This is the start of a new section on Endless Summer, which I will call „Being Tourist in Santos“. Now that the (felt) temperatures dropped from almost unbearable 35+ degrees around noon to easily manageable 27+ degrees and my first reaction outside is not anymore seeking refuge in a shop with air-condition, there is time to explore the city. My goal is not only to visit all touristic highlights in the Santos/São Vicente area which are about 50 (including several shopping malls and other absurdities), but to also show some of my favorite places and things to see. I will start with my last trip which led me to Praça Patriarca José Bonifácio (see map below article).
This place I didn’t visit because it is conveniently located between two other touristic highlights which I will have to write about in the future namely Monte Serrat and the Cathedral, no I went to this very unspectecular place because the Ministerio do Trabalho (Ministery of Work) is located here and I had to pick up my Carteira de Trabalho (work card) here.
So what about this place? It is nothing special and that is exactly what I like about it. No tourist highlights or no shopping malls, only a very normal place with a lot of everyday Brazilian life. There is a nice and old used book store on the place in one of the barracks, some shops around (a nice bike store on the south-western corner as well as a store for beach chairs, umbrellas etc., in case you want to go to the beach on the western part). On a small set of fixed chairs old men were playing cards, surrounded by other old men watching them. However since the place is in the downtown area I did not feel absolutely secure. Some poor people sleeping on the square and the run-down and trashy atmosphere of the downtown of Santos added to this feeling. But there are some restaurants and it is definitively a nice place to spend some minutes, have a snack in one of the lanchonettes if you are around or want to have a quick stop on the way from the cathedral to Monte Serrat or other highlights in the downtown area (or ony our way back from the Ministery of Labor). A place to enjoy relaxed Brazilian daily life.
Brazilians, as I have pointed out before, love to eat. They also love to eat out and it was funny to see pictures with common new year’s resolutions in Brazil because one of them read: eat more with the family at home and less in restaurants and lanchonetes. Brazilians also (specially?) like to eat at the beach. And here is how they do that.
You don’t see people bringing food to the beach – actually this is a joke: “How do you spot a tourist? He is bringing food to the beach.“ There is absolutely no need to bring food to the beach, because unless you are at a very, very remote beach (like after hiking a trail for 30 minutes, which I did once in Boiçucanga) you will find either a restaurant, some food stalls selling fried „pastel“ or vendors selling everything from ice-cream to hot corn or cheese on a stick (can also be shrimp), the last two will be barbecued before your eyes on a mobile grill. And there are the quiosques, small beach-front restaurants which serve beach-food and that usually means: fried stuff.
Quiosques can be neat and fancy (like I’ve seen in Rio) or basic and a little run down (like the stalls that were build here in Santos to keep the business going while the real quiosques are being rebuild). They usually offer very cold beer (important), fried stuff (as mentioned, though some of the beach food can be surprisingly good in a quiosque), some way of rain protection (after all, this coast is home to a tropical rain forest) and a nice view of the beach and the people in it. Here in Santos they also offer enough room to find a place, which I did not expect. It seems not to be very trendy to have your dinner at the quiosques here, though for me there is almost nothing better. I mean, having a cold beer (or a caipirinha, if you are fancy), eating fried shrimp (or grilled fish, if you are fancy) and watching the sunset or the people doing their sports on the beach at night (I don’t know if you would do anything different, if you are fancy) – this seems to me absolutely the right thing to do. And finishing the day with a walk on the beach (preferably feet in the water) is the icing on the cake and one of the reasons for living in Santos.