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40 days in Recife , the Brazilian Venice
As you get off the airplane @ the “Aeroporto dos Guararapes” a totally redone airport, brought to an up-to-date state of art in architecture (although still can’t figure out the parking lot exit - maybe: “architect day dream moment”, but this is not the case), soon you get off the air plane you are engulfed by the warm weather like an welcoming embrace.
The airport was not far from the destination – (10 minutes ride by cab) - Boa Viagem Beach – this time the choice was to stay at a rental all furnished apartment – one bedroom, living room/dining room combo, a little kitchen and a small veranda, with ocean view - well located at 200 meters from the ocean, with some perks like a cleaning lady as often as you need, a laundry service and in house restaurant.
Comparing the cost of rental for 40 days with what one would pay at a hotel, one can save a lot of money, the “Portal dos Mares” is a good recommendation, the staff are very professional, very polite, some of them speaks a little English, good enough to get you a cab, call the laundry service, recommend a restaurant, this sort of tourist’s things.
Because its location, it is very easy to get into the daily beach walking routine, like the locals, drinking coconut, eating the grilled over charcoal cheese” queijo-de-coalho” or eat fresh pineapple at the Beach as your breakfast.
Recife, has so many excellent restaurants that is impossible to list all, but the ones that can be named (either because the combination ‘food-service-location” were beyond excellence or because the uniqueness, The Camarao Camarada (The Comrade Scrimp), was one of them, outstanding fresh sea food, the dish: “Camarao no Chopp”- a Beer lightly battered scrimp, with onions and garlic – divine!, the beer extremely cold, a blessing on a hot day, the other one, a block away from the flat: (the vacation rentals apartment), the “Ilha dos Navegantes” restaurant where you can get addicted to the “Moqueca” a sea food dish made with tomato/coconut sauce, delicious.
Another best kept secret in food in Recife is the “Caldinho” a kind of stew that can be made with beans, shrimp, or a combination of everything, addicting, not to forget the “casquinho” - be careful here, not every place makes a good casquinho – is a crab dish with the consistence of a thick paste/cream made with crab meat, of course, and “farinha” an yucca farina, very delicious. If you like spice food, ask for “malagueta” sauce, wow that is hot!
All these food can go along with the famous “caipirinha” a sugar cane brandy with lime and sugar beverage or “caipiroska” the same but made with vodka.
Places to visit: - “Recife Antigo” the old Recife , where everything started, the majority of the 1700 and 1800 hundreds buildings are either restored and housing art galleries, or in the process of. The City authorities busted up the security, with a lot of police officers speaking English; they were very informative about the area.
Just outside Recife, is the sister city Olinda, the very first State Capital, beautifully built in the 1600 on top of many hills, try the Brazilian “Tapioca”- watch out Americans, this gluten free dish is nothing you know about tapioca, is not a cream, is not pudding, is a kind of ‘taco” just to say, once doesn’t have anything to do with the Mexican food, just the shape, filled with freshly shredded coconut, cheese, cooked on iron skillet over coals, so good! This food you must have with “Guarana” the king of sodas in Brazil .
There is a daily art fair, located at the “pracinha” - Boa Viagem Square & Church, where you also can eat the Brazilian tapioca every afternoon as a snack (once in Recife , the time for diner is normally around 8:00PM)
– A good day trip from Recife is offered by “Panorama Tours”- a tourism company - offering a day trip to “Porto de Galinhas”, for a very reasonable price, they are very friendly, you can make reservations on the spot, for the day of your choice, and the driver picked you up, in front of your hotel or point of reference, one piece of advice: negotiate a later return, once Porto de Galinhas -(the center of town little shops with all the local clay made figurines) comes to life after 4:00PM, when the sun starts to cool a little bid.
Soon you arrive at Porto de Galinhas, they will offer you a deal to make reservation and order your lunch in that restaurant, the Panorama Tours supporting point, so you could use the beach chairs and umbrellas for free, it’s up to you but keep in mind that every restaurant offers the same arrangement.
A great recommendation is: The “Peixe na Telha” Restaurant - (literally fish on a roof clay tile), - very good food, friendly and good service good location once it is closer to downtown Porto de Galinhas; the Peixe na Telha even offers a locker, and shower; prices are reasonable considering the quality.
Take advantage of the day trips to go to Caruaru , a big town up in the “Serra da Borborema” with the largest farmers open market/art fair in the country, where according to them, you can find anything. Caruaru is the place to try the “carne-de-sol” (salted beef meat fried or grilled) with fried yucca, “pirao” vinaigrette, and fresh black-eye peas, as side dish – superb! Meat is very tender and lean if you order with fat.
Also visit Gravata, up in the mountains too, where you can try a variety of different fruits each one with its own taste/smells and flavors that is impossible to describe pitomba – caja – caju – pinha – graviola – jaca – to name a few, so exotic!