Friday, 31 December 2010

Feliz Ano Novo!

New Year marks the start of the celebrations in Brazil that last until the end of Carnival (March 4th-8th). The streets of Sao Paulo have been emptied and everyone's heading to the beach to celebrate. The idea of sitting in traffic (we've heard of people leaving at 2am and taking 11 hours to get to a beach that, on a normal day, should only take 1.5 hours) with a screaming toddler terrifies us so we decided to travel for Christmas instead (when all the Brazilians stay at home with their families) and stay in the city this year. We have a kilo of file mignon and a bottle of cachaca to last us the evening. So is the life of one that has children!

The last New Years that we spent here in Brazil was in 2006 and we had arrived a few days earlier in Salvador. We booked ourselves into a local bar as we had been told how crazy busy it was going to be, had a few warm-up caprihinias (it only really takes me one to warm up!), tucked some money into socks or bras (anywhere a wandering hand might be noticed!) and headed out for the evening. The party on the street and beach was much more exciting than the inside of a bar so we left the comforts of the bar (for me this was access to a toilet) to go and get involved.

It was our first introduction to live music in Brazil and it was amazing. There was 4 days of music in Salvador and on that evening we saw some Brazilian greats, including Daniela Mercury. Entire families (and I'm taking 4-5 generations all dancing together) took it upon themselves to teach us estrangeiros to samba and we made some great friends for that evening.

The ancient African religion of Candomble is still highly regarded here in Brazil. Thousands will go to the beach today to pay homage to the Afro-Brazilian Goddess of the Sea, Lemanja. Candles and flowers are floated out to sea in the hope that she will answer people's hopes and wishes that are carried in these little boats. 

Also, everyone dresses in white out of tradition and it is considered to bring you good luck and peace in the New Year (so leave your little black dress at home). The evening will end with a series of fireworks at midnight which we hopefully will be able to see from our balcony. There is a big party on Avenida Paulista tonight starting at 10pm - if we've run out of cachaca we might pop Sophie in the buggy and head over to see the fireworks. If not, here's to good health, good times, good friends and making some fantastic memories here in Brazil in 2011!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Total SP guia

So I've been living in Sao Paulo for almost 8 months now and have just discovered Total SP!!

I found their guide book in Anna's bookshelf and read it front to back in one sitting. It's a great little guide for Sao Paulo - if you're moving here, or if you're just coming for a weekend visit (though you'd need more than a weekend to check out all their recommendations). I've already picked up 3 of them - a copy for ourselves (I think Anna would notice if we had stolen hers) and a couple as cute little presents.

I had to hunt them down - Livraria Cultura, supposedly the biggest bookshop in Brazil, didn't have a copy but I found them in a little boutique bookshop off Oscar Friere. The shopkeeper asked me if I knew the authors as he knew them personally himself. I like that they are a little more homegrown than your Lonely Planets or Rough Guides. All our weekends in Sao Paulo 2011 are already planned!

They also have an online guide with updates.


Bugger, have lost the house we wanted to buy. Does anyone want to sell their house in Alto de Pinheiros / Pinheiros?

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas weekend! Will post about our weekend later x

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Feliz Natal!

So we are finally back in Brazil, after a month of travelling to the Middle East, Hong Kong and Australia for weddings and Tim's work, with our visas and CPF intact! The last (..) bit of paperwork is Tim's 'carteira de trabalha' but we are finally able to start living live here in Sao Paulo.

Since the last post we have decided to buy a house. We found a house in Alto de Pinheiros which needs a lot of work done. We had to take some time to decide whether we are prepared for more bureaucratic headache.... and we decided yes, what better way to learn Portuguese even faster! Tim found an agent to take us around some of the houses in the area. We already decided we want to stay in Pinheiros to make Tim's commute much more bearable. At the moment we are house sitting in Jardins and it can take him upwards of 1.5 hours just one way (bearing in mind it is Christmas season here so traffic is even worse).

We were recommended a couple of architects by friends, one didn't bother to show up so that helped us make the choice. There is a bit of work to be done on the house and she estimates 4-6 months - which I'm translating as 1 - 2 years... see, I'm learning patience albeit slowly!!

Tim has hired a lawyer who has put the initial offer in for us so let's see where this takes us in 2011.

Sao Paulo has lots of Xmas lights and decorations up along Av Paulista and there is a light show in Parque Ibirapuera. We are starting our christmas traditions as a family in sunny Brazil - hunting down recipes for mulled wine, mince pies and christmas pudding which I have managed to make all from scratch has actually been quite satisfying. Apparently the supermarket Casa Santa Lucia has lots of imported stuff but not quite prepared to pay Rs $40 for a box of mince pies... 

