(August 5- 9 and August 18- 30, 2016)
Sao Paulo is Brazil’s work city, responsible for roughly a third of Brazilian GDP, and the 10th richest city in the world. Not the most touristic haven, but does offer impressive sights. We were staying with a lively, hospitable, local family, whom I got connected with through my aunt. They had a few sight suggestions besides what we already had on our list.
The first day we wanted to go check out Paulista Ave, where everything goes down. We got off the correct metro station, but obliviously ended up taking the wrong turn down the street and only saw a stone church worth of our walking efforts. Disappointed, we headed to Ibirapuera park. The enormous park has museums and an observatory on site. My guess is that more locals take advantage of the space than tourists. You can observe users working out, practicing a dance routine, training their Star Wars lightsaber skills, skateboarding, dog walking, and more. Pokémon Go was recently release in Brazil. Lots of youngsters were spending their Saturday afternoon strolling in the park in attempt of catching Pokémon. The children of our hosts kept asking if we played. Answering “no,” they continued on how we should since we walk so much anyways and can catch rarer Pokémon the further we walk. If I can sell my catches to other trainers for real money, playing might not be a bad idea.
Moving on from that thought. What else did we see? Entire Sao Paulo, from a skyscraper with free entry. The usual building is called Banespa, but that high-rise was closed for remodeling. So a stone’s throw away was the Predio Martinelli building. Not quite as tall, but gets the point across. While you are in Sé (region) for the tower, I would stop by the Sé cathedral that possesses flair. From the graffiti and increased numbers of homeless in this area, I would recommend exploring this area during daylight.
A good exploring day is Sunday. Every Sunday the city sections off parts of the road for bicyclists. Rent a bike and check off more sights in one day while exercising. We got our bikes from our hosts. One of the bikes had straps around the pedals and due to the weird bicycle construction one of us fell over when we spotted the largest rodents on earth. It wasn’t me…. Anyways, thanks to our excursion we finally got to see Paulista Ave with its true glory. Lots of performers and sellers tried their luck at attracting a crowd.
MASP (Museum of Art of Sao Paulo) is also on this avenue. I think they should call the museum ‘Sao Paulo Art Museum’ so the abbreviation is SPAM. Every Tuesday the museum entry is complimentary. The art is not mounted on the wall, but on easels all over, being artistic with the creative arrangement. The description of the art is located behind the piece. Because of the layout, the flow of the museum is rather nice.
We didn’t go to the museum until the second time in this city. Our flight to South Africa was from Sao Paulo. We had another WorkAway job lined up in Sorocaba, but the employers had to cancel because their vacation home was vandalized. So instead we spent more time here, spending the majority of our time planning upcoming countries. A few nights were spent at a hostel, few others at our previous hosts, and others at a couchsurfers home.
Couchsurfing.com is a website were people open up their homes to strangers to stay for free. Most stays usually are only few nights (around three), but totally depends on the hosts’ willingness. Surfers should carefully read potential hosts profile before submitting a request. You want to be sure that personalities will match up and that the host is safe. If the host accepts, ensure proper guest etiquette. Remember, hosts don’t want to be treated as a free hostel/hotel. Most usually look for some cultural knowledge exchange, want to hang out with you for a little bit, and get to know you. Excellent way to get insider knowledge of the country.
When we stayed with our initial host, they informed us of Brazilian culture and how Brazilian residents view the Olympic games that were held in Rio during our stay. We helped our host’s friend move into her new home nearby by unpacking and ripping out baby bushes bare handed hulk style. During breaks the friend gave insights on lingering effects of slavery. Very interesting topics.
Also interesting was attempting to crack a 60-min escape room. You get locked in a room and get 60 minutes to solve all the riddles and puzzles before the room “explodes” or “some murderer kills you.” Our first room was at a dead professor’s home who had evidence about a local gang. We had to unravel the clues to the evidence before the house got imploded. We exploded. And also died during our second challenge inside a bank room, but got much closer to the end by ourselves. So there is hope for us as we most likely will try more of these around the world.
Oh, and before I bow out, I can’t forget to mention the hookers. If you spend enough time in Sao Paulo, you’ll get to discover the sheer number of obvious hookers they have here. They don’t necessarily dress like hookers; they still wear jeans and t-shirts, but I caught on by observing their behavior. Even during daylight these women will stand on the sidewalk, closest to the road, and often have their purse hanging on a branch or object, waiting for some vehicle to stop and discuss the rates. Of places I’ve visited in Brazil, I mainly saw them in Sao Paulo.
Overall Sao Paulo was fun and I enjoyed the information we gathered here. After our first stay we moved on to Paraty, a colonial town. I’m looking forward to welcome you back to my blog with an unfortunate story.
Cost breakdown of Sao Paulo (16 days with total cost of $178.24. Average daily cost is $11.14.)
- Hostel: $19.27 (3 nights which incl. breakfast)
- Transportation: $75.63
- Buses: $60.52
- Metro: $15.11
- Food: $47.10
- Meals: $9.10 (3 meals)
- Groceries: $35.76
- Snacks: $2.24
- Activity: $36.24 (2 60-min escape rooms)