From Sao Paulo with love
Trip Start Jun 17, 2009
8Trip End Jul 04, 2009
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In 2007, SP mayor Kassab banned all means of public advertising - billboards, subway ads, posters, shelter placements, etc
We stayed a few minutes away from the famous Paulista Avenue. We first visited the Liberdade area and were excited about this space as it is populated by all things Japanese - even the graffiti was inspired by traditional ukiyo-e painters like Sharaku. The main avenues were dotted with torii gates and people hawking ripped Okuribito DVDs, anime comics and Japanese porn. We aimed to visit the Museu da Imigracao Japonese - a museum tribute to the many Japanese immigrants but father time was against us. Instead, we settled for some yakisoba.
After Liberdade, we went to the Vila Maladena to check out the Beco do Batman alley of graffiti. You can view the photos of the infamous alleyway which houses some of the best international art in the world. The area itself was our favorite part of the Brazil we visited. It's hilly streets were filled with middle-to-upper class houses, motorcycle bars that spilled out onto the street and fashion and art boutiques. It emitted a good energy of a liberal, creative lot who welcomed the artwork found all over their concrete walls. We wandered around this area for hours and felt comfortable and part of the space rather than a tourist on top of it.
Lastly, we had a night cap at the Ruy Ohtake-designed Hotel Unique - a half-moon, submarine-like luxury hotel with an amazing rooftop bar overlooking all of Sao Paulo. Ohtake is the son of Japanese-Brazilian Tomie Ohtake - one of Brazil's most recognized artists (we wanted to visit her cultural center - a massive high-rise designed by her son but hadn't the time). Hotel Unique is astonishing and has been called one of the wonders of the modern world. If your wallet is friendly to its rather exorbitant rate, then I'd suggest staying there, especially in one of the outer rooms with the curved walls.