One of the world’s biggest metropolises, São Paulo looms large over South America. While the city lacks the natural beauty of Rio, Sampa ?as it’s affectionately called by locals ?has much going for it.
This is, after all, the cultural capital of Brazil, with a dizzying array of attractions including first-rate museums, nightly concerts, experimental theater and dance. The nightclubs, bars and restaurants are among the best on the continent. Paulistanos (inhabitants of the city) believe in working hard and playing harder, and despite constantly complaining about clogged highways and pollution, most wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else.
Brazilians say that paulistanos (Sao Paulo locals) live to work and to eat. Which is probably true. Food in Sao Paulo is the best in the country and rivals that of any major capital in the world. If you are there and like to eat meat, make sure you try the rodizios (barbecue) or feijoada (pork and beans - served only on wednesdays and saturdays). The pizzas are also extremely tasteful and a must-eat. You can find it from a wide range of restaurants from the simplest delivery place to fine expensive ones.
Sao Paulo is also very much a party town. You can get stuck in traffic in the middle of the night when party animals return from their hunt. Sao Paulo is centered around the Praça da Se, where there is a stone mark symbolizing the "point zero" of the city. The subway system is clean and efficient but covers only a few areas of the city, although extensions are being made. Interesting neighbourhoods to visit include Jardins, Itaim and the Ibirapuera Park.
Automotive traffic in Sao Paulo is complicated, specially in main routes, all along the day during weeks and gets worse at rush hours (from 8 am to 10 am and from 6 pm to 8 pm). Laws to regulate traffic includes a rule forbidding cars to circulate at specific week days depending on the final number of their license. In the weekends the traffic is better with some complications in places where there are bars, shoppings or other public atractions.
Sao Paulo has the largest underground transportation system in Brazil; the "Metro". It is not as comprehensive as the trains in Europe or North America, but it serves most of the important areas. It is the safest and cleanest way to get around Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo history
Though founded in 1554 by Jesuits, São Paulo remained a colonial backwater for much of its history. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that it began to emerge from the shadows, and the 20th century brought an explosion of immigrants from all over the world to work on the railroads, in the factories and in the fields.
By the 1950s São Paulo took the lead as the country’s industrial and commercial center. The result of the flood of immigrants is clear: the city of 17 million (metropolitan) is Brazil’s most culturally diverse destination. For the wanderer, a stroll through Sampa’s neighborhoods is a window into the shops and restaurants of the world.
Until the end of the 17th century, the bandeiras (the exploratory expeditions organized and led by the bandeirantes) were the main economic activity of São Paulo; initially, the bandeiras chased indians, but after the traffic from African slaves was established, the goal of the bandeirantes was shifted to prospecting gold and combating fugitive blacks.
During the Old Republic, São Paulo consolidated the economic supremacy. The coffee farms reached a much larger area; benefited by the railways, many cities thrived; by 1930, about 2,5 million immigrants had entered São Paulo (57% of the total number of immigrants to Brazil), most of them with crafts learned at their home countries..