Once I read that Sao Paulo is a monster. And I agree.
It is the largest city of Brazil and has more habitants than my entire country, Portugal.
Somehow I shocked with Sampa, how it’s known among locals. Her madness, her crazy stressfull 24 hours – even the zen mind of Dalai Lama it’ll turn wild if he lived there – her heavy atmosphere, and her rainy days, all get me bad and mad!
My feelings about this city are bipolar – I hate and love it. And for this reason, I think Sao Paulo must be declared an experience and not a city.
In 2012 I moved to this city and lived there for 5 months. This is the story of my experience.
1. São Paulo subway
Because life is a sum of experiences let’s start the equation with the São Paulo metro, the subway public transport.
Metro is for Sao Paulo like the Pope is for Rome. The sucess of this experience is related with the hour you go. So, if you want excitement rush-hour is the best choice! (early morning and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
Once the queue was so large that its beggining was outside the subway station. People behave like ants – all in line, walking v-e-r-y slow, but the metro is safe, clean and very easy to use.
I always dropped off in the right station. But one day passengers should be very eager to get home. The door was barely opened and everyone inside the carriage were projected approximately two steps back. I felt like inside a sardine can, even with the smell effect. It was claustrofobic, but it was worth it for the creepy adrenalin.
2. Vila Madalena neighborhood
I feel for Vila Madalena. The neighborhood is known for its bohemian culture and the dozens of art galleries and design studios. And also for its eclectic and cozy restaurants. Night bars with ease can turn the streets into an outdoor party.
And it’s a safe neighborhood to walk by and live, but quite expensive to rent a room or an apartment.
My cookings were flavored with fresh herbs. The owners garden were from one of the dozens design stores at Vila Madalena. Several times I pulled out a lavender and rosemary little feet, or even basil to my tomato salads.
Once I found a lady painting a trash bin. She told me that she wants to 30 outdoor trash bins around Vila Madalena.
3. Benedito Calixto square
Still close to Vila Madalena, a craft and antiques fair in Benedito Calixto square happens every saturday. This one is no different from all the fairs of this kind, but a fair in a city like São Paulo is like a sweet treasure.
The fair also has benches with food. Always ate the traditional brazilian pastries. My fav is the one made with palm, a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees. Don’t forget to drink pineapple juice with mint, mango fruit and the papaya ones, also try the sugar cane juice. I become addicted to pineapple juice with mint.
4. Paulista Avenue
Paulista Avenue is considered one of the main business centers of São Paulo and the most important avenue of the city.
Its 2.8 kilometres easily justify why São Paulo is known as a concrete jungle. In my first days in the city I reacted to pollution, my nose got stuffy, lips dried and bled every time I laughed. After 4 months I could breathe a tailpipe. There is a whole cosmopolitan life in the avenue. Crowds getting in and coming out of fashion stores, skyscraper office centers, banks, museums, subway stations, coffees, supermarkets, shopping centers and more centers.
MASP, São Paulo art museum, is located on Paulista Avenue. The museum’s holdings are considered the most important of Latin America.
MASP was inaugurated in 1968 with the presence of Queen Elizabeth II from the British monarch. It is considered one of the landmarks of the brazilian modern architecture, a concrete and glass structure designed by Lina Bo Bardi, a brazilian architect born in Italy. On Tuesdays the entrance is free, and on Sundays there is a fair with antiques under the museum.
6. Cantina da Carmen restaurant
One of the perpendicular to the Paulista Avenue hides a well kept secret. The little cozy restaurant ‘Cantina da Carmen’. Who discovered Carmen was Alejandro, my spanish friend. The restaurant is on the rooftop terrace of a english-spanish language school. The entry is through the school reception there isn’t any kind of advertising outside. We both joked that Carmen should remain secret because it is a true oasis. Her food is like mom food: good and made with love. Carmen is such a willingness and tenderness women. She always received us with a hug and kisses. I will break and reveal the secret address: Antonio Carlos Street, 319.
7. Copan building
The Edifício Copan (Copan Building) was designed for the 400º anniversary of São Paulo and it’s a 140-metre, 38-story residential building in the center of the city . Project by the most famous brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, it’s the owner of the biggest stucture of concrete in Brazil.
Its S-shaped form is always evident in landscape jumping in the eyes of those who walked in the streets.
Niemeyer designed Copan building to include both penthouses and affordable studios so that the rich and poor could lived together.
8. Ibirapuera green park
Ibirapuera is the green area, São Paulo version of Central Park. Inaugurated in 1954 for the 400th anniversary of the city, with buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer and landscape by designer Roberto Burle Marx, Ibirapuera Park covers an area of almost 2 square kilometres. It’s the bigger urban park in the city. It has several attractions like the Museum of Modern Art, Biennial Pavilion, a Japanese Pavilion, Planetarium and Vivarium. And plenty of space to jogging and cycling, to skate or whatever is it possible to do in parks.
I just took of my shoes and rest my feet in a tree. Life is good.
- São Paulo – seeking a job (magaonthebus.com)
- Sao Paulo, in pictures: Where to go and what to see in this urban jungle (ted.com)
- The worst city in Brazil? (lifeasvagabondsuk.wordpress.com)