We were booked on a tour to visit the jungle, and as part of our package we had an airport pick up in Manaus which was lovely not to have to scramble on a local bus, and as the cost was hidden in our tour package it felt like it was free. Ricardo held a sign with our name (VIPs!) and drove us to our hostel in air conditioned comfort.
Manaus is a city in the middle of Amazonia, with a population of 2 million people! That's around the same population as Perth, though the city isn't nearly as developed and it certainly doesn't feel that big.
We ventured out in search of lunch and found some snacks at a little café attached to the Teatro Amazonas. It was terrible! Kibe, which we had eaten in Salvador and it was delicious, was horrible and dry. At least the bottled water was as expected.
The theatre is a fairly impressive building. Larger than the one in Belém, and with a giant dome on top, plus its a fairly striking shade of pink. The theatre, and the Praça São Sebastião in which it sits form the centre of town. We had wanted to do a tour of the theatre, but there were none being given in English that afternoon.
Next we visited Palacate Provincial, an old Government Palace containing a few small, somewhat unrelated museums and an art gallery, all free! We looked at the gallery first which seemed an odd and unappealing collection, then the camera museum which was quite interesting to see. The collection included cameras from some of the first ever cameras from the 19th century to early model digital cameras, across every brand imaginable.
On the second floor we looked at the museum of archaeology, a room with a pathway leading through trays of dirt with fragments of different types of Amerindian pottery, showing the style and area it was from.
The last display we looked at was probably the most interesting. A coin collection, apparently mostly a private collection, with coins from all over the world. The earliest dated we saw was from the year 141(!) though there may have been older. Most of the collection was of coin currency, though there was some early notes (1400's perhaps), commemorative coins, medals etc.
From there we walked to the markets, though they had just closed for the day with some store owners just packing up their last few things as we arrived. Instead, we wandered the streets as there were plenty of street stalls still open, and we stocked up on supplies for our trip to the jungle!
That night we ate at a restaurant our driver Ricardo recommended called Tambaqui da Banda in Praça São Sebastião. It served the local Tambaqui fish cooked in various ways. To our surprise, a plate of BBQ'd Tambaqui ribs with rice, beans, farofa and salad (what else!) was only about $AU10 despite the huge serving and prime location. Delicious!
We retired to bed early afterwards to prepare for our early pick-up to head to the jungle!