Summary, or TL;DR.
TL;DR: Another week, another work trip. Following a successful Thanksgiving weekend, I flew off to São Paulo — my second trip this year! The timing of this trip is more remarkable, considering I had previously never crossed the equator until the earlier trip in April.
In any event, this marked my final work trip of the year, and it was an unexpected delight.
Picking up on the last post, I started this week a day early. I had to leave town for work, to make it from San Francisco to São Paulo by Tuesday.
Fortunately, though I was traveling on a busy day, I made it to Brazil without any issues.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get an upgrade crossing from SFO to IAD — or for the more important IAD to GRU overnight flight — so I was dead tired when I landed in São Paulo. Fortunately, the Renaissance Hotel knew I was arriving early (before noon), and I was able to check in.
Though I’d been to São Paulo just a few months prior, the approach into the city reminded me of San Francisco. The low clouds and foggy haze combined with the hills to remind me a bit of home.
I was smarter this time, and grabbed a taxi that could take the express lanes into the city. I was excited for a nap, and just a few moments away falling into a heavy nap, when a friend pinged me on Facebook Messenger. He was 3 blocks down the street.
I’d known Luis for many years — all the way back to high school in Tampa. He eventually moved to DC after I’d moved there for college, and we had some overlapping circles of friends.
He now works for the Organization of American States, which is kind of like the United Nations, but focussed on JUST the Americas. We don’t hear much about it in the United States, but the OAS is an important forum for Latin American countries to bring up economic, environmental, and human rights issues.
Luis noticed my check-in or post on Facebook, and pinged me. We didn’t have much time, as he was on his way out of the country — he’d come from Argentina the day before — and had a day to explore São Paulo for his first time in Brazil.
With just about an hour before he needed to run to the airport, and me being incredibly groggy, we caught up on life over an espresso. Then he was off to Peru for more work, and I was off to crash for about 40 minutes before dinner.
Dinner was a feast. During my previous trip, a group of us spent an evening at D.O.M. — one of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” (number 30 this year) — but right around the corner is a spot called Dalva e Dito, a sister restaurant to the famed D.O.M.
At a mere one Michelin Star, the food wasn’t as over-the-top, and the experience wasn’t as drawn out, as its famous counterpart. Instead, Dalva e Dito served very traditional Brazilian dishes with high quality ingredients and slightly smaller portions.
The meal was delicious, and I was ready to pass out.
Sleepy in São Paulo
I built in a one day buffer to acclimate and account for any travel delays. Getting to Brazil from San Francisco not long required a layover, and it required traveling on the busiest travel day of the year — the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Tuesday was hardly a leisurely day. For one, the pool at the Renaissance was closed for resealing and remodeling work. So my Havaianas had to stay put 🙁
But more importantly, I had a chance to meet with our local Solutions Partner, e-Core Solutions, in their brand new, Atlassian-inspired office, near the Moema district.
Between the hour each way in Ubers, the meetings, and the buffet lunch, I saw a lot of the city, but didn’t get a chance to explore much.
I had one moment of solitude before two days of delivering training. I found a moment to step out of the hotel for a walk, and I found myself at a cafe. My original plan was to work, but I dropped that idea and just relaxed with an Aperol Spritz in hand.
The servers looked at me weird when I asked for an espresso, too, but we got past it.
After the quick reset and a quick sync with work, I was ready for dinner.
I can’t recall the number of times Bráz Pizzaria came up in conversations about São Paulo, but it was on my list of places to try during this trip. Luckily for me, I have coworkers who can read my mind.
The food in São Paulo surprised me with its range and richness. Pizza is fairly standard fare in the US, but it’s not what one might expect to be a staple in Brazil, where traditional ingredients aren’t bread mozzarella cheese, and olives. Maybe it has something to do with Italian immigration to Brazil…
We ordered an “Italian Sausage Bread,” two pizzas, and a salad. It was simple and delicious. One item I couldn’t find on the menu, but I saw at a table — Georgian Khachapuri. A flatbread dish with melted cheese cheese and an egg mixed in.
Not pictured above are two enormous side salads that complimented the Brazilian-style cheesy bread goodness.
Time to work
I wasn’t in São Paulo for vacation, and two days of running training brought me right back to reality. The picture above was the only real photo I was able to take all day. It was a nice reminder that it was summer outside, and that I was in the heart of an incredible metropolis in an unfamiliar corner of the world.
The dual simultaneous Portuguese and Spanish translators that helped me during the training were another clear reminder of how far away from home I was.
Our partner meal was at Fogo de Chao, a restaurant I’ve never been to before. It was surprisingly good, and with unlimited grilled meats, salad bar, and drinks, in a semi-private space, it was a perfect fit for our group.
I wrapped up training with our Solutions Partners on Thursday afternoon. The week of conversations about ITSM and strategies for talking about Atlassian with customers had come to an end, and I’d be heading home in just a few hours — my flight time was just before midnight.
My original plan was to join the rest of the team at an Atlassian User Group (AUG), being hosted not far from our hotel. But then it started to storm. I skipped the meet up, and went for a walk instead.
My friend, Luis, had suggested a coffee place he stopped by earlier in the week — Catarina Coffee & Love. The little shop was nestled inside a boutique clothing shop on the very posh-feeling Rua Oscar Freire.
I spoke with the barista for a bit while sipping on a pour over. He told me about Brazil’s coffee industry, and how different coffee producers are trying out different methods with their products, like fermenting their beans. I must have spent 40 minutes at the shop, just chatting about coffee and chocolate.
Yes, chocolate came up. And my new friend had several chocolates to choose from (it was impressive, considering the small amount of space he was operating. He sold me on bringing back some experimental chocolates, made with beans harvested from wild cacao trees found in the Amazon.
He said the chocolate tasted like cheese. How could I resist?
Fortunately, one of the perks that comes from flying so much for work is the idea of upgrade certificates from United. They don’t always work, but one came through at the last minute for the long redeye back to DC.
Ready for home
The second leg of my trip didn’t include lie-flat seating, but I pretty much just passed out after running from one of the (still weird) Dulles Airport “mobile lounges,” through Global Entry, grabbed my bag, re-checked it, ran to my gate, and hopped on my flight to San Francisco as boarding started — all in under an hour.
I took a break from the nearly 20 hours in transit, from my hotel to San Francisco International Airport, by relaxing at United’s (relatively) new Polaris Longe. Atlassian even greeted me with an ad for our newly-acquired product, Opsgenie, after I collected my luggage!
Overall, this trip was one of the more exhausting work excursions I had all year. The previous trip to São Paulo had a week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attached to to the end, giving me something to look forward to before switching time zones again. Everything was also new, having never been South America before. But with this trip, I was ready to be home.
Relieved to be home for a few weeks, but also reflective of the travel I’d put in for the year, we caught a movie Saturday night.
Back in the bay, we spent Saturday on a nice, long bike ride to Muir Beach. It was the first time in weeks that I was in town and the air quality wasn’t poor from the fires near Chico.
By the late afternoon, the sky had a few scattered clouds. They were perfect for capturing the fleeting moments before sunset.