Sao Paulo

Trip Start Jan 17, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2009

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Sao Paulo,
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So we couchsurfed in Sao Paulo for the first time, Hugo (our host) has been kind enough to send us a detailed map and instructions of how to get from the bus station to his local metro station. It was rush hour so we knocked into the Paulistas on their way to work, as we were carrying our massive backpacks. When we got to the Clinicas metro station , Hugo and his flatmate were waiting at the turnstiles to meet us, we recognised them easily, Hugo was wearing the same hat as in his profile picture. They then showed us the way to their apartment, it was located in the district of Pinheiros, which is a nice part of Sao Paulo, they lived on the 6th floor of an apartment building, like most Paulistas do, when you look out of the window all you see is tower blocks as far as you can see, most of them are extremly ugly, so you can say that Sao Paulo is definetly not a beautiful city. We met Hugo and Fabio's other flatmate, Francisco, who was feeling sick and home from work. Fabio and Hugo were both computer programmers, and Francisco is a broker, their flat was definetly a bachelor pad, we had an air bed in their living room, all the boys were very welcoming and let us you their laptops to go on the internet. After we settled in, we all went down to the local supermarket, as we wanted to cook the lads a meal, to say thanks for having us, we bought all the food to cook spaghetti bolognese, then had some breakfast at the cafe in the supermarket, I found out that I really love one of the Brazilian breakfast staples, pan de queizo (badly spelt) , which is in cheese bread, basically it is a cheese puff, very tasty, but Brazilian breakfasts are not great, this is the only good thing about them.
Anyway when we got back , we found that their oven did not work properly, it did not bother any of the guys one bit as they lived on pizzas and other fast food. (and lots of alcohol, in the case of Hugo, vodka, straight). We set off to check out the centre of the city, around the Se , which the name of the big church and of the surrounding district, to be frank, it is a bit of a dump, we did not feel it was nice place to walk around, there were a lot of homeless people just hanging around, the buildings themselves were quite rundown. We both did visit another area, called Liberdade, this the Asian area of the city, where there are a lot of Japanese, Chinese and Korean immigrants, needless to say there are lots of ethnic food restaurants around the streets, Daniella made the effort to get up early on the Sunday morning and go to the market, the street food was apparently brilliant, she had gyoza etc. That sunday, Francisco's parents had been kind enough to invite us to a famiy barbecue at their house out in the countryside surrounding Sao Paulo. It was a truely a family affair, and all Francisco's extended family were present, grandparents, cousins, uncles, cousins, random couchsurfers....everybody was welcome. True Brazilian style, we ha a was great. I think I will miss buffets when I leave Brazil (eventually), I have never eaten so many buffets so often, cant be good for my waistline! Everyone was very friendly towards us, Franciscos dad gave us cachaca to drink, and Francisco mixed us some good caipirinhas. It was great because in Sao Paulo, we managed to hook up with Flora and Lucas who we had met at the new years eve party in Buenos Aires, they lived nearby to Hugo, so one night we met up for pizza, this place was slightly different to your normal pizzeria, they had sweet pizzas too. So after sharing 3 pizzas between the 6 of us, we had 2 more for desert , one strawberry and one chocolate, it was a little more like a crepe with a mound of cream and strawberry sauce on, but so good.
So how would I sum up our first couchsurfing was great, apart from the obvious benefit of not having to pay for accommodation, we both felt that we got to see the city from more of a locals viewpoint, rather than staying in hostels, we also got to meet and hang out with all the boys friends, girlfriends and family, which is a great way to meet locals, when you are a foreigner in a city, people in Brazil are really friendly and keen to meet and engage with foreigners, which is a good thing for travellers. Hugo and his flatmates are all good guys and we'd be happy to return the favour if any of them ever came to London. Sao Paulo is a place that a lot of other travellers that we met missed off their list of places to visit in Brasil, I can understand why, its not laden with sights, and its not beautiful like Rio, but the people are friendly and we had a good time there so I would recommend, one thing, it is massive, 16 million live there, so 1 and a half times the population of London.
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