I really really loved São Paulo. We raced off to the city to see the Brazil – Paraguay football match at the stadium there, but were stopped in our tracks by an incredibly outdated ticket machine at a tiny port town near Ilha Grande. Although we weren’t able to see the game, I was so happy to arrive in São Paulo – I could so easily have spent days doing absolutely nothing on the island and needed a reason to move along.
I had the best time in São Paulo. I went on a culinary tour of the city – eating majority Japanese food as a result of their huge Japanese population. It was a very welcome change from the heavy (and not very diverse) food I have been consuming on this trip so far. (Although, I did have a couple of Brazilian meals – I actually really love it! Most often 3 different forms of carbohydrates on a platter with a semblance of a salad and some meat).
Speaking of Brazilian meals, I loved the deli culture of São Paulo. On every street corner, there would be an almost 24hour deli, serving lunch sandwiches, various fried foods, juices, bigger meals and beers all day, to very willing recipients. It was lovely seeing Brazilian men propped up on little tables on street corners, chatting time away with plenty of beer.
Japanese food in São Paulo firmly reignited my passion for Japan, encouraging it to the top of my next travel destinations list. I had the most lovely meal at a very authentic sushi house, accessed through a almost signless black door in a dingy mall. Slide open the door, and you see a 7 seater bench, where you sit to watch the sushi master slice raw fish and create veritable art with dexterity. It was here where I realised that I don’t actually hate fish — a massive achievement for me and something that had me buzzing all afternoon. (I had plenty of fish tacos in Mexico, and loved them – but this raw fish venture was very new for me). Wish I had taken photos of the meal, but the intimate venue might not have permitted that level of show.
I visited plenty of art galleries in São Paulo. The buildings made up for the rather lacklustre collections inside them. MASP, my first gallery visit, hung their works brilliantly – a huge room with panes of glass displaying each individual work, allowing the audience to walk around them – noting the back of the canvasses, walking through lines of works, getting so much more involved as one would usually. The University gallery which I attended the second day had an average collection, but a rooftop with a panoramic view of the São Paulo skyline that most definitely made up for it. I was short of breath looking at the breadth of that incredible city.
I loved my walk in Ibirapuera Park on my last day. It seems to be a lot like what Central Park might be like in the summer – it seemed that all the residents of São Paulo were making use of the park on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Families were playing, couples canoodling, teenagers roller skating, attractive men exercising – it had it all, and in a beautiful way where everyone was so overjoyed at the beautiful day that they greeted each other smiling. It really gave me a feeling of what the city would be like to live in — the answer, spectacular.
The other parts of my days were spent walking around the inner city suburbs of São Paulo, and visiting more beautiful bookshops than I can count. I loved Villa Madalena, a clearly gentrified suburb that reminded me so much of Melbourne – street art everywhere, beautiful cafes and work spaces, and the best feijoada that I had in Brazil – a traditional dish of rice, black beans cooked with pork, a sort of silverbeet, sautéed and a floury thing called farofa. Don’t know how I feel about it, but it was everywhere in those classic Brazilian delis.
Liberdade was also interesting – the Japanese area of São Paulo, where the traffic crossing lights Re shaped with temples and red Japanese lanterns line the streets. I had some truly excellent ramen here. Need to get to Japan asap.