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拉面 La Mian World

the quest for the perfect noodle

Recife is located in the state of Pernambuco in north-eastern Brazil. Most travelers to South America from Europe may know it from the in-flight map as the first city on the South American land mass after crossing the Atlantic.

The metropolitan region of Recife is home to more than 4 million inhabitants. Traditionally, the cultivation of sugar cane was the economic mainstay of the coastal region. It still plays a major role, but today the service sector is the driving economic force. A number of international companies like Coca Cola, Alcoa and Philips set up factories. Pernambuco has a major sea port in Suape just south of Recife. Guararapes airport is among the largest in Brazil with over 6 million passengers annually. As the capital of Pernambuco state, a lot of administrative offices can be found in Recife. Together with the neighboring Olinda, Recife is the cultural center of the region.

Brazil is Rio, rodizio, the Sugar Loaf, beaches, samba and carnival. True, but there are other facets …

The surprising news is that north-eastern Brazil sports probably the most magnificent beaches in the country, largely unspoilt, and due to the tropical location with a much more pleasant water temperature than, say, Rio de Janeiro.

Samba is not exactly the sound of Pernambuco. But there are countless typical local music styles and dances, which are remarkable. These are called forro, frevo, maracatu and brega. With ‘Mangue Bit’ Recife has its own individual style of music that originated in the 1990’s as a blend of traditional and electronic sounds.

In Brazil the carnivals of Olinda and Recife are as famous as that of Rio de Janeiro. However, there are some differences. In Olinda you don’t watch the parade passing by, but everyone is part of the parade of music groups called blocos. The traditional music and dance of the Olinda and Recife carnivals is frevo.

With one interruption Pernambuco has a Portuguese-influenced colonial history. Only for a short period of time in the 17th century Recife and Olinda were ruled by the Dutch. The influence of the two colonial empires are found in the architecture of the old part of the city of Recife, and especially in the picturesque streets of Olinda. Olinda belongs to the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.

In Recife you find some interesting museums, the oldest synagogue of the entire American continent and in many places the traces of local artist Francisco Brennand. The bourgeois life takes place south of the old city center. Avenida Boa Viagem is the modern beach promenade of Recife with an opportunity to engage in all kinds of sports, be it jogging, cycling and outdoor fitness. At the weekend the whole city population seems to be meeting here at the beach, sitting under an umbrella  in a folding chair, sipping super cold beer and then maybe eat dinner in one of the nearby local restaurants.

In the south of Recife are the most beautiful beaches of Pernambuco. Half an hour’s drive from Recife is the full-blown tourist town of Porto de Galinhas. From the simple to five star all-inclusive resorts, everything is offered in terms of tourist infrastructure. Further south it is less developed and most beach towns mainly sport  holiday homes and there are only few beach resorts. The beaches are packed at the weekend, during the week you have to share paradise with just a few.

Just two hours south of Recife you enter into the next state, Alagoas, which is also famous for its pristine, endless beaches.

These are largely undeveloped and boast a number of exclusive pousadas, which in high season are hopelessly sold out, and sometimes seem a bit overpriced for what is offered – a little more competition would help eventually.

Who still wants to venture a little further from Recife, may travel to the resort of Pipa in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, north of Pernambuco. Here the beaches are lined, unlike in Pernambuco and Alagoas, by dramatic cliffs.

Speaking of sand cliffs: The paradise for wind- and kites-surfers is Jericoacoara and it is a truly unique destination. Located in the north of Brazil, with huge sand dunes in a national park the trip there is a little adventurous. From Fortaleza, you need a four-wheel-driven car to master the dirt roads.

Another national park with 360° beach connection is the island of Fernando de Noronha, located about an hour’s flight from Recife in the Atlantic. This is a dream island with indescribable beaches, crystal clear water and the possibility  to snorkel with dolphins, sharks and sea turtles.

Last up-dated: 07.06.2012

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