It took much longer to get to Salvador than anticipated. Brazil is vast, so even a domestic flight took two and a half hours. Then once at Salvador airport we chose our usual money-saving bus instead of taxi option. It was easy enough to get the bus (straight through the multistory carpark in front of arrivals then turn right - no signs but easy to find). The bus was cheap, but it did go the long way round so took over an hour to reach the Centro Historico. But on a budget it is probably the right choice.
Originally we were going to head north of Salavador for a couple of days. But then we read about Morro de Sao Paulo, on the island of Tinhare. It sounded lovely, so we revised our plans. Which meant that before going to our hotel we wanted to pick up boat tickets for the following day. The best time for us was 10.30am. Unfortunately this was the catamaran, supposedly a bit choppy, but we decided to go for it. The young lad on the desk did not speak any English so made us go to another window. Which would have
been ok but it was a totally different company with a 1pm departure. When we returned he looked a bit concerned, until we showed him our request in Google Translate. This worked, and he was happy to sell us our tickets.
It was then a hot, uphill, half hour walk to our hotel. We'd left at 9.15am that morning and it was now 5.30pm. The hotel Pousada Beija-flor was ok. Basic but clean. However it was too late to explore the town as we hoped, so it was showers then dinner. The area we were in, Pelourinho, was slightly run-down but full of gorgeous colonial buildings.
Salvador has quite a bad reputation for crime, which seems odd when it is simultaneously highly recommended as a great holiday destination. I wouldn't say we felt unsafe there, but the was a slight edge to the place. I didn't fancy wandering far at night. We ended up at Psyco just down the road. Suprisingly posh. I had salmon ravioli and David had steak and risotto. Both nice, if a little on the small side. I resisted the beer. No way I wanted to get on a catamaran with a hangover.
Breakfast the next morning was good. Hotel breakfast's in Brazil are proving much more impressive than the rest of South America. It set us up for the journey. Which was just as well as when we arrived at the port we were told that the two hour catamaran crossing was not possible for some reason. Instead we had to take a catamaran, a mini-bus, and then another boat. Should take three hours (I was dubious). We had no real choice so just had to get on with it. In fact, the journey was not bad and in the end it took three and a half hours, better than I'd expected.
It was chucking it down when we arrived on Morro de Sao Paulo. Despite this, our first impressions were good. It looked like a really nice place. We knew there were no cars allowed in the town, but had expected scooters. But no, it was totally traffic free which was fantastic. We ignored the shouts of 'taxi?' as we got off the boat but did wonder what they were. Turns out it's just blokes with wheelbarrows to take your luggage as you walk beside them! The longer journey did
at least mean it was check-in time. We'd treated ourselves a little and were in the Pousada Bahia Bella. It was really nice, and made us feel quite holidayish. The rain didn't stop, so we just relaxed in our nice room for the afternoon.
We went to Papoula Culinaria Artesanal for dinner. It was a great choice. Friendly (English speaking) staff and really nice food. I had sirloin steak, David a steak with paprika dish. Best of all, after the high prices we've faced in Brazil, it was really cheap. Nearly Bolivian prices, coming in at £22 for us both, including beers. We passed a few bars on the way back, but none of them really appealled. So we ended up buying some beer and sitting on our balcony with music playing. It's always great to have a little bit of personal outdoor space.
The next day it was still raining, which was disappointing. We attempted a walk to the next town but got a bit lost and the rain was getting heavier so we gave up. On the way back we passed a beach bar called Kiosk de Binho. Fortuitously the rain stopped and the sun appeared.
We enjoyed a couple of beers and an amazing caphirania each before the rain returned. Still, an enjoyable respite. By this time it was mid-afternoon and the rain looked pretty permanent so we headed back to the hotel for the rest of the day.
The beachfront restaurants were all really expensive so we headed back into town to a place called Basillico. A bit pricier than the previous night but still quite reasonable. I have to say it was very tasty and beautifully presented, but we were still a little peckish afterwards. A starter or dessert would have been a good idea. But a large packet of crisps filled the gap. Back on our balcony we had an Iron Maiden night. A slight consolation for missing them playing Nottingham that night. Incidentally the last time they played Nottingham was during our last RTW trip. Just selfish.
