
  • Sankofa African Bar e Restaurante, Pelourinho, Rua Frei Vicente, 7. African food and drinks with exotic flavors at very reasonable prices. Less than $R15 per person including one drink.
  • Hostel galeria 13, Pelourinho, Rua da ordem terceira no 23.The new european owner offers Pelourinho a much needed variety of international dishes & spanish tapas.The menu includes a great selection of vegetarian meals from around the world.You can enjoy your meal in the unique morrocan chill out room or in their patio garden.They also offer those great juices with a touch of ginger 'refreshing',or maybe a caipirinha with water melon.The quanties are very generous an the prices are extremely fair.


Splurge

  • Amado, Ave Contorno. Contemporary cuisine.
  • Barbacoa, Ave Tancredo Neves. Fine meat dishes and some of Salvador's best feijoada in a refined atmosphere.
  • Boi Preto, Boca do Rio (in front of Aeroclube Plaza Show near the Convention Center). One of the best churrascarias in town. Full buffet and salad bar plus unlimited fine cuts of meat.
  • Casa do Comércio, Ave Tancredo Neves, 11F (in the heart of the financial district). A good place to eat well and take in a panoramic view of Salvador.
  • Marc Le Dantec, Pier Sul Apartment Service, Ondina. The best French restaurant in the city.
  • Mistura, Itapoã. Specializing in fish and international cuisine.
  • Trapiche Adelaide, Comércia. Voted among the best fine dining in the city, with a fine view of the Bay of All-Saints.
  • Yemanjá, Ave Otávio Mangabeira 9292, Pitubá, 231-5570. Long held nationally and internationally as the standard in typical Bahian cuisine.

Drink

Bars

  • Bar da Ponta, beside the Trapiche Adelaide. A place to see and be seen, drink, and have a fantastic view of the bay.
  • Beco dos Artistas, near Campo Grande. One of the gay and lesbian areas of the city, with a diversified crowd. The area has various bars, a nightclub, and a restaurant.
  • Bohemia Music Bar, Jardim Brasil. The comfortable atmosphere, live music, and a varied menu make this a popular pick-up spot. The places often checks for IDs at the entrance.
  • Chuleta, Vale do Canela (near the UFB campus and the neighborhoods of Graça and Vitória). Boteco frequented by university students, famous for its cheap beer and for the meat snack from which the bar takes its name. Open air, plastic tables.
  • Largo de Santana, Rio Vermelho. This busy street has various bars and restaurants, and some of the best acarajé in town.
  • Mercado do Peixe, Rio Vermelho (at the seaside in front of the Blue Tree Towers Hotel). One of the best after-hours spots, Mercado do Peixe is a real Salvador institution. It starts to get busy after 3AM when everywhere else is closing. With simple accommodations and plastic tables, various stands stay open offering moquecas and regional appetizers, in addition to drinks. During the day it is, as its name suggests, a traditional seafood market.
  • Sankofa African Bar e Restaurante, Rua Frei Vicente, No 7, Pelourinho, [4]. In the middle of the Pelourinho. Live bands (salsa, samba, reggae, zouk, semba) and DJ's spinning African, Brasilian and world music. Tasty African dishes and drinks are also offered. African flags, maps, and artworks adorn the walls. The top floor has a projection system showing films and documentaries.
  • Hostel Galeria 13, Pelourinho, Rua da ordem terceira no 23.The new native English speaking owner has travelled & worked in many famous bars & clubs around the world you will get a chance to check out his knowledge of drinks.They offer great juices with a touch of ginger 'refreshing',or maybe a caipirinha or roska with water melon already being boasted the best in Brasil,a big Claim take him up on it.You can enjoy your drinks in the garden or the most original spot in Pelourinho,the Morrocan "chill out" room.
  • Bar Zulu,Pelourinho,Rua das laranjeiras no 15. tel 87843172.A very international bar & vegetarian restaurant.A mix of staff from all over the world bring you a cool corner bar with terrace & individual bar tables in every window,great for people watching.The bar offers the most original menu in The "Pelo",spanish tapas,salads,sandwiches ,international dishes & a vast choice of great veggie dishes from around the world.The bar has a feel of a trendy spanish tapas bar with some of the friendliest girls serving with a smile.Try there house special Caipirinha "zumarangi"strawberry & passion fruit.The owner promises they will soon be providing a sports tv,so a great spot for catching european footie

