Big falls, big city, big nation - big impact?

Sao Paulo Travel Blog

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A natural wonder (Iguacu Falls; Brazil)

Now here's a novel proposition - getting from one nation to another, luggage in tow, as a foot passenger, and here's precisely how. The eastern end of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay is precisely where the shops run out and border control exists, whereas the western end of Brazil's Foz Do Iguacu is where the city starts and the border control also exists. What connects the two cities is the so-called 'Friendship Bridge', and crossing this bridge in order to gain an exit and an entry stamp is far easier on foot, and quicker if the slow-moving traffic is anything to go by. Foz do Iguacu has probably been deecribed by guidebooks a-plenty as 'the gateway to Iguacu falls' and commented that 'you are hardly likely to come here for the city itself'. That said, as an introduction to an itinerary around Brazil, it more than sufficed, and the Falls themselves, reachable by bus, are a huge tourist magnet which appeared to require more time than this traveller's compressed schedule allowed for.

Paulista Avenue (Sao Paulo; Brazil)
A mighty fine way to get to grips with the sheer volume of water tumbling down these expansive waterfalls is to take a speedboat ride, preferably the 'wet one' which allows you the privilege of getting a soaking under a section of the waterfalls, which is as close contact as you are likely to get with one of the modern day's seven wonders. The falls are so vast that it probably does more justice if you also visit them from the Argentinian side, but in a travel schedule which only allows for snapshot experiences, this brief (and soaking wet) dip into the ether was to be considered as good as it got for an opening salvo to an itinerary around Brazil. And so onto Sao Paulo, and a city of superlatives in that this is the largest city in the southern hemisphere, and has very many elements and features of a booming metropolis which make it feel like a real powerhouse.
The municipal stadium (Sao Paulo; Brazil)
The city's NewYorkesque feel manifests itself most along Paulista Avenue, where skyscrapers line the way, and terrific photo opportunities can be had, with some surreal effects of opposite-side buildings reflected in the mirrored panels of shiny new-looking towering buildings. Walk the full length of Paulista Avenue to get this urban fix, and then the highlights of the rest of the city can be discovered at your own pace. The National football museum, located fairly close to the northern end of Paulista Avenue is designed to be the final word in the history and present day circumstances of the beautiful game, and the interactive features, which include a 'beat the virtual goalie' simulator are designed to make the visitor feel more absorbed into the sport and all its complexeties.
Liberdade, the Japanese quarter (Sao Paulo; Brazil)
In a nation where football appears to be classed as a religion, and Brazilian footballers are just as much household names as any other famous Brazilians, this 'journey through the football ages' will no doubt appeal to any visitor seeking out this branch of sporting culture. Elsewhere in SP, in amongst the ubiquitous concrete development, you'll find gems such as the Se cathedral, Our Lady of Brazil church, Ibirapuera Park, the Municipal Theatre, and so on and so forth. If you enjoy areas where ethnic communities appear to have established themselves to a sizeable cityscape-changing effect, then look no further than the area known as Liberdade, where Sao Paulo's huge Japanese community has established a slice of the east where shops, restaurants, gardens and street features give the impression of other-worldliness, where Latin America appears to have gone Oriental, and cosmopolitanism is buffed to a new sheen. Elsewhere on the shopping front, the 'Mercado Municipal' has atmosphere and colour, and is well frequented, but is perhaps something of a tourist trap if prices are anything to go buy. For my money (and limited budget!), you are better off seeking out the myriad of options down tiny arcades snaking off Paulista Avenue, and if it is music which you crave, then be sure to set aside sufficient time to see the 'Galeria Do Rock', an entire 6 floors of rock, hip hop, metal, Brazilian and International music, interspersed with stores selling items ranging from T-shirts to accessories, and a fair range of goods in between. Leaving Sao Paulo after a flighty and fun-filled two days might lead the visitor to wonder what could possibly topple the city for the ultimate urban South American fix, but in a nation this developed and prominent, rest assured that the continent's premiermost economy has another trick or two up its sleeve....

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A natural wonder (Iguacu Falls; Br…
A natural wonder (Iguacu Falls; B…
Paulista Avenue (Sao Paulo; Brazil)
Paulista Avenue (Sao Paulo; Brazil)
The municipal stadium (Sao Paulo; …
The municipal stadium (Sao Paulo;…
Liberdade, the Japanese quarter (S…
Liberdade, the Japanese quarter (…
Sao Paulo
photo by: joesu