Sao Paulo, April 14
I really can read a map – but I guess it helps if I have a frame of reference. That pretty much describes the first part of my day here in Sao Paulo. Of course, I was up earlier than I thought it was. When I checked the board for things to do today, there was a notice about a market that happens every Saturday at Praca Benedito Calixto. Pedro gave me directions using the metro – usually a good sign for me as I love metros! And so I was off. First stop in my journey was to be Ave. Paulista where I would find a bank for cash and espresso just because it was morning. And that is when I encountered my first mistake – I headed in the wrong direction … down hill. Met a couple of dogs along the way – labs are the same no matter WHERE you go! I finally decided I needed help and asked a street cleaner where Ave. Paulista was. She explained to me in Portuguese. I may not be able to speak it, but I did understand that I was going the wrong direction and I needed to head BACK uphill. So, with nowhere else to go but up, I made my way to back. Along the way, I met a fruit seller pushing his cart up the street and some brick layers pushing a trolley full of cinder blocks DOWN the street (and losing the handle like we did a lot when moving Pagan and Heather’s stuff last weekend). I knew how they all felt.
Finally saw a sign for Treze de Maio – my street and another with Ave. Paulista – so I guess I was going in the right direction! Finally knew I was on the right street because I found a bank – that did not accept my cards. So, I walked a little further to another bank – that did not accept my cards. Then I saw I was near the Casa de Rosas and the garden was open, so I took a break from my bank hunt and some pictures.
Then I returned to my bank hunt. As more banks did not accept my cards, I was beginning to panic. I Never had this trouble before when I travelled. I decided I needed some divine help as I passed the Chapel and Hospital of Santa Caterina. A very good sign – I try to visit places dedicated to my patron saint. So, with camera in had to take pictures and a nice, quiet place to ask for help, I took another brief break.
Afterwards, I found a nice coffee shop then the Banco de Brazil! Finally, I was in business. And all of this was by the metro stop I was supposed to take – the one that is “really close to my hostel”.
Metros are awesome and the one in Sao Paulo is good. A one way ticket costs 2 Real (~1.50 Canadian). Signage is very good and there are very good maps throughout. I easily made my way to the stop I wanted and followed the sign to the right street. I should be “in gravy” right? Well, I did not know how far down the street I needed to go – and there was the row of flower sellers that looked unique. So, I wandered there and found what has to be the largest cemetery I’ve ever seen. It has masoleums similar to Recoleta (Buenos Aires) or Pere Lachaise (Paris) but the size is overwhelming. I was in the “high part” and I saw an area where I thought I would get a good view of the city, only to find that there was even more below the hill.
Back on the street, I was debating on whether I would find this place, when I saw musicians heading down the street. I figured I would follow them, since there is usually an open jam at the Praca. By now, though, I am also very hungry. I found a street market that sold different flavors of “pastels” – a kind of puff pastry with different fillings. I ordered a cheese one (queirjo) and got some water to drink. Feeling I could handle walking back down the street (and another hill) to follow the musicians, I made it as far as a string of music shops before I decided to give up the ghost and head back to the hostel for a bit of a rest.
I was able to find the easy way back to Ave. Paulista and a place for dinner. Nothing fancy, but good. I decided to take some time tonight to plan better for tomorrow so that I see more and am not so frustrated and tired. Then, I am going to spend some time with new friends.