How to Fall in love with Sao Paulo Adventures of Steffi

How to fall in love with São Paulo in 10 easy steps

Look, I know it’s been a while (my last post was in Feb, oops!) but my reasoning is three-fold.

  1. Work got real busy, real fast this year. Ya girl has got to sleep as well, you know?!
  2. In using my creative brain for my IRL job that does super boring stuff like pay the bills, my creativity for fun stuff dried up like a desert.
  3. I started to experience some real imposter syndrome about my skills and creativity.

But I worked through it all and guess what?

If you don’t follow me on the ‘Gram, then you’ll be blissfully unaware that I recently spent a week in Brazil. A lot of people were concerned as to why I only spent one week there and the answer is very simple: money. And time. The trip was kind of short notice and for a personal reason. So I used all the money I didn’t have (shout out credit cards) to book tickets and took a last-minute week off from work. But rest assured, I will return to this beautiful country!

Anyway, to get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d start with a fun lil’ post telling you all how to fall in love with Sao Paulo in 10 easy steps. Let’s go!


1. Go to the airport Starbucks and order 2 medium Americanos, then convert the price into EUR / GBP / USD.

MIND-BLOWING! Your trip to Brazil is already off to a flying start (geddit? Because you’re in the airport. I’ve had too much coffee this morning sorry…) because it probably cost you less than you’d pay for a single espresso back home.

And now you’re going to spend the rest of the trip converting everything you buy into EUR / GBP / USD.

My favourite was when I paid the equivalent of €30 for an Uber to drive me the 80km from the airport to the house I was staying at. In Germany, well, I can’t even get Uber in my town and in England I’d pay about the same price to travel approx. 20km 🙃

2. Get an Uber driver to nearly kill you. Twice.

SPEAKING OF UBER. It’s the best way to get around town. Actually, that’s a lie. The best way to get around town is on a moped or motorbike, but that requires two things:

  1. Knowing how to drive one.
  2. A complete and total sense of fearlessness.

I sometimes struggle to walk without losing my balance, and I am a particularly fearful person. I stuck with Uber.

The only problem is, car drivers in Sao Paulo also have no fear. Their job is to get you from A to B as fast as possible.

Death drive number 1 happened on the return drive from the city one night. Traffic was slow, even as we drove through the suburban areas. The Uber driver didn’t like this. So he started to overtake the slow cars DIRECTLY INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC 😲 So that was fun.

Death drive number 2 was also on the way out of Sao Paulo. Maybe it’s something about leaving the city…Anyway, I was in the Uber with my two Brazilian step-brothers. The adult in charge of two teenage boys and a wedding dress. Once again, we were stuck in traffic. I don’t know if the driver fell asleep or just wasn’t paying attention. Either way, we had a low-speed crash into the back of another car.

I will say this about the drivers of Sao Paulo: they sort shit out with speed. I guess because the traffic is already so bad, why make it worse, right? But there was the quickest exchange of details you’ve ever seen and both drivers were back in their cars before the traffic had even moved again.

3. Attend a Brazilian family BBQ (and try Brazilian BBQ)

I fully believe that getting in with locals is THE best way to experience any new place/country. Sure, touristy things can be great and from an economical perspective they’re fantastic for bringing money into the local economy. But seeing how families and friends interact with each other? The food they eat? The songs they sing? Nothing beats it. Even if you don’t have a clue what they’re saying.

But fair warning: maybe bring some earplugs. It gets LOUD.

4. Find a Brazilian cat to befriend.

His name was Severichi (Severiche? Severicha?). And he was the first all-white cat I’ve ever seen. A beautiful sight to behold. But alas, Severichi was highly suspicious of the weird foreigner who suddenly came into his life. 

I spent 3 days trying to be his pal until finally, he accepted me. After that, we were firm friends.

5. Take a walk around the local neighbourhood.

Sao Paulo Suburbs in Brazil
The suburbs of Sao Paulo.

With your designated chaperone, of course.

I stayed in the suburbs of Sao Paulo and noticed two remarkable things.

Sao Paulo Surburban store, Brazil
A local shop in the neighbourhood I stayed in.

  1. The housing is very mixed. By which I mean, there isn’t really a “rich” side and a “poor” side. There are just houses of varying size/construction quality scattered along the same street. 
  2. It felt super safe. You would not believe how many Europeans warned me about how violent Sao Paulo is. Or maybe you would… And I don’t doubt that there are areas of the city that are violent. But the same can be said of London, New York, Paris, Berlin, right? Perhaps the sheer size of Sao Paulo scares people. But where I stayed, there was a security team that frequently took laps of the neighbourhood to ensure safety. They also appeared at closing time for the local shops and waited until everything was shut. And occasionally a bunch of horses would wander up and down the streets. For what reason, I have no idea…

6. Try Cachaça and Caldo de Cana.

I can’t drink any spirit by itself without making this face:

But “when in Rome” and all that jazz. So I caved and tried Cachaça. And I made the face.

A few days later, however, my dad took me to the local store where I tried Banana Cachaça. Much more palatable for me.

The real tasty treat for me came when my Dad’s wife took me shopping on the streets and bought me Caldo de Cana, non-alcoholic sugarcane juice. It was incredible!

7. Eat the SIX different types of bananas available in the country.

Banana lovers raise your hands 🍌🙌

I was excited to eat a banana in Brazil, since you know, they actually grow them in Brazil so I was certain they would taste different anyway. Then I was informed that they have MULTIPLE TYPES of them?!

  1. Banana ouro (Lady Finger banana/gold banana)
  2. Banana nanica (dwarf banana)
  3. Banana prato (Silver/Silk banana)
  4. Banana-maçã (apple banana)
  5. Banana Caturra (Cavendish banana)
  6. Banana da terra (banana of the earth or what you and I know as Plantain)

My tiny European mind was blown. I managed to try 3 of the 6 varieties. Rest assured I will be back for the others!

8. Attend a Brazilian wedding…

Remember the family BBQ? Well, Brazilian weddings are even louder. I think a large part of this was specific to the wedding I attended and the family in question.

Dancing is mandatory. The problem is, everyone there was an exceptionally good dancer. And me? Well, I’m a socially awkward white woman so…it took a few Caipirinha’s but I was eventually able to bring out some sidestepping.

10/10 would attend another Brazilian wedding.

9. Experience Sao Paulo traffic.

I guess this kind of goes hand-in-hand with catching an Uber. And yet, it felt right to put it into its own category entirely.

If you’ve ever driven in Italy, then you’ll have a small idea of what the traffic in Sao Paulo is like, except it was on a much larger scale. Honestly, the lines to mark out the lanes may as well not have been drawn on at all. Four lanes were marked out and somehow there would almost always be six-eight lanes of traffic??

10. Simply go to Sao Paulo.

It’s enormous. Terrifyingly so. It’s overwhelming. Loud. It’s all the things that should have set my anxiety to another level. And yet I found myself simply drinking it all in. Soaking up every last, weird moment.

Never have I felt so welcomed by a community of people with who I had absolutely 0 language connections. Yes, it was a culture shock. Yes, it was a completely different world for me.

But, my god, I cannot WAIT to return 💞🥰

Have you ever been to Brazil or Sao Paulo? What did you think? Let me know!

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