Salvador – Brazil’s Happiness Capital

We arrived in Salvador on Wednesday evening after a connection in Sao Paolo. We figured we would be able to eat in the airport since Sao Paolo is the largest city in Brazil but their offerings consisted of ham and cheese sandwiches and cup of noodles – so gross. When we landed in Salvador we were picked up by a driver from our hotel for a pricey $6. We opted to do this instead of taking a cab because Salvador is much less touristy than some of the other areas and many people do not speak English. We arrived at our hotel, Aram Yami, and could not believe how gorgeous it was. Aram Yami is rated #1 on Trip Advisor and is a small, boutique hotel. The hotel’s decor was charming and the staff spoke nearly perfect English and made us feel right at home. After the first portion of our trip staying in hostels, it felt so great to be in a hotel and “splurging,” although splurging at one of the nicest and best rated hotels in Salvador was around USD$150  per night. Our room was on the top floor and had two private balconies overlooking the entire city. The hotel had an infinity pool and we sure felt spoiled!  

Here are some photos of the outside of the hotel located in Santo Antonio, just next to Pelourinho, the lobby of the hotel, our room and the infinity pool:

    
   

We arrived around 6pm so we were ready to go out for a delicious dinner. We heard great things about the food in Bahia. Bahia is the coastal state that Salvador is in. Bahian food consists of lots of fish so I was excited to try their local cuisine. The hotel recommended a restaurant called Maria Mata Mouro in Pelourinho. We walked through the colorful streets to the restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious bottle of Argentian Malbec followed by the traditional dish called Moqueca, which is a delicious fish stew. This was by far one of hte best meals we have had so far. I love Bahian food! The restaurant also had this adorable back garden area which made the meal even more enjoyable.  

   

The next day was supposed to be gorgeous with highs around 85 degrees so we decided to explore the famous beaches of Bahia. Although the city of Salvador has a number of beautiful beaches, the truly spectacular beaches are a bit of a drive from Salvador. We decided to hire a taxi to take us an hour and a half North to Praia do Forte. Since this would be our best day of weather we felt we deserved a day of relaxation on a beach. We enjoyed caprinihas and took in the rays.  

    
 

After we both finished reading our books, it was around 2:30pm and we were hungry for lunch. We walked to the cute beach town to explore a bit more. The next Bahian food we wanted to try was Acaraje. Acaraje is a ball of deep fried peas filled with shrimp and vegetables in a spicy sauce. It was so delicious and super spicy! We even had locals playing this interesting instrument with a caribbean sound as we enjoyed our lunch.  

 

  

   

After lunch, our taxi driver took us to the Tamar Project in Praia do Forte. This is a sea turtle preservation area where they help sea turtles survive. We got to walk around a look at these incredinle animals. They are so cute and grow to be massive!  

    
    
 
After we walked around the Tamar Project, we headed back to Salvador. We jumped into the pool at the hotel then showered and got ready for dinner. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant that was recommended along the water in Salvador. The restaurant was cool and the outdoor patio had glass panels so you could see into the water but the food was average. 

The next day. we woke up around 8:30am so we could go explore the city. We enjoyed our complimentary breakfast at the hotel and headed out to explore the streets of Salvador. The incredible thing about the city is the colonial architecture and the colorful buildings. Salvador was the first capital of Brazil when it was colonized by the Portugese and is actually one of the oldest colonial cities in all of the Americas. It is now the third largest city in Brazil in terms of population. It has a ton of African influence as well because it was a major port for African ships bringing slaves over from Africa. It is a dark part of their history but Salvador embraces its African influences in a beautiful way. Here are some gorgeous views of the city of Salvador and the streets of Pelourinho or the historic center. The name Pelourinho was actually named after a whipping post used for African slaves that used to be located in the center of town.  

    
    
   
As we continued our tour around the city, our next stop was taking their elevator to the lower part of the city. The city is connected by these two elevators that connect the lower and upper towns. When we got to the lower portion of  the city, we walked through this market that used to be used to trade slaves. Outside of the market, people were perfoming Capoeira, a combination of martial arts and dance.  

   
When we took the elevator back up, we explored the views of the water from this history museum.  You can also see the elevator that we took as well.

   
Another special thing about walking around Salvador is the Bahia bands that are all over doors and churches. They symbolize three wishes and different colors represent different things. We loved the vibrant colors that adorned Senhor do Bonfirm.  

    
   
For lunch, we ate at this culinary school that came highly recommended called SENAC. It was a buffet style  and the food was ok but the service was great and it was definitely neat to support a local culinary school. After lunch, we went back to the hotel to enjoy the sunset in the pool. For dinner, we ate at Poro Reste e Bar. This restaurant was brand new and actually owned by a woman that used to work at our hotel named Bia. She was so nice, the decor was great  and we had a great experience there.

   
After dinner we wanted to get a true cultural experience. Apparently, Tuesday nights in Salvador are the best night to explore. Salvador is Brazil’s happiness capital for its street parties and music that take over the cultural center of the city. Walking around the streets you could really see why. It was so much fun dancing in the streets with the local drummers. We also went to a show called Geronimo but we actually prefered the free street music instead! Walking around Salvador at night was just as beautiful as during the day but you have to be careful past 11pm because it can get a bit dangerous if you are not careful!  

  

  

  

  

  

  

We were so thrilled that we decided to go to Salvador and spend our day in Praia do Forte. We sure did do it perfectly! I loved the Bahian food and would love to go back and explore more of their amazing beach towns next time. The next and final stop on our journey is Rio – I cannot wait to share our experience with all of you!

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