Brazilian Hospitality in São Paulo
Trip Start Dec 29, 2012
87Trip End Jun 29, 2013
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The bus took 10 hours overnight and we arrived in São Paulo at 8.30am. Eduardo, our host was not arriving in São Paulo until the afternoon so we had time to kill. At first we sat in the bus station but after about an hour decided to get some breakfast. We took the metro to Santa Cruz, following the directions to Eduardo's apartment. We stopped at a restaurant near the station and had a bigger breakfast than expected; in Brazil food comes with rice and chips with nearly every meal! After eating we decided to walk to the park. The walk was a lot longer than we expected and we had to stop for a rest as our backpacks were feeling decidedly heavy. As we neared the park a young lady stopped her car to ask us if we were ok and knew where we were going. It turned out that the road we had been walking down was not the safest for non-locals to be walking around on! We were very surprised about how nice it was for the lady to stop to speak to us; we assured her we knew where we were going and that we were meeting a friend. About 5 minutes after this we arrived at the park and it was sheer relief to drop our bags. Not long after we sat down another lady came over to us to remind us to put sun lotion on as the sun in São Paulo can be very strong despite the cloud! You could tell we were British as we were surprised again about how friendly people were being to us! We sat in the park for about an hour updating our journals when the message arrived from Eduardo to say his flight had landed.
We flagged down 2 taxis and took the 5 minute journey to his house. I was in a taxi with Megan and Lucy and we didn't have the address on us as Zeb had given the driver the directions before getting in to his taxi. She found the road but couldn't remember the number. Expecting the others to wait outside for us we got out and decided to walk up and down to the building as the taxi driver said the road was very short and only 2 blocks. We walked up and down with no luck; we asked the security guards at a couple of the apartment buildings if they had seen some other backpackers but they hadn't. We stopped at a cafe with wi-fi to message Zeb and Eduardo to ask them where to go. Thankfully they responded very quickly. It turned out that the taxi driver was wrong and the road went on longer than she said, and we had to walk further up. Eventually we found the apartment, it was on the 5th floor and looked almost like a show home it was lovely and in a very nice part of the city!
After showering we decided to head back to the park to explore. Parks in South American cities seem to all be extremely large affairs with many things to do inside them, the one in São Pualo is 160 hectares and contains 2 museums and a planetarium. It didnt take that long to walk to the park but as it was so big it took ages to find the museums, by which time they had closed! So we missed out there. As we walked back to the apartment we got a little lost and ended up in a part of the park we hadn't been at before. There were lots of outdoor gyms and lots of people working out. Eventually we found our way out and headed back to the apartment to make some dinner.
Dinner was a vegetable curry and we accidentally made a mountain of rice! After dinner we watched a film called The Experiment which was quite creepy (based on the psychology study from the 70s where they simulated the prison environment). When the film had finished a few of Eduardo's friends had arrived for some drinks with him. We hung out with them for a couple of hours and got some ideas of what to do in São Paulo in the morning. Eventually, worn out we went to sleep.
Up early the next day, Eduardo became our personal tour guide for the day. First, we stopped at the local bakery where we had a sweet whole meal roll toasted in butter and with a cream cheese spread. It's very popular here and tasted lovely. In the bakery they had lots of lovely looking cakes and it was very tempting to buy one. When we had finished breakfast we started walking to the bus stop. It was miles away, we were going to visit a museum in a different part of town. Eduardo said that we would only be on the bus for two stops before getting off so we decided that we would just keep walking. What we didn't realise was just how far we would end up walking! An hour and a half later, having seen various districts of the city including the richest and the business district, we eventually made it to the Mube museum. Here, there was a graffiti exhibition we had been recommended to go see. It was very small and definitely not worth our crazy long walk! Some of the street art was good but the rest of it was just a bit wacky and not my type of thing.
After the museum we took the bus to downtown São Paulo where we visited a famous food market. It was huge and in a lovely big building with stained glass windows. Inside we stopped for lunch and ate some fried food very popular in Brazil. I had a chicken filling though traditionally the parcel should be filled with dried cod. It's wrapped in some kind of pastry and fried. Very yummy and big! After the food market we had a look around some of the shopping streets nearby aware that it was threatening to rain.