Nightclubs

  • Dolce, on the first floor of Shopping Boulevard 161, Itaigara. Very busy club, attracting a somewhat older crowd.
  • Fashion Club, Ave Octávio Mangabeira, 2.471, Pituba, 71 3346 0012. Once the most vibrant nightclub in Salvador, Fashion Club has taken somewhat of a backseat since the opening of Lotus. Prices, however, are around half of what you would pay at Lotus.
  • Lotus — Often mentioned in tourist guides but now closed.
  • Off Clube, Rua Dias Dávila, 33, Barra, 71 3267 6215. The main gay and lesbian club in town. A variety of events attracts locals of all social classes.
  • Rock in Rio Café — Often mentioned in tourist guides but now closed.
  • Zauber Multicultura, Ladeira da Misericórdia, 11, Edifício Taveira, Comércio, 71 3326 2964. Combining music and visual arts in one of the most important historic areas of the city. The space bridges between the old (architecture) and the new (decoration). Find out what is going on before you go, and take a taxi, as the location is in a rather dangerous and prostitution-plagued area of the city.

Sleep

Salvador's lodging options are basically divided between the hotels in the Cidade Alta and those in the beach districts. There are also hostels in Pelourinho that are reasonably priced, but noisy at night.

  • Sao Jorge, in Pelourinho, [5]. Charges R$50 a night for a double room (May 2006).
  • Hotel Cocoon, rua Haeckel José de Almeida, 46, Jaguaribe, [6]. Very nice hotel with interesting architecture. The receptionists speak fluent English, and there is free internet access. Just meters away from the beach, 5-6 minutes from the Conventions Center or shops at Iguatemi, and 25 minutes away from historic Pelourinho. There is a bus stop close to the hotel on the main road along the beach, so it is easy to reach Pelourinho from the hotel without using a taxi.

Apartments


Budget

  • Open House, Rua Comendador Bernado Catarino, 137, Barra, +55 11 3711-2186 - run by an artist couple, Cuban writer and film director husband Alex and Brasillian painter, dancer and choreographer wife Jacqui. A few blocks from Barra beach and trendy restaurants and bars, the house is full of paintings and artistic touch and incredible hospitality. Dorm and private rooms available. [7].
  • Ibis Salvador Rio Vermelho, Rua Fonte do Boi, 215, Rio Vermelho, (71) 3172-4100, [8].
  • Hotel Ondimar, Ave Oceânica, 1843, Ondina, (71) 3339-8383, [9].
  • Sol Plaza Sleep, Ave Otávio Mangabeira, 4581, Praia de Armação, (71) 3418-3699, [10].
  • Praia da Sereia, Ave Dorival Caymmi, 14, Itapoã (near the airport), (71) 3285-8100, [11].

There are 3 hostels affiliated with Hostelling International, two situated in Barra and one in Pelourinho. All are quality youth hostels.

  • Albergue do Porto, Rua Barão de Sergy, 197/207, Barra +(71) 264-6600, [12].
  • Hostel Barra, Rua Artur Neiva, 04, Barra, (near Morro do Cristo). +(55)71-3245-2600, [13].
  • Laranjeiras Hostel, Rua da Ordem Terceira 13, Pelourinho, (071)3321-1366, [14].
  • Hostel Galeria13, Rua da ordem terceira 23, Pelourinho, 71-32665609, [15].

