São Paulo, Foz do Iguaçu and Florianopolis: Part 1

May 08, 2015

Brazil is a huge place so this is going to be a three-part post. In my mind, the whole country is sort of like Texas in that everything there is bigger. The parties are massive, the cities are gargantuan, the beaches stretch down the coasts for miles and even the waterfalls are massive!

Let’s start in São Paulo, the tenth largest city in the world and THE largest city in Brazil with twenty million people. This place is freakin HUGE! When you get a little elevation here you can see just how far the city sprawls; high rises can be seen in the distance nearly all the way to the horizon. Many Brazilians regard São Paulo as the place where people work all day and sometimes all night. It is the financial hub of Brazil and home to the São Paulo Stock Exchange. It’s a great place to check out but isn’t well suited for tourism. It’s said that the only way to enjoy São Paulo as a tourist is with the help of a local; luckily for us my cousin and her husband live there with their three children and were kind enough to take us in and show us around.

My cousin Liz and the family
showing us around Sao Paolo 

So what were the sights? Well, the highlights for me were the fantastic graffiti art at a place known as Batman Alley and the wonderfully perfect blend of sugar fat that can be found at any street market on a Saturday in the form of pastels and fresh squeezed sugarcane juice. Heck, I’ll even mention the feijoada (said “feshj-wada”), a poor mans stew that coats your innards like drywall joint compound.

The graffiti in São Paulo is quite good. It isn’t the best I’ve seen on our trip so far but it’s right up there in the top three. Maybe Valparaiso and some of the stuff in Bogotá are a little better, but it all depends on your tastes. The coolest thing about the art in São Paulo was that no one seemed to fuck with it. In many other places, someone will put something incredible together only to have it partially destroyed by someone tagging the art with something stupid or someone doing something completely different right over their piece. In São Paulo however, there seems to be some code of conduct that artists and random taggers all abide by; find your own goddamn wall and leave my art alone. For that reason, I was able to snap some pretty great photos of work that I really enjoyed. Someday I will print some of those photos to canvas and hang them on my wall.

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A examples of the fantastic street art  

Pastels and cane sugar juice, HOLY SHIT this stuff is good. It’s such a simple recipe for success! First you have the pastel, a dough pocket like thing about 10 inches long and 3 across that is filled with various items like chicken, cheese, tomato, etc. then fried to crispy perfection. They are cheap, delicious, filling and of course greasy as all hell but man are they good. Then you have cane sugar juice, freshly squeezed and usually mildly flavored with your choice of freshly squeezed fruit juices. My favorite was with lemon and plenty of it. It was like an Arnold Palmer but without tea, pure sugary (but not too sweet) and tangy deliciousness perfect for washing down a greasy meat and cheese filled fried super-hot-pocket. These two things combined are easily one of the world’s most complete hangover cures. There’s just something sublimely perfect about waking up after a night of hardy drinking and cramming down a few pastels and a liter of delicious juice. I’m sure many Brazilians would completely agree.

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A delicious pastel eatery that pops up every Saturday.

A typical cane juice setup serving delicious and fresh

Lastly, we have the feijoada. To be honest, this stuff isn’t the best thing I’ve had but it was pretty darn good and super filling. It began as a poor man’s stew using leftover bits of meat and veggies that was served with rice and beans making the whole thing VERY affordable. It was quite delicious and man does it sit in your stomach like a brick. After a small bowl shared between Jen and I, we were both stuffed full and ready to waddle home for a nap. If you’re in São Paulo, it’s a can’t-miss-meal that won’t break the bank.

Next-up is our third destination in Brazil, Foz do Iguaçu or Iguaçu Falls. If you think Niagara Falls in New York state is impressive then get out a mop because your mind will be blown when you see these ones. Look for the second installment of this post in a few days.

Category: Places

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