It's common for most people to stay with families over Christmas (our nanny is having Xmas with her family - all 70 of them!) and everyone travels to the beach for New Years. We're going to do the opposite this year so we're not stuck in 10-12 hour traffic jams to get to the beach which is technically only an hour away... so we are planning on staying put in Brazil. No more flying! We are off to Paraty for Christmas weekend to have some family / beach time and probably chilling in Sao Paulo for New Years Eve. Will remember to take some pictures of us drinking mulled wine on the beach this weekend...

Merry Christmas, Feliz Natal and Happy Holidays to all!!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Obtaining a CPF in Sao Paulo

Thought it might be helpful to post the instructions that we have received for applying for our CPF. The CPF is an Individual's Taxpayers number and from what we have experienced, you need it for everything - to open a bank account, rent an apartment, book flights online, utilities!! So we are desperate to get ours as soon as possible. Will post again once we have managed to get ours...

1st: Pay the Fee (R$5,50) at Banco do Brasil. Documents to be presented: copy of identification page of the passport and its sworn Translation*
2st: After 48 hours of the payment, the following documents must be presented at Receita Federal: copy of identification page of the passport and its sworn Translation, paid Fee.
The CPF number will be given at the moment of request. The card will be sent to the address informed within 90 days.

Two places to register for CPF are:

Praça do Carmo, s/nº - São Paulo - SP (utilize a saída do Metrô Sé da Rua Anita Garibaldi).
Av. do Contorno, 60 - São Paulo -SP (ao Lado da Estação Corinthians-Itaquera do Metrô).

More information on the CPF is here.

*Update: The passport only needs to be translated if someone else is doing it on your behalf
Update 2: Sophie's CPF can only be done once ours are done as we need to submit our numbers as a part of her application
Update 3: A friend told me today that she had to have a translation of the ID page of her passport for the Receita Police...

Final visit to the Policia Federal!

Just a quick update on where we are as of today. We received Sophie's passport back with the correction this morning and decided to try the Federal Police today. We arrived just before11am and there was only one person in the queue! The guy remembered us and told us to wait, saying it would be quite quick....

We met another couple who I remembered from the last time as well. Nice to know that there are other people in the same boat.

Sophie's passport came back at 12:15 with the protocol - FINALLY!!

So now on to the CPF, registering our baba (nanny), opening a bank account, finding an apartment, buying a car, shipping our things over from London, finding an escolinha for Sophie.... lots more paperwork and patience required!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

An update on the update

We went to the Federal Police on Monday morning in the hope that, with Tuesday being a public holiday (Dias das Criancas), it would be a little quieter. We arrived at 8am when they open the doors with Sophie. Having a baby works wonders as you can usually go straight to the front of the queue, or be let in first, without any complaints. *

We were told to sit and wait... 3 hours later Tim came back with Sophie's application... her birth date had been entered incorrectly on their system!! They refused to give her her protocol but we got ours back. We were really disappointed that we still didn't have it all done. We have to send her passport off for a re-correction and go back to the Federal Police one more time.

They are little slips of paper with all our details on and apparently we will be sent our RNE number in a week or so.

Off to try and register for our CPF this afternoon at the post office based on the information here. Without a CPF we have been unable to arrange for any utility bills in our names so let's see how I get on with just our rental agreement...

* I've heard that some people start queuing from about 2am...

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Update on RNE

Tough day to write this blog, have been a bit quiet on the blog because we are still dealing with crap associated with moving to this great country. I have a friend in London asking me for visa advice here and I am having to tell him to try someone else because our experience has been pretty bad.

I think jaime updated that we now have visas, but the fun does not stop there. The next step is to register with the Federal Police, get finger prints taken and get an ID card. Well, I got there, stood in-line from just before 7am and it was interesting to talk to some of the folk there. One interesting guy was getting his paperwork on the amnesty programme they have from time to time, he had arrived illegally from Venezuela some time in the early 90s after he had his passport stolen there, he said it was impossible to get a replacement there so that is what brought him here.

Anyhow after waiting in line and running off to the cartorio one more time to get another document (that was not on our list) notarised, we thought we had cracked it. However, the visa we were given in Argentina has a mistake on it and that has brought everything to a complete halt and will send me to another branch of the government on Monday. It is annoying just because it is such a small and petty thing and there are around 30 numbers listed in this small box at the bottom of the visa. The consulate input one of them wrong and we are stuck.

