Concrete Jungle

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Where I stayed
Miria and Fernando's

Flag of Brazil  , State of Sao Paulo,
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Like nowhere else either of us have ever been, Sao Paulo – "Sampa" to the local “Paulinistos” - is the archetypal concrete jungle. The largest city in the southern hemisphere (19 million inhabitants and rising) it is basically miles and miles of office blocks, traffic-jammed highways, high rises and shopping malls.  It also has a reputation for high crime rates – cars whilst driving would do their best not to stop at traffic lights, or even enter their gated houses when people they don't know are close by on the street, preferring to drive around the block instead.  Sound like a nightmare? You’d be forgiven for thinking so, but there is so much more to Sao Paolo than this – and luckily for us we spent the week staying with wonderful hosts, Miriã and Fernando, a couple from Sao Paolo that we met on their honeymoon in Pucon in Chile.

Whilst we waited for the Indian Embassy in Sao Paolo to process our visas we stayed very busy.  We spent time exploring the city centre and old town - the Modern Art museum in particular had an excellent Lucien Freud exhibition which we loved, as well as a superb buffet café downstairs, and the municipal food market was an amazing market, a real food lover’s paradise.  We even found a bottle of Ardbeg in here (!) as a gift for our hosts.  The parks across the city are also lovely in the main, and very well kept.  We were particularly proud of ourselves for negotiating the difficult journey on buses and metros from Fernando and Miriã’s house into town, though the 45 minute journey, standing, on a very crowded bus at 40°C was not something we’d like to repeat anytime soon!

We had a fabulous dinner and karaoke night with Miriã and Fernando in the Japanese district Liberdade (Sao Paolo has the largest Japanese community in the world outside of Japan) where they really take the karaoke concept to town – a massive stage, dancing, even a whooping crowd, it feels a little like performing at a gig!

Miriã also took us into the town centre to see the Christmas decorations and experience the party atmosphere of Augusto street (like the Brazilian version of Soho) with a huge street party vibe – we’ve never seen so many people drunk in the street on an average evening before, apart from perhaps Salvador!

Without doubt the highlight of the week though was the traditional Brazilian “churrasco” we were treated to at Fernando’s parents’ house.  An all-day affair with singing and guitar playing and *plenty* of meat (even the salad was a chicken salad!) we absolutely loved it – particularly Fernando’s dad’s “special Caprinha’s” made with vodka, lime and milk.  Gorgeous.

In the end we were sad to leave – we had a great week, but with Indian Visas in hand it was time to head off and back to Rio for our last few days in South America.
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