Thursday, May 18, 2006

Salvador and the Bay

Salvador and the Baia de Todos os Santos

Salvador was the original capital of Brazil from 1549 to 1763. Much of the old city has been kept and is being renovated slowly. One takes the elevator, opposite Centro Nautico marina up to this area called Pelourinho or you walk up. The elevator has 4 lifts and approximately 20,000 people make use of it everyday, cost very little and very efficient. The old city has beautiful old buildings and narrow cobbled stone streets with lots of little shops. This reminds me of the Plaka in Athens and the old city in Rhodes.
Pelourinho is a marvelous place to wander around day and night. There are tourist police on every street. Many streets are closed to traffic, and in the evening more streets are closed off, the restaurants bring the tables out and people dine in the streets. There are several magnificent baroque churches in the area, to many to mention. I am told that Salvador has a church for every day of the year. We visited the Igreja Sao Francisco [church] with it's beautiful stained glass windows.
The people of this area of Salvador, came as slaves from Africa and the African culture can be seen in their dresses and dances. The most fascinating dance for me is the Capoeira between two men, they mock fight and it is all in the dance, very aerobic. Friendly people, always there to give you a hand and to greet you. Most of them are poor but they seem to enjoy life to the full. No samba's here only the African drums.
Barra is a more upscale part of Salvador on the southern tip of the peninsula. The people here seem to have more money to spend. The shopping malls are big, but expensive. Give me the old town any day. The transport system in Salvador is very efficient, busses are regular and clean, and for very little money, one can travel all over town. Taxis are in abundance and inexpensive.
The big advantage of Salvador for our yachties are the large cruising area of the Baia de Todos os Santos. [The bay of Salvador] There are lot's of anchorages, all within a few hours sailing from Salvador. They are protected and peaceful. We sailed to the Island of Itaparica and anchored in the bay close to the marina. With our bicycles, we explored the island. The river or Rio Parguaqu is big and deep, well marked and big ships use it all the time. We went as far as Maragogipe, anchored in the river opposite the town and had three peaceful days. Saturday morning market is a must, with delicious fresh fruits and vegetables.
That's all for now

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