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Many paulistanos take their Sundays to go shopping.
The open space at Masp fills up with antique stands and Liberdade is the stage for a handicrafts fair and typical Japanese food. As a matter of fact, there is no diet that can resist these offerings, since even a simple mortadella sandwich has a special meaning. But save a space in your stomach, because Sunday always ends with pizza.
Start the day in the city downtown sampling the delicious omelets of Cafe Girondino, in front of the São Bento subway station.
But you should finish your meal before the mass begins at the Mosteiro de São Bento (Saint Benedict Minster) on the other side of the street. On Sundays, it is celebrated with Gregorian chants, always at 10 a.m.; even those who are not Catholics enjoy the program at the church, founded by Benedictine monks 1598, and which conceals relics such as the tomb of explorer Fernão Dias (one of the most famous of the bandeirantes).
Next to the sacristy, be sure to taste some of the delicious breads and cakes baked by the friars. Leaving by the Largo de São Bento, to your right, follow along Rua Líbero Badaró to the Viaduto do Chá (the name means Bridge of Tea), inaugurated in 1892 (this was the first bridge in São Paulo - see History here), when a toll had to be paid by the horsemen and pedestrians who wanted get to across it (some informal surveys appoint the Viaduto as the busiest street in São Paulo).
From there, you can see the Vale do Anhangabaú (the city of São Paulo was founded by the jesuits between two rivers, Anhangabaú and Tamanduateí - read foundation of São Paulo; the later is still visible, but Anhangabaú today runs underground) and the imposing building of the Theatro Municipal de São Paulo.
Open in 1911, it is a smaller scale copy of the Paris Opera (until the beginning of the 20th century, São Paulo and Brazil were more influenced by European culture - particularly French - than the American one), and has crystal chandeliers and balconies decorated in gold leaf.
From there, take a short taxi ride the Mercado Municipal, where the custom is to buy food, experimenting delicacies from boxes of fruit, olives, cheeses and crystallized sweets; this is probably the largest fair of in natura products in the whole country. Recently restored, the neo-classic building, erected in 1933, has beautiful stained glass windows depicting coffee farmers.
Sunday is the day of the classic fairs, such as the antiques fair at Masp (from 9am to 5pm - see photo and contact phones here).
Other busy place on Sundays is Liberdade (Liberty), the Asian neighborhood founded by Japanese immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century (today, the Chinese and Korean communities are established here, too; São Paulo doesn't have a Chinatown); to get there, drop off at the Liberdade subway station. Its streets with lanterns, restaurants and shops with Asian products are the charm of the region. On Sundays, the fun pastime is the fair on the Praça da Liberdade, with typical foods and handicrafts.
Those looking for a more refined meal can try the specialties of Sushi-Yassu, a restaurant highly rated by the Guia Quatro Rodas that serves one of the best gyozas in the city (see list of Japanese restaurants in São Paulo). A must visit is to the Museu da Imigracao Japonesa (Museum of Japanese Immigration - the first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1998; celebrations are scheduled for the centennary, in 2008), which tells the story of the Japanese immigrants (today, São Paulo is the biggest Japanese city outside of Japan).
On weekends in July, Liberdade is the stage for the Festival das Estrelas (Tanabata Matsuri in Japanese, Festival of Stars in English - see photos of 2006 event here), when nearly 100 thousand people order food and watch typical dancing and singing shows.
Evening and Night
Sunday gives signs of coming to an end when the bars start to lose part of their clientele to theater presentations; this is because these start earlier Sundays — between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
A good choice is to see a play at the Teatro Cultura Artística in Consolação street, followed by the traditional Sunday pizza. Try the Braz pizzaria in Pinheiros; the most ordered pizza of the house is the one bearing its name, with sautéed zucchini and buffalo mozzarella au gratin, covered with grated parmesan.
If you're still up for enjoying the rest of the night, the place to go is Vila Madalena; or, more precisely, the bar Filial, which is always packed. Besides draft beer and snacks, you can also order an welcome bean broth (the name in Portuguese is "caldinho de feijão") to help you face Monday morning.
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