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Clock on to party


Brazil sets it’s clock to a different beat than Australia.

In general, though each area is somewhat different, they get up a little later in the morning, have lunch around 1 or 2pm, dinner after 9pm and if you’re heading out to the clubs, well they only get underway after midnight, so best wait till 1 or 2 to arrive. 🙂

The night life in São Paulo is amazing to say the least. Throw together a group of happy people, a few cheeky beers or caipirinhas, some great music and a willingness to get up and dance till dawn, and you start to get the idea. São Paulo loves to stay up late and shake it’s booty all night long.

So it was that I found myself at Gambiarra, an awesome party on Sunday nights, hosted at two different venues around the city. It’s three floors of pumping sweaty fun, and no one gets to have a sense of personal space at this club.

The music is amazing when you’re there and ready to dance… Some of the latest hits to get the Brazilians pumped up include Naldo, who asks you to just choose either coconut water or vodka, and then get your ass on the dance-floor; or Anitta, who’s all about the power. If that doesn’t get you going then you can try some of these tunes which I came across…. This older one translates roughly to ‘Slut‘ and features the weediest gangster I’ve ever seen…, or ‘Kisses for the Trannies‘, a diverse bunch of future earworms to say the least.

Make sure you check out if you’re going to a party, or just a standard club night, as they have quite a different atmosphere. And take your ID, usually a photocopy of your passport is fine, and some cash and perhaps a credit card to pay your way.

The line-ups are killers at the parties and bigger clubs, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. There’s the line to get in, the line to pay the entry fee, the line to swap some cash for drink tickets (best to know how much you’re likely to drink upfront), then the line for the bar itself… Doubling up on drinks can be a good idea. The good news is that everyone in the lines are probably friendly, so say hi and the time should fly.

For something a bit lighter but just as fun, try Teta Jazz bar in Pinheiros. I loved seeing the locals jam live to Miles Davis tunes. They also serve some mean bruschettas and caipirinhas. A small sampler is here. Thanks to Conrado for showing me this place 🙂

So go out in Sampa and have some fun. Don’t be dance shy either, only Brazilians seem to be able to dance samba, so just give it a go, and don’t care what you look like.

Impatiently Waiting – Acabando Pra Chegar no Brasil…

And so, after a mad rush to finish the year, I was setting off again for another trip to Brazil, eventually – I changed the ticket about 5 times and wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen. It was an intense 2013, and I was really beginning to feel it towards the end – with back pain problems throughout the first half and the ensuing surgery, then a new opportunity to work in Indonesia with my company in February 2014 meant lots of changes were happening in my life. (It was just like puberty all over again… everything changes). There was a job to finish up, a house to move, and meanwhile, bags to pack for Brazil.

People often ask me why I keep going back… and there’s no one answer to give them. It’s a little bit of everything all bound together. It’s all about the food, the music, the people, the vibe and the awesome places to visit in such a diverse, friendly country.

Over the next few weeks I hope to share a little of each aspect with you, and maybe one day you might head over to Brazil too. It can be difficult to get around at times, and sometimes you just feel like banging your head against a wall when it comes to processes here, but for those that push through, the rewards are most definitely worth it.

If you get frustrated by slow walkers, or find yourself wanting to slap the back of the head of that person in the line at the store who can’t make up their mind, or generally get frumpy if you have to wait more than two minutes… then you’re going to probably have a love-hate relationship with Brazil.

Everything has a ‘fila’ or a line… and why have one line, when you can have three, one after the other… you just need to have a game plan for your down time. Socialising, flirting or public displays of affection while waiting in line are completely expected and acceptable. I remember reading once that a great way for two people to meet in Rio, was to crash their cars together, and get a number… There is always a way, or ‘jeito’.

I’ll elaborate a little on the lines in a bit, but for now… it’s just good to know that I’m back in Brazil again – I really do miss this place.

Somewhere between Sydney and São Paulo, my bags got left behind, which was a first for me. There was a connecting flight in Santiago, and with a few delays early on we had 30 minutes to get off the plane and on to the next. If you have connecting flights and if traveling with your bags the whole way is important to you, allow enough time at each stopover so they can connect the dots, and perhaps budget a bit of time for delays. Otherwise you might find yourself down at the shopping mall picking up some new undies, socks and anything else that comes in your size… Or perhaps pack at least one change of clothes in your hand luggage, I know I will from now on. #traveltipsFTW

Final Farewells in Sampa


As I was only going to be staying in Sao Paulo a few days, I wanted to be right in the epicentre of all the action, Avenida Paulista.

