South America · Travel

São Paulo, Brazil – Brazil’s Big Apple

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Arriving from Buzios, the first thing we noticed about São Paulo is that it goes on…and on…and on! It is massive. The city of São Paulo  is home to over 12,000,000 people and sprawls over 1521 square kilometres. It is a very dense city, with 6 times more people per square kilometre than my home town of London. Our coach drove for over an hour to reach the centre. When we finally arrived, we got checked in and had an early night.

The Hostel

Scan of São Paulo Hostel Downtown Guest Card with room number 407, check in date 17/02 and check out 19/02. The other side of the card has a Subway Map showing 2 lines.
Guest card and subway map from Sao Paulo Hostel Downtown

São Paulo Hostel Downtown was a very well run hostel, the second Hostelling International run property in Brazil. The staff were incredibly helpful, you can see even their room card has lots of information on it. They speak English and the reception is open 24 hours. There’s free wifi and a pool table in the common area (always a win with me, despite me being completely rubbish at it).

Photo of a hostel room with yellow walls, 2 double bed, a table and chair, TV and ac under a large window.

The room was a bit fusty but it was big and it had a mini fridge which really came in useful in the heat.

A yellow wall of a hostel room. A table and drawer with under counter fridge. A a grey TV on a stand. Hangers on hooks on higher on the wall.
Room 407 facilities

The Tower

Photo of a lobby in the background is a tall hanging chandelier, lit up.
Banespa Building Lobby

Our first stop was the Altino Arantes building (the Banespa Building now owned by Santander). Karl was particularly excited about this as he is a Santander account holder. He also loves a tall building! On entering the lobby, to the right, is a fantastic old safe from 1882. This is a lovely example of when things were built for beauty as well as practicality.

The lift took us up to the 33rd floor and from there the expanse of São Paulo spread beneath us. We couldn’t see where it ended. Well, for sight-impaired little me that’s not much of a surprise, but neither could Karl.

“Every time I think I can see the edge, I realise that it’s not the horizon, but another line of buildings!”

The Concert – Part One

Back at street level, we went a-wandering.

We arrived at the Theatro Municipal to discover that it was shut for renovation. Our disappointment ebbed when we saw a poster advertising a free concert that evening in a smaller concert venue, five minutes walk from our hostel. We popped into the box office and secured our seats.


After a ten minute pitstop to play with some kittens (Karl does like to tempt rabies) we decided it was time for some food. we found a “kilo” restaurant. This kind of buffet is very typical in Brazil, especially in São Paulo. In the UK, we make sure to load up on  high price items when we go to a buffet but in a kilo restaurant, the price you pay is calculated by the weight of your food. Follow the table around and then place your plate on the scales. I think the only way to win at that game is to hope they have candy floss.

To walk off lunch, we took a stroll through a park and admire the prostitutes that lined the path. They gazed lethargically into the distance as the midday sun glinted off their golden brown shoulders, bleaching their fake blonde highlights. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen such a parade in the day time.

We also took a moment to admire the queue at the bus stop.

This was the second huge queue we had seen that day. And still it’s us Brits with the reputation.

The Concert – Part Two

The concert that evening was a triumph. We turned up, took our seats and let the classical pieces wash over us. We had prime seats in the front row, We weren’t meant to snap any pictures but we couldn’t resist (that’s why it’s a little blurry)

The Next Day

We had very little time so we just spent an hour in a large garden before we had to get going to Rio, and the greatest party on earth.

Rosie xx

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