São Paulo is metropolitan, the most populated in Brazil and the largest Portuguese speaking city in the world. It’s wealth, its industry and its creativity lurks at every corner, even in corners one might overlook as worn down or low economy. It’s a busy city, known for food, nightlight and art.
graffiti touring in vila madalena
The graffiti tour through São Paulo’s Vila Madalena was a first for me. I have long been attracted to graffiti; one of my fondest travel memories was an independent walk along Berlin’s East Side Gallery. But São Paulo was my first guided tour into the graffiti culture, and it’s now a priority everywhere I go. If you go to São Paulo, I implore you to explore the graffiti culture of Vila Madalena. If you don’t feel like a tour, then navigate yourself to Beco do Batman.
Shot from my graffiti in São Paulo’s Vila Madalena.
I didn’t brave ordering the thing I couldn’t pronounce–Acai–until the last leg of my trip to Brazil. That’s either a good thing for my wallet or a bad think for my obsession. Acai is a popular treat in São Paulo either in juice-form or in bowl-form, served with other fruits. It’s sweet and tangy, and I hear it’s even good for you. Acai berries have double the antioxidants of blueberries and ten times that of grapes. They are good for heart, skin and digestion. But love it, and ended up order acai every chance I could.
Just one of my daily acai stops.
ate up the japanese influence
São Paulo has a very large Japanese population.
HISTORY LESSON: In the late 1890s, Brazil was the last to join the western world by abolishing slavery. This created a huge labor shortage. Meanwhile in Japan, the end of feudalism created rampant poverty in the rural area which inspired families to emigrate. The U.S. and Australia both had non-white immigration restrictions, but Brazil has no restrictions against the Japanese. Plus, they had coffee plantations in need of workers. So a large Japanese population traveled around the Cape of Good Hope towards Brazil. Between 1917 and 1940, 164,000 Japanese came to Brazil, 75% of them going to São Paulo.
HISTORY LESSON CONTINUES: The plantations owners were still in slave-owning mindsets, and set upon these free, Japanese workers just as they had their Afro-Brazilian slaves. There were many efforts to assimilate the Japanese and to whiten the population of Brazil–similar to plans Australia had for its population. In the 1940s, during World War 2, Japanese-Brazilians were put in internment camps like Japanese-Americans were in the U.S.. But the Japanese-Brazilians held vast to their traditions, their foods and the religion. Japanese children born in Brazil went to Japanese school, most only learning the Japanese language. It was by these means that the Japanese culture in Brazil, namely São Paulo, is so vibrant. In the last 50 years Japanese-Brazilian is a notably, successful community.
Japanese citizens started to arrive in São Paulo’s Liberdade neighborhood around 1912. Therefore, I gave myself every liberty to explore the sushi options of São Paulo to my great pleasure. I also ventured to ASKA Lamen Point in Liberdade. This ramen place had a line going down the sidewalk. It was a cheap meal and well recommended by its line and my friends. The place was narrow, brightly lit, and efficient… and it was delicious!
Samba is big in São Paulo. Search for a place that has lessons, or squeeze into one of the tiny venues, have a few drinks and listen to the music. Chances are that someone will come along and ask you to join–male or female.
The Samba Bar
meeting at les 3 brassears
One the things people marvel at the most about traveling alone is eating alone. I always enjoyed solo dining, whether it was in my hometown or abroad, because solo dining has powers. If you really want the alone time, you can read a book or unwind from the trials of the day, but if you want to meet people and chatter, this can more easily be done on your own.
At Les 3 Brassears in São Paulo, I ordered my dinner and my flight of locally brewed beers at the bar and chatted with the guys next to me. The conversation started easily enough, “I recognize your accents. Are you from the Northeast?” They all worked in theatre production and were in São Paulo to work on Wicked‘s premier in Brazil. We talked about musicals, I bragged about seeing Hamilton and had a great evening.
Les 3 Brassears was great space with a great beer. I went there a few more times to enjoy the beverages and the other patrons.
focused on coffee
Octavio was a fancy coffee shop near my AirBNB. They roast their own coffee, had amble seating and great wifi. I would journey to this location regularly. Most coffee shops in this coffee-area of the world–roasted their own coffee with fantastic results. I found little hubs of digital nomads and remote workers through São Paulo and communed with these people over delicious and locally-grown coffee.
Most cafes in Sao Paulo had in-house coffee roasting