13 – 17 December
On our way to São Paulo, the biggest city in the southern hemisphere with more than 20 Mio inhabitants, we almost miss the last bus of the day, twice. In Paranaguá we just have about half an hour to rush back to the hostel where our bags are stored and in Curitiba we literally have to sprint through the entire terminal in order to catch our next bus.
After a short night on the bus we arrive at Lisa’s spacious apartment (who agreed to host us for a few days) where a refreshing shower, a comfortable bed and some tropical fruit are waiting for us. She lives in one of São Paulo’s trendiest neighbourhoods, a very clean and safe place filled with luxury apartments, fancy boutiques, bars and restaurants, expensive cars and important people (or people who believe they are important). Thus, I have to admit that this first impression of São Paulo is very different than I had imagined. After a little siesta Lisa takes us for a ride around the nighbourhood and shows us one of her favourite parks in the city before we grab a beer and call it a day.
When approaching the city center by foot the following day, we pass through various neighbourhoods with very different faces. São Paulo is not only the biggest, but from a financial perspective probably also one of the most important cities on the continent with a lot of money and many, heavily loaded people. At the same time though, this is the first place where I really experience Brazil’s poverty problem first hand. The city center, certainly next to many other parts of this metropolis is home to countless of people living in the streets, partly in tents or tent-like sheds, or simply in large paper boxes or in old sleeping bags. It is quite shocking to see how differently life treats people living in the same city and yet in two completely seperate worlds. After strolling around downtown, a huge market and “Chinatown” for a few hours Sami and I come to the conclusion that these might not be the prettiest or most touristy parts of São Paulo but some very authentic ones at least.
On our last day, we fully focus on a neighbourhood called Vila Madalena, supposedly the bohemian part of the city. It turns out that the past few years have changed this, once bohemian neighbourhood, and turned it into a proper hipster spot with trendy restaurants and bars, artsy boutiques, retro shops and very cool street art. Even though it is not as bohemian as we thought, we feel very comfortable walking around and discovering all the lovely details like streetlights decorated with little plants in recycled bottles or interesting messages hidden in the artwork on walls and buildings.
It is Friday and after all we have heard about São Paulo’s bustling nightlife we are very excited to experience it ourselves. We find a nice bar with Brazilian live music where we stay for a while but are a little suprised how early all the bars in that area shut down on a Friday night…