São Paulo, Brazil

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Mercado Municipal, SP

“São Paulo is a monster. Enormous, intimidating and, at first glance at least, no great beauty. It’s a difficult city for the traveler to master and one that may not seem worth the sweat.” LonelyPlanet.com

So says the Lonely Planet website about the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, a beast of between 16 and 19 million. By all accounts it shouldn’t be a highlight of a trip to Brazil, it’s smoggy, enormous, choked with traffic and in constant flux.

The reality is that it is an enlivening place, operating at a million miles per hour and dragging you constantly into its buzz.

Working from our base on Avienda Paulista we decided to slow down and only visit the things we really wanted to see. First on the list was MASP, the Museum of Art. It stands perched 10 metres above the ground, held up by two enormous red beams.

Inside it is a treasure trove, full of artworks by some of the most famous painters who ever lived. It’s all laid out beautifully too, with the name of the painting and artist on the backs of the artworks so your attention isn’t distracted by whose art you are looking at.

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MASP

Next on our list was Parque Ibirapuera which is an enormous central city park, and a total oasis of calm. Wandering through its myriad pathways we stumbled upon a small exhibition of Japanese bonsai and art celebrating the positive influence of Japanese immigration on Brazil. It was really refreshing to see migration seen in such a positive light.

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Bonsai trees of all shapes and sizes.

Mixed in with all this wandering we enjoyed street food at every opportunity including enormous Gyoza, some delicious feijoada, and as much Açai juice as we could get our hands on. It’s safe to say we are loving São Paulo so far. It’s a sensational place to blend into for a few days. Oh, and the metro is super cheap and gets you anywhere you need to go.

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Bounty of fruit in the market.

We’ve loved this place. Now, on to the falls!

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