Sao Paulo – 19 -21 June 2011 & our South American Highlights

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June 21st 2011
Published: June 21st 2011
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We had a 4 ½ hour flight from Manaus to Sao Paul, watching 1 & ¾ movies, arriving at 9.00pm. Sao Paulo is a big city, the 3rd largest in the world after Tokyo and Jakarta. As soon as we collected our bags, we could tell this city was one of the most advanced cities in South America. The bus system alone, from the airport was sophisticated and a well oiled machine.

By a mixture of bus a taxi, we arrived at our hotel just before 11.00pm. On settling into our hotel, we were back in thick sheets, bar fridge, hot shower, flat-screen TV, drinking water from the taps and putting toilet paper in the toilet rather than in a waste paper basket. I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but pipes throughout South America can’t take paper disposed of in the way Australians are used to.

We had a cold beer in the hotel foyer before going to bed at 11.30pm. We didn’t wake until 9.00am as the room was very quiet. Breakfast was no longer fruit, bread, cheese and strong coffee, which is the predominant menu offered throughout South America. It’s been great though.

On Monday, our only full day in Sao Paulo, after getting advice from the very helpful hotel manager, we caught the incredibly efficient metro (underground train), we went into the CBD (old town).

The most over whelming site we saw was from the top of the highest building, Edificio Banespa, up to the 34th floor where they had an observation deck. It was incredible looking over where almost 20 million people live and work.....which is almost as many as Australia’s population – get your head around that!

We thought the city had a really good feel about it. People were helpful. We had no problem getting around. The street sign system is different. The CBD signs are white and the suburbs are blue with a different coloured stripe to indicate which area you are in – pretty efficient. In the CBD, where is overhead signs and large vertical square columns with street names painted on. There is no grid system in the city but it was still easy to find our way around.

I will let the photos speak for themselves. The main sites we saw were
• Cathedral de Se
• Praca de Se
• Post Office
• Theatro Municipal
• Edificio Banespa
• Edificio Italia
• Edificio Copan
• Mercado Municipal
• Galeria do Rock – shops for underground community, punks, Goths, metal heads etc
• Praca da Republica

We got back to our hotel by about 6.00pm and had a lovely dinner at a restaurant that was a smorgasbord, our last in South America. We had a Malbec from Chile.

We weren’t catching the plane back to Australia (via Santiago, Chile and Auckland, NZ) until 5.40pm so we walked around the suburb our hotel was in, Jardine which is described as a leafy, chick neighbourhood which has many boutique clothes outlets and many restaurants which represented the diversity in nationalities in this city. The most outstanding sight was Aveneda Paulista which divides the northern part of the city from the south.

Jardine was a really good suburb and an interesting mix of middle class people. We also walked around a beautiful par on the suburb called Parque do Ibirapuera which adjoins Praca da Paz. There were running tracks, sports fields and several lakes. Beautiful.

We tried to send this blog while we were in Starbuck using their Wi-Fi in Jardine, just before we leave Sao Paulo and South America, but we were not successful so we came back to our hotel. We are going to catch a taxi to the International Airport so it good bye from us in South America.

We are really excited about coming home. Kerrie and Gemma will be picking us up. We have 27 hours to fly and wait in airports so I don’t think that time will go fast enough. Our flights are confirmed so hopefully the Chile volcano plumes won’t affect us. We look forward to talking to you all by phone or through email.

Tom & I have been reflecting on our amazing time in South America.

South America Highlights

What a wonderful 3 months we had in South America. It’s so important to reflect on where we have been and what we have done and seen. The following list is perhaps an unfair list as it misses so many things but this list will trigger memories for future conversations with family and friends. In general, South Americans are friendly, helpful and very keen to help us speak Spanish and Portuguese. They showed their sense of humour when we practiced their language (incorrectly).

We particularly enjoyed Ecuador and Peru, the people in Chile, the work that Bolivians are putting into their country for tourists (despite their low GDP and unhelpful neighbours), the advancement of Brazil (despite that fact that there is still considerable poverty). If forced to say where we found unfriendliness, this would be Argentina. The 20 million people spread over Sao Paulo, presents an amazing presentation for tourists. The Andes Mountain Range, down the western coast of the continent presents rugged, expansive, panoramic views, active volcanos and snow-capped vistas.

Our recommendations – visit this continent, with at least knowledge of the Spanish language (it’s easier to learn!). Here are highlights for us:

• Iguazu Falls – Argentina/Brasil
• Machu Picchu - Peru
• Condors in Colca Canyon - Peru
• Salt Lakes on the Salar - Bolivia
• Amazon meeting of the rivers – Solimoes & Negro Rivers to form the Amazon - Brasil
• Seeing Mike and Silvia in Sao Luis - Brasil
• Flying over Nazca Lines in Peru
• Seeing Bariloche, Argentine Lakes District and catching cable car up 2 mountains to see Andes and lakes
• Seeing all the Central Squares and Independence squares and archetecturaly beautiful buildings around these squares in Old Town in nearly every city we visited. We always stayed very close to these squares.
• Oro Museum in Lima Peru
• Compañía de Jesús Cathedral in Quito (gold church)
• Sao Fransesco Cathedral in Salvador – a gold lined church - Brasil
• Sitting on the esplanade at Copacabana Beach in Rio and having a beer in the evening - Brasil
• Pisco Sour
• Cerbiche (fish dish in Peru)
• Argentine beef
• Fruit and juice in Ecuador, Peru and Rio but particularly at the markets at Arequipa, Ecuador
• Cervecia (beer) all over South America
• Chocolate, strawberry and dolche de leche cake at Belles Cafe, Salvador
• Cheese bread
• Empanada – South America’s pasty
• Canyoning (abseiling down waterfalls)– Banos Ecuador(Pam)
• Canopying (flying fox across 6 ravines in Banos, Ecuador) – Tom
• Cycling to waterfalls in Banos – Pam & Tom
• Riding mountain bikes down 65 kms “Death Road” outside Lapaz, Bolivia (Pam)
• Climbing snow-covered active volcano – Pucon, Chile – Pam
• Walking Lares Track, Peru – Pam
• Soaking in thermal springs in Banos (Ecuador), Aguas Calientes (Peru), Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
• Dancing at clubs in Puno, Peru
• Boating and swimming in Amazon River - Brasil
• Swimming in Atlantic Ocean (Salvador) & Pacific Ocean at Mancora (Peru)
• Walking the salt flats in Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
• Sand dune buggying near Huacachina, Peru – Pam & Tom
• Walking through the Amazon Jungle - Brasil
• Black-tube rafting down river in Ecuador Amazon Region (Napo River)
• Boat trip out to Island Ballestas off Pisco to see massive numbers of wildlife – Peru

Pam & Tom Usher
21 June 2011

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