Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Return to Sao Paulo

After Itai, I decided to continue on with the Chicago amigos as they spent a day in Sao Paulo and then went to Rio. I’m not a big fan of Sao Paulo, but even though I was there less than 24 hours this time around, I got to see some things that I hadn’t before.

No homestay this time, it was hostel for us. Last trip, I stayed with my friend Thiago & his family in a neighborhood very far from the center, so it was a very different experience. Here, we had our own room to the 6 of us, so we were not really disturbed too much by random people coming in and out. When we got there, we dropped our things and headed out pretty quickly. Two things they wanted to see were the Mercado central, and also the tallest building in Sao Paulo. That worked out great, because I hadn’t seen either of those.

We took the subway to the center. We walked into an old, huge church that I had been to the first time around. Then we headed to the tallest building (I don’t remember the name). The funny thing is, I believe this building is only 37 stories or so. The thing about Sao Paulo is it just doesn’t have a skyline. It is basically mid rise buildings, in every direction. It was a perfect day out, so visibility was great in all directions. No smog for us!

Walking downtown Sao Paulo:


Sao Paulo:


Midrises:




We walked around the center some more. We ended up going in the wrong direction while looking for the Mercado Central, but it was ok, because we found our way to the main plaza in the downtown, the Praca de Se, which has a massive church. The plaza is also filled with nutjob preachers, preaching nutjob stuff in crazy person ways, surrounded by nutjob followers (or spectators laughing, like myself). So that was good/comical to see.

Hanging out in downtown Sao Paulo:


Cathedral in Praca de Se, main square:


We ended up walking about an hour more before we finally were able to get our bearings and found the Mercado Central. It is in a huge airplane hanger sized building. There are stalls selling fresh cheeses and meats, stalls with an incredible variety of fruits, dessert stalls, fish stalls, and random souvenir stalls. Basically, you can get almost anything there. We had our lunch there in one of the restaurants on the 2nd floor, so you know you are getting a fresh meal. After, I was in a fruit tasting mode, so we went down to one of the stalls and tried/bought a bunch of odd looking fruits that you can’t find in the US. The best was one that was green on the outside, looked like a brain on the inside, and tasted like straight sugar.

Entering Mercado Central:


A fruit stand:


Dried Meats & Cheeses:




Brain fruit that tastes like sugar:


That kind of concluded the Sao Paulo day tour. At night, a girl we met in Itai, who lives in Sao Paulo, picked us up at the hostel and we went out to a young Paulista joint with pizza and drinks. And it was good.

I still maintain I am not a big fan of Sao Paulo. It certainly has alot to offer, but does it in a more in your face, polluted, diverse, overpopulated way than cities like Buenos Aires or Rio.

Rocio and Theresa helping her down to go out to Pizza. Those high heel addicted women from Brasil:


The following day Chicago folks had a flight to Rio. Since I didn’t really plan anything I figured I’d just take a bus and meet them there. The ride is about 6 hours, so I left about 8 hours before they were scheduled to arrive in Rio. Unfortunately, I slept through my alarm (I never do that!) and woke up an hour late. I got up at 7:44 am. Within 5 minutes, I checked out, and left. Took the subway about 8 stops to the massive terminal Tiete bus station. Bought at ticket at 8:23 am for the next bus to Rio, and it was headed out at 8:30 am. Not bad timing, 46 minutes from waking up to arriving at bus terminal, buying ticket, and being on my way. In the end, I arrived at the hostel in Rio more than an hour before them! (...and my ticket was a paltry 30 bucks and came with amazing bus scenery, a definite win in my book).


Rocio dissects why napkins are so thin and useless in Brazil over lunch in Mercado Central:


This building downtown had a peice of graffiti under EVERY single window:


The bus to Rio:

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