On Monday morning around 11:30, my dad took Laura and I to the airport. We caught our flight to Dallas with out any problems, and shortly after we arrived in Texas we caught our flight to Sao Paulo.

The flight to Sao Paulo is a relatively long one, bit luckily our 777 plane was equiped with personal TV screens for each seat that had a range of entertainment options. I ended ip watching “Me and Orson Wells,” “Shutter Island,” and playing a lot of Tetris.

Originally, I had hoped to sleep for most of the flight because sitting for 9 hours is never comfortable, and my legs are just long enough to get smashed into the seat in front of me.

Unfortunately, however, I didn’t actually end up sleeping at all. Part of the reason for that was because Laura was leaning up against me and I didn’t want to move and wake her up (she also was stretched out over the two empty seats next to us, so it was a fairly luxurious flight for her). However, probably more detrimental to my ability to sleep was the fact that the closer we got to Brazil the more stressed out I became that my portuguese would be so deteriorated that I wouldn’t be be able to communicate with anyone (and thus we’d end up hopelessly lost). After all, it has been quite a while since I lived in Brazil and I know I’ve definitely lost a lot of vocabulary.

As it turned out however, my language abilities were very adequate, if not anything to brag about. We got off the plane at the surprisingly tranquil GRU international airport, went through custums, and had a long-ish conversation with the tourist information woman all without problems.

Next, we needed to get into town. I had figured there would be a relatively inexpensivd city bus that served the airport, and that we’d take that. No matter who I asked however, no one would tell me about such a bus, and I eventually concluded that it may not exist, or at least that the airport people didn’t want me know about it.

As a result, we took an “executive” bus into town. That’s basically a charter/long distance-style bus with nice seats, tinted windows, and a (smelly) bathroom in the back. So, it was definitely more comfortable than an average city bus. It also drove directly from the airport to the general region where our hotel was. On the other hand, it also cost 31 reais a person, which I thought was kind of steep and more than I had expected (or budgeted) for getting into town.

Still, the bus worked out alright and once it took us to Avenida Paulista (kind of the times square of Sao Paulo) we began to hunt for a hotel.

We had quite a walk to find the place we wanted (luckily we packed light), but eventually we ended up at the Paulista Garden Hotel. It’s a budget hotel that is centrally located, has free Internet, and breakfast. We discovered after check in that the rooms are also super loud from the traffic outside, but we brought ear plugs so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Once we got out room (it was around noon by this time), we decided to take a one hour nap so we’d have the energy to go out later.

After that we decided to go try to find Sao Paulo’s fashion week. The city’s fashion week is a really important event in the international fashion community, and I had read that our first day in Sao Paulo would coincidentally coincide with the last day of the event. I also read that there would be fashion week festivities taking place not very far from where we had decided to stay, so at about 1:30 we set out to find the beautiful and the well-dressed.

I must have mis-read something, however, because we never found even the slightest hints of fashion week. Instead, we wandered around Sao Paulo’s huge Ibirapuera Park, which is like the city’s Central Park.

Among the interesting things we saw at the park were black swans (which I didn’t know existed until today), some crazy looking vultures, a lot of amazing trees, and a bunch of pleasant ponds. Laura also noticed that there were surprisingly few people there, though we figured that might have been due to the cold-ish weather.

While we were wandering the park we happened upon the Museu de Arte Moderna (modern art museum), and we decided to go in (it cost about 8 reais for both admissions). The museum is relatively small, and dedicated mostly to South American artists about whom I know nothing, but it was still interesting. I especially liked parts of the exhibit that showed photos of a group of young people who wore formal wear to the beach in 1940s Rio to protest the city’s restrictive bathing suit ordinence, and photos of a guy named Ney Matogrosso (or something to that effect) who seemed to be a kind of jungle version of Ziggy Stardust, only several decades before David Bowie created his alter ego.

After walking around the park some more, we decided we needed to get some food (our only meal thus far had been the airplane breakfast). It was around 5:30 by this time and after looking around a bit we settled on getting x-tudos.

A x-tudo is a hamburger with everything on it. It has lettuce, tomatoe, mayo, bacon, cheese, ham, egg, and at least several other things. I don’t know why American burger makers don’t make something more like it, as it’s better than 99 percent of the burgers I’ve had in the states. In any case it was the perfect end to a long day. On our way back to the hotel we also stopped by the grocery store (which is right by our hotel) and picked up some passatempo cookies and guarana.

And now, because that one hour nap didn’t make up for an entire night of not sleeping, I think we’re going to go to bed. I know that I can barely keep my eyes open.


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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