OK.... you are in the Nega. You love it here, and you would spend the whole day inside the house!! We know we are nice people, and the atmosphere is great. But, come on! We'll be here when you come back. Go out and have some fun. You can start by Santo Antonio and Pelourinho, go to the beaches, a museum here, a church there, go out at night, party a lot on Tuesdays, don't miss Candomble, and well... just enjoy yourself in this magical city. You may want to visit other neighborhoods, eat and see nice stuff etc. Here are some recommendations. Also, read about the Carnival if you are planning to be here around Feb - March. Even if not, there are many other festivals all throughout the year.
Anything you want to add, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) . Checkout the around Salvador section later on this page.
Yeap., this is were we live. It is pretty much of an extension of Pelourinho, though much more given to residential living. Santo Antônio is part of Salvador's Centro Histórico and and most of the houses date from the colonial era. At the far end from Pelourinho is the Largo de Santo Antônio, banked by a church, and the Forte de Santo Antônio which now serves as a capoeira center and is home to most of the schools in town. The view of the sea from this point is amazing and you can see beautiful sunsets.
The Colonial City, locally known as the Pelourinho or Pelô, with its imposing Baroque architecture - declared part of World Heritage by UNESCO - receives thousands of visitors from around the world who are interested in the area's historical significance and the intense variety of cultural activities. Diversity of restaurants, bars and little shops line the stones streets. Bahianas selling Acaraje, Museums, churches, and Squares offer a lot of beautiful scenes to enjoy. Pelourinho becomes a completely different neighborhood at night with the implementation of the project Pelourinho Day and Night, in Quincas Berro d'Água, Tereza Batista and Pedro Arcanjo Squares. Musical groups perform a variety of styles including jazz, blues, bossa nova, "Brazilian Popular Music" (MPB), samba and chorinho. In Jubiabá Square visitors can participate in live rehearsals of local carnival groups such as "Indios and Afros".
Try to arrange your trip so you can stay at least one Tuesday in Pelourinho. Tuesday night is Pelourinho's biggest party night. It's called benção (or "blessing"), from an origin in the Igreja do Santo Antônio's custom of giving away bread to the poor on Tuesday morning's. Bahia has a way of turning religious events into parties, and that's exactly what happens here; lots of people, lots of music, and lots of dancing. Benção is even bigger during the summer months (December, January, February), and the biggest parties during any given month are the first and last of that month (that's when people get paid!)
Churches.... well, according to the legend, there are 365 churches in Salvador, one for each day of the year. If you look around you might think it's true, but actually, the number is not that big. Some of the finest and most famous are in the Colonial City: the São Francisco church, completely overlaid in gold-leaf, the imposing Basilica da Sé Cathedral and the Third Order of São Francisco church, that has an extraordinarily beautiful rococo façade sculpted in stone. The renowned Senhor do Bonfim Church is located in the Lower City. Some off these churches are worth a visit. Below is a list of names and addresses or phone numbers, if you are very interested in this subject, you can find out some more in the brochures that they give you for free in the Tourist info. center (Bahiatursa).
Cathedral Basilica: Visiting hours: daily 9 –11 am, 2 – 5pm. Tel: (5571) 3321 4573
São Francisco Church and Convent: Visiting hours: Mon – Sat. 8:30 am – 5 pm. Tel. (55-71) 3322 6430.
Venerable third order of São Domingo’s Church: Visiting hours: Mon – Fri. 8 am – 12pm. Saturday and Sunday during mass. Tel. (55-71) 3242 4185.
Mosteiro de Sao Bento: (Av 7 de Setembro,1 Ladeira de São Bento (Centro): C Tel. 3322 4744.
Igreja do Carmo: Largo do Carmo. Tel. 3242 0182.
N. S. Do Rosario dos Pretos: (Praca José de Alencar)
Igreja do Bonfim: Praca Senhor do Bonfim. Tel. 3312 0196
Igreja de N.S. da Conceicao da Praia: R. Da conceicao da Praia. Tel. 3242 0545.
