Part 2. Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, Brazil

We took Pluma International from Foz do Iguaçu to Sao Paulo. We departed at 7pm and arrived around noon the next day. The bus cost R$ 196 for Convencional which is the cheapest. I recommend paying a little extra for Executivo or Leito, especially is you are going to take an overnight bus. What you need to know about buses in brazi is that they will make several stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. They don’t offer any food on the bus except for some water that is storaged at the back. It does make 2 long stops along the way though. One around 10pm for 30 minutes so you can have dinner at the rest stop and also use the bathroom and then the same thing the next day in the morning around 8am. Of course the price of food at the rest stop will be higher so if you want to safe money then I recommend buying snacks beforehand. You have to be very careful as bus drivers don’t check if all the passengers got on the bus before it leaves. So try not to take too long if you go to the bathroom or to stretch your legs and be back on the bus as soon as you can. It can get really cold and dry as the AC runs really strong at night so I advise to bring a comfy warm jacket and drink plenty of water. I saw many people bringing their own pillows and blankets as well. I heard many people recommend this website for booking buses. I personally didn’t use it as I bought my tickets as I went on the trip but what I can tell you is that when choosing your seats definitively avoid the back seats next to the bathroom and the front seats facing the AC.

BBrasil 5We arrived at the International Terminal Tiete and we took the subway towards Paraiso Station where our hostel was.
For our whole 4 days-stay we bought 20 metro tickets for R$ 70. We stayed at Aki Hostel from Hotels and cost R$ 330 for 3 nights (for 2 bunk beds) in a room for 6 people. This was my first time staying at a Youth Hostel and I think I chose the best one. The whole building and rooms were painted in white so you could see how clean it really was. There are 3 floors and they have many types of rooms. They also offer private ones. There is a laundry machine on the basement and also a restaurant/bar. The lobby is really nice with big sofas, books and WiFi. People there were really friendly and helpful. There is a lot of information offered at the lobby like maps, places to go and schedules for some activities. There were several bathrooms/showers and even one just for women. The beds had memory foam and were very clean. Also each bunk has its own storage drawer, lamp and socket for charging. The door outside opens electronically so there is someone at the front desk 24 hours to check who is coming in and out.

On our fist day we went to Liberdade which is the Japanese town. It was only a couple of metro stations down from Paraiso. This is my favorite place in Sao Paulo as I enjoy shopping for Japanese food but it can also be rather expensive.

The next day was a Saturday and we first went to the Feira at Praça Benedito Calixto. We went kind of early and had to wait until 10am for everything to be ready. There were so many little stands selling antique objects. From jewelry, china, decorations to artifacts. On both opposite sides of the plaza there were 2 gallerias with more modern handcrafted products. After that we walked towards Avenida Paulista which is one of the most important Avenues in Sao Paulo. That is the financial district and there are some museums, galleries and shopping centers as well. We also found Feira do MASP which sold antiquities. Then we stopped to try some Japanese Hot Pan Cuisine at Shintori Teppanyaki. Since it was a Saturday they had a Menu offer for R$ 80 which came with sushi, salad, 1 choice of meat or fish dish and dessert.

The next day was Sunday and it got extremely hot. At one point it reached 29°c. We first went to an art fair at Praça da República which also opened at 10am. Then we headed down to the fair in Liberdade which was completely crowded for lunch time. After that we went for a walk to Ibirapuera Park which is a huge park in the middle of the city. Since the weather was so nice it was swarming with people skating, bicycling, playing sports and picnicking.

We mainly used the metro to go to different parts of the city which was very convenient, easy to use and well located. If you want to take a Taxi it usually starts at R$5. They run on taximeters so there is no need to wonder about prices. Usually late at night and during weekends the price goes up.

The next day we headed back to Tiete bus Terminal to take our bus to Porto Alegre. A pit stop between Sao Paulo and Montevideo. We took Penha for R$199 at 4pm and arrived at noon the next day. The bus was really nice and clean but for some reason we had to change buses in the middle of the trip.

The downtown area of Porto Alegre was really not nice. Very dirty, a lot of bums and old buildings. This was the first time we used Airbnb. A website where people put their spare rooms for rent. So we booked this one bedroom apartment for one night for R$ 40. The girl renting it was very nice but her management of the booking was not that good. But we just needed a place to sleep for one night and that room was good enough for that. The location was also very good, being 2 blocks from the terminal and one from the mall. The next day we left our backpacks at the terminal for R$ 8. Then we visited the Historic Center area and the Mercado Municipal. The only placed I had to pay to use the bathroom was the terminal in Porto Alegre. But I have to admit it was pretty nice. Every cubicle was cleaned after it was used and they even had showers.

I love Brazilian food. It’s very flavorful but some might say its rather greasy and too sweet. For breakfast there is a wide selection of pastries and breads. As well as deep fried salty pastries like Pastel which can be compared to a flat deep fried empanada. Coixinha which is also deep fried and with marinaded chicken inside. Some add Catupiry which is a thick kind of cheese. Brazilians LOVE cheese. As you can see with their traditional Pão de queijo. You can go to a Lanchonete and order different kinds of bread made on the hot pan like Bauru and fresh smoothies called Vitamina.

Some desserts I tried were Quindim made with egg, sugar and coconut. Like most Portuguese pastries. Brigadeiro, just like I mentioned before Brazilians being extremely obsessed with chocolate. At McDonald’s we found coffees and milkshakes that were ridiculously filled with chocolate fudge like SuperMcshake. Also we found banana pie and Pão de Queijo at McCafeAt Starbucks we found Brigadeiro Frappuccino and Pão de Queijo as well. Those who love Peanut butter have to try Paçoca de amendoim which is composed primarily of sugar and peanut powder. One of their national drinks is Guarana (which you might have tasted before in energy drinks). And for alcoholic beverage is Caipirinha made with Cachaça. (a Brazilian version of Mojito)

Meat is a big part of Brazilian diet. The famous Churrasco often accompanied with Rice and Beans (Feijoada), Farofa (cassava flour) and Mandioca (cassava). Places like Rodizios serve different kinds of meat and are brought to the tables skewered on swords. In my opinion Picanha is the best cut there is. Called Top Sirloin Cap in English. You can get it everywhere. From an expensive Steak House to the food court at the mall. Other things that are also offered are Chicken Hearts and Grilled Pineapple with cinnamon which is served at the end of the meal.

Brazil is a very big and diverse country. A mix of Portuguese colonialism, indigenous traditions and African influences merged to form this colorful country. All of these made an impact on the culture, language, cuisine and music. Like Capoeira; a mix of martial arts, dance, acrobatics and music. Another Brazilian staple dance is samba and the worldly known Carnaval of Rio de Janeiro. Just like its music; Brazilian people are very warm, happy and dynamic.

Sao Paulo is famous for being the financial and economical center of Brazil. And also the most populated and largest area. Sao Paulo is my favorite city in South America. It is so trendy and modern, filled with young people and many artsy elements. A vibrant and exciting city as a result of the diversity of people, culture and cuisine. Even though Porto Alegre is the fourth largest and populated city in Brazil, it had a very different feeling from Sao Paulo. Although being traditional and picturesque, I was a little let down by the old dirty streets and poverty around which felt also more dangerous. Safe Travels!

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