After a 7-hour trip from the southern city of Curitiba, I arrive in a very modern bus at my destination, the Tieté bus station of São Paulo. The transportation service there is very good, with lots of modern buses running to all the cities in the country.

Right inside the Tieté bus station, you can take the Metrô to the centre of the city. This highly efficient Metrô runs from 6 AM to 12 PM, with wagons filled at all hours. The cleanliness encountered is a great surprise for such a big city.

São Paulo is a really big city - 5th largest in the world in fact. And while there are lots of people everywhere, they are very nice people, polite, hopeful and cheerful. At all regular and odd hours, you can find a mixture of people from anywhere in the world.

Transit is the big problem for this city. Daily restrictions each week are meant to address traffic density but the continuous growth simply shorts out any solutions to the issue. Most of the car fleet is Brazilian, with Fords, VWs, Fiats and Peugeots making up the majority. The Brazilian Mercedes Class A is a common sight as well and mostly driven by women.

Did I say Brazil? Or Japan? Did I miss the airplane? Where am I? Well, no. Below is a view of São Paulo's Bairro da Liberdade (neighborhood of liberty), a Japanese community with kanji lettering on the buildings. Outside of Japan, Brazil enjoys the greatest Japanese population in the world. This immigration started at the end of the 19th century, with people from Japan arriving in droves to work in the large coffee plantations of mainly the São Paulo area. This community grew strong and united and today, traditional Japanese meals are common in the supermarkets and every restaurant serves sushi and other Nipponese dishes.

If you're on a very tight budget, Hostelling International is a good option for the traveller. It's located in the centre of São Paulo and for US $15/day, one can sleep in a clean room with aerial TV, a small fridge and a complete breakfast. The receptionists are all young folks eager to help the foreign arrivals. Besides the price, there's a special feature that makes Hostelling International my preferred location in the city - the possibility for cultural encounters with adventurous souls from all around the world. This communal spirit it is not found in any hotel I have been to before.

Brazil has a very rich culinary culture to welcome its foreign guests who are bound to try a caipirinha, a delicious drink made from cachaça sugar cane juice, fresh lemons, sugar and ice. If the cachaça stems from the Minas Gerais region, better yet - but beware, while it goes down so smoothly as to deceive how many glasses you've already swilled, you won't be able to stand up afterwards!

The natives also love their feijão (black beans) with rice and meat, especially if the meat is cooked in the incomparable ways of the churrascarias where for a fixed price, you can eat all kinds of meat cuts from the cow, chicken or sheep and all night long. Be sure to also sample their pale beers in the different brands from all over the country. These guys surely know how to please the palate.

Being a country of many cultures, Brazilian music is a scintillating blend of different musical types with a rainbow of hues to serve all tastes. Played in the streets, there's the envigorating Samba, the romantic Sertaneijo from the sertão region, tunes from the Amazon Indians, Sambas de enredo from de Rio carnival, Axé from Bahía and Forró from the country's NorthEast. These people love their music and it is everywhere you go. Now I can begin to understand why the carnival in Rio is the most famous in the world - Brazilians have music percolating in their very blood. In my hostel, Gil ( the guy in red T-shirt) leads a class on Brazilian percussion every Wednesday as just another one of the many unique services on tap. .