My opinion of Sao Paulo has changed dramatically. The first time I came here I stayed for two days, felt my lungs, head and life clog up and quickly got the hell out. I wasn’t ready for the city. When my passion for Brazilian music started to take full hold I knew this was the place to come and buy cheap vinyl and discover music. Now that I’ve been here for a few weeks I can honestly say that I quite like the place (which is a lot easier to write after three days of sunshine (with 5 minutes of rain each day) than a full three hour rain storm where you have to hide under a 10-foot concrete awning which doesn’t even really help as the rain is hitting at you from everyone one of the 360 possible degrees).
A small village like Trindade is easier to fit into straight away. The people you meet on your first night are there on the second. The bars that you go to soon become favourite spots, partly due to the fact that they are only two bars ever open and so one simply has to become a favourite. It’s taken a couple of weeks of being in Sao Paulo but I’ve now got to the point where I can go to shows and know two or three people there, and on the occasional fortuitous amble to the shops meet someone familiar.
Yet for most tourists, myself included on my first visit, Sao Paulo is just here to be explored for a day or two before heading somewhere with a generally more appealing demeanour. The only guest who has stayed here at Oca Hostel for more than three nights was a Dutch guy who had already met a lovely Paulista girl, and was dead set on partying, which is pretty much what this place is all about anyway. This did leave the guy with a final weekly hostel bill of R$800 (£300) on top of whatever crazy prices he paid for drinks, club entrance fees, meals, and all the other high-priced fare he got upto.
Which always leaves me puzzled when new guests arrive and ask me what I would recommend. Get down the fruit market, go to a few museums, have a walk in the park – these are the main suggestions. Yet none of them will really endear Sao Paulo to someone anymore than any other city which has parks, museums and markets (which is in fact all other cities). Maybe the Paulistanos who say that “Sao Paulo works so that the rest of the country can play” has some logic, as even if you want to come here and party you need a pretty flexible bank balance and this rules it out for many travellers as well as people from Rio and other states, as well as many of the people from Sao Paulo itself.