I found an awesome pousada in Jardims that had a really charming feel to it, all while a stonesthrow (with a slingshot perhaps) away from my favourite places.

Livararia Cultura – a bookshop to beat the pants off any I’ve seen… (see picture above for just one of the many areas within this megaplex of literacy) I love the giant dragon in the middle!

Frans Cafe – even with the irregular table service, you come back to have the great coffees, cakes and of course, to be seen.

MASP & Parque Triannon – both opposite each other on Avenida Paulista, these places are both great spots for the eyes to take a deserving break from the monotony of Sao Paulo’s endless cement buildings. It’s a big city after all, with more than 22 million in wider Sao Paulo.

Conjunto Nacional, Rua Augusta, Shopping Frei Caneca – all fantastic spaces to meet, eat and feel a part of it all…

All too soon it was teary farewells and I was once again on a plane, headed for Buenos Aires, then home…

(Thanks Brazil! Another awesome trip!)

Sao Paulo – Restaurant Week!

Last time I was in town, it was Fashion Week – this time it was Restaurant Week, and I have to say, it is the BEST IDEA EVER!

Sydney, are you listening? Feel free to steal it… and soon!

All the top, and I do mean top restaurants in Sao Paulo create a special one-week only set menu for around 30-40 Reais ($25 AUD more or less) which includes an entree, main and dessert.

It’s a busy week, and the hip, social scene of Sao Paulo taketo the streets every night to take advantage of the bargains and experience some of the finest food the country has to offer for a fraction of the usual cost. 

We trundled our way along to the already packed ‘Capim Santo’, where I was so tempted by the other normal menu, I ended up ordering from the usual menu for the normal price. I was not disappointed! A flavoursome Baiano dos Dois, fantastic entrees with flavours from the north of Brazil all tantalizing my tastebuds. It was a great way to say farewell to friends Ricardo and Carol. Saudades!


Traveling by bus…

Air conditioning… a pure luxury!

But who needs it when you’re in Brazil and want to sample the local lifestyle, where sometimes the memorable experiences are the ones without the luxuries… like catching a local intercity bus…

Closing your eyes as you bustle down the road, you can smell the different aromas; smoke from a wood fire cooking something delicious, the different fruit trees, like the jack fruit, and hear the constant sound of Brazilians conversing, greeting each other and signaling for a stop.

For me, it’s a great way to meet people too…

On the trip from Sao Paulo to Ubatuba, I had the privilege of sitting next to Raquel and Rafael. Rafael was just 8 and was heaps of fun during the journey. He became a very quick learner of how to play Angry Birds on the iPhone, and I must say it was fine trying to translate what you need to do to play the game in Portuguese.

He wanted to know all about kangaroos too, and how high they jump, and whether we ride them..

Afterwards I offered him and his mother one of my favourite chocolate biscuits (Passatempos), and he turned to his mum and said, “I like him, he’s really cool”…

Raquel works in Sao Paulo part time and then heads back to home near Ubatuba, which must be difficult to live in two places at once, three hours apart by bus. They gave me a smile as they hopped off and told me how long it would be until the next stop.

Just two of the many cool people I have been fortunate enough to meet while on buses in Brazil.

Saturdays at Sao Benedito

Hundreds of people crowd the streets alongside the plaza, where a fair has been set up selling various foods and artesan items. We grab a ‘pastel’ (deep fried pastry of salami and cheese) and head into the street where the throng of people seem to have grown in the past few minutes.

It seems as if they’ve closed the side street between the park and a few bars just for the fair on Saturday, but then again, this is Brazil. The street is still open, and cars move at a snails pace through a crowd of drinking, laughing, and energetic Brazilians.

A few enterprising women have dragged giant eskies and are selling beers, soft drinks and spirits to the gathering and thirsty crowd, and its definitely added to the buzz in the area.

It’s Saturday afternoon, and this is just another weekend for the Paulistanas. For me, it’s amazing… and besides you never know who you might end up talking to in the crowd…

Linguists Unite!


The Museum of the Portuguese Language in Sao Paulo is quite the unique experience. It’s a museum, the only one of its kind in the world it claims which is dedicated to just one language and its history.

Through the interactive exhibits and the cinematic show which ends up with you walking ‘through’ the screen into another room of projection displays.

