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My Sao Paulo: A global city with strong Brazilian flavours

The Brazilian city has a global feel and is known for its warmth

Published: Jun 23, 2018 08:20:23 AM IST
Updated: Jun 23, 2018 12:08:32 PM IST

São Paulo is known for its warmth and optimism. It has several places worth visiting. However, traffic is a problem and it’s best to stay close to your area of business
Image: Shutterstock

Sao Paulo is the beating heart of Latin America. One of the first things you notice about the city is ‘the people’. The first impression can be very different, depending on where you come from, and your international exposure. The first thing I notice is the warmth and optimism of the people. As soon as you arrive at the airport, you see smiles and lots of social gatherings. It reflects in the small talk of the person selling you coffee, or in a more serious dialogue with colleagues at work.  


For hotels, I usually recommend visitors first find out where most of their commitments will take place. The city is big, and traffic is a problem, so it is better to stay closer to your area of business. There are several great hotels between Berrini Avenue and Marginal Pinheiros; you could look up the Zona Oeste [West Zone]. Business hotels in more central areas such as Jardins and Bela Vista offer necessary services and infrastructure to business tourists.  

My favourite restaurant was called El Uruguayo; it’s a parrilla-style [barbecue] restaurant. Don’t forget to order a Caipirinha, a local Brazilian drink, and Provoleta, which is melted provolone cheese, as an appetizer. Follow this up with a grilled Fraldinha, similar to a skirt steak, with the house chimichurri sauce. This restaurant represents the internationality and mix of cultures you find in Sao Paulo.    

Traffic jams and safety are Sao Paulo’s top challenges, therefore travelling with a local colleague who picks you up from the hotel, or hotel taxis are the best options getting around.

What I will always remember about the city are the soccer matches! They are full of passion, emotions and excitement. Brazilians love soccer, like Indians love cricket. There are many teams in the country, organised by states. No matter where you go, there is always some discussion on soccer, and you can make great friends by learning about this game. So, be prepared to talk about it all time. If you have to choose a team, I suggest you go for the best, which is the Corinthians team from Sao Paulo. They have close to 30 million followers and so many championships that is hard to keep track.

After Hours
About 2 hours northeast of Sao Paulo there is Campos do Jordao. It’s a small town with the most beautiful views. It has forests and mountains, and a European touch in the way the town is built. Campos do Jordao offers a variety of outdoors activities: My favourites were hiking and horseback riding in the scenic Mantiqueira Mountains.

Sao Paulo is home to some of the world’s best bars and nightclubs. Bar Astor is a casual pub with great service and a mixed crowd. If you visit, make sure you have the draught beer or “chopp” and a few appetizers. I would also recommend the Vila Madalena neighbourhood. It is like a modern bohemian area, full of pubs, live music and galleries.

The city has more than 100 large shopping malls, with thousands of local and international brands. But if you get a chance to spend a weekend, Embu das Artes on a Sunday is a must. This is a small colonial town—just one hour away—has the best Brazilian arts and crafts shops, galleries and outdoor restaurants.

If you have some more time on your hands, you could drive from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, with a stop in Paraty. It is a fantastic day-trip, with beautiful vistas of the Atlantic Forest. Paraty is a very charming, historical Portuguese town on the coast, and gives a good sense of Brazilian history.

Sao Paulo is one of the most diverse and fast-paced cities globally. It is an amazing melting pot of cultures, and has the best night life, full of pubs, restaurants, exhibitions and theatre from many parts of the world. Get to know people, visit places and do not hesitate from experiencing the culture.
Visitors should avoid displaying valuables, wearing ostentatious jewellery, and going to unknown places, particularly at night.

Daniel Mazon is vice chairman and managing director, Philips India

(Coordinated by Jasodhara Banerjee)

(This story appears in the 06 July, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)