Published: October 25th 2007August 17th 2007
I think that if we didn't have friends in Sao Paulo we would have had a hard time in this huge sprawling city. 20 million people in the greater metropolitan area. You can drive for ever and still have a view in all directions of high rises to the horizon. It was scary big.
We were staying in the district of Precizes in the spare room of Ana and Daniel, on the 5th floor of a nice apartment block, with their two lovely dogs. They took us all over the place during our weekend visit.
We had our first experience of valet parking in Sao Paulo. Ana and Daniel took us to a bar and restaurant on the 70 something floor of a building so we could see the nights lights. It was beautiful! But we didn't eat or drink there. They wanted R$15 each just to take a look at the view! We could see enough from the doorway.
We did a lot more eating in Sao Paulo. In the last blog I mentioned the churrascarias of Brazil. We went to Fogo de Chão
which is one of the most expensive restaurants in town at R$80 (US$40)
per person but it was fantastic. Huge salad bar, an astounding variety of meat including blood sausage and partridge, and the service was the best ever. The waiters in their baggy trousers and crisp white shirts (gaucho style) would whip your plate away when it was empty and give you a clean one. They were all smiley and very attentive.
During the weekend we also had a traditional feijoada (beans and meat), pastels (yummy pastries) and tapioca pancakes that you can have with sweet or savoury fillings.
We were taken to see a music and dance performance put on by Meninos do Morumbi
. It is a favela (slum) project where the kids from the favela are the performers and they have toured internationally. 2000 kids a day get fed there. The kids are aged 4 to 18 and can only attend the project if they are in school. The performance we saw was a rehearsal but there were others watching. The dance teachers and the best students were in front with dozens of kids in the back doing their best to follow. It was an amazing experience. We even saw a bit of Capoeira, the martial art style
We visited the Museu Paulista where there was lots about the history of Sao Paulo. The building itself was very beautiful and we managed to arrive on a free day. A long walkway leading down to a monument in front of the museum was busy with people walking dogs, skateboarding and enjoying a walk in the sun. We visited some other historic sites - the market where they offer a rich selection of cheese and ham and salami, lots of things tied in bundles and hung from the top of the shops, even bottles of olive oil - and Pátio do Colégio where the city was founded in 1554.
We had a very interesting drive through a safari park located in the city. You stay in the car. Sometimes your windows are taped because you are not allowed to wind down your windows. They have some aggressive monkeys. The lions and tigers are no longer free because of some trouble they had.
On Sunday night we were invited to a cocktail party. It wasn't organised by Ana by they were a client of her PR agency. It was the launch of the Brazilian ski team
sponsored by Swiss Air. The skiers were still training in Chile and there was no mention of the purpose of the evening but we had a really good time. Free nibbles and as much wine and whiskey as we desired. It was held in an Italian restaurant and they were also serving plates of pasta, but we were already stuffed with nibbles. We enjoyed a really long chat with Ana's brother and also talked to her colleagues.
We had one slightly disturbing experience in Sao Paulo. We had heard a lot about the motoboys (not sure if that is spelt right) who are motorbike delivery guys. They ride like the clappers, often getting killed, and some of them are robbers. We heard stories of them pulling along side cars, pulling a gun and demanding money. Anyway, we were stopped at a set of lights and in front of us a guy pulled on the footpath on his motorbike. And he put his hands up. Then we saw behind him a cop on a motorbike pointing his gun at the guy. Other cops arrived. Not surprisingly, Ana reversed the car a bit until the lights changed then we sped off
around the corner.
Despite the gun incident we had fantastic time in Sao Paulo and are very grateful to Ana and Daniel for showing us the city.
There are more photos below