Street savvy in Sao Paulo
Trip Start Oct 09, 2009
121Trip End Oct 05, 2010
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It took some time to clear all the border formalities but we were soon on our way on the 17 hour journey to Sao Paulo
It was a fairly uncomfortable drive to Sao Paulo with our Brazilian neighbour frequently chatting loudly on the phone to her friends. Luckily the bus made up for the 3 hour delay and we arrived in Sao Paulo only half an hour after the scheduled arrival time. The first thing we noticed was how culturally diverse the population of the city was. The result of the flood of immigrants is clear, every colour of face was represented here.
We were on our guard as we arrived at the bus terminal, Sao Paulo is one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil after all. We had not booked any accommodation but had an idea of where to stay, but we headed to the tourist information desk to find out a bit more. The lady behind the desk was very helpful giving us recommendations on where was safest to stay within the city. We took a prepaid taxi to the area around Paulista Avenue to check into a hotel she had suggested
Ash found an place to stay a few blocks up the road. We had to walk a few blocks with our bags along a main road to get there. After our narrow miss, I was pretty nervous the whole way. Our room was not ready until midday so we decided to drop our bags in left luggage and head out to explore Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo was a huge metropolis, one of the biggest in the world. The skyline was dominated by high rises. We took the metro to the centre of town and walked around the atmospheric old centre filled with some grand buildings. We had a browse around the street market at Praca da Republica admiring the artwork on display at the multitude of stalls in the square. We then headed to the Praca del Se visiting the Teatro Municipal and enormous neo-gothic Metropolitan cathedral. A short walk from here was the Liberdade area, home to Sao Paulo’s large Asian community. As it was Sunday the Liberdade area was bustling with people visiting the weekly Asian street market. The streets were overflowing with stalls selling all manner of nick nacks, souvenirs and delicious food. We stopped for lunch and sampled some amazingly fresh and tasty Japanese and Chinese dishes - a welcome break from South American staples we had been eating for the last 4 months. One thing we noticed walking around, there seemed to be a lot of tramps, drug addicts or alcoholics on the streets and they had a menacing presence. It only felt safer because there were armed police on every corner.
By mid afternoon we were ready to head back to the hotel to shower and have a siesta. We went out in the Paulista area that evening and went to a fantastic neighborhood deli/diner style restaurant. There was a queue going out of the door but something told me it was going to be worth the wait. We were not disappointed, the extensive menu had so many delicious things to choose from.
We were keen to sample some of Sao Paulos famed nightlife but after our long bus journey and lack of sleep we were exhausted so decided to call it an early night, it was Sunday after all so things would have been pretty quiet on the nightlife front anyway. Whilst Sao Paulo lacks in natural beauty it is the cultural capital of Brazil with many museums and galleries. We were keen to hit the Brazilian coastline so the following morning we decided to move onto our next destination, Paraty.