After an amazing but exhausting celebration yesterday at Carnaval, we were are all VERY grateful for an extra hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings! Feeling refreshed, we headed out with our knowledgeable new friend and guide, Renato, for a tour of downtown São Paulo. Our first stop was the Museum of Modern Art. Since we had a lot of ground to cover on our tour, we didn’t have time to explore all the exhibits but headed up onto the roof for a panoramic view of the city. The scenery was absolutely stunning and was the perfect backdrop for pictures and spontaneous rooftop dancing!
Next, we headed downstairs and across the street to explore Ibirapuera Park, a gorgeous, verdant oasis for the Brazilian people in the midst of the sprawling metropolitan city. The park is always packed on weekends but was especially so today since the Carnaval celebrations continue throughout the week. We were impressed with the bike rentals, cycling paths, covered skating park, and beautiful arenas that host many of the biggest events in Brazil such concerts and Fashion Week. In our opinion, Ibirapuera is the perfect gathering place for families and friends alike!
Our next destination was Vila Madalena. A few short years ago, this area was a rundown, abandoned alleyway but the creativity and imagination of Brazilian street artists breathed new life into it! Now Brazilians and tourists flock to see the walls covered with colorful statements from a multitude of artists. The murals ranged from the fun and playful to important social statements. We loved taking it all in and stopped in the cafe for a quick lunch and some refreshing Açai and fruit juices before heading out again!
After taking in some of the sights from our van, we traveled to the Municipal Market which was created in 1933 by architect Francisco de Azevedo. Not only was the exterior of the building gorgeous, but the interior was an intoxicating kaleidoscope of colors from the vendors’ stands. Brazil is a diverse country and the foods in the market had a variety of cultural influences. The Lebanese cheese was especially delicious but our favorite part of the destination was the fruit! We sampled old favorites such as Mango and tried many new fruits with names I can’t pronounce or remember!
The final stop (my personal favorite) was in the neighborhood of Liberdade, the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. In Brazil, there is no typical “Brazilian appearance”. The Brazilian people come from a mix different cultural backgrounds including Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, and Lebanese heritages among many others. Although our time was short, we had fun wandering the streets of the neighborhood while viewing and purchasing the beautiful Japanese goods.
After our trip, we had a quick rest before heading to the Methodist Church located on the campus for evening worship. Even though we couldn’t understand much of the service, we loved being able to worship with our Brazilian brothers and sisters. A special moment was being able to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness together! It is always an amazing and humbling experience to worship God in the context of another culture!
Today was another fantastic day of experiencing the culture and sights of São Paulo! We can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!