I hate to think what the running tally is of expenses related to this visa but it is getting very big.  My advice to anyone would be that is seems to be fine to move here with a big multinational with a great agent etc, but for those trying to join a small firm, or a start up like me, is to prepare yourself for battle.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Applying for RNE in Sao Paulo

So we are in the midst of getting our appointment with the Federal Police in Lapa and came across a really helpful thread on gringoes and wanted to copy it here as the more help you have, the more prepared you are and the easier (and less stressful) the process will be.  I will, of course, post a new blog on our personal experience when we finally have our RNE!! Wish us luck!

Note to self : never rely on cheap agents again!! We are currently photocopying all stamped passport pages to be notarised this morning and hopefully be back in Lapa this afternoon for our appointment.

This was originally posted on by user Molendinar:

Finally got my permanency on basis of marriage approved so a big thanks to everyone on here for all their help, in the end it was a relatively smooth process and has only taken 5 months from start to finish (I am in São Paulo).

My timeline was:

27-04-10 - handed in documents
17-06-10 - Police visit
09-08-10 - appears on MJ website - Aguadando Análise
24-09-10 - Proposta do Chefe - deferido
27-09-10 - Publicado no DOU

In order to get the page from the DOU I did two things.

First I went to the Imprensa Oficial in Mooca, Rua da Mooca 1921, São Paulo 03103-902. You go in the door past reception, go to the right and it's the second desk on the right. I asked for the DOU for that day but it hadn't arrived, this was about 3pm) so they gave me a phone number and said to phone the next day to check before coming (2799-9482, 2799-9797). I phoned the next day at 9am and it had arrived so I went back and they photocopied the page, reducing it to A4 and then stamped the back of it. I was charged R$2.

Because of the delay at the Imprensa Oficial I also printed a copy myself of the relevant page from the Internet ( select Pesquisa nos Jornais then "Leitura Completa dos Jornais and then put in the publication and the date) and took it to a cartório to get authenticated. They refused to do this initially but I insisted the only copy available was from the Internet and the boss agreed so they authenticated it and stamped it with "Esta AUTENTICAÇÃO não dispensa consulta à internet para verificação da validade". This was the copy I gave to the Policia Federal in the end and was accepted with no problems.

I then took all the documents to the Policia Federal in Lapa and joined the queue for RNE. I was then given a form to complete and a blank "declaração de desembarque" statement as well as a list of the documents necessary. I was also told I needed to make an appointment, luckily I was able to do it the same day, but I needed to go back to the ground floor and register at the first window on the left after you come through the metal detector. It was about 11am by this time.

After getting a number I had to then fill out the form, and the declaration then join the queue again.

I was asked for the following documents:

• RNE application form, which will be given to you at the DPF office when you arrive. You fill it in there and submit with the other documents. Only fill in the part in the red box, only sign it on the back - you sign the front in the presence of the police officer)
• Two (02) recent colour photographs, size 3cm x 4cm with a white background, no date on photos
• valid passport, plus authenticated copy from a cartório of ALL the pages except for the blank ones i.e. photo page plus every page that has a stamp in it
• autenticated copy of marriage certificate
•authenticated copy of page from the DOU reduced to A4, with no pen marks (if yo have been published more than once then you need to bring all of them)
• original protocol (this was a stamp in my passport)
• declaração de desembarque (fill in the blanks in the statement about when you arrived in Brazil)
• recpeipts for the payment of the two fees. Go to the web site from which you need to print out vouchers for: Code 140082 (REGISTRO DE ESTRANGEIROS/RESTABELECIMENTO DE REGISTRO) R$64.58 and Code 140120 (CARTEIRA DE ESTRANGEIRO DE PRIMEIRA VIA)  R$124.23. Pay these at a bank before you go to the DPF office.

I was not asked for  a Consular Certificate.

Here's the paper I was given (he asked my nationality, when I said British he ticked the boxes):

Once I handed all this in I was told I had to come back at 15h00 to get my passport back and receive the protcolo. However, he never told me I would be called for fingerprinting, but luckily I decided to wait. After 20 minuted I was called to do the now digital fingerprints where they scan your fingers and take your photo. The woman there then told me I didn't have to come back till 15h30.

I decided to wait, not a lot of things to do in Lapa and by this point it was 13h00 and I'd brought a book to read.

At 14h30 they started shouting out people's names, it was very hard to make out what the names were, some of the police offices used a microphone and speakers while others just shouted the names. You really needed to pay attention. They do this every 10 minutes. Anyway, 15h30 came and went and finally at 16h15 my name was called and I was given my passport back and my protocolo.

I asked about getting a certificate to prove I was awaiting the RNE and was told to come back in 3 weeks by which time my name should be in the system and I could then request a certificate.

