Strolling through Sao Paolo.

Sao Paolo skyline I just tagged along on my husband’s business trip to Sao Paolo (more about THAT later…) and I have to say, we had a brilliant time in the Land of Drizzle.

Sao Paolo is huge — with about 20 million people in the metro area, it’s the largest city proper in the southern hemisphere — so I can’t pretend that in five days we saw anything close to all of it. But we did walk about 8-12 miles a day taking in the sights:lake

Gorgeous, sprawling Ibirapuera Park; Cathdral de Se; and the awesome, lip-smacking Mercado Municipal…



Sugared Figs

olive mix…tony Rua Oscar Freire (street of fabulous shops); and rollicking flea markets…

Sterling silver fork I found for $20! (not on Oscar Friente..)

Sterling silver fork I found for $20! (not on Oscar Friente..)

… plus the haunting, exhaustive & exhausting Museu Afro-Brasil, Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM), and architect Oscar Neimeyer’s super-cool Oca and Auditorio buildings (all conveniently located in Ibirapuera Park) …auditorio

not to mention the jaw-dropping Hotel Unique — Hotel Unique

…where of course we had to stop and have a drink at the cactus-ringed, uber-trendy rooftop bar.

View from the top

View from the top of Hotel Unique’s SkyBar.

In my opinion, there’s no better way to see a city than walking… sidewalk SP

…although I was kinda hoping for a helicopter ride since Sao Paolo has more helicopters than any other city (weird fact, but it makes sense given SP’s unbelievably bad traffic).

A light day on the freeway.

A light day on the freeway.

Sao Paolo has more Italians and Japanese than anywhere except Italy and Japan, which means you’re going to eat well .. and it’s going to cost you.

On the cheap ... but sooo good!

Mercado Municipal pasteles are one way to eat on the cheap … and they’re sooo good!

In truth, Sao Paolo is insanely expensive. More so than NYC, London or Paris — which was kinda shocking, and not in a good way. A cocktail routinely costs @ $20 (always my price index marker). Bruschetta was $18. A salad, $20. And these prices are from rather casual, low-key restaurants. I have no idea how Paulistanos afford to go out, but they do — constantly — and like any Italian-influenced culture, people obsessively talk about food.

(Those aren't chips in the front right ... they're parmesan wedges!)

(Those aren’t chips on the front right … they’re parmesan wedges!)


Fava beans … and a nice Chianti??

Larry's favorite-- now that's Italian!

Larry’s favorite– now that’s Italian!

I loved hearing beautiful Portugese spoken on the street.

Ibirapuera sky

Look at uma árvore!

I loved the way clouds rolled in and the city got softly foggy every day around 4:30…

city skyline…and I loved my first look at Brazil.

SP spring

Obrigado, Sao Paolo!!

21 thoughts on “Strolling through Sao Paolo.

    • I wish we could afford Sao Paolo when not on a business trip, too! (I finally forced myself to pry open my wallet and spend the money to go to Unique’s SkyBar — but mostly we ate at small family places or in the mercado.) As for my photos of food — it’s totally a symptom of my greatest love: Eating! (Those parmesan wedges were SO delicious but luckily they were about $20/pound so I resisted them.) Always great to hear from you, BB!

      • It’s one of my “bucket list” items – I’ve always dreamed of going to South America and soak up the culture, so living vicariously through someone else’s travels, photos etc is wonderful 🙂

    • I’m really glad you liked the post, PI!! I’d heard that SP was not a very attractive city, but I found it really fascinating — and just going to a mercado (not to mention a SkyBar) is always enough to put me in a good mood!!! Plus, how fun to experience spring in October, right??

  1. Betty: Portuguese (Brasileiro style as opposed to Portugal style) is the sexiest language on earth! (However, that shot of fruit was almost obscene!) When Mimi’s and my father lived there in the 70’s you could taste the petrol on your tongue and crime was rampant. Glad there are places of incredible beauty as you have captured so freaking well! Excellent job more-than-tagging-along! xo Tina, in Rio it was pronounced Cheena. Maybe you are Bettchee?

    • Yeah, who knew plums could be so …. kinky?!! I had almost forgotten that you & Mimi had been to Brasil so many times with your dad … but I’ll bet it’s really changed dramatically in the last 20 years. I heard that Sao Paolo used to be incredibly violent and the slums were atrocious — but it’s actually just a huge, sprawling city now… feels almost like Europe. I love that you were Cheena…. nobody pronounced my name, sadly … but you Bettchee I wish they had!

  2. The camino is wonderful. I did it with Chandler in a class, but not walking, as it takes about 6 weeks to walk. We followed (loosely) the route, and the country and food are amazing.

  3. Kathryn, you picked the right place in Ecuador — it’s gobs cheaper!! Interestingly, our hotel wasn’t too expensive (about $120/night) maybe because it was in a building of flats and hotel rooms — kinda strange but very nice and clean, with a good view. But the food & drink costs are ridiculous! Thanks for writing!!

  4. What a wonderful post, Betty. I had no idea that Sao Paulo was so huge–20 million is a lot of folks! And interesting how expensive it is. I know now I could never afford to live there. I suppose the Mercado would be more in my price range. Glad you had such a great visit–whatever it cost. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

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