Our next morning in São Paulo was spent at Fernando Costa Park, an incredibly stunning park toward the north of the city, filled with colonial style yellow buildings, free-range chickens and chicks, tropical trees and shimmering ponds. A food market and fair were setting up in one part of the park as people were trickled into the park on this gloriously sunny morning. We meandered around the ponds and palms, chasing chickens and screaming at the baby chicks (ok that was just me). I had heard there was great organic breakfast at the park every Saturday morning, hence our visit. We reached a group of yellow buildings, to which on the other side were many people sitting at tables and eating the very breakfast I was in search of. Two men played on guitars to one side as people flooded into a building in front which housed an organic farmers market, filled with all sort of fresh organic produce.
In front of the entrance was a little hut, where a handful of people were scurrying inside and preparing breakfast for a long line of hungry Brazilians, including us. There were a bunch of things on the menu, featuring classics like eggs and toast and granola, of course, but I definitely recommend one of the ‘platters’ they offer, where you can try freshly made juice, a little pot of granola, honey and yoghurt, some various types of breads and spreads, and a slice of cake of your choice, plus tea or coffee. And all organic!
After being harassed by a peacock trying to eat the food and then spilling my coffee all down myself, we finally managed to enjoy our organic breakfast platter in the beautiful garden, music filling the air and the tall palms protecting us from the approaching midday sun.
After chasing a few more chickens and taking endless photos of the tiny cheeping chicks (I’m not a dog I swear) we had to rush off to get to the next thing to see on the list, having to have to pack a lot into our last full day in the city.
A short walk brought us to the Latin American Memorial, a cultural, political and leisure complex designed by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. This collection of beautiful white buildings stood magnificently amongst each other, some of the buildings holding exhibits inside. The first exhibit was a beautiful one on the use of flowers in Latin American countries and another exhibit in a separate building had a great photography exhibition on Latin American women. There was also some religious art in another building which I didn’t 100% understand but it was stunning. The best part was that all of the exhibits, in fact, the whole complex, were totally empty, so we had the place almost to ourselves.
Next to visit was SESC Pompeia, which, much like everything else I had on my list, I wasn’t quite sure what it was. But hot damn, let me tell you, it was AMAZING. I only wish I had a whole day to spend just in this one space. It’s basically a large cultural complex composed of various warehouse/factory-like buildings. The complex has been considered as shocking and evading easy classification. Is it brutal, modern, ugly, strange, intriguing? Better described in this great article I discovered on it called ‘The Making of SESC Pompeia’:
“[The complex combines] a red-brick building that had housed a drum factory since the 1920s – well proportioned, in the style of British factories – with three huge and unconventional concrete towers connected by aerial walkways…The all-concrete sports block opened in 1986, and actually caused the biggest shock. Two concrete towers were erected, one with ‘cave mouths’ instead of windows, the other ‘randomly’ dotted with square windows across its facades.” – Marcelo Ferrz
Inside each building are various things; a cinema, a theatre, a space with little divided sections for people to teach classes in things like drawing, pottery, textiles and more. The concrete blocks supposedly house sporting venues and pools. Another has a mish-mash of artworks from various artists, from textiles projects to giant collages to videos, there was just so much to look at yet such little time. Cutting through the space was even a tiny running stream representing the Rio São Francisco.
Inside another building was an interactive exhibit of sorts, where you could construct something with these giant poles. But that wasn’t the cool part; the light inside was bizzare, kind of purple when you walked in. But as soon as your eyes adjusted, everything became a totally different colour – my phone screen was like bright green. An orange t-shirt was actually a yellow t-shirt. I WAS SO CONFUSED BUT IT WAS COOL. There were also some great books for sale and I nabbed a beautifully illustrated book about mythical beasts from Brazilian culture – I can’t understand anything but it’s oh so pretty.
A path from the entrance of the complex leads you to each of these buildings, and at the far end of the path was a large decked space where people sun bathed, painted on easles and practiced yoga. To the far left were the bizarre concrete buildings described above. The left-most one I think had a swimming pool inside and the right-most one you could climb up and has the sporting venues, but we weren’t sure if you had to pay so we left it. ANYWAY if you want to go inside them then you can. This whole place was so great, full of so many activities to get involved with that it’s a must-visit whether you live or visit the city.
“The Centre is like an oasis amidst the barbaric urban discomfort of our long-suffering São Paulo. Who doesn’t have a fond recollection of this place from all the years spent living in our densely-packed metropolis? The music shows, circuses, festas juninas, multi-ethnic festivals, memorable exhibitions – or even just meeting up with someone and doing very little, sitting on the public sofas beside the water or the fire… It seems that everything good has happened and continues to happen there.” – Marcelo Ferraz
*HEAD HERE FOR PART 2*