Today was exploration and discovery. After a much needed full night of sleep, today was the first full day in Sao Paulo. It started with a continental breakfast here at the hotel about 9am and then we set out to find some essentials that we needed to make our stay more enjoyable. Most store in Sao Paulo are closed on Sundays, similar to many US stores, so it was quite the challenge.
We were able to find a local homegoods store where Katie and Jamie looked to purchase hangers and a few other items. I was in the market for an iron and alarm clock, as stated in the previous post the hotel does not come equipped with those. Those that know me well know I'm a big fan of quotes, often finding inspiration and balance with the right quotes. My take on my experiences and understanding of the Brazilian, and South American for that matter, is that "Time is not something to be counted, its something to be enjoyed" hence the reason for no alarm clock. At the store I was able to locate an alarm clock but it was a very cheap plastic alarm clock and I decided the old blackberry (no phone service) I brought with me will do just fine for alarms. I next turned my focus to an iron, and noted that prices ranged from $75BRL to $125BRL. For those that have figured out the exchange rate, that is about $45-$75 for an iron. An Ironing board is upwards of $150BRL. Time Irado, Jamie/Katie/myself, decided we would split the cost and share one to help limit our expenditures on unnecessary items.
After the homegoods trip, we set out for the local markets. our quest took us to the very popular Avenue Paulista which is very touristy and home to many skyscrapers and businesses. We walked toward Central Sao Paulo which led us to Trianon Park. It is a small park in the middle of Sao Paulo which is dense with tropical plants, stone walking paths, and even some playgrounds. We walked through the length of the park and at the end of the park which opened to up to local vendors with handmade items and antiques. We walked through the vendors and across the street which is home to the Sao Paulo art museum which overlooks part of Sao Paulo. Its a nice view of this part of the city. Near the art museum we saw a couple of rhino statues which seemed to be out of place but were each painted in a unique manner. As we continued to walk around Sao Paulo there were many of these places on the streets with various messages, portraits, and etc painted on them. A quick google search led me to the following link describing the Rhino's and their purpose.
Once we left Avenue Paulista and Trianon Park, we continued down through the Jardins area where we live. In true Brazilian fashion we stopped for late lunch (130pm) on Oscar Freire drive, which is considered the Rodeo Drive of South America. It was a very nice place but again, everything here is so expensive even after considering the exchange rate. A sandwich at lunch and a bottle of water cost us about $50BRL each (equivalent of $30USD). After lunch we continued our quest for a supermarket eventually using our translation books we picked up along the way, to talk to a security guard in the Oscar Freire district. Once arriving at Pao de Acucar market, we quickly found the bottled water (remember all the dehydration comments?). I bought about 15 liters of water which cost me $25BRL ($15 USD). Katie and Jamie picked up some snacks and we headed out. After our search for the elusive water, we now had more than we needed. literally. It started raining on us. And like my Dad used to say "Back in my day we walked to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways" our walk back to the Hotel really was like that. We all had our groceries in hand and our walk was straight up hill. For those not familiar with Sao Paulo and the streets here, it is very hilly and they do not have storm drains (or at least ones that work) and the water runs downhill. Needless to say there was a lot of water coming down the hill at us and we had a large amount of water and etc in tow. My bags started ripping a couple blocks from the Hotel which again is proof that "Murphy's Law" of what will go wrong, will go wrong. We finally made it back to the Hotel and out of the rain.
After a few hours of rest and organization, we set out to meet up with some Ernst & Young employees that are currently on a rotation down here in Sao Paulo at O'Malley's Irish Bar. It is an American friendly bar (about 4 blocks from our hotel) that shows the NFL games on Sundays. Another interesting fact about O'Malley's is that they do not use cash or credit for each transaction, rather they give you what looks like a hotel room key card with "Drinkers License" and a number on it. You use this to store your tab on it and then when you leave you pay your tab and are provided a green card that you hand to the bouncer's to let you out of the bar. Novel idea no? According to one of our new friends, if you lose this card they charge you $300 BRL ($150USD or so). Be sure to keep yours handy at all times!
After a couple of beers and it was back to the Hotel to get set for the work week. We heard horror stories of Sao Paulo traffic from many of our new friends and also some of the locals, so we get our first taste tomorrow. From Sao Paulo, Brazil.... Schleich Out.