The Sao Paulo Metro

The San Paulo metro is modern, and so far what I have seen of it is safe.  It is not idiot-proof however, and I made a number of bone-head mistakes.


It was crowded, but I have been on plenty of crowded metros in DC.

Lilac Metro line

I took it in the morning around 7:30am, intending to go in the direction from Moema to Borbogata, which is four stops on the Lilac line.  The Metro here on the Lilac line is clean. The platform has a safety wall with sliding doors, unlike the Metros I used in DC. The crazy incidents you hear about where someone pushes a person in front of the train can’t happen here.

Bone-head mistake #1. I didn’t notice that I was the only person not wearing a mask. I don’t think anyone was staring at me, until I was approached on the train by a guard who said things in Portuguese that I mostly did not under except when he pointed to his face and said “Mascara”, which really didn’t require translation.

Bone-head mistake #2. The way I normally use a Metro is to study the endpoints and make sure I choose the correct endpoint, which defines the direction of travel. Today, for the second time (!), I mixed up the endpoints, boarding the train heading in the exact opposite direction. So now, four stops became twelve, the first four being in the wrong direction, the next eight (now in the correct direction) making up for the mistake and advancing me to the final destination, which is Borbogata.

Exiting Metro at Bobogata

Uber ride home

Sao Paulo is a great city, but like most big cities has dirty and cluttered parts and lots of grafiti.

You can try Google Translate on this to read what this says.

Cristo Redentor

It is inconceivable that one would come to Rio de Janeiro and not see the “Christ the Redeemer” statue.

No different than any other visitor, we too, wanted to see the iconic statue, one of the modern wonders of the world.

Pão de Queijo….not

(10 January, 2023). We stopped for a quick lunch on the road between San Carlos and Campinas. This could be what happens when you order cafe and pão de queijo from a McDonald’s kiosk in Brazil, they turn out not to have it, and they do an elaborate substitution that you agree to because you can’t speak Portuguese and they can’t speak English. Since we were 25+ minutes behind schedule, I was glad to get the bag, not knowing what was inside. I did actually eat this. It appears to be not a traditional Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), but apparently two pancakes with cheese melted. Effectively, a grilled cheese sandwich using pancakes instead of bread.

Sao Paulos – the “Motos”

There is a lot of petty crime here, most of which is cell phone thefts.  The “motos” swarm like mosquitos through traffic fearlessly, forming lanes “on the fly”zipping around cars.  I have never seen anything like that.  Any one of those motos could swoop a phone out of the hands of a distracted person waiting on an Uber.

On the good side, you can order things and have them delivered fast.  I ordered a bottle of Contreau and from when we clicked submit bottle was in my hand in 9 minutes.  Even with the service fees, the total cost was less than the bottle costs on the shelf in the US.  Some 200,000 people do this for a living (~1% of the 20M people that live here I guess).  Anyone with a  motorbike, a thermal box, and a cell phone is an Uber-like entrepreneur. I see them sitting on the sidewalks, waiting for the next order.  It seems a miserable way to make a living.  

And our car has not shipped yet, so we use Ubers to go everywhere.  Cost to go to work is about $5 USD.    It cost me that much in gas in the US.  They get there fast, though the ride is often bumpy.  But there is extreme poverty, and only 10% speak English.  And SP is as good as it gets, it’s much worse the further North or South you go from what I hear.  My Portuguese is bad, and I need to up my fluency.  Anyway, I think this will be an adventure.

Pastel – Hostess Pies on Steroids

While walking through our first open air market, the kind where they close down the street for several blocks, we found the “Pastel”.

They are like a fried pie, and come in many flavors.

We tried a couple, one was a broccoli and cheese, the other chocolate.

The only way I could think of describing them in terms familiar to Americans is “Hostess Pie on steroids”. They are most certainly unhealthy, but good. The crispy fried crust and fillings create a tempting and potent combination. Rumor is that they evolved from Chinese living in Brazil who were making something like egg rolls, but adapted to be more appealing to Brazilians.

São Paulo – Arrival

We arrived shortly before Christmas, our first trip south of the equator, first trip to the continent of South America, and our first trip to Brazil.

We left the US on Sunday night:

View of Florida coastline

We left Florida around 7 p.m. Sunday night, flying through Atlanta, then from Atlanta to São Paulo, arriving at 6 a.m. Monday morning, on the week right before Christmas.

Uma Cidade Mais Grande (“a bigger city”) …..

Drive to the Apartment

We are driven from the airport to the apartment. We do not yet see the visions of tropical jungles, exotic beaches, and other stereotypes. It looks similar to any big city in the US. Busy traffic, lots of high-rises, old buildings mixed in with new buildings, grafiti, some artistic. Many of the cars are smaller on average than you would see in America, almost zero large pick-up trucks, but lots of sub-compacts, small SUVs, and some odd brand vehicles you would not see in the US.

O apartamento (“The Apartment”)

We went to the apartment first. São Paulo is broken into many regions and sub-regions. Our apartment is in the Moema district, which we chose because of its walk-ability, many stores and cafes within a 10-minute walk from the apartment.

Our apartment building

There are many thousands of these high-rise condominiums, and apartments are larger than typical in the US. Each apartment in this building takes up an entire floor, and there are 21 floors.