Hope all this helps someone.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

For a good cause

One of my new lovely Sao Paulo friends, who is a native Kiwi too, has roped me into helping her out with the CIWS annual fundraiser. If you are around in a couple of weekends and want to eat, drink and be merry all for a good cause buy a ticket!  
All the profits go to Casa São José, a community center that helps 3000 families in Jardim São Luis.

If you are unable to attend but would still like to support in other ways you can contact us on or

The CIWS is very happy to announce the 2010 beneficial event  
 “Luzes do Mundo” to be held on Saturday, October 23rd at the  
 Residence of the Canadian Consul General, Ms. Abina Dann.

All members of the São Paulo international community are invited 
to attend this evening of cocktails, dinner and live music. 

Don’t miss out on this great networking and community event!   

For those interested in obtaining a ticket (R$150) 
 please contact Sandra at

Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Canadian International Women's Society

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Almost there!

In Buenos Aires trying to sort out our visas... not the worst place to be I guess but I am dying to get back to Sao Paulo to finally start settling in. We have been travelling since 29th December 2009 and our 3 month trip / living out of our suitcases has extended to Month No. 9!

Our visa story so far... 

March - process started
April - process for UK police reports takes up to 2 months (no online application so dependent on Brazil post which is actually not so bad...)
May - police reports need to be legalised at Brazilian consulate in London
June - agent submits application but won't be ready for our June London trip so we elect Buenos Aires
July - question about application comes back, agent re-submits with clarifications. Wedding cert and Sophie's birth certificate needs to be translated into Portuguese by an authorised translator. Agent also just remembers that these documents need to be legalised by the consulate (nice of her to remember after going already in June!)
August - one of Tim's colleagues sits next to someone who works in the Ministry of Trabalhadores and explains the situation. He takes her contact details and that week Tim emails the case file.
August 15th - one week later the visa is finally approved BUT we have to pick it up in Buenos Aires, which is a bit of pain as we are heading back to the UK for some weddings.
August 26th - another visit to the Brazilian consulate in London but (obviously) they will not legalise our wedding certificate which is New York issued. Nightmare! Tim finds an agent to send the certificate to in New York but it turns out that it needs to be notarised by the State Department first, and then the City Clerk before the Brazilian consultate in New York will legalise it. 
September 2nd - In Buenos Aires by now and the agent calls as he needs Tim to send a notarised letter giving him permission to have our wedding certificate released to him. There is a specific letter format required. The notary system is not as simple as it should be (in New Zealand I had just called up a notary in the yellow pages, went to visit him and it took 2 minutes, literally). A client of Tim's recommended some notaries but we couldn't find one that spoke English so we winged it with one. It turns out that they have to produce a separate formal letter to confirm that they have checked his identification and have it sent off somewhere else and it was going to take 6 hours. When we returned at 5pm they told Tim that it wasn't complete as the formal ID letter also needed to be sent to the School of Notaries to be stamped..... we decided to Fedex it up to NY as it was anyhow.
September 3rd - the NY agent managed to get the certificate legalised at the consulate and fedexed that night. woohoo! Appointment had to be rescheduled for Wednesday as Tuesday was a public holiday.

TODAY - WOOHOO our passports are with the Consulate now. Our appointment was for 12:30 and we turned up but it was really just to submit our forms and passports. She was happy with all our legalised documents, thank god! We were honestly prepared for something else to happen to delay our visa! The fee was much higher than we thought. Our agent in Brazil had told us it was Peso $421 for all of us but it turned out to be $2,400 instead! I think there were additional fees for processing only the British passports but because I hold a NZ passport (and New Zealander's love Brazilians, they have a study/work visa available for Brazilians) there was no additional fee for me.  There was no way that they could fast track it so we pick it up on Monday. Flights have been changed to Monday evening now and we have an extra 5 days here in Buenos Aires so going to make the most of it as don't think we'll be back here for awhile.

*I haven't mentioned the Brazilian agent's name as we haven't completed the process quite yet and I don't want to jinx it! But I will do once we have them in our hands as a warning to anyone not to use her... I guess we got what we paid for, and less : (

Monday, 9 August 2010

A weekend away in Switzerland - NOT!

We couldn’t decide where to visit this weekend so we flipped a coin for the beach or the interior. The coin said the interior – the coin was wrong! We had glorious sunshine all weekend and, as you can see from the map, we were nowhere near the beach : (. Taking heed of this adventure here, we took our trusty GPS and I memorised the map (as Tim was insisting that we just needed to get to Taubate and turn left).

We visited Campos do Jordao which is a small town in the interior, about 2.5 hour drive from Sao Paulo. We hired a car for the weekend which only cost us Rs 150 for the entire weekend (friday through to monday) but it was a special rate for Father's Day! Normally it would be Rs150/day and we've yet to find a decent rental place nearby.

