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Salvador as Seen From the Sea

Salvador, Brazil Information
Contributed by
Tom Ogg

Language and Currency
What is Salvador Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Salvador, Brazil Port Reviews

Language and Currency

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese and the currency is the Brazilian Real. However, U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Be sure to have an ample supply of small bills to make exact change.

What is Salvador like?

Salvadorian Monument to its African Heritage

Think Africa in South America, but with a Portugese flavor. Salvador (Salvador's full name was "Sao Salvador de Baia de Todos Santos") was Brazil's main seaport during the active Brazilia n slave trading era (16th and 17th centuries). After the slaves were freed, Salvador became home to a unique African population located in South America. Everywhere you look you see the influence of African culture. 80% of the population of Salvador are direct descendants of African slaves making for a very unusual visitor experience.

What is the weather like?

Salvador enjoys tropical weather year around with temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees. It can be hot and sunny. Be sure to take lots of sunscreen and wear a hat and limit your time in the direct sun based on the amount of exposure that you have had prior to arriving in Salvador. Salvador averages 4 to 5 inches of rain per month during their summer months (November through April).

Where does the ship dock?

The Oceania Insignia Docked in Salvador

Ships dock at the Salvador Cruise Ship Terminal downtown Salvador. It is within easy walking distance to the sights. Note that there is both telephones and Internet access in the cruise terminal and that the folks outside the terminal with cell phones also sell long distance telephone calls.

The Cruise Terminal in Salvador

Where is the shopping?

Shopping Inside the Cruise Terminal

The shopping begins right inside the cruise ship terminal with lots of kiosks offering all sorts of products.

The Mercado Modelo

A focus for shoppers is the Mercado Modelo, which is within easy walking distance from the cruise ship terminal.

The Shopping Streets of the Historic District

The Historic District is another shopper's paradise. When all is said and done, Salvador is more of a shopping port than anything else.

What is there to buy?

Just One of the Shops in the Mercado Modelo

There is so much diversity in the different products that are available in Salvador that it is astonishing.

An Unlimited Display of Products Are Available in Mercado Modelo

Look for African paintings, wood carvings, drums of all kinds, jewelry, religious figures, gold and silver, Brazilian gemstones, clothing, beach wear, musical instruments, tiles and ceramics, dolls, African materials and garments and much, much more. The shoppers on the Insignia felt the prices were excellent and the selection overwhelming.

What is there to do?

The main sights in Salvador are easily visited on foot. The city is broken into two sections. The lower section is the commercial development, or "new" section and the upper section is the unique "Historic District".

Most visitors will first visit the Mercado Modelo as it marks the closest entrance to the historic district. The market is well worth a visit, but I suggest waiting to make purchases until you have also visited the historic district. To find the market, simply exit the cruise terminal and turn right. Walk a few hundred yards until you come to the end of the road (the ferry terminal is on your right. Turn to the left and you will see the entrance to the Mercado Modelo (pictured above).

Elevador Lacerda

By exiting the rear of the Mercado Modela you will pass through more shops set up in the square behind the market and you will see the elevator that will take you up to the Upper City. The elevator was built over 100 years ago and climbs the 225 feet in about 15 seconds. The elevator costs approximately US$.02.

The Upper City Historic District

The first thing one notices is the number of churches that reside in the historic district. There seems to be a church on every corner. In fact, the first square that you encounter as you penetrate the Historic District contains three different churches.

Just One of Hundreds of Churches in Salvador

While the churches have exquisite exteriors, it is the hand carved and gold covered interiors that are the most impressive.

Another Church on the Same Square

Visiting the churches offers a good amount of insight into the past of Salvador and is well worth the effort and time to do so.

The Streets of the Historic District

Be sure to allow time to explore all of the Historic Districts nooks and crannies. It is an amazing place.

The Influence of African Culture is Seen Everywhere

Wandering the streets of the Upper City reminds you how different some cultures can be.

Historic Upper City Street

Be sure to stop in some of the more unusual shops to find items that would be difficult to find anywhere else. Many of the residents of Salvador practice a religion that has its roots in Africa and there are stores selling items used in their practice of their religion that are quite interesting.

Barra Beach

The closest beach to the port is a 15-20 minute taxi ride away (US$15.00 each way) and is named Barra )pronounced Ba-Ha). From Barra Beach, there are beaches all the way along the Atlantic coast to the north. Barra Beach is quite popular with the nearly 3-million residents of Salvador, so expect crowds. The are full facilities available if you want a lunch or other amenity.

Faro da Barra (Barra Light House)

The main light house for Salvador is located right in the heart of Barra Beach and is an attraction in itself.

Is there anything of “Don’t Miss” quality?

Yes, I would give an exploration of the Historic District in the Upper City this designation. It is totally unique and not to be missed.

Are there any great restaurants or bars?

While there are several outdoor restaurants in Salvador, I chose not to try any of them. I just didn't get a sense that the food standards were worth any risk that might be present.

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