There is colour everywhere you look in Olinda. Even more colour was being added to the streets in preparation for Carnaval celebrations and parades.
Matt and I had discovered the Uber taxi phenomenon when travelling around Brazil. It’s an amazing but such a shockingly simple concept. You don’t have to hang around street curbs waiting to hail a passing taxi and no money is exchanged as you pay direct through the app!!! In most cases it is cheaper than getting two bus tickets and certainly much less than hailing a metered taxi. We are in awe of Uber!
Now being major uber fans we obviously booked our taxi to a Olinda via the Uber phone app outside our hotel in Recife. Within a minute the uber app told us that Alisson in a Volkswagon Gol would be with us in five minutes. The little car on the map kept moving and showed us exactly where Alisson was. It’s like something out of a Bond movie! Bloody incredible! Alisson arrived precisely within five minutes and greeted us with his name and a friendly smile. Not to mention he was very easy on the eye with his dark hair and good looks. Seconds later we were being driven to Olinda.
Our basic Spanish throughout Colombia and Venezuela made chit chat with drivers quite easy. Portuguese? Not a single word! Everyone told us it was so similar to Spanish that we would get by “no promlemo”. Not a chance! Alisson, who sensed the communication barrier immediately whipped out his mobile phone and opened the Google translate app. Another remarkable invention. He communicated to us via tapping Portuguese words into his phone then instructing it to translate into English.
The loud speaker on his phone then “spoke” to us in a robotic monotone voice. It felt like KITT from the eighties TV action drama Knight Rider was in the car with us. KITT told us that today was the official Carnaval opening night and there would be lots of street parades. KITT also told us that it was one of the best Carnaval celebrations in the country. Unfortunately we were heading to Rio for Carnaval but we got to see the preparations and the quirky street art.
The location of the historic town of Olinda is just north of Recife in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. The taxi ride only took us 30 minutes from Boa Viagem in Recife and cost 26 Reals. It has been declared a World Heritage site and I can understand why. All the tiny houses are painted in vivid colours and the cobbled streets are crammed with funky street art. It’s a cool place to visit.
See the TripAdvisor overview of Olinda here
Find a good travel book on Brazil here
Explore the top hotels in Olinda
For more Brazil blog posts you may enjoy reading “Wigs, masks and leis at the Rio Sambadrome”