BRAZIL
March, 2005
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
March 3 - 8, 2005

Little did we know, and it was obviously ignorance, but Sao Paulo is an incredible city!  Its half New York City and half San Francisco, with a seemingly endless supply of delicious and very hip restaurants and bars.  The city also boasts a huge park, and daunting skyline, both of which are very close seconds to their NYC bretheren.  Ironically, we would never have gotten there if we weren't meeting up with Jay Stein.

Obviously, we arrived in Sao Paulo pretty road weary.  Central America is amazing for traveling, and was an unforgetable experience, but it was definitely work a lot of the time.  As for Sao Paulo, we arrived to the Stein luxury hotel apartment hook up.  Having steady hot water, a TV, and a very clean and comfy room was definitely a good start to the South American leg of the trip.

Jay gets to Sao Paulo for business 2-3 times a year, but hasn't been a very agressive sight seer; we changed all of that.  After sleeping until noon pretty much every day, we would then walk the city for 4-6 hours, and we probably only scratched the surface.  We spent several days in the park, did some shopping on ----------, hung out on the roof of Hotel Unique, which is an amazing Japanese designed modern hotel which essentially looks like a huge watermelon, and made several poor attempts to learn at least a few Portugese words, which contrary to popular opinion, is not that close to Spanish.  Luckily, Jay's Portugese is very good, so we got along pretty easily.

Now, while Jay hasn't spent a ton of his time sightseeing in Sao Paulo, he has apparently spent a ton of time in its restaurants.  Without exception, every meal we ate in Sao Paulo was fantastic, and generally in restaurants which would give anything in NYC or LA a run for its money.  If you are ever in town, make sure to eat at Pizzeria Braz.  It is a very upscale, yet very fun, Pizza/Italian establishment, with super tasty pizza in every possible combination (as long as you like ham on it, which is of course obligatory in Brazil).  They also serve some of the best home brewed Stout (called Chopp) Mike and Jay have ever had. Plus, even high end food joints in Sao Paulo are pretty inexpensive compared to the States.  Oh yeah, as a final note, the service is without a doubt, by far, the best we have ever experienced.  The prevailing regime seems to be that the waiters will continue to serve you whatever it is you are having until you beg for mercy.  Such a great concept, never having to flag anyone down for anything.       

Three days in, Daddy Stein showed up as well, which just added to the fun.  Like his boy, the man appreciates good food, so we kept the chow train rolling.  We dragged him all over town, and even to the modern art museum in the park, which is small, but pretty decent. Good sport!

We definitely felt like we saw a ton of Sao Paulo, though it was admittedly a skewed view as we were always in the upscale areas.  Unfortunately, Sao Paulo also has some terrible poverty, especially in the Favellas, some of which we saw on the bus ride out of town to Maraseis.  It was definitely the biggest rich/poor contrast we have seen, even more so than Mexico City.


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