The Portuguese arrived in Salvador and named it in 1500. By 1549 the Portuguese sellers had established it as the first colonial capital of Brazil, the hub for the sugarcane industry and the slave trade. It was divided into an upper and lower city (it is built on a high cliff), the upper being the Administrative and Religious centre where the majority of the population lived. The lower city was the financial centre with a Port and Market. It pretty much remains the same today, the market still dominates the docks. In the late 19th Century funiculars and the picturesque Elevador Lacerda were built to link both areas enabling easier access. The upper city is now the domain of the commercial world making it's money from the tourist, the Pelourinho underwent major restoration during the 1990's and was deservedly declared a World Heritage Site.
Matilda and I doing battle with the cobblestones.
Salvador de Bahia is awash with music, art, antique shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. Whole families occupy the streets at night, dragging their furniture outside, eating and drinking with their neighbours. Mini music festivals and carnivals pop up unexpectedly, bands suddenly appear when you're trying to navigate your way round the winding streets trying to avoid the non-tourist streets. We hit upon one such Festival at the end of our street on our last night. Hundreds of people dancing on the street soaking up the caipirinha. It began to rain heavily but that didn't impede the enjoyment but was welcome relief from the heat and sweat. The party went on til dawn by all accounts, sadly we had to retire to our Pousada with one exhausted little girl. One can't help but be carried away with the excitement and sensuality of this city fuelled by the moreish Caipirinha, the addictive sounds and smells of the street.
My very first Caipirinha of the holiday.
There are plenty of museums, stunning churches and places to visit whilst there however with the toddler in tow we were somewhat restricted. It was also excruciatingly hot and she developed a rather nasty heat rash all over her body, luckily salvaged by a little miracle cream recommended to us by Gerusa the knowledgeable owner of our Pousada. If you're in Brazil with a heat rashed up child get yourself some 'Pasta d'agua', amazing stuff that cleared it up within hours. We did visit the Rodin Museum Bahia and it's
delightful gardens modelled on its Parisian namesake. It's a beautiful haven away from the heat and noise of Salvador with a relaxed cafe in its grounds, perfectly safe for young children to run around in. I recommend the Coconut Ice cream - delicious and very cooling. It's set in beautiful colonial mansion that has been taken over by 64 plaster casts of the original sculptures held in Paris. It's also in a residential, leafy part of town, 'Graca' close to the Light house which also has the most impressive views across the Baia De Todos Santos which is a must see if you're in Salvador. Here are a few images of our stay, making me very sad to have left. I dream of my next visit and my next Bahian caipirinha.