Peter occasionally has business trips to São Paulo. This time he was going to be gone for a whole week so we decided to join him for a few days in South America’s largest city. Cilla’s husband Jonas, a colleague of Peter’s, coincidentally also had work in São Paulo this week so she and I planned this vacation together. While Peter and Jonas were at work Cilla and I spent the day with the kids exploring and later we all met up for dinner. Keep reading for the highlights on this São Paulo trip.
Brazilians are good at many things like caipirinhas, monkey suits, shoes, not rushing to anything, brushing their teeth (they brush after EVERY MEAL!) and probably my new favourite; BIKINIS. After checking in to the hotel Cilla and I took the kids exploring and found an amazing beachwear shop called NADA BRASIL on Rua João Cachoeira 666 in Itaim Bibi. Not so fun for the kids so we returned the next day just the two of us while the kids had a nap at the hotel. (Embla who is 14 years old was with them). I felt like a kid again in a candy store.
The way to shop bikini here is to first pick out your favourite models; tops and bottoms are separate. So after you find a top you like and then a bottom you like you ask to see all the colours in that size and that model. An hour later I walked out with 3 gorgeous bikinis. We could easily have found 20 bikinis each and still have trouble choosing.😍 I will definitely go back there and I recommend going there if you happen to go to Sao Paulo.
Its late summer here which means 30+ degrees and the streets are hot. The need to cool off and refresh is constant. Down the street from NADA BRASIL (the candy shop of bikinis) we found JOY JUICE on Rua João Cachoeira 842. With concrete and wood interior and colourful chalkboard menu it gives a Williamsburg NY hipster vibe. Anything on that menu, of mostly smoothies, wraps, salads and juices, looks and sounds amazing.
On our first visit to JOY JUICE (yes, we went back several times) I had a frozen yoghurt called BERRY DREAM which was to die for! It’s the kind of thing that I will be craving for weeks to come.
We went back for lunch two days later after a stroll in LIBERDADE where we explored the Japanese district. More about that a little later.
It was super crowded around lunchtime 12 AM to 14 PM but service was still great.
On our second day we decided to take a walk to Parque Iberapuera, São Paulos equivalent of Central Park. Cilla who has been there before, said it was a must do we decided to pass through the park on our way to Museu Catavento.
Iberapuera is one of Latin Americas largest parks and the most visited with over 14 miljon visitors. Iconically it has the same importance to São Paulo as Central Park has to New York. It has a large area for leisure, jogging and walking and hosts a vivid cultural scene with museums, a music hall, and popular events such as São Paulo fashion week, congresses and trade shows.
After passing through Parque Iberapuera we took a taxi the rest of the way to Museu Catavento on Pq. Dom Pedro II – Av. Mercúrio. Located in a beautiful Victorian-era palatial structure, Catavento Cultural is full of interactive, hands-on exhibits and educational activities for children. Subjects include space, wildlife, geography, the human body and society. The kids had a lot of fun but Cilla and I enjoyed it just as much. After our walk through Parque Iberapuera and then exploring the museum we were in much need of lunch. The museum café, however, had very little to offer other than crystallised, refrozen ice cream and pre-packaged hamburgers so we each enjoyed a deformed ice cream in the convent-like courtyard overlooking the Borboletario (butterfly terrarium). Next time we will definitely have meals before and after the museum and just bring snacks.
The museum was really great and although we were there for at least 2 hours we felt the need to come back and finish next time we visit Sao Paulo.
Hailing a cab here is not recommended as you run the risk of being cheated or actually robbed. So we left the museum and tried to find a taxi stand. As soon as we left the palatial grounds, both Cilla and I, felt uneasy. The surrounding neighbourhood seemed a bit sketchy so we went back inside and got help to order a taxi.
Uber, we discovered, is the easiest, cheapest and safest way to get around. It cost us between 10 and 25R every time we went anywhere.
On Friday (our third day) we met up with Stefan, a Swedish expat who lives here in São Paulo with his family. He volunteered to take us around and see the district called Liberdade which is home to the largest Japanese community outside Japan in the world. That the district is Japanese influenced is made very clear by the red street lights styled like rice lamps and the Torii that marks the entrance to the district as well as all the Japanese and asian signs that mark the shops and restaurants.
There were plenty of stores that sell asian groceries so we quickly stocked up on asian food stuff like fish sauce, rice paper, curry pastes, sweet chili sauce, wasabi powder and other things. These are hard to impossible to find in Araraquara. And I just need to make vietnamese spring rolls once in a while! We ended up buying quite a lot and had to drag our treasure around Liberdade into all the small shops restricting my shopping, which may have been a good thing. There were so many beautiful Japanese crafted things!
Interesting facts about Liberdade
Up until the late 19th century Liberdade was known as Campo da Forca (field of the gallows) and was reserved area for execution of slaves and criminals. Death was considered the only road to liberty which in Portuguese is liberdade. Executions were carried out on the square until 1891 and the square was renamed Liberdade.
The district has several churches with morbid names like Igreja nossa Senhora da Boa Morte (Church of Our Lady of Good Death). The convicts were walked past the church on their way to the gallows to pray for a quick and painless death. There is also Igreja da Santa Cruz das Almas dos Enforcados (Church of Santa Cruz of the Souls of the Hanged).
Before dinner we had drinks at Unique Hotel. Located just off Parque Iberapuera is stands out among all the other square shaped buildings. Not so easy for a building shaped like a boat to blend in… To me it looks just like Noah’s arch as it is depicted in children’s books. The sky bar was closed (we were there quite early) so we had drinks in the lobby bar. Really cool place. Expensive. But cool. Cilla and I both noted how guest are served champagne as they check in. Quite obvious that Cilla will go back to Unique to check in. I will go back for drinks.
Had dinner here on our last night with Stefan and his wife. The kids all stayed in with pizza and a movie.
Located in Itaim Bibi area Osaka is a cozy and stylish restaurant that serves a fusion of Japanese-Peruvian food. Nice sushi but the best dishes were the Maracuja Salmon and the Rock Shrimp.
São Paulo – worth revisiting
I loved this little vacation. There is so much to see and do here not to mention EAT as São Paulo has somewhere around 15.000 restaurants (so I’ve heard) to choose from. We will definitely be going back here during our stay in Brazil and hope to be able to take friends and family who come to visit for a tour of some of São Paulos highlights. São Paulo is the closest international airport and requires a 3-4h drive to get to Araraquara. So a couple days in the city before or after the visit is convenient, breaks up the traveling and gives you a chance to tic a box on your bucket list; South Americas largest city.