Recife & Olinda: North eastern Brazil is a startling mixture of modernity, colonial history and Caribbean-like beach resorts. With its location on the easternmost tip of South America, Recife is the closes point to Europe and Africa, and received many international visitors. Recife was called Mauritzstad - after Mauritius de Nassau - when the Dutch governed the area. Recife now presides only over the small state of Pernambuco but Brazilians rave that the beaches there are the best on Brazil’s 8,000km coastline. The city, with over 1,5 million inhabitants, is spread over three islands at the confluence of 2 rivers, the Capibaribe and Beberibe.
The city has the delightful watery quality of Venice or Amsterdam. One of the delights of a visit to Recife is the 18th and 19th Century town house, reflecting the impact of the Dutch era and brightly colored colonial bridges, including the first built in Brazil (1644). Recife’s sister city Olinda, only 6km away, was the original Dutch settlement put to the torch during the Portuguese takeover. Olinda was rebuilt high on a hill and is a gem of traditional Portuguese architecture. The baroque churches and stone façades abutting the steep cobblestone streets are charming. The city was recently designated a historical monument by UNESCO, and today is a haven for artists. Year round the weather is warm-to-hot, usually with high humidity. The saving grace is the reliable trade wind, which keeps the oceanfront breezy and pleasant.