I have a HUGE confession! We accidentally flew business class to Sao Paulo from South Africa. I’m sure you’re wondering how the flip that’s even possible. So let me try to explain…
Back in our peaceful house sit in Plettenberg Bay, we received an email from Latam airlines asking us to ‘make them an offer’ to upgrade our economy flights. Moo and I joked about how special our last business class flight was – but that it felt a little (well a lot, actually) – self indulgent, and unnecessary considering how much of an impact business class is on the environment.
We thought it would be funny to offer them a low amount anyway and see what would happen. Our flight was only ten hours – nothing on the normal ‘down under migration’ we Aussies put up with to travel to Europe where flight’s are normally twenty four hours plus. So… we made them a measly offer and completely forgot all about it.
It wasn’t until the day we were due to depart (actually it was 1am the day we were due to fly out), that my fears were realised. Not only had Latam accepted our offer – they’d also charged our credit card automatically. Shit. I tried calling Latam direct, alas, they were definitive in their stance that it was too little, too late. I felt like a complete idiot and worse – an ethical traveller fraud #fail.
I promise – we will NOT be making that mistake again. So, let’s just take it on the chin, the lesson learn’t and let’s move on to more important things, like how amazing São Paulo is!
I found it unimaginable that São Paulo cityscape held the same amount of people than the entire population of Australia. We had planned to experience the city for a whole week. Needless to say – I was anxious about the limited personal space.
Things to do in São Paulo
We stayed in Vila Madalena! Only the trendiest, most bohemian neighbourhood. We slept at Selina, we’d noticed Selina’s properties were popping up all over South and Central America in the hottest locations. Their co-working spaces, gorgeous fittings and their minimalist styled rooms are simply stunning.
It was the perfect place to settle ourselves after the culture shock of being back in a huge city again. My first thought of São Paulo, Brazil was: FREEDOM. It was a breath of fresh air. The streets felt safe, the women seemed liberated, all races seemed to be living harmoniously and the style – seriously – Paulistano’s are just plain COOL. From their fashion sense, hairstyles and tattoo covered bodies. The street art, nay, art in general is nothing but stimulating. After South Africa, it felt LIBERAL.
Lucky for you – this blog isn’t about politics, so let’s get on with it!
Hitting the ground running: for starters, I couldn’t more highly recommend the Free Walking Tour of downtown (historic centre) São Paulo. I enjoyed it so much, I even partook in the graffiti walking tour of Vila Madalena too.
(If you’re new to FWT’s, they’re an independent business who introduce visitors to all manner of things like history, culture, art, food and language. They’re technically free – but you technically need to give them a tip for their time. They’re run the world over – and usually begin at 11am. )
Vila Madalena – here we had our first feijoada (fe-jwa-da) (a Saturday tradition) of meats, beans, salad, rice, yuca fries and accompaniments and our first brigadeiro (condensed milk and cocoa covered goodness). You can also find vegan and vegetarian delights, buddha bowls, acai, hamburgers and sushi. They have it all. And the beer scene is just as good.
Mercado Municipal – an institution for new visitors to the city. Here you can sample the famous “Mortadella” sandwich. I’ve recently become a pescatrian, therefore, no meats for me. Moo was keen for a “pastel” instead. It was here we got completely ripped off at the fruit vendors offering us “
free samples”. $15 AUD for four passion fruits and six strawberries – buyers beware. Fun to visit though!
Liberdade (literally meaning: Freedom) is the little Japan of São Paulo, more Japanese people (outside of Japan) live here than anywhere else in the world. We came here for lunch and the experience made me realise just how much I miss quality Asian food.
Without a doubt, flying into the city or roaming the streets you’ll notice a distinct lack of open space. I can guarantee at some stage you’ll want to come up for fresh air. We found the best views in the city centre at the Martinelli Building and Edificio Copan (both free), although we also really liked the view from the Musea de Arte Moderna (free on Sundays), opposite the park.
Vila Madalena – Home to the cities best street artists! Visit the famous Batman alley – although, in my opinion – there was better quality art littered throughout the suburb.
Parque Ibirapuera – THE place for sensational people watching. São Paulo doesn’t really have the space for big spacious parks, but there is ONE that everyone flocks to. Welcome to São Paulo’s answer to Central Park. Here you’ll find an abundance of things to do (museums, bike rental, skate park, ponds to admire with swans that flutter), but in my opinion the best thing to do was buy some snacks (fresh coconut water essential) and lay on the grass and watch the world go by.
Musea de Arte Moderna – I do so love modern art. This museum fell a little short in my opinion, however there are at least six floors to peruse and a stunning restaurant on top. I enjoyed the giant furry cat at the entrance very much.
MASP (Museum of Art of São Paulo) – Incredible building and a feat of genius architecture (look – there are no pillars in the middle). The exhibition about feminists throughout the ages was right up my alley too. Unfortunately two levels of the museum were closed for renovation, alas, it was a fleeting visit.
One thing we were both shocked to discover in São Paulo – Uber is ridiculously cheap – cheaper than public transport in Sydney. Not even joking, it was baffling.
That brings me to a close from our first week in Brazil. It certainly did not disappoint. From here, for the second time on our trip, Moo and I split ways. He onto a kite-surfing safari and myself to a surf and yoga retreat. The ocean was calling…
All that and more next week!
Until then xo