Brazil: Our tips for Sao Paulo and why we advise against online bus bookings

Brazil was only a dream for me for many years. I always wanted to go to the land of samba and caipirinhas so badly that I even studied Portuguese for a year in college. This was about 9 years ago!

We didn't really remember much more than "Oi" ("Hello"). But since very few people in Brazil speak English, I had to use my brain to get us through the country. But I already told you about this and about our first challenges in Sao Paulo. And also from our first impression of the city: namely that it is not really beautiful. We are still of the same opinion.

We stayed in a small hotel near the Avenida Paulista, the economic, entertainment and cultural center of the city. We did not really like the road, which was about 3 kilometers long.

Our favorite places in Sao Paulo

We found much nicer the Japanese quarter Liberdade, the beautiful square Praca da Se, Rua Augusta (a street where there are quite a lot of restaurants) and the big city park Parque do Ibirapuera, where on weekends there are a lot of joggers and people with their pet dogs (very few four-legged friends don't have a bow in their hair or something on).

Monday is cinema day

In the Augusta street we were also once in the cinema. Lala Land ran in English with Portuguese subtitles. For one ticket we paid 26 Real (just under 8 Euro). By the way, on Mondays the tickets are cheaper than for example on Sunday.

Mercado Municipal

If you like meat, you should not miss a plump mortadella and/or carne seca (dried meat) sandwich at the Mercado Municipal (best at Bar do Mane). On the market there is also a huge fruit selection. There, however, it is not worth to strike, because the prices are completely exaggerated (tourist ripoff!).

We bought our fruit in the supermarket and paid the equivalent of approx. Paid 1.40 euros for a huge papaya and 2 euros for 4 mangos.

Brazilians love big portions and lots of meat

While we are on my favorite topic, the food: In Brazil you get enormously large portions. There is actually everywhere rice AND fries AND beans as a side dish to the meat dish. Brazilians love to eat meat. You can either order a delicious fresh juice (definitely try the "miracle berry" Acai) or drink a beer.

Getting around by bus

Our next destination was Florianopolis, about 700 kilometers to the south. We had booked the bus ticket online via Click Bus and paid via PayPal. Two days after booking we got a mail saying that our money had not arrived and that our reservation was invalid.

Since I speak very poor Portuguese, we were quite helpless and hoped for a little help from the hotel receptionist. But she just shrugged her shoulders and said she couldn't help us (Brazil is not Asia).

So what we did? On the day of our departure, we drove ourselves to the bus station in the morning (with the metro from Avenida Paulista to the Tiete stop; one ride costs 3.80 Real per person – no matter how far you go) and bought the ticket again on the spot (Click Bus had indeed received the money from us).

Afterwards we left our backpacks in the luggage storage at the train station and went back to the city to have a look at the Vila Mariana neighborhood and to eat something there.

Riding the bus in Brazil

The bus ride with Catarinese to Florianopolis went over night, took 12 hours and was quite comfortable. Bus trips are super organized in Brazil. On the ticket is the passport number and every traveler must show his passport and ticket at the bus. The large pieces of luggage are given numbers, which are then also checked on arrival.

Converted, the trip cost us about 35 euros per person (including water on the bus). By the way, after some weeks and complaint mails we got the money for the online booked tickets back from PayPal. All further bus tickets we bought then only at the counter (with hands and feet, because also at big stations nobody speaks English in Brazil).

Finally I have a few Sao Paulo pictures for you (where exactly I took them, I don't know anymore).

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