I ended up choosing a moderately nice hotel in a moderately nice part of town. I felt like I splurged a bit, but the cost was only 129 Reais per night, which I think converts to around $80 (US dollars) a night.
I had grand plans to sleep in Saturday morning, which were disrupted by what sounded like a gaggle of teenage girls in the hallway from 7:00 on. I took my time getting going, anyhow, and went down to breakfast at 9:00. I was good and ready to eat, having actually skipped dinner the night before, almost unthinkable after my week-long binge of large meals every 2 to 2.5 hours.
I went back to my room afterwards, and mostly lounged till it was time to head out for my 1:00 rendezvous with C, the student from the conference. Our plan was to go for lunch and then do some touristy and museum-oriented things afterwards. We met at the metro station from the previous night, about a 15 minute walk from my hotel. She was a bit late, and told me that her boyfriend would be meeting us, too. Once he showed up, we headed down to a vegetarian restaurant that he’d heard was nearby.
Lunch was very pleasant, and the restaurant (called Cheiro Verde, or “green smell”) overlooked a park across the street. We each got panquecas, pancake-like things filled with vegetables and baked in little ceramic dishes with gobs of cheesy sauce. Mine had some mandioquinha in it, a tasty yellow tuber, along with other more familiar vegetables. I also had a fresh juice with orange, papaya and passion fruit. We were treated to some live samba-type percussion music streaming in through the window, from a large group having a lesson in the park.
After lunch, and a brief stroll to check out the source of the music, we hopped on a couple of buses¹ to go to Ibirapuera Park, where we planned to visit the Afro-Brazilian museum. Since we started lunch late and hadn’t rushed, it was a few minutes after 4:00 by the time we got to the door of the museum. To discover that they had just changed the hours to close at 4:00, instead of the 5:00 that was posted on their website.
We dropped by the MAM (Museu de Arte Moderna, or Modern Art Museum) instead, also in the park, which had an exhibit of contemporary Brazilian and Japanese art, which I quite enjoyed.² (Interestingly, there was also a Contemporary Art museum in the park, which appeared to be hosting a modernist exhibit.)
It got dark promptly at 6:00 p.m., and as there is virtually no twilight, it was very dark when we left the museum to head back to the bus. C and her namorado invited me back to their home for dinner, and I accepted in spite of being tired. They ordered out for pizzas, one of which had corn as the topping, and C made some fresh juice (acerola and then star fruit). We hung out chatting, eating and watching a bit of TV, and then they were kind enough to call a cab for me.
The next day I spent running around by myself. My flight was at 9 p.m., and I planned to head for the airport by 4. I wanted to head to some outdoor markets and try for a bit of shopping, as I hadn’t managed any so far. I went to the market held under the MASP (The São Paulo Art Museum), but it turned out to be all antiques, most of which appeared to be European and North American. And also expensive.
I then hopped on the subway to go to the Praça República, for a large outdoor market known for crafts and stones. I bought some stuff from a few stalls in rather a hurry, and then rushed back to the hotel to pack the new items and check out by 2:00.
Since I still had a couple of hours, and didn’t want to waste more time than needed sitting around, I left my bags at the front desk and I went out for one last jaunt. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, and I wanted to stop by a grocery store. I strolled up to and along Avenida Paulista, in search of a place to eat. I ended up having a rather disappointing (and slow) lunch at a lanchonete with outdoor seating across from the MASP. (I had a grilled cheese sandwich and some overpriced french fries, but also some tasty fresh coconut juice.) It was later than I planned when I headed back to the hotel, but I did still stop by a small grocery store on my way, and loaded up on Brazilian chocolates and goodies for gifts.
I was going to take an airport bus from another nearby hotel.³ The hotel called me a cab⁴, and when I mentioned I would be taking the airport bus, the cab driver offered me a deal to take me directly to the airport. Things were slow due to it being Mother’s Day, he said, so he offered a fare of 60 Reais instead of the usual 90. I took him up on it, and thus got the airport much faster, and before dark even. It gave me a chance to take a few more photos on the way out of town.
The last 2 days made a good end to my trip, and made me feel more like I was in Brazil rather than just being at a conference hotel. Also good for me was that I spoke almost no English the last 2 days. My Portuguese was starting to come back. (However, it did get harder for me to find words as the day got later.)
¹ The public buses made for a wild ride, by the way. It was a bit like being on a rollercoaster without being strapped in. Happily, there were no upside-down loops.
² You can see some photos and short movies I took at the exhibit. You can also see a photo of me looking pregnant in that batch, in case you are curious.
³ I had toyed with the idea of taking the subway to a bus station, but I was pretty beat from running around. And realized it would be insanity to try to lug my luggage up the long hill to the Metro stop, followed by the 3 subway trains I’d need to take, and who knows what other obstacles.
⁴ “You’re a cab!” they said…