Brazil’ north zones
SETH KUGEL, A TRAVELLER: So, uh, here we are in Sao Paulo: the largest city in South America.
This is Seth Kugel, the frugal traveler exploring the underappreciated northern zones of Brazil’s two biggest cities.
We’re actually still within city limits here in the Seja De Cantareira State park, an easy afternoon trip from downtown Sao Paulo.
This definitely does not look or feel like a mega-city that’s home to more than 11 million people. That includes millions in the north zone, yet tourists rarely make it up here.
They’re not just missing the park! One of Sao Paulo’s greatest restaurants is the surprisingly affordable Mocoto which serves refined but very genuine cuisine from Brazil’s northeast.
SETH KUGEL, A TRAVELLER: The thing that makes this place unique is that the chef has become super-world famous and yet he stayed here in the north zone.
RODRIGO OLIVEIRA, CHEF MOCOTO RESTAURANT: Me and my family, we are living here since ever. It makes sense being here because the clients are supporting us since the first day. They are from neighborhood.
The North is also where many of Sao Paulo’s great street-artists got their start as evidenced in this outdoor museum, and by evening it's home to many great bars.
FrangO is one of them: it offers 500 different beers and it’s famous for these chicken and cheese filled coxinhas. It’s also got some regulars with real north-zone spirit.
RODRIGO PAULINO DA COSTA, ENGLISH TEACHER: The North is like the countryside, you know, everybody knows each other. It’s like a small community and whenever you go you have fun.
Sao Paulo is not the only city with a lesser-known north.
Rio de Janeiro has one too. So I headed to its northern-most outpost: the island of Paqueta in Guanabara Bay. No glamorous beach promenades here…or even cars, but it’s full of charm and adequately supplied with Bermuda shorts. You know, in case you don’t arrive prepared.
You can get around the island by horse drawn carriage, but that’s pricey. I’m opting for a bike rental: just two dollars per hour.
There’s also bird-themed transportation, and I couldn’t resist taking a spin in one of these swan boats.
SETH KUGEL, A TRAVELLER: Um, I’ve always considered myself kind of a seafaring guy and this is just another example of my prowess at the helm.Oh my god, I’m coming into the beach. Whoa, hard, right!
Trying to get some help over here. Don’t put this in the video! I’m shipwrecked!
Okay, that wasn’t too emasculating, don’t worry about it.
In the North, just like in the fancier South, you can follow a day at the beach with a night of music.
You know, just your average Monday night in Zona Norte: humongous samba party.
The Renaissanca Clube was founded in the 1950’s by Afro-Brazilians who were excluded from Rio’s social clubs.
I’m happy to report that I had a great time, and happier to report no footage is available of me dancing; something I do even worse than riding a swan boat.
Source: nytimes

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