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Founded by the Portuguese in 1549, Salvador was Brazil’s very first settlement, and the African, European, and Amerindian influences that have touched the city since then have created a diverse and colorful culture here. Visitors can stroll the streets of Pelourinho (old town) to admire the pastel facades of historical buildings and sample local food like moqueca, a delicious fish stew made with coconut milk, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro. Stop by to have a quiet moment at the Sao Francisco Church and Convent, where elegant chandeliers dangle over actual gold sculptures.

Get outside in the warm Brazilian sun at Porto da Barra Beach, where the water is calm and the shore is capped by a colonial fort on one end and a whitewashed church on the other. It’s a great place to meet locals, and if you’re lucky you may spot someone performing the Capoeira, part-martial-arts, part-dance.

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