We went to Salvador, Brazil because the award tickets worked.
The people watching on the beaches and the crab dinners mixed with a superior old town mostly overcame the poor hotel choices, horrendous traffic, and airport seemingly in another state.
We wanted to be in either of two hives of action, the UNESCO-listed Pelourinho old town or along the beach at Barro, so we wouldn’t constantly be battling traffic. We went in mid-November on a last-minute booking and most everything was sold out, from the overpriced boutiques of the old town to the beach hotels strung out along the coast. We settled on Pousada Noa Noa with a splendid view of the lighthouse right in the thick of the action on the Barra beach. We didn’t realize, though, that one of the busiest, noisiest streets in Salvador runs in front of the hotel and we had to move to a dank back room, and all the rooms are dank, in order to sleep (ignore the romantic room picture on the webpage, and sorry I forgot to take a picture myself). The price must all be attributed to the view. The staff and breakfast are both nice, though.
The beach is all about people watching. Every shape and size of person is sizzling under the tortuous sun without abandon.
There are several nearly identical seafood restaurants which the Mrs took full advantage of and was enamored of the steamed crabs. The local specialty seafood stew, moqueca, we found too rich and sweet, tiring of it of long before the pot was empty. When we later got to Rio and also São Paulo we learned that those cities have little in the way of seafood beyond sushi, even the beachside restaurants in Rio, so good that we took advantage in Salvador.
The Barra district has a good shopping mall and some swanky party venues.
Tomorrow, a walk through the Pelourinho.