Thursday, October 2, 2014

Travel Thursday: Visiting Sao Paulo

It's Travel Thursday and this week I'm doing a throwback to when I went to Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Last week's Travel Thursday we went to Washington DC so I thought this week we'd go out of the country.  I haven't done a ton of travel out of the country, so this trip really left an impression on me.

Destination: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Date: October 2010
Fun fact: This was a business trip that I parlayed into a little vacation

Before my son was born (2011), I worked at a software company in San Diego.  Our company was trying to expand our workforce by offshoring (hiring additional workers outside of the U.S.) and I'd worked at other companies that had partnered with companies in India.  This San Diego company decided they were going to try partnering with a company located in Brazil, and because of my previous experience working with offshore workers, I ended up leading the effort to partner with the Brazil company we had chosen.  Our partnership started in 2009.  Fast forward to the summer of 2010 and my company decided to reward my efforts by sending me out to Sao Paulo to see how our offshore partners were doing in their home country.

And so, I was booked a ticket to fly 6,000 miles to Sao Paulo.
The offshore company did a great job sending a few of our partners out to meet me and show me around Sao Paulo for two days before it was time to visit the company.  I arrived on a Saturday morning, and the spend two days showing me around as much of Sao Paulo as possible.  I'm sharing with you the awesome places my hosts showed me in two days.  I then spent the next four days (Monday through Thursday) visiting the company and seeing how they worked with our company in San Diego -- I'll post about that another time.  I'll also share with you the extension of my business trip: a separate three days in Rio de Janeiro.

I hope you'll consider visiting the wonderful country of Brazil!

A couple of notes about Sao Paulo
- Sao Paulo is a HUGE city -- bigger than New York City.  I think I would have had alot of trouble navigating the city on my own, without my hosts.  Not to say it can't be done, but I can't comment on using public transportation and taxis (which is how I would have done it had I not had the help of my Brazilian hosts!)
- I would not recommend driving on your own in Sao Paulo.  I found that the traffic and the driving in Sao Paulo put NYC driving to shame!
- Because Brazil is south of the equator, the seasons are the opposite of the U.S.
- Like many other cities in Brazil, Sao Paulo is an amazing melting pot of all kinds of ethnicities.  Be ready to see all kinds of people and all kinds of cultures.  The Brazilian "culture" is hard to define.

Are you surprised I started with food?  I love food.  One of my favorite things to do when I travel is try the local food.  Because Brazil is a melting pot of people from many countries (indigenous persons, Portugal, Paraguay, Bolivia, Germany, Japan, and several African countries, just to name a few), there is all kinds of food you can try in Sao Paulo.  Here are some must haves...
Pao de queijo is a kind of cheese bread (made with tapioca flour instead of the flour we have here in the U.S.).
Most mornings, I had a pao de queijo and a delicious strong cup of Brazilian coffee.
My host and hostess for the weekend, Rafael and Aline.  In front of Rafael is a bowl of Acai.
It tastes much fresher in Brazil but was very similar to what I've had in the U.S.
Like my trip to France, I found some amazing pastry & sweets shops.  I highly recommend trying a 'Brigadeiro',
a popular chocolate bonbon made of sweetened condensed milk and cocoa.

Mercado Municipal
Continuing the food theme, my hosts took me to the Mercado Municipal so I could get a greater sense of the fruits, vegetables, and specialty foods that are unique to Brazil.  The Mercado Municipal is open to the public, but is also a place that sources quality ingredients to many of the top restaurants in Sao Paulo.  I learned that Brazilians are big juice drinkers as one of the girls in our group related that when she was an exchange student in the U.S., she was dismayed that all she could get (at the time) was apple, orange, grape, and pineapple juice for the most part.  
The mercado is fairly large, with additional seating upstairs for eating.
All kinds of amazing fruits, some recognizable, others, not so much.
Specialty meats at the local butcher stand.

Pinacoteca do Estado
There are many, many art museums in Sao Paulo, but we only had time for one, so we went to the Pinacoteca do Estado.  Home to many pieces of Brazilian art, it has pieces from all time periods of Brazil's history.

Sao Paulo is home to more ethnic Japanese than any other city outside of Japan.  I've been to many Japantowns in the U.S. and I've even lived in Japan, so this was really cool to check out this ethnic community in the heart of Sao Paulo.  On Sundays they have a market, which we were able to catch the end of... they had open air food stalls and were serving up all kinds of delicious food.

Parque do Ibirapuera
This is the Central Park of Sao Paulo.  Unfortunately, we didn't have much room in our weekend to spend much time here, but the park is home to several museums, a Japanese Pavilion, and an intriguingly shaped hotel (Hotel Unique).

There was much more that we did, but I can't say I was prolific a photo taker back then as I am now.  I'll do another post on what it's like to work in Sao Paulo in a future post and show you the inside of a fairly large IT / consulting company in Sao Paulo.

Have you ever travelled out of the country?  Where to?  What foreign countries are on your travel wish list?


  1. I have only traveled to Mexico and Dominican Republic...I love beaches! South America, Australia, Europe...anywhere!! I love to travel. It is really fun to read your adventures and live vicariously. :)

    1. Thanks Leslie! I hope you're enjoying my Travel Thursday series so far... (sounds like it!)

  2. What a great experience and what a beautiful place. It's nice you had hosts. I have only left the country and went to Canada. I love reading about your adventures. Great post :)

    1. Thanks Karen! I am excited to document all the places I have been. When I run out of those, I'll share some of the places I hope to travel to one day...

  3. Wow! What a beautiful place, but oh man, all of that food looks amazing! I wish our market was that big... then again, our house would probably be stuffed with food (more so than it is already).

    1. The food was amazing. I love that there is such a variety of all kinds of foods (Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish/Portuguese, etc.) because of the diversity of the peoples in Brazil.

  4. Oh how fun! Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. How nice to have hosts with you to show you around. I think I would have been drooling at the sweets shop. Stopping by from the SITS Saturday Sharefest. You're in Denver, I'm not too far from you down in Colorado Springs. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    1. Glad you found me through the SITS Saturday Sharefest! I go down to Colorado Springs every once in awhile!


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