Apparently I have been very lucky with the weather here in Sao Paulo – a rather hot 33 degrees with bright sunshine during the winter. It was therefore the perfect day to go walking around the historic city centre in order to check out the city’s main sights. The plan was to first head to a skyscraper in an area called Republica, where we would get great views over the whole city from the viewing platform. However, on arrival it turned out the viewing platform isn’t open at weekends (the building’s website had lied to us), and the only way to get to the top would be to pay a steep entry fee for the bar. Deciding against it, we instead went to the local tourist office to grab some maps, before starting our own self-guided walking tour.
We first headed toward the cathedral, and on the way passed the ‘Theatro Municipal’, which is the city’s main theatre. We went into the ticket office in order to take a peek into the foyer, and it was lavishly decorated, with a marble staircase and red carpets – I’m sure it would be a great experience to see a show there. We then made our way to the cathedral, which I can only assume is dedicated to St Paul, the city’s namesake. The cathedral was similar to cathedrals you see in major Italian or Spanish cities, with a huge interior featuring the usual intricate statues and stained-glass windows. Once back outside, we took a wander across the road, where there is a large open area, with various sculptures and fountains.
Our next stop was Sao Paulo’s Chinatown, which you know you are in because the streets are lined with Chinese style lampposts. The main thing to see was a street market selling all sorts of useless ornaments. We didn’t buy anything, but we did all get some tasty ice lollies, which helped to cool us down for a bit. By the time we had reached the top of the market, we had wandered off the map we were using. We therefore backtracked so we could find our way to our next destination, which was a place called ‘Pateo do Collegio’. It was there that in 1554 the city was founded, and there was a plaque to commemorate the event, as well as a bell which we all had a go at ringing.
The last main place we visited in the centre was a large indoor market, which is renowned around the city for the food on offer. We had a wander round, and the main thing which caught my eye was the large selection of exotic fruits on offer. There were all sorts which I had never seen or heard of before, and some were rather expensive (up to £30 a kilo), I am guessing because they come all the way from the rainforest in the north. From the market we headed to get the train, where on the walk we saw a nice sunset over the city. We got the train from an overground station which is in a similar style to old Victorian stations such as King’s Cross.
On the way back to Maria’s we stopped in a local park to try some rather strange ‘ice cream’ which neither me or Pilar had encountered before. I put the word ice cream in inverted commas due to it not really being proper ice cream, but instead being almost tasteless and having an odd texture which is difficult to describe. To be honest it wasn’t anything special, though Maria had warned us beforehand that it might not be.
In the evening Maria asked us what we would like to have for dinner, and Pilar suggested pizza. I of course happily agreed with this suggestion, and we proceeded to visit what was supposedly the best pizza place in town. On arrival it certainly seemed like it must be good, because we had to wait 45 minutes for a table. I’m pleased to report the pizza was as delicious as we had been promised, and it was by far the best pizza I’ve had in South America. After dinner we drove to a five star hotel shaped like a ship (a truly unique building), which has an exclusive bar on top of it with great views over the city at night. Unfortunately the queue to get in was at least an hour, so we decided to give it a miss, accepting that maybe we weren’t destined to see any views over Sao Paulo today!
Photos of the day: the cathedral outside and in, ringing the bell, and a view out over part of the city.