After departing Rio de Janeiro, I had one night in São Paulo before flying back to the US. I was on the final stretch of my South America trip and by then my tourist ambitions had waned considerably. The city is no great beauty but it does have its fair share of museums, historical buildings, and acclaimed restaurants. I originally thought I would try to visit some of the modern art museums and find a really good sushi restaurant, but the heavy rain combined with my laziness prevented that from happening.
I spent most of my time at the stylish WE Design hostel in Vila Mariana per Yusuf’s recommendation. It was a pleasant location next to the massive Parque Ibirapuera, although a bit far from the Metro. However, it had hot showers and a relatively gourmet breakfast of grilled cheese sandwiches and eggs.
Of the few touristy things I did do, the first was exploring the main Avenida Paulista where the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) is located. I didn’t go in but I meandered through the stalls of the antique fair that was underneath the building. The avenue is a busy cosmopolitan area in the center of the city full of theaters, cultural centers, gardens, restaurants, shop galleries, pubs, and food courts.
I veered off Av. Paulista to check out the boutique stores and fancy restaurants along R. Haddock Ludo. There is one gorgeous restaurant called Figueira Rubaya on this street that has a giant fig tree in the middle of the restaurant. The Brazilian food and meat are supposed to be fantastic here and I would love to try it someday.
I was told the parallel street of R. Augusta was also supposed to be a beautiful walk but… I do not concur. The cross street of R. Oscar Freire is full of designer stores and there is a Havaiana concept store on this street as well (best souvenirs from Brazil!).
I also spent some time in the Parque Ibirapuera, which is giant park of 2 sq km and one of the largest urban parks in Latin America. Within the park are several modern art museums, cultural pavilions, and funky buildings designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Neimeyer.
I found the most fascinating aspect of the park to be the many youths of the city who had taken over the concrete plaza next to the modern art museum. There were teens everywhere flying by on skateboards, doing tricks on bicycles, reenacting medieval swordplay, practicing capoeira, dancing, or just sitting in a semi-circle and smoking hookah.
I explored Centro as well, albeit very briefly as the thunderstorms hurried my tourist escapades. I wandered from Liberdade to São Bento to check out the main plaza and managed to snap one photo before my camera got soaked.
I was also seeking some sushi as the Liberdade area was informally (and formerly) known as Japantown. São Paulo has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, and their influence is seen in many parts of the city. Liberdade used to be predominantly Japanese, but now is heavily populated by Chinese and Koreans. The area is well-known for good value Asian food. I ended up having some hot soba which was much needed on that rainy day.
I know there are many other lovely neighborhoods and gastronomic delights of São Paulo but with my limited time and general dislike of rain, I resigned myself to leave a more proper exploration of the city for my next trip to Brazil.
Thank you Brazil and South America for a lovely month of travel! Until next time!