Our flight arrived back at GRU airport in Sao Paulo at 5am. At this point, I’m good to not fly for a few days….and also to sleep in the same bed and hotel room for a few nights! Originally, our plan was to wait for the rest of the group to arrive at the GRU Airport and to catch transportation to the hotel together. However, we learned after we grabbed our baggage that their flight from Houston had been delayed. Since we were absolutely exhausted, we decided to see if the hotel could check us in early so we could catch some Zzz’s before going out on our tour of Sao Paulo with the group. After a quick phone call, we learned that they were able to book us into two rooms. We caught a cab and off we went!
Holy CRAP was the traffic horrible! The three of us ended up dozing in the ~hour it took for the cab driver to get us to our hotel, the Tulip Inn Interative in the Jardins district. Check-in was painless, and after sending Jo a quick text message of our change in plans, we showered in our respective hotel rooms and crawled into bed to get some sleep.
Jamie and I woke around 1pm, got dressed, and headed down to the lobby to meet the group. We were off on a bus tour of Sao Paulo! I loved our tour guide, Doris. Not only was her English excellent, but she was brutally honest and a true lover of Sao Paulo (though this might have something to do with the fact that she’s both a Paulista (from the state of Sao Paulo) and a Paulistana (from the city of Sao Paulo)).
Our first stop was at the Sao Paulo Municipal Mercado (Market) which was just an overwhelming of the senses. The colors, smells, and the tastes were just awesome. A lot of people ordered some food at one of the food stands, specifically trying out the Pao de Quejo (cheese balls) and empanada like pastries with chicken and cheese inside. The young person who waited on us was just as excited about dealing with Americans (by taking our photos) as we were to be in Brazil at the market! As we neared the end of our walking tour of the market, Doris had a vendor let us try two fruits; a pear-like fruit which was amazingly sweet (with seeds) called Atemoia, and a cherry-like fruit that also had seeds, that was a little bitter-sweet and native to Brazil, called Jabuticaba.
We all loaded back into the van and headed over to the Sao Paulo Cathedral, which had a lovely set of steps leading up to the main entrance. Even though it was a rainy afternoon, there were still plenty of people milling outside on the steps and inside throughout the building. The stained glass inside the cathedral was absolutely breathtaking. After we had gotten our share of seeing the sights within the Cathedral, we took a bus-tour through the Jardins district so we could get the lay of the land and an idea of what was around our hotel for shops (can you say Chanel, anyone)? The main street with these upscale shops was called Oscar Freire and is well known for being high-end, which a few lower-end shops, such as Adidas and Ben and Jerry’s (yes, you read that right, VT followed us to Brazil!).
We were dropped back off at the hotel with direction to be ready in a few hours to be bussed to a local Churrascaria, called Vento Haragano. I had been to a Brazilian Steakhouse before and knew what to expect, but it was fun to experience the restaurant with those that hadn’t done it before. The side dishes were absolutely amazing and the meat (of course) was to die for. I had the tenderest, fall apart steak that I could have eaten for days! Three of us girls ended our meal with a chocolate lovers cake that had a crunchy shell on the outside, that was amazingly sweet and delicious, as well.
After dinner we were dropped back off to the hotel and I headed to bed to end the long day. What a great one!