So I’ve been living in São Paulo for the last month and though I had visited before (even spending one month during a previous trip), this is the first time I’ve treated the city as a place I’d possibly want to live long term. Living in a concrete jungle is good due to there being so many options available at any hour. It’s also good to feel you are not in the middle of nowhere, ie, isolated from the hustle and bustle, the liveliness of so many people sharing the same space. It’s bad because some solutions for having so many people crammed together just don’t work (ie, the bus system is not intuitive, though the metro is great). With the city being so wide, I’ve been confronted with the issue of having to decline invites to meet people or to do interesting things because frankly two hours of interaction/fun rarely equals three hours of roundtrip public transport time (as I found out the other night). Having a car doesn’t much help since over 1,000 new cars are being added to the already congested roads and highways of São Paulo each day.
One of the issues SP has in terms of tourism is there’s no calling card, if you will (see comments). People say the city is an awesome place to be and live but I’ve only seen hints of this. Alas, I think it’s a city that reveals itself slowly. I haven’t been here long enough to vouch for São Paulo’s so-called awesomeness and I’m not sure I’ll stay long enough to confirm it for myself. I left Rio looking for a better ‘Rio’ and I’m realizing it doesn’t exist. Rio, like São Paulo, is unique…but to me Rio is also like my old favorite chair and it’s hard to give that up for another, newer chair that will take time to ‘break in’.
This time, I’m going to leave it up to commenters to compare São Paulo to New York, since that’s what most people say. I’ve never been to NYC but I am told the ‘wide city-transit’ problem exists there, too, as does the upside of ‘doing anything, anytime’.