We boarded the bus to Brazil with our new laptop and were warned by a local lady to hide it away in our backpacks due to crime on the buses! This was lovely to know when you have an 18 hour journey ahead of you, looks like we'll get no sleep then we are about to spend the next 18 hours holding on to our bags! Arriving at the border for Brazil we immediately noticed the language barrier, speaking broken Spanish to Brazilians (who speak Portuguese) was not going to get us very far! After the immigration we headed back to our bus and noticed everyone stood in a line outside the bus as if they were saluting their drill sergeant. It turned out that they were customs officers, who had taken every suitcase off the bus and were searching through them all by hand! They found that one lady had 5 bags full of jeans with the tags still on and one guy had a bag with phone chargers and boxes for them. We all stood watching and people were being noisy to see the contents of each others bags and tutting when another bag was found full of "contrabands". Paraguay is significantly cheaper than its neighbouring countries and therefore is too tempting for a lot of people and a real problem for customs. Despite the desperate pleading from the pleasantly plump woman that the 50 pairs of size 10 jeans were all for her, as you would expect....they were all confiscated!
Arriving in Sao Paulo we booked in to a hostel and went for a wander around the city. First things first we need a bank, two hours later after walking what felt like 50 miles and a few mini arguments later we still had no money, Lisa's bank had stopped her account AGAIN! Eventually we got some money and headed to "Little Italy" where we had heard there were some nice restaurants, shops and bars after an hours walk we arrived and everything was closed for "siesta" so we headed back and went to the Edificio Italia building which had the highest viewing point in Sao Paulo. We had a nice view of the city on the viewing deck but were a little annoyed at having to pay ₤5 to a random woman for the view when we were told it was free, a little dodgy!
On the evening we weren't sure what to do since we had been told not to go outside after dark due to the very high crime rates, we spoke to the staff member at the hostel and they said we should go to Bar Brahma but just don't take any valuables and walk quickly!!! "Bar Brahma" was the first bar to sell "Brahma" beer in the world and is Brazil's oldest and most famous bar, after practically running to the bar (there were some very strange characters hanging around) we had some "chop" (draught) beer and pizza which was not as pricey as we were expecting. We were fascinated by the amount of security the bar had; there were guards surrounding the bar and ensuring all customers got to their car or taxi safely. Not many people seemed to be running up the street to the bar like us cheap travellers.
The next day we headed to the main park in the city centre, the Ibirapuera park was big and pleasant but nothing special. In the park they were in the middle of setting up a huge electric Christmas tree, which made us miss home slightly. In the afternoon we decided to walk up a popular shopping street which was recommended to us but again we were not really that impressed and headed back to the hotel. To sum Sao Paulo up......there ain't no sights" (quoted from a local lady) and it's just another huge city!