Now that we are already in a serious mood, let us say a word about museums. There are a lot! some of them free, some of them worth a quick look and some maybe even a long visit. It depends on your taste of course. Here is a list of the most popular ones, the ones we've visited, or the ones that have been recommended by other family members:
- The Jorge Amado Foundation: Largo do Pelourinho, 49-51. This is Natalia's favorite but for personal reasons! Jorge Amado, for those who don't know him, is a very famous Bahian writer. In his books he beutifully portraits life in Bahia, and if you've been here, you can see his characters in every corner. The Jorge Amado Foundation has a complete collection of his books translated in different languages (Dona Flor and her two husbands, Gabriela Cravo e Canela... sounds familiar?). Opened on 1987, the foundation’s objective is to preserve and promote the study of the works by this novelist. Inside the building, you can also find Café Zelia Gattai (Jorge's love), coffee shop and bar, with a space for artistic presentations and movies of the writer. Visiting hours: Mon – Sat, 9am – 9 pm, Tuesday 9am – 6pm. Tel. 3321 0122/0070.
- The City Museum: Rua Gregorio de Matos, 40. Next to Jorge Amado Foundation. Eclectic mix of collections relating to Bahian Culture, its collection includes dolls, sculptures, and images of the Orixas of Candomble. . Visiting hours: Mon – Fri, 9am – 12 pm, 2pm – 5pm. Tel. 3321 1967.
- The Modern Art Museum: Av. Do Contorno (Comercio). The museums permanent collection includes paintings, drawings, etchings, and silk screens by modern and contemporary artists such as Di Cavalcanti, Volpi, Tarsilia do Amaral and Mario Cravo. There are also many temporary exhibits. The Parque das Esculturas lays right next to the museum and has sculptures or famous Brazilians artists. Visiting hours: Tues – Fri. 1 pm – 9 pm. Sat. 3pm –9pm; Sun. 2pm – 7pm. Tel: 3329 0660.
- Fundacion Casa de Benin: Ten minute free visit and you've seen it all. Collection of popular art crafts from Benin, arrange beutifully in a Colonial house. It's on the way to the Nega from Pelourinho, so you might as welldrop in for a couple of minutes.
- The old Medicine School: first medical school of the country. Home of Pedro Arcanjo, character of The Miracle Shop (Jorge Amado). It's actually being restaurated. The same building houses three different museums: , Archeology and Ethnology Museum, (paintings, pictures, objects and indian graves) and Medicine Memorial (Medicine Thesis and old books), and the Afro-Brazilian Museum.
- Afro-Brazilian museum: Opened in 1982, this museum has a large collection of more than 126 pieces of religious, spiritual and artisitic nature, including pottery, sculpture, tapesty, waving, and paintings, besides a great number of photographs showing hairstyles, customs and architecture.
As we said before, there are many museums in Salvador. All of them you can find in any tourist guide. We could copy them all here, but first of all, we're lazy, and second, we are not gonna do all the job for you!!! If you happen to visit a good place, contact us and let us know about it, and we will include it in this list.
There are some other things you can do around here...
Go to the Lacerda Elevator. This elevator connecting the upper and lower city began functioning by hydraulic pressure in 1873 and was electrified in 1930, making the 72-meter journey between the two cities hundreds of times a day. The ride cost only 15 centavos, and the elevator is opened every day from 5am – 12am.
When you get to the lower city, cross the street and go to:
Mercado Modelo: Open Mon-Sat. 8am – 7pm; Sun. and Holidays 8 am – 12 pm. Located near the Lacerda Elevator. Praça Cayru. Big market of crafts and typical bahian souvenirs. Usually at very high prices, but still a nice scene to walk around. There are two local restaurants (tourists prices) and usually capoeira presentations.
