São Paulo: Graffiti & A Not So Free “Free” Walking Tour

Beco do Batman + City

We got up early and visited Beco do Batman, an alley famous for being constantly painted and repainted with graffiti. Located in Pinheiros, it was a quick walk from our hostel among cute restaurants, shops and trees. We saw tons of art (my fav):

Downtown / Historical São Paulo

We then walked 3 miles to the city center (no subway fares here!) for the free walking tour, which is not actually free as you are encouraged to tip at the end. We learned about the history of Brazil and saw the sights including: 

  • Tallest building in city (ugly) + second tallest – the Italy Building – (less ugly); Cultural centers; Library; São Paulo Cathedral, a massive church with a crypt; Stock market, which was founded on coffee, and now called B3; Monastery where the monks bake allegedly delicious bread and make beer for purchase in the monastery.

At one point, a rogue man in overalls entered the tour group to tell us about the coup and encourage us to take action. Then he left. We ate lunch at the oldest bakery in the city, Saint Theresa, where I had a delicious pastry for .50. We saw a giant building which houses over 2,000 people. So big, in fact, it has its own zip code! There was also a giant and controversial sign in the downtown market area showing how many taxes are being collected by the government up to the minute, bringing attention to the fraught political climate.

After the tour we headed back and ate peanut butter and banana for dinner. Meanwhile the children in our hostel room joined in hostel-wide beer pong and decided whether to go out by flipping a coin. (Heads won and they went out)

Jardins, Hotel Unique, Parque Ibirapuera + Monumento às Bandeiras

We started early, with a pleasant walk through the Jardins area, which seemed ritzy with lots of gated mansions, fancy cars and beautiful old trees. Our destination? Hotel Unique, a 5-star hotel shaped like a giant boat! We of course pretended we were interested in dining and got escorted inside and up to the rooftop pool deck. We poked around the awesome hotel, took photos of the view, and left without incident. One of my favorite activities is entering fancy hotels I am not staying in.

A hotel shaped like a giant boat called Hotel Unique in São Paulo. Next up? A monument within the most visited park in South America – beautiful, lush and green with fountains and miles of trails. We then had to basically run back to the hostel (only 2.5 miles) to get ready for our bus journey – bye SP! 

Green grass and blue water of the most visited park in Brazil in São Paulo.

Knowledge Alert – Fun Facts

  • Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery in the Americas
  • Acai is only available fresh in the Amazon region of Brazil; in other places it’s frozen and flown in, which is why most people have it in bowls/smoothies/etc.
  • The stock market in Brazil was founded on coffee
  • It’s compulsory to vote in Brazil. If you don’t you have to show proof you are traveling or some other legitimate reason you didn’t vote, or pay a fine
  • Brazil has a ton of immigrants from Italy and Japan, because they came into the country to work the fields when Brazil abolished slavery (see fact 1)

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