Sao Paulo

Trip Start Jun 23, 2011
Trip End Aug 30, 2011

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Sao Paulo,
Sunday, July 3, 2011

We took a bus from Paraty to Sao Paulo on Friday and made our way to the Renaissance Sao Paulo (Thank you, Marriott points). The Renaissance is a very nice hotel - especially after four nights in hostels on beaches, which certainly have their charms, although heat is not one of them, and it got cold some nights. After that it was nice to curl up in the comfortable Marriott-style bed, turn the air to the exact temperature we wanted (or as close as we could get using the celsius-denominated thermostat) and head up to the 23rd floor lounge for free beers, wine, snacks, and - this is the first time we had this - even scotch and prosecco.

Sao Paulo is one of the five largest cities in the world, and it has a wide range of restaurants and cultural offerings. However, we didn't really try many of those things. When we travel our favorite parts are generally not the big cities - we get all we need of that at home. We usually like cool smaller towns, places with beaches or other great natural features to explore. Not that we don't love the occasional long weekend in another big city. But your mindset is so different on a long weekend, where expenses don't really matter, compared to a long trip like this one.

We walked around the neighborhood, Jardins, a bit. We went to an Irish pub in the area to watch the opening game of the Copa America - the soccer tournament for the championship of South America. It is in Argentina and it started on Friday. The opening game was a 1-1 tie between Argentina and Bolivia. The bar was kind of a scene, and we may have been the most interested of anyone there in the match. Our interest was held by a soccer drinking game that we developed during our last vacation, which was in Europe during the Euro in 2008. Basically, each player chooses one of the teams and you drink when ever anything happens - foul on your team? Drink. Corner kick for the other team? Drink. Yellow card for your team? Take three drinks. They show your team's coach on TV? Drink. And so on. The rules have been refined over the years, and it's a pretty entertaining way to watch a game.

The next day we met up with my friend Catliane, who lives here but started a secondment in Zurich the same day I did. She took us to Sao Paulo's most famous churrascuria, Fogo de Chao. (Yes, this is the same Fogo de Chao that has branches in the US. It started here in Sao Paulo and is still extremely popular. It’s pretty similar to its US cousins. There were some differences in how the meats that were offered – way more types of beef but less of other animals – and the caipirinhas were better, but overall it was pretty similar.) K-money and I had already discussed my need to go to a churrascuria in Brazil, and she had agreed to go. We had skipped it in Rio but planned to hit one up in Sao Paulo, so it worked out great that Catliane wanted to take us there.

 In case you don’t know, a churrascuria is a Brazilian barbecue where they bring around a huge variety of meat on skewers and serve you at your seat as long as you have your little placard turned to the green side. When you are done or if you just need a break, you turn it to the red side and they stop bringing the meats to your table.

They also have a pretty spectacular salad bar, so K was able to get her fill. And, because of peer pressure from me and not to be awkward since Catliane took us to a steakhouse, she ate a very small (like two bites) piece of filet mignon, and a whole (very thin) slice off the skewer of the picanha, which is my favorite thing at a churascurria. I was extremely impressed. She said she liked the filet better, though, which just goes to show that her meat tastes are not yet very refined.

The meal was great – the food, catching up with Catliane and remembering old times in Zurich like the first day there, our trips to IKEA, seeing Shakira, and other stuff. It was a fun afternoon and the most fun we had in Sao Paulo. On Sunday we go to the Iguacu falls – one of the largest waterfalls in the world (according to the Rough Guide, it makes Niagara look like "a ripple". We shall soon see.)
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Sarah on

Ha! We stayed at the same hotel. So enjoying your journal entries! XO

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