The LAPT and BPT Grand Finals will soon be upon us and this time we don’t just have a poker main event tournament lined-up, but a big poker festival taking place during one of world most exciting festivities, the Carnival in Brazil!
Whether you’ve earned your spot to the LAPT Sao Paulo through one of the PokerStars satellites or you are a player that has planned your trip to buy-into direct to the LAPT tournaments, I’m really proud to write a short guide giving you an idea of what you will find in Brazil and how exciting your trip will be to our wonderful country.
Carnival is known worldwide, and I can assure now, that the majority of foreigners that travel to Brazil during this period will become regular “grinders” of our Carnival. But it is with pleasure that I get ahead of this and tell you what you’ll find here, helping to make your trip even more enjoyable.
For starters, let’s talk a little bit about São Paulo.
São Paulo is the financial, gastronomical and cultural center of Brazil, with an amazing nightlife and with a mix of cultures that is hard to find anywhere else in the world. The Italian, Middle Eastern and Japanese communities, among others, live peacefully here in São Paulo, and all of them having contributed a lot to the growth of this special city.
Your arrival in São Paulo will be at Cumbica Airport, which is far away from the event venue -approximately one hour cab ride, which will cost you something like R$180.00, so around US$100. When you leave the airport’s main hall, you’ll find a taxi cab office. Don’t worry these services work perfectly well here in São Paulo and my recommendation is the company Guarucoop, you can even pay them in advance with your credit card.
I would like to start my tips trying to change your mind regarding some “myths” that exist about Brazil and the city of São Paulo. Those myths were created by distorted images in movies and they have spread some unreal views that I would like to dispel.
The first one is related to violence. Yes, we do have violence here, but it is infinitely less than what the vast majority of people believe, and it can be compared to any big metropolis around the world. In the neighborhood around the Grand Finals venue, you’ll find amazing quality of life, total security and beautiful, kind people. But it’s not only in the places around the venue that you’ll find this, there are amazing places all around São Paulo, so please don’t come here worrying about violence, just enjoy all the fantastic places I’ll list for you.
Another important aspect I’d like to highlight is the unreal perception around the Carnival festivities. Some foreigners picture the Carnival with naked women, complete lack of organization – chaos essentially. Forget this. Carnival, our biggest party, is very well organized!
There are two big Carnival parades happening in the country during the LAPT Grand Final Carnival Poker Festival, one parade in Rio and the other in São Paulo. Those parades take place in specially created areas for the parties, with lots of security and organization. The biggest companies in the world book special VIP Box’s so their guests can watch the world biggest party. At the parade, a lot of samba schools will be showing their happiness, joy and friendliness, so that everyone can leave Sambódromo feeling like a parade winner. There are thousands of people that dedicate all the days of the year to that competition, looking to win that title. So, besides respecting this aspect of the party, have a lot of fun with it, share the happiness with of all the people and try to understand the competition and everything around it.
To participate in the Samba Schools Parade, you can buy tickets online or at the box offices at the Sambódromo. But it’s really important that you do that in advance, because all the parades usually get sold out. For more information, please visit this page or look for the LAPT Travel/Poker Reps who will have offices in the tournament venue to help all the players navigate the city.
If you are going to “Samba Avenue”, you’ll come across a lot of beautiful, happy people – a party like you never seen before, anywhere else! You will feel the emotion of all the performances by wonderful musicians. However, be careful not to drink too much, as excess will be punished by the police authorities who are very strict this time of the year, to prevent any kind of trouble.
Something that happens a lot with the Carnival newbies is to misinterpreting the signals of happiness and warmth towards strangers participating in the carnival, and are in return disrespectful. Keep in mind that a lot of the beautiful women and men there are accompanied by their husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, so have fun but always be respectful. The natives know exactly how to deal with that during Carnival, so if you follow along you’ll have one of the best times of your lives.
If parties like these are not your thing, you can always check out the multitude of other opportunities that São Paulo has to offer, to make your trip special.
Now, one of the thing we aren’t proud of is traffic. Although this is a problem worldwide in big cities, my advice is for you to be very strategic, like we are at the poker tables. The streets have less traffic during the period between 10am and noon, and after 8pm. But even during those periods you can still find some traffic jams, so try to book restaurants and go shopping in places near Sheraton Hotel.
Time to talk gastronomy!
Here in São Paulo you can find all kinds of different foods and cuisines, with many excellent restaurants near Sheraton’s neighborhood.
We have wonderful Japanese restaurants, like Mori Sushi, Italian restaurants like Cantina do Lellis, and especially the world famous Barbecue Houses, where they serve our traditional “churrasco”, which is Brazil’s most typical dish along “Feijoada”. To eat a top quality barbecue, go to “Fogo de Chão”, located at Av. Bandeirantes, really close to the event venue, a fantastic restaurant.
Another place that is worth to visit for really good meals is Rua Amaury, a street located 10 minutes away from the Sheraton Hotel. There you can find really nice restaurants, where you can try risottos, pasta, and meat dishes, and where you will certainly have an amazing time.
Maybe the city’s really outstanding characteristic is the nightlife. In São Paulo you can find all kinds of different nightclubs open every day of the week and always packed with beautiful people. From more traditional places with electronic music try DISCO and PINK ELEPHANT – both really close to the venue) to places where the play reggae, samba and country music – all of them with nice music and beautiful people. All those clubs are usually packed, with long lines at the door, so get yourself on the guestlist through the Concierge in the hotel lobby – so you don’t waste too much time waiting to get in! Here is a great website where you can find out more about São Paulo’s best parties.
If you like sports, São Paulo is also the place for you. Find some time to visit Parque do Ibirapuera, the city’s biggest park where you can play basketball, football, ride a bike and rollerblade but also enjoy nature. Parque do Ibirapuera is also near the tournament venue (10 minutes cab ride) and it’s worth to visit. It’s open from 6am to 10pm, but my advice is that you go earlier in the morning or late in the afternoon, because at this time of the year the heat is really intense.
Almost beside Sheraton you’ll find ‘Shopping Morumbi’, a shopping mall that is widely regarded as one of São Paulo’s best. They offer lots of clothes and department stores. However, if you like something fancier, go to Rua Oscar Freire, that is a dream come true for the fashion conscious crowd. Here, the world’s most renowned brands of clothing have their shops, so if your wife or girlfriend decides to go there, hide your credit card!
I’ll be looking forward to helping our visitors and PokerStars players around the world in everything they need. I’ll be at the Sheraton playing all the LAPT and BPT events, so don’t be shy: look out for me and ask for more tips about the city, sporting events, carnival parties and anything else. Come with your heart open, and be ready to experience one of the most amazing parties in the world and to know people that are looking forward to welcome you here in the best possible way.
See you at the PokerStars events during the Carnival!Back to Top