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Category Archives: Sao Paulo Must Sees

Parque Villa Lobos

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So on a prior trip to the CEAGSP we noticed that right near it is Parque Villa Lobos, and there were all of these bikes out front.

As I’m about to give birth in a month, we figured biking with a new born wasn’t going to be on the books, so we decided to cross this off the list of must dos.  The park is definitely built for bikes, and of course being 8.5 months pregnant, with a almost 2 year old we were able to skip to the front of the long lines and get a bike super fast.  It was $25R for an hour for a “family bike” and it took us about 40 minutes to circle the whole park.

The park is pretty cool, it has a bunch of courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis, and of course futebol.  There was also a bmx bike dirt track, a dog park, and an auditorium area for music.  As we circled the bend, we could hear the music, and my son started dancing in his seat, so we had to stop and listen to the band (which my husband pointed out were quasi lip syncing, oh well).

 

Overall it was a nice ride, and wasn’t too bad. Other than the fact, that I’m 8.5 months pregnant, and bringing knees up to stomach was killing me.  Furthermore, my son occasionally decided mommy’s lap was much more fun than sitting in the front seat.  As a pregnant woman, bathrooms have suddenly become important to me, and I found it nice that like a lot of bathrooms here, the ones spread throughout the park had both an adult bathroom and a kiddie sized one.  There were also security people all over the park, and at the bathrooms standing guard.  So I assume the park must be pretty safe.

Across the street from the Park, but by a street called Pau Brasil, is a small park where we had parked. After the sunny Villa Lobos, we decided to take our son there to play for a bit without all of the people running about with bikes.

It was a small park, with swings, a sandbox, see saws, and of course tubes just tall enough for my son to walk through.  But best of all it was nice chance for us to rest after biking around Villa Lobos, as our son still needed to wear himself down.

 

Hubby has broken up with the GPS

So on Saturday we had our carefully planned sightseeing trip.  We’ve been stuck in the city the last few weekends, and we wanted to get out and see some more of Brazil!  Hubby found Paranápiacaba on Wikiloc  and it looked perfect.  Beautiful misty green city, with hiking, and trains! for the wee one.  It was a prefect day drive, so off we went after our son woke up from his nap.

And  then we missed the free way “split”  Things get tricky with the GPS when on freeways, and it’s a common occurrence.  Unfortunately, the way back according to the GPS took us through traffic ridden side streets. No biggie, just a slight detour!

I nodded off, and the next time I woke up we were bouncing along a dirt road. Yes, a dirt road.   Hubby assured me just 10 more kilometers… and round and round we went along these little dirt roads and through the jungle.  When we were “1 kilometer” away and driving through a dirt road through lush jungle, I pulled my kid out of the car seat and he got to drive with daddy. He was getting pretty angry, so we figured it was fairly safe… since there seemed to be NO ONE around.  I think this may have been the highlight of his day.

And then we arrived!

Isn’t it beautiful??  We let the monkey get out and run around for a bit, and then I turned to my husband and asked him where in the world he had driven us to!! The son loved it, as we also let him drive the car..

It wasn’t like there were other cars around . . .

Yeah, in case you are wondering, someone (ahem) decided to just type in the city name and GPS it. With the assumption that the GPS would take us to the center of the city… oh it took us somewhere.

The road it took us to was now covered in tall green grass, a dead end.  We were lost. And we were lost in the middle of nowhere.  Yes, there were cows wandering the roads!

I decided the kid wasn’t gonna take much more driving, so we might as well let him get the wiggles out and head back to Sao Paulo, and just try next weekend.

… next weekend is probably going to be a few months out, as when we got home my husband exclaimed while turning on the TV.

“I have whole Saturday’s full of fun for the next 4 months!!! “

Followed by a reverent sigh of

“College Football”

A bit o’ country in the city

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On sundays we like to go for strolls around our neighborhood.  One of the really nice things about Brazil is they understand the importance for a neighborhood park, and not just one… tons of them!  Up the street from us is a park that is mostly trees.  There is a small play area for the kids, and a dirt patch for soccer I would suppose, then the rest of the fenced in park is a lush jungle with paths.  It’s not big at all, but just strolling on a dirt path through the trees is such a welcome relief to all the concrete.  Either way, we like to go on neighborhood explorations for new parks and let our kid get out of the house.

On our latest one we discovered

There was an event going on, and we asked and it was free– the word’s we love to hear most.  I’m glad I had taken some time before the walk to clean myself up, as it was a horse show jumping competition… so all of the wealthy Brazilians were out and about.  I was still sporting my Havianas (I am from Hawaii after all, you can find me in the dead of winter with snow on the ground wearing slippers, they’re just part of who I am!).  It was a nice way to spend the afternoon, watching young kids and adults horse jump.

 

My son was completely caught up with the horses.

I was caught up with people watching!

