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4 Days Spent Backpacking In Salvador!

Written by:
Cazzy Magennis
Last updated:
September 4, 2018
Travel stories
Oh Salvador, the African heart of Brazil, full of tradition, life and fun! Here's an idea of what we got up to during our time backpacking there.
Salvador sign
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I arrived to Salvador, excited, I heard good things, and I couldn’t wait to explore. We had three nights here and therefore plenty of time to explore. I was a little apprehensive about the weather and my diabetes...I know the further up the coast we go..the warmer it will be, and as a type 1 diabetic..that poses more complications with keeping insulin cool (even Frio only holds a certain temperature), and keeping hypos at bay with all the sweating (I am painting a wonderful image of myself right?)- but I am happy to announce both me and my insulin survived Salvador.

Romance in Salvador
Romance in Salvador

Where did we stay?

We stayed at a simple hostel called Oh Meu Rei- it was basic, but the staff were wonderful- we had a double room within a hostel, and the hostel had a kitchen (fridge included to store insulin) and living room with Netflix (in the end this didn’t work). 

Clean wise- I always start out a little wary, I don’t mind unclean conditions- I know that the whole world doesn’t come with high standard cleanliness, but I don’t like basic unsanitary places- this was borderline bad in this department for me...but Bradley actually had a great chat with the lady who runs it, and she explained that when she first bought it, it was terrible, and that financially things have been a bit of a challenge for hostels in Salvador.

But she was doing reasonably well even so, and was hoping to open more hostels elsewhere in the future! She described her hostel as a family- and that’s what it was, great breakfast, great coffee and a fantastic location in the “historic centre”.

More Romance in Salvador!
More romance!

So what did I love about Salvador?

Upon reading up on Salvador, the blogs, and books said that if there is one place in Brazil you are going to get mugged..then this was the place, I am happy to say no such thing happened to us, and actually, Salvador is the safest I have felt in a location so far...probably because they have tourist police everywhere so you’re never short of help. They also have a fantastic tourist centre that speaks all kinds of languages including English. They have great maps of the city, outlining the streets to stick to, and a great variety of things to do!

1) Barra beach 

This is one of many beaches in Salvador- but it’s the one that has a big beautiful lighthouse- I actually really enjoy lighthouses- I don’t really know where the fascination comes from, but it’s there! We took a bus-now there are 3 levels of buses; 

  1. The local has basic fare of R$3.80 
  2. The local one with air conditioning, which is like R$4 
  3. The one that is currently been made for tourists that look brand new and have Wi-Fi and air conditioning for R$5

Either way pick one with air conditioning..believe me, you are going to need it. P.s. - we used both the local and tourist on our travels- whichever one came first!....that’s the thing with Brazil..nothing runs on a timetable....everything is a waiting game..from the checkouts of a supermarket, to the buses.

After a nosey at the lighthouse and a few pics at the “Salvador” tourist sign..we went for a walk and I enjoyed my first ever coconut! It was nice... but sickly..and like most stuff in Brazil..warm.

We enjoyed some time on the actual beach...when in Brazil, you always have to haggle for your beach chairs & umbrellas (if you want them)- as a rule, (information provided by locals) do not go beyond R$5 for a chair, so we didn’t. I enjoyed our beach day, Brad and I enjoyed some cheese on a stick- melted cheese, it’s really the world’s perfect snack for a diabetic...no insulin required! 

It was extremely windy to begin with and I clearly miscalculated my sunscreen ratio, because I got burnt pretty much everywhere on show- even my feet- and ironically doing a “looking after your feet" post for type 1 diabetics- I wasn’t exactly the best role model- but it was only a little bit of my feet- and I do blame the wind for making me think it was cold- I had goose bumps! I was in pain for a good week after...but aloe vera saved me. Lesson learnt.

Us in Barra Beach, Salvador
Getting burnt on Barra Beach!

2) Discover the Historic Centre & market

If you like museums then you will like Salvador, it has lots! Some free, some not- you have to decide yourself what’s worth paying for. We are on a tight budget so skipped these. There are some wonderful buildings to look at, and the city centre is filled with African- Caribbean music- groups on the street creating a wonderful atmosphere to just watch and dance along to! It transports you into Africa! 

Did you know, Michael Jackson filmed his hit song “They don’t really care about us” in this very square with the very people you will see playing music! This excited the crap out of me, because I love Michael and I actually got to stand somewhere he has stood-and that was really special to me. 

The market is good to pick up souvenirs- I would have got lots if we had room to carry them, but I did pick up my second shot glass! To get to the market take the “famous “elevator, it costs 15cent..and then you’ve saved yourself a long walk!

Salvador historic centre
The exact spot where Michael Jackson filmed!

3) Hot dogs

Yes..we were told before we went to Salvador, that they did the best hot dogs in Brazil- and I can confirm they are decent...and CHEAP- you get them for as low as 25p...result! And they usually come with your choice of peas, sweetcorn, tomato sauce, mayo, cheese, & crisps- so great value for the price! These became a staple feature of our diet in Salvador, and didn’t upset our tummies! Win Win!

4) The touristic centre

As I would call it..this is just in the historic centre, but there is a little square that has a variety of cafe which I am sure do lovely food (out of my price range) but there is live music, and you can sit and enjoy a drink in a buy one get one free offer! Which is worth the atmosphere alone.

Famous Salvador elevator
The famous Salvador elevator

Our overall experience of Salvador

All in all- I enjoyed Salvador- we had one minor mishap on the evening we were leaving to catch our bus. We had stored our bags at the hostel behind the desk as required, and when we came back someone had mistaken Bradley's bag for their own...a Colombian guy currently at a bus station about to board a bus to god knows where! 

Thankfully he felt a little cold and went to look for a jumper and soon realised he had the wrong rucksack...so hoped in a taxi back to the hostel where Bradley and I are freaking out worried we won’t make it to the bus-but all turned out okay- the boy arrived, and we shared an Uber back to the bus station! 

The owner of the hostel felt so bad about the bag mix-up that she paid for our share of the Uber which was extremely nice of her- and honestly another great representation of just how friendly and accommodating the Brazilians are.

Salvador Olympic sign
Salvador's Olympic sign, just in front of the elevator

Uber in Salvador

On a further Uber note...USE UBER. Uber is increasingly available worldwide- and in Brazil- we have so far used it in Rio, Salvador & Recife- planning on using it in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia & Colombia too! It’s cheaper, safer and the cars are better quality- also the people are just super friendly and it’s perfect way to practice your Portuguese skills. Also you can use a sign up offer in Salvador to get your first R$20 journey free!

Overall, I enjoyed Salvador, after Rio is was the next favourite place I have visited. I have one more thing I need to do in Brazil then I am ready and happy to move on...and that’s..the vast & amazing Amazon Rainforest- something that has been on my bucket list since geography lessons at the age of 13 watching David Attenborough shows!

Bring it on!


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Salvador sign

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