São Paolo is not the Brazilian city most favoured by tourists : it is a maze of dilapidated buildings, the beach is miles away and it’s always raining. And yet, within the narrow streets of this megalopolis, you will experience all the warmth and hospitality of the Brazilian people.
It was the last day of the year. Not that it was of any importance, but Brazilian cuisine was not exactly what you would expect for a memorable New Year’s Eve dinner. The city’s best restaurants are those which cost the least, and the menu rarely offers much variety outside of meat, beans, rice, French fries and salad.
Brazil is widely recognised as being a dangerous country, yet a stroll around the run-down centre of São Paolo doesn’t give much cause for fear. Sometimes it requires armoured police vehicles to remind visitors not to get too complacent.
In São Paolo, the 31 December is also the day of the Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre. Thousands of people participate in this marathon, braving the heat and oppressive humidity. There are those who are in it to win, and others who are there to amaze onlookers with fabulous costumes or shows of talent, such as doing keepie uppies with a football all the way.
Once the race is over, a massive city party is held on the Avenida Paulista. Every year, millions of people pour onto this main shopping street, decorated especially for the occasion, to celebrate the start of the new year with singing and dancing.
Guest blogger: Marco Allegri