Yes, I went to Sao Paulo for the weekend. And bloody brilliant it was too.
First, the logistics. I’ve already reviewed both my flight out there and the hotel, the Palacio Tangara. However I was surprised about how easy and convenient it actually is for a weekend.
We flew out on a Thursday night on BA246, which lands at 07.15 on the Friday morning. It’s roughly and eleven hour flight meaning you’ve got time to eat dinner on board, have a decent sleep and wake up the next morning. Sao Paulo in the winter is only two hours behind the UK, meaning there’s virtually no jet-lag.
On the way back, we got the slightly earlier BA240 departure, leaving at 16.05 and arriving at 06.15 back in the UK. Again, more than enough time for an early dinner, a decent sleep, leaving more than enough time to shower in the arrivals lounge and head into work (or connect onwards to Amsterdam for work in my case). So that’s two days out of the office for almost four full days in Brazil.
The city itself is massive. During my time there I don’t think I barely scratched the surface.
MAC not only has seven floors of art, it’s also got a rather fabulous restaurant and bar on the top floor with some great views of the urban sprawl that is Sao Paulo.
The exhibition over at the Bienal was truly fascinating to walk around. I’m not really an arty person being a science geek, but there was just a fantastic vibe and energy about the place that’s very hard to describe.
I took a few photos, of what I’ve got no idea, but hopefully it gives a flavour of what was there.
Most evenings we went to the Jardins area which was a hub of shops, restaurants and bars.
The weather did let us down a little while we were there though – most evenings it rained quite heavily making it slightly unpredictable.
Given the political situation with the recent election of Bolsonaro, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but wandering around the shopping district of Rua Oscar Freire, there were no shortage of gay couples holding hands looking through the boutiques. Clearly one upmarket shopping street in the centre of a major city isn’t going to be representative, however clearly life is going on unimpeded at the moment. That said, it’s very concerning, and something I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on in the media.
We used Uber everywhere, which was quick, ubiquitous, cheap and convenient.
In terms of general safety, again, I didn’t feel unsafe anywhere. Saying that, I’ve grown up in a large city so have a vague idea about staying safe in a big conurbation. However, I did make sure that I knew where I was going, didn’t have my phone out on the streets, and was generally aware of who was around me.
The Uber driver we met on the first evening was also really helpful, and gave us a good list of places to go, and suggestions for things to do and restaurants to eat at.
I sort of feel that this is a bit of a rubbish review as to be honest, I didn’t do much other than chill at the rather amazing hotel, venturing out now and then to the museums, and to a couple of bars and restaurants.
That said, I kind of wish I had a local to show me around. It’s definitely a business city and not speaking Portuguese was a challenge. It’s also utterly massive, with terrible traffic. That said, I had a brilliant time and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.