Sao Paulo...Where The Cultures At

Sao Paulo Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 45 › view all entries
After more Lonely Planet fibbing about the length of a bus journey I arrived in Sao Paulo, unsure as to how sketchy the neighbourbood I was staying in I hoped a cab (again hindsight is wonderful as it was actually really safe and I could have taken the metro). The taxi driver was a chatty fello and we muddled along with my limited Portuguese and him speaking slowly, thankfully my limited understanding got me out of an awkward situation as I almost found myself with a new Brazilian boyfriend...dear god.
The hostel I went to was booked through my place in Paraty and wasn't in my guidebook, no matter as it turned out to be one of the best hostels I've stayed in in Brazil, god bless you Limetime! I loved all of it except for Gringo the little vicious git of a dog who bit me, apparently he has short-man complex, after threats of violence against him ala the dog in Something About Mary, he seemed to leave me alone (I really do love animals honest!).
Niemeyer's Edificio Coban


After the beautiful weather in Paraty Sao Paulo was a little bit chilly to say the least, the mountains that ring it in stop temperatures from being stifling in summer, unlike Rio, but that also means it gets a little chillier in winter. Sao Paulo doesn't have Rio's beauty but it certaintly has a cultured, classy feel to it, for me Sampa is the Melbourne to Rio's Sydney. Paulistas are a well healed bunch who know how to do great food (they
have amazing Sushi and Italian due to the large immigrant population and have the largest Japanese poulation outside of Japan), nightlife,
high-end shopping, museums and galleries...my kinda town!
I had originally only intended to pass through Sampa to head South as I'd received mixed reviews about the place but as I'd got time to explore I'd make the most of it and get to know it better.
Niemeyer's Edificio Coban
I'd also hoped that I'd get to see the city through the eyes of a local as my friend Joel had hooked me up to meet his friend Elcio, that didn't go according to plan but I still enjoyed Sampa nonetheless. I seemed to find other people in the hostel who felt the same way and most people were staying at least three days if not weeks.

I spent day one exploring Sampa's historic centre, the highlight of which were Neimeyer's Edificio Coban and the huge cathedral (it holds
around 8000 reportedly) in Praca de Se with it's huge and highly decorative stained glass windows. I didn't make it top of the BANESPA building, which is reknowned for it's impressive panaromic views over SP, as I didn't know which one it was exactley and hadn't realised it was getting close to 3pm which is when they stop letting people up.
A cafe inside Edificio Coban
I was also starting to feel ill at this point so I didn't have the energy to get out my phrasebook and ask and limped back to the hostel, skipping out on the area known as Luz that I'd intended to visit later.
After a well deserved rest I was feeling heaps better and felt it was time to sample what Sampa had to offer in terms of Sushi. Wanting to explore one Sampa's more exclusive neighbourhoods Jardins I picked a reasonably priced offering from the Bible, jumped on the metro and off I went. It was a bit of a mission from the metro station but I didn't mind as it meant I got to window shop in all of the upmarket shops the area had to offer, 20 mins later I got to the address only to find the damn place closed for rennovation - has there been a decision in the national psyche here to start refurbishment projects this year? Who knows.
Dejected and realising I perhaps didn't have the right  attire or budget for some of the other venues I'd passed I thought I'd head home and maybe find something cheaper (i was however refusing to go to the bakery again near the hostel as I'd already been twice in the last 24hrs and it was to become my regular breakfast haunt during my stay),
luck would have it that I stumbled over another Sushi joint about  3 streets away from the metro, result. I pretty much had the place to myself other than one other customer, not always a good sign but the Sushi was amazing but in true Brazilian fashion the portion size was HUGE, the sushi chefs must have understood what I said when the final plate came out and I exclaimed "holy shit!" as they started laughing, to make it worse they wouldn't let me take a doggie bag so I had to force myself to eat as much as I could before I felt sick! Home Jeeves for a sleep after that lot.
Decorative lamppost outside the Teatro
..well after free drinks at the hostel of course.

Day two a group of us decided to check out Park Ibirapuera as there were a group of museums situated there that were supposed to be impressive both for their architecture (Neimeyer again) and the exhibits themselves. Everyone else went to see the exhibits at the Afro-Brasilian museum while I wandered off to Neimeyer myself out. In an hour i managed to get around the outside of all the buildings and the inside of a few and get moaned at three times in the process; once for taking pictures inside a gallery, this I never understand why staff in galleries have an issue with providing you aren't directly photographing the art, secondly I got moaned at by a security guard outside the Auditorio for wait for it 'leaning' on the building, something which I found both irritating and ironic given that Brazilians seem happy to pollute their country but leaning on a building isn't ok, daft if you ask me.
Yet another Teatro being refurbed
Incident three was more of an act of surly behaviour than getting moaned at, I asked if i could step
over the velvet rope in the Auditorio to take a quick photo, to which I got a rather abrupt 'no', so I made the point of standing as close to the rope as possible and leaning over it as far as I could, what a rebel eh? The Auditorio is the newest building in the park and was easily my favourite, the entrance to this wedge shaped little number was define by a bright red metal canopy that looked like a dragons tongue flicking out, there was also an Anish Kapoor-esque sculpture inside that reflected off the polished concrete floor giving the whole entrance space a comforting red glow.
The plan after the park was to head back to the hostel then up the BANESPA building but again by the time we got back to the hostel we were pushing it for time so some of the group stayed at the hostel while Hannah and I went to check out the Latin America Memorial.
The cathedral in Praca de Se
Another Neimeyer group of buildings the complex consists of galleries, exhibition spaces and concert venues. We got to see a really impressive photography exhibition about Buenos Aires in the 1950s/60s and some giant sculptures and paintings that had been commisioned to celebrate the people of Latin America. The buildings themselves weren't quite as impressive as those in the park but still worth a visit.
So I'd managed to sample the culture, architecture, food and ambience of this great city but no joy with the nightlife as I'd missed a big party night the night I arrived and people were still recovering, plenty of time left on the trip yet so I wasn't too disappointed. I maybe timing the weather right but I'm certainly not hitting the cities/ party places at the weekends since heading South and right on cue my next stop is Curitiba for the weekend, doh!
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Niemeyers Edificio Coban
Niemeyer's Edificio Coban
Niemeyers Edificio Coban
Niemeyer's Edificio Coban
A cafe inside Edificio Coban
A cafe inside Edificio Coban
Decorative lamppost outside the Te…
Decorative lamppost outside the T…
Yet another Teatro being refurbed
Yet another Teatro being refurbed
The cathedral in Praca de Se
The cathedral in Praca de Se
The whopping interior of the cathe…
The whopping interior of the cath…
Beautifully decorated pulpit.
Beautifully decorated pulpit.
The cathedral as viewed from Praca…
The cathedral as viewed from Prac…
Banco de Sao Paulo
Banco de Sao Paulo
Inside the art deco bank
Inside the art deco bank
Another of Niemeyers buildings, t…
Another of Niemeyer's buildings, …
A crazy cast sculpture in Park Ibi…
A crazy cast sculpture in Park Ib…
Sculpture close up
Sculpture close up
Niemeyers newest building in Park…
Niemeyer's newest building in Par…
Crazy installation inside the Audi…
Crazy installation inside the Aud…
Latin America Memorial (Niemeyer a…
Latin America Memorial (Niemeyer …
Sao Paulo
photo by: Eric