It is early afternoon when we arrive in São Paulo, a huge city with over 20 million inhabitants. From the 20 million we know only one person, Fernando, a colleague storyteller who we met on Facebook. “I will take you to an authentic and human-scale place to stay called Pousada Dona Zilah.”
Two hours later, we’re strolling through the area south of Avenida Paulista, called Jardins. “The best street of the area is without a doubt Oscar Freire,” says Fernando. “Here you can find boutiques of the coolest Brazilian brands, like Osklen fashion, Melissa shoes, Agua de Cheiro, Havaianas and even a Romero Britto gallery. Shop till you drop.”
We look up as a helicopter passes over Jardins. “This is not unusual,” Fernando says. “Due to the intense traffic jams on the roads combined with fear of kidnapping among the rich businessmen, São Paulo has become the city with the highest number of helicopters in the world.
There are over 500 private helicopters, and around 100,000 flights per year within central São Paulo.”
As we stop in front of a very trendy shoe shop, Fernando continues: “South of this area is the financial district,” he says while pointing his arm in a random direction. “That is the area where all the main companies are located, around Avenida Faria Lima. Did you know that the São Paulo Stock Exchange is the second largest stock exchange in the world, in market value?”
“That’s all very interesting,” I say, ”but more important, do you have good coffee in São Paulo?”
Fernando looks at me for two seconds before answering. “We have the best coffee and the best restaurants in Brazil!”