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I will have 24 hours in Lima and 24 hours in Sao Paulo in March. (Well, more in Sao Paulo but only 24 hours will be my own.) Lima is a Saturday; Sao Paulo is a Sunday. Any travel tips, from those who have been there?


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2014 12:07 am (UTC)
From my Tanta
She says the area isn't like it was. When she was in Brazil it no longer felt "safe". She didn't wear any jewelry out and kept her bag close to her all the time. She said the number of adults and kids begging has increased enormously.

That's all I know. :(
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
Re: From my Tanta
I have heard that Sao Paulo isn't like it was in the old-old days but it's a lot more safe now than it was a decade ago. I guess I have the advantage of not wearing any jewelry?
Feb. 17th, 2014 01:00 am (UTC)
Lima gets a bad rap, but I liked it. I stayed in a neighborhood called Barranco; Miraflores is the part of the city that a lot of foreign tourists stay in, but I found it kind of soulless. Good food - ceviche and that's also where I first encountered anticuchos - and the walk along the Malecón was nice. Memorable textiles at what I believe was the National Archaeological Museum.
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
Cool! Thanks for the tips!
Feb. 17th, 2014 03:12 am (UTC)
São Paulo is great. I'd go back there pretty much any time, though fleeing a North American winter would be best. Context is important: what sweetmmeblue's Tanta said is true if she left there quite a long time ago. From my perspective, with visits in the early 2000s and a couple of years ago, the city has noticeably improved in a decade. There was a lot more crime at the beginning of the century than there is now. Whole neighborhoods which were seriously dangerous are now trendy and gentrified.

It's a lot like the trajectory New York, LA, and many other American cities have had. The sixties were safe--and in Brazil this extended into the '70s, because one thing the military dictatorship managed to do was repress violent crime--and after that things went quite far downhill. However, over the last decade things have been coming back quite nicely. Brazil's cities have come back much more strongly than American ones, reflecting the strength of the Brazilian economy in the last few years.

You still have to stay alert and not do things which are obviously stupid, but for example walking across Praça da Sé--the central square where the cathedral is, thus the name--used to be seriously sketchy but now merely has many harmless-looking homeless people sleeping in it. (I suspect sweetmmeblue's Tanta remembers a time when there weren't any homeless in the square; alas, those times are long gone.) "Seriously sketchy" here includes the story of one of my friends who grew up in São Paulo state whose Dad fended off a would-be mugger by breaking an umbrella over the guy's head. I could totally see that happening at the time, which was maybe in the '90s or something. It wouldn't be unheard of now but you'd have to be seriously unlucky to have it happen to you now.

The NYTimes did a nice article on Sao Paulo and Rio not too long ago. I can't remember what the name of it was but it's worth a search.

There's a great food guide I really wish I'd picked up because no one who ships books to the States seems to carry it: http://www.livrariasaraiva.com.br/produto/4226191/guia-da-culinaria-ogra-195-lugares-para-comer-ate-cair His book is a guide to unpretentious food in Sao Paulo.

I managed to download the entire text of it after I got back, so now I really feel like I should actually pay for a copy. It's in Portuguese but I stuffed the whole thing through Google Translate and now it's actually something I can use as a reference. The author, Andre Barcinski, is a journalist for one of the big Sao Paulo newspapers and has also lived in the States and covered the music scene here, so I wish he would do an English translation himself, but he probably won't as there likely isn't enough call.

One thing I'd say about Sao Paulo is that it's big. The place sprawls like LA, has worse traffic, and a metro system that's almost as skeletal. If you already know where you're going to be staying there, let me know and I can go into more detail. I stayed in Liberdade the last time I was there: it's the Japanese/pan-Asian neighborhood just south of the center, and quite worth a meal or two. But if you're going to be in, say, Morumbi, it will take way too long to get there.
Feb. 17th, 2014 03:30 am (UTC)
Yep it was
She lived in Brazil after WWII and came to the US in the 70s. She went back late 90s and could not believe the change.
Feb. 17th, 2014 03:35 am (UTC)
Yeah, that would totally have been my guess. It's sort of like having seen Times Square in the early '60s and then going back in the late '80s, having that be your impression of what New York is like now.
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:43 am (UTC)
Wow! That's great, thank you!

I suspect I'll be staying in Republica, just west of the center. That's where the business offices we'll be meeting with are.
Feb. 20th, 2014 05:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, okay. Yeah, República is right in the middle of things. It got fairly sketchy in the '90s and '00s, but like many other parts of the center it's come back quite a bit.

I haven't spent a lot of time there, but it's fairly busy on weekdays, particular at lunchtime with lots of office workers running around. Sundays, I'm told, you have to be more careful in the Historic Centeras the area clears out and there are fewer people than on other days of the week.

One notable event which will be right in the Praça da República (cribbed directly from the São Paulo/Historic Center article in wikivoyage.org):

Feira de Artesanato da Praça da República, Praça da República, República. sat-sun, 09-17. São Paulo's most traditional open market of handcrafts and art, that happens since 1956. About 800 expositors.

