Samba in Salvador

This morning we watched from our balcony as the Arcadia slowly pulled into her berth in the port of Salvador da Bahia, ancient former capital of Brazil.

We had had a fantastic holiday here in 2001, when we stayed at the beach resort of Costa do Sauípe, so we were looking forward to exploring the old colonial town again.

We had our breakfast at the Aquarius pool deck as usual, then gathered together our bits and pieces for going ashore.  We didn’t have an organised tour this morning, preferring instead to do our own thing.

As we descended the gang-plank, we could already hear loud samba music and the rhythmic beating of drums; we were given to understand that there was some sort of carnival on in Salvador today.  Not *the* carnival, but a sort of parade or march or get-together, where many people would participate in the singing, dancing and general joie-de-vivre.

Taxi and mini-bus drivers accosted us as we walked out of the port area and followed the crowds into the town.  There were a few shops which were not yet open, but on every street corner were carts with cool-boxes selling Skol lager and Brahma beer, three cans for five reaïs (less than a couple of quid).  The parades started coming through the streets, the people carrying gigantic helium balloons containing some sort of slogan, and wearing matching t-shirts bearing the same sentiment.  Everyone was heading in the same direction, i.e. towards the main drag, so we decided to climb up the winding streets to the funicular, and get a ride to the top of the cliffs.

When we arrived at the funicular however, it was out of order.  I didn’t fancy climbing all the way up in the heat and the humidity, so we just went a little way up then decided to see if we could buy some postcards and find a post office, as we hadn’t had the chance to send any cards from Recife.

We managed to find a little kiosk and bought half a dozen postcards but no stamps; not to worry though – we could just post the cards on the ship.  Next we wanted somewhere to write them out, so after wandering around for a bit, we found a lively little bar filled with locals, and blasting out the usual deafening Latin music.

Inside, I asked the barman for a couple of caipirinhas, as I had already spotted a bottle of cachaça.  However, the guy made me understand that we couldn’t have any cachaça, but could have beer instead.  Looking around at all the locals drinking, it was true that there wasn’t a single caipirinha to be seen, just beer.  Maybe they didn’t have a licence to sell it that early in the day, so we settled for a 900ml bottle each of Antarctica beer.

We found a vacant table and sat down to enjoy our beer, write out the cards, and just soak up the atmosphere.  As we were sitting there, we noticed a tour party bearing the numbered stickers indicating one of the excursions from the Arcadia.  Some of the members of the party stood outside the windows of the bar we were in, taking photographs of the exterior and the packed interior, no doubt to get a picture of a typical Brazilian bar full of all the locals enjoying themselves.  We found it amusing that there we were, Trevor and I, just in among all the locals as if we belonged there, lol 🙂

I wrote out all the postcards and finished my beer.  To be honest, I could have had another one, but we decided to have a look round the shops then have another beer later.  I had already spotted quite a few shoe shops, so I wanted to see if I could grab a bargain.  When we were last in Salvador in 2001, I had bought two pairs of lovely unusual shoes, so I was looking forward to getting some more.   🙂

I had a good browse around the shops then spotted a pair of red leather sandals with a high wedge heel.  They were only about 16 quid in English money so I tried them on.  They were nice and comfortable, as well as flattering, so I decided to buy them.  Trevor went to pay with his Visa credit card, but the chip-and-pin machine just wouldn’t accept the card, even after a second attempt.  So he then tried with his Mastercard.  Same thing.  This was strange, as we’d had no problems with either of the cards in previous transactions.  It was no good though; the cards didn’t work and we didn’t have enough cash, so I had to leave the shoes on the counter and do without.  😦

After wandering around the shops a bit more, we came partly back down the hill and decided to go for another beer.  🙂  We found another colourful, lively bar and went in and had a HUGE bottle of Brahma beer each.  Looking out of the windows at the crowded streets, we could still see throngs of people heading down the hill, and we enjoyed the music and the party atmosphere.

After our beers we decided to head back to the ship for lunch.  We followed the crowds back down the hill, sheltering under the portico of a large building when a sudden cloudburst soaked everyone and everything around.  Once the rain eased off, we continued on our way.

Down in the main square an open-air stage had been set up, and a live band was playing.  The square was filled with gyrating bodies and I must admit the beat was very infectious and made me want to join in.  🙂  The beer, ice-cream and popcorn stalls were doing a roaring trade as we entered the dock area and re-embarked the Arcadia in time for lunch.

After our usual afternoon nap, we sat out on the balcony for a while and generally relaxed and whiled away the time before getting showered and sorted out and ready for the sailaway party at 5.30pm.

Tonight was just smart-casual (it usually is when the ship has been in port all day) so we went down to dinner as usual then along to the Palladium lounge for the show tonight, which was called “We’ll Meet Again” and featured – you’ve guessed it – songs and music from the Second World War.  It was actually a very good show, although I’m sure it would have appealed more to the 70+ age group then those of more tender years.

Then it was along to the Rising Sun for tonight’s quiz, which was played in several rounds and you had to decide if you wanted to play your “joker” on a particular round, thereby doubling your score.  Our quiz team had grown considerably from when we started this cruise; we had several times had Frank and Brenda come to join us, but tonight was all eight of us from table #187 – Chris and Sue as well as Paul and Tatiana joined us.  So we had to split the teams into two teams of four, as six was the maximum you were allowed in one team.  🙂  Not that it mattered anyway, as we didn’t win.

After the quiz the entertainment team were holding their own version of TV’s Give Us A Clue, which was based on that old parlour game ‘charades’ and was a very popular programme in the 80’s.  The entertainment team played against the ship’s officers and it really was a laugh, especially as some of the film/TV/book titles were deliberately provocative, such as Twin Peaks, Free Willy and Moby Dick.   🙂

We decided to finish the evening off by going up to the rear decks for a nightcap. They were doing line dancing under the stars up there, but even though we don’t do line dancing we enjoyed sitting on the edge of the pool with the gorgeous sultry sea breeze ruffling our hair, enjoying a glass of prosecco before bed.

Once again it was after midnight before we got to bed, and we had another sea day to look forward to tomorrow.  🙂

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