Published: April 2nd 2008March 30th 2008
We ended up staying almost a week in Sao Paulo. Our central location made it easy to get around and to get out of the city. To us it seemed like a spacious and more modern version of Buenos Aires, but without the tango and steak!
At the heart of the city is the Edificio Altino Arantes
, Sao Paulo’s answer to the Empire State Building. It is known locally as the Santander Tower and previously as the Banespa Tower after its current and former owners, both banks. It took us three attempts to go up to the viewing platform. The first two frustrated efforts were impossible because of large groups of schoolchildren! On our third try the weather was glorious and we were happy to have waited.
Two lifts (you change on the 26th floor) take you up to the 35th story then you climb up some stairs to the viewing platform 161m above the ground. You get a full 360 degree view of the city and, smog permitting, the surrounding mountains. We were even above some of the helicopters ferrying businessmen around! Downstairs in the atrium is an enormous crystal chandelier weighing in at 1.5 tonnes.
our first day in SP there seemed to be a policeman’s convention going on. Nobody seemed to know why, but hundreds of police bikes and cars were gathered together and it made quite a spectacle, especially when the cars all put their flashing lights on!
The city’s Cathedral is pretty big too. The surrounding Praca de Se is full of fountains. The police were struggling to control a group of students who had stripped off and were getting very wet. It seems odd to celebrate going back to school/uni this way. As we went in we saw a group of trainee priests coming out. I wish I had had my camera handy as there must have been 10 or 15 of them in black gowns and white dog collars. There was a strange sight as we came out though, an apparently headless man! Ok, maybe it was just the way he was sitting, but look at the photo and judge for yourself!!
There is certainly a variety of architectural design in the city too. Along Avenida Paulista you see a few sights. To us, the main art gallery was an ugly building, but no doubt many people find
it attractive. Nearby is the Parque Siqueira Campos
where you can retreat from the sun into the shade of the thousands of trees on this city block. It was nice for a wander but, as we left, we were in for a shock. Quite used to being told about thieves and robbers on every street just waiting to pounce on you, we were surprised when we were approached by three policemen and a policewoman. We expected to be given advice (yet again!) about how unsafe these places are, but instead we were searched having to turn our backs and raise our hands whilst they rummaged through our bags. We were not amused!!
We also walked out to the Brazilian British Centre in Pinheiros, home of the British Council and the BBC. In there we made good use of their library to catch up on news from home in printed form. As Trish keeps saying, it’s not the same reading it online! We also went to their pub, Drakes Bar, which serves a wonderful IPA (Indian Pale Ale), the sort of British beer Russ has been missing so much!!
Getting around the city isn’t easy and it
isn’t hard. It’s just that some of the things you might want to see are a long way away and the Metro system doesn’t yet extend everywhere. Be prepared for some walking and some crowded buses as well as the trains.
There are more photos below