It has been some time since we have left Brazil but we have decided we would like to write a blog for every town we stayed in so we can get a pin on our map, so I'm going to back date a week or so to our time in Sao Paulo.
Every person we had spoken to, whether they lived, studied, or traveled there asked us why we were going to Sao Paulo and to avoid it - it was like it was plagued or something. We had to go through Sao Paulo anyway to get to our next destination, Foz Do Iguassu, so we decided to stay a couple of nights. I had always wanted to go to Sao Paulo mainly just to say I had been there but i was very glad we didn't listen to the critics.
21st Feb - We got up early to catch our 0930 bus (I know to you workers back at home this isn't early but since we are now 'bums' we don't get up early much), in true Brazilian fashion it turned up late and we probably left near 1015
. It was a six hour bus to Sao Paulo and the bus stopped a couple of times for refreshments and toilet breaks, one stop would have sufficed. We turned up at the huge Tiete bus terminal, which is the second largest terminal in the world! (According to Wikipedia) Thankfully there was a metro which runs into it so it was very easy to get to our hostel. We got off at Parada Inglesa station, quite ironic, and headed up the hill to our hostel. Our hostel was a lovely house which had been converted into a hostel, the family who ran it lived in the basement. It had a lovely feel to it and everything was easy. After meandering aimlessly around the supermarket not having a clue what we wanted to cook, but knew we couldn't stomach pasta again, i suggested we had our first bit of 'street food' as i had seen some stalls by the metro station. We had a meat kebab stick and a portion of fries - it was immense, and so incredibly cheap - I loved Sao Paulo right then. Back at the hostel we had met an English couple who had been traveling nearly a year and were heading back to Columbia for their last 8 weeks. We spent the night conversing with them before watching an episode of CSI (of all things! - at least I'm keeping my interest up in forensics - if only there was a cluedo style serial killer in Surrey)
22nd Feb - Today we headed into the Centro of Sao Paulo. We queued for a couple of hours to go up the Banespa building which is a building now owned by Santander
. It's Sao Paulo's answer to the Empire State Building. I thought I had read somewhere that it was the largest building outside of the United States so we got off the tube and pointed our head skywards expecting to see some mack off building but instead there was just normal skyrise sized buildings. We then saw a building we thought looked like the Empire State but we couldn't believe it was the Banespa building because it simply didn't seem big enough. Turns out it was the Banespa building and what I had actually read was that is <i>was </i>the largest building outside of the United states .... in 1947! You go up 32 floors in a lift with 5 other people before climbing the last five floors to the small 360deg observatory tower at the top. You are only allowed 5 minutes at the top and after queuing for 2 hours we really didn't think it would be worth it. It was however incredible. It wasn't a pretty sight like you get from the top of the Rockefeller building or St Peter's Basilica but it really put into perspective just how big the city was - 40km of buildings - there was no room for anything else! Apparently Sao Paulo has the same population as the whole of Australia!!!! We then headed for the Catedral da Se and got caught in a thunderstorm - the rain bucketed it down. We took refuge in the cathedral and awaited the rain to stop. Even the cathedral was huge - it's big enough to seat 8000 people. When the rain paused we headed for the Mercado municipal which is a building that reminded me of Newton Abbot train station (it was nothing like it - I must just be missing home) filled with fruit and veg stalls, spices, meat etc, it was cool to walk around, even on the way to the market there were stalls selling random stuff - I was even offered a chainsaw?!? We decided to head back after that and get more street food for dinner since it was so good ....
. and my chef is getting lazy!
23rd Feb - Today we went to the football museum to kill a few hours before our bus at 1830hrs. We got in for student prices - god bless these youthful faces! We played a bit of blind football which was amusing before heading around the large museum where everything was in Portuguese! It was OK but nothing special - maybe Garry should have written about this!
We headed back to the hostel and wanted MORE street food but our trusted meat kebab guys were not there!!!! We instead got a take away from the hostel - as you can see we are traveling healthily - this travel fat I had stored up before we came away in fear I wouldn't eat anything, is only getting bigger! We then headed for the bus terminal where we boarded the 1830 bus (which was early!!) to Foz do Iguassu - 17 hours away. The seats were 'semi cama' which means they recline a fair way then have leg stands, it was quite comfortable and I slept OK. The bus wreaked though and even with my blocked nose I could smell the toilet - bluergh!
So sao paulo was very different to the beach towns we had become accustomed to but I really liked it. Everything is super efficient - we never waited longer than 2 minutes for the metro (or food) and the people seemed a lot friendlier here, and best of all it was cheap. I certainly won't be putting people off visiting the place!
K x x x