Total side note, but something I notice all the time here with wealthier Brazilians.  The guys are super old and not that attractive, and the women are super hot.  Not saying old geezers don’t marry/date young hotties (can we say Playboy?)  However, when you see old guys in LA, they always seem to try and look as young or hip as the girl they’re with.  Shoot even Hugh is fit for an 82 year old.  But here in Brazil, it’s like they realize they have the money, why do they have to try and prove anything.  Balding, big old belly, old geezer clothing (ok not always but definitely not usually hip).  It’s the oddest thing.

A day off in Sao Paulo

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Thursday and Friday are Brasilian Holidays due to the Easter weekend here in Brasil. Pretty sweet for my husband as he picked up something nasty last weekend and has needed them to recoup.  As such he didn’t want to go to the beach. Great for me, as I finally got to go to Embu.. the Art City.

So Embu… lots of rustic style furniture stores.  You could probably find it in any interior city, but this city is jammed full of them and only 30 minutes from Sao Paulo.  Can’t really blog about food, as I wasn’t really impressed by lunch.. pretty lack luster, so fail Embu.  However, there were lots of stores full of various items for decor.  Prices seemed similar to the Rustic store down from where I live, so I guess go for the diversity in products.

I kind of want to slowly collect items from various trips, versus buying everything in one location though.  We did however, toy with the idea of buying our son some homemade wood toys, as he seems to have an abundance of electronic plastic toys, and I think there is just something healthy for little kids having just the old fashion wooden toys.. call me a Montessori.

Needless to say we didn’t buy any art, furniture or toys as I guess we are not cultural people. We did buy a very yummy bottle of peppers (hot) and a large jar of creamed coconut and passion fruit.  They were $R10 each, so cheaper than the grocery store down the street.   Because we didn’t want to go home, and hubby seemed to finally be feeling better we decided to head to the Sao Paulo LDS temple in Morumbi for some “park” time.   See we could go to one of the many parks in Sao Paulo, but they are public and crowded.  But taking our son to the LDS temple, the grounds were clean, safe, and not crowded.  We had the cleanest, greenest, plushest grass I’ve seen since leaving the states, and it was peaceful and safe.  So yes, we sat on the LDS temple grounds and let our child crawl back and forth, and run rampant.

I’ve never seen him as excited as he was.  I truly think this was my son’s best day ever.  I guess he really needs more grass time (too bad we live in Sao Paulo a city of concrete).  He crawled from one end of the grass to the other.  He rolled down the slight inclines.  He screamed at the big fountain (daddy even let him dip his toes in it).  We wrestled in the grass, he would jump on me and make me roll over and over with him, while squealing.  Best day ever.

The parking problem

I blame today on me.  I really should have known better.  We lived in LA for over 5 years; I know my husband hates  trying to find parking and hates having to pay outrageous rates to park in a lot.  But I casually offered up a visit to the Mercado Municipal and Liberdade today, as I didn’t have it in me this week to go out of the city.  So we packed up the wee one, sat through the Sao Paulo traffic and arrived downtown.  I was finally taken out of the pristine world I live in here in Brooklin-Paulista (aka the apartment I rarely leave).  We passed the homeless that are simply homeless as they are too poor to afford a home, watched little boys pick lice out of their barely 20 year old mother;s hair, and passed by larger groups of the drugged-out, sketchy bums one usually thinks of when picturing a Brazilian bum.

Yes our Garmin kept telling us all kinds of crazy directions as we drove mindlessly in circles.  All street parking we found was for old people or loading.  We thought we found a spot as the street was lined with cars, but when my husband asked one of the roving ticket guys he told us that he was ticketing the whole line up. The parking garages charged from R$10 to R$15 for the first hour, and around R$6 – R$8 for each additional.  The husband was going to have none of that.

We never got out of the car. This is a downtown city, why would I think it would be any different than downtown LA!

So, I convinced the husband that Liberdade may be better.

To paint a picture of Liberdade

For those of you who have been to LA, picture LA’s China Town.  Not the China Town in Hawaii, that’s a place worth visiting, but LA’s China Town.  A bit rundown, covered in city soot, with stores packed with overly ethnic crap.  The stores were full of useless chochkees, mostly from China, not Japan.  In fact, I have seen many of these items on the import from china websites I like to buy my stocking stuffers from.  There was a Marukai market, but the husband ushered me past muttering that “We are in Brazil, stop trying to cook Japanese food.”  I tried to point out that me cooking Japanese food would be very Brazilian, especially in Sao Paulo, but I think he was really saying that he wants to eat Picanha and Feijoada daily.

The street fair is supposed to be large on Sunday, but there were a lot of booths out today as well.  I wasn’t that impressed or drawn to anything in particular.  Think Venice beach, a lot of random stuff that someone has made, but that you really don’t need.

As the husband was still a bit irritated that we hadn’t just taken the train up, he had to pay (R$10 for the first hour, and R$3 thereafter) to park, fight with the Garmin, and that we never did go to Mercado Municpal, I thought a good old fashion Japanese bakery would cheer him up.  It was more like a good old fashion Brazilasian bakery, but hey close enough right?! Itiriki Bakery.  We decided to split a roll with crusted swiss cheese and sun dried tomatoes.  It was perfectly savory, and crisp, and very delicious.

