Shaking it in Sao Paulo

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Brazil  , State of Sao Paulo,
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 51 February 23 - Rio flight landed just after midnight in Sao Paulo, seeing as it would cost stupid money to get a taxi 25 kms into the city, I found a bench and slept in the airport till 6am. Woke with a family sat at my feet, two girls with their partners, saying goodbye to a relative, both girls had tears streaming down their cheeks while the boys were cracking jokes to ease the sadness I guess. I caught a bus to a subway station 5 stops outside the centre of Sao Paulo. In theory, it was three connections to my hostel and a bed. So, it's 640am in the first subway, I have both backpacks, so my size has doubled and well, 15 full trains passed by, They weren't just full, they were rammed jammed packed!! There was a train once every minute, unbelievable, but then 20 million people live here. Train 16 turned up and I saw a space. Dropped my bags to my hands and squeezed in. The ride was perfect, the doors were opening on the opposite side at the next 3 stops, until the 4th stop. Two guys literally lifted their arms to form a shield and pushed everybody forward. It was very uncomfortable. I had no free hands to grab my balance and I believe two men made love to me for the next 3 minutes. When the train stopped, I had to use passenger shoulders to make sure I didn't fall over. It was crazy, but I was still enjoying myself. This is Sao Paulo!

I sat down for 2 minutes at the next subway, then an empty train came, and got a seat. Finally, 40 minutes later I was at my hostel.

I stayed in the area of Villa Madelena, an artsy area, safer than the city centre and recommended by lonely planet. Got my bunk and I met Jim from Uganda. Sadly, where I worked in the banking industry for over 6 years, after 5 minutes of talking to him, my first thoughts were a money launderer, and what was he going to try to get me involved in? But, my first impressions were very wrong. He was over aggressive with the ladies, talked about business forever, but a pretty decent guy.

I was exhausted, so showered, and this is where I see the left over remains of my back and shoulders from Rio, skin is peeling everywhere and a shower has made it dry and incredibly itchy. I'm walking around my dorm, trying to itch my back on anything I can find. Man, it was agony! Typically, the worst area I couldn't reach with my hands! Man!!

Anyway, that soon died down, I had a few hours sleep to catch up with myself.

After, I explored the area I was in, grabbed a pizza for lunch, a size of pizza that in the UK I could eat in one sitting, but here, it would last over three meals, very unlike me!

After hanging out with Jim for a while, I popped off to some bars to find the Utd Marseille game, I ended up watching Inter - Bayern and during that time, booked myself two flights and sorted out my next week of travelling, Amazing what you can do with a simple itouch and wifi!! Sadly, I am not going to Salvador. My friend Stuart in Lima had a friend there he was going to hook me up with but to continue onto Belem, flights were $700, Rio to Belem, $200, so no choice really.

That evening, still tired out from an airport sleep and all the activities in Rio, I called it a night.

Temperature 30C
Miles walked 1,65

Day 52 February 24th - Had a great night sleep, it was hot but I was exhausted. Some people came in late but it didn't really make much difference.

At breakfast, I had cake. In Brazil you have cake for breakfast. I love this concept. In Rio, cake for 7 days. Sao Paulo, cake. Sorry cereal and toast, from now on it's cake!! This was white cake, very soft and spongy. Everyday in Brazil is a cake day.

I sat with Jim at breakfast and an awesome girl from the UK, Laura. Turns out, just before I sat down, Jim grabbed Laura's butt and said she reminded him of an African lady, so she was very grateful when I sat down and sort of took over the conversation. Laura has been travelling with a friend (Lucy) for months now and only had two weeks left. Both have very patient boyfriends left at home, I'm sure they are now counting down the days. They are to finish their trip with carnival in Rio, then back to Blighty.

My plan today, was to head into the city, grab my bus ticket and explore this dense city.

Two subway connections later, I've bought my bus ticket and am wandering around the streets of Sao Paulo. It is hot, sticky and a busy day. I got loads of interested looks on the subway, I guess they assume gringos are too afraid to ride the subway, but the subway is quick, efficient and very clean compared to the New York subway. I got out at the Luz stop and spent 3 hours walking around the parks, the CBD, Centro, Av de Republica and got a good feel for the city and it is not as dangerous as you would expect. Well, during the day at least.

At one point it absolutely tips it down so I grab shelter and wait for the 5 minute thunder storm to pass on.

I like Sao Paulo, I haven't undertaken a tour, cash is tight and I'm only in the mood for randomly wandering, not an organised tour where I have to concentrate.

I am also not feeling so great, probably dehydrated, so I am taking my time.

My city wandering session ends at Edificio Italia. A building that has a restaurant on the 41st floor with a panoramic view of Sao Paulo. Between 3pm and 4pm it's free to ride up to the top and suck in the view. Just like London, to the naked eye, Sao Paulo has no end.

I head back to the hostel, where I find the same people that were sat in the communal area watching DVDs on their laptop, were still there 6 hours later. I guess they had been there too long!

For the evening, I had two slices of leftover pizza before I bumped into the two British girls (Laura and Lucy) in my dorm, the place was booked up so they had to enter a male dorm. They were about to head out for sushi and asked me to join them, perfect.

On the walk to the Sushi place, Laura asked me, so what's it like being ginger in South America? A great question, I had to ask in what context, but they went on to discuss that they have a ginger friend in Argentina who says he's had a life promotion since leaving the UK. Very funny, maybe similar to how I felt living in the States.

Sushi was awesome, company was even better. These two had great stories, very funny to talk to and a welcome break from the quiet boring people in the hostel watching DVDs.

We finished Sushi and went in search of some beers, when we heard some fireworks and drums. Instantly Lucy went on her way to investigate. We found a community centre, full to the brim of people playing the drums, samba dancers shaking their stuff and everyone drinking cans of beers. These women were stunning but had a huge sweat on, then the whole place emptied and continued on the street. The beat was awesome, the atmosphere electric and all you could do was stand and watch, and shake your butt a little, not like some who could wiggle in the Olympics!!

Every now and then, a whistle would blow, everyone lifted their instrument above their head and cheered. What a start to the year, in the UK, we are miserable, and have little happening in the early part of the year, well, pancake day, but apart from that, nothing. This Catholic continent, have carnival, they practice and they dance and the feeling is like nothing else I've seen. Everyone is happy, everyone is moving and I start to think, I should be seeing a carnival.

But not yet.

We head off and down a few more beers, I loved the company of Laura and Lucy, awesome people and we enjoyed good banter and laughter. Laura has a ´Gavin and Stacey´ situation going on, she's in Windsor, he's in Cardiff, but she'll be in Cardiff soon. Not sure where Smithy is....!

Get back to the room, luckily Jim is asleep, so the girls can get to sleep without any hassle!

Miles walked 5,23
Temp 30C

Day 53 February 25th - Had breakfast with the girls. I had a lunchtime bus to a beach town called Paraty. I'll be spending three days their as I'm not going to Salvador.

Bags packed, it was two connections to go to the bus stop. Sad to say goodbye to the girls, it's always great meeting people on your wavelength.

It's not long before I'm on my bus feeling sick as we're driving around some mountains again, great.
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Dave on

Hey Ant, my peeling is also driving me insane! mmmm cake!
Glad you met up with some cool people again.
Take it easy.

Pete on

...what's was the point of taking all that suncream if you don't use it! Ah-man! I could eat cake for breakfast all daylong!

Loren on

Good to see some local talent, right Ant?

The real Toni Border on

mmmmm Cake!!!!!!! Sorry I haven't been keeping up.....But I am now up to speed! Glad you are having a good time.


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