Recife urban sprawl

Boa Viagem - Recife
As said, when I arrived in Recife, I was ready to settle for a bit longer than just three days. In the end, I stayed more than 10 days, bringing my total time spent in this city to 18 days. And I already plan to go back there for carnival one day (soon).
What's so special about Recife you might ask. Nothing really, to be honest. It's just a combination of many factors that made my life there always pleasant, despite some obvious drawbacks.

 Recife is a big city (somewhere above 3 million inhabitants) and center of an even bigger urban area. Not surprisingly, the biggest frustration for locals and foreigners alike is the ubiquitous traffic. Public transport is badly organized, unreliable and the lack of separate bus lanes means that a journey of 20 minutes can take easily 2 hours during rush hour.

Historic center of Olinda
Besides this, Recife is a very diverse and enjoyable city. The cultural life is probably only matched by Salvador throughout northeastern Brasil. I went to the cinema, enjoyed free music shows, an afrobrasilian cultural show, spent a lot of time with the local couchsurfers who were, as always, the best resource for local information, spent a night partying on the beach till the sun rose over the Atlantic ocean, joined a language meeting where I spoke German, French, English and Portuguese and went swimming (of course) and surfing.

Oh, and not to forget: I went diving. When I asked my first host Elinaldo about the best diving spots along my trip, he answered without hesitating "Recife". It turned out he did his diving licence with a local diving school and I happily went to their office the next day. Thanks to the offshore reefs (hence the city name), there are numerous shipwrecks just off the coast. The four dives I did there were simply awesome. The visibility was good, the instructors helpful but in a very relaxed manner. The water had a perfect surface temperature of 27-28 degrees Celsius and still more than 24 degrees at a depth of 25 meters. We saw numerous tropical fishes, a couple of smaller sharks, a turtle and the shipwrecks themselves were quite spectacular. The only little trouble was my stomach reacting to the rough open Atlantic. But luckily, there are pills for that.
View from Olinda towards central Recife and Boa Viagem

All in all, my stay in Recife was great and I'll always be thankful to all the people that contributed to it, especially my hosts Elinaldo and Rayana. I could well imagine living in this city for a while in the future. Smaller brasilian cities (200'000 to 1 million) are fun and easier to get around, but it's the big metropolitan areas that really attract me, with all their opportunities and diversity.

Shark warning on Boa Viagem beach


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