My First Impression of São Paulo

I had an adventurous weekend in Brazil. I flew back home safe and sound, but I’m currently under the weather. Though that doesn’t stop by to write about the trip. I’ve been looking forward to sharing it with you.

In this series:

  1. Unplanned Flight Path: Brazil!
  2. My First Impression of São Paulo
  3. United Polaris Business Class 767-300ER Washington to São Paulo
  4. 39 Hours in São Paulo: What I did
  5. Stop! Thief!
  6. Star Alliance Lounge – São Paulo
  7. United Economy 767-300ER São Paulo to Washington

As a follow-up post on my unplanned weekend getaway to São Paulo, I want to share with you my first impression of the city. I’ve been to Rio de Janeiro before, so it’s not the first time for me to visit Brazil. Before I went on this trip, I expected the two cities would share many similarities in many ways. It turns out I was wrong. I think the two cities are significantly different.

I like saying something positive about the place I visit. But at the same time, as a writer, I’d also like to objectively share my opinion. From what I observed, São Paulo is not very clean. There are many homeless in the city, which is unfortunate. That said, I walked past some of the nicest neighborhood when I went to one of the best pizza places in Brazil!

I find the locals nice and friendly. I never feel unsafe walking around the city alone. I’ve heard some stories from people saying Brazil is not a safe country – I disagree. Aside from my phone incident, people mind their own business. Unlike some places I visited in the past, Brazil is not a scammy place.

While I don’t speak any language other than English and Bahasa, sometimes I can still pick up some words in Spanish. The same cannot be said with Portuguese. I feel lost when listening to someone speaking Portuguese. But I survive! Perhaps I should spend more time visiting and staying in Brazil or Portugal then.

McDonald’s is expensive. On Sunday, the Avenida Paulista is closed for traffic, so it’s nice to be able to walk along on the street. When I was walking there, I noticed there was a gorgeous looking mansion under construction. I thought this must be a super-wealthy person that can afford such mansion on Avenida Paulista. Well, it turns out it’s a McDonald’s.

I’ve never seen any McDonald’s like this before. Fast forward, I stopped by a McDonald’s nearby, still on Avenida Paulista. I ordered a 300ml soda from the kid’s meal menu. It cost me BR$8.90 or about US$2.19. That’s expensive! No wonder McDonald’s in Brazil can afford a mansion!

I’m not a book reader. I read articles on the internet and I also write (obviously), but I’m not a bookworm by any means. The weekend when I visited São Paulo, there was a book festival. I found the city very literate. I noticed how enthusiastic people are! The roads around the Municipal Theatre of São Paulo were closed. There were so many booths selling and showcasing books. There are so many visitors. I love it.

Coxinha is a popular snack in Brazil. It is a chicken croquette. Something I noticed when I was there is that in every street corner, there is a small cafeteria that sells coxinha, pastéis, and empanadas.

Uber dominated the market in Brazil. I wrote about my preferences in terms of transportation. But due to my short visit this time, I didn’t take any public transport. Instead, I decided to walk and take Uber to get around the city.

That’s all my first impression of the city during my 39 hours in São Paulo. I’m going to discuss what-to-do, where-to-go, and what-to-see in São Paulo in my next installment.


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