I've never been to it as I've never actually been in São Paulo over a weekend. If you're staying at one of the hotels overlooking the square you can basically fall out of bed and be at the feira.

Apparently part of the neighborhood is a gay cruising and clubbing area at night, and much more active than other parts of downtown. The things I learn from Wikivoyage!

If you're staying in República you're close to both the Mercado Municipal (which is over on the far side of Sao Bento Metro station from you) and Liberdade, the Japanese/Pan-Asian neighborhood (which is at the Metro stop of the same name). Given where you live, I'd say that Liberdade is somewhat less of a draw, unless you really want to see the Brazilian version of Japantown. The Mercado Municipal really doesn't have an analogue where you are, I don't think. It's a bit touristy but it has atmosphere.

For getting around, I strongly recommend the Metro. It's safe, fast, and cheap. Moreover, República is a station where two lines cross, and you're a stop or two from a third line. The São Paulo Metro is a system where (on weekdays, anyway) people don't run for a train because there will be another one within a couple of minutes, so what's the point? (Sundays may be different, I don't know.) It's heavily policed; the standard number of cops is a pair (with the occasional policewoman), and that pair is usually in full body armor. There are a lot of stairs, however, with escalators that are often crowded. The whole system is pretty packed at rush hour, which you won't be dealing with.

The system suffers from being pretty sparse outside the center, which again won't be a problem for you as you will be in one of the densest parts of the system. One downside is that the most of the train cars don't have air-conditioning, which they're just phasing in.

Buses are hard to figure out if you are new in town, and both they and taxis are forced to go in extremely counterintuitive directions because of the extensive one-way road system in the center. Basically most of downtown is one way, and it has the layout of Boston's financial district. I guess you can imagine you're staying somewhere near Park Street, with the Mercado Municipal vaguely over by Faneuil Hall, and Liberdade is kind of where Chinatown is. In that part of Boston you would be ill-advised to do anything but take the T. So it is with São Paulo.

There are a profusion of ticket types. The only one that matters to you is a single fare metro ticket, a.k.a. unitário. It's R$3 flat fare, or about a buck and a quarter right now. If you simply ask for a ticket at the ticket booth without specifying anything else, that's what they'll sell you. All stations have multiple staffed booths. You want the ones which actually sell tickets as opposed to the yellow ones marked "Bilhete Único", which are for recharging smart cards. You can buy more than one ticket at a time, which saves queuing. The tickets are like the old Paris Metro tickets, with a mag stripe down the middle, and work exactly the same way.

Anyway, do have a look at the Wikivoyage article. It's actually not bad.

Let me know if there's anything else I can add. (Now, of course, I want to go back.)

(Sorry about the edits. Doing HTML by hand.)

Edited at 2014-02-20 05:55 pm (UTC)
Feb. 24th, 2014 06:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for all the information!

Turns out I was wrong about where I'm staying. I'm staying off Ave. Paulista, near MASP and not far from where the M1 and M2 lines converge. (At least, Google Maps calls them the M1 and M2 Metro lines.)

I am sorely tempted to get a rechargeable Metro card just so I can add it to my collection (the Charlie card, the Clipper card, the ORCA card, the TAP pass, the NYC Metro card, the DC Metro card...if I am magically teleported to another city with no notice, I'm prepared!)

Edited at 2014-02-24 06:09 am (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2014 03:23 am (UTC)
Also, agreed about Lima. Much better than its reputation, which was well-earned during the war years. Also, it suffers because most people visiting Peru are going to the highlands. For them, Lima is an obstacle rather than a destination.

But yeah, I liked Lima even if I was only there on a layover and spent most of my time in Chinatown.
Feb. 18th, 2014 01:07 am (UTC)
The sense I got when researching my trip was that there was a self-reinforcing cycle going on - everyone says ugh, don't go to Lima, go straight to Cuzco, so people don't give Lima a chance.
Feb. 24th, 2014 06:11 am (UTC)
I get that sense too, but Lima is starting to get a reputation as a hipster city (in the good way).
Feb. 24th, 2014 06:11 am (UTC)
Cool! Good to know. Being as I live adjacent to LA's Chinatown and Japantown, I have somewhat less incentive to go to those areas of Sao Paulo and Lima. If I get some extra time in Sao Paulo I probably will, but in Lima I feel so time-pressed!
Feb. 17th, 2014 03:43 am (UTC)
One additional point about "not doing anything stupid" in São Paulo. I found myself doing something kind of dumb late one evening; walking down a dark passageway to an overhead pedestrian bridge. At the moment I did it I thought, "This would be an ideal place to get mugged," and a decade earlier in the same place I probably would have been. But this time it merely seemed sketchy and a questionable idea.

In any case, if you're going to be there for work, your co-workers can probably steer you to places they think are appropriate, which will probably err on the side of caution.
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
I think this is a case where my downtown-LA street smarts will serve me well. Good to know!
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