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the "tourist bus"

Only once, in Dublin, Ireland, have I boarded a "tourist bus", but my couch surfing host suggested it as a good way to see most of the city of Salvador since he was busy working. For U$15, Salvador Bus is cheaper than cabs and buses between the spread out metropolis.

I arrived at the mall to catch the bus around 9am while people were already busting down the doors to get in on a Wednesday morning. Barely awake, I trolled the mall for the ticket counter, even though I knew I could buy one on the bus directly. At the same time, I scoured for a coffee joint, with cold drinks. I never found either.

Standing outside waiting, I thought I'd failed on the bus too, but it was just a few minutes late and I boarded as the only passenger. We picked up a few more as we stopped at hotels along the way to our first tourist sight, Farol de Barra. A lighthouse on the tip of the Salvadorean peninsula, it looked cool from the outside. Unfortunately, these bus trips only give you 10 minutes at stops, not enough time to pay the entrance fee and look around. I suggest 25 minute stops, that's about all I ever need to look at anything.

The bus drove around town, talking out of speakers about the town, in both English and Portuguese, but I was too tired to understand either. We stopped at the Praca Municipal for lunch, except my brochure said lunch was at the Mercardo Modelo. After some broken language barriers were overcome, I found out I was to meet the bus after lunch at the market, which was apparently underneath us. Turns out it wasn't exactly underneath, but there was an elevator for 5 centavos dropping us to another level of the city where I found the market and much required food with a nice view.

The rain started just after lunch and at the point I realized it was better to be on a bus, even if it stood out around town like a sore thumb and smelled of gringos. At least I was partially dry. Between the large, overpriced, but good lunch, the rain, and the movements of the bus, I began slipping into sleeps.

The next and last major attraction, the Igreja do Donfirm went like this for 10 quick minutes: bus stops, people clamor out, up the church steps, flash flash flash, scamper up the aisle, flash flash flash, back on the bus. I almost faked a genuflection because no one else did. But the guilt of pulling out my own camera, flash off, disappeared being in the company of heathen tourists. Or maybe the guy selling beer outside the was the sign that anything is allowed.

The last 10 minute stop was for ice cream. It is either the oldest or most famous or best or something sorvette in Salvador so despite not being a big ice cream fan, I indulged with a scoop of graviola and mihlo verde, or green corn. Yes, you read that correctly. I first tried this flavor in Saquerema back in March, delish. It is actually yellow though. Of course there were 30 other odd flavors to choose from (see album soon), all better than Baskin Robins.

I continued to nod off and woke up thinking I missed my stop, but not. Following the crowd outside of the mall to the main bus station across a few overwalks, I waited on the platform while bus after bus pulled in and out, in and out. No sign of "Praia do Flemengo". Then it came, opposite side of the station, I ran through the crowd, dogging like the best, not alone in my pursuit. To day dreams again I went, waking up on occasion and scared I'd missed my stop. I always think I've missed my stop. Finally I asked for assistance, confused where we were, thinking I was going to be backtracking. But again, thankfully wrong.

churches, tours, Brasil, Salvador, buses, food

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Posted By: Brendon 7/9/2009