The Banderas monument made from Italian marble to commemorate the early explorers. Took 30 years to complete.
We arrive early in the morning to azure skies, winter sun and a distinct chill in the air. It takes us a good hour and a half to struggle through the snaking immigration queue so it is a relief to find our driver who whisks us off the the Tivoli Mofarrej in the peaceful Jardins area of SP.
Herself in the market
It is still early so we decide to take a whistle-stop tour with a guide and see the city. Enrico scoops us up and first we drive through the four Jardins areas from our quarter, which has upmarket shopping and restaurants, to Americas with its huge mansions, Europe and Paulina. Each has streets named after the areas. I find it hard to believe we are in ‘dangerous’ Brazil, it’s so leafy and quiet, even the traffic is unexpectedly tame: it’s the winter school holidays.
In three hours there’s not much time to stop so we whizz into SP’s oldest church, Our Lady Of Brazil, with its mock Sistine chapel and Portuguese blue tiles
glance at the boat-shaped Unique hotel
and pass through the Ibirapuera park with its Biennale and museum buildings all designed by Niemeyer.
The Niemeyer auditorium in the park; check the scale by looking at the roof cleaners!
From there we drive through downtown with its churches and squares, the stupendous skyscrapers sprouting out through the old colonial buildings, many of which were destroyed as being too ‘backward’ for Brazil’s politicians.
One of the earliest skyscrapers
Old and new
Talking of which the governor of SP Juan Doria was on our flight, a dapper dark haired man all dressed in black. He has been in London to discuss how to de-pollute the rivers that run though SP – one of his election pledges. He has the Finance Minister in tow. The other passengers are queuing up for selfies and shaking his hand. An ally of Bolsonara, according to Enrique he has presidential aspirations in 2022 but he and the big man have fallen our over the moving of the F1 to Rio, home of the President.
One of the magnificent stained glass windows in the central market depicting agricultural life in Brazil, here ranching
The Bendedictine monastery
Italian ironwork on the Foundation Square statue
We love the old municipal market with its towering fruit displays and row upon row of bacalao or salt cod. The Italians were very early settlers in Brazil and SP radiates their influences from the ironwork on sculptures, church architecture and the olives and salamis that festoon the market.
Olives,salami, haunches of ham and smokedMeat. You could be in italy
Ross and Enrice on the balcony of the market
Salt cod galore
There was a big Japanese influx here too (400,000 of them) and SP’s Liberdade is full of sushi restaurants and shops with Hello Kitty junk and rice cookers.
Japan town street
Tour over we walk across the busy Avenida Paulista, the financial centre of SP to the São Paulo Art Gallery MASP. Here we are enthralled by a skilfully curated exhibition of their own staggering collection ranging from grandmasters – Rafael, Rubens, Delacroix, Hals, Rembrandt, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, Van Gogh, Gainsborough, Mogdiliani etc etc
Fine collection of Mogdiliani
Luminous Renoir portrait
combined with modern Brazilian artists
Arthur Timotheo da Costa
Heitor dos Preizeres
Emiliano di Cavalcanti
Kerry James Marshall
To end with a wonderful exhibition of one of Brazil’s foremost female artists who studied under Leger and Lhote, Tarsila do Amaral. Loved the influences and her landscapes, her people but not so much her cubist stuff. A great way to end the afternoon.
In the evening we wander round the corner a couple of blocks – yes dear reader in SP at night on foot – to a Brazilian restaurant for caipirinhas, ceviche and mucecha though Ross has a big steak. And then home to bed!
Exhausted but feel we have had a good taste of this city of 12.2 m in the world’s fifith largest country. Distressed by the huge numbers of homeless sleeping under uniform grey blankets and begging but uplifted by the vivid murals that cover almost every inch of spare space. Now off to the wetlands of the Pantanal!
PS first attempt of blog on the iphone so pl excuse any typos or weird gaps. It’s a bit tricky!
I am a writer and traveller. Our darling daughter Louise died on 2 March 2011, aged 21 (www.louisecattell.com) and I started writing as therapy. We never know how long we have on this earth, so I live for every day...in November 2013 I was diagnosed and operated on for a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in the calf, followed by 6.5 weeks of radiotherapy, so am embarking on a different kind of journey which you can follow here. I also have another site www.healthylivingwithcancer.co with my blueprint for health and well-being.