São Paulo (14.12.12 - 17.12.12)

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December 21st 2012
Published: December 21st 2012
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The flight from Cuzco to São Paulo turned out to be not a straight forward as we may have hoped. After arriving at the airport and having one of the most efficient check in's yet. We turned to walk away from the desk. A man who had been standing behind the counter, and I had been smiling at, thinking he was just a member of staff on the check in who happened to be staring, came after us and revealed he was a police man (genuine). he did not speak much English but gestured he wanted to search our bags and suddenly another guy appeared. Clearly we have nothing to hide, so we said sure no problem and they carried our backpacks leading us off to a little room. They showed us a sign saying they were searching for drugs....oh wow they had the wrong people here! We helped them empty out our bags, our biggest worry being how we were going to shove everything back in those snug backpacks again! At one point we were both separately asked where our cigarettes were, they were so disappointed when they realised they were searching bags of people who were not even smokers! Clutching at straws, my guy was sniffing my moisturiser and paperwork, asking us about medications in our bags...Imodium, not illegal last we checked, and checking through our pockets. Eventually they had to give up, and were very nice getting a trolley and taking our bags back to the desk for us. They looked gutted though! In the room there was a brilliant sign on the wall just saying "we are not racist" after that little drama we did not have much time to kill before our flight to Lima. Unfortunately this flight was delayed by 30 mins, shortening our layover time in Lima to 2 hours. Again unfortunately, when we arrived in Lima, there was no available stairs to let us off the flight, so we were stuck on the plane another 30 minutes. It then took 20 minutes for our bags to come through. We had to re check in for the flight to São Paulo, and by the time we had checked in. It was already the go to gate time on the ticket. We next came to security, which had a 15 minute long queue, sue to only having one gate open! Then immigration. By the time we were though it was already about 10 minutes before boarding and I was stressed to tears! However, we need not have worried, they first moved the departure gate and then after a delayed boarding, we were delayed on the ground another hour before we departed. The flight itself was fine and 4 1/2 hours later we arrived in São Paulo. We had arranged a transfer from the hostel, so luckily someone was waiting for us when we arrived. In São Paulo it was raining...lots! This is bad news for our plans for a last ditch winter tan in Brazil!

After arriving in the hostel, we popped out for some food, as it was already 10.45, and then headed back to bed. Luckily for us, there was a couple staying in the hostel who were leaving the next day and gave us their phrase book. If we thought we knew no Spanish, we know even less Portuguese!
The next day, we had planned to do the free city walking tour, which only runs on a Saturday. However my alarm didn't go off, meaning we missed it! Trying not to be too disappointed we got on the metro and headed for the city, with our own list of sights. It started ok, with a trip to the cathedral, and one of the old banking buildings converted into a gallery and museum. Then it went downhill a bit, with most. things we planned to see being either inaccessible or we couldn't find them! We walked out to the municipal market which was interesting it was a huge food market, much like the ones we saw in Australia, but this time it was full of stalls and restaurants selling ready to eat food. When we walked round these markets before we had often remarked that they had all this nice food, but nobody had worked out how to put it all together and make lunch, this place has! We had a quick beer in the market, which resulted in a rare win, we were given far too much change. It's nice to win sometimes! After that we had a walk around the shops and then a quick trip round one of the free art museums before heading back to the hostel. It rained nearly all day! We went to a bar a few doors from the hostel, another recommendation of the owners of the hostel. It was a crazy busy bar, with simple food and cheap drinks. They have a great way of serving beer here, where they give you an ice bucket full of bottles on ice, and you just pay for what you drink. Good solid supply of cold beer! We also had our first Brazilian caipirinhas, these were deadly, and definitely could only drink one of them a night.
The next morning we were woken very early by what sounded like gunshots. After half an hour of this, we realised it was fireworks. By about 9am we had realised it was because Corinthians were beating Chelsea in the world club cup. And when the game finished it really cranked up! We were heading back into the city centre and on our way to the metro stop, we passed over spilling bars, lots of fireworks and people driving around beeping their horns and shouting out the windows. The metro itself was cancelled for line works, so we had to get the bus in. When we arrived in town, the roads were gridlocked. People had mostly abandoned their cars in the road, in order to celebrate in the street. We headed back to the market in order to have some lunch. All the restaurants were again packed and full of life, it seems in brazil, that a sandwich is generally a huge lump of meat (I counted 8 slices of ham) with some salad and cheese, that happens to be surrounded by bread, James was in meat heaven. Everything has so much cheese here, they don't really do veg, so vegi options are generally cheese, unsure if my cholesterol will ever recover! After lunch we had planned to visit he Empire State Building style Banespa building, but it was closed! More bad luck. According to our hostel owner, tourism in São Paulo is a pretty new thing, and there is lots of growth and regeneration happening. Unfortunately for us, that means things being closed and repaired. It seems like the city really needs to see this though, there are so many run down areas and so many homeless people on the streets.
After this we got the metro back to villa madalena, the area we were staying in, planning to have a good walk round. When we arrived at the bar area, it was madness! There were hundreds of Corinthians fans partying in the streets outside the bars. They had blocked the road, people were dancing and chanting in the middle of the street, smashed bottles everywhere, setting off fireworks from their hands. Not violent, and certainly passionate but pretty intimidating. We wonder how things will go when the World Cup is in brazil, if you have news like that but throw in some away fans! In the UK that would have been described as rioting, no police to be seen here! In the evening we headed back down there but it had quietened down a lot, and people were trying to clean up the mess! We had some nice tea, and then set out on what turned to to be a marathon wild goose chase to get cash out to pay for our hotel the next day. We were unaware that most cash machines close at 10 to avoid muggings! So we had to continue that saga the next day. Anyway, next stop Parati, supposedly for the beach but at the moment it will not stop raining, so fingers crossed! Less than 1 week left!


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