“Welcome back to São Paulo!” my Brazilian friend texted. “Another planet? How do you find it?”
“Cold. Clean. People are normal. Will talk later, must find pizza Paulista for Mark.”
Mark ended up eating instant noodles because Feng and I didn’t feel like walking to Rua Augusta, but São Paulo is one of the only places where I’m not stressed out if I arrive late in the day—the city never really sleeps, and my Paulista experience during Carnival, COVID and late at night when Mark was a baby taught me how to find 24/7 Carrefour supermarkets, restaurants and bakeries.
We took the long way from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo. Well, not the long, long way like I did last year, stopping in Paraty, Ubatuba, São Sebastião, Ilha Bela and Santos—the “long way” as in we didn’t fly, we took the bus.
None of us complained about it. It’s a six- or seven-hour trip, and we needed a day off to recover from Carnival.
Plus Brazilian long-distance buses are very, very comfortable. Mark, who doesn’t remember long-distance bus trips taken when he was a toddler, was amazed. I got us the upgraded version, with seats that recline almost all the way, as well as free (clean!) pillows and blankets provided.
“You can sleep or use the tablet. Whatever. I’m sleeping.” (He fell asleep halfway, the minute I took the tablet away because I wanted him to prioritize blowing his nose…)
We eventually arrived at São Paulo’s Tiete Bus Terminal around 6 p.m.
It did feel cold for the first hour, colder than Rio de Janeiro anyway. It was still around 25⁰C but no humidity for a change.
This was my second time in São Paulo this year, but a first in 2023 for Mark and Feng, so we took our usual (long) walk through Bela Vista, Centro and Libertade. On the way back, Mark enjoyed an epic fight against bubbles in Little Tokyo—I’m still laughing about it.
Rio is one of the places to be for Carnival and we did have a great time. However, I’m far more comfortable in São Paulo. I like it here, the city makes more sense to me. Sure, I’m a bit of a beach bum, but not as much as Cariocas. I like São Paulo’s urban jungle, the rock culture, the way millions of people from all walks of life just coexist relatively peacefully.
I’m never bored in São Paulo. I could spend months exploring the streets, the neighbourhoods… every corner of it is both unique and fascinating.
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