Paulista – the posh business type area. Rodrigo worked nearby, and I met up with him here after work at Centro 3.
Thanks to Rodrigo I got an in depth look at the monstrous bus system. Any tourist to Sao Paulo must get confused by it and I blagged Rodrigo’s “student card” which had expired and seemed to get away with using it.
The University by Rodrigo’s flat.
Rodrigo’s local pub, and mine for 4 nights. Rei Das Batidas – King of Cocktails. That’s Mateus, Rodrigo’s flat mate and co-worker. We normally drank Antarctica beers in there as it happens!
Antarctica beer – a popular brand in Brazil.
Rodrigo worked here in this attractive building on a corner. I actually thought the streets nearby were quite dodgy when I walked around alone, but maybe it’s just because I was foreign it had that feel to it. Anyway, where he worked was bang opposite the football museum!! Housed inside the stadium of Pacaembu.
The football stadium where I went to the amazing museum – well recommended. Cheap and factual and so good that I will write separately about it. For now, just the photo.
Sao Paulo doesn’t do anything in “bits” or “part form”. Everything is monster. The options are endless – you can get a pizza with 8 different slices if you want. Pizza is beyond question one of the best I’ve tried on this planet. So while we’re on it, Sao Paulo does food in vast quantities and tastes. And it does it well. Here’s a mere sample of what I shoved down my gullet in the monster…
The Fifties Burger. Immense old style US Diner, in a shopping centre that also had Dutch, Australian, Italian, Vietnamese and Chinese food. The milkshake that accompanied was also sensational. This was the first and only time I have experimented with the “black and white” option on my camera.
Coffee and biscuits. Monster style. In fact you just buy the coffee. The biscuits and bread are normally complimentary.
Steak and rice meal with chips, salad and a Cervejo. Yes. the Brazilian are also top beer drinkers. In a nation of football lunatics, topless beaches and samba parties, they’re hardly beer shy. Though it’s mostly lager and for once I didn’t venture to an Irish Pub in search of Guinness. In fact I’m not even sure if Sao Paulo has one. Well it must, it’s a fucking monster remember…
All you can eat buffet. Buffalo Brancos.
Bob’s Burders is the local version of “Burger King” or “McDonalds”. Cheap and cheerful. Excellent.
I’ve tried many beers round the world, but rarely one beginning with “X”. It wasn’t a surprise to learn that Sao Paulo has one. And not only that, a stout. This was the nearest I tried to a Guinness in the monster.
A view of the monster from Rodrigo’s flat.
A view of the monster from the 33rd floor of Edificio Italio. Endless and monstrous and more skyscrapers than could ever possibly be counted.
Downtown Sao Paulo. Though that’s an enigma in itself as there are so many built up areas scattered that everywhere could be downtown. But I think this was where the government buildings were.
Normal road near Rodrigo’s flat.
The sad state of poverty in the monster. Though if I’m totally honesty, I saw much more poverty in Buenos Aires, Caracas, Bogota, Asuncion and Montevideo on my South American trip.
Coffee is also massive there, and the city’s most famous ever resident has his own.
And one thing to remember is I only spent 5 days there (4 nights) and only really touched the tip of the iceberg. The only real way to actually see this monster would be to live there. You haven’t heard the last from me on Sao Paulo even for this visit however, there will be more to come, and who knows, I may return in 2014, when the world’s greatest tournament arrives in the city. The FIFA World Cup. Sao Paulo, I must hand it to you – you are a monster. But a charming one, if a bit scary and daunting.
Footnote – This entire post is dedicated to Rodrigo Godoy Coelho, without whom, my Sao Paulo experience would have been much more muted and much less authentic. I’d probably just have done the normally touristy things and had a beer in the Irish Pub. It was nice to get to the heart of the city through one of my good friends and SP residents.
Population -19 million
Nationalities Met – Brazilian
Nickname of Residents – Paulista
Common nickname for the city – “The monster”
Number of buses in Sao Paulo – 15,000 (that’s more buses in the city than people to fill the national stadium of Northern Ireland)
Number of bus routes – 1,333 (flip me)
Beers Tried – Antarctica, Sol, Xingu
Number of Great Meals – 7
My Sao Paulo Friends Who I didn’t catch when I was there – Cassiano Monteiro, Lucas Fernandes, Roberta Regina, Persio. (2014 who knows…)
NE YO – SHE’S A MONSTER (BUT I DON’T MIND):
2. ANYTHING FROM R.E.M. album “Monster”, Here’s YOU:
3AM HAVING A BEER AT REI DAS BATIDAS IN THE MONSTER:
DOWNTOWN SAO PAULO:
ARRIVAL IN SAO PAULO:
6 thoughts on ““The Monster”: Backpacking in Sao Paulo, Brazil”
Great post Jonny!
Glad to know you enjoyed Sao Paulo – a lot of people have told me to avoid it, but I will be there for 2 days in March, before making my way to the falls!
Excited to touch down in South Amercia!
Hi Abbi, thanks for the comment. Who told you to avoid it? Have these people actually been there? It’s a mammoth city. It seems crazy now but this article was written five years ago after my first visit (in 2011). I visited Sao Paolo again in 2014 when I was in Brazil for the World Cup, the food is brilliant. Stay safe at night by using a taxi if you must go out and let me know if you want to meet up with my friend Rodrigo. He’s a cool guy! Safe travels. Jonny