Eat Acaraje: Bahianas usually dressed in white (the color of Iansã, goddess of the wind) have tables spread with a spicy and exotic assortment of Bahia's own version of fast-food and selling this typical bahian food everywhere in Salvador, unless of course you are looking for one!! An acarajé is basically deep-fried "bread" made from mashed black-eyed peas (feijão fradinho). They are cooked in dendé oil (a kind of strongly flavored palm oil) and are usually eaten with camarão (small sundried shrimp), pimenta (hot pepper sauce), vatapá (a paste made from sundried shrimp, peanuts, cashews, coconut milk, and dendé), caruru (kind of an okra stew), and salada (or salad, usually just diced tomatoes). These "fillers" can be included or left off at will, and the camarão will cost a little extra. A variation on the acarajé is the abará. An abará is fundamentally the same as an acarajé except that rather than being deep-fried it is boiled in a banana leaf.
Acai for Dessert: Acai is a fruit from the Amazon. It is supposed to give you sexual and energetic powers, but even if it doesn't it will certainly make you happy! Something between a juice and an Ice cream, between reddish and brownish. The best Acai in town is in Fabrica de suco, in Barra, between the Shopping Center and the Beach. It's good! And if you are already there, you can walk to the beach, or do some shopping.
What to do at night.....
Ok, we already told you about the music in the squares every night, in Pelourinho . You can look for the calendar in and maybe you can find the updated version. If not we update the "what to do board" in the Nega on a daily basis.
Tuesdays nights, just venture yourself in the streets of Pelourinho. They have street stages with live music, little stands selling Caipirinha, beers, and a variety of fruit coctels, and nothing but happiness and party mood around.
Don't miss Candomble.... an Afro-Brazilian animist religion with origins in western Africa, occupies a special place in Bahian culture. The temples, known as terreiros, can be found almost anywhere in the city and in other parts of the state as well. First it is important to know that Candomble is not a touristic show. It's a ceremony. It's opened to the public, and some tourist agencies will take you there. It is better to go with one of this agencies than by yourself because they are almost impossible to find alone but mainly because the terreiros are usually located in dangerous neighborhoods, and it is preferable to be with somebody who knows it and they usually are friends or at least acquaintances of the "religiuos leaders". In Candomble, there are different "Orixas", (gods, saints) representing different aspects of nature. Yemanja for example is the goddess of the sea, Ormolu is the god of plagues and diseases and so on. When Africans came to Brazil as slaves, and in order to keep their religion, they mixed their religion with Christianity by making each of their gods equivalent to one of the Catholic saints.
During the Ceremonies, the Mae do Santo o Pai do Santo, calls the Orixa, and they worship them with music (loud drums, and singing). The Orixas appear in the body of some of the assitants, wh get "possesed" and so they dress up according to the tradidional colors, and go into "trances".
These ceremonies are a nice way to get to know a little bit about this magic culture but there is much more about Candomble than just the ceremonies. Each Orixa has a special food, a special colors, attributes and celebrations. By reading the "buzios" (sea shells) andvanced candombleist, call the saints and ask questions and solve problems. Everybody in the religion is "son" or "daughter" of one of the orixas. They sacrifice animals to worship their gods and ask for favors (in private celebrations).
The Nega can arrange for you to go to a Ceremony with an agency that has english-speaking guides. They pick you up at our door and bring you back after the ceremony. The cost is R$50.
Salvador's expansive twenty-kilometers coastline of popular beaches stretching from Porto da Barra to Flamengo captivates a constant flow of people, locals and tourists. A tour of the beaches starts at Porto da Barra, with its calm and deep waters, appreciated by visitors and the area's residents alike. From there, you can proceed to Farol da Barra and Ondina, protected by reefs, which form warm pools at low tide. Amaralina and Armacao entice surfers who relish the strong tides and high waves. Golden inviting sands and crystalline waters lure thousands to Pituba, Corsario, Jaguaribe, Piata and Placaflor. With its charms sung by poets Itapua offers a bucolic setting and a relaxing atmosphere. Stela Mares and Flamengo, the city's more distant beaches are nice and quiet during the weekdays, but crowded on weekends. Our suggestion is to jump in a "Lauro de Freitas" or "villas do Atlantico" bus in Aquidaba bus stop (5 minute walk from the Nega). This buses line the coast and you can get off when you see a nice spot. The ride is not more than an hour to the farthest beach.
