On Wednesday we called at our second substitute port of call, Salvador, and what a contrast it proved to be to the first substitute port, Maceió, yesterday. Salvador is Brazil’s third largest city, and stands on the edge of the world’s second largest bay.
As we sailed into port, it was clear how the city is built on two layers, and to the left of this picture you can see the elevator (dating back to 1873) that links the lower town (Cidade Baixa) and upper town (Cidade Alta). I also quickly noticed the houses built into the arches of the viaduct taking the road up the hill:
The shore tour I had selected in Salvador was an historic walking tour. We started by coach, which ascended to the upper town. On the way we saw this strange sculpture, perhaps it puts the bra in Brazil! 😉
We also passed a large lake, on which there were representations of African gods, there is a strong African element to the culture in this part of Brazil:
We then left the coach for the walking part of the tour, through the upper part of the town. Everywhere we went there were signs, banners and stages being erected for their carnival, which was due to start that evening:
After a while we reached the São Francisco Church and Convent, the church inside was most ornate, with golden sculpted gilt woodwork and paintings:
We then had a short comfort break in the main square, before making our way to the upper elevator station. As we walked towards the elevator, from the noise and crowds it was soon apparent that an early carnival group were coming towards us in procession. The colour and noise was amazing, as were the costumes:
This was an unexpected and bonus start to the carnival phase of our cruise. As I waited at outside the upper elevator station for the remainder of the group to fight their way past the carnival procession, I took these pictures of the station wall and of something enjoying the hot sunshine:
Once all together again, we took the 15 second ride down to the lower station, and walked across a square to surprise, surprise – a craft market! I was one of a number of us who declined this opportunity, and instead found a shady wall to sit on for the allocated half hour. From there I had a good view of the elevator, and of some old buildings that had clearly once been very smart, but now were in a very sorry state of decline:
At last we boarded our coach again – it was lovely to sit in the air conditioned coach on a soft comfortable seat after the tiring walk in the heat and humidity of this tropical city. The coach took us out to a suburb, to the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim. Outside the church the railings were completely covered in the brightly coloured Fita do Senhor do Bonfim cotton amulets tied by visitors to the church. Inside there was a room with walls covered in pictures and letters from those who have received divine grace, with models of body parts hanging from the ceiling:
Across the valley from the church we could see another large favela:
Leaving the church we took the coach back to our waiting ship. One thing that has been noticeable in the three Brazilian ports so far is the variation in the amount of barbed wire, graffiti and street art between the different places. In Fortaleza it was very common, in Maceió there was hardly any, but here it was back – but although Salvador is a bigger city than Fortaleza, it was not as common as there:
As our ship did not sail until around 11pm, during the evening we were able to have a very special show, put on by Magia Bahia, a group of local musicians and dancers. They put on a stunning show, which showed off much of the strong African element to the local culture that I mentioned earlier:
Later as we set sail for Rio de Janiero, I could look down from the top deck onto the sail away party at the stern of our ship, and away the lights of the city, including the illuminated elevator building glowing in the darkness:
After a disappointing day yesterday in Maceió, today Salvador, the port with the elevators, lifted our spirits, and viewing the carnival group processing in town and the local show on board in the evening provided a great lift off for carnival time in Rio!