Monday, May 21, 2012

Sao Paulo or Bust - Part 4

Wow - it seems like when we travel in Brazil it is always good weather and today is no exception.  Our days itinerary is full so it's a pretty early wake up, a quick get ready, and we are off before nine A.M. Our first destination of the day is a short distance from the hotel so we decide to walk.  As we stroll along down one of the cities typical streets, we notice a cemetery on the opposite side.  It is a large cemetery with lovely crypts catching the sunlight as it peaks over the building and trees of the city.  In a unanimous decision,  we decide to cross the street and look around.  The cemetery is the que vou Te Amar which was the first public cemetery in the city.  Inaugurated on August 15, 1858 in and attempt to improve the health and prevent epidemics in the city.  Prior to this date, the dead were buried in the interiors and close proximity of churches. With a new understanding of how this type of burial could affect the health of the residence a cemetery away from the city was a good solution.   At first all economic groups were buried here, but by the early 19th century it became a
social status with wealthy families competing to see who could build the best, most ornamental crypts. They hired many of Brazil's most famous sculptors  to produce works of art at their families grave site and these works stand today.  We enter the grand entrance and walk down the pathway lined with trees leading visitors to the round information building.  I take a couple of photos before realizing photography is not allowed and find out later there is a pass you can purchase which authorizes visitors to photograph the artwork.  Down one of the paths an older man comes and begins to talk with us.  I am not sure what he says as he has a very heavy accent and I am unable to understand or follow his Portuguese at all.  Not that I would have understood it all if he did not have such an accent. Beatrice and Junior both state later that they had a hard time understanding him as well so I did not feel so bad.  After a few minutes of wandering between the ornate crosses, statues, and tombs we head back to the street to continue our day.
As we walk along we pass by other beautiful churches,  a residential tower designed by Oscar Neimeyer, and the city seems to be at a different pace today.  Maybe we are just in a different part of town.  We arrive at the Italia Terrace with its observation deck floors above the city, only to find that it is closed until later in the afternoon.  We come up with a plan to do some more sight seeing and return later.  After a short walk we end up in the same little four story mall we had coffee in yesterday and walking down many of the same streets in central Sao Paulo on our journey to the wholesale district.  The steep streets of the district are packed with people,  all looking for the best bargains.  This is where many store owners come from all over Brazil come to purchase
merchandise to sell in their stores.   The narrow streets are lined with specialty shops selling everything from kitchen supplies to watches and jewelry at wholesale prices. The hustle and bustle of the street reminds me of China town in New York City or San Francisco.  The district is a few blocks long and of course the people watching is great once again.
Our next destination is the Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo (municipal market) and it is a good thing we arrive around lunch as there is plenty of famous things to eat here.  The market's building  opened in 1933 and since then it has served the city well providing fresh fruits, spices, meats, and other products to the cities residence.  It is a huge building with arched window and two domes welcoming visitor to its interiors.  It looks to consume a whole block of the
neighborhood and our walk quickens as we near the front door.  Once inside the noises of bargaining compliment the sweet smells of fresh fruits and delicious lunches being prepared.  We spend a little time walking down the wide rows of the market in search of a particular item.  The cod pastels are infamous in Brazil and the Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo is said to have some of the best in the country.  We have to follow our noses to have some for lunch.  Simply delicious - fried pastry filled with cod fish.  What a delightful treat for our mouths.  After lunch we walk around some more and I look at the variety of items being sold.  I am not sure I have ever seen cow hoofs before.  It is a great place to walk around and do some more people watching as well.  (maybe that should be the theme for today).  We are about to leave and I decide there is one thing on my agenda at the market.
I want to taste some fruit that I have never had before.  We stop at one of the vendors and after explaining I am an American he begins to offer me tastes of many different fruits from Brazil and around the world. Langon, Nespera,  Mangosteen, and Granadilla just to name a few.  I am sure there will be a blog post that shares more details about how the different fruits tasted.  When I was finished,  I tipped the guy and we were off.  Satisfied with a wonderful experience that I would tell anyone traveling to Sao Paulo to make sure they partake.
By the time we are finished with lunch and our fresh fruit tasting it is time to head back to the Italia terrace and check out the views.  Up... up... up... to the
observation deck on the 44th floor of the building.  The Edifício Itália is the the second tallest building in Sao Paulo and attracts hundreds of tourist.  We step out on the patio which circles the top floor of the building just outside the upscale restaurant and piano bar.  It is like looking at a large 3-D puzzle with buildings protruding towards us and on the streets below ant like people hurrying along.  This is a great place to get perspective of the size of this massive city and how it goes on from one horizon to the next.  The best way to describe it is through photos so I have created a slide show with great photos.
We end up spending a little time here and it is mid
afternoon at this point.  We are tired and discuss possibly ending the day early and heading back to the hotel but I express my wishes to head back to Ibirapuera Park were we first stopped on Sunday.  If you remember, there were just too many people out enjoying the weather for us to fully enjoy it so we had discussed going back.  Today is our final day in Sao Paulo and I really wanted to check out some of the things we passed on our stroll through the park.  With a little arm twisting,  I get my way and soon we are headed in that direction.  It is another wonderful sunny day to spend time at Ibirapuera Park and what a
different experience it is from our visit on the weekend.  Flowers blooming, birds singing, and a wonderful breeze blowing.  I missed these things on Sunday because I was too busy looking out for people walking, running, and biking.  The park is filled with beautiful sculptures and monuments dedicated to influential events and people of Sao Paulo and Brazil.   When we come to the Afro Brazilian Museum we are intrigued and decide to take a quick look.  What a wonderful find,  filled with artifacts of the ancestral lines of the African people in Brazil.  Costumes,  toys, artifacts and stories of how these immigrants lived in early Brazil fill the walls of the stark white building.  It is a wonderful collection and one of my favorite places in the city.

After about an hour and a half of looking around we leave the museum and head toward the dancing waters we visited the other day.  We walk past the Obelisk of Sao Paulo,  built from 1947 to 1970 to commemorate the Constitutional Revolution of 1932.   Today it stands boldly in the park as the tallest

monument in the city of Sao Paulo.   When we arrive at the lake we rest for a minute to watch the dancing waters and continue on as they abruptly stop dancing. Our next landmark is just outside Ibirapuera Park at its entrance.  Unveiled in 1954 during the parks opening celebration, the Monumento as Bandeiras
("monument to the flags") has stood at its entrance ever since. The massive granite statue pays tribute to the bandeirantes and their influence on Sao Paulo's culture.   It reflects the diversity of the region,  depicting Portuguese settlers alongside indigenous men and women all pulling a canoe.  When we drove by the statue on Sunday,  there were people crawling all over it and today there is no one around.   It is great to have the opportunity to take pictures of this great landmark without anyone else posing for their own memories.  As the day ends and we grab a cab I look back at the wonderful details of this city on steroids.  Filled with people making history one day at a time and I am sure there is more to do and see,  so another visit will have to occur at some point.

Afrobrasil Museum 

Inside the museum of Aftrbrasil
cow hoof for sale at market

Cod Pastel - Yum 


Municipal Market Sao Paulo
Oscar Neihmeyer designed residential tower.

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