There are also many beaches north of Salvador................
Salvador is a huge city. Pelourinho and Barra are the most popular neighborhoods for travelers and tourism, but there are also other places worth a visit. Once again... we haven't seen it all, so any suggestions are welcomed.
Itapoan - mentioned in the "Beaches" section. An interesting seaside village. You can get great acarajés. Good beach, great barracas, and a great feira (open-air market). It also has a lot of music and dancing on the weekends, both along the seafront and at the Lagoa (lagoon) de Abaeté, a few blocks away.
Pituba/Itaigara - are two neighborhoods which in fact merge to form one, and doing likewise with Caminho das Árvores (walk of the trees) they form a triumverate of middle and upper-middle class Salvador, home to doctors, engineers, and lawyers. These areas are usually not interesting to visitors seeking local flavor, though even here one may see rodas de capoeira in open areas in the evenings. You can find Nice restaurants and shopping Centers in this area
Rio Vermelho (red river) - is where the great Festa da Yemenjá (goddess of the sea) takes place on February 2nd every year. It was home to the writer Jorge Amado and is currently home to singer Gal Costa. Gilberto Gil has a home in the area too. Lots of bars and restaurants.
Ondina (little wave) -- Carnival ends here. Ondina has a nice urban beach and some of the big, standard-style hotels (Othon Palace, etc.). A large part of the Federal University of Bahia campus is in Ondina.
A Carnival is an annual celebration of life found in many countries of the world. Everything began hundred and hundreds of years ago, when the followers of the Catholic religion in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. Because Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, carnevale — which means “to put away the meat.” As time passed, carnivals in Italy became quite famous; and in fact the practice spread to France, Spain, and all the Catholic countries in Europe. Then as the French, Spanish, and Portuguese began to take control of the Americas and other parts of the world, they brought with them their tradition of celebrating carnival.
Important to Caribbean festival arts are the ancient African traditions of parading and moving in circles through villages in costumes and masks. Circling villages was believed to bring good fortune, to heal problems, and chill out angry relatives who had died and passed into the next world. Carnival traditions also borrow from the African tradition of putting together natural objects (bones, grasses, beads, shells, fabric) to create a piece of sculpture, a mask, or costume - with each object or combination of objects representing a certain idea or spiritual force.
African dance and music traditions transformed the early carnival celebrations in the Americas, as African drum rhythms, large puppets, stick fighters, and stilt dancers began to make their appearances in the carnival festivities
CARNIVAL IN BRAZIL
The most traditional popular celebration in Brazil, carnival synthesizes the country's soul. For four days (at least officially, in many cities it's more than a week), the joyful feeling spread over the streets and squares, from North to South, from East to West. Covered by the anonymity, working class and businessmen, judges and maids dance together since 1641.
For months, the samba schools and small groups prepare meticulously their exhibitions. Luxury and beauty are elements in all parades and shows. The songs, the costumes and the ornaments interoperate Brazilian history and, in their particular way, always bring an important comment on the country's recent issues.
CARNIVAL IN SALVADOR
If you like crowds and parties, Carnival in Salvador is the right place for you. The carnival in Salvador is a "Carnaval da Rua" - street carnival, and its participants are the local population. What is special about Carnival in Salvador is that you are not a simple observer… YOU are an active part of it! It is the biggest street party in the world, according to the guiness book of records.
There are more than 19km of streets blocked, during the 6 days carnival, to allow the passage of the Blocos and the millions of people that follow them.