I had had this town on the list of places to visit as it is THE town to go to in the winter. I found two heliports on the map - that's how many rich people from SP like to come here and be cold. There is a winter festival there all through July and if you look at all the local gossip rags (very good for learning portuguese, seriously!) most of the local celebs will have been papped by papparazzi here. Mainly Paulistas, and some Carioca's, travel here to play cold (OK, Sat night did drop to 12'C). It's a chance for them to bring out their big fur coats, woolly hats and mittens  I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed with the town as it doesn't look anything like Switzerland. I honestly thought it was going to be a picturesque little Swiss village in the Brazilian countryside....

We had managed to book last minute, Pousada Piano Piano which was about a 10 minute walk (part of up a hill) from the main part of town, Vila Capivari. Places were still pretty full this weekend and most require a minimum 2 night stay which is a little pricey at Rs350 per night.* They were very family friendly, provided a cot for Sophie, had a great selection of movies and electric blankets! It was such a gorgeous day we desperately wanted to sit outside for lunch. We walked around the square and found Baden Baden, famous for it's brews, which had lots of outdoor seating but it's where everyone wants to be / be seen. There were lots of places for fondues and hot chocolate but we really couldn't bring ourselves to pretend to be cold when it was about 25C. We eventually decided on a beautifully terraced Italian restaurant who were a little snobby but didn't bat an eyelid with Sophie throwing spaghetti around our table. 

We then took a drive to Pista de Itapeva (10km) which turned out to be a pretty breath-taking view of the surroundings. You could see 3 towns in the distance, and beyond that was really impressive mountain range. This photo doesn't really do it justice.

We had dinner at Baden Baden as a table was free and I was up for trying their fondue. We actually ended up with a hot 'tepid-warm' plate instead of a vat of hot oil, but it was really good aside from waiting an hour for our meat to cook ... I understand that being cold is a novelty to most Brazilians but, now that I think about it,  how many 'winter' countries do al-fresco dining? Sitting outside at 12C, is not a pleasant way to dine!

On Sunday we took drove to Horto Florestal (10km from Vila Capivari) which is their state park. I wish we had done a bit more research and been prepared with walking shoes and backpacks as this was definitely the highlight of the area. There were a 6 different trails of varying difficulty, and lots of forest and fauna and waterfalls to see. We, instead, went to the chocolate shop (not quite Swiss but very, very good) and the local cantina. It was Father's Day in Brazil and lots of families were out celebrating. Tim even had other father's shake his hand and say 'Congratulations' on being a father, so lovely!

So in summary, if we come back to Campos do Jordao, we would come back with a bunch of friends, rent a big, lovely house, drink lots of baden baden, cosy and warm next to a fire most nights, and plan some great outdoor activities each day (horse riding, mountain bikes, off-road trips). OK, I should be honest - I doubt we'll head back to Campos in the near future. We've moved to  Brazil for the beach and sunshine. I don't need to pretend I like winter and we'll get our dose of it when we are back in the UK for a visit!

*Note to travellers use to great value accommodation in places like Asia - you can pay silly prices for very average places. Don't be surprised!

Monday, 2 August 2010


Sorry I haven't been blogging in awhile. We were travelling for most of June and had a friend visiting the start of July, and it always takes me a bit of time to mentally return to 'normal'. We are also still waiting for our visas, which is taking longer than expected. We really shouldn't be surprised. So we are in a 'holding zone' for now  - it's hard to make plans if you're not sure where you're going to be next month. That said, we are still making the most of Sao Paulo being our new home. On the weekend we went and did some exploring of parks. Spent some time chilling in Parque Ibirapuera and Parque Vila Lobos, hunted down a pretty decent chinese restaurant in Liberdade (Tenzan on R. Galvao Bueno which has giant portions, you only need one or two dishes for 4 people). We also visited Centro Cultural Sao Paulo  which is an open building next to Vergueiro metro. It serves as a library, meeting place, exhibition space, shelter from rain; courses, various performances and collections can be also found there.

There is a fantastic photography exhibition currently running called E.CO - a display of 20 photographic collections from Latin America and Europe. My favourite collections were NoPhoto (Espanha) which was a series of photos of chinese cyclists training in a chinese metropolis, Documentography (UK) which showed the impact of urbanisation throughout the world and SupayFotos (Peru) which depicted local life. I think everyone nowadays, with a digital camera and photoshop, fancies themselves as a photographer, but this exhibition has reminded me of why photographers are justified in calling themselves professional. Most of my photos are stored away on my computer somewhere never to see life in print. Seeing these well thought out images blown-up, close and personal is truly enlightening. Definitely worth it! (and then Liberdade is just up the road for lunch). 

