Friday, 4 July 2014

Sao Paulo and Football Mania

So what's been going on? My week in Sao Paulo was one of more football than I ever thought I could stomach. We spent a lot of time at the Fan Fest area in the centre of the city with a huge screen and masses of dressed up and face painted fans from all over the world. Seriously, I might not find such a mix of people during the haj in Mecca. Funny how religion and football can be so easily compared- there are definitely a fair few people here at the world cup who worship their team and bow down to their players. 
For the first time ever I got to experience what it’s like to win a penalty shoot out- as an honourary Brazilian. I was even mistaken for a Brazilian girl so I was pretty happy with that! I’ve also fallen in love with the entire Costa Rican team (Greece- Costa Rica, amazing game), comiserated crying Mexicans and had my head squished between two crazy celebrating Argentinians.

Melting into the crowd??

Lees new Brazilian buddy

But enough about football, what of Sao Paulo? 
It’s been an exciting and sometimes scary place to explore, which I think would be made much easier by knowing someone in the city to show you around. We arrived in the evening and got a taxi to our slightly out of town 'love hotel' (it was cheap, OK?!), feeling a bit too edgy to venture out into the surrounding quiet streets that night. 
It soon became clear that we've been become so accustomed to visiting countries that speak English well that we forgot that perhaps learning some of the native language might be useful. Hence the overuse of the word obrigado! in answer to everything. Oh the ignorant English, *shudders of embarrassment*.
On our first day we went to one of south Americas largest city parks, Ibirapuera, where you can see the skyline of Sao Paulo in all its glory in the background. At the park we drank coconut water and cycled around the lake, admiring the vast variety of big trees. 

In between the many football games, we've trekked the good, the bad and the downright ugly (or should I say scary) streets, taking in the sights and visiting a random selection of bars and restaurants. We've uncovered the joy of the 'weigh your plate' buffet dinner, which I think should have the tag line- "A balancing act between piling your plate as high as you truthfully want to and facing the shame of taking it to the lady to weigh it." 
After reading bad reviews about the hotel we've booked for our last night in Brazil, we decided to go and check the area out in advance. I'm so glad we did, as even in broad daylight I've never felt so uneasy! It was a street lined with motorbikes in various levels of disrepair and cluster after cluster of men just hanging around, with a spattering of police vans and prostitutes. Needless to say we're not gonna bother staying there. 
We walked around the large business district of Paulista, where people in suits bustle around importantly. We had wine at the Skye Bar, a luxurious rooftop bar on top of a boat shaped building, with amazing views of the city. The menu was actually reasonably priced, except for a bottle of Rockafella white wine which was over a thousand quid, for goodness sake! 
Both Lee and I felt that the rich side of Sao Paulo was a little hard to enjoy, when there is so much poverty in the city. At night, homeless people line the doorways of the city centre and huddle in sleeping groups outside the cathedral. This city is certainly the worst place we've been to in terms of the gap between rich and poor. It saddens me to know that I live in a world like this, where people- including me- enjoy nice wine and nice food while other people starve. It's madness. 

The cathedral of Sao Paulo
The luxurious Skye bar.  Unfortunately we're still working out how to use our camera so the pictures from the top weren't very good.

Then, after a rather terrifying six hour bus ride with a mad driver intent on bullying every other vehicle on the road and overtaking everything in sight, we've arrived in Rio. But more about that later!  
What would a blog about Brazil be without a little graffiti?

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