When you arrive in São Paulo for the first time, you don’t have a clue where to go and where not to go. It is huge, over 20 million people live here, spread over many different areas and neighborhoods.
So, the best thing to do is meet locals and let them guide you. We met Fernando on Facebook before we came and now we meet him ‘live’ in the bookstore ‘Livraria Cultura’ in Jardims Paulista, one of the nicest areas in São Paulo. A quiet and safe neighborhood, everything is in walking distance, perfect. We order a Caffe Latte Macchiato and Fernando starts talking. “Of course everything depends on what you are looking for. You did pick a good place to stay, pousada Dona Zilah is a quiet guesthouse in this neighborhood, only 5 minutes from Avenida Paulista.
Just off Avenida Paulista there are many streets where you can wander around. The best street of the area is without a doubt Oscar Freire. Here you find boutiques of the coolest Brazilian brands, like Osklen the designer brand, Melissa the coolest shoe brand ever and even the gallery of Romero Britto is on Oscar Freire. “ “Cool,” I say, “I must go there and buy some shoes, no doubt, where exactly is it? Let’s finish our coffee and go there.”
Fernando gives us some more tips and off we go, to discover São Paulo. Oscar Freire is a big success, shop till you drop in a very nice street, boutiques, big trees, small places to have a good coffee, totally my cup of tea..
Later we are off to a meeting in Vila Madalena, where we discover a small street all covered with graffiti, cool! An open-air museum full of street art. I prefer this to a traditional museum, which is most of the time inside of a building. Since the weather is perfect now in Sao Paulo, we don’t want to go inside, so enjoying art out in the open is a perfect solution.
And of course, like Fernando told us, we go to the financial district, the area in São Paulo where all main companies are located. Faria Lima is a huge street and we are glad to have found Octavio, a perfect meeting place with even more perfect coffee. “This will be our São Paulo office,” Maarten says. “Good coffee, wifi, in the middle of the buzz, a terrace, what else do we need?”
At the end of the day when we arrive back at Dona Zilah, we are exhausted yet very pleased from discovering and walking all those kilometers in this city of many. I settle down with my MacBook Air in the veranda of the pousada to check my mails. Then Lucia, the owner of Dona Zilah joins me for a drink and I start explaining our project in my best Portuguese to her. After our drink and chat, she lets us be and we enjoy a gorgeous dinner, made from mainly organic and biological ingredients, and we finish the day with a café con leite.
In the next coming days we will continue our discovery and we will meet some more people, Henrique Pinto, Aline Santos, Luiz Seabra, Ana Luiza Alves, Luis Octavio Indio do Costa, Nizan Guanaes, Paulo Borges, Irmãos Campana. “Can’t wait till tomorrow, what an energetic city this is!”