*p.s if you are lover of photographic exhibitions and travel a bit, here are some other spaces that are worth visiting if you are in NY (International Center of Photography near Times Square ) or London (Getty Images Gallery near Oxford Circus).

Sunday, 11 July 2010

24 hours in Rio

22:00 – Taxi to Lapa from Copacabana Rs. 21
22:25 – A caprinihia and 2 caprioskas to line the stomachs (not each!). A little strong… Rs.18
22:27 – Chicken on a stick Rs. 6 for 2.
22:30 – Stroll around a block filled with street art (or what others may call graffiti) and smelly-pee doorways.
22:40 – Find a ‘bar’ playing Queens of the Stone Age and Pearl Jam. Jon oh-so-very excited.
22:45 – Cervejas and  unrecognizable shots. Rs 16
22:53 – Jaime gets chatted up by the Brasilian equivalent of McLovin’ from Superbad.
23:00 – Drunk man sleeping on pavement wakes up for a boogey. Rs 0.
23:06 – Drunk man comes to make friends with Tim.
23:07 – Get a taxi to Rio Scenarium which is just around the corner – Rs 6.40
23:45  - Enter Rio Scenarium. Supposedly one of the best bars in town and usually filled with tourists but luckily we are here in a Brasilian winter! You get given a card as you enter and you have all your drinks marked on it, and pay your bill as you leave.
23:50 – Check out all the floors but the music is too good to be not on the dance floor.
00:18 – On the dance floor trying to samba or not to samba as it was in the boys’ case.
00:25 – Brasilian ladies come over to teach us (well, Tim and Jon) to samba.
00:45 – Don’t know any music / can’t sing along but the singer is absolutely amazing.
01:01 – Tim disappears for awhile and brings back some new Brasilian friends.
01:14 – Jon disappears to get more drinks.
01:28 – Samba is beautiful – learning when drunk is probably not the best way. Can anyone recommend a good school?
02:35 – Leave Rio Scenarium though Jon has ripped up his receipt before leaving Rs???
02:35 – Hungry
02:37 – Order pasta, pizza and sandwiches at an empty restaurant
02:38 – Jon falls asleep at table
02:52 – A beautiful girl pops in to dance samba with the band. Jon wakes up.
03:19 – Finally the food arrives but only the pizza (I don’t know how we get our orders so wrong still!!)
03:22 – Finished eating. Rs 65
03:23 – Jon insists on going back to rock bar (the hole on the wall with speakers on the road).
03:31 – Rock bar closing up. Boo for Jon.
03:32 – Taxi home though we end up going the long way round as Tim insists on giving directions.
08:30 – Forgot to turn on aircon, wake up in nice sweaty room with not-so-nice sweaty husband.
08:35 – I can hear Sophie crying - thank god for Juliete, our ‘Princess-Diana’/nanny.
10:00 – Coxinha de Frangos and the strongest shot of coffee for brunch. Rs 12.
10:45 – It’s 24 C, bright blue skies. I like Brasilian winters!
11:00 – Sweat out alcohol on Copacabana Beach sem Sophie.
14:35 – Back home for showers.
15:07 – Drive to up Corcovado to visit Cristo Redentor but hadn’t realised we couldn’t drive up all the way. Train not working until 20th July either. Mini bus up to the old Hotel and another bus up to the top. Rs 45 each.
15:45 – Forgot that it’s a little bit cooler up there! He’s so worth shivering a little bit for. I always get a little bit emotional going to see this Art-deco Jesus, up close and personal!
17:52 – Rescue car from some little boys sitting on the hood.
18:00 – Jon decides he needs a picture of Cristo Redentor in his Brasilian colours and gets out on the main road around Lagoa only to have to run on his broken ankle to get back to the car. Picture was totally worth it, don’t you think?
18:45 – Decide to have a very quiet night and stay local.
18:55 – Find Bip Bip but they haven’t started music yet and recommend Italian around the corner.
19:00 – Pasta at Spacca Napoli – comfort food essential. Limoncello not so essential. Rs. 187. Limoncello Rs 0.
20:18 – Walk off food down Copacabana. It’s as Rio as you can imagine – beautiful bodies playing beach volleyball on floodlit beach, old sun-wrinkled fogies walking their dogs and tack sellers packing up for the day.
20:25 – Absolutely stuffed but always have a room for a churro filled with doce de leite! I’m not even a dessert person but these are SO sweet and SO good they make up for all the chocolate and cake I don’t usually eat! Rs 4
20:30 – Try to convince Jon to buy some really tacky art. He buys a piece for Rs 20
20:35 – Bip Bip …. a barzinho which is owned by a grumpy old man called Alberto. Pick up your beers from inside and let him know as you leave so he can keep your tab. Collective of old and new generation musicians play old samba on Sundays. No clapping please – click your fingers to show your appreciation. Lots of locals as well as tourists (yankee cougars!). Rs 45 for 8 beers and a Bip Bip CD.

