Outdoor activities in São Paulo
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The aerial photos of São Paulo might pass the impression that the city is a "Stone Jungle", crowded with gray skyscrapers (the expression Selva de Pedra, the Portuguese for Stone Jungle, became a popular way to refer to São Paulo after the big success of Brazilian soap box novel called Selva de Pedra, aired for the first time in 1972 and re-shot in 1986). It is true that there are many buildings, but there are also numerous tours for those who don't want to pass nature by.
In addition to the parks, such as Ibirapuera and Alfredo Volpi, São Paulo has good restaurants and bars with fewer walls and ceilings and more views of the sky and sidewalk.
Below, suggestions of a one-day tour for those people wishing to discover the best of the city outdoors.
A good breakfast is the ideal plan for those who want to take this tour that involves a good deal of walking. Richard's Poderoso, 500 meters from Gate 7A of the Parque do Ibirapuera has an assorted breakfast buffet with some different options, such as açai in a bowl (açaí is kind of berry, which has been consumed by the Indians of the Amazon for centuries; a few years ago, it became popular in the Southern States of Brazil; and more recently, some companies are trying to widespread açaí around the world, given its very healthy characteristics - read more about açaí). You can have your meal in an outdoor environment of tables on a wooden deck, in the shade of tropical trees.
From there, head to the Parque do Ibirapuera. Created in 1954 from an architectural project by world famous Oscar Niemeyer and landscaping by Roberto Burle Marx, the park has become one of the main symbols of the city; Ibirapuera is to São Paulo what the Central Park is to New York or the Hyde Park is to London: an open-air playground for people, couples and families. Do not confuse the Park with Ibirapuera Shopping Center, which is another favorite of paulistas.
Start your visit to Ibirapuera with the Viveiro Manequinho Lopes; in this space, seedlings of herbaceous and flower producing species and the bushes used by city administration for public spaces in the city are cultivated annually.
Next, visit the collection of the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo (MAM) or the Afro Brazil Museum (Museu Afro Brasil). And don't forget to see if there's some interesting fair at the Bienal of Arts or if there's an electrifying exhibition being held at the Oca (oca is the Portuguese word for the rustic houses where Brazilian Indians used to live; the Oca of Ibirapuera was designed by Niemeyer, who later on would use the same principles in the design of the National Congress of Brazil, in Brasilia).
Between one thing and another, you can enjoy the jogging tracks, luncheonettes, playgrounds and polysports fields at the park.
After you leave Ibirapuera, you can have lunch in Morumbi, at the Casa da Fazenda do Morumbi; the building preserves some stories from the Brazilian colonial period. Constructed by the priest Antônio Feijó in 1813, it was the site of the first tea farm in the country; the restaurant occupies the ground floor of the mansion, which has been restored, and offers sophisticated dishes (Morumbi is one of the pochest neighborhoods in São Paulo; nearby, one finds the Morumbi Mall and the Morumbi Stadium, stage of São Paulo FC's matches.
After lunch, the best tip is to get to know the Parque Alfredo Volpi in the same neighborhood; open in 1971, the area has fountains and lakes as well as birds rarely seen in São Paulo, such as the kingfisher. This natural forest has the most biodiversity of any urban zone in the city, and trails through its dense woods invite a good hike.
For the end of the afternoon, the choice is the Fundação Maria Luisa e Oscar Americano, also in Morumbi. A combination of park, museum and art study center, it has a collection of 1500 pieces sorted by Colonial Brazil, Imperial Brazil, and Masters of the 20th Century. Most of the furniture, paintings, sculptures and silver items used to belong to the Americano family. At the end of your visit, don't forget to have afternoon tea, served the English style in a salon overlooking the park.
Evening and Night
If it's Monday, don't forget to go to the Jockey Club de São Paulo to watch the horse races, which start at 6:30 p.m.; stakes start from only 1 real.
Choose one of three local restaurants to watch the match. The best view is from the Mercearia, which is close to the finish line of the race. The bar-restaurant, which features parties and thematic shows to attract clientele, also deserves a visit on any other night of the week.
With wide verandahs and an international kitchen, the Cânter Ba is another option at the Jockey to have a carefully prepared meal. For those looking for a cozier atmosphere, the Bar des Arts, located at the Chácara Itaim, attracts a hip and attractive clientele. Inspired by the Provence region in France, the location has two covered rooms and an outdoor area with a garden and fountain that create an intimate mood.
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