February 14, 2015
We’re sailing out of Santos for a rendezvous with Carnival in Rio. I wrote about Santos Coffee Museum, football and beaches in my last post (click here). But because we couldn’t get to Sao Paulo due to Carnival traffic we decided to take an historic street car tour around Santos’ old town.
Santos had its own streetcar system but now it is mostly used for tourists, and it employs old street cars from wherever it can get them and restore them. We saw cars from the States and Scotland as well as Brazil. The cars rattle, squeal, clang and ring their way through the old town. The sound is great. At some corners the conductor uses a long pole to poke a button that turns all the lights red so he can roll through the intersection making a left turn.
The old town itself is pretty run down. I think it looks more so than usual because most of the shops are shuttered because of Carnival. I was surprised to not find much carnival festooning in the old town. I saw one shop selling costumes and decorations and decorations near the Santos FC Stadium but otherwise carnival seems to be limited to the activities on the beach and parades for those remaining in Sao Paulo.
The guide said that Brazilians would rather tear down things and build anew, or build new in a new location, than restore old historic buildings. Santos’ old town reflects that philosophy, but having said that there are some great restorations, the train station, the coffee museum, the Pele museum and some of the churches and municipal buildings. But there is a lot rundown and, according to the guide, some of the shuttered buildings never open.
But I enjoyed what I saw and, of course, the ride on a vintage trolley car. We are sailing out of Santos in a thunderstorm as I write this. Lightning strikes are everywhere with lots of thunder after having a relatively clear if hot and humid day. According to the bridge the rain dropped the humidity from 90 to 57 percent. I have a poncho in my cargo pants pocket for Carnival tomorrow.