Salvador and indeed the entire North East of Brazil tends to be looked down upon by the rest of the country. As Italians like to put it, Salvador is the "Naples of Brazil". Undoubtedly the southern cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo have a much stronger economy, more infrastructure and a generally more "advanced" quality of life. Also, 85% of the people living in Salvador are of African descent, which definitely sculpted the Bahian culture into a fusion of the two continents. I'm not going to lie, the city streets are pretty dirty, and being a tropical country get ready for a few cockroaches here and there, but if you are the kind of person that does not get too hung up on that sort of thing there are other things that Salvador and all of Bahia have to offer that the South just doesn't get.
Everyone in Bahia is so incredibly laid back that sometimes it seems that stress to them is some common yet fictitious meme on tv shows, like alien abduction or never-ending soap opera comas. The tranquility and optimism is contagious and an amazing break from what Europe has become: a never ending bitter sob-story about our inevitable impending doom. Everyone in Salvador smiles, they know how to have a good time and they just don't sweat the small stuff no matter what, making it impossible for you not to follow their example, and nothing can be better for a person on vacation. This way of doing things even translates over to the restaurants, where the waiters will take their sweet-ass time bringing you your food. Don't bother getting pissy with them, nothing you can do will phase them into anxiously hurrying out your order. Some people can get very annoyed by this and stress over how long they have to wait, but I submit to you this: you're on a beach, drinking a beer in the sun with a wonderful view, what the fuck are you in such a rush for? Just relax and enjoy yourself.
I could write an entirely separate post about the food, but although I will be making one about the fruit, I will try to contain myself. It is no secret that I love food, and I did manage to put on a significant amount of weight when I was there, and I can tell you I tasted everything I could get my hands on from the street food to the fancy Japanese restaurant Take', and I loved it all. If I were to pick the one most typical dish of the region it would have to be the moqueca de peixe, a delicious fish stew made with onions, peppers, coriander, tomatoes and coconut oil and served with rice and cassava polenta-esque puree. Thanks to my jet lag I was also able to adopt the typical Bahian rhythm: big breakfast, fairly big lunch, almost no dinner. In fact in Bahia there is no such thing as a dinner party or a dinner invitation because no one really eats dinner, they have lunch invitations that go on for hours and where the beer flows freely. The classic saying says it all (roughly translated): "Eat breakfast yourself, share your lunch with a friend, give your dinner to your enemy". It's actually a very healthy way to live, but all the coconut milk and palm oil still did a number on my crappy metabolism and delicate Italian liver.