Another gallery has a wall of continuous video displays more than a hundred metres long, showcasing different aspects of the words relating to Brazilian culture – football, carnival, food, music, history…

I was lucky with my timing at this museum as there was also a temporary exhibit dedicated to my favourite poet, Fernando Pessoa. His poems once translated into English are still fantastic, but in Portuguese they are truly incredible.

He was quite the philosopher who wrote under a number of heteronyms, or assumed characters, which allowed him to explore life from a number of different perspectives and different voices.

Try a few of his poems out for yourself and see if you like them… Personally I think he is among the world’s finest poets.

His collection of short observations about life can be found in English as ‘The Book of Disquiet’. It’s my favourite book.

When music transcends…


I caught a live music show in Sao Paulo last night, and absolutely loved it.
Thiago Pethit was the main attraction, and he really delivered. His style is unique, but if I had to compare him to anyone, I’d probably say he has Mika-stylings, only Thiago is far more entertaining than Mika.

He sings in Portuguese, English and French, and is quite the talented and animated performer.

He was supported by another local act, Letuce, whose name sounds far more interesting when pronounced in Portuguese, than it does in English… 🙂 I think she was pregnant to the lead guitarist, but this could neither be confirmed or denied… hehehe

I loved it when both Thiago and Letuce sang in English. They had passion, musicality and mostly had their English accents perfected. The pronunciation made me smile, just as it seems to make the locals here smile when I speak with them in Portuguese. It’s those subtle inflections that always give you away as an ‘estrangeiro’ or foreigner…

(Side note: Brazilians have a really difficult time pronouncing the differences between ‘beach’ and ‘bitch’ in English… Also ‘can’t’ and well, you know the other word… It reminds me a little of Air New Zealand’s Rico!  In reverse, I always have trouble ordering bread in Brazil, as one of the words for penis is unfortunately far too similiar for my ear to detect…)

The performance venue, from what I can ascertain, is the performance hall of SESC, a group formed to push the agenda of social education and promote creativity and culture for the past 60 years. It must be working, as the show had a really had a fantastic vibe, and drew a very eclectic crowd of Paulistanas (locals from Sao Paulo).

Anyway it was strange, and comforting at the same time, to hear Lou Reed covers in the middle of this gigantic metropolis that is Sao Paulo. Thanks Thiago for a great show… I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

This moment was just one of the many secrets that the city unlocked for me during this visit. Thanks to Ricardo for lining up the tickets and sharing the experience with me.

Fashion Weak


It’s Fashion Week here in Sao Paulo…

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are making appearances, mostly at the airport and at private parties – not so much on the main streets of Sao Paulo…

Fashion Week seems to happen largely behind closed doors here in the city. Only the elite, the fashionistas and the chosen can enter.

I’m clearly not one of any of the above! I’m what you might call Fashion Weak… wearing the simple attire of jeans and a tee, standard fare for backpackers.

Foreigners without exclusive VIP passes to Fashion Week, can at the very least take solace in that the week is referred to locally in English. (English must be fashionable or something…)

I made the mistake of translating ‘fashion week’ into its portuguese equivalent ‘semana de moda’ and was faced with strange stares and a few quiet laughs or two…

Sao Paulo – City of Secrets


I must admit that I forgot how at odds with itself, Sao Paulo can first appear to be to a foreigner… It’s a city of the very rich living alongside the extremely poor. At every turn, a new neighbourhood or ‘bairro’ each with something unique to offer – whether shocking or exciting.

From the rich streets of Jardins, where Cartier & Gucci abound, to the bustling side streets of the former red light district near Rua Augusta, to the Japanese influences of Liberdade or the historic Centro – each is unique. Then again there are other streets altogether that I just don’t feel like entering.

This is a city of secrets. Its beauty has to be found, it is not apparent from the outset. It starts with the drive in from the airport, through some of the poorer neighbourhoods of the city outskirts… it’s unsettling for the foreigner to see as a first sight, but the city is yet to reveal its beauty.

Keep in mind that this city and its wider metropolis contains tens of millions of people, almost the same amount of people in this one city as in all of Australia, so there is bound to be a clash of the classes as these masses of people congregate together.

It’s a city that can frustrate, confuse and confound, but more more awaits for the traveller with patience, and a sense of humour. Incredible art, food, culture and friends can be found in some of the most unlikeliest places.

To unlock this city’s secrets, you need to be open-minded and up for the challenge, but once you start unlocking them, you’ll find that Sao Paulo will take a place of pride within your heart.

Sao Paulo, eu te amo!