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Cruising North Brazil

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Recife | Maceio | Salvador

After spending a week on the Amazon River in Brazil, enjoying Christmas and New Year's Eve aboard the Marina with Oceania Cruises, we continue exploring the Northern coast of Brazil.

Recife, Brazil

After two days navigating out of the Amazon River and two days sailing the Atlantic, including crossing the equator again (this time, we could skip the ritual as we were no longer equator virgins), we arrived at our first port of call Recife.

Recife is pronounced ('heh-see-fee'), a coastal city and the capital of Pernambuco, the Northeast State of Brazil. Recife is closer to Africa's west coast than the farthest western border of Brazil—just 8°3' south of the equator.

After letting the passengers disembark throughout the morning, we then strolled off around noon, we had the option to take a shuttle to the city of Recife, but after experiencing the high humidity, we opted for an Uber to the nearby charming and far more tranquil historic town of Olinda that lies on Recife's northern edge, just 6km from the city centre.

We googled our way to an Asian restaurant, 'Oishi', with very positive reviews by the beach, which deserved the 4.3 ratings. We filled our bellies with a giant spring roll, the largest we have ever seen, followed by vegetable tempura and shared a dish of Chop Suey for two; upon arrival, we were guessing we ordered for four! We did our best and admitted defeat, but it was delicious and excellent value at AUD 40 with a couple of cocktails too.

After lunch, we strolled the beach, watching the local life and enjoying the holidays and came across a shopping mall, brand new, so it was great to cool off and purchase our essentials!

We might have missed out on seeing more of Recife, we did enjoy the architecture and colourful homes as we drove by, but we had a delightful day and loved supporting the local businesses and navigating a new language; thankfully, we have Google translate helping with our Portuguese.

Maceio, Brazil

Welcome to Maceio; it feels like a city surrounded by beaches. Where you will find local tourists enjoying their vacations. Think Pattaya in Thailand. You have a long stretch of coast on the main road full of beach activities, beach beds, umbrellas, and beach clubs.

It was buzzing with locals and families all enjoying the hot and humid sun by the water; it's where everyone has a drink in hand by 10 am, and you can buy everything from drinks, food, clothing and beach accessories whilst sunbaking.

We stopped by a beach club for a morning coffee; we could only enter if we paid the all-day entrance fee of about $13 each, so we did this to watch the world go by for an hour or so!

After our chill-out, we walked a little and returned to the ship for lunch to escape the heat!

Maceio was a much wealthier city, with safer and excellent infrastructure and a great nightlife based on the vibe.

Maceió is the capital city of the state of Alagoas, on the east coast of Brazil. An offshore reef protects the city; the shore is lined with white-sand beaches, palm trees, and many beautiful and tranquil beaches within a half-hour drive.

Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

You know how much you love a city based on the number of pics you need to clean up, and Salvador was clearly a favourite for Wayne and me.

We researched Salvador the evening prior, and we were filled with excitement. It was the former capital of Brazil for two centuries before relinquishing to Rio in 1763 (then Brasilia); it is a vibrant architectural colonial rich city. A blend of Portuguese and African heritage blending seamlessly.

Salvador sits on Brazil's South Atlantic coast, in the idyllic state of Bahia, home to some of northeastern Brazil's most beautiful beaches, over 1000kms of coconut fringed beaches and a popular culinary hub.

With the largest population of Afro-Brazilians and a complex mishmash of African, Indigenous, and European influences, Salvador has earned the local nickname "the Black Rome."

After disembarking, we set our sights on the historic centre of Pelourinho, full of cobblestoned alleys, beautiful colourful architecture and churches. We enjoyed strolling around and soaking up the energy, local cuisines and the African influence. It was bustling with tourists, a few ships were in, and quite the police presence to make everyone feel more secure.

After the sweltering humidity got the better of us, we made our way to the restaurant we had planned for a slow lunch. After being caught in the rain (it is the wet season), we walked in looking quite the treat to the restaurant. Fortunately, the drowned rat appearance was approved, and we were seated, quickly freshening up in the restrooms to feel more presentable.

We decided on an Italian restaurant in the Fasano Hotel, a beautiful luxury hotel brand in Brazil, originating from an Italian family. The hotel was on the top of the street overlooking the splendid water's edge in a century-old colonial building. The decor was also plantation-style, with relaxed and comfortable furniture surrounded by beautiful wooden hues.

We settled in for a culinary journey; the menu looked so delicious we opted for the five-course degustation of meat-based pasta dishes with a lovely bottle of red, and a few cocktails pre and post, which were a pleasant surprise!

It was the perfect introduction to Salvador and a place on our list to return and spend more quality time. An abundance of dining options and cocktail bars spoilt with magical views around the city of four million, and we haven't even scratched the surface. Pop Salvador on your list; we can't wait to unwrap this gem of a city in Brazil.

Join us for our next 'Brazil' chapter as we continue cruising southerly the Brazilian border with Oceania Cruises on our 110-day voyage around South America.

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