We took the bus back to Eduardo's apartment. Whilst waiting at the bus stop we had some fresh juice for 1 real. Very refreshing. Then the rain came. It's a very tropical rain and reminded me of the downpour in Thailand. Luckily the bus finally turned up not long after the rain started. It was packed out as it was rush hour and we had to stand our whole journey. It got a little stressful as even though there was no space and no-one was getting off, the bus still stopped to let more people on and they kept pushing in to the smallest of places. I am so glad I don't have to do that every day.
Once back at the apartment the girls went to Starbucks to use the wi-fi so that we could organise our onward trips from São Paulo. Me and Megan tried to book our bus to Paraty but couldn't do it online as we don't have Brazilian I.D, so we decided to ask Eduardo to help us when we got back. After a pit stop at the supermarket to buy some wine we headed back to the apartment to find it empty. Zeb and Eduardo had gone out. We presumed they'd gone for dinner and would be back soon enough. We opened our wine and 3 hours later the two guys finally showed up when we were all a little drunk and dancing around the living room. Two of Eduardo's friends also came round but no-one made a decision on where to go so we never went out and instead spent the night drinking in the apartment.
The next morning the girls were up first very early and still a bit drunk. We went back to the bakery to try and order the same thing as we had the day before. It didnt work out that way. We instead ended up with some bread with a type of cheese in the middle of it. We ate anyway but were disappointed as it wasn't as nice as the day before. When we got back to the apartment the guys had disappeared again! We had to resort to sitting outside the door as we didnt have the spare key with us and the security guard didnt have another. Shortly after, the security guard came up with someone who could speak English to suggest we wait downstairs in the lobby as there are sofas there and it would be more comfortable.
So, we went to sit downstairs. And within minutes one of Eduardo's friends and her daughter arrived. They called Eduardo for us to find out where he was. He was at the bakery we had just been at but we don't know how he got there as we didnt see him on the way or while we were there! We collected the key from Eduardo and let ourselves back in to the apartment. When Eduardo came back he said we were going to go to a street carnival. We got ready as quickly as we could but didn't leave for another 2 hours! Time keeping here doesn't really work well! In that time Eduardo helped us book out bus to Paraty and we waited for more of his friends. Eventually, we were ready to go.
We got into a couple of Eduardo's friends cars and made the journey to Villa Madalena. When we arrived the streets were packed with people drinking beer. There was very little space to move and it was extremely hot. And rather stupidly there was a stream of cars trying to get through the throng when it would have been far quicker and easier to find an alternative route...There was some music on for a while but it was a strange experience that as Eduardo said is only enjoyable when drunk. We stopped at a nearby restaurant for some chips which took an excessively long time because it was so busy. When we were finished we visited a bar called The Mango Tree, which sits under the biggest mango tree. It was a lovely place. We had to sit inside, however, as the rain started minutes after we got there. We waited out the rain and then got back in the cars and went to our second carnaval party of the day.
This was the one we were most looking forward to. Eduardo's friend had invited us to the VIP section as his father was the one to organise the event. It was a mini pre-carnaval parade with local community samba groups dancing. It was so much fun to see some real samba. We hung out with Eduardo and his friends who were very insistent that we "move our bodies". The girls tried to teach us how to samba. They do it so quickly and make it look so easy. It's not easy. It's so hard! Very difficult to pick up.
Then came the highlight of our day. We were all given some shirts that meant we could join the last bloco for the parade. So we danced an English version of samba down the street with the locals. It took about half an hour and was brilliant fun. We wanted to go again as soon as we had finished but were disappointed to find it was the last one of the day. The parade has got us very excited for the bigger version in Rio!
After the parade ended we went out to a hamburger place for a midnight snack. It was an expensive hamburger but tasted good and it was nice to sit with a large group of people having fun. After the burgers we went back to the apartment one last time for a few short hours of sleep as we had to be up at 7am to get ready and make it to São Paulo bus station for our journey to Paraty.