Archive for the Bahia Category

Chilling in Morro de Sao Paolo

Posted in Bahia, Brazil, Morro de Sao Paulo, Tinhare with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2012 by gannet39

I envy the football fans who draw Salvador for their group matches in the 2014 World Cup.

One of the reasons is that between matches they can go to Tinhare, an island off the Dende coast.

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It’s about three hours queasy ride on a catamaran from Salvador.

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The main town on the island is called Morro de Sao Paulo, and it’s very famous as a top destination for Brazilian beach goers. Because it’s an island, crime isn’t so prevalent and I felt much safer than I did in Barra (see last post).

2011-12-12-15-27-32.jpgYou won’t find any motorised vehicles out here either. Instead there will be several guys holding wheelbarrows with ‘taxi’ painted on the side, waiting on the quayside. You may well need them to help you find your pousada  (guest house) but I had a small bag, so I ran the gauntlet and just asked for directions along the way.

Morro has five beaches in all, called logically; First Beach, Second Beach…

2011-12-12-15-29-46.jpgThe first beach is located nearest the original village, so is the most developed and has the best restaurants and a lot of the less picturesque (cheaper?) pousadas.

2011-12-15 12.05.41The wide second beach is where most of the action is. The higher end guest houses are here, and lots of bars with their own private sun loungers and umbrellas on the beach.The beach of course provides lots of interesting sights, for everyone! Personally though I couldn’t keep my eyes off the amazing football games and Capoeira circles that sprang up along the water line once the sun came out (after three days of cloud in mid-Dec).

2011-12-14 14.00.26The third beach is the quietest and is probably the best place to stay if not to play. Most of the sand disappears at high tide.

Fourth beachThe fourth beach is huge and stretches off for a couple of kilometres into the distance. It has hardly any development at all, just a couple of bars at the beginning. I never got as far as the fifth beach but I presume it must be pretty much deserted.

I was staying at Chez Max which had a beautiful garden.

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You could stay in your own hut or get a room on the first floor of the block for $90 a night.

2011-12-17 11.24.18The second storey of the block has the same rooms for $140 because of the beautiful sea view but I got it down to $90 because I only wanted to be near the wi-fi hub (usually a good connection, though not very fast).

My room had an empty fridge, an aircon that didn’t work (I hate them anyway) and a separate bathroom with a decent shower. The breakfast is pretty comprehensive if a bit repetitive (coffee, ham, cheese, melon, cake). The best thing was watching the humming birds having their morning meal as they buzzed like bees around the flowers in the garden, but too quickly for me to photograph.

Humming bird's breakfast

 

 

 

 

Nice bloomerI didn’t having an evening meal here due to them having live music every night (another pet hate while I’m eating). But I tried a few other  places in town:

FettucineAt Cafe des Artes in the main square I had a great Fettucine ai Frutti di Mare, consisting of small prawns, loops of squid and a crab sauce. The ratio of seafood to perfectly cooked pasta was about 50/50. If anything the sauce was a bit too intense, but I loved it (A-).

DessertTheir signature dessert (a slice of dry tart with cream sorvete, or Brazilian ice cream, served with swirls of toffee) was ok (B). They also do a tall strong caiparinha for $8 (A).

The other posh place is in the old building that looks over the square. The name escapes me but it has changed since the Bradt guide was written.

Old house

I had a good Argentinian rump steak (A) when I was there but the portion of rice was a bit small and, with the salad as a the side, the plate looked rather bare (B) for what I paid, so I probably wouldn’t go back.

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The caiparinhas were pretty stiff though, especially the house version (A+).

Gate to Rua Ponte Grande

 

There’s some history here too. If you go through the old gate (bearing the date 1746) at one end of the square (down the side of the posh house above), you will enter the part of town where all the locals seem to live.

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Down this street (Rua de Ponte Grande) you will find the old water cistern, built by the Portuguese a few hundred years ago.

17462011-12-15 22.23.28Also in the Bradt guide are Sabor da Terra on Rua Caminho da Praia where I had an excellent moqueca, and Tinhare, down some steps off the same road, where the moquecas are also good but the atmosphere was lacking.

I ended up eating lunch a lot at Recoletos, a bar on the second beach. The staff took great care of me, provided me with everything I needed and didn’t give me any reason to go anywhere else.

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The food was fine if nothing fancy. Really, what more could you want for lunch than a couple of pieces of nice grilled fish, white rice, a big salad and a cold beer? Creamy mashed potatoes that’s what! They totally made my day.

On another occasion I had their Bobo de Camarao, a prawn stew looking all the world like a moqueca, but then what do I know. As always this came with a nice salad, rice and vatapa.

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For dessert I pulled up one of the vendors selling Acai. Don’t miss the chance to have it if you see it, or hear people shouting ‘ah-sa-ii’. This one had pineapple piled on top of frozen purple Acai juice and a scattering of granola on the top, which worked so well in combination. It was perhaps the most delicious fruit dessert I’ve ever eaten (A++), not least for it’s great thirst quenching properties.

Acai with pineapple and granola

A nice place to eat, and possibly stay, on the fourth beach is Pimenta Rosa. It’s very peaceful here and there were monkeys in the trees all around.

I had a nice lunch here of grilled fish, rice and salad (B+). The rice had raisins in, an interesting idea that worked for me this time, although I’m not sure it’s something I’d like to eat a lot of (B-).

Grilled fish with raisin rice

This was followed by an indecently large slab of chocolate cake which was pretty good too (B).

Choc cake

The beach paths were slowly being redeveloped when I was there. They are just wooden walkways on the sand that help you move around a bit more quickly. Along the sides of the walkways there are lots of small fruit stalls that set up just in the evenings.

