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January 11th 2015
Published: January 11th 2015
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Have you ever been to a city with 22 million inhabitants? No? Me neither. And I can tell you it is a pretty amazing feeling and experience to have been there. Its amazing seize, mixed with the multicultural appearance, the vibe of the city and the people makes this place a pretty awesome destination. But let’s start where I left of with my last updates


So Rio de Janeiro and the day trip to Petropolis were pretty cool to visit and after a 6 hour bus ride to Sao Paulo we arrived safe and well. The amazing thing of the bus trip was that after we entered the city limit of SP we were still travelling about for 2 hours until we reached the bus station. One immediately gets the feeling on just how big this place is. There are skyscrapers everywhere and the air is so full with pollution that after a couple of days I had a filthy headache. Who said smoking is unhealthy?

After settling in our accommodation, which was in a quiet neighbourhood not far from the main street of SP, we immediately set out to explore the place. We only had 4 days as we had to make our way to Porto Alegre for Christmas (yes I know I am well behind in this blog), and Carla had prepared a list an arm long that we HAD to visit.

Walking around the first day in the main street was a pretty normal; it felt just like every big city in the world. There was your Starbuck, McDonald, KFC, etc. on nearly every corner and the street were filled with people in a hurry. Overall they seemed to be much more unfriendly than in any other place I have been in Brazil so far. So to be honest the first impression wasn’t the best I had about this place.

The first evening we spent having some Italian food and what is more typical in Italian food than pizza? Yes, I know what you think, that “he is in Brazil and what does he eat? Pizza? Is he mad?” Oh no, I am not mad but let it been known that piazza is THE food in SP to have. Because of the Italian influence in the past and also for being so big, SP is the second largest consumer of pizza in the world. And the pizza we had in a typical Italian/Brazilian Pizzeria was to die for. Awesome food.

For the next day we set of to visit some of the many museums in the city. Now let me tell you that if you are into culture and museums, SP is the place to go in Brazil. There are so many museums to visit that it is pretty impossible to visit them all in a week, not only because of their numbers but also of the distance. Thank god that SP has an absolutely fabulous subway system that is supper fast and clean as well. Considering that you have to service over 22 million people you better have a world class transportation system. The only time it felt like a nightmare was when we used it during rush hour. Not a good idea……

Most of the museums we visited were very interesting and dealt with the history of SP and Brazil. And since the first people who crossed the big Atlantic with rather small ships were from Portugal most of the first buildings were churches and monasteries. Now I am not a big churchy person but I am still amazed by what amazing buildings they put together in the 16th century and they are still standing. Just wandering through them or just sitting down for a while and imagine how it must have been their 515 years ago is just playing with one’s mind. Now you don’t need drugs to see priests, slaves and soldiers walking on the old cobble stone roads. Or the Italian (second biggest population in the world after Italy – one in four persons in SP are of Italian descent), Arab (and most of them Christian Arabs that came in the 19th century), Japanese (SP has the second biggest Japanese population outside Japan) immigrants making this place home over 150 years ago.

The interesting thing about SP is that most of the city is still divided into suburbs of the original ethnic immigrants. So you have a large area that is just full of Japanese and the Japanese Immigration Museum gives you a pretty good insight on the Japanese immigration into SP. It’s not all fun and games to uproot your family and try to build a new home. But most of these immigrants made it and their offspring’s are pretty well off today.

Another interesting place is the Museum of Portuguese Language – the only in the world dedicated to a language. The Luz Station, an English building dating back from 1901, holds a comprehensive permanent exhibition about the development of Portuguese language even before the existence of that Iberian country. It englobes the language in Portugal, Brazil and several different accents existent in Brazil. BTW the materials for the construction of Luz Station were brought from UK, designed and produced in Glasgow and sent to SP where it was reassembled in the beginning of the 20th century.

One of the most amazing places, and a must see if you ever come into SP, are the public markets in the heart of SP. You cannot imagine the amount of people, the noise and the smell. There you can get any fruits, meats (yep; Kangaroo meat as well), vegetables, sausages, beers, etc. from all over the world and from the most exotic locations. I saw some tobacco from the Amazon so powerful that the merchant wouldn’t sell it to me as he said it would kill me……. Pretty amazing stuff…….

It is also pretty funny to see all the illegal street merchants playing cat and mouse with the cops; it is amazing how quickly they dismantle their stores and reassemble them once the police is gone. Sitting back drinking a couple of coffees watching this spectacle is better than watching a movie…… the market in 25 de Marco Street is much controlled by Chinese immigrants who came in recent years to Sao Paulo.

In the Municipal Market, a building from the 30’s, the specialities is the Mortadella sandwich. And what a sandwich it is. Just imagine an oversized bread roll stuffed with about 500 grams of ham. Now eat that. It is pretty tasty but a messy undertaking. One of these babies doesn’t want to make you eat for days….

A real powerful museum was the Museum of Immigration. The way they tell the stories from all immigrants around the world - like Italy, Japan, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Lebanon, Syria etc is very interesting and it really gives you a bit of a feeling on what these people must have gone through to build a new future. The museum has a whole series of letters on display from immigrants that describe their experiences during the journey to Brazil in the 19th and 20th centuries. Again, walking through the complexes where they were processed and shipped all over Brazil makes one think.

One thing that I have learned to visit in all the big cities is the cemeteries as they can give you a pretty good insight on what happened in the past in these places. I know that this sound pretty morbid, but sooner or later we are all ending up at a place like that, unless we disappear somewhere where our body can’t be found. And the cemeteries of SP, like the Cemetery of Consolacao, are pretty spectacular. The monuments the families of rich Brazilians and Arab and Italian tycoons build themselves are mansions for the dead with statues and mausoleums that are just nuts. It looks to me that they wanted to outdo each other even if when dead. Keeping up with the Jones get a completely new meaning in the afterlife here.

And yes, there was the Museum of Football and, as a nutter football fan, a must for me to see. It didn’t only tell you the story about Brazilian football, but all the history. And since Brazilians are pretty big into football the museum is pretty impressive. And the amazing thing is that football was brought into Brazil by a Brazilian of Scottish and English descent born in Sao Paulo in 1874 that studied in England called Charles Mille. In 1894 he brought football to Brazil. All all what he brought back with him from good old England was a couple of balls, football shoes and a rule book. Now look what he has done to the poor Brazilian football passion……. In England, he played for Corinthian, one of the biggest rivals of Crystal Palace and in Brazil he played for Sao Paulo Athletic Club.

So after 4 full days running from place to place and taking it all in, we were pretty stuffed. We had an amazing time and learned a lot about this place and Brazil. But one has to move on as there is so much to see, so we finally left to Porto Alegre; of course with a bus and an 18 hour trip was waiting for us. But more to that in the next update.

Hope you enjoyed this update and have fun wherever you are, And I really hope that you will take the time and see this wonderful planet we live on. Life is too short spending it working so we can buy a bigger TV or car. Think about it……

Additional photos below
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11th January 2015
Cemetery of Cosolacao

Sounds like you are getting around and seeing a lot. We have not spent much time in South America yet but hope to in the upcoming years.

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