Cosmopolitan Sao Paulo

Called Paulistanos, the good citizens of Sao Paulo have a reputation for being hard working and very industrious.  They must be doing something right for Brazil’s, and South America’s, largest city is responsible for 15% of Brazil’s wealth.

The Paulistanos truly are cosmopolitan, as the city is blessed with having cultural influences from just about everywhere.

For instance, Sao Paulo has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.  The city’s Italian influence is also very strong, and Sao Paulo is said to be the second Italian city in the world. The large Christian Arab and Jewish communities are also well represented in all levels of society, from art to real estate businesses, and notably in politics.

However, Sao Paulo is still very much a Brazilian city.  Even though the people may be industrious, the city still has the Brazilian verve and love of life you would expect.  It may be Rio’s conservative cousin, but when the Paulistanos are not working, they are partying.

When visiting the city, a good place to start you adventure is Avenida Paulista, as its city blocks bring together the wealth of the São Paulo Industries Federation, the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo, which has the largest collection of European paintings in Latin America, the gardens of Casa das Rosas and Trianon park, modern skyscrapers, the cultural exhibitions at Centro Itau, entertainment at the Teatro Brasileiro de Comedia, learning at the Sao Luis College and school, the Santa Catarina hospital, the Instituto Pasteur immunization center, and the Eastern Orthodox architecture of the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Syrian Cathedral. Over one million people and 100,000 cars make their way along the Avenida Paulista on any given business day. Even back in 1891 its original designers intended it to be a grand ceremonial boulevard.

Sao Paulo has the largest underground transportation system in Brazil; people refer to it as “metro”. It serves most of the important areas and is the safest and cleanest way to get around Sao Paulo.    

One of the best ways to get to know Sao Paulo is with Turismetro who offer a variety of city tours every weekend. The tours are mostly walking but with some use of the metro. There is no charge but you will need to take some money with you to buy metro tickets during the tour as necessary. Tours start at the Turis Metro desk in Se metro station at 9am and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays; you need to arrive half an hour earlier to sign up. The desk is inside the ticket barriers, so if you arrive by metro don’t leave the station while looking for the desk or you’ll have to pay for an extra ticket to get back in, and if you’re already in the area you will have to pay for a ticket to gain access to the desk, although you will use it to make the first journey of the tour so it’s not wasted. The guides do speak English.

Food in Sao Paulo is the best in the country and rivals that of any major capital in the world. If you are there and like to eat meat, make sure you try the rodizios (barbecue) or feijoada (pork and beans) which, for some reason, is served only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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