Three Days in São Paulo (She's Got a Snappy Kinda' Shine)
We rocked up to the gated apartment building, set to press buzzer, when I realised I didn’t know the apartment number.
"What’s the number?” I asked Ja-dee
“Ah, hang on, it’s…….shit. She didn’t message me the apartment number.”
I scanned the thirty plus buzzers in front of me, then started pushing a few at random, speaking a mix of desperate Spanglish in the hopes someone would let us in. The Spanish was becoming obsolete the further we moved from Foz de Iguazu. In most places, English was more helpful, though not as much as Google Translate.
We were sat on the front steps like two abandoned gringo’s when Maria opened the buildings’ iron doors for us.
Dear silver-haired, Spanish speaking, home-in-the-middle-of-the-day, Maria.
With her help we found our (apologetic) Airbnb hosts, who were awesome.
They’d met in Germany, when she’d gone on an exchange there for Uni. Her time there had “introduced me to a culture that thought more about the environment then they did about looks”. He’d followed her back to Brazil, and they’d settled in the centre of cultural cool, Vila Madalena.
Vila Madalena's a funky place. It's far from the unforgiving aesthetics I'd been expecting. In Floripa, a lot of people had told us Sao Paulo was an 'ugly city'.
It may not have the beaches of Florianopolis (or it's comparative rival Rio de Janeiro), but Sao Paulo's steeped in culture.
I had one of the best coffee fixes of the entire trip at Coffee Lab. If you a caffeine lover then you’ll fall head over heels for the menu’s dedication to the art of coffee.
No neighbourhood of cultural cool is complete without a jazz bar. We sipped red wine at one of the front tables inside Madeleine Jazz Bar, listening to a live band playing a funked up, bluesy kind of jazz for hours.
If you need a breather from the city, you can hire a bike at Ibirapuera Park. There’s a few museums inside that you can stop off at, before having a picnic on the grass.
We arrived with fresh food we’d bought from Vila Madalenas open air markets. Every weekend, the neighbourhoods closes it’s streets to traffic for half a day, allowing hundreds of stalls selling fruits, cheeses, breads, vegetables and more, the space to set up.
We spent half a day stumbling across all sorts of boutique stores in Vila Madalena, getting lost in the best way, before a street party gearing up for Carnaval swept us half way around the neighbourhood.
We emerged a little more glittery than before, right outside Batman Alley (Beco do Batman), a must-see laneway of street art that curves around the back off the district, close to a plethora of bars, cafes, markets and shops.
If you do one thing in Sao Paulo, go to the Sunday markets at Avenida Paulista.
The six lane avenue is closed to cars, so you can zig zag the entire length at random, enjoying the live music that fades in and out with your movements.
Just watch out for the cycle lanes.
It’s hard to stay focused with stalls of funky art, second hand clothing, jewellery, food, and the uniquer exterior of one of the city’s most well-known museums MASP, gravitating all around you.
On our last morning in Sao Paulo, we took some chocolate around to Maria’s. She invited us inside her eclectic apartment for tea, which we drank sitting around her small kitchen table.
Afterwards, we moved over to the futon she used to see her clients. For energy healing. I think. There’s always a few Spanish words that get lost in the mix.
She showed us her collection of wooden statues and crystals, before disappearing into her bedroom. She returned with a piece of jewellery for each of us, for safe travels.
There must of been something to it, because despite everyones warnings, the only trouble we had in Rio was choosing our outfits for Carnaval.