We came to São Paulo after visiting Rio de Janeiro during carnival where the bar was set pretty high on Brazilian cities. Unfortunately by the time we left São Paulo a few days later we were pretty underwhelmed.
We arrived fresh(ish) off of the overnight bus from paraty to São Paulo bus terminal at 5am. Due to the early hour we thought it would be a good idea to wait around at the bus station for an hour when the ticket desks opened. Doing so would enable us to buy our next bus ticket (to fort du iguazu) before they sold out – as is a pretty frequent thing with Brazilian buses.
São Paulo metro
São paulo’s metro line is actually really good… Once you have your ticket….
Buying tickets are a little impractical because you can only buy a single travel ticket from a few kiosks inside the busy metro station. This means that even at 6am the queue to buy a ticket was still 30minutes long. However once you’re through the ticket barriers there’s a metro map to help you navigate your way around the city.
We only had a few stops to go on our first day so departed pretty quickly.
Lime house hostel
We were staying at lime house hostel about a 20 minute walk uphill from the nearest metro stop (Vergueirro).
We’d picked the hostel because not only was it highly recommended and reviewed on hostel world but when you went to book the price was showing up as 7 brasilian dollars! That worked out to just over £1 each for the night!
The cheap price was too much of a draw for us because we reasoned that if we arrived and the place was horrific we could leave and would only be losing out on a pound or so. If however the place was actually decent we would have booked and stayed in our cheapest accommodation yet!
When we arrived at around 7am it was still far too early to check into our rooms but the receptionist showed us to the living area where we could nap on the sofas. The whole place actually looked pretty nice (we later learned that the cheap price was a promotional deal because tonight was the hostels 7th birthday)!
I’m not sure how but leah and I both actually managed to sleep until 10am! By the time we woke up the sun was shining through the glass doors and we were too hot to stay inside any longer.
São Paulo by day
We’d heard that São Paulo was a bit of a sketchy place before arriving. We knew that it had quite a high crime rate so was on our guard as soon as we left the hostel.
In all honestly we did not have any trouble at all during our time in the city!
We walked along the Main Streets which were busy during the day time. We had originally tried to join a walking tour but we think that because of carnaval they must’ve not been running the Saturday we arrived.
We did venture out a little bit further on the hunt for the football musuem however turned back once we realised we were putting ourselves more at risk walking down empty backstreets. Like in all cities we just tried to keep ourselves out of harms way.
Bloco’s and sketchy areas in São Paulo
São Paulo was recommended to us as a place to visit for carnaval -alongside El Salvador and Rio (which we ultimately chose)- so we were really excited that bloco’s were still apparently in full swing.
We’d been recommended a bloco by our hostel so got the metro there in the afternoon. We arrived an hour after it had planned to start but it was already finished by the time we got there (or it had never really kicked off).
This wasn’t the only bloco in the city happening the same day so we checked the carnaval time table on the wall in the metro station and picked another party to go to.
Unfortunately not all places in São Paulo are as nice as the main centre…
We had to get the metro to the next bloco but as soon as we exited the station we were on edge. Everyone was staring at us as we walked through the town and once we stopped to ask a police women for directions things got a little weird.
She told us to walk through the main shopping street and then turn left after a road which I’ve now forgotten but we bailed before we even got that far.
After a few minutes walking we were getting too much attention from everyone and one man stroked Leahs back which really freaked us out so we quickly got back on the train for home.
The moral of that excursion was not to stray too far from the tourist tracks in a city which we didn’t know very well.
Parks and markets
There are lots of little flea markets in São Paulo and we visited a few of these over the weekend that we were there.
The best one for us was the one by a park called Trianon which seemed to specialise in jewellery and other little trinkets. If we weren’t on a very tight budget we could’ve easily spent a lot of money there!
We visited the park nearby on Sunday morning and it was such a nice place! There were lots of joggers running around the perimeter as well as families pushing strollers around.
There are also buskers dotted around the park singing throughout the afternoon. We sat and listened to one guy for over an hour he was so good! Everyone stopped at listened to him before either joining him singing or dancing along around the edges!
Although we arrived in the morning looking to have a really big night out on Saturday night things didn’t exactly go as planned for us.
No one in our hostel spoke any English or even much spanish so we weren’t able to communicate with that many people. By the time it was 11pm we were so exhausted at trying to communicate in broken English, spanish, Italian and German that we decided to call it a night and go to bed early.
São Paulo had been really recommended to us for the nightlife so it’s a shame we didn’t get to experience it but it just means that we’ll have to return in the future!
Food in São Paulo
São Paulo was a place for highs and lows for us on the food front…
Highs: We bought the best granary rolls from a bakery in São Paulo. I literally ate 3 in less than 24 hours there. It made such a nice change from the standard stodgy white baguettes we’d been having lately.
We weren’t in São Paulo for very long so didn’t really get a chance to try much food here but the pizzas and pasta’s are meant to be amazing!
On the main high street we passed lots of different restaurants: sushi, Indian, Italian, parillas, Starbucks…
Lows: We were so exited when we saw an avocado the size of my head in the supermarket for really cheap (or worked out at like £1!).
We prepared it back at the hostel and couldn’t wait to eat it for dinner on the bus to iguazu so made ourselves a salad with the left overs for lunch. Once we bit into the first chunk both our faces dropped. It was the most disappointing avocado I’ve ever had. It was so bland and soft!
We later learned from a Brazilian that those ‘avocados’ are normally only used in smoothies to make the liquid more creamy!
Running in São Paulo
The main high street in São Paulo is pretty busy during the day at weekends. I went for a run Saturday afternoon along the cycle path running in the middle of the road through town. It was really well maintained and even had traffic lights for when the cars needed to drive across the cycle lane.
The majority of side streets are very undulating also so it’s easy to get in a good hills workout. I ran the one from the metro stop to our hostel a few times on Sunday morning and my legs were burning afterwards!
Also on the Sunday the main road through town was closed to cars to allow cyclists and pedestrians unrestricted movement throughout the area. I’m not sure if this was a weekly event but it was great to see it being really made use of, it was so busy!