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Oct
28

Flight to sao paulo-where business is booming

sao paulo

sao paulo

Before you book your flight to Sao Paulo read this:

If you ask a Brazilian the difference between São Paulo and Rio, and judging by the look on their faces they get that question about as often as Germans get the Nazi question, they say the same thing, no matter who you ask.

Rio is like Los Angeles, Sao Paulo is New York. Except they probably have way more cash than New York does at the moment.

In the past they also got the rap of having more murders than just about anywhere. In 1999, the city of São Paulo recorded a murder rate of nearly 53 per 100,000 people, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety — much worse than New York City has ever recorded. In the late 1990s, the United Nations ranked Jardim Ângela, in São Paulo, as the most violent neighborhood in the world.

Motorcyclists are caught in a traffic jam along a main road in Sao Paulo

Motorcyclists are caught in a traffic jam along a main road in Sao Paulo

Around 20 million people live in its polluted, hectic, unplanned and gridlocked streets. It was not somewhere to visit, but a place to do your business in and get out as soon as possible, but about ten years ago it all changed. The booming economy trickled down. The murder rate fell by 78 percent and vehicle thefts by 38 percent.

Its first boutique hotels were opened, its Fashion Week began to make waves around the world, there was a boom in restaurants, shops, nightclubs, galleries and museums. All of a sudden, São Paulo was on the map as the most culturally exciting place in Brazil.

And yes, it did feel a little like New York. Fly to Sao Paulo and you will really feel like you’re in a major economic center.

fasano

fasano

Brazil used to be famous for football and music, but just look around and you’ll see the diversity, like the Chicago-style skyscraper of the Fasano hotel, one of the best five-star boutique hotels in the world. The family have been hoteliers and restaurateurs for more than 100 years and they know what they are doing. Designed by Isay Weinfeld and Marcio Kogan, the building is a recreation of Thirties style – cool and understated. They even imported bricks from London to complete the hotel’s façade.

Alex Atala

Alex Atala

And some places are even making a name for themselves like celebrity chef Alex Atala is the owner of DOM, the first place in South America to be included in Restaurant magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The heavily tattooed Atala, who looks great naked (and you don’t want to ask) explains the cultural boom as follows: “We have lots of diversity and adversity, and this stimulates creativity.”

hearts of palm fettucine

hearts of palm fettucine

There are cool, trendy hangouts like Crystal for coffee and cake. It’s a cute little coffee shop in the heart of Jardins and serves homemade cakes with custard and deep, rich coffee. Right in the fashion centre, it is brilliant for people watching – and Brazil seriously boasts some of the most beautiful people in the world.

those brazilian models are everywhere...

those brazilian models are everywhere...

For a lunch you can only experience here go to Rodeio and try troseceroa, basically meat on skewers, but a very unusual version. You cook it at little grills on the table. The restaurant has the feel of an old gentleman’s club.

For dinner go international.  Gero, is a very cool and authentic Italian restaurant that could be straight out of Milan. And the people are beautiful and rich, kinda depressing for all of us non-rich and non-beautiful people. But the wine is good and there’s plenty of it.

adriana lima, yep, she's from there too

adriana lima, yep, she's from there too

And you know where all those rich and beautiful Victoria Secret models go while you’re still stuffing your face with carbs and wine trying to forget that you’re not 20? They hit the roof of the Unique Hotel which is where most of the international DJs stay when they play here. The roof looks like you’re on a landing strip over the city.

Where there’s money there’s art. And Sao Paulo is no exception. Like Mexico city, it embraces street art, religious art and clean modern art.

graffiti biennial

graffiti biennial

To get an overall idea, check out the Sao Paulo Biennale, an amazing presentation of modern art and a great place to lose yourself. With stunning parks and two spas it’s also a wonderful part of the city. This year’s Bienal begins on October 26.

If you find yourself needing to get away from the city, it’s not far.

The Litoral Norte, or North Shore, begins less than an hour’s drive from the city at the town of Santos, and about an hour later, the SP-55 highway (also known as Rio-Santos) is tracing a beautiful coastline of lush but rugged green hills towering over a shoreline of rocky coves and sandy beaches.

stunning

stunning

The beaches of the Litoral Norte are extremely popular on the weekend, which can mean long traffic jams along the highway and crowds angling for open space on the beaches. But travelers from abroad are not tied to the Brazilian workweek.  Midweek is the perfect time to rent a car for two or three days and relax on the beach before returning for a raucous weekend in the city. And in many hotels along the coast, prices go down midweek.

Some of the most sought-after beaches are in São Sebastião. Until the Rio-Santos highway was completed in the 1970′s, the oceanfront communities were fishing villages where Caiçaras, the descendants of Portuguese and indigenous people, had lived for centuries. It is now ruled by another people, the locals call  “veranistas” which means “summering city slicker condo owners.”

Probably right.

toque

toque

But there is a scene for everyone, from the energetic, youthful resort town of Maresias, to the idyllic beaches tucked into the hills at Toque Toque Grande and Toque Toque Pequeno, to the unpretentious colonial center of São Sebastião that also serves as the ferry station to Ilhabela, a green Goliath of an island that looms just off the coast, full of upscale restaurants and hotels.

And there is no reason to choose among them. Stay in São Sebastião, hit the beach in Toque Toque Grande, dine and party in Maresias, then hop the ferry the next morning for a day in Ilhabela.

In  the end money doesn’t entirely explain São Paulo. It’s the people. The city’s most important immigrant group are the Italians – who first arrived more than a century ago to plant coffee – and it is an Italian sensibility that underlines São Paulo’s position as Brazil’s capital of art, fashion and cuisine. And women with a lots of German blood like Gisele.

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