Wednesday, 30 April 2014

World Cup: Find out which teams will play in São Paulo

A lot of people have asked me which countries will play in São Paulo during the world cup.

Part of this question is easy. As long as the stadium is finally completed and approved by Fifa (and the roof does not collapse again) there will be four scheduled group games in São Paulo, the first of these being the opening game Brazil vs Croatia.

Another eye-catchign one is Uruguay vs England, one of the key clashes in the so-called group of death (Fifa just calls it Group D). 

Then there is Holland vs Chile who, along with Spain, come from the other group of death. 

And finally South Korea vc Belgium which would appear to be the least atttractive game, but given that Belgium has a far stronger team than most people realise and the fact that there is a significant Korean population in São Paulo, this could yet be an interesting fixture.

Full details below:

Sao Paulo Group Games Schedule

Date / Time

12 June / 17:00
Group A
19 June / 16:00
Group D
23 June / 13:00
Group B
26 June / 17:00
Group H
South Korea

The not so easy part is the knock-out stage, or qualifiers, as this will depend on what happens in the group.

On the 1st July, the Itaquerão will host a round 16 clash which will almost certainly be between Argentina and Switzerland/Ecuador (assuming Argentina and France win their respective groups)

On the 9th July we will be treated to a semi final which is harder to predict but is likely to be Argentina (again) against one of the winners of one of the group of deaths, namely England, Italy, Uruguay, Spain, Holland or Chile. 

Details below:

Date / Time

01 July / 13:00
Round 16
09 July / 17:00

The full match schedule for all teams and all cities is available here

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Brazilian Bin Laden is in São Paulo and he owns a bar

Osama Bin Laden Brazil

Strange as it might seem, there is a Bin Laden lookalike in São Paulo and he has shamelessly cashed in on his looks by opening a thriving downtown drinking hole called the Bin Laden bar (Bar do Bin Laden).

Ceará Francisco Helder Braga Fernandes has actually been in São Paulo since 1978 and according to him, he was unaware that he was a lookalike until 9/11. Even then, it was only when a worried member of the public called the police and claimed that the world’s most wanted man was actually hanging out in central São Paulo.

A false alert, maybe, but it was enough to make him a minor celebrity and send some TV crews by.  Since then he has opened his own bar in the Anhangabaú region and draws in crowds by posing for photos with his clients. It is particularly popular with goths and rockers in search of dark humour as well as dark music!

Brazilian Osama Bin Laden São Paulo
Fernandes, or Uncle Bin, as he is known to his customers
 “I am a man of goodwill. I can’t stand violence,” says Mr Fernandes “But this was great for business. No one calls me Francisco anymore. It’s Osama or bin Laden.”

Indeed, most of his customers refer to him simply as Tio Bin, or Uncle Bin.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A brief history of São Paulo

São Paulo in its early days
São Paulo is a city of immigrants, that much we all know. However, a lot of people, even those actually living in the city, don’t know too much about its foundation and how it came to be what it is today. So here’s a quick rundown on the history of São Paulo. It’s not comprehensive but, if a tourist during the world cup asks you for some historical information, it should get you out of trouble.

I know it sounds boring but it’s actually quite interesting:

Pre-São Paulo

How Ramalho may have looked like
We actually know the name of the first European to hit up on Sampa, a certain João Ramalho. Mr Ramalho was actually a shipwrecked sailor and that was not much around at the time so we can say that São Paulo did not have the most promising of starts. However human occupation as such was founded in a more formal way by Jesuit Missionaries, which is pretty much how most other Brazilian cities were founded.

16th Century

The original name back in 1554 was quite cool: São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga. It was essentially a mission to convert Guainás natives to Catholicism and was chosen for being between the ocean, potential farmlands inland and on the intersection of the Tietê river.

17th Century

Bandeirantes - not very nice people
Initially São Paulo’s main claim to fame was being a sort of headquarters for the bandeirantes, who were ruthless slavemasters, murderers and rapists but thanks to their expanision of Brazilian borders they are now preferred to be considered explorers and heroes (hence the memorial near the Ibirapuera park). 

Brazil sometimes feels lawless nowadays but back then it really was, so the bandeirantes pretty much took what they wanted, be it precious stones or native people, mostly by brute force. You have probably already heard of the Rapôso Tavares highway. Well, that’s named after Antonio Rapôso Tavares, one of the most savage Bandeirantes who would even steal and burn down Jesuit missions. Nice.

18th Century

After that São Paulo became a gateway to the gold which was being discovered in Minas Gerais. The 17th century gold boom led to investment sugarcane plantations drawing more wealth to São Paulo. In 1711 it got city status so we can say that São Paulo was officially “born”.

19th Century

A new drug is discovered
São Paulo soon became the commercial centre of a commodity crop, introduced in the previous century; Coffee. This was in many ways the turning point. Coffee became so huge foreign immigrants had to be imported mainly out of work Italians, Germans and Greeks.  

After that a second wave of immigrants joined the party: Japanese, Arabs, Chinese and Koreans. Slavery was abolished in 1888, but the city still needed workers and a large Jewish population sprung up. The city’s importance was clear and it was in fact here in São Paulo, that Brazil was declared independent in 1822

20th Century

Coffee was no longer booming but many other industries were already taking its place so it didn't matter too much. São Paulo was already the richest city and state in the country. Railroads were built to connect it to other cities, more immigrants piled in, this time from within the country as well as from abroad. This is when lots of low skilled workers from the North East came to grab a share of the riches, or at least try to.

Industrialisation kicked in under the Juscelino Kubitschek administration (yep, he got a street named after him too). And São Paulo continued to grow uncontrollably in almost all senses: population, wealth and influence.

21st Century

And so we ended up with this
Well, as you know, it is now the country (and arguably the continent’s) defacto capital of both art and commerce, the powerhouse of the Brazilian economy as well as the most multicultural city in the land. 

Oh and it’s the biggest city in Latin America, bigger than Mexico City by a couple million inhabitants.

So there you go. That’s São Paulo’s history in a nutshell; A shipwreck, Jesuits, Bandeirantes, Gold, Coffee, Cars and Immigration, lots of it.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The 360º Building AKA the ‘Jenga building’ by Isay Weinfeld

In its most basic form it is simply 62 "houses with yards", stacked on top of one another exactly like the blocks of a Jenga game. 

Wanting to avoid the seemingly inevitable problem of reduced outside space in traditional apartment block buildings, Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, created the 360º Building which offers yards rather than balconies.

The result is a stunning tower block high on the hills of Alto de Lapa which looks like it may fall over at any time. 

Check out the photos:

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Watch 200 years of São Paulo urbanisation in 30 seconds

São Paulo Growth

Not that long ago, São Paulo was a small outpost for trade and communications. Have you ever wondered how it became the megalopolis it is today and which parts grew first?

Wait no longer. The NYU Stern urbanisation Project has mapped out urban land expansion by year form 1880 to the turn of the 21st century. The resulting animation adopts a beautiful coloured ink format, each splash of colour corresponding to a different period of urbanisation.

São Paulo, shows subdued growth in the late nineteenth century followed by small expansions in the early years of last century. Then, in the 1930s, the centro region saw a sudden spurt of growth and 20 years later the incessant and massive spread of the city hit full speed, continuing to present day.

When you observe the final picture you can spot the darker colours relating to the oldest parts of the city and the lighter colours where recent construction has developed.

The data is from the Atlas of Urban Expansion, published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
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