We purchased a chunk of Maça Bolo (apple cake) to try.  The cake part was good, the apple topping was bitter and salty.  A Pão de Dulce de Leite, a large “pan” rolled in powdered milk and filled with approximately half a can of  dulce de leite (it beat my husband and he was done after 3 bites).  I insisted on eating something Japanese, and bought the Morango Daifuku (Strawberry bean filled mochi).

The daifuku was very good, crammed with azuki beans and a sweet strawberry center.  I’ve never had a strawberry filled daifuku before, so it was a nice surprise.

After cramming all of the delicious food in my mouth, and liking my milk covered fingers, I realized that all of the proper Brazilian women were holding the bread with their napkins.  OOPS!  Overall, I~m not a fan of Liberdade, but I think when I finally make it to the Mercado Municipal I may like it.

Valentine’s Day– a bit early

This weekend my husband was uncharacteristically not working, and as such he thought it would be a good idea to surprise me with a vacation out of the city to an unknown location.  So we hopped into the car and drove the 150 km to the beach.  My first photo opportunity was the toll road!  My husband leaned back and asked me for my small bills, only to discover that it was ~R$20.

Brasil is interesting, as there are always people handing things out (kind of like Japan) in public.  At this stop there were girls handing out samples of pasta packages.

We stayed at the Mibamar Pousada, right across from the beach.  The hubby wishes we had paid more and stayed at the Maresias Beach Hotel across the street or Coconuts, the other hotel with beach access and that is a real hotel.  These hotels are modern and crisp, and the rooms face the beach.

With a 9 month old, sitting on the beach was a nightmare an adventure.  As this is Brasil, you don’t exactly leave your belongings on the beach while you swim.  So we took turns heading into the water, while one of us watched the little boy as he tried to shovel sand into his mouth.  What was nice is that there are these little stands at the beach that if you order food/water/coconuts etc.. they give you a chair and umbrella.  Our Pousada rented us them as part of the accommodations.

However, after a few trips into the ocean, we decided to take a break from the sand buffet, and head to the pool at the Maresais hotel and eat lunch and enjoy some not sand…. like daddy’s shoulder.  MMM sunscreen!

There’s no point to this photo, other than I love how blue the sky was in Maresais and how green the greenery was! … and I love my boys.

We thought we’d eat at the hotel’s restaurant, and I ordered a burger and fritas and my husband a chicken sandwich.  you can see from the pricing on the menu that we expected the food to be edible.  For those of you who have ever eaten public school lunch in Hawaii, you’ll know exactly what this food tasted like.  For the rest of you, imagine the saltiest, greasiest, processedest hamburger you’ve ever eaten on really dry bread.

As our hotel was a Pousada, it was much more boutique, so the hotel was a bit of new renovation and old charm. Personally, I liked that it was cozy.  My husband hated that you could see through various cracks under the door, and in the wood beams. I loved all the green plants, the little play area that was not made out of plastic, but a hand-made house and kid’s swing.  We were also told that this is the only hotel that allows pets, so for pet lovers good news. For those of you like my husband, who don’t like to hear your neighbors dog bark until they get home at 10pm, I’d look elsewhere.


As my son didn’t quite take to the ocean waves (he wasn’t ever quite sure if they would sweep him away), we decided to take him into the pool (tons of firsts this weekend!).  He loved the splashing, and made some friends with some of the other kids.

I am very proud of myself that I could actually follow the very cute conversation my husband had with the kids.  With questions like, “Do you speak Portuguese?” (This is of course about 5 minutes into the conversation held entirely in Portuguese between my husband and the boy).  Or requests like, “Can you say your son’s name in Portuguese?”… i.e. please pronounce it so it makes sense to us.

And of course ………

both boys really liked the ladies.  . .


We also hit up a few restaurants in the area.  For dinner the first night (no photos as my camera died) we went to Tia.  A lot of time in Brasil when you order a meal, it’s not just for one person.  This was the case for this family restaurant.  The meal was for two; however, the serving size was more like for 3-4.  We ordered stroganoff with rice and fries.  Someone else ordered a platter of seafood and other items and it smelt amazing!  There was also a cute sign in Portuguese that said my family works to serve your family, so I’m pretty sure it’s a family restaurant.

Lunch the next day was Empanada Tucumana, where unlike all empanadas I’ve ever had in California, they were baked, not fried, and were delicious!

I also saw the first Coke Zero in a bottle.  I wish bottled drinks were sold more often, they’re soo beautiful.

We also picked up a small bunch of apple bananas for R$10, the large ones were R$30.  They were sooo sweet and teeny it was cute.

Well I know this was a TON of photos, but there was just so much that we saw, and this doesn’t capture half of it!  All in all it was good to get out of the apartment and to finally see a bit of Brasil!  Yes, even the bub was sick of all the photos. As a native Californian, my child has learned from the celebrities of Hollywood how to properly handle the Paparazzi.