Lively Recife of Brazil
Situated on the coast of the South Atlantic ocean, a few degrees south of the equator, Recife is capital and the largest city of the state of Pernambuco and the largest metropolitan area in the northeast region of the country. Now imagine tiny one-way streets, many canals and bridges, colonial churches, and vivid white-sand beaches lined with palm trees, and a whole lot of dance. That's Recife.
The Boa Viagem beach and Porto de Galinhas beach, situated 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of the city repeatedly awarded as the best beach in Brazil, and nearby town Olinda, make it popular tourist destination.
During the 16th century Recife was just a small village with a port from which commodities were exported. Five centuries later the city has developed into one of leading technology parks in Latin America with more than 90 companies generating billions, producing technologies that are exported to the East. But that's not all.
As doctors would say, there are no healthy persons after 45, there are only those who didn't go to routine checkups. Joke, of course. But if anything happens, God forbid, you would be glad to know that Recife is also Brazil's second largest medical centre, second only to Sao Paulo.
The city has tumultuous past thanks to Portuguese, Dutch, French and English present, and its beautiful colonial architecture, a fluid mix of new and old, reminds of Europe. City's West Zone with bits of the Atlantic forest that once covered Brazil's east coast is the greenest part of the city. There you will find two famous museums: Instituto Ricardo Brennand that houses one of the largest collections of armoury in the world, and Museu-Oficina Francisco Brennand, a museum with works of the famous sculptor Francisco Brennand.
Many great hotels, outdoor cafes, restaurants and the biggest shopping centre in Brazil and South America, Shopping Center Recife, are situated in the South Zone. Here is also the upper-middle class district Boa Viagem and its most visited beach in Northeastern Brazil, 7km long Boa Viagem beach, also called the Copacabana of the North East. Go from the Praca de Boa Viagem northwards, here the sand strip is wider, and football and volley courts make it interesting in many ways. If the game is boring you can always take a sit in a nearby restaurant, have a hammer, mean, drink, or browse shops.
You could like Recife Old Town. It is one of the most pedestrian friendly areas in the city. Search for a bronze sign Ground Zero between the city harbour from which distances to all other cities in Brazil are measured, and Old Town. From the dock side in the square you can see the Sculpture Park of Francisco Brennand. This area is especially interesting on Friday and Saturday nights when many of the bars host live music shows. If you love music, visit Boratcho - samba, amigo! - the most favoured nightclub in Recife.
Just behind Ground Zero square there is charming Bom Jesus Street. Its narrow buildings with gabled roofs, iron balconies, tall windows and outdoor tables placed on the sidewalk are breathing a new life into the historic neighbourhood. This region is famous for seafood, beans and tropical fruit. Order some local fish from the menu. The city has its favourite drink too. It's... whisky. God knows why, but consumption of whisky in Recife is higher per head than anywhere else in the world. To the best of our knowledge there aren't any Scottish or Irish pubs in the city.
But there is a street market on every Sunday with some very interesting Brazilian crafts and free concerts. Nice place to get to know the culture, buy some souvenirs, listen to the music, loosen up, enjoy life, and forget all your worries. Further down you will find Torre Malakoff, a tower built in 1855 that has served as a lighthouse and astronomic observatory. Climb up, the view from the top is amazing. Take pictures.
Don't miss to pay a visit to Olinda, a living museum considered to be the origin of the entire Brazilian culture of the 16th century. Before you go home, regardless did your football team win or not, have one for the road and raise the glass to Recife - and the weather. The World Cup will take place this June/July, in the middle of the rainy season, and when it rains in Recife, it really rains. ■