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Oct
30

Cheap Ticket to San Paulo

sao-paulo-brasil

sao-paulo-brasil

São Paulo, Brazil, is a city of 11 million is a grimy, dangerous megalopolis but it’s also a culturally sophisticated, energetic, spectacularly social city with endless surprises and deep potential bubbling just below the scruffy surface. People are moving here from all over the world, the wealth, the art, the business opportunities are amazing. But it’s still below the surface.

So if you had to fly to San Paulo and spend the weekend there and you really wanted to see the real city, not just the over-the-top glitz and glam that the regular business traveler goes to, this is what you might see if you had an awesome guide.

out-in-sao-paulo

out-in-sao-paulo

The first thing you might notice traveling in from the airport is how high the buildings are. São Paulo is so chock-full of tall buildings it looks like Manhattan without the park.

Here it’s street food, and one of the best and cheapest places in town is Sabor e Arte on Rua Marquês de Itu, a buffet-style restaurant with a beautiful outdoor courtyard.

Brazilians have coffee after lunch, and it’s fun to have it at one of São Paulo’s most famous residential buildings, which houses one of the city’s great stand-up espresso bars.

Copan building

Copan building

Café Floresta. The chain serves up fine coffee, but the real allure was this branch’s location on the first floor of the famous Copan building. Designed in 1954 by Oscar Niemeyer, the Copan sits in the densely packed city center and looks like a 30-story cement sine wave, with its sunshades perched between floors bringing to mind an old car radiator grill.

The brief walk from Sabor e Arte to the Copan also requires you to cross under the “Minhocão,” an elevated highway that serves as an unofficial border between “good” and “bad” parts of town.

minhocao

minhocao

The flip side that that is Brazilians are a lot of fun to hang out with and one of the best ways to get to know them is to check out a traditional “boteco” like Filial where the waiters are old-school, they’re serving caipirinha and ice-cold Brahma beer. Try the fried chicken, dried beef, fried veggies and plates of tropical fruit.

What’s fun is the overall vibe. Here the waiters dance, use magic, and play games to ensure your glass is full. Needless to say, you won’t leave sober.

Day 2

Seth: There are two contrasting sides to the city. The old center, which despite some improvements is still more drug- than barista-infested, and then there’s the upscale area around the Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s uncentral Central Park.

Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s uncentral Central Park

Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s uncentral Central Park

One of the best ways to see it is to run it. After all it’s only 4.4 miles between the two sections of town.

Despite São Paulo’s limited green space and lack of respect for the poor pedestrian, you can carve out a decent run.

Start at Rua 25 de Março, a bustling outdoor street-market filled with people. Run past the São Paulo Municipal Market — an immense, neo-Classical building that houses an expansive indoor food market. Fill your backpack up with homemade sandwiches, fruit, wine and cheese. On the other hand, forget the run, just camp out here.

Run past the São Paulo Municipal Marke

Run past the São Paulo Municipal Market

Check out the Estação da Luz, a beautiful 19th-century train station with high ceilings, intricate ironwork and narrow walkways that could easily have been the body double for Gare Montparnasse in Martin Scorsese’s movie “Hugo,” and  head south, dodging traffic, bus fumes and disbelieving stares.

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art

The goal: The Ibirapuera, and the Museum of Modern Art. When you get to the Ibirapuera you start to see runners, bikers and skateboarders everywhere, taking advantage of smooth paths around the lake, striding and rolling past fountains and more Oscar Niemeyer-designed buildings.

São Paulo’s restaurants are expensive. So it’s great to fine places like La Tartine, an always busy bistro where quiche served with salads cost 25 reais, and a bottle of wine can be had from an incredible 30 reais.

alberta

alberta

And this is, of course, far from any end. Here they party all night long. Alberta 3, spins American and European music.

There’s no doubt this city has a grittier, less beachy vibe to it than say Rio, but it’s the New York to the La or the Miami. It’s the yin and the yang. When you fly to Rio, you must fly to San Paulo too. Welcome to the epicenter of what’s shakin’ in this global force that is to be reckoned with.

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