Home > Uncategorized > Brazil Part 1 – Sao Paulo

Brazil Part 1 – Sao Paulo

So we arrived from our flight mid-morning, but none the less completely exhausted.  With our scattered flights (longest being a mere 1.5 hrs in the air) we were pretty tired, never really getting a solid amount of sleep.  We had met a girl on the plane from Northern Brazil who didn’t really know the city, but none the less tried to give us some advice.  Our big issue was getting to our hostel from the airport.  We were still feeling like cheap asses, but the public transport option (1 bus transfer + 3 metro line transfers) was supposed to take roughly 2 hours.  The girl on the plane mentioned to us that it would also be a big risk going through the metro with our bags.  She was leaning towards putting money on us getting robbed.

So upon arrival our first task was obviously to get local money (Reals.)  I walked to the line of ATM’s, and select the most western-friendly option: HSBC.  Sure enough after completing my transaction for 250R (Roughly $145) my heart dropped when it thanked me, spat out my debit card, and forgot my money… *knock*knock*knock* “Hellooooooo, Mr ATM, are you not forgetting anything?”….. Crash, windows has a failure, please try another machine… Spits out a recipt.  Lucky for me the recipt said the transaction failed, so off I shuffled to a new machine and got my $.

We opted for the taxis.  After the discussion with the girl on the plane, we decided not to risk it.  Our big worry now was asking the rate to a cabbie in a way that wouldn’t tip our hats (being tourists.)  Lucky for us (much like Bangkok) there was a monopoly on Taxi’s at the airport… Unlucky for us the price was 120 R ($70 CAD).  It was a set price (you give your address to a kiosk who gives you the quoted rate + a ticket for the next taxi.)  So we bit the bullet, and jumped on in to get to our hostel.

It took about 20-25 mins to get from the airport to our hostel (Vila Madalena.)  The first thing we noticed was the sheer size of the city (19 million people)…it was literally a concrete jungle.  The concrete stretched for ages.  When we arrived we noticed it was a really nice area we were in.  We checked in but were so tired we basically hung around the hostel all day.   We had heard how expensive it was to go out, so one of the first things we did was find out about a local market we could shop at, and sure enough off we went to grab supplies for our pasta feast that night.  We hung out at the hostel, which was really sociable.  Everybody was wanting some of our wicked pasta.  This was the most outgoing hostel we’d been to yet.  Everybody went out later in the night as a group together (except me, still getting over stomach bug.)

Hostel Kitchen - Amazing Pasta made

The next day was our day of adventure to conquer the city.  Upon leaving we noticed all the graffiti around.  Unlike most Toronto/Vancouver stuff this stuff was artsty and I really liked it…. Less “Tagging” and more actual drawing… That should be the standard we keep in Canada to decide whether to keep it or paint over it or not….

Graffitti can

Some cool Cats

Cool moves

We make a 25 min walk up the road until we hit Sao Paulo’s source of pride and joy: Ave Paulista.  It is basically a big road with malls and shops all down it.  So we walked this, stopping for lunch at where else? McDonalds.  Everything seemed quite expensive to what we were used to (basically things were the same if not slightly more expensive than back home in Canada) so we didn’t shop to much… especially considering the fact our bags are already filled to the brim with gifts.

Ave Paulista

Paulista

Paper office in Paulista

Amazed at the size

After making it a good 2/3-3/4 of the way down the ave we turned left and walked 15 mins down to Ibirapuera Park.  It’s basically a giant park in the middle of all these concrete buildings.  All the locals go for jogs here and to sit back and escape the city (within the city.)  We hung out here for a bit, and walked through a contemporary art museum in the center of the park that I really liked, before heading down ave Brasil right back to our hostel.

City Park

Park 2

In the Park

Momument upon entry

The next day was another down day, nothing really going down.  The one thing I was looking forward to was the Palmeras vs. Corinthians footy match…It was sold out but we were told you could pick up tickets from scalpers (just need to be wary of fakes.)  Paul had gone out the night before and not got in until 07:00 so he didn’t come, but I did find Steve (a guy in the hostel from Vancouver) to make the walk up with me.  We walked 15 mins up our road past the big city cemetery.  Both of us forgot to wear neutral colors, instead were wearing black t-shirts (Corinthians colors.)  We heard the stadium before we saw it: Chanting, Fireworks, Police Helicopters buzzing overhead.  What we had managed to do was come around through the Palmeras entrance.  We looked around for tickets but nothing was happening this end.  Amazingly we felt in no way threatened being in black here.  We crossed around to the other side of the arena – passing a police baracade – to the Corinthians section… Believe it or not this was the section we felt more dangerous being in.  People were yelling things at us, seeming to know we weren’t locals.  None of these guys had tickets over so we attempted to finish our circle of the stadium and try the gates.  This time when we tried to cross back the police baracade wouldn’t let us through, saying we would for sure be beat up wearing black.  We told the cop we were looking for tickets, and he radiod his head officer.  Lucky for us this officer spoke english.  He said (suprisingly) normally he has tickets to sell, but didn’t have any on him.  He stayed with us for a bit looking for tickets, before almost demanding (more of a plea) that we just go back to our hostel and watch the game there.  It was apparently to dangerous for two tourists to be at this game, and he evidently didn’t want two dead Canadians on his hands.

Palmeras Entrance

So – heads down – we trodded back to our hostel to watch the game in the commons room.  It turned out for the best as we were told we wouldh’ve had to pay 90 Reals ($50), and the game didn’t look all that exciting on TV.  What we were pissed about was the fact the stadium was 1/3 empty… None the less it was out of our hands.

Again we made our own dinner… A new pasta for me, leftovers for Paul.  Two new English lads showed up and we kept chatting with them.  Oddly enough they were also from Manchester: Ben and Greg (a PS – I never usually bump into a fellow Ben, [Highschool aside] and it feels really weird to call someone my name.)  All four os us went into the commons room and decided to pop in a movie: Taxi Driver (Robert DeNiro.)  Midway through the movie we were joined by Kris and Chris (an Australian/English couple.)  After the movie we stayed up until the wee hours talking away, it was nice and relaxing.

The next morning we checked out, wished everyone well, and took a quick cab ride up to the Bus Terminal.  It was an odd experience having a nice bus terminal.  We bough a ticket for 64 Reals  ($37 CAD) for the 6hr trip to Rio.  Making matters more confusing was the facts:

1 – We only waited 15 mins for a bus

2 – The bus left on time

3 – We got free newspapers

4 – The bus was amazingly clean

….Bolivia truly ruined us with their garbage bus service… It was like we had died and gone to heaven.  So we did our thing (Paul slept, I read) to kill the time until Rio the night of the 2nd.

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