*photos to be added when back in Sampa

Monday, 28 June 2010


14:34 / I  am starting this blog as Brasil are about to play Chile in the second-round knockout stage. Tim has stopped crying over England's loss yesterday and as proud as I am of the All Whites three draws, we are ready to support our newly adopted country. A pinch of green + yellow, big dollop of fireworks and horns, half a dozen caprihinias  and a whole lot of football makes a pretty good party (actually to be fair, a meeting of more than 2 people here is a party!)

Life stops for the Brasilian WC games here... the hours leading up to the KO sees the streets of Sampa filled with traffic as people are rushing to get home, or to a bar to watch the game with their friends, family and colleagues. As soon as play starts the streets are empty but you can hear in the distance the local commentary on TV, the occasional bast of fireworks and the rise and fall of excitement / panic as a goal is almost scored or a player has fallen over a blade of grass.

17:40 / Brasil won 3-0. If, or should I say, when, Brasil is playing in the final we will probably be in the second best place to watch it if not watching it in the stadium.

It's been in the news recently about the exclusion of Morumbi Stadium from the World Cup in 2014. Sao Paulo is one of the most important cities in Brasil and I'm not sure what a Brasilian WC would be like without the tournament being staged here in Sampa. There is alot of work that needs to be done here in order to stage the World Cup - infrastructure, security, lack of English speakers, traffic, the cost of living (its alot more expensive here than I imagined - some restaurants are NY / London prices!). I hope that the CBF can get their act together in time... imagine watching Brasil win in Brasil! Wahey!

Note to the CBF... if you need a super geeky, super organised english speaker with football organising experience email me!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Revitalisation of Centro

I mentioned this in my Mercado Municipal post and I had said 'it's such a shame that there has been no effort to maintain the historic, old buildings in this area'. I'd like to take back my remark as it was made with pre-conceived / misguided assumptions with regards to the local government. Apologies.

I've just been forwarded the link for a an NGO called ITDP and one of the projects they are working on is exactly this, the Sao Paulo City Center Revitilization. Will be very interested in how this project progresses.

Taxistas em Sao Paulo

One of the best sources of Portuguese for me are the taxi drivers. Like most taxi drivers around the world they can entertain you on your journey with stories of their lives and families, their opinions on the economy, their favourite restaurant or football team.

There is a Ponto de Taxi just around the corner from where we live and every morning when I walk by they shout out their 'Bom Dia's' and 'Tudo Bom's' as I've probably caught a ride with almost all of them, if not once then at least a couple of times. I know some of them by name and some of them go to Cesar's barquinho too. My taxi rides double up as portuguese lessons too (that's how I justify it to my husband!).

I have a list of questions that I use to initiate a conversation:

'Você e Paulistano?'
'Você tem crianças?'
'Onde você mora?'

Some of them take into account that I'm just learning and speak slowly, stay on topic and we can have a reasonable conversation. Others lose me on the second sentence and even though I can catch a word or two, I just take a wild guess at what he's talking about. I'll then answer completely off topic which just allows him to either ignore me and continue or start on this new topic. I'll never know!

- One taxi driver told me I spoke really good Portuguese and that he could understand about 50%...
- Another told me about his three ex-wives and how 'loca' they were
- I've discussed the pros and cons of bringing up children in the country vs the city with another
- Tim can get them really going about last night's football game
- I thought one 68 year old driver knew the way until he got out at a traffic stop to walk over to another taxi 2 lanes over to ask directions

The one thing you can't avoid here in Sao Paulo is traffic (well unless you have a helicopter) but instead of getting really stressed about being late (everyone is late here anyhow), take it in your stride and use the time to practice a little more Portuguese!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Embu das Artes

Today we were taken out to a little town called Embu das Artes, about a 40 minute drive SW of Sao Paulo. It was a nice little surprise as I thought we were being taken to see an art exhibition in Centro (the center of the city) and ended up in in the centre of Sao Paulo state instead.

There is a market of food, toys, clothes and all sorts of handicrafts every weekend. There were a few other tourists but mainly local 'tourists'. The streets are covered in paralelepípedos (still one of my favourite words) but they were much more manageable than the roads in Paritay and were able to push Sophie around in a buggy. First stop off was food. They had a range of things - pastels, sandwiches, yakisoba noodles, hot dogs... i had acarajé which is a fried ball of mashed beans and filled with shrimps and onion. It's very popular in Salvador, Bahia and I hadn't had one since our trip there 5 years ago. Our friends were saying how much they dislike the palm oil which is used in most of Bahia cooking which I had forgotten I didn't like either. Funny how hunger can distort a memory!

