So São Paulo does not have a good reputation. It's billed as a massive smog-choked metropolis with not much to see, but with good food and a booming nightlife scene. So I was expecting a grey, depressing city that stretches to the foothills of Mt. Doom.
And when our bus pulled into Tiete bus station last night, it was smog-filled, and it was grey. But then when we were leaving for the nearest metro station (with bus tickets for the following day to Iguassu Falls - yay!) the clouds parted and the sunset bloomed over the pedestrian squares and skyscrapers, and it was actually a lovely sight. I love cities anyway, so being in the largest city in the southern hemisphere probably suits me. Now I've lived in Tokyo and been here I've completed the set and been to the largest cities in the both the northern and southern hemispheres. Cross that off my list!
This city seems to work better than Rio. Rio is very relaxed, and while São Paulo is still very Brazilian, it seems more efficient, with a much more comprehensive and user-friendly metro system, recycling bins (!?) and an overall sense of organisation.
And interestingly, the people here seem friendly than in Rio, which really surprised me. You'd think that in sun-soaked and beach-surrounded Rio, people would be more relaxed and more willing to give a smile, but they seem relaxed and also cold. I have only spent one day in São Paulo, so I might be being too quick to compare, but that was my first impression.
Last night Milena and I went to São Paulo's Japan Town for dinner (there's a huge Japanese population here), which is something I've been really looking forward to, as I haven't been to Japan since 2010. We had onigiri, gyoza, and I had tempura udon for my main. Oh what a feast. I took photos of everything, obvz.
Today we're going to take in some of São Paulo's museums - Milena is keen to see a building within a building (don't ask me...) so that sounds worth a look. And we found a Sukiya (a Japanese restaurant chain) right by our hostel, so we're definitely going there for lunch!
I'd actually really recommend the hostel we're staying in. It's Hey Hostel, near Faria Lima metro station. It's near some funky bars and seems like a safe neighbourhood (which is very important when choosing a hostel in this city). The staff are nice and helpful, and the building is clean and secure. Definitely a winner.
Here are some photos of our second day in the city.
Tonight I'm spending the night on a bus for the first time in my life. This could be terrible, but we'll see. The blow should be softened when we arrive at Iguassu Falls tomorrow. I can't wait to see them. That's one of the points along my journey that I've wanted to see since I was a child, so bring it on!