Pelourinho by day
12 February: The alarm went off at 8:30 and I was determined to see Pelourinho on our own today. It was quite an effort to get up, but we made it in the end. We asked Nicky and it turned out that buffet breakfast was included in the room price, what a nice surprise, so we leaped upon the (not really that opulent) buffet consisting of fruit (pineapple, melon, guava), bread, coffee and then caught a taxi to take us to Praña de Se, in the centre of Salvador. The driver was talkative fellow from Sao Paulo who said he'd lived in several cities but loved Salvador the most. He should have switched to Bandera 2 (more expensive holiday and night-time Cab Tariff on his meter), but he mistakenly selected 1. So I gave him a 2R$ tip on top of his 7R$ fare, which he somehow reluctantly accepted, knowing it was too much. He'd actually taken us to the elevator below the Praña, yes, there really is a large public elevator taking people us the 100m or so height from the bottom of the hill on which Pelourinho is located on, to the top. The Elevador was free today because of Carnival.
At the top we were accosted by some hawkers and beggars but managed to shoo them away (saying 'depois' (later) and then ignoring them). We continued on to the Cathedral Basñlica, but it was closed, as were all the other churches except the most popular one, Sño Francisco, because of Carnival. Sño Francisco is overwhelming with it's golden baroque altar and opulent carvings. According to LP, there were supposed to be some strange statues once upon a time, but we didn't think we detected anything major. The church has a nice adjacent courtyard lined with Morals illustrated in blue tiles on it's inner walls, quite nice.
Next, we have Igreja do Passo and Igreja da ordem Terceira do Carmo on our list which are several hundred metres away from the main group. The walk through hilly Pelourinho is quite pleasant; on from the last church it's through a residential street lined with real old restored and unrestored colonial houses. At the end of the road there is yet another church (Salvador is said to have 365 churches, one for every day of the year). We had arranged to have lunch with Valerie and Eusinio, but being as far away from them as we were, but we phoned them to say this wasn't that convenient. We have lunch in a Kilo restaurant (pay by weight) called Do Carno, which is quite good. We slowly make our way back.
By now downtown Pelourinho is swarming
with revellers in their Carnival costumes. There are lots of Filhos de
Gandhy again. We meet up with a group playing furious, powerful drums.
Surprisingly enough, Carnival by day turns out to be much more fun during
the daytime than last night. There are a lot more dressed up people and
kids around. We hang around the Largo do Pelourinho which has an all-lady
band setting up to play. There's another group currently play 'I just
called to say I love you' by Stevie Wonder and they don't seem to be
wanting to stop until being signalled by the lady band that enough is
enough. The girls are pretty good and they're eventually caught up by the
group playing previously which joins in and then they're covered by a TV
crew as well. Eventually we walk back to the Elevador and the Mulheres
group joins us on our way, accompanied by so many revellers, so it's slow
going. There is so much to see here, it's incredible!
Down by Elevador is speedy, just in front of it's base station is the Mercado Modelo, a large old house which usually sells tourist souvenirs and handicrafts, closed today due to the Carnival. We sit on the pedestal of a fountain in front of it to relax a bit before going on and are joined there by a black toddler who has just learned walking. He seems to have a long of fun by squeezing my arms. I talk Swiss German to him and he 'answers' in Portuguese and I tease him with an empty plastic water bottle. We then take a taxi back to our pousada, the driver has some difficulty finding the place because of all the closed roads. No problem, since we'd fixed a price of 10R$ for the ride.
This is the craziest drive we had in Brazil, the driver had no problems driving straight through traffic jams, overtaking all other vehicles with his breakneck speed! He beat most everything I've seen!
I sleep a bit after taking a shower to be woken up saying that V&E will be in our room in 20 minutes. I'm almost ready when they knock on our door. They've invited us for dinned, Eusinio drives in the direction of the Airport, they want to take us to a special restaurant with local food. When we reach there we discover that it's closed.
He decides to go to a posh place called Boi Preto (Black Bull), which has unique
buffet style luxury food. The buffet is overwhelming, with really
delicious looking Lobster, Caviar, Shrimps, Asparagus, Octopus, Salmon,
Palm Hearts, well, just anything luxurious you could think of. Meat is served directly
at the table by waiters walking around every few minutes serving, besides
normal fare like steak and such, Quail, Chicken hearts and whatever. I
lost track. I go for two helpings from the buffet and am really full. The
place is huge and is served by waiters wearing really neat aprons. Eusinio
has an Italian Cinnamon liqueur drink Goldschlñger, which had real 23k
gold flakes floating in it. After experiencing the street-side kids eating
our leftovers the day before, there's some reluctance to
eat at such an upscale restaurant, the opulence of which is not easy to be
matched even in Europe.