Sao Paulo, Brazil
After another accidental sleep in, we awoke to a damp, dark day – perfect for just hanging in the ‘hood, especially when the ‘hood – Jardins Paulista – happens to be the nicest part of the city. Armed with our umbrellas, we moseyed on out to see what we could see because the various guidebooks had very little to say on the matter.
We were therefore delighted to find ourselves in a labyrinth of high rise modernist architecture – street after street stacked with these beautiful apartment blocks, each distinct from the others, that had us snapping our cameras every few steps. Interestingly, we didn’t look like tourists at all because apparently what was beautiful to us is just common place here, so we just looked like weirdo stalkers casing the joints. Surely such a collection of buildings must be unique in the world. My interest in architecture is based on cumulative travel experiences and associated reading but isn’t informed by any formal education so I was grateful to have Bec beside me explaining the finer design points to help me appreciate it all the more.
Another joy over looked by the travel literature is the Brazilian postal service. We popped into a post office to send our cards from Rio only to discover a world of bewilderment. We’d left enough space for a stamp but for some reason, after weighing each card, it was determined that each would require 2 stamps. “Hmmm, how to solve this problem?” thought the lady serving us in Portuguese, “ah ha – I know, I’ll print individual labels, even though they’re bigger than 2 stamps, it might take less space… nope, still gigantic. If I trim it, still too big… “ we tried to offer suggestions in sign language to no avail. Eventually, the entire staff were consulted before concluding we needed envelopes which were then sealed with a little pot of glue. Confusing but excellent and entertaining customer service!
We meandered our way to the main shopping drag which was more what we’d been expecting to see in Rio – very affluent with the beautiful people flitting from store to designer store with armfuls of purchases. We were pleased to see a lot of Brazilian brands on offer rather than a cookie-cutter high street that could be in any major city. One such brand was Bec’s big find – Olsken – where she availed herself of another pair of boots and Melissa shoes whose shopfront doubles as an art space with a rotating installation – at the moment it is a mural made entirely from post-it notes which you’re free to write on, so we did! And let’s not forget the Havianas mega-shop with every conceivable version of a thong (Australian definition) you can imagine – in fact, you can even make your own! It was tempting but I was strong – yep, Bec buys three pairs of boots and I can’t push it to two pairs of thongs!
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped in for a drink and a bite at Frevo, a Brazilian interpretation of a north American diner – I like what they did with the concept but not so much with the veggie burger – pita bread just doesn’t cut it.
The weather was still miserable by the time we got back and the thought of going back out into it got the better of us. After almost two weeks on the go and Bec having to go back to work in a few days, we opted for a night in with room service and a movie on the laptop… neither brilliant choices but a guilty pleasure none the less.