Thursday, November 19, 2009

Impressions of Sao Paulo

I’m winding up my visit to the 3rd (or 3° as it is written here) largest city in the world (or 6°, depending how you count).  There have been many interesting things I’ve noticed here so I’ll jot a few down before I forget.  First, the caveat: I’ve only seen a small portion of the city, namely Morumbi, and the roads between there and the airport.  All observations are from my very limited experience.

The place looks like many places in the US at street level.  There are tall buildings and shops and busy people going to and from work.  The people dress about the same as in the US.  I think I could have forgotten that I was in Brazil if I didn’t speak with anyone.

There is no such thing as someone who looks Brazilian.  They have a much or more of an ethnic mix as the US with Europeans, Asians, Africans, and Native Americans.  They do talk funny, though.  They really, really like their meat.  The Brazilian restaurant is the same, but the meat is much better than where I’ve been in the states.

Brazilians pride themselves on being good hosts and do a fantastic job at it.

The elevators are odd.  You hit an up or down arrow as I’m used to.  When the arrow above the elevator door lights, that doesn’t mean the elevator is arriving.  That arrow might just go out with no elevator.  The arrow will flash when the elevator is arriving.  So you get on and hit the button.  If you don’t hit is quick enough, which may be before the door closes, you very well may be going the direction you didn’t want to go.  This get to be a real problem when you have to swipe a card to get to your floor.

Some here say Portuguese sounds more like Italian than Spanish.  I’ve always heard that it’s enough like Spanish that Portuguese speakers can usually understand Spanish.  I’ve been corrected.

They have TV channels that don’t have soccer, or so I’ve been told.

Tipping in the restaurants and for other service workers is not expected.  When getting change for a purchase, the cashier will usually not give the pennies unless you insist.  They will, however, insist that you give them enough to cover every penny.

The hotel staff here at the Hilton Morumbi has blown me away with great service, especially the staff at the Canvas restaurant.  I arrived for dinner tonight and the hostess remembered that I was there for Sunday brunch.  That was 4 days ago.  She almost remember my name.  I left a cheese plate on my table when I left and it was brought it up to my room in case I wanted a snack later.  Now that is service.

I’ll probably think of more later.  All in all, it’s been a good trip.  I’m still looking forward to home.  It’s been a long year of travel.

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