The market runs over 5-6 blocks and there were lots of different shops. Both shops and stalls sold home made toys, clothes, leather bags, carpets, mirrors, art, furniture and more. We were very controlled and got away with a few wooden toys for Sophie and a couple of beers for us. Apparently there is another road nearby which is famous for beautiful wooden furniture so we might have to go back when we move into a bigger apartment.

I saw some restaurants that were serving food that really reminded me of Fernando's* in Macao. It then it occurred to me that both Brasil and Macao were both portuguese colonies, duh! 

The real reason for this blog is really to describe my introduction to churros. WHY have I never seen or tasted one before!??!?!? They are a spanish doughnut that is fried, covered in cinnamon and then dulce de creme (caramel) or chocolate is piped through the middle. I usually find most of the deserts here too sweet but I think I might have to introduce churros into my daily diet...

* If you are ever in Macao and need a break from losing all your money at the blackjack table you have to go to Fernando's - can't go wrong with chicken and chips! I've made the trip to Macao especially.


We found a curry-house which is pretty authentic (well certainly better than the US). So if you are in desperate need of a vindaloo, check out Tandoor.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Soup or Salad?

Você e Brasileira?

I was asked if I was a Brazilian yesterday. I love that I can blend into this city and be considered by the locals to be a local. Being a country of immigrants means that you can be blond and blue eyed, brown hair with olive skin, or have black hair and brown skin and you can all call yourselves Brazilian. Being of chinese descent I've noticed this ease of (or lack of) assimilation in some of the other cities / countries I've lived in. I've had some people ask me if I speak English, where I'm from (even when I say New Zealand, they ask me whereabouts that is in Japan!) or been given directions to the airport - all based on the colour of my skin.

Yes, I know I hold the same stereotypes and have made exactly the same assumptions before. Being exposed to so many different people in Sao Paulo has already made me so much more open minded. People here have a strong connection to their history but at the same time they consider themselves Brazilian first. Ask a New Yorker where they're from and you're likely to hear Irish-American, Italian-American, Chinese-American, Japanese-American etc.

I have always remembered this analogy I read once. Some cities are like a salad. All the 'vegetables' live next to each other, tossed together, but still separate from each other.  In a soup the ingredients are not only in the same pot but they are blended together, their lives are intertwined. Sao Paulo is a soup. Despite where people (or the vegetables) have come from they are they all eventually become one and the same.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Kimchi, Sauvignon Blanc and Warhol

We made our inaugural trip to Pinacoteca, the Museum of Contemporary Art, for the Warhol exhibition. It's a beautiful building and the exhibition was great. It's free on a Saturday so I expected it to be much busier (they were all queuing at the Museu da Lingua Portuguesa where they have an exhibit on Machado de Assis, a very famous Brazilian writer- we'll have to come back).

One of the Korean ladies at the ALC lunch mentioned that there were some great, very traditional Korean restaurants near the museum. Stupidly I didn't take the restaurant or road name so we wandered hungrily and aimlessly around Bom Retiro until we happened open Rua Correia (Korea) Melo. There was no time for scouting out all the restaurants - we stepped into the first one we came across; Restaurant Dare, Rua Correia Melo, 117. So if you want to come and hang out with a bunch of Portuguese-speaking Koreans, who eat kimchi and bibimbap this is the place to come to. Food was as authentic as I know and the crowd in there were all Korean / Korean descent. Delicioso!

We had a quick wander around the area after lunch.* There are lots of really cheap clothes shops in this area -  though the clothes are not quite to my taste! We also went to check out Luz Station (see below) which was actually built in England and assembled here. 

Sunday 25th April = ANZAC Day. We were forwarded the invite by Greg (a blogger I read religiously when we first moved to SP). I was excited about meeting some other kiwi's in town and drinking as much NZ Sauvignon Blanc as I could get my hands on (regretting that today....). It was at a bar aptly named Kia Ora which apparently is one of  the places in SP to meet a nice lady friend. I think Tim is already planning to take our first male visitors there.  We arrived right on time (i.e. not Brazilian time) for drinks and canapes, met some of the  embassy staff who had organised a lovely service and a buffet dinner... though sadly no lamb or beetroot or mince pies : (

*I've just read the wikipedia section on Bom Retiro which advises people to only visit this area during the day and in a group as it's also known as 'Cracolandia'. Unfortunately we missed the crackheads and prostitutes...