If Recife is “gritty picturesque,” the colonial town of
Olinda is “pretty picturesque.” Tourists love it because it’s artsy and
peaceful compared to the big city only seven kilometres south, locals respect
it because the little town hosts a great street party for Carnival.
Basically, everybody loves Olinda. Even the name sounds
I found the right ônibusin Boa Viagem thanks to my speed-reading skills. Buses don’t slow down, you have to read the sign behind the dashboard listing the main stops as fast as possibly to find out if they go where you need to go—good luck if you’re not familiar with Recife’s bairros.
“Olinda (Casa Caiada)”. Easy enough. I flagged it down and
Twenty minutes later I was just outside Recife, at the
bottom of Olinda’s hills and historical centre. Only one way to go—up.
I sweated in Recife, I was sweating in Olinda all the way to Alto da Sé. The view is worth it, though.
Plenty of houses were for rent for the upcoming Carnival, and plenty more were getting a fresh coat of paint. Streets were quiet though, much more than in Recife.
With over 10 (!) churches to choose from, I picked the Convento
de São Francisco, established in 1585 but destroyed by a Dutch invasion and
rebuilt in 1631. It has lovely azulejos (Portuguese ceramic tiles) and
it’s huge, plus I rarely get to see churches (or convents) in the middle of the