Well, it rained all night, and was still raining when we headed out mid-morning. I'll admit it's not what we wanted. But we rarely let the weather get us down, you can't change it after all. We were still so enamored of Morro that we booked an extra night. We then had
a nice time just wandering around, stopping for a taco each at a little place on the square. They also did cheap and tasty caphiranias, mmmm. Back at the hotel we did a bit of planning and hotel booking for the next couple of stops. For dinner we couldn't resist Papoula Culinaria Artesanal again. Then it was back to our heavy metal balcony.
The next day it was finally sunny, hurrah! So we spent a very lazy day strolling along the lovely beaches, paddling in the sea, and drinking caphirania's. Normally I don't drink the day before a boat trip, but cocktails on the beach cannot be passed up. We'd loved Morro in the rain, but the sunshine made it a real joy. It was such a wonderful day. We even spotted a troop of marmosets. Amazingly cute little things, who let us get really close to them.
For lunch we had Moquecas, the local fish stew, back at Kiosk De Binho at the end of 4th beach, highly recommended. Another thing I love about Brazil, there are no licensing laws. So any entrepreneur can take a cool box of beer out to sell. Or, in this case,
set up a makeshift cocktail bar on the beach. It would have been rude not to give the guy some business.
For dinner we went to Cafe des Artes in the square. To be honest it wasn't the greatest of meals. Although the setting and view were lovely. So lovely I broke my self-imposed 6pm cut-off and we shared a bottle of wine. It was very enjoyable, and we resisted drinking back on the balcony, but I still suspected I'd regret it the next day.
It was horrid having to leave Morro de Sao Paulo. I'm not sure the photos really show how cute it is. Both of us could happily have stayed longer. But, we wanted to see at least a little more of Salvador, and we had a flight in two days. We felt totally fine all morning. But getting on the 11.30am catamaran we immediately felt a little ropey. I managed about 40 minutes before throwing up. David felt bad, but kept it together. We differ on the reasons for feeling so terrible. I maintain that the only times in my life I've been seasick is the day after drinking. David points out that we
felt fine on dry land and not only was the catamaran bobbing about like a cork, but numerous people around us were throwing up. Who knows? All I can say is that I will think twice before breaking my booze-free rule before a boat trip in the future. I was also very grateful to the member of staff who looked after me and moved me into a more comfortable position so that the second half of the journey was actually quite bearable.
Back in Salvador it was a bit of a long hot journey to our pousada, involving two buses. Still, it was a hell of a lot cheaper than a taxi. Not for the first time, Google Maps was a godsend. Public transport does not always show up, but when it does it is amazing. How else would we have known the bus numbers we needed? We arrived at Pousada Villa Tropicalle in the suburb of Itapua with no problems. A bit more basic than the last place, but absolutely fine, with a huge room, and much cheaper. We'd picked it mainly for it's proximity to the airport (we had a very early flight) but an added bonus
was that it was a two minute walk from a lovely, quiet, beach.
After a stroll on the beach we picked Touro Louco for dinner, which was just up the road. Not exceptional, but tasty enough steak and reasonably priced. Then we had a couple of beers back at the hotel by the pool before a much needed early night.
We planned to head to Barra the following day. But the beach two minutes from our hotel was so nice. Neither of us were bothered by shopping or fancy restaurants, so getting a bus to Barra seemed pointless. I reckon we made the right call. We did walk to the main area of Itapua and just found it too crowded and full of bar touts (God I hate it when they spot you about to pass by and charge over to you, as if you hadn't noticed all the tables, parasols and people drinking). I guess Barra would have been the same. We didn't last long before we headed back to the quiet beach near our hotel. Absolutely beautiful, with hardly anyone about. Of course we did finish the day at a beach bar. But a quiet one
with no silly running at us to get our business.
Dinner was more steak, this time at Meu Chapa, opposite the place we'd eaten the night before. Similar fare, tasty enough and well priced, if not a meal to dream over in the future. Then it was an early night, setting the alarm for a horrendous 4.30am.
So that was Morro and Salvador. An absolute triumph I'd say. Both have given us a great taste of Brazilian beach life and it all felt well and truly like a holiday. Well worth the flight up and a part of the world I'd highly recommend.
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