Where I Go...
Brazil is a must do destination for all who love education, culture, amazing food and incredible scenery. My trip was nothing short of a dream.
Getting to Brazil
I highly suggest working with a travel agent. Zen Biz Travel is my number one service when I book group trips or need a professional to handle the details. Laurence Pinckney is professional, courteous and VERY experienced. Whether its a family vacation or a family reunion--he will make sure you and your group have a great time.
I flew on TAM Airlines. The price was competitive and the trip was good. Brazil does require visas for certain parts of the country. Be sure to do your homework so your papers and passport is in order. There is also the cruise option for certain ports in Brazil. But this is a destination that you need time in to truly get the most of the experience. I recommend flying.
Lodging in Bahia
As always, do your research and read the reviews. At least 3 current reviews on a reputable web site like Trip Advisor.com. Bahia has incredible beachfront hotels at very affordable prices. Also remember, 4 star in Brazil is different from 4 star in the U.S. Read the reviews and select a property who has the amenities that are most important to you.
I stayed at the Grande Hotel Da Barra. It was a lovely hotel with many rooms having a direct view of the beach. The price includes a daily breakfast buffet with delicious foods, pastries, egg dishes, meats, fresh fruit, Brazilian coffee, juice and tea. The service was impeccable and the people were so warm and police. We also had local transportation to tourist sites for shopping. When I traveled there Carnival was just about to start. I was able to see Brazilians practicing for the parade in their fabulous world renowned costumes.
There was a pool on site and a working elevator. There was a concierge (English was limited). who was happy to try to help us with all our requests. The room was spacious and clean. Our room had a balcony for early morning meditation and ocean gazing.
Stores, restaurants and great shopping were within walking distance of this hotel. As with any big city, night time does bring out some safety issues. Proceed as you would if you were in New York or any other metropolitan city during the night. A word about leaving your balcony door open at night--Brazil has a generous offering of harmless lizards. I did find one in my purse one morning after sleeping with the door open all night. Smile. I released her with love and a brief yelp. LOL.
Where to Eat in Bahia
The food in Bahia is farm to table fresh. Brazil has a wealthy of culinary experts who cater to every palate. The group I traveled with was primary vegetarian. We were fortunate to have a great choices for delicious Brazilian fanfare! One of my favorites was Grão de Bico. They serve traditional food without the meat. Coconut rice, black beans, fried plantains, green salad, fresh fruit and a variety of cooked vegetables seasoned to perfection. Bahia also has a staple of buffets that serve numerous vegetarian and vegan dishes. Ask locals for their recommendation. Bring pants that expand because the food is to die for in this country!
Ground Transportation in Bahia
Our travel guide booked us a van for local touring. It was a Mercedes Benz tour van with good air conditioning which is VERY important in Bahia. I highly recommend going with a group and traveling during the day with a small group of people for safety reasons. Taxi or private cars should be booked through the hotel.
Destinations in Bahia
Our itinerary was historic. If you can find someone who really knows Bahia to take the trip with you or get a local tour guide who speaks good English to take you around, that is the best way to see the many beautiful sites in this country. Our group did some off grid stops that were simply incredible.
The Afro Brazilian Museum is a must see. We also visited the School for Capoeira Studies where this ancient martial art was born and the masters are trained. We went to the Steven Biko Institute and met a brilliant group of young scholars who are in law school. We visited Terriero De Cobre and Terriero Casa De Blanca, two of the oldest and most distinguished Candomble religious communities in Bahia. We were able to attend several festivals for the Orixa which is an indigenous spiritual ceremony to honor the Gods of the Yoruba.
We also visited some of the beautiful ancient churches in Bahia including Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia which is one of the oldest. Do take the church tour while in Bahia. The artwork and architecture is like nothing you've ever seen. The link below is a guide to the most popular churches in Bahia.
Making Your Money Work in Bahia
The U.S. dollar still gives you more money in Brazilian dollars. So you can shop your little heart out and still have a few pennies to take home. Banks give excellent exchange rates in Bahia but there are also small checking cashing places where you can exchange your dollars at a better rate. Ask the hotel front desk or talk to a local for good recommendations.
TaShia's Bahia Tips & Wisdom
Bahia has invisible little bugs the locals call Mimi's that bite. You feel a sudden pinch and soon thereafter see a bump on your body that itches pretty bad. I highly suggest you bring insect repellent and wear long sleeve and long leg pants at night. Don't wear perfume as its like a magnet the Mimi's and other insects.
If you're traveling Coach on the plane, do wear lose clothes and remember to get up and walk every few hours. Also remove your shoes and let your feet relax while you are up in the air to avoid water retention.
Link to Grande Hotel Da Barra
where i go, TaShia's travel Blog
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