Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sao Paulo - Brazil

I spent about 3 days in Sao Paulo during my Brazil visit. First one on 24th December when I arrived in SP at GRU airport from San Francisco.

From GRU airport I head directly to the "Okupe" youth hostel near Vila Mariana metro station. Unlike you would imagine reading Wikitravel/wikipedia or travel guides going to SP downtown from GRU airport isn't the toughest thing in the world. Often you would hear recommendation of traveling taking a taxi which would have costed me about 85 Reals (~50 USD).
I anyways decided to take public transport as it looked decent and safe enough. The bus from Airport takes you to Tatuape Metro station for 3.55 Reals taking about 30-40 minutes. Then you can go to where-ever you want (and can) by Metro for 2.80 Reals. Overall 1.5 hours of transit time is a good upper limit

A word about the metro: Unlike some other city metros like Paris, UK, the Metro ticket price is fixed for any trip, irrespective of number of stations and transfers you have to take to reach your destination. Sweet isn't it ? zero confussion and very efficient. You can also buy a Unico card which comes for zero cost but minimum 15 Real initial credit and works for buses (and provides some discount on them).

Anyways, the Okupe hostel is pretty nice and close to Vila Mariana metro station. In the evening while going for the CouchSurfer's "Sem-familia" meeting the guy at the reception suggested me a walk along the Ave. Paulista to see the Christmas decorations, and I was very thankful to him for suggesting so. The buildings were pretty nicely decorated. Besides the photos I took a video too. Definitely recommended.



From Brazil-Sao Paulo




From Brazil-Sao Paulo




From Brazil-Sao Paulo


Next on was the first Brazilian dinner at Bella Paulista, I was imagining that would be Pasteries but not so I could find great dinner options (well for veggies anything more than 1 option is great :D). I ordered Pasta and liked it. We then had the "secret santa" game, now I don't know how its done elsewhere but here it meant we all pool in our gifts and then one person picks the name and whosever name is picked up gets to choose a gift, pretty interesting, everyone would try to guess the gift by weight, sound. Now I have never really celebrated Christmas (very strange why) so I definitely enjoyed every moment of this.



From Brazil-Sao Paulo




From Brazil-Sao Paulo


After the dinner we headed to some bar/pub, but most were closed. Eventually we hoped 2-3 cheap bars on the road side and selected one. I was not too keen on just sitting at one place and wanted to go to some place with music and dancing but decided to hang around, it turned out great. We must have reached the right bar by about 11 PM or so. Then the beer started pouring in and much as I remember the drinks continued till about 3 AM. I realized one thing you can definitely bet on a Brazilian's beer drinking capacity to be very high.



From Brazil-Sao Paulo




From Brazil-Sao Paulo


Next morning/afternoon, I decided to try the Ibirapuera park before heading to Airport for Brasilia. I followed the directions for a bit, found empty roads with loads of terrible(scary) graffiti and quickly decided to confirm at a nearby shop. Language barrier kicked in and ultimately I gave up.

-- After returning from Paraty --
I spent 2 more days in SP at the end of my trip. I knew that the city has lots of places to see and I can definitely finds things to do for 2 days.

For the first day, I went to Google's office in SP to make sure I have a laptop for my return stop-over at Mexico city airport for 14 hours. The office is on the Faria Lima avenue which is remarkably different from the rest of city, in some sense its like Greater SP which developed recently and is mostly commercial buildings.



From Brazil-Sao Paulo




From Brazil-Sao Paulo


In the evening I went on to attend the CouchSurfer's mid weekely meeting at Brigederia. Being slightly late and rainy I decided to take a taxy and realized very soon that dishonesty in cabbies exist in Brazil too. The guy quickly figured that I don't speak Portuguese and even with written address he won't feed it in the GPS but rather ask me how to go (fooling around). He drove me in a loop and was heading in wrong direction of road (Taking Google maps direction idea was a good thing). I asked him to pullover and walk by myself.

As the guide book says and locals concur, Av. Paulista and some streets around are pretty safe and active even late in the evening.

The CS event again went on till about 4 AM or so and then some of us with no agenda for next day spend another 30-40 minutes outside the restaurant before going home. As I had discovered by this time its very Brazilian to party up to 5 AM.

Next day my friend Jakeline joined me for a tour of the "Praca da Sé" and nearby places in the downtown, including Theatro muncipal, Cathredral Sé and famous Edificio Italia.

Cathedral sé is remarkably beautiful and magnificent. Its so grand that I was not able to take one proper shot from inside so as to cover a lot of the church in it.


From Brazil-Sao Paulo




From Brazil-Sao Paulo




From Brazil-Sao Paulo


We went to the Edificio Italia to see the view of city from top, but by 4:30 PM they won't allow you to go up until you dine in the costly roof top restaurant, you can catch some great views from the penultimate floor though:


From Brazil-Sao Paulo


My search for the magnet from Brazil wasn't very successful one but eventually at a Mall we found at least basic Brazilian magnets. The dream of finding a shirt with some good Portuguese message remains un-accomplised during this trip.

As I was warned by a friend 24th/25th isn't a great time to see the city in action as most places are closed.

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