It’s Sunday, and I keep hearing about the fabulous markets in São Paulo. I’m tired from my flight, but I’m determined to make the most of my time here. So after a quick change of clothes, I grab my camera and head out into the great unknown.
I’ve lost count of the number of times somebody mentioned that Liberdade, São Paulo is the home to the world’s largest Japanese expat community. So I took this as divine intervention that I should head on over that neighbourhood and explore the famous Sunday market “Feira da Liberdade”
Although I’ve been “encouraged” to take cabs everywhere for my own safety, the pioneering spirit in me wants to explore as much as I can by foot. I still can’t conceptualize the size of this city, and although distances on my little street map provided by the hotel seem compact, I opt instead to leverage the subway system as much as I can.
São Paulo metro system is limited to 5 lines; and I needed to travel on two on them, with a change at Paraiso.
The Trianon-Masp subway station is absolutely deserted, except for the lady in the ticket booth. This is my first encounter with how little English is spoken or written in São Paulo. Buying a ticket is absolute confusion, and somehow I end up with 3 single ride tickets instead of a day pass.
I encounter a couple more people on the platform, and a few more on the actual train. But I’m beginning to wonder whether the metro is deserted because it’s a personal safety threat, or it’s just not a widely used mode of transport.
I arrive (safely and unharmed) at Liberdade, and on the street I’m surrounded by tall buildings and wide avenues teeming with traffic. This part of São Paulo reminds me of a scruffier New York, and I anticipate discovering a area akin to New York’s China Town. I notice some market stalls on the other side of the street, and head over to take a closer look.
A picture says a 1,000 words
I don’t like being negative about travel encounters, but the fact that the only two photo’s I took of this area were a tacky Brazil souvenir stand and a felt puppet stand, speaks volumes. I recognize three of the superheroes – but I’m not sure about the little piggy on the end!
I did come across a Japenese inspired Phone Hood, that is part of the “Call Parade” art project.
But after this highlight, I decided to start exploring on foot to see if there was more to Liberdade than currently met my eye. I didn’t encounter anything else worth pausing for, and didn’t see any crowds all moving in a specific direction, so figured this small set of stalls was as good as it gets.
I oriented myself, and headed north in the direction of the Cathedral da Sé de São Paulo, to go in search of the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo. Hopefully I can more more successful in tracking this one down.
Hindsight’s a Wonderful Thing
I was so close to finding the Liberdade Market. I exited the Metro, and the stalls I encountered were at the tip of the market.
If I’d walked South instead of North I would have entered the Praça da Liberdade where the Feira da Liberdade is held.
My hindsight research has educated me that this market is an “anything goes” market. As well as the usual market stalls selling plants, clothes, jewellery, electronics, there’s food stalls that span the globe; ranging from oil-fried Afro-Brazilian food to freshly prepared sushi.
I’ve read that there are also many “strange and wonderful” objects available at this market. The mind boggles, but I’ll have to leave it to the imagination – because I walked right past them!
What sightseeing opportunties have you missed out on?
Motto of this story is:
- Research before you go.
- Identify landmarks which will help you orient yourself at your destination.
I missed out on a unique market experience, but I did discover some others, that more than made up for it.
Metro: The single metro ticket was 3BRL (Brazil Reais); Closest Station is Liberdade on Line #1 (the Blue Line). Click here for a Metro Map.
The (elusive) market is held EVERY SUNDAY in Praça da Liberdade. This park is shaped like a vertical triangle:
- The base of the trianges is R. Dos Estudantes
- The two sides of the trianangle are Ave. da Liberdade and R. Galvão Bueno