This trip means a lot to me because it was my first big trip (June 2014), and first time leaving the continent and arguably leaving the country since Cancun Mexico at the age of 14 doesn’t really count.
Since 2010 I was focused on one travel goal, the 2014 Brazil World Cup. I initially applied for tickets in the two major cities Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro and was denied. On my second attempt, I was approved for a quarterfinal match in Salvador, Bahia, which I knew absolutely nothing about and had no idea this place existed.
Day 1 – Arrive & Relax 3.7.2014
The first day arriving in the morning in Salvador speaking nothing but 6 weeks of Duo Lingo learned Portuguese I managed to get my dad and me a taxi to the hotel. This was the most intense cab ride I have ever had and I learned first hand how “crazy” Brazilian drivers truly are.
Driving through a foreign country for the first time blew my mind, seeing the older styled buildings, the cobblestone roads, electrical wires going everywhere, kids playing football in the street, dogs roaming freely, and the favelas was a wake-up call and made me appreciate my life a lot more and the life that I have.
Arriving at the Hotel, Mar Brasil Hotel which is directly across from the street Flamengo Beach. We learned first hand how rare English speaking individuals are in Salvador. The hotel receptionist that spoke English was at the hotel 3 hours a day 7 days a week but also worked at two other hotels as the only English speaking representative.
Day 2 – Fifa Fan Fest 4.7.2014
For those that don’t know, each host city has a Fan Fest that is free to tourist and the public. The Fan Fest is put on by sponsors and they have a few giant TVs to watch the other FIFA matches with other fans. This specific one was in a great location next to the Farrol da Barra (lighthouse).
Day 3 – Fifa World Cup Quarterfinal 5.7.2014
Attending my first football match outside of the United States and as a neutral none the less. I got to see the Netherlands take on Costa Rica. The match was played at Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova. A beautiful stadium that was renovated for the World Cup.
The back end of the stadium faces the Dique do Tororó Esculturas Orixás, which is Salvadors only natural water spring. The spring has 8 statues/sculptures which represent important deities of cult in “Candomblé”
A neat experience arriving at the stadium. They had a replica world cup trophy and fun events outside the stadium. Entering the stadium early, we were able to walk around the top and look out over the city and landscape.
The match ended in a shootout, down in our end where I was able to film the whole thing. It was incredible as the Dutch subbed in a keeper in the final minutes of Extra Time and he stopped 2 shots. An unbelievable and unforgettable experience.
Day 4 – Beach 6.7.2014
Amazing beach, Praia de Itapuã. I met some new friends from the hotel and went to the beach. The beach had great waves (risky) to body surf.
I have never seen a more clean Beach either. Throughout the day inspiring entrepreneurs will go up and down the beach. Sometimes it can be annoying but these experiences are what makes traveling great. Whether it is getting your face painted for the World Cup, buying knock of sunglasses, or even having food made in the beach sand.
The best photo of the beach is in the header of this post.
Day 5 – Downtown Salvador 7.7.2014
Arriving Downtown Salvador by cab, we got out of the cab the driver said: “para a direita” meaning to the right, which I had picked up since Spanish would be “a la dercha”, sounding similar. My dad gets out of the cab and starts going to the left, I tell him we have to go right, he said “no it’s fine”. The cab driver starts honking his horn, yelling “para a direita” and then finally takes his finger and puts it across his throat as if we continued to the left we would die. What an experience! Anyway, we headed to the right to go up the famous Elevator Lacerda. The elevator costs R$15 (~USD 2.50), once at the top you get a great view of the harbor.
Every street was decorated with Brazil colors (green & yellow) and their flag.
Day 6 – Brazil Semi-Final & Last night 8.7.2014
My last night in Brazil before heading back to Miami. It was a huge deal Brazil was in the semi-final against Germany. Walking across the street to our favorite pop up bar, outside of the mall. They put up a TV for pregame. During pre-game the roads were packed, then within five minutes to kick-off, not a single car came down the street. I have never seen anything like this, unfortunately, Brazil then went on to get destroyed by Germany 7 to 1. The roads were so empty, horses were walking freely up and down the street.
Ending my trip drinking Caprihinas, which I should have spent more talking about this. For the low cost of about R$10 (~USD 1.50), you can have one of the most simple yet best tasting alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had. I had these caprihinas due to Anthony Bordin’s suggestion. I highly recommend you can even get these at Fogo De Chao.
A lot has changed over the last 6 years and I’m not sure how helpful this post will be for future travelers to Salvador, Bahia. One thing I am certain on is Salvador is a wonderful place and it should be on Nomads bucket list.