One of the many tributaries running up to and across Avenida Paulista. This is a trendy part of town notable for its multitude of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Keep your eyes peeled for the street art. There's some interesting graffiti and amusingly designed stickers to be found here. If you're hungry there is great sushi to be had at gohan cozinha oriental - R.Augusta 2542.
Large gallery showing a range of work by the prolific Brasilian artist and friend to the stars Romero Britto. There are some beautiful pictures on display and plenty of bars and cafes to relax in afterwards on Rua Oscar Freire.
Rua Oscar Freire, 562
Outlying district in the ABC conurbation, accessible by trolleybus or train from Luz. Derided by locals (those in the city centre) as being a hick town, it's actually worth visiting for a browse around the shops (the staff don't leap on you like in the centre) for bargains and a few pots of cold beer in one of the more friendly bars there.
Santo Andre stations (Line D)
Worth catching a cab (the metro station isn't so near to the action) and soaking up what the late night drinking district has to offer, whether your trip is brief or you're hanging around longer.
Vila Madalena Metro station
Newly opened space devoted to organic food - shop and restaurant. Menu is a bit limited and they're overawed by their own tandoor, but all in all, it's a nice relaxing place to eat breakfast/lunch and the food is absolutely fresh.
Al. Franca, 1590 (Jardins)
When getting to and from Rio International Airport, you may find it beneficial to get the RealBus. It costs R$5 and will drop you off at your hotel if you tell the driver where you need to go. It’s not very quick but is a good way of meeting other travellers, is air-conditioned and cheap.
I am travelling around the world for a year and my first stop was Rio. I excitedly got chatting to some of my fellow travellers who challenged my misconceptions concerning the favela tour. A favela is like a shanty town on a mountain side, where the poorest people live, and I thought a tour meant staring at the streets from a tour bus, showcasing the locals in a horrible, vicarious way. My new friends informed me that it was actually a walking tour given by a local, and that the money we paid was used for improving the school and day centre.
The favela, Rocinha, had the welcoming atmosphere of real and honest people; innocent lives plagued with the volatility of the drug world. It was hard to believe that we were walking through streets that only four days earlier saw the killing of the top drug lord by police. In the three days to follow a further five people were killed as they fought over the prestigious position and the power it provided. The tours stopped during this time and this emphasised the danger and uncertainty with which these people lived.
Our guide, Luis, took us to the day centre where our money was to be used. Before Luis set up the organisation (www.bealocal.com), children went unfed for days and were forced to beg, three years later they are off the streets, given three meals a day and are taught various arts and crafts; they then sell their wares instead of begging.
Looking round Rocinha, I now feel I understand the people of Rio on a much deeper level; with a strong, unyielding community spirit, they share the difficult times and, slowly but surely, set out to improve their situation. The tour manages to obtain the perfect balance, between educating and spreading awareness and providing genuine benefit where it is needed most.
A definite must-do when visiting Rio, it will enlighten your life and provide a unique insight into a fascinating place.
Visit www.bealocal.com and book online, they will pick you up from your hostel/hotel and drop you off afterwards.
I should keep this one for myself! One of my favourite places in Rio is the Parque Lage in the grounds of a beautiful 1920s mansion between the Lagoa and the Botanic Gardens, at the base of the Corcovado, the mountain where the statue of Christ is, and only a few minutes away by taxi from Ipanema.
It is a very especial place and a great escape if you have had enough of the beach. The building is very especial, it is featured in the video of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell's song "Beautiful" and it is also the last building you see in the video for the Black Eyed Peas'song "Don't Lie", both filmed in Rio.
The building, that now houses a centre for young artist, is crying out to be turned into a fantastic museum, and the gardens are actually the beginning of a trail that goes through the rainforest all the way up to the Christ. The last time I was there we didnt go very far because we were warned there were "bandidos" (muggers), but we didn't have to walk long before we had some macaco monkeys throwing mangoes at us. Do a search in Google images and have a look.
Alone in Rio on the weekend? Want to be occupied without doing much? Want to see Rio beach life?
Rent a bike in Ipanema and pedal all the way up to Gloria and back. Don't forget to take in Urca. It's flat, safe (95% bike paths) and very cool; you'll need about four hours if you take it easy (how else?); you'll see a great cross section of Rio people and the view on the way back is quite different from the view on the way there.
Lonely Planet suggests two or three places. It cost me less than 10 quid.
Roberto Burle Marx was born in the São Paulo on 4 August 1909. He studied in Germany, then returned to Brazil and worked as a landscape architect, designing parks throughout South America. These small, beautiful gardens stand as a tribute to him.
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx, the park is huge and always packed with people jogging, playing football or just snoozing on the grass. There are galleries, cafes, running tracks, bikes to rent, fountains, etc. Don’t go after dark.
São Paulo is a city of immigrants. Suba (aka Mitar Subotic) was born in Yugoslavia, moved to Brazil and created this hypnotic album as a tribute to his adopted city. In 1999, a fire destroyed his studio. Suba escaped, but realised that he had left the master of his new album inside. He ran back to rescue it from the flames, and never emerged.
The British influence on São Paulo has mostly been forgotten - and knocked down - but this is one magnificent reminder: the railway station, now serving a few suburban lines that bring commuters into the city. A British company ran the line that ran between São Paulo and Santos, carrying coffee to the coast; at the end of the 19th century, it was the most profitable railway track on the planet. This striking station could stand anywhere in Britain - or anywhere in the world, in fact, where the British built railways.
An excellent art gallery containing a fine collection of works by Brazilian artists, plus good travelling exhibitions. There’s a nice cafe too. Beware the local park, and avoid this area at night.
Avenida Tiradentes 141
This large, covered market sells all kinds of stuff that, if you’re not Brazilian, you probably will never have seen before. There are fruits from the Amazon region, for instance, that don’t even seem to have English names. Wandering past the stalls, you can see and smell eels, herbs, pineapples, salami, snails ... crammed together like a monument to the tastebuds.
Rua da Cantareira 306
You can’t just go and gawp; you’ll have to buy a drink in the bar. But it’s worth it. From the 41st floor of this skyscraper, the city’s second-tallest building, you can see across the whole of São Paulo and get some sense of its vastness. On the horizon, through the haze, you can glimpse distant mountains. Between you and them, there is an apparent infinitude of buildings. One day, perhaps, the whole planet will look like this.
Avenida Ipiranga, 344 (corner with Avenida São Luiz);
The upmarket old-fashioned service supermarket in São Paulo. If you can't find it here, you probably can't find it anywhere in Brazil (with exceptions detailed in other tips). Not cheap, but management very obliging and they can often start a food trend - eg a year ago there was hardly any basmati rice in Brazil and what there was was exorbitantly priced. I lobbied them and now they stock 5 varieties - all of a sudden tandoori chicken and curries are appearing on the menus of various restaurants. If you want to make a feijoada to impress friends you can buy a ready-made pack here.
Casa Santa Luzia Imp. Ltda
Alameda Lorena, 1471
01424-001 São Paulo SP
A bookshop that has grown explosively since 1990 together with the Brazilian publishing industry expanding from 1 shop to 4 (General/Arts & Leisure/Languages/Science & Business) all in the same office/shopping complex on the Central Avenida Paulista as well as a branch in the Villa Lobos shopping centre - if you're looking for a book, this should be your first port of call, and note that Brazilian bookshops are genuinely multilingual with lots of books in Portuguese/English/Spanish/French/Italian.
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