First steps in South America

Mon, 17 Mar 2008 21:40:49 +0000

What's in Mat's backpack? Index Shout out ta ma homies

After bowling the night away for Sabrina's birthday party, five or so hours of sleep had to suffice before getting up to pack, throw away the last few bits and pieces, place a quick phone call to my parents, and set off for the train station. Leaving behind, I might say, Volker and Rene's Sunday roast, which I smelt maddeningly good. Ah well, not the only thing I'm leaving behind. I symbolically said goodbye to German food in Frankfurt airport with a laugenstange, wurst and cheese:

Hmm. It's not roast Lammkeule.

The plane was half an hour late, but not too bad. I had an excellent seat, a window seat at the back with no-one behind me. And I was so tired that I fell asleep immediately after the dinner was cleared away, and woke up just as breakfast was being served. Since the flight was 11:20 long, that meant I got a proper night's sleep, surely the best effort I've ever managed on a plane.

And then Sao Paulo. First thing on the agenda was getting a bus ticket to Corumba, which was tricky what with no-one speaking English, and me having no idea how this works. But at the second bus terminal I tried I finally tracked down the necessary counter and bought my ticket. Looks like about 24 hours total, with a change at Campo Grande. I hope I have as much luck as I did with Lufthansa.

Then to the youth hostel to check in, and quite nice it is too. Dump my backpack, and then free to start some touristing.

Traditionally, in any new city I immediately play the "get lost and then try to figure out where I am again" game, and that's what I did this time. Unfortunately it rained continuously the entire day, but I just got wet. It's not cold.

Sao Paulo is very confusing - all hills and complicated overpasses and intersections. I found myself in not particularly inspiring backstreets. But once I got a handle on where I was, and headed for the historical bits, it was amazing. As colourful as Brazil is supposed to be, with a fascinating collection of adventurous and ambitious structures from every period in Brazil's history. The cathedral is essentially a modern copy of any European gothic cathedral, but I like that. It's clean and finely pointed, while still being monumental.

I went into the monastery on Campo Sao Bento, and bought some biscuits from the little bakery stall they have set up just off the church. Delicious, although I bought too many. So that became lunch and probably most of my dinner.

Mostly I just stared at the panoramas and the buildings A lot of these are terribly beaten up and neglected, just waiting for someone to fix them up and turn them into sugary facades wrapped around soulless shopping centres. But right now, it's just a very well-used city.

For all that I got a good night's sleep though, I'm still on a sleep deficit, and exhausted. So I'm back in the hostel to recharge, figuratively and literally. Tomorrow will be spent entirely on a bus, and I have to change buses at 4:00 in the morning. So an early night's sleep is called for, I think.

What's in Mat's backpack? Index Shout out ta ma homies