Thursday, February 26, 2009

About Sao Paulo

This is a security blog, and I rarely go off-topic here, as I maintain an "other stuff blog" too. However, I wrote the stuff below to someone who is in Sao Paulo (Brazil, for those who failed in Geography and are not aware of an almost 20 million people city in South America) and asked about what to do in the city. As this is the "English" blog I think it may be more useful to this audience that the audience of the other blog, so, here it is.[About the fences and electrified wires around fancy houses] You see, when you start to think that all those fences, armed guards and armored cars are something normal, you're definitely not in the right place! Not only that, but you'll notice that's too much traffic, too much noise and too much dirty. Having said that, I don't know a better place in the world to eat!Sao Paulo has three areas that can be compared to Toronto Bay Street. There is the "old" one, Avenida Paulista, that is maybe the most known landscape of the city. But most of the big companies now are in two new areas close to the Pinheiros river, Avenida Faria Lima (the "fancy part of the city") and Avenida Berrini (mostly technology companies, Microsoft, HP, etc). There is a new cable sustained bridge ("ponte estaiada") at this region that is the newest landmark of the city.I really love the Ibirapuera park, I used to live very close. It's a nice place to walk around in a Saturday morning. Avoid the Sunday as it's usually too crowded. I miss early morning running there.I like the old city centre. There are some (not very well maintained) nice old buildings, like the old city theatre. There is the place were the city was founded, a small jesuit church, the Vale do Anhangabau place (nice, but not very clean too) and the Sao Bento church (Gothic style, I really like this one).As I said, SP is the food paradise for me. You should try the pizza, I don't know a better one. Some places to go:- Mercado Municipal - The equivalent of St. Lawrence market. Try the Mortadela sandwich.- Pizza - "Quintal do Braz" or just "Braz" - Quintal do Braz is a very fancy pizza restaurant, don't try it on Sundays, the waiting line is above an hour.- Italian food - Sao Paulo received lots of Italian immigrants on the 19th century. I think SP Italian food is better than Italy, but you need to go to the smaller restaurants. I suggest:- Café Toscano - Av. Moema, 444 - Moema neighbourhood (good call after a walk in Ibirapuera park)- La Trattoria - Rua. Antonio Bicudo, 50 - Pinheiros neighbourhood (after lunch there you can stop on Vila Madalena bars, nice place for "people watching")- Innominato Osteria - Rua Joinville, 861 - Vila Mariana neighbourhood (I used to have dinner there on Fridays, I lived two blocks away there)- Barbecue (Churrasco): Has anybody introduced you to Brazilian churrascarias? You will find the best there! For the best, go to "Fogo de Chão" (expensive - around 50 dollars). There are others that are almost as good as that, like "Montana Grill" (Av. Juscelino Kubitschek, 817), that are not as expensive. That can be considered "Brazilian food".- Feijoada (black beans): The most famous Brazilian food, you can find in lots of restaurants for Saturday lunch. There's a place close to where I used to live (Vila Mariana) that has a very good feijoada, some old school SP samba (called "chorinho", ten thousand times better than current samba music) and very good "chopp" (draft beer). Only on Saturday lunch time, the place is called Genuino (Rua. Joaquim Tavora, 1217).There is also "Terraço Itália". It's something like 360 at the CN Tower, as it is on the top of one of the highest buildings in the city, and right on the city centre. I like it as it gives you a very good perspective of the size of the city.I wouldn't be a real paulista (people from SP) without suggesting you to go to some of the Shopping malls :-) People from Rio say that malls are the paulista's beaches. The most famous one is the "Iguatemi Shopping", but I also like the "Morumbi Shopping" (good restaurants in the lower floor) and there is a new one that I don't know yet that seems to be quite fancy, "Shopping Cidade Jardim".Well, probably enough for a whole month. Enjoy!