São Paulo, Brazil
23° 31' S 46° 36' W
Mar 09, 2004 21:54
Distance 292km

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Text written in: English

To Sao Paulo (9 March 2004)

I was woken by the owner of the hotel at 7:30. I had a breakfast buffet, a shower and another breakfast before I dragged my backpack across the street to the Rodoviaria. Plataforma B (sometimes Portugese is easy) was right next to A, so I did not have to walk too much. I had bought the ticket the evening before when I came back from Paranagua so I could choose my seat and take my time.

The bus left at 9:10 and was a conventional, which means a good bus but no airco. It was sticky hot as it was half cloudy. As long as the bus was moving it was quite OK actually, but a stop meant instant death. Thank God it was a direct bus and we only stopped halfway for a half hour lunch stop at a very modern highway restaurant.

The trip itself was absolutely stunning again, just like the train trip to Paranagua the day before. Green green and more green until your eye does not seem to be able to focus on any other colour. Beautiful rainforest with many trees and cvery clourful flowers (not green, but bright purple, blue, yello and red). Incredible. And this is not even Amazonia. How will that look like then I wondered.

I have to tell something about the Brazilian way of a lunch stop. When you enter the huge modern restaurant, shopping mall, you get a ticket. Every time you buy something at one of the food counters or in the small supermarket, or in the souvenir shop, they write the price on your list. You van finish your meal first and when you leave the building you hand over your list and pay it. I am wondering what will happen when you eat in the restaurant and loose your ticket. I mean nobody knows how much you have eaten! Don´t worry, I am not going to test this yet as my Portugese is not so good yet. It is actually surprising that I can read quite a lot (and understand it), but when they speak it to me it is like a Thai who tries to speak French. Not really easy to understand.

The four hundred something kilometers to Sao Paulo took 6 hours. Sao Paulo has 17 million people. My whole country fits in, people wise, and you can throw in an extra Amsterdam. Huge. It took more than an hour to reach the terminal after we entered the city. Roads were good and the speed was excellent too. No traffic jams at all. Unusual actually. The road however never seemed to end. Of course it did at the Rodoviaria Tiete, which is not too small either. 89 platforms is what I saw. We stopped off at number 75 and I walked straight to the information booth to pick up a map, I bought a ten trip metro ticket and litterally 10 minutes later I was on my way to the city centre. The bus station was heavily armed, well, the police I mean. There were lots of them, making the place quite safe. At the other hand you could say that there must be a reason why there are so many police.

I did not feel uncomfortable at all. This was not even close to Johannesburg, where I have lived almost a year. In Johannesburg you get about shot if you do five steps outside the train station, I am not joking. The suburbs of Sao Paulo, of which I saw a lot when I arrived by bus, did not look very promising, but the heart of the city looked very nice. I was surprised once more. Good atmosphere and lots of people.

Rua Sao Joao had penty of hotels in the budget section of the wallet and was a bit safer then a dodgy area mentioned in the Lonely Planet. Hotel Central was the first one I saw and the room was very quiet, clean, large, very comfortable beds and I had my own bathroom. 28 Reals is not a price that makes you cry either as it is about 7 euros. Not the cheapest place in the world, but for such a major city, right in the centre it is quite a bargain. Other hotels, which I checked later were similar in price and quality.

I had a quick look around the street where I was staying and crashed down somewhere for a dinner. It was my first Churrascaria experience. In a churrasceria you get, apart from the almost standard Buffet por quilo, waiters walking around the restaurants with huge pieces of meat, asking you if you want a piece. If so, they cut it off the iron grill pin at your table with a huge sharp knife. Interesting. They come around with all sorts of meat, so you can choose what you want. I had not figured out yet how it worked as there were people who got as much meat as they wanted at their table, without weighing it. I had to weigh my cuts every time I got one and then it was noted on a piece of paper. Tonights restaurant costs R9.90, less then 3 euro per kilo! Meat, salads, french fries, pasta, everything is one price. Pay per kilo. A great system.