If you have ever thought about visiting Sao Paulo, but wondering if it’s safe or not, then read on for inspiration. We had a ball, trusted complete strangers and had an absolute ball!
So before I start this post, I have a confession to make. The following post is entirely based on me jotting my memory over the events of this trip. While I was very careful to take notes of things I wanted to write about, I recently changed phones. So all my actual notes are gone. However, I promise not to take too much creative liberty when recounting the events from our trip.
How did we end up visiting Sao Paulo?
Before arriving in Sao Paulo, we were in Cusco where we did our 4-day Inca Trail. Now, some might say that Brazil is not exactly a destination to relax, but after doing 12 hour+ days of trekking, sleeping in tents in sub-zero temperatures and testing the limit of our hygiene preferences, Mrs FOMOist and I were ready to unwind by roaming around in an urban jungle.
Sao Paulo is like a jealous cousin of New York
My memory might be spotty, but I do remember enjoying Sao Paulo (pronounced Sewn Paulo by the locals) a lot. Most tourists and locals agree that visiting Sao Paulo is not a true representation of Brazil as a country. By their tone, I gathered they meant it as a negative, but we truly enjoyed every second we spent there. It is a cultural melting pot like most other big cities.
Did you know? Sao Paulo has more helipads than New York (go figure!).
During a free walking tour, the guide continually pointed out places that were “just like New York”. With so many New York references, it makes me wonder if Sao Paulo is the jealous cousin of the Big Apple. It even has a building called Altino Arantes that looks awfully similar to the Empire State Building, but a lot more humble in its stature.
Largest Japanese population outside of Japan
The next quirk about this eclectic city is that it has the largest population of Japanese inhabitants outside of Japan. Slurping up ramen, served by Portuguese speaking Japanese waiter, in city-fringe is definitely a unique experience. This little roll (not a slice) is in an area called Liberdade. This might not be in your immediate tourist track, but it is well worth a visit. They even have a McDonald’s with Japanese signage!
It’s a Street Art Gallery
Another thing Sao Paulo is rightly famous for is it’s abundance of breath-taking street art. There is a lot of graffiti, tagging and defacing of building as well. But, there are abundant art pieces, that are truly awe-inspiring.
If you are not that patient and short of time, a visit to Beco do Batman (Batman Alley) will quench your thirst for street art. It’s colourful, it’s vibrant, it’s psychedelic and if you’re anything like me, you can easily spend hours noticing little gems in all pieces.
Sao Paulo knows how to party
Now we can’t visit Brazil and not party. In all fairness, we hadn’t planned on it, until we met some cool cats during our free walking tour. Towards the end of this walking tour, there was a group of us who naturally gravitated towards each other and all of us were keen on hanging out together. The group mainly consisted of the following;
- The coolest Aussie guy from Perth we have ever met (and pretty convinced we will ever meet).
- Gorgeous Colombian beauty who was totally digging the Aussie guy. She was a bit shy to admit it, but ended up “getting together” with him after Mrs. and Mr. FOMOist playing cupids (successfully may I add). UPDATE: They are now living a very happy life together in Perth, Australia.
- A British High School teacher who had Salsa moves to give the Brazilians run for their money.
We partied into the early hours of the night near the Vila Madalena district, got rolled up to safety into an Uber ordered for us by an extremely helpful local who took pity on us. Needless to say, we woke up feeling like death warmed up the next morning. Unable to move the entire day, apart from going out and getting a McDonald’s burger around 8.00pm and I still struggled to make my way through that.
Thank God we bought our multiple pairs of Havianas and devoured on brigadeiros earlier in the trip.