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shopping in brazil

You could easily spend a week in Salvador, Brazil, getting a history lesson on the country’s first capital, antiquing through the Pelhourino, and tasting its Afro-Brasilian cuisine, but if you only have a days, here is where to stay, eat, and shop in the must-see Old Quarter.

Eating: Aracaje travel guide brazil

Aracajé is the most quintessential Salvadorian food and a nod to the city’s African-infused culture. Fried dough made from peeled black eyed peas, filled with a spicy paste of dried shrimp, cashews, and palm oil are sold at street stalls all over town. (Tip: If you are worried this may stop your heart, look for the vendors that sell the paste in the corn husk over the fried ball.)

Shopping: Cabral

salavador shopping
Cabral in the upper half of the Pelhourino was quite possibly my favorite store in the whole country. This cute antique shop has an amazing assortment of chic and funky finds from vintage furniture to games to photographs to music…it’s a delightful taste of old Brazil.

Lodging: Pestana Convento Do Carmo

A converted convent becomes a very unique and über luxurious hotel. If you can’t splurge at Pestana, try Hotel Arthemis on Praca da Sé for very reasonable rates and the best view in town (the vista from our window, below).
salvador hotels

For the full account from Mike and my trip through Brazil’s cultural capital, check out my post on our around-the-world travel blog,


Some people think Carnaval is just a debaucherous four-day party in Rio de Janiero but the rest of Brazil would have to disagree. Months leading up to Fat Tuesday, even the tiny towns are constructing elaborate floats, practicing samba routines, and gearing up for this nationwide party. Beyond the grandstands of Rio (we’ll get to that after our stay this weekend), here our the look at Carnaval from the four weeks traveling the country through little beach towns to the colonial cities that started it all.

In Brazil it's all about attitude. Colors can never be too bright, clothes are never too tight, and self confidence pulls anything off. This piece of street art rules the block.
Bright pinks, blues, yellows, greens... essentially the rainbow pumped up a notch is the palette of not just Carnaval but the whole of Brazil. Everything from houses to shops are in a vibrant coat of paint so when streamers of every color hang through the streets of Olinda for Carnaval, they perfectly complement the town.
Over-the top frocks like this sweet pea dress are perfect for nights out and these Liberty of London (meets Brazil) style skirts are just the thing for a morning block party.
Carnival bead shop in brazil
Like Mardi Gras, reams of glitzy beads are essential to Carnaval style. This shop caters to the locals and can string up anything from their 100s of choices. Women wear a numb of strands around their neck and men tend to slip them through each arm to crisscross them over their chest.
carnaval shakers
For sound and flair, colorful beads slip over gourds to create every neighborhod's percussion section. Even if you never gave these a shake they would look very global chic on a console table or bookshelf.
carnaval puppets
Massive papier-mâché puppets modeled after local celebrities and political figures are the stars of the bloco. When worn on the shoulders of a puppet master as he saunters down the parade, the figure is the mark of that group's artistic talents and sense of humor.
Girls take the streets with their resounding drums, and equally loud hair and makeup. Flowers are a running theme in clothes and accessories.
carnaval bloco
Woven baskets encircled with metallic streamers become an essential prop for traditional Afro-Brazilian dances through the streets of Salvador.
salavador carnaval dance
Sassed up with head scarves, bangles and some relentless dance moves, these ladies weren't going to leave the party to the kids. Flowing linen and lace dresses make for dramatic spins and a classic look.
carnaval olinda
Classsic red blue and yellow umbrellas are a dancing essential in Pernambuco. For spins, jumps, pivots, they make every Frevo dance move more dazzling with their blur of primary colors.
carnaval bloco leader
Leading this neighborhood bloco, these intricately beaded banners command the attention they deserve.

Has anyone ever been to Carnaval in Rio or seen photos? Though spectacular (we went to the Sambadromo last night), I was amazed by  how different and incredibly charming the regional takes on the party different could be.


Amazon Travel ideasManaus is the only city in the Amazon so if you have dreams of exploring the world’s biggest river and jungle housing the most species on the planet, you basically have to pass through this two-million person town. Originally, we thought of it as a stop-off to get to a jungle tour but found ourselves extending our stay to five days because were having such a good time. This largely credited to meeting the loveliest couple Debora and Mark upon arrival; they totally took us under their wing, showing us great local spots; otherwise, I would probably recommend three days here, two for exploring and one for resting after your multi-day jungle adventure.

For the full post, check it out on my husband and my around-the-world travel blog,


The honeymoon has begun! The first stop on our around-the-world journey has landed us in Manaus, Brazil, the heart of the Amazon. It’s a 2-million person city in the depths of the jungle that can only be accessed by plane or the only highway in town, the Amazon River.  Native Brazilians have obviously been living in the rainforest for centuries (more on jungle living later) but the Europeans that came flooding in during the late 1800s for its endless resources, namely the rubber trees, have given this town a very distinct character. The dream was to create “The Paris of the Amazon” with grand plazas, opera houses, and palaces and they succeeded… in their own quirky Amazonian way.

Here a look at Manaus nearly 90 years after the Rubber Boom, in new renaissance of sorts as they race  to revitalize the town before their debut as host of World Cup 2014.

Amazon architecture
Houses crowd around the Amazon river; the lifeblood of town.
mosaics of Manaus
The black and white waves of tiles in Sao Sabastiao Square symbolize the meeting of the Rio Negro and the milky waters of the Solimoes rivers that form the Amazon river, just north of Manaus. This is the original example of the design but the motif appears all over town.


Teatro Amazonas
The pride and joy of Manaus, the Amazonas Opera House was built in 1882 at the height of the Rubber Boom.
Sparing no expense, Italian designer Crispim do Amaral was commissioned to take on the 701-seat theater. Beyond the Venetian glass blown chandeliers and Rococo furniture shipped from France, he sent the local Brazilian wood across the ocean to be carved by the finest craftsman in Europe to ensure the theater had the best of the best.
The Provincial Palace is made of a bunch of different smaller museums like this rare coin museum. The loose change didn't interest me much but I loved the antique display tables and loads of light flooding the arched windows.
Loved this little corner of the Palace's private quarters for the trompe l'oeil walls and light and dark planks of wood...another nod to the meeting of the waters.
Beyond the museums and landmarks, Manaus' beauty is in a dilapidated state but that's half its charm.
design travel inspirationGrand Art Nouveau atriums and regal neoclassical buildings mix with thatch roof for a city full of contrasts.

With Manaus hosting the World Cup in 2014 they are trying to spiff things up with 21st century designs and achievements like the Manaus-Irandubua Bridge--the second longest river bridge in the world and quite the steel stunner at that.