Brazil is dominated by its two largest cities: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The two are eternal rivals and are as alike as chalk and cheese. Rio is the star of the show, the prima donna, the cool kid on the block; whilst São Paulo is the plain one that does all the work and gets none of the credit. The images of Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf rock and the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana are iconic, conjuring up fantasies of caipirinhas on the beach, suave maestros playing bossa nova into the wee hours, and harems of girls from Ipanema. This is the Brazil people dream of. The only associations people have with São Paulo (if they have any at all) are traffic jams, hordes of busy, unsmiling people and polluted air. Of course there are truths behind these cliches, but also much more.
|View of the Guanabara Bay, the older part of Rio, and the unmistakable Pao de Azucar rock on the right.|