the travel geek

"Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form."

Sao Paulo Metro

Did I mention that it was cold in Sao Paulo? As I head into the levels below the city streets I’m relieved to find warmth.

I also discover that there are no readily available handheld transit maps and Sao Paulo’s underground is as nebulous as that found in London or New York. This drives me to the surface with a need to find an open internet connection and some sort of transit app.

No luck on that front. It takes me a couple of days to figure out that internet in hotels is difficult to come by — but some restaurants have freely available connections. You just need to ask for a password.

Instead I find a nice woman at a tourist booth who has an old map. She hand-draws the stops that are not shown and gives it to me. I’m told that stops open and close frequently, and station names change even more. It’s most disruptive when the line name changes. After a 2-minute Sao Paulo Transit 101 lesson, I’m ready to try again.

Single tickets are all I attempted to purchase. The lines for the transit swipe pass were horrendously long and saying “um bilhete” to a man/woman in a little wooden booth seemed way less stressful then trying to figure out the inner intricacies of a per-use chargeable card (the Bilhete Único rules are rather eye popping — even in English).

I think the metal railing below are to prevent shoving and fights, which is apparently quite common during rush hour.

Note the coloured strips on the ground… I think those direct you to a different coloured lines. I didn’t spend a lot of time examining the ground, however. Stops are well labelled and once you have a map you just need to pay attention.

Some key Portuguese words are: saída (exit), entrada/entre (enter), bilhete (ticket), and embarque (boarding).

To the left of the picture below is one cool discovery. You can purchase best selling books in vending machines in stations. It’s cool that you can do that, however, it’s probably an indicator that the daily transit commute for the average person must be long and very enduring.

First destination: Sé. It’s close and to get there I only need to change transit lines once.

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