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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: -23.5489, -46.6388
Well we may not have slept as much as those flat beds and the attentive service demanded, but it was still all rather lovely. Just a shame one can't always travel that way.
The first surprise is that Sao Paulo is actually much more manageable than all the commentators and guides suggested, despite the 26 million people (or whatever the number is). We took a local airport bus (just over £1 each) to the nearest Metro stop then travelled the Metro, through the rush hour, to within 300 metres of our hotel. It was, if anything, less crowded than the London Underground, there were always escalators to street level, and young people obligingly leapt up to offer their seats to us old codgers!
The hotel kindly checked us in vey early (but no extra breakfast!) so we dozed for a while before venturing out for lunch and a look round. Strangely our hotel turned out to be in the Japanese/Chinese area of the city - there you are, you learn something every day, a Japanese area of Sao Paulo - so we ate Japanese food that first day, noodle soup for lunch at a place you had to queue (and guess
what you were ordering from a portugese/japanese menu) and sushi etc in the evening. But that's getting ahead. After lunch we walked around the town centre a bit, including the cathedral - and it rained. So we decided to look for a movie. We worked out that cinemas are generally in shopping centres, that often they change the title, and that when it says Dublado it means it is dubbed and Legendado means subtitled in Portugese Brazilian. So lots of English language movies and we saw The Impossible (about the Thai tsunami). In the process we also became experts on travelling the Metro - less than £1 a journey - good for a long distance, bad for a two stop hop!
Next day we toured the sights suggested by the guide book but found them a bit oversold - the Museum of Art supposed to be architecturally brilliant but looking shabby, a park with AfroBrazil and Japanese pavilions - but the Japanese one closed for renovation that didn't seem to be happening. And in the evening we trekked out to the end of one of the Metro lines to 'a bohemian area with lots of great bars and restaurants' -
mmmm, not that easy to find and not so many of them so we spent a while stumbling around in dark streets before we did light on one very trendy establishment where everyone was half our age and the prices were as high as London, so much for trendy!
Last day in Sao Paulo would end with a midnight flight to Iguazu for the falls. So we left our bags at the hotel and set off, in the rain, to visit the museum telling the story of how Sao Paulo was founded by the Jesuits in 1544 - following which little happened until the Brits came along to develop railways and ports, then we signed up for a free tour organised by the Metro which was supposed to be a 3 hour tour around the Luz area of the city but which was curtailed by a torrential downpour to a 45 minute talk, mostly in Portugese, about the railways. We were helped by an English teacher and then a software salesman, Brazilians on the tour who spoke good English. We dived into another Modern Art Museum for a while to escape the rain but then made our way across town to
another cinema, with the whole early evenin to kill, to see Cloud Atlas (or A Viagem as Portugese speakers know it) then back in the pouring rain to our hotel to collect our bags and then the reverse Metro and Bus route to the airport for our midnight flight, which left on time and because we arrived in Iguaza so late Peter had arranged with our hotel for a taxi to meet us at the airport.
In retrospect the cool beginning to our trip enabled us to get a bit climatised before the heat to follow, but torrential rain was a bit of an inconvenience. Portugese was pretty incomprehensible at first, but it looks muchmore like Spanish when its written, and they seemed to understand the few Spanish words we attempted. Wish we knew more!
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