One of my favorite thing to do during a day trip in the city of São Paulo, is a tour to the downtown area, at the very heart of this gigantic place, where all its history began. São Paulo is known to be a big city and the figures confirm its fame; with 12 million residents, it is the number 11th among the most populated cities in the world. This means that São Paulo is bigger than the whole country of Portugal or even Sweden. It sounds crazy how one city can afford so many people going around all the time, doesn't it?
However, what makes it busy and chaotic, at the same time makes it exciting and full of life. Yes, São Paulo is a vibrant place, and despite the usual rush, which is common to big areas, the Brazilian culture embraces you and makes you always feel welcome. To understand a bit of our culture, I invite you to start this journey at the origins of the city, and specifically, at the still preserved “Pateo do Colégio”. This historic landmark was a religious mission established by the Portuguese Jesuit College, with the intention to convert the local Indian tribes to Christianity. You can visit the museum dedicated to Father José de Anchieta, who, together with Father Manoel da Nóbrega founded the school, which represents the first institution in the city. Take the opportunity to have a coffee at Café do Pateo and try to imagine how life had such a different pace during that period and how it evolved to this vast metropolis.
At 10 minute-walking from Pateo do Colégio, you can visit “Mosteiro de São Bento”, which was the second most important location when São Paulo was founded. If you are visiting on a Sunday, at 10:00 am you will be able to hear the beautiful Gregorian chant. Nevertheless, what interests me at this point, is the Mosteiros' bakery, whose reputation and quality attracts gourmands from all over Brazil. I recommend you try the “Benedictus”, a spicy chocolate cake filled with apricot jelly and covered with a thin layer of chocolate. I am absolutely sure you will regret not having tasted them if you won't.
From quiet to busy, if you turn right on Florêncio de Abreu street and go down to Rua da Constituição, you will arrive at 25 de março, the most famous commercial street in São Paulo. Be prepared to enter a crowded area, where people from all over the country come to do their shopping. It is fun just to observe and it helps to comprehend Brazilian’s addiction to shopping. Indeed, you can buy all sorts of products and you can find some hidden gems with local and traditional features. For instance, there are many fabric stores, some of which offer high-quality raw material for fashion and design; those specifically attract students from the best fashion schools in the city, who're looking to acquire sophisticated fabric for their academic projects. If you love to dig and discover new things, make sure you save at least half a day to enjoy this place. At this point, you may have regretted the size of your luggage, but if shopping is not your cup of tea, just keep moving and in a few more meters, you will be out of this maze.
Our day trip ends with another historic building that holds the most famous Brazilian Market; what the locals call “mercadão”, which means big market, a common short name for São Paulo Market. In addition to its beautiful architectural construction and magnificent stained glass, while there, you will discover exotic fruit coming not only from Brazil but also from unlikely places in the world- such as “pitaya” (dragon fruit) from Asia and Australia. This is a must place for renowned international chefs; therefore, you probably don’t want to miss it. On the second floor, you will find restaurants and bars, where you can try traditional national dishes, which are undoubtedly authentic and tasty. The vibrant atmosphere and the delicious food, are definitely the keywords to the Brazilian happiness and good mood!
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