…not that the locals in Sao Paulo seem to care. This was in stark contrast to the same celebrations in Peru, where the streets were littered in Peruvian flags and special parades were being put on. All anyone seems to see today as is an excuse to get out of the city, as evidenced by the terrible traffic I witnessed last night. This therefore meant my drive to return the car to the airport was unusually quiet, with waiting at traffic lights being the main time consumer, rather than sitting in congestion. I did however get a bit lost on my way back to the rental agency, but I had a stroke of luck as one of the agency’s employees spotted my car, honked at me, and allowed me to follow him the rest of the way. The car was then returned with no issues and with no comment on the amount of dirt all over it.
My next task was to make it to the bus terminal local to my friend Maria who I will be staying with the next couple of nights. It was actually very easy, with regular air-conditioned coaches departing, and the journey taking under half of the predicted 75 minutes due to the lack of cars on the roads today. Maria then picked me up from the terminal, and we went back to hers where her mum had a great lunch of chicken and pasta waiting for me. We then had a catch up while we waited for her other friend to arrive from the airport so we could do a spot of sightseeing.
On discussing what there is to see here in Sao Paulo, it turned out there isn’t actually very much. This was further backed up by some internet research, which only really mentions the Avenida Paulista and historic centre (which we are seeing tomorrow), before advising going to the theatre and out to restaurants (not really in my traveller budget). We therefore decided to take a drive down the Avenida Paulista, which is essentially the financial and cultural centre of the city. The avenue is lined with modern high-rise office blocks, and a number of brightly lit radio antennae due to it also being one of the highest points in the city. Apparently real estate on the road is considered to be the most expensive in all of Latin America.
From the top of the Avenida Paulista, we drove to the nearby Ibirapuera Park, which is Sao Paulo’s equivalent of Hyde Park or Central Park. The city’s obelisk stands proudly in the centre of the park, and was nicely lit up. At certain times of year there are extravagant light shows at night, though unfortunately we didn’t get to see one today. Once we had finished our drive around the park’s perimeter, we headed back to Maria’s for some dinner before heading to a local bar for some drinks. Tomorrow we will finish off the main sights of Sao Paulo by visiting the historic centre.
Photo of the day: it was difficult to take good photos from the car, but here is one of a statue in Ibirapuera Park.