The second part of my Brazil journey was all about sightseeing inside of Sao Paulo and reflecting on my learnings for future travels.
Saturday #2 – Sightseeing
After the first weekend it was quite clear to me that hanging out on the couch all day would not be an option for next saturday, which is why I asked my Brazilian colleague Rodrigo if he wanted to show me the city on the weekend. He did.
Our first stop was Parque do Ibirapuera. The park is comparable to New York’s central park in terms of meaning for the locals. Its is one of the main spots to hang out on sunny days, be it through the week or on the weekend. It is walking-sized and it has many interesting features like the Obelisk of Sao Paulo, a planetarium and the Museum of contemporary art. On sundays you can see many families here, people running and the best view is the one you get from the bridge over the main lake where you can see airplanes crossing the skyline.
Shortly after we continued to the Mercado Municipal. This is the main marketplace in Sao Paulo and you can buy hundreds of thousands of different products here. Starting with traditional brazil liquors – Cachaças – and traditional food like Feijoada or Mandioca Frita. Brazilian food is very rich in deserts, there are hundreds of them and each one is more tooth-killing sweet than the next. The most impressive display were the fruits they offered. Mercado Municipal is the only market in Brazil that offers many kinds of fruit all year around and the variety is sheer endless. Until that day, I didn’t like pineapples but when Rodrigo handed me a slice of it I didn’t want to be impolite. It was the best pineapple I ever had and in Germany I never found anything comparable.
After some more tasteful encounters we continued our trip over to Catedral Metropolitana, Sao Paulo’s main church. It took 40 years to built the cathedral and it is amongst the largest in the world. It is located quite exactly in the centre of Sao Paulo and next to one of the main metro lines. The area is very nice, but you should really look out for pickpockets as this is a very touristy area and they want only your best 😉
In the evening I was in for a special treat. Rodrigo took me to his favourite Churrascaria. Churrascarias are traditional restaurants that mainly serve meat. The meat that I had tried so far was excellent, Brazilians really know how to do kickass medium-rare steaks. The place is called Montana grill and is located south-west of the park. What happens here, is you sitting at a table with a paddle that is green on one and red on the other side and – as you might have guessed – it tells the waiter to either stuff you some more or to pause until you can breathe again. They walk around the place, each one serving different kinds of meat, searching for green paddles to deliver happiness to. You can try all sorts of meat and you can have all sorts of sides with it. It was the best damn meat that I ever had. Period.
Sunday #2 – Saying goodbye
The last day of my trip was a boring one again. I had to do some wrap-up work at the office and so I only had the afternoon to myself. I went shopping along the Avenida Paulista, got some traditional food for a friend of mine who cooks and went home after that.
In the evening, we went to the rooftop bar of the Hotel Unique. The taxi drive was about 30 minutes from our apartment. We later found out, that it is actually in walking distance and that we made a certain taxi driver very happy that evening. The Hotel is located on a small hill, thus overlooking the whole city.
I had moved from a 5000-people town to 3.5M-people Berlin only 3 months ago, which was quite a difference to me. But when we stood on top of that Hotel and were not able to see the outskirts of that humongous city, that deeply impressed me. Sidenote: When I came back to Berlin, it seemed very rural to me. Sao Paulo is among the 10 biggest cities of the world and although it’s outskirts touch the ocean, going to the beach can take 2-3 hours on weekends.
That night concluded my first overseas trip and sparked my lust for more traveling even further…
Learnings: What I’d do differently today
Decide for one bonus program, stick with it.
You can earn shitloads of miles if you decide early and use the system cleverly. You will waste money if you don’t.
I use Star Alliance, because they have the biggest fleet and you can get a credit card which comes with insurances for rental cars and health. It’s not cheap but you can break even with a one-week car rental sometimes.
Never EVER stay at home, just because you’d go alone. Never EVER stay at home, just because you’re scared of the unknown.
Go were you want to be and you’ll always be with at least one person who’s happy were you are. Step outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s only one step.
‚Big‘ is a very relative term when it comes to cities.
When I came to Berlin, it seemed huge to me. When I came to Sao Paulo, it was unbelievably huge. Coming back to Berlin, it seemed small and when I travelled to Mexico city last year, I never had the impression of being in the 3rd biggest city of the world. If you’ve been to one of the bigger cities for a few days in your life, you can handle every other city just fine!