World Cup 2014 Part 2: What to See Off the Pitch in Brazil’s Host Cities

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/agecombahia/4359343097/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/agecombahia/4359343097/

For part two of our 2014 Brazil World Cup travel feature, we head north and west. From the technicolor wildlife of the Amazon to the African beats of Salvador, the post modern capital of Brasília, and the tropical idylls of the northeast coast, here’s the scoop on what World Cup travelers should see and do off the pitch.

Salvador

Salvador is an out-of-body experience. Capital of the northeastern state of Bahía, the city reigns as Brazil’s party capital with as many as 2 million people rejoicing in the city’s streets for ten uninhibited days during what has become the world’s largest carnival. The neighborhood of Pelourinho forms the city’s heart and soul, a pastel hued enclave of pretty colonial houses that nudge up against local handicraft stores, bars, cafés, and spectacular churches.

Head for the Largo Cruzeiro de São Francisco to experience the Brazilian martial art known as capoeira; a fusion of music, dance, and lots of kicks and spins. Brazil’s rich African legacy and ethereal sensuality is expressed through Candomblé, a composite of African paganism and Catholicism that brings new meaning to the concept of a religious mass. During rituals known as toques, worshippers become possessed by their Orixá (protector god). Ceremonies usually involve animal sacrifice and pulsating drum beats, not to mention a lot of writhing, convulsing, and a fair amount of pyrotechnics.

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