Hot Spots: Recife, Brazil

The Fastest Changing City in the Northeast State of Pernambuco

Often called the ‘Venice of Brazil,’ (I would like to know who in the world applied this non-sequitor to any place in Brazil) the breathtaking city of Recife still retains some of its Old World charm amidst all of the modernity of its high growth posture of the last years. The city is known for its artistic and folkloric traditions, music, dance, sculptures and paintings and I took the trouble of carrying so many of these back so that I still have them to enjoy and they are really different from any for vacation rental line those beaches and are generally of a higher standard than those of Rio.

When you decide to take a break from the wonderful yet over stimulating downtown Recife experience, you must visit the leafy suburbs which lie north of the center and which are dotted with fantastic museums and parks. To the south there is the modern beachside district of Boa Viagem. Other beaches are conveniently located both north and south of the city. Recife also offers animated, exciting nightlife which one would expect from a city of nearly two million. Boa Viagem has many bars, discos and dance halls. Forró, a local music expression, is an experience not to be missed and can be seen at Boa Viagem square or at Pavao Leao street. Boa Viagem is a safe and relaxed place, largely frequented by tourists (except on weekends, when the beach is thronged by attractive, interesting locals). The liveliest district is the Recife Island at the old town where you are guaranteed to have a good time. For those bar connoisseurs, definitely take a visit Rua do Apolo and its unique array of bars. Recife also offers excellent opportunities for shopping. From traditional handicrafts to modern conveniences, visitors can buy all of these and more at the many markets and malls around the city. The Casa de Cultura, a former prison that now houses handicraft and souvenir shops, is as enticing as it’s origin is bizarre.

If Recife has left you with remaining energy, put your feet to good use and take a walking tour of the city’s ancient monuments. There is no better way to see them. I met a friend on the beach who invited me up to his family home were they lavished me in all kinds of northeastern recipes, literally waved palm fronds over me while I was eating, were super anxious for me to try out every last kind of alcoholic beverage native to the area, and still write to me these many years later. Their sense of humor is not to be beat.

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