We were supposed to love Olinda. While most of our Brazilian stops are all about beach resorts, Olinda is one of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial cities. Out on that northeastern point of Brazil jutting out toward Africa, just north of Recife, Olinda is chock-full of old churches, winding streets, and old colonial mansions. The historic downtown area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it must be good, right?
Sadly we just weren’t that impressed. I was expecting to be charmed as we had been in San Miguel de Allende or San Cristobal in Mexico, which we’d really loved. Or maybe Santa Cruz in Bolivia. Instead we were pretty … what’s the word? … bored? We didn’t like our hotel at all, we didn’t like the restaurant options, and after 20 minutes walking around the old town we were pretty much done.
I mean, it was pretty enough. But for us at least there was none of that historic charm mixed with modern tourist infrastructure that can make an old town almost magical. So here’s the question: was it Olinda? Or was it Mark & Jim?
Here’s the thing: it’s been almost three years since we were in San Cristóbal and over two-and-a-half years since we were in Bolivia. Is it just that we’ve seen enough of those old Latin American colonial towns that we don’t get impressed anymore? When we’re in Europe and we go to a new cathedral I often observe that it takes a lot to impress us these days (though I still do get impressed sometimes). Is it just time for us to quit this endless roaming around the earth?
Of course, we have sort of answered that last question; in two weeks we fly to New York to start house hunting. That doesn’t quite answer the question, though, of whether Olinda was kind of boring or if we’re just bored. Either way, we decided to leave early. Instead of the three nights we’d expected to stay we canceled our last two nights and drove down to a beach maybe four hours south of Olinda. Not a lot to say about Olinda then.