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Rio & Salvador

Energetic, colorful, extreme, musical, and charming, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia are two of the most–visited cities in Brazil. Learn why they both merited a turn as the nation’s capital in this entertaining and adventurous comparison.

Text: ANA SCHLIMOVICH  @todaslasanas
       

 

Why Rio?

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phOTO: rafael fabrés

 

 

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FOTO: ana schlimovich

Unforgettable Feijoada

For the people of Rio, Saturday is the day to eat feijoada, a delicious traditional stew made with black beans and several kinds of meat, accompanied by greens, rice, farofa (toasted yucca meal), and orange slices. Feijoada is always served at lunch, which gives you the rest of the weekend to recover from this hearty meal. The version served at the hotel Sofitel is a classic, complemented by an idyllic view of Copacabana. Another popular favorite is at Bar Astor in Ipanema, right on the beach. In the same neighborhood, Casa da Feijoada serves this specialty every day of the week. To enjoy a delicious, lighter version made with seafood, pay a weekend visit to Bar do David in Leme’s favela Chapéu Mangueira. As carnaval draws near, all the samba schools serve feijoada on Saturdays, dancing included.

 

 

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phOTO: rafael fabrés

A view from the Morro

Besides Corcovado, Pão de Açúcar and the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, the favelas offer the best views of Rio. Since 2010, many of them have become fashionable nightlife spots. The Morro da Babilônia, next to Leme beach, is a big hit and even supplied the name for a primetime soap opera. On weekends, Bar do Alto fills up with Europeans, and the evenings of live music at Estrelas da Babilônia are famous. The Vidigal favela, between the neighborhoods of Leblon and São Conrado, is so hot that the likes of soccer star David Beckham and rapper Kanye West have purchased homes here. The parties at the top of Alto Vidigal last until dawn, with DJs from around the world and an incredible view of Ipanema and the sea. You can also have a drink at the terrace of the design hostel Mirante do Arvrão or a bite at Bar da Laje.

 

Samba forever

Although this musical style originated in Bahia, Rio de Janeiro made samba it’s own official genre, practically the city’s anthem. The hip-shaking rhythm can be heard everywhere, night and day, but Mondays are special. Samba do Trabalhador is a ritual that starts at 4:00 p.m. in the northern part of Rio. In the port area, Pedra do Sal brings together crowds beginning at sunset, and in the evening, the best musicians convene at Bar Semente in Lapa. Rio Scenarium and Trapiche are two nighttime samba houses with quality music and atmospheres that recall the Rio of days gone by.

 

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phOTO: ana schlimovich

Party On!

Whether in massive parades at the Sambódromo or in street parades called blocos, Rio’s carnaval offers the unique and unforgettable experience of joining local musicians and dancers in an escola de samba. There’s also the free street carnaval with more than 500 blocos that light up different parts of the city. Rio’s carnaval really does have something for everyone. Just let yourself get carried away by a rhythm that is synonymous with celebration and joy.

 

 

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phOTO: ana schlimovich
 

Goal for Rio!

There’s simply no contest: no other Brazilian stadium has the magic of Maracanã. Although the structure has been completely modernized, Brazil’s largest stadium retains its traditional atmosphere, complete with music and plenty of enthusiasm. To get a taste of local soccer at full volume, visit during a classic showdown like Flamengo versus Vasco or Fluminense versus Flamengo, matches that get the fans going wild.

 


 

Why Salvador?

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phOTO: Latinstock

 

 

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phOTO: marina silva

The art of Acarajé

The capital of Bahía heads the list of the best places to try this traditional dish. Dough made from cooked and peeled black-eyed peas is fried in dendê oil, cut open, stuffed with shrimp and vatapá (a pasta made with corn meal, dried shrimp, cashews, peanuts, coconut milk, ginger, cilantro, tomato and onion) and eaten with your hands. Acarajé carts are everywhere in Salvador, run by women dressed in blouses and wide skirts, with classic turbans on their heads. Their job is so important that it was granted Cultural Heritage status in Brazil. Dona Dinha and Dona Cira serve the most famous acarajé in the bohemian and nightlife-friendly neighborhood of Rio Vermelho.

 

 

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phOTO: ana schlimovich

Learn Capoeira

A form of resistance among African slaves in Brazil in the 16th century, the martial art of capoeira combines dance, music, and acrobatics and is practiced to the hypnotic sound of berimbau. In 2014, the capoeira circle was given UNESCO Cultural Heritage status. At the Forte de Santo Antônio Além do Carmo, also known as the Forte da Capoeira, you can watch and learn. The fort, which served to defend the city from Dutch attacks, has seven halls where the most renowned Mestres da Capoeira – from different schools – teach classes every day.

 

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phOTO: ana schlimovich

Visit a terreiro

Salvador is the best place to learn about the culture of candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion strongly linked to the elements of nature. There are more than 1,000 temples in this city dedicated to gods known as orixás. Your best bet is to go during the holidays, between August and December or visit a mãe de santo, a priestess of candomblé. At Casa de Yansã, near the Forte da Capoeira and Mercado São Joaquim, Marta de Yansã offers consultations with the aid of seashells, tarot cards, and other techniques. From firsthand experience, her divinations are right on the money.

 

Sunset by the sea

Set sail in a saveiro, eat some grilled peixe washed down with a caipirinha, watch the sunset over the warm waters of Bahía de Todos os Santos, and you’ll fall in love with Salvador. Eric Gouguenheim, a Frenchman who has spent more than three decades in the city, organizes tours that calmly navigate the bay, offering privacy and time to enjoy yourself in and out of the water. When your ride is over, treat yourself to an ice cream from the classic Sorveteria da Ribeira to top off the experience.

 

 

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phOTO: ana schlimovich

Jazz at the MAM

PReady for the stylish, modern side of Salvador? Pay a visit to the jazz sessions at the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia right on the coast. Musicians of the highest caliber start playing every Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. In addition to good jazz, there’s a bistro for dining, stands selling drinks and folk art, plus plenty of beautiful people. Afterwards, head to Lálá, a multifaceted space in Rio Vermelho, where everything is fabulous: the food, the drinks, the music, and the atmosphere. in

 

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