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    Exploring Sao Paulo

    I was on my way to a place that I had longed to see for quite some time and the heat was on. After a flight for almost 14 hours, we reached the largest city in Brazil, Sao Paulo.

    The passport inspection process was very easy and quick. Turkish citizens can stay in Brazil without a visa for 90 days. So you don’t have to get a visa before going there or on entrance.

    Leaving the airport we were on our way to our hotel, The Grand Mercure, which was in a safe district of the city. Sao Paulo is a city with some safety problems. That’s why it’s important to be careful about the location of the hotel when you are booking.

    We planned to stay in Sao Paulo for 3 days, so we didn’t have much time to see the city. After having our breakfast at the hotel, we hit the streets to explore the city. I was feeling kind of relaxed because I was travelling with a Spanish speaking friend. In Brazil, where the official language is Portuguese, English was not very common, but we were able to more or less we communicate with people using Spanish.

    First stop: Paulista Street

    In the cab on our way to Paulista Street which is assumed to be the center of the city, I had opportunity to see something of the city. There were skyscrapers and heavy traffic everywhere. My first impression was that Sao Paulo was more beautiful than Buenos Aires.

    After a 20-25 minutes ride we reached Paulista Street. We had heard that it was the safest district in the city. Housing high buildings, the 2.8 km long Avineda Paulista, is one of the most important streets in Sao Paulo. I am sure buildings like MASP serving as an art museum or FIESP on Paulista will attract architecture lovers, but if you ask me, there was nothing to see around this area. If you have too much time in your hands, you can go there just to say “we were on Paulista Street.”

    Churrascaria Rodizio: Brazilian style steak house

    From the moment I got on the plane, it was on my mind, one way or another I had to visit a steakhouse while in Sao Paulo. Probably you know, the steakhouses of Brazil are very famous. Being in Brazil I couldn’t have missed such an opportunity.

    These steakhouses have this characteristic: They put a card on your table. One side of the card is red and the other is green. Until you turn the card red side up to indicate that you’re full, every ten minutes they serve meat from a different part of the animal. The name of the place we went to was Vento Haragono. I guess we must have eaten a kilo of meat each! The service and the steak were very satisfactory. The check was 438 Reals. A little expensive but worth it, it’s one of those spots you should absolutely drop by. I recommend you to try the Guarana drink with your steak.

    A historical terminal: Estaçao Da Luz

    One of the spots on my must see list was main train terminal Estaçao Da Luz. After parking our car around Pinacoteca, we walked to the train station. As a point of interest, Pinacoteca is where wedding shopping is done.

    When we reached the Luz Station, a historical building, and lots of tourists who wanted to get the sense of the historical ambiance met us. As we went in, two trains also entered the station at the same time. It’s hard to describe that moment. Thousands of people were getting of the train as thousands more were waiting to get on. It was a large stream of people. We were upstairs and not inside the crowds but we felt the magical effect of that stream in every inch of our body.

    Leaving the Estaçao Da Luz, I recommend you to drop by the park, just across from the station, Parque Da Luz. Though it isn’t a very big park, we had lots of fun touring around. All that green and beauty really impressed us.

    City market Mercado Municipal

    People say “if you really want to get to know a city, go to its market”, and that’s what we did. The most famous market in the city, Mercada Municipal, is in a closed area of Cantairera Street. As soon as you go inside, a heavy fish smell confronts you. After a few steps you’ll see the herbalists and grocery stands selling tropical fruits. I strongly recommend a tour around the grocery stands. You’re sure to come across some fruits that you’ve never seen before. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the Mamao and Jabuticaba fruits. I loved them, I think you will too. The second floor of the market is composed of cafes. Don’t be surprised when you go up and see the crowd. It might seem like the whole of Sao Paulo has come to grab a bite to eat at the same time. We chose Montedela Brazil and ate Carne Seca there. Both the food and the prices were good.

    Exhilaration spot: Ibirapuera Park

    It was the most exhilarating place in Sao Paulo for me. The park was very beautiful and very close to our hotel. I am lost for words to describe the beauty of this park. Though we went there in the evening, we saw lots of people working out, which was a hard thing to believe. There were people walking, jogging, skate boarding, everybody was enjoying the park.

    Bohemian district: Vila Madalena

    My friends wanted to go to the Vila Madelana district for dinner. I was exhausted but I joined them anyway. It took 30 minutes to go there by cab from our hotel. If you ever visit Sao Paulo, I recommend you to go to Vila Madelana which is famous for its art galleries, cafes and Bohemian residents, I think you’ll enjoy it very much.

    After strolling around a little, we decided to go to a restaurant called Sao Cristavao. The specialty of this restaurant was that it had something belonging to every football team from all around the world. Of course as a big Fenerbahçe fan, I checked for the colors yellow and navy. I was very proud when I saw the Fenerbahçe jersey and scarf hanging on the ceiling. I can hear you say “Wasn’t there anything from Galatasaray?” Yep, there were some stuff from Galatasaray too.

    After dinner we sat at one of the nice cafes close by. Live music accompanied our Brazilian specialty drink Caipirinha. Before it was late, we returned to our hotel. 

    If you have the time and the opportunity…

    Arena Corinthians where the 2014 FIFA World Cup opening match was held, Cathedral De Se, the symbol of the city, and the Museum Independência Sao Paulo should be on your places to see list.

    In general…

    Though Brazil has the fifth largest economy among developing countries, there was a big gap between the income distribution in Sao Paulo, the largest commercial and industrial city of the country. 80 percent of the population live in the slums called “favela.” The high percentage of the poverty causes a safety problem in the city.

    With a population of 20 million, San Paulo is a permanent traffic jam. To solve this traffic problem they set very interesting rules. Like the last numbers on the car’s license plate determine which day and at what time you can be on the roads, other than those hours it’s forbidden.

    Moreover, the motorcycle riders are fearless. When two cars were going side by side on the road, the bike riders pass continuously between them. Because of that every year lots of people lose their lives in Sao Paulo.

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