The largest city in Brazil is also the most awesome, in our oh-so-modest opinion! A few days walking around three or four neighborhoods didn't make us an expert, of course. But, shops, restaurants, museums, and other cultural spaces and activities abound. Each area, bohemian or quietly residential, has so much to offer, that they are micro-cities in themselves. We went to the Pinacoteca and Livraria Cultura one day, and checked out Higienópolis, Jardins, Vila Madalena, and Liberdade (the Japanese neighborhood). Here we had a great lunch at Sushi Lika (see photo below), sampled a melon popsicle, which seems to be all the rage, and couldn't resist shopping at a few great stores. A visit to the Historical Museum of the Japanese Immigration is a must. It makes you wonder how they endured all that to become one of the most important communities in Brazil and so vital to this country (this year Brazil celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first contingent's arrival in 1908).
Vila Madalena is a beautiful residential area that is also home to quite a few great shops and bars, so it's much busier at night, it seems. We bought the cutest dishcloths with crocheted animals hanging on one end...check out the photo. (We found this store very charming.) Jardins is where a lot of very chic and expensive stores are to be found; Arabia is an excellent option for lunch or dinner. The supermarket of my dreams, Santa Luzia, is located there on Alameda Lorena...beats anything I've seen in the U.S....
On a second (and more relaxed visit) we made a beeline for the Japanese exhibition at the Pinacoteca. We also walked across the street to Estação da Luz to admire the architecture. A couple of days later we headed for the Marrocos exhibition at FAAP (Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado)...this has to be one of the best museums in São Paulo, because everything they do is beautiful! This time we walked all around that area (Santa Cecília, Higienópolis, etc.) to admire the architecture and drool at the amazing fruits and veggies for sale at the market and street market...and we couldn't resist eating a pastel...yum! Arabia, the restaurant we mentioned above, has a fast food version of itself on Praça Vilaboim, same great esfihas, quibes, and so on. If you're fond of meat, we recommend El Tranvia, the Uruguayan barbecue place at Rua Conselheiro Brotero, 903.
If you're interested in architecture and design, www.arqbacana.com.br has guided tours of the most interesting buildings, neighborhoods, etc. This photograph if of the (now) called Galeria do Rock, which has a fascinating history (photo and story courtesy Jennifer Silva). It is called Grandes Galerias Shopping Center (1962) or Galeria do Rock because it is now dedicated to rock music and hip hop and punk and whatever. It was designed by Alfredo Mathias who soon after designed the first Shopping Center (Iguatemi in Avenida Faria Lima in 1963. A lot of young artists and architects came to Brazil to escape fascism, but as they didn't have their qualifications recognized, they worked for big firms who could sign for them. It's on Avenida São João and was extremely chic before falling into disrepair and becoming a haunt for drug dealing for many years.
Before I forget, speaking of museums and tours, here's a tip for soccer fans: don't miss Museu do Futebol at the Morumbi Stadium. It's really good!
If you'd like to see more food photographs, we've added them to our market pages. Enjoy!
The photos on top of the page are from Cow Parade 2010 (courtesy Maria Eduarda Machado).
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