Mid-range

  • Vila Galé Salvador, Ave Rua Morro Escravo Miguel, 320 Ondina CEP 41 700.000 Salvador Bahia - Brasil, 351 217 9076190 (), [2]. Located right on Praia de Ondina in São Salvador da Bahia and only 20 minute away from the International Airport. Online booking.
  • Mercure Salvador Rio Vermelho, Rua Fonte do Boi, 215, Rio Vermelho, (71) 3172-4100, (Fax: 71 3172 9201), [16].
  • Iguatemi Business Flat, Rua das Alfazemas, 761, Caminho das Árvores, 71 2101-1300 [17].
  • Portobello Ondina, Ave Oceânica, 2.275, Ondina, (71) 2203-6000, [18].
  • Sol Vitória Marina, Ave Sete de Setembro, 2068, Vitória, (71) 3418-2000, [19].
  • Holiday Inn, Rua Dr Augusto Lopes Pontes, 1207, Costa Azul, +(55)71 4009 4488 [20].
  • Ondina Apart, Ave Oceânica, 2400, Praia de Ondina, (71) 3203-8000, [21]
  • Pisa Plaza, Ave Prof. Manoel Ribeiro, Jardim Armação, 55 (71) 2103-6555, [22].
  • Hotel Redfish, Ladeira do Boqueirão, N°1 Santo Antonio/Centro Histórico, [23]. A boutique hotel in Pelourinho that will please those looking for a hotel within walking distance of the local attractions. The 'luxury' rooms are spacious with high ceilings that easily accommodate two king-sized beds. A traditional hammock is available for use on the large balcony that overlooks the harbour. The luxury rooms are value for money but do not have the luxury-extras such as a TV or a full-range of toiletries. The breakfast-room overlooks a high school and guests will leave with a clear idea of what happens in a Brazilian school.


Splurge

  • Vila Galé Salvador, Ondina, 0800 2848818, ([email protected]), [24]. 5-star hotel located right on the seaside, close to tourist attractions.

Stay safe

As with other large Brazilian cities, Salvador is notorious for street crime; muggings and knifings are rife! Avoid travelling through the city by yourself at night. Salvador is particularly bad and is notorious as a tourist trap.

Even though you think it might be safe, the sun is out, and there are people about, you can still get mugged. When you go to the police they are pretty lax. In fact, it is rumoured that the police and street children work together. With that said, it is pointless to trust the police. As a general rule, be suspicous if people approach you directly in a friendly way as they either want money or to sell you something.

People with darker complexions will have an advantage over those with pale skin. Blacks are likely to blend in well; other dark-skinned people may be inconspicuous in many places, but whites are particularly targeted. AVOID carrying any kind of satchel or bag, as this is a mugger magnet! When you go to the beach, it's best to go in slippers and shorts or bikini and light clothing; it might look OK, but chances are you will get robbed at some point if carrying anything that could be of any value.

Often, there are heavily guarded areas with many police, but just outside of that area are the muggers waiting for the tourists.

If you come to this city, try to find a host who can also help serve as a guide on how to conduct yourself to stay on top.

  • Never EVER go downtown alone.
  • These days the Pelourinho, formerly one of the most dangerous areas, is heavily patrolled by police. Remember they are there for a reason, though. But also other areas, which are strongly frequented by foreigners, can become dangerous, especially at night, i.e. the Barra harbour area. Avoid dark and lonely places at night, i.e. the Jesus Christ Statue at Barra. NEVER go to the beach at night!
  • The long sloping road leading from the old town to the harbor should be avoided even during the day. ALWAYS take the elevator.
  • If you are staying in the touristic Barra area, beware of the favela near Shopping Barra, especially at night. The area just to the east toward the beach can be dangerous as well.
  • Beware of vehicular traffic. Crossing the streets is always dangerous even when using a pedestrian crosswalk with the traffic light red for cars. As one member of Supergrass band once said: "In Brazil green means go, and red means go faster!" Start the crossing ONLY when vehicles have already stopped.
  • Never agree to share a taxi with other random people, especially if they approach you. Most likely, it's just a trap to rob you!
  • Some ATMs are stealing your credit card information (even though you remain in possession of your credit card), especially at the airport - monitor your credit card statements regularly
  • Watch out for children in Pelourinho, especically on Tuesdays at the Geronimo Concert at the old church - they are reaching out for any low pockets in cargo pants!

Get out

For a nice day trip, catch the ferry to the laid-back island of Itaparica. Salvador is also the gateway to many other nearby attractions such as:

  • Praia do Forte. Beach town with the "Project Tamar" turtle sanctuary.
  • Boipeba. A beautiful and very pleasant island.
  • Morro de Sao Paulo. Very frequented island by tourists and locals, plenty of restaurants, hostels and bars. It has four beaches with translucent water.
  • Massarandupió. Just 90 km from Salvador, it's a true paradise, a semi-desert beach, with a small river. Walking by the beach you can reach a naturist area.



This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!