A little carnival terminology:
Bloco - Each bloco consists of 1 Trio Electrico (huge truck where the bands stands on) and 1 Carro de Apoio (support truck - toilets, bar etc.). The whole area around the Bloco is closed with a very long rope. Holding the rope are security guards who prevent people without Abadás (not belonging to the bloco) from entering it. Behind the Trio Electrico, and inside the area bordered with the rope, dance and party the people who bought the Abadá. Each Bloco has up to 3,000 members inside the ropes
Abadá - A costume that identifies the people belonging to the Bloco and is actually the ticket for entering the Bloco. Usually consists of a shirt or pants and other stuff depending on the Bloco. There is a different Abadá, usually just a change of color, for each day of the carnival. You can by a single Abadá for a specific day or a package for 3 days. A one day Abadá costs anything from R$100-R$850 (about US$ 60-480) and packages, for 3 days, are R$350-R$1900 (US$ 200 - 1000).
Camarote - Viewing boxes that function as "parties within the party. A closed area along the street where the carnival takes place where people gather to watch the passing trio electricos and the crowd. Usually this area is higher than the street level. There are all kinds and levels of camarotes, some give you full meals and free drinks and others just the space. Some of the famous bands have camarotes of their own where usually their trio electrico stops in front of that camarote and they play a song or 2 for their crowd. Advantage of a camarote is that you can see everything from a higher view and totally safe. Disadvantage is that you are isolated from the street crowd (although you can go in and out as you please).
There are 3 circuits where the carnival passes:
Pelourinho - Old school, throwback feel to it, with brass marching bands, small drum troupes, decorated streets, people in costume, and several stages where one can dance to live bands. Mainly families, parades, very safe. 5-min walk from the hostel
Circuit Osmar ( Avenida), also called Traditional, is about 6km long and runs along on a circular route along Avenida Sete. Huge sound trucks with a band on top, Trio electricos, and where one finds the camarotes. This is where the most of the locals go and it's the atmosphere is pretty rough, especially when the more popular blocos, like Olodum & Nana Banana pass by. 15 min walk from the hostel
Circuit Dodô (Barra), also called Alternativo, is 4km long and runs along the beach from the Farol da Barra (the light house) until the neighborhood of Ondina. This Circuit is considered to be more relaxed than the circuit Avenida. 15-20 min by bus (buses run 24 hours during Carnival)
Although participating in the Carnival is absolutely free, it is possible to join the specific Blocos by purchasing Tickets, or Abadás. It is recommended to buy the Abadás as soon as possible because they sell out very quickly, especially for the more popular Blocos. The cost is between R$200 and R$600 (depending on the band).
The best blocos carnavalescos (bands) of Salvador are Camaleão, Cheiro de Amor, Crocodilo, Eva, Olodum, Araketu, Ilê Aiyê, Timbalada, Filhos de Ghandy and of course the biggest of them all Nana Banana.
Every year before carnival we send our guests an E-mail with recomended Abadas and camarotes and prices.
January 1st - Festa do Senhor Bom Jesus dos Navegantes: An extension of New Year's Eve. There is a festa on the beach de Boa Viagem, on (the peninsula of) Itapagipe, and a boat, the "Gratidão do Povo (People's Gratitude), is launched into the bay, accompanied by scores of other boats.
2nd Thursday of January - Lavagem do Bonfim: Lavagem means "washing", and this refers to the washing of the steps of the Igreja do Bonfim by a group of Bahianas who walk in procession to the church from the Mercado Model. Bonfim is the most popular saint of the city. According to the believers, he is an amazing miracle making, and he is respected and worship by the different religions in the city (Candomble, Catholics, black Catholicism). The celebration takes place during a whole week, but the highlight takes place on the 2nd Thursday of January when everybody walks accompanied by percussion and music, this turning into a HUGE party.
Monday after the Festas of Bonfim-Festa da Ribeira: Or segunda-feira gorda (fat Monday). The Monday after the Festas of Bonfim, a big Capoeira centered party takes place. This festa is the first is a series of festas that are the build up toward the carnival. Small groups begin giving place to blocos. Carnival is already in the air.
