São Paulo is already the most populous and congested city in Brazil, but the on-coming of the World Cup has taken that to new levels. Between the partying, the government protests and the traffic the streets feel swelled like a balloon about to burst. With that in mind, we became very well acquainted with the streets of São Paulo.
The day started at the Fifa Fan Fest for Brazil’s opening match. Every time Brazil plays the country shuts down like it’s a holiday. People were dressed up, painted and even had their babies ready for the occassion. It was amazing. This one family begged me, as an American to take a picture with their kid. I mean the kid did have a sick mohawk.
On our second evening we followed more than 100,000 people to Vila Madelena to party. The streets in Vila Madelena are shutdown with bars on either side, and little carts lining the center of the streets making mixed drinks and serving cerveja (beer). Like true Americans, we found a bar to watch the NBA Finals, and met up with some heat fans who were finishing their study abroad programs. As the heat squandered away their chances at a title, we squandered away our dignity on shots of Vodka and caiprioskas. You always remember you’re not 21 again, the moment you start drinking with 21 year olds… that is for sure. We followed the youngeons to a local late night club, D-Edge, but after 36 hours of traveling and 24 hours of drinking, the night felt like it needed to end. One by one members of our group decided to head back to their various hotels to sleep. The problem? No one could figure out how to get home. For more than 3 hours the streets of São Paulo kept us from our beds. It was quite funny to see everyone arriving home at about the same time, even though we all had left the club at different times. Unfortunately, even sober the streets of São Paulo would win again.
The next morning we were to head to Curitiba. Myself and Drea were taking a short 1 hour flight, while the boys (Ollie, Snowy and Phil) were to rent a car and drive the 350miles south to Curitiba. The lads had heard rumors from locals about the problems of trying to drive, but were undeterred. That is, until they actually got into the car. 4 hours after getting their rental car, the lads were still stuck in gridlock’d traffic in the center of São Paulo. The traffic was so bad, and the roads so confusing, that it took more than 11 hours to make the 350 mile trip to Curitiba. Meanwhile, my flight took less than an hour. Before the boys had even gotten out of the center of São Paulo, I was comfortably in Curitiba, enjoying some bisteca, a Brahma, and the Spain vs. Holland football match.
Tomorrow I’m off to explore Curitiba, but the moral of the story is simple. When in Brazil, the streets are for drinking not for traveling, so whenever possible fly from city to city.