You know that thing when you’re on your holidays and you discover a local food or drink that you can pretty much only get there and nowhere else and it’s so utterly life changing you know there’ll be a hole in your soul yearning for this one thing for eternity when you return home? Yeah so I’m not saying that coxinhas are the sole reason for us going to Brazil but, y’know, they’re in the top four.
The main reason was the fact all flights to Argentina, our goal for this leg of the trip, seemed to change in São Paulo and I just so happen to have a mate there. Add to that the fact we’d been trying to weave in a visit to Tarrant’s brother and his wife in Florianópolis and, well, Brazil just made sense. So here we are. It’s currently raining. Last time I came to Florianópolis, a city famed for its ridiculous number of beaches and other things best done with the sun claiming your epidermis, it also pissed it down. Is it me? Am I the jinx?
Our first stop though was, of course, the sprawling metropolis of São Paulo where a mate, Flor, who I used to work with in Auckland lives. Those were messy, nocturnal times. We’d work until 6am then drink until most normal people would be considering a spot of brunch and the morning sunshine revealed us for the squinting, sweaty abominations we were. The last time I visited her in Brazil, twelve years ago now, we pretty much picked up where we left off and descended into a clubbing abyss of so much vodka I think my liver went on strike.
Since then she’s created a whole other human and I’m very much into being asleep by 10pm at the latest. We had a lovely time hanging out with her and her son, Raul, and their collection of pets. She lives in a really funky area called Pinheiros and I could actually happily settle here. They have these amazing weekend markets lining the streets, and buildings packed with independent retailers peddling homemade wares. You can buy a beer and wander along, soaking up the atmosphere. Wander to Batman Alley for food and music and more weekend market action. Yeah, we’ve definitely changed. A bit of food, home by 9pm, sorted. Ooh, and I’d love a pint of water, please. Thank you.
We spent the weekend there and headed down to Florianópolis on the Monday. I’ve met Stephen, Tarrant’s eldest brother, a couple of times when he’s flown back to the UK for Christmas or other reasons. I’ve never met Lisa, his wife, and Tarrant hadn’t seen her for years. We basically spent a wonderful week catching up and hanging out despite the fact the sky was doing everything in its power to drown us.
We did have two stunning days to be fair. Stephen and Lisa live in an area called Ingleses do Rio Vermelho, mere shuffling distance from a lovely beach lined with bars. We headed down one morning for food and beers and the obligatory dip in the sea. Thems the rules. Can’t say you’ve been to a continent if you’ve not been in the water. We had a lot of fun inhaling quantities of the Atlantic as waves battered into us. Later, as we sipped beer and shovelled food into our chops a pod of dolphins swam past. Abso-fucking-lutely magical. I’ll never get bored of gawping at cetaceans.
The following day we Ubered to the beautiful Barra Da Lagoa to sit on a different beach for food and beer. Gods, I could get used to Florianópolis in the sunshine. A bit too used to it. I’m not sure any of my poor internal organs are up to that kind of abuse these days. Of course you can sit on a beach and not drink beer, it’s perfectly legal and no one will stop you, but I swear that shit calls my name as soon as the first bead of sweat exits my forehead.
The rain for the rest of our time in Floripa was nothing short of biblical. Ankle deep water pooled in the gutter. Umbrellas merely delayed the inevitable. A chap called Noah hung up the phone to the 30th B&Q he’d called that day trying to source a fuck tonne of wood. A landslide closed a major highway taking three trucks and several cars with it. Honestly, it was chaos. We holed up with Stephen and Lisa, only venturing out to restock the booze stash.
It was a wonderful time out from relentless sightseeing and it was honestly so good to catch up with everyone. Every single body organ responsible for filtration is in tears and is recoiling in horror at the mere mention of fizzy wine though, I’m definitely down a few brain cells, and I’m not sure I can physically drink enough water to rehydrate the withered mess that is my general being. Fucking worth it.
São Paulo, São Paulo & Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Stayed at: With friends and family.
Useful shit to know…
- We booked our bus from São Paulo to Florianopolis through Busbud. It cost GB£32 each.
- Rodoviária Tietê is easy to get to by Metro. Get off at Portuguesa-Tietê and follow the signs.
- Signage around the bus station also have English.
- There’s a mall upstairs with places to get food and drink. The platforms are downstairs.
- The platform number was written on the ticket.
- The bus was really comfortable but oh my fucking gosh, the AC was brutally cold!
- The bus left on time and stopped twice for 30 minute breaks.
- The places we stopped have this system whereby you take a chunky plastic card from a machine and enter through a turnstile. Grab what you want then go past this, like, checkpoint where they scan your plastic card and the goods you want to buy. You don’t pay here though, you then enter a restaurant area where you can sit and eat if you like. Then you continue to the checkout where they scan your plastic card again and you pay. Odd at first but it makes sense once you’ve done it once.
Getting From Guarulhos Airport (GRU) To São Paulo
- We landed at Terminal 3. A free shuttle bus will take you between the terminals and the train station.
- We weren’t sure if the train and Metro system were separate (like Victoria in London) so we bought tickets to Luz Station for R$4.40 each and we’d deal with it once there.
- The Luz Express is clearly signposted. I believe it runs every hour from the airport on the hour (24 hours) but please do check.
- It took less than 40 minutes to get to Luz Station.
- Turns out the train and Metro systems are integrated. We weren’t sure if we’d need to pay again to continue to Clínicas Metro so we exited and bought another ticket (R$4.40) just in case. We probably didn’t need do bother, the exit barriers don’t seem to require your ticket.
- They only took cash at the Metro ticket desk and the machines at the airport didn’t take international cards.