|Sao Paulo's Ibirapuera Park, one of the city's lungs.|
is a very peculiar city in many ways. Probably it's the only major "tropical" city in the world that doesn't feel all that tropical at all.
Let's start by saying that despite of its mild weather year round, it's NOT an outdoor city with a striking visual character such as Rio de janeiro or Salvador for example. When you think São Paulo, you think indoors - malls, restaurants, cinemas, museums, cafes, giant bookstores, art galleries, theaters, clubs, nightlife, you get the picture.
In Rio you have the view, the colors, the smells, the sensuality all around you, the laid-back nature of its people, their optimistic mood, etc... São Paulo is business-money driven. Paulistas are more on the individualistic side, more "serious" than Cariocas and have this reputation of being very demanding on the quality of services which, sometimes, is misinterpreted as arrogance by other Brazilians.
In GENERAL Brazilians are pretty much gregarious people, but social circles in São Paulo tend to be tighter than those in Rio and probably the rest of the country too, which means, Paulistas are very selective with the people that will make up their group of friends, which give us the reputation of being "cold". The typical Paulista have fewer but very good true friends.
Rio opens its arms to you like the inviting you to explore and enjoy it while São Paulo, at first, intimidates you, challenges you with its enormity and the harshness of its concrete jungle. Rio shows itself to you like a beautiful, tanned and semi-nude "Girl from Ipanema" seducing you, while São Paulo has to be conquered before the city reveals itself - you have to explore it, you have to be curious enough, adventurous enough and if you are, you just may fall in love.
Most likely you will dislike the city at a first glance - as it seems to be the usual reaction of people who see it for the first time. But if you give a chance to yourself and to the city, you will start to notice the subtle enchantments of the this giant - you will for sure be hooked!
So, when you visit Sao Paulo, don't let the dominate your perception, just relax and OBSERVE, feel it, let it soak in, it will definitely grow on you!
Oddly enough, São Paulo have this on going reputation among foreigners of being the most likely place they will end up after exploring all the rest of Brazil.
Keep in mind that is always advisable to have a local show you around São Paulo if you want to have the experience in "Sampa".
I know I am biased and that is easily explained by my true love for this great city ; )