February 2nd - Festa de Yemanjá: The sea-goddess Yemanjá is honored and appealed to by means of flowers cast into the waves, and flower and perfume-filled baskets set out to sea. An enormous party follows. This Celebration takes place in Rio Vermelho in the Curch of Yemanjá. People dress in white. One of the biggest parties Salvador sees during the year.
February-March – Carnival - For more information take a look above
June 13th - Festa de Santo Antônio: A festa de largo (festa in a public square) in the Largo de Santo Antônio, at the far end of Salvador's neighborhood of Santo Antônio (Pelourinho being at the other end). Santo Antônio is the patron saint of matrimony, his assistance sought by young women hoping (praying) for husbands. Food, drinks, and of course lots of music and beer. Families get together during 13 nights to pray to Santo Antonio, and after the praying young people go out to party. June 13th is the last day where the praying is longer and of course, the party bigger. Single women dress nicer than usual in this month, and are socially allowed to flirt a little bit more than usual….
The Nega Maluca lives in Santo Antonio neighborhood, where everybody gets together every night. The street is full of people, and parties. It’s a great time of the year to be here. (Specially if you are looking for a husband!! ;-)))))
June 24th - São João (Saint John): This is the official date for the festa, but the buildup runs all through June. That buildup consists of forró music all night long during several nights. São João is a harvest festival, and in a sense it feels a lot more like Christmas than Brazil's "real" Christmas (or Natal). This is because it's a family-and-friends gathering. Children and grown-ups dress up with customs, and according to some Bahians, it’s even better than Carnival.
Traditional accompaniments to São João are foods made from corn (milho), licor de genipapo (sweet liquor made from the genipapo fruit), bonfires, and firecrackers (the latter tending to go off all during June, to the annoyment of many good citizens!).
During the festas juninas (June Parties) the Parque de Exposições (Exhibition Park) north of Salvador is all fixed up like a town in the interior and shows extremely popular shows primarily featuring the big, commercial forró bands.
June 29th - Festa de São Pedro (Saint Peter): This festa in honor of the patron saint of widows and fishermen winds up the June celebrations. There’s not a special location for this festa. Widows get together to pray, and there are little parties (if there is such a thing in Bahia) in all the squares.
July 2nd, - Independência da Bahia: Bahian Independence Day is celebrated in Campo Grande, in the praca 2 de Julho.
Second half of August - Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte: This is a three-day festa in Cachoeira. The festa's origin is based in the Irmandade da Boa Morte (Sisterhood of the Good Death), an organization dating from the time of slavery and whose members are primarily women of African ancestry.
September 7th - Brazilian Independence Day: Features a military parade down Avenida Sete de Setembro (which, by the way, happens to be named after this particular date).
September 27th - São Cosme e São Damião: These two are gods of blacks and they are friends of the food. This is a day when everybody eats carurú to honour the gods. Carurú itself is a kind of vegetable stew made from quiabo (okra). When people say they are having a carurú they mean that guests are served a traditional plate including this food. A carurú is representative of people coming together in family and friendship.
December 4th-6th - Festa de Santa Barbara: It begins with a mass in the Ingreja (church) de nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Negros in Pelourinho to honor Santa Barbara, a Catholic god. As usual in Bahia, most religious ceremonies end us with a lot of Cachaca (alcohol made from sugar canes) music and Samba.
December 8th - Festa da Conceição da Praia: A festa in the cidade baixa (lower city). The official date is December 8th, but it actually lasts the whole week . Stands selling food and drinks. In the church, religious women pray while outside the most famous Capoeristas perform, next to the Mercado Modelo. In Candomble, Nossa Senhora da Conceicao is represented by Iemanja.
December 31- New Year’s Eve: Crazy celebration, specially in Barra Beach near the lighthouse, where a huge crowd dresses up in white and party in the street parallel to the beach. Famous artists usually perform, fireworks, and lots of drinking. If you don’t like crowds, stay home!