We flew from Rio’s Galeão International Airport (R$30 and 30 minutes in a taxi from Copacabana although we were warned it could take hours. Lucky us!) to São Paulo’s GRU airport for less than $95 for both of us – amazing deal but we did fly at 6am on a Sunday morning. We rented an AirBnB apartment in the Paraíso area of the city (taxi from GRU to Paraíso was R$28 and took about 10 minutes), which was definitely not a tourist centric spot so we definitely had a local neighbourhood feel. We had 2 full days in São Paulo, not enough time to do this megacity of 11 million people any justice but we managed to tick a few things off the list! The metro is pretty good here, very easy to navigate and costs R$3.50 per trip. Oh ya so we’re back at square one with the language again – 6 months of learning Spanish and now we’re in Portuguese territory – it’s so frustrating! We were actually able to communicate pretty well in Spanish to be honest; they say that Portuguese speakers can decipher Spanish pretty well, thank God they were willing!
The Japanese Market (at the Liberdade metro stop) is on every Sunday, worth a stop off since São Paulo has the world’s largest Japanese population outside of Japan – about 1.5 million people! They gotta do sushi well, right? Yes! The streets here are lined with red oriental style lampposts and there are lots of Japanese supermarkets and trinket stores to wander around after you’ve perused the market stalls.
We met a few people from São Paulo over the past 6 months and they all told us that the one thing that you HAVE to do is visit the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo (São Bento metro), oh my God were they right! Amazing. The selection of produce is fantastic; fruits we’d never seen before, colourful spices from all over the world and cheeses smellier than you’d find in France! Back to açaí and we visited the first place to offer açaí in the market, Don D’Aju. Perfect! The biggest draw of the market is the famous mortadella sandwich, perfect if you’re in the mood for a pound of meat.
Avenida Paulista is the financial area of São Paulo, the CBD I guess. We walked a few kilometers of this one evening, coming across concrete towers, more Starbucks than you can imagine but also some street tango classes which is pretty cool. A few streets away from Avenida Paulista is Rua Oscar Freire, a shopping area and lovely place to wander around shops such as American Apparel, Forever 21, Kate Spade and Espaço Havaianas, Havaianas flagship store where you can get flip-flops for about $5. Well worth that visit! You can actually get Havaianas in the supermarkets and from street vendors – you know the ones that sell newspapers? It’s actually the perfect city to have a Havaianas malfunction – you know when the strap breaks and there’s no fixing it? (Oh ya, it’s happened to me in New York and in Lima. I sure wear mine out!)
Next stop: New York City!!