2014 World Cup guide

Salvador

December 2, 2013
By ESPN staff

Snapshot: Salvador is not short on culture. European and African influences (Salvador was the principal landing point for the slave trade) are reflected in the city's music, literature and cuisine, while Salvador hosts one of the country's biggest Carnaval celebrations. The city is built around the Todos os Santos bay, with the high part of the old town, the cidade alta (home to the main tourist draw, Pelourinho) overlooking the lower cidade baixa from atop a cliff. The Lacerda Elevator whisks visitors and soteropolitanos (as the locals are known) between the two. Read Jorge Amado's Capitaes da Areia, wander around Pelourinho, watch some capoeira, visit the churches, eat acaraje, and decide whether to support Bahia or Vitoria. As Amado himself put it, "to be Baiano is a state of mind."

Sipping a cool caipirinha on the streets of Salvador is a must.
APSipping a cool caipirinha on the streets of Salvador is a must.

Getting there: Conveniently located in the centre of the city, it's probably the easiest of the 12 stadiums to access. Jump on any of the forms of public transport to the Castro Alves square and walk less than 10 minutes to the stadium. You'll be surprised when the Fonte Nova suddenly comes into view, looking like an alien construction in a pretty run-down area of the city.

Where/what to eat: If your stomach is strong enough, you should try acaraje (mashed, fried chickpeas with shrimp) at Tabuleiro da Cira (Rua Aristides Milton) and moqueca (fish and/or shrimp cooked in palm tree oil and coconut milk) at Carangueijo De Sergipe (Av. Otavio Mangabeira, 222), with generous doses of pimenta. Otherwise, stick to the often-overcooked but healthy local fish.

The most traditional moqueca places are Yemanja (Av. Otavio Mangabeira 4655) and Bargaco (Antonio da Silva Coelho 43). If you want to try something more modern, do not miss the original and delicious inventions of Amado (Av. Lafayete Coutinho 660), located at the always-effervescent Marina Pier, also a great spot to hang out at night.

Where/what to drink: Baianos love their cold beer and their caipirinha, although they prefer to drink the latter with local fruits such as seriguela or umbu instead of the traditional lime. Be sure to give them a go. Their fresh, non-alcoholic fruit juices are also a must.

Pereira (Rua das Hortancias, 612) in the Itaigara neighbourhood has become one of the most fashionable options to drink. Their branch next to the lighthouse in Barra is also pretty good. Later, check out any of the bars and restaurants (the Japanese Soho almost becomes a disco) at the aforementioned Marina Pier, a beautiful development by the sea.

Where to stay: You can't go wrong with the Rio Vermelho, Graca or Barra neighbourhoods: All are popular with locals and are just a 15-minute cab away from the Fonte Nova. If you want to stay even closer to the stadium, be aware that the supply of decent hotels in the city centre is not plentiful.

If you are the adventurous type, there are beautiful boutique hotels in Pelourinho and Sao Francisco, but you should be careful at night. Pick-pocketing can occur, so be sensible and take few valuables out with you. It is also advised to take a taxi at night and not to travel alone on foot.

Area trivia: Vampeta -- whose name is a combination of vampiro (vampire) and capeta (devil) -- and Edilson are two baianos who made it big in Brazil behaving the same irreverent way during their football careers. The former has posed for G Magazine while the latter has taken part in the Brazilian version of "Dancing with the Stars."

To the desperation of neighbours Vitoria, Bahia won the national tournament in 1988, while also claiming another title from 1959 (the first Taca Brasil, in which they defeated Pele's Santos) as the first proper Brazilian champions. Vitoria are empty-handed in national trophies, and trail Bahia in state championships 27 to 44.

Sightseeing: Salvador was a major centre for the African slave trade. To gain a better understanding of the region's history of slavery visit the Museu Afro-Brasileiro. Related to the city's current struggles, Eduardo Alvarez wrote a piece on how Salvador's middle- to low-income workers might struggle to afford to attend the games at Arena Fonte Nova.

Pelourinho, the colonial neighbourhood, is a must-see, although you should avoid its less-crowded streets at night. If you find yourself there on a Tuesday evening, don't miss the percussion show at Ensaio de Olodum. A picture of the Elevator Lacerda, close by, and the Mercado Modelo, where slaves were bought and sold, serve as a reminder of times gone by.

If you feel like going to the beach, then the farther away from the city the better. Stella Maris, near the airport, is a good choice. Don't miss the beautiful sunset drinking a caipirinha at Solar de Uniao -- a joyous experience.

Arena Fonte Nova opened: 1951

Matches to be played at Arena Fonte Nova: Spain vs. Netherlands (June 13), Germany vs. Portugal (June 16), Switzerland vs. France (June 20), Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran (June 25). The stadium will also host a last-16 tie and a quarterfinal. 

Capacity: 48,747

Cost: 590 million reals ($270 million; 170 million pounds)

Stadium history: This new stadium is situated in the place of the former Fonte Nova, which was the venue for several derby matches between Salvador’s Esporte Clube Bahia and Esporte Clube Vitoria, on occasion reportedly holding around 110,000 supporters. Its time came in 2007, when it was closed before being demolished three years later to make way for its successor.

Stadium trivia: The Arena Fonte Nova is constructed of 45,000 square metres of concrete and has a state-of-the-art metal roof, which, for the geeky among us, is made of a "waterproof, self-cleaning and see-through membrane." If visiting, be sure to peruse the football museum, and maybe, if your wallet needs lightening, head for the panoramic restaurant.

Arena Fonte NovaGettyImagesThe new Arena Fonte Nova has been modelled on its predecessor.

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