Fruit bar

Some of stalls double up as a bar and for the equivalent of three or four quid they will make you a caiparinha (or a batida, I’m still not quite sure where the line is drawn. In terms of fruit content, batidas have more) with the fruit and cachaca sugar cane rum of your choice.

Acerola & Caju

 

 

I asked for matured cachacas each time and these are some of the bottles I got. Tatu or tatuzinha is the word for armadillo, a animal you might possibly see on these islands.

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Boazinha cachaca

Some of my favourite fruit combinations included Acerola (a small red fruit) & Strawberry or Acerola & Caju (cashew).

2011-12-16-22-33-19.jpg2011-12-16-22-33-46.jpgYou often see vendors selling Acerola alongside another small fruit (the size and colour of a Kumquat) called Seriguela (hog plum in English apparently) which consists of juicy citrusy flesh around a large seed. Very refreshing on a hot day.

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There are hundreds of fruits in Brazil (this was just a tiny selection) but as if these weren’t enough, they have imported varieties too.

This fruit is called Jambo and is originally from Asia. It can come in other colours but this white version looked very much like a bulb of garlic bulb although it is actually hollow inside and tastes of very little.

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Another favourite was Ameixa (plum) ice cream, just one of a multitude of flavours, some familiar, some not, that are available at the parlour off the square.

Plum ice creamThis sadly was the end of my trip to South America. Truth be told, I’d been pretty lazy and hadn’t gone to many of the places in Brazil I’d been planning to go to. After all that travelling it just felt so nice to sit and do nothing on the beach. Still, there’s plenty saved for next time.

The best guide book I found was for this region of Brazil was ‘Bahia’ by Bradt Guides (Alex Robinson 2010).

I also recommend the excellent blog site Flavors of Brazil.

Beach life in Barra

Posted in Bahia, Barra, Brazil, Salvador with tags , , , , on April 12, 2012 by gannet39

Barra (pronounced ‘ba ha’) is the beach neighbourhood of Salvador, about 15 minutes in a cab down the hill from the Pelourinho. It’s a popular area for restaurants and bars, especially along the water front and Rua Almirante Marques de Leao.

Like Salvador as a whole it has a bit of a rep for being dangerous, depending on who you talk to. If you read the reviews from Guardian readers on the Been There website, you would think it was a no go area after dusk, which certainly isn’t the case. However, two female Brazilian tourists that I met at my hostel felt it necessary to get a cab rather than walk around at night. On the other hand, Jorgia, my local friend, didn’t think it was dangerous at all but then as a local she probably wouldn’t be targeted.  It is an edgy area, but I think if you have some street smarts you will be fine. That’s not to say you can’t be unlucky though. It’s probably a good idea to only take what money you need out with you and keep a close eye on your bag at the beach.

The beaches here are quite narrow and some spots are unfeasibly busy, while just down the road there is plenty of space. Go figure. You can rent miniscule deckchairs that fold back and prop you up for two or three pounds for the day. There are signs along the waterfront indicating how clean the water is but on the one occasion I went it when it was supposed to be fine, there were bits of plastic and other ‘particles’ floating in the water so I didn’t bother again. There are quite a few homeless people sleeping rough down here too who probably, going on the smell, use the back walls as a toilet, so I didn’t sit too near them either. There was the odd drunken lunatic but besides that it was fine!

There are a few things to see, like the lighthouse, a small fort and a statue of Christ, all of which are on promontories along the shore line. The sand sculptures are pretty impressive too!

I stayed in a pleasant little hostel called Pousada Azul at 102 Dr. Praguer Froes, a back street just 5 minutes from the beach. The rooms are plain and simple but clean and have fans, aircon and a fairly good wi-fi signal. The breakfast was very good with fresh fruits and juices amongst many other things. None of the staff speak English but they were all friendly and honest. I was overcharged without either of us noticing and was chased after down the street with the extra money once the mistake was realised.

Caranguejo do Porto (Intermediate B) 819 Rua Oceania

I met Jorgina one evening in this big bar restaurant on the waterfront. There are a couple of similar places neighbouring it on either side, all heaving with people. At this one though, you can get a table by the rail on the top floor to catch the breeze, if you are lucky. We started with some cheese croquettes which were ok (C) but needed the addition of garlic and chilli molhos (dipping sauces) to bring the flavours out (B+). Thanks to Jorgia, I had my first Moqueca here, a seafood stew that is perhaps the most famous Bahian dish. We had her favourite; Moqueca de Siri, made with a small soft-shelled crab.  The place was resounding with the sound of people tapping crab shells with hammers. It looked like a lot of effort so I was glad we ordered the easier version.

Habeas Copos (Elementary B-), 172 Rua Almirante Marques de Leao

The first lunch I had here was very simple and nice; Carne do Sol, literally ‘sun meat’ (salted beef cured for a couple of days in the sun) with onions and Pure do Aipim (cassava flour puree, a bowl of chilli sauce and a cold beer. Good solid fare (B).

The second time I came I had grilled chicken, which was fine, but the chips and rice it came with were cold (C). So mixed results then but at least it’s cheap. As far as drinking is concerned, don’t believe the hype on Trip Advisor, the caipirinhias are ok but nowhere near as good as the (insider?) review makes out.

The Quattro Amici Pizzeria around the corner at 35 Rua Dom Marcos Teixeira is not bad (B) if you fancy a change.

On another night I had a snack with Jorgia at a local burger place on the waterfront. Jorgia told me that MacDonald’s are quite upmarket here and you only find them in malls. It was ok here though not particularly filling (C) and so cheap that I should have had two. The best thing was the bowl of frozen Acai (a delicious ‘wonder fruit’  from Amazonia), studded with sliced banana (A) that came as part of the meal deal. You can get it as a juice in supermarkets now but be warned, though full of good things, it’s highly calorific and extremely moreish!

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