BRAZIL

Exploring Sao Paulo & The Case Of The 24 Million Vanishing People

Sao Paulo Inca to Inuit

Exploring the city of Sao Paulo didn’t quite go as we had planned.

I realise the title sounds a little like a plot from Poirot, but the truth isn’t too far off… Apart from the obligatory murder.

As we are travelling for almost a year in total Christmas and New Year were important makers for us, particularly as we were without our families and friends. Christmas was a great success spent exploring the amazing Buenos Aires, so for New Year we thought, New Year, new country, and decided to celebrate the end of an extraordinary 2015 and usher in 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Christmas in Buenos Aires Pool Side Inca to Inuit

We used the gap between Christmas and New Year to head in earnest to what must be one of the most amazing boarder crossings in the World at Iguazu Falls. Where the massive Rio Iguazu tumbles over hundreds of gargantuan waterfalls at the Argentina/Brazil boarder crossing. A few days exploring the falls and boarder towns and we bussed off towards Sao Paulo on a 15 hour overnight journey with the obligatory toddler in the seat opposite us. What South American bus journey would be complete without a screaming child doing an impression of a death metal lead singer to help you slowly drift off to sleep.

Iguazu Falls, Inca to Inuit

Arriving in Sao Paulo we headed to our Airbnb in the suburban district of Pinheiros where we had five nights booked to explore this huge metropolis. The Airbnb was nice enough, a small modern two-room flat with all important high speed wifi and hot water.

Sao Paulo Inca to Inuit

We didn’t have any plan for New Years eve as such, but we had read that New Year celebrations in Brazil were second only to Carnival. Knowing that we’d be partying it up Brazilian style we though it best to prepare for sore heads the following morning so went to the local shop and bought some essentials.

At around 8:30pm we headed out in our glad rags with the intention of grabbing a bite to eat somewhere and then finding a bar to see in the New Year with the locals. We walked East towards the arty, bohemian neighbourhood of Vila Madalena anticipating tons of eateries and bars rammed with partying Brazilians.

Sao Paulo Inca to Inuit

As it turned out that wasn’t what we found. After leaving our apartment and walking for a few minutes we hadn’t seen a single person, odd for a city of 24m inhabitants all vying for space. The further we walked the weirder it got. An eerie quiet was cast over the city, the occasional light on in apartment blocks, but literally nothing else.

Dismissing this quiet as the norm in an unfamiliar city we put it down to everyone having a late siesta before the party kicked off, or that it was that everyone had headed to the party centres already.

As we walked further and further in search of a bar or restaurant we still had only seen maybe two people in half an hour. Places we passed that looked like they would normally be busy, shopping and eating areas were all deserted and closed.

Sao Paulo Inca to Inuit

By this point we had now been walking for an hour with the only sign of life that had acknowledged our presence being a nuts drunk, homeless man with a over-packed trolley. Not really what we were after. Literally NOTHING was open. Not a bar, an eatery, a shop or even a petrol station was open.

It was at this point that we realised that the only explanation was that there had been a Zombie apocalypse in Sao Paulo and we were the city’s only hope!

Another 40 minutes of walking and seeing not a soul, Lyndsay and I decided enough was enough and headed back to our apartment.

So much for partying it up with Brazilians at New Year. We saw it in with a our supplies earmarked for the morning after. A baguette, half a tub of Philadelphia, and ONE single beer… to share. Absolute ballers!

It was a couple of days later we were told that most of Sao Paulo’s wealthier residents living in the suburban districts go away to the beach for New Year which explains the deserted streets. If nothing else, we certainly had a new year we’ll not be forgetting anytime soon.

Two days after New Year Sao Paulo woke up from it’s slumber and we were able to explore and sample some of what this intriguing city has to offer. Sao Paulo is most definitely rough around the edges, but not to be missed on any South American itinerary simply for the wealth of culture and cuisine.

Sao Paulo Inca to Inuit

Sao Paulo Inca to Inuit

Some of South America’s best museums, restaurants and bars can be found here. Aside from what you’ll find in the guidebooks, our highlights were the amazing cafes and restaurants in Vila Madalena.

Sao Paulo, Inca To Inuit

Head to Meats for a burger and plate of wings. Neither of which you will forget in a while. The dipping sauce for the wings gives even London’s Sticky Wings a run for it’s money. Inventive flavour combinations and hefty portions make Meats a must for any meat lover. Bacio di Late ice cream parlour comes with our highest recommendation. The inventive flavours they concoct in the back of the shop will satisfy even the sweetest of teeth.

Ice Cream Guide South America

The street art of the Vila Madalena district is also not to be missed. Taking a leaf from the Elqui Valley in Chile, the district of Vila Madalena has embraced and championed recycling throughout their district, whether it be through the use of plastic cartons to create plant holders or their bright graffiti promoting how to recycle.

Sao Paulo Inca to Inuit

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