When the taxi leaves the labyrinth of little streets and all of sudden enters an open area, the tones of the music already enter the car. Hundreds of people are standing, or dancing, to the chorinho (a purely instrumental musical genre with lots of improvisation from Rio) the band is playing. Or they are walking around between the stands of the market. In the middle of the city, in the neighborhood Laranjeiras, it almost feels like entering a little town in the interior of the country. Welcome to Praça São Salvador.
The square is not big, maybe 100 meters long and 30 meters wide, and surrounded by colonial looking buildings. It’s far from pretentious, as are some places in the touristic neighborhoods like Copacabana and Ipanema. No, Praça São Salvador breathes authenticity. While walking around the square and the market, the stands are full of handmade products. A paradise for people who like things a bit different. It’s Sunday, around noon and it’s getting busier every minute.
After observing the stands it’s time to accompany the band that is playing. It all started more than ten years ago with a group of musicians meeting each other to play some music and rehearse. ‘Because we all live close to the square’, says Ana, who plays the flute. Soon the band ‘Arruma o coreto’ – which means Clean up the mess – became an attraction. “But the square always attracted musicians, probably because of the good vibes that are around here.”
People dance. People smile. People enjoy. The smell of someone putting meat on the barbecue fills the air. This is how a Brazilian Sunday looks like. And once you get hungry, there are enough options, since little restaurants encircle Praça São Salvador map. For a typical Brazilian food, go to a so-called boteco. A good option is Império da Praça. The deep-fried pastries – pasteis – or a black bean soup – caldo de feijão – are perfect to still the hunger.
Besides Sundays, the square is lively the rest of the week as well. During the first days of the week it is quieter but there are some rehearsals of bands playing samba. But the Friday’s and Saturday’s are probably the best nights, when hundreds of people flock to the square for a beer, live music and good vibes.
“If you want to go local, you should definitely visit the square’, says Michael, a German expat that lives in the city for three years. He is drinking a cold beer of the brand Original, the typical beer for Rio de Janeiro. “I didn’t discover this place until recently, but Praça São Salvador became one of my go-to places. Or to start my night out, or to get rid of my Saturday night hangover”, he says smiling from ear to ear.