São Paulo, Brazil’s megacity home to 12 million people. I have learnt to appreciate the good sides of this beast on earlier business trips and was excited to show Barbara, who only had distant childhood memories of the city, some of my favourite places. Because what many people don’t know, is that São Paulo is rich in restaurants of a variety and level only comparable to a few cities around the world. But more importantly, there are friends and family in and around São Paulo that we wanted to visit.
The first time we went there this time, we took a bus from Rio. My friend Carlos had invited us to stay at his home. His beautiful house is located in a quiet residential area known as Jardins and we were welcomed by his lovely girlfriend Katia. The next two days were full of good company, drinks and amazing food.
We had planned to leave the city behind us on the weekend and head to Itatiba. Instead, Carlos insisted that we accompany them to his Fazenda on the countryside for another two days; An invitation I couldn’t and wouldn’t refuse. He had freshly refurbished and modernized the place. It looked fantastic and the size of the land belonging to it, including enormous soy plantations, corn fields, a forest and a river, is impressive. As an example: It took Carlos and me over an hour to race our quadbikes through the mud around a single soy field.
We had a great time together and Barbara and I are very grateful for his hospitality.
Then we finally made it to Itatiba. It’s a smaller city in São Paulo’s in the countryside that actually doesn’t have a whole lot to show for. But we didn’t come for the sightseeing anyway. We spent a full week with Barbara’s cousin Christiane, her husband Luiz Henrique and the kids relaxing, playing cards and videogames and drinking bizarre amounts of beer and eating way too much. In short: Life at its best.
We didn’t have to sit in the bus for too long until our next stop. We spent two short days in Campinas with Tootsie, Barbara’s cousin from her father’s side and her husband Woody. They are both professors at UNICAMP, which is why we got an interesting tour of the campus after meeting with their son Robin and his girlfriend for lunch. In the evening we headed for a beer at a local place with live music. Thanks for having us Tootsie and Woody!
Then Barbara headed home to see her mom and friends again. Being so close and having the time is just too good of an opportunity to let go.
I on the other hand, was ready for some surf. My friend Brian still had some days off and he suggested that we stay at their weekend apartment in Riviera de São Lourenço for two weeks. So I took a bus and headed down to Santos on the so-called Litoral Norte de São Paulo where he picked me up. The apartment is part of a beach resort in an enormous condominium. They have pools, saunas, tennis courts, a gym and most importantly: waves!
So for two weeks our only worry was to figure out where to surf the next day and make sure the fridge had food and beer in it. Doable. Not easy, but doable.
But even the relaxiest of times come to an end, or probably especially those. By the way, did you see that trailer in the last picture? That is where they make the most awesome Caipirinhas both in size and taste. A single one around 11AM and you’re afternoon program is fixed, or out the window, depending on what you planned.
After that, it was time to meet Barbara again in São Paulo. While our time in Brazil was definitely coming to an end, we still had no clue how to continue our adventure. We got a hotel in the center for four days. And I mean, just because you have stuff to figure out doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your stay, right? So we went to some of our favourite places and also met up with my dear friend and former co-worker Alessandra who was also in town these days.
Besides having a great time in the city, we managed to plan the next stage of our trip; Argentina, NYC and then Vietnam. But first, there are one or two more stops in Brazil that we will post about.