After Carlie’s workout in the scary hotel gym and a very nice hotel breakfast (buffet style), we ventured up to the historical district of Salvador da Bahia, referred to by the locals as the “Pelourinho” or simply “Pelo”. While both sound like names you might see on the back of a jersey down here, it’s actually a very charming collection of very narrow (and hilly), centuries-old cobblestone streets (as in watch your ankles) lined with churches, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and street vendors. Very much in the European style (think “mixed commercial / residential” in terms of zoning, if any), here is a wonderful little place Salvadorans have called home for centuries.
Arriving by taxi to the “upper town”, which is connected to the port-side “lower town” by the Elevador Lacerda, we proceeded to visit the Catedral Basilica (photos to come) on the main village square, but first there was a distraction by way of a nice photo op (see below).
The cathedral was stunning, especially given the time of its construction (1657). You have to hand it to those Jesuits, who arrived here in the 16th century and immediately began work on a church and, guess what else, a college. In the 17th century they built the subject church, a few interior photos of which are shown below.
Of some historical note, Salvador was the first Portuguese colonial capital of Brazil, and is among the oldest cities of the New World (1549). Pelourinho means “pillory”, and is so named for the whipping post once used for disciplinary purposes in the central square, primarily (but not only) for the many African slaves that arrived to this Atlantic port during colonization and helped build this great city.
From prior experience, and despite measurable attitude adjustment over the years, I knew better than to proceed to the second religious site on my list, so we instead walked across the bustling (and raucous) central square and spent an hour or so wandering up and down the numerous side streets that make up the Pelourinho. I procured a Brazil national team cap (a sensible choice for later) and Carlie sat down for a colored (threaded?) braid, done in support of the red, white & blue (also sensible, but for much later).
Having taken in what we could, and with our eye on the clock and the 5:00 PM kick-off, we headed back across the square and rode the “elevador” what seemed like 15 stories down to the port-side lower town. We did peek over the “overlook” beforehand, which immediately increased our appreciation for the “lift” (a bargain for RS 0,15), given the extreme steepness of the slope and number of “switchbacks” it would have otherwise taken to navigate the trip.
For our last stop here in the old town we visited the Mercado Modelo, which is directly across the street from the elevator egress. Here we found a large indoor market resembling an airplane hangar, lined end-to-end and side-to side with local arts & crafts, souvenirs and many other items we perused but opted not to acquire. It was definitely worth a quick visit, and if nothing else it illustrated how quickly the weather changes here. Bright and sunny on the way in, and after a very short time pouring rain on the way out, a pattern that would prove to repeat itself during our time here. Given the rain and dearth of taxis in the lower town, we rode the lift back up and quickly found transport back to the Monte Pascoal.
After picking up Subway sammies (I know, I know, but it’s right across the street from the hotel, and besides, only the cheese and lettuce looked familiar) and enjoying a brief in-room respite, we headed down the boardwalk to the insanity that is “FIFA Fan Fest”.
On the line to get in we met Myles, Joe, Theo and another young gent whose name we’ve already forgotten. We’ll just call the four of them “the Australians” for ease of reference, since that’s where they live, sort of. While Carlie sipped on the Smirnoff Ice, 5% alcohol by volume, she acquired (with my authorization) from one of the boardwalk vendors lining the route, the Australians kept us entertained as the line crept forward down the boardwalk–and as they dragged their disposable cooler along with them. I gave an assist for a few hundred yards, and we became fast friends, or maybe it was because Carlie was there.
It’s hard not to be envious of these 20-somethings on an extended holiday which will take them, among other places, to Los Angeles, then clear across the Sunbelt through New Orleans to Florida, and up the Eastern seaboard to New York, which they expect to hit some time in December. We are thankful to have met the Australians and have given them an open invitation to visit us in Phoenix, or if they prefer, Flagstaff.
Some of you may be wondering whether or not the Australians made it into the venue with their cooler. Check back here later for the GoPro video clip to see how the policia handled that one.
Match Note: Although we were still in the line to get in when Croatia scored first, we did see the Brazil equalizer on the big screen, and everything after that. The penalty was a gift (Fred took a dive), as I’m sure you have seen by now and just nodded in agreement, and with the disallowed Croatia goal being questionable the result for the “Purinas” seemed unjust. We saw the result through “safety glasses” though; we did not want the multitude of Brazilians to leave unhappy, so no one in our group was complaining.
The final whistle came shortly after 7:00 PM local time, so we stopped in to an Italian place we had spied earlier along the boardwalk, Pizzeria Quattro Amici, for some sustenance. Communication was a bit challenging here (no bread for me, apparently, even though I knew how to say it), so we gave up and just ordered pizza, which turned out to be delicious.
Apologies for the long post, but it was a long day, and we were happy to turn in early as we headed into our first official Match Day (ESP vs. NED) on Friday.
Final score: Brazil 2 – Croatia 1