Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love It Or Leave It

São Paulo is not very smoggy and the beaches are all 3-4 hours away by car or 45 minutes my plane; of couse, one of these beaches - one with a 10 million metro area attached - is Rio! Imagine if L.A. were a 45 minute flight from New York, and you begin to get an idea. São Paulo, of course, is a state of mind, and is Brazil's center of everything from business to the arts; you won't get bored, there, particularly if you are fortunate enough to speak Portuguese.

In one breath São Paulo is and isn't walkable. It is, because there sidewalks and trees and the few huge freeways like 9 de Julho (pictured left) don't really block access. But since SP sprawls every which way, the distances are enormous. While walking the city is as physically possible as in London, another sprawling city, SP's charms are both more elusive and less varied.

I truly love the place, but I understand why it's not among the top Brazilian places a foreigner would want to visit - you'd be more dazzled by Rio's spectacular beauty, the Afro-Brazilian flavor of Bahia, the Amazon, Iguaçu Falls, the Pantanal marshlands, and the perfectly preserved colonial cities of Minas Gerais; and that's only the absolute show-stopping highlights - in the world's 5th largest and 5th most-populated country, the possibilities are nearly endless...

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