Saying Hello to São Paulo

Intelligent Travel blog editor Janelle Nanos is back from her honeymoon in Brazil, and told herself she wouldn’t work on her trip. But there were a few things she just had to share…

Truth be told, you are exhausted when you start your honeymoon. The nonstop planning that took place in the months leading up to the big day were already tiring, and the weekend’s worth of events knocked me out. And after two flights and nearly 15 hours of traveling, I was eager to get to Brazil and start relaxing on the beach. Of course, when I arrived I noticed two things: My brand new wedding present luggage had had its handle snapped off en route, and everyone in the São Paulo airport was wearing winter coats. Commence exhausted whining.

Copa Airlines was less than helpful when it came to the luggage, but thankfully, we’d registered at REI, so Tim reminded me that any of their products come with a lifetime guarantee (a good tip to any of you travelers tying the knot). And it turns out that Brazilians like wearing clothes to simulate winter weather, as it was still fairly warm by our standards, and we felt fine in our T-shirts.

It was fairly late in the evening, so our first and only stop that night was our hotel, Fasano, which is about as posh as they come. It’s very 1930’s chic, smooth caramel-colored walls and a well-stocked bar in the lobby instead of a welcome desk (it’s hidden behind a bank of elevators). We were told not to even venture beyond the hotel’s walls when it came to looking for food options, and instead wandered downstairs to their restaurant, also called Fasano, where I had a dish of osso bucco that may have changed my life. Exceptional service followed throughout the meal, and the next morning as well, when we got word that we’d be receiving a complimentary massage and to call the spa to make the reservation. “I’ve never had a massage,” Tim marveled as I scurried to the phone. “Come on up in 20 minutes,” they told us. Commence relaxing.

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The Fasano’s upper floors include not only their spa, but a idyllic lap pool housed in a room with huge windows looking out onto the sprawl of the city. We snuck in quick to take a peek, then glided to the spa in the mirrored elevators. Upon arriving, we were led to two chairs arranged side by side, and two women sat down before us with what looked like a tea service in front of them. “Wow, we get tea before the massage starts?” I wondered, as they began to pour the hot water into bowls mixed with herbs. Then they asked us to remove our flip-flops. Turns out that the massage I’d been anticipating was going to focus solely on our feet, not that I’m one to shun a complimentary massage of any kind. For the next few minutes, all the pain that comes with walking down an aisle and dancing the night away were rubbed out.

With only a few hours to spare before we headed to the beach, we took the opportunity to go to the Prédio do Banespa, São Paulo’s own little Empire State Building, which allows visitors to wander up a spiral staircase at their 35th floor viewing platform and soak in the expanse of the city. Twenty-story apartment buildings stretched out for miles and miles; imagine New York City, only without its watery boundaries. It was our first glimpse of the massive scope of Brazil, and all the life that teems within it.

Stay tuned for more dispatches from Brazil…

Photos: Courtesy of the Fasano Hotel