I’ve only been to São Paulo once, if you don’t count the time I got stuck in the airport because I seemed to be the only person traveling from Brazil who didn’t get the memo about having a yellow fever vaccination. Nevertheless, I can say with certainty that it’s a city best enjoyed outside of the sprawling Garulhos airport, even if you can spot packs of capybara right next to Terminal 1.
During the last week of October, I booked a flight from São Paulo to Dubai for a conference. Once I booked, Gustavo and I decided to extend my layover in São Paulo so he could join me for a day. We wanted to spend some extra time together since I was going to miss our anniversary as it fell right during the conference, and São Paulo holds some sentimental feelings for us.
After a few drinks and good conversation, we walked over to the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. While the skies were a bright blue during lunch, Paulista Avenue was under the usual grey sky with a pitter-pattering rain that stopped just as quickly as it started, and just enough to make the walk a logistical challenge as we ran from cover to cover.
Since we hadn’t looked up the exhibits prior to arriving, I was extremely excited to find a Guerilla Girls and History of Sexuality exhibit inside. As an American, feminism doesn’t always seem as visible in Brazil as it does in the United States, so an entire museum floor dedicated to feminist artists filled my heart. Likewise, the History of Sexuality exhibit was extremely varied and thorough, showing a unique perspective of sexuality and gender from a mix of Brazilian and foreign artists.
After a quick trip back to our Airbnb, we walked over to Kaza Crossfit, a relatively new box in the area. We did one of the benchmark WODs, which is always fun and challenging. The space was immaculate and the equipment furnished by a local Brazilian brand — Fokus — though after so much training in kilos, I just could not do the math to shift back to pounds. Ahem, freedom units.
We crashed later that night so we could get up early in the morning for breakfast and a trip to Beco do Batman, I place I could not stop talking about. I first heard of Beco do Batman from Anthony Bourdain’s visit to São Paulo (on The Layover, I think) and I was enamored by it ever since. Essentially, it’s a small alley with amazing works of street art, but has become famous for the types of artists it has drawn over the years. So after a not-quite-big-enough breakfast and a caldo de cana, we walked over to the spot.
It wasn’t as big as I had expected, but it was visually stimulating. Rather than overlapping tags and art, each slab of concrete had one, very large, design on it, making for a surprisingly clean, and colorful, landscape. It’s an urban sanctuary in the sense that it feels completely removed from the rest of the city, but extremely edgy and artistic. It’s such a cool place to visit.
After Beco do Batman, and a quick workout at the hotel gym which had a glass door that proceeded to slam itself shut at least three or four times, we made our way to the airport. However, we first stopped at Coco Bambu for our anniversary lunch. I cannot even describe how good the food was.
To start, we had a Caesar Salad with shrimp — simple enough. However, the salad was just salty enough and the shrimp just juicy enough to balance each other out. Followed was a grilled white fish with capers, potatoes, and herb risotto. Finally, a smooth pudim and ice cream for desert. If I’d been wearing jeans, I’m pretty sure the button would have popped I was so stuffed.
Finally, at the airport, we parted ways before my 13 hour flight to Dubai (crazy!) and Gustavo’s quick hop home back to Rio.