The moon moves in mysterious ways, we witnessed it firsthand Discovering Olinda.
In December 2016, Discovering Destinations flew to the Recife International Airport, where we would spend the next 7 days. This time, we would explore with the help of two additional travelers, Nico and Juliana. The later recommended the destination and helped prepare some adventures. The trip consisted of stays in 3 select cities, Discovering Olinda, Porto de Galinhas and Maragogi. Four travelers anxious to discover parts of the Pernambuco state for 7 days, with the help of one Nissan March.
We checked into Guarulhos airport on December 13th, anxious to start discovering Olinda. Since it was a domestic flight, we knew the check in time was roughly 60-90 minutes prior to departure. Luckily we arrived much earlier. Even though the 4 of us checked in electronically, we still had to wait the serpentine for what seemed to last an eternity. Disregarding who was to blame, we simply questioned what was taking so long. Finally, we were next, and we could wrap things up within a few minutes which meant we were suitably prepared.
when travelling in Brazil, 1. Give yourself enough time even when travelling domestic in case of unannounced gate change, this happened to us. 2. Guarulhos airport doesn’t seem to accept unorthodox luggage (backpacks or anything with straps) at the main counter. Which means you will need to leave your bag at another counter.
Our flight took roughly 3 hours, with local time in Recife one hour behind that of Sao Paulo. We spent that hour waiting in line at the car rental company. Being avid travelers, we know to write off our travel days – anything can happen. Finally, we could check out from the airport with our rental car, a Nissan March. Not the greatest tin box with 4 wheels but it got us to our destinations. We agreed to spend extra money on a GPS, which turned out to be completely outdated. Even though the Car rental clerks assured us it was.
when travelling in general. Google maps will work even if you don’t have a network connection or Wi-Fi. As long of you’ve planned your itinerary while connected, it will guide you to your destination and at times recalculate. Try to follow the outlined route, as it may not always recalculate
We data entered our destination in the GPS, Casa Viva Amparo located in Olinda, roughly 40-50 minutes by car. Lia was the designated and only driver as there was an extra charge for additional drivers. We slowly made our way toward Olinda, but first wanted to have a quick look at the sea. Lia pulled the car over so that Nico and I could take pictures of the Shark
warnings on the beach. In short, years ago, the city of Recife built a Port where sharks resided. This caused the sharks to relocate to a new destination – the beach.
If you haven’t already figured it out, you cannot go swimming at the beach when visiting Recife !
We were grateful and surprised when we arrived at the bed and breakfast. Casa Viva Amparo rests right in the city centre, minutes away from the main attractions. The
decoration was simple but colorful and the theme resonated across the entire establishment. We were offered two choices of rooms, the loft upstairs (which was accessible via spiral staircase) or a room on the main floor. We chose the loft upstairs, even if it meant a steep climb up the electric blue spiral staircase. Later that night, we met Rita, the woman who redecorated and revived this Bed and Breakfast / Hostel. Born in Leme, Rio and living in the United States for the last 10 years, Rita decided she needed a change and transformed this old house into this sympathetic, colorful, colonial chic hostel. It was her objective to keep it simple.
when arriving to Olinda we noticed some pretty aggressive behavior by some locals. Turns out, they were aggressive people trying to sell us packages of sorts. We wouldn't stop and came very close to running them over
By late afternoon, we still had some energy and wanted to start exploring our surroundings. The hostel clerk indicated us to follow a certain path to start discovering
the upper city. Once in front of the Igreja da Misericordia we met a local guide by the name of Romilson. He was wearing a uniform with a badge and came off as friendly, fun and knowledgeable. He started sharing his vast knowledge of the rich history of Olinda in a fun and educating way. We gradually made our way to a restaurant, where we would have dinner. Romilson asked us if he could refer us to a specific restaurant and we agreed.
Our first thoughts, wow - what a view ! It was as though the restaurant was sitting on top of a mountain. The background was a thing of beauty. We chose a table beside the window gazed at the sea, the city and the sun setting behind Recife.
We later found out Romilson would get credit for a free meal just for indicating us to the restaurant. So we were more than happy to help.
Romilson showed us to the restaurant and gave us sufficient time to enjoy our meal as he waited for us to finish. He would then show us a couple more highlights of the city, first a view of the Alto da Sé Cathedral and later the Observatory. Turns out our trip was in line with the moon’s cycle. It was a full moon and we could see her up close thanks to telescopes inside the Observatory! The moon's cycle was in our favour that night and also blessed the rest of our trip, more on that in the next parts... Back to the Observatory, various telescopes are available to view different parts of the sky. Afterwards, we made our way to the artisanal Sé market for some desert – mmm tapioca. There were various ‘kiosks’ selling their works of art, ranging from tapioca, caipirinha and woodwork.
1. the Observatory and many of the churches are free to visit. Funny how you need to pay for divertissement and you don’t for rich knowledge and culture experiences. 2. Tapioca is very popular here, they make dulce de leite and brigadeiro flavors. Good for those who have a sweet tooth !
It wasn't clear if we should pay or tip Romilson. At the end of the tour, we shared a value that we agreed was adequate. We would meet him again in the morning for a better tour of the city, since we arrived later the first day. He would show us the remaining churches, hidden places and share more of his knowledge of the rich history of Olinda. We would later tip him 20 reais per person as a sign of gratitude for spending time with us and being such a great host. It was truly worth every penny and we were happy to spend our time with this sympathetic and fun man. He ensured discovering Olinda would be memorable, we will forever remember his charm, dedication to his work and special attention to details.
After saying farewell, we went to the same restaurant for a late lunch and set out to our next destination. The famous Porto de Galinhas…
So, we entirely recommend Discovering Olinda as a stopover or destination for your next adventure.
We took many pictures, as shown in this blog. Feel free to visit our Flickr account to see more about Olinda and other places we’ve visited.
Fun and interesting facts about Olinda:
The city of Olinda, originally the capital of Pernambuco, lost its capital post after the Dutch invasion around 1630.
In 1982, Olinda declared a Historical and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by Unesco.
Olinda is considered one of the best-preserved colonial cities in Brazil. It is also fortunately located with a majestic view of the sea and city of Recife. The blue sea in the background promotes a spectacle of colors mixed with the colorful of the houses and colonial buildings of the city. A city which demonstrates mostly original stones from the time of colonization.
Our trip to Olinda will remain dear in our hearts, some of our favorite sites were: Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia church, Amparo church, the Observatory, Carmo church and City Hall square.