Friday, August 30, 2013

Sao Paulo: Trianon Park

As we were walking down one of the busiest streets in Sao Paulo (Avenida Paulista), we stumbled across Trianon Park.  A beautiful place with lots of trees, wide walking paths and tons of benches. It was a welcome respite from the crowded, dirty city so we strolled a bit and took some pics.
This statue is at the entrance of the park and is of one of the most famous bandeirantes of Sao Paulo. The bandeirantes were men who captured slaves for the immigrants moving into the area. Bad men.  
One of the entrance areas of the park. You can see how wide the paths are and the benches all along for people to sit and enjoy. This was a Thursday afternoon so not very busy. We went in again on Sunday and there were a lot more people.
Not quite sure what the structure is - maybe maintenance?
I like this shot because you can see the city skyscrapers through the trees. In the middle of the park you start to forget you're in a big city, but along the edges, you are reminded.
Another structure inside the park. Perhaps another maintenance shed of some kind.
There were statues throughout the park to enjoy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sao Paulo: Churches

Sao Paulo is primarily Catholic, although all other religions coexist without too much trouble. As a result, there are a number of beautiful churches, cathedrals, and basilicas around the city. Here are a few shots of those we visited.
This is the Basilica of Sao Bento and is part of a school and a bakery run by the monks who live here. We were there on Sunday morning and in time for mass so stepped in to hear the Gregorian chanting done by the monks. We stayed for some of the mass, but since it was standing room only and the whole thing in Portuguese, we left after about 10 minutes and wandered around the area until after mass when the bakery opened and we were allowed to take photos of the inside.

These give you an idea of the inside of the basilica. It wasn't that large but very ornate.
Just down the street is this small cathedral. We didn't get a chance to go inside, but here's a nice photo of the outside. The street passes right outside the doors as you can see. A lot of it was blocked off for a bike path, which is something the city does every Sunday to encourage Paulistas (residents of Sao Paulo) to bike.
The back of another cathedral we passed on our city tour taken from the car window. Sorry, didn't catch the name or go inside, but I liked the dome, which was something different from the others we had seen.
This is the inside of the church you'll see further down in the photos. Sorry, can't again remember the name (I've got to start writing things down!) but a beautiful church with stained glass windows and shrines throughout.
Gorgeous! and a really nice square in front of it as well. Such a shame that the place is overrun with the homeless. There are mattresses, cardboard boxes, laundry and dogs everywhere - it's a little homeless city just outside the cathedral. It's very sad to see.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sao Paulo: Impressions

We're back and finally over the jet lag of our latest adventure, which was South America. The goal of the trip was to visit my brother whom I haven't seen in over 3 1/2 years. We started with a few days in Sao Paulo, Brazil as that's where I could get the best flight from Abu Dhabi.

Sao Paulo is one of the most populated cities in the world. It's huge ... and dirty ... with lots of homeless ... and not a ton for a tourist to do. So, it isn't going to make the top 10 vacation spot list for us, however, we managed to have a nice time (a vacation is a vacation after all!). Here are some general impressions.
It was winter in Sao Paulo, which meant the high was around 72F - heaven for us after surviving most of the summer in Abu Dhabi. Some beautiful trees like the one in the photo above. The weather was perfect for us.
SP is a mix of old and new and rundown. This photo captures the contrast you see all over the city - very old buildings, buildings looking rundown or even in the process of being demolished and then some newer structures.
This was just funny - do you see the kitty? Not sure if it's some kind of gas tank, water tank? or maybe just urban art? Definitely a casual and open almost hippy or bohemian vibe from the city. People kissing in the streets - literally. I think we saw a couple smooching at least once per day - one was quite an old couple sucking face inside the Art Museum! A long way from the strict conservative nature of Abu Dhabi. And don't worry, Brian and I didn't take up the habit. :)
This is a good example of the many hills we climbed as we walked around the city. Steep streets - clearly they don't even get any ice or snow. My calves were killing me!
Another impression? TRAFFIC! It's pretty much rush hour all day long so you need to plan well ahead if you're going to travel by car to anything. We ended up leaving 4 hours early for the airport even though it was only about 45 minutes from the hotel because we couldn't count on the traffic. Lots of traffic jams as well. The city just isn't designed for the number of cars on the roads.
This is a shot of a group of protesters leaving one of the main avenues in SP on a Monday early afternoon. The Brazilians we talked to mentioned the government corruption and frustration with the current regime. There had been some very large protests in June and July this year - in fact, we kept a close watch and were ready to cancel our trip if needed, but things have calmed a bit since then. Still, there are protests often in the city and the population seems used to it. One of our guides said that as long as it doesn't significantly disrupt traffic, everyone is pretty tolerant.

The last impression was the number of dogs we saw (sorry, no good photos from SP on this). We're not sure if it's because we don't see many dogs in Abu Dhabi or if there really are a lot more dogs in SP, but they were everywhere. And many had goofy looking sweaters, slippers or bows in their ears. Sissy little things! :)