Derelict building, São Paulo
Our quick visit to São Paulo acted as a stopover for us. After wrapping up a restful three days in Paraty, we hopped on a 6 hour bus towards the largest city in South America for just one night before our flight to Uruguay. From what we experienced the South American buses are incredibly comfortable – the seats recline so far back that it feels like you’re in a bed and the much appreciated pit stops seem to happen in two hour intervals. Stu decided it was culturally important to sample every weirdly-shaped fried food item he came across at the roadside diners along the way.
People had warned us about safety in São Paulo and, as the bus entered the outskirts of town, we began to understand why. Around 10 million people live in the city and it seems as though there isn’t enough space for them all to go. There is an abundance of homeless people; women with small children in their laps begging on the sidewalk; people sharing tents in parks and some souls permanently setting up home beside highways. Graffiti is everywhere and an expat told us that in this city it isn’t unusual for wealthier families to have a bodyguard protecting both them and their houses at all times.
We arrived at Lobo Urban Stay in Cerqueira César, our accommodation for the night, and rang the doorbell. No answer. After a couple more tries we smiled at the group of taxi drivers milling next door and managed to ask them where to get a beer while we waited. Through a series of hand signs and mimes (our Portuguese still had not improved by this point) they directed us to a local bar two blocks away. The streets were filled with Christmas spirit – crowds poured into stores for their last minute gift purchases, and groups of young people swarmed around outdoor tables at corner bars drinking in the festive cheer.
After the managers of the hostel let us in an hour later, we went for a sushi dinner (by this stage of the trip we were seriously craving fresh food) and then spent the rest of the night bar-hopping before retiring to bed and then jumping on a plane the following morning.
We are producing these posts as participants in Lonely Planet’s Pathfinders community.
Crowds line the streets, waiting for tables to free up at restaurants and bars
Christmas yarn bombing on a tree in the city centre
Looking like real-life backpackers/nerdy tourists
Hire bikes, São Paulo
In a cab on our way to the airport
Pastel building, São Paulo
The common area of Lobo Urban StaySome were certainly in full holiday mode, despite no beach in sight
Stu shot this from a moving cab as we left the city
São Paulo was our final Brazilian stop off before Uruguay. Thanks Lonely Planet for your useful tips!