Saturday, August 2, 2014

Brazil Day 4: Brasilia/Salvador

By the fourth day we had become familiar with the neighborhood and familiar enough (we thought) to try out a coffee shop that seemed to have a breakfast buffet of pastries and juices.  This was the place we'd briefly stopped for just coffee the morning before, and it seemed that one of the waitstaff remembered us.

We tried to indicate that we wanted the buffet, but were confused by the fact that we were also given a menu to order from.  Had we actually gotten the buffet? Could we just go up and take some delicious-looking pastries?  We tried to ask the waiter, we tried to ask another patron, and eventually we just got up and helped ourselves.  In the midst of our trips, our ordered entrees also arrived.  I had a waffle with dolce de leite cream, which was heavenly.  All was well until we received two cups of coffee each.  No idea how that happened, but we ate enough quiche, muffins, juice, cupcakes, and other tiny delicacies to make up for paying for extra coffee.

We went back and tidied up the apartment and repacked our bags while Cassy and Connor made their morning trip to a different coffee shop.  After everyone was ready to go, we said goodbye to the doorman and walked down to the bus stop for the bus to the airport.  Thirty minutes later, and it hadn't come yet, so we woke up a napping taxi driver and had the most leisurely car ride in Brazil.  Seriously, no one in Brazil except this old taxi driver drove reasonably.

Flying domestically in Brazil is easy.  Print out your boarding pass, walk through a metal detector, and you're ready to go.  You don't have to worry about liquids, shoes, or belts.  Sam did note, however, that there was an insane number and size of knives in the "you have to leave it here" box right before security.

Once in Salvador, we had about six hours until we had to get to onto the overnight bus to Lencois.  We took a cab to the long-distance bus station to pick up our tickets and then crossed over a bustling pedestrian bridge to Iguatemi Shopping, one of the largest malls in Salvador.  We quickly claimed a table in the food court and started our countdown.

I always maintain that grocery stores are a good way to learn about a culture.  Malls are pretty good too.  While food courts in the US are designed to get people their food as quickly as possible, this is not the case in Brazil.  Most of the eateries had servers who came out to you to provide menus, and most of the food was cooked to order.  Sam and I got a pizza, which was hand-tossed and brick-oven baked after we ordered it.  Cassy and Connor got lasagna.  Also, soft drinks at the mall cost one third the price of bottled water, and beer was on draft.

After dinner, a few rounds of euchre and drinks, and taking turns wandering the stores, we put our bags back on our backs and headed back across to the bus station along with everyone else leaving the mall at closing time.  We got on the bus at 11pm and settled down to sleep as much as possible until we were scheduled to arrive in Lencois at 5am.

Travel tip: The water in drinking fountains at airports, malls, public buildings, and the like is good to drink.  Always carry a water bottle to refill so you don't have to buy expensive water at restaurants.

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