March 2, 2023
Yesterday was a sea day, and we had a guest chef do a cooking demonstration with our executive chef, Farid. The guest chef was Philippe Boulot who is currently the Executive Chef at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Oregon. He has a varied and prestigious background and has won many important honors. He said he oversees 5 restaurants that serve a total of 3000 meals a day. Yet, he finds the culinary operation on the ship extraordinary. The menu he created was Beef Wellington with sauteed spinach, morels and butter whipped potatoes. He also told us how to make the dish with salmon. The dish will be served in the main dining room in a few days since they don’t allow any tasting at these demonstrations since the pandemic. Wise move.
Our tour today was to Santos, which is the port city near Sao Paulo, one of the most populous cities in the world (currently 4th?) Last time we toured Sao Paulo and it took a very long time to get there and twice as long to get back, so this time we decided to see Santos.
Here are two pictures of our sail in. The white building is a fort that once stood as protection from pirates.
Our guide was Pedro. He gave us information about the city – it is the biggest port in South America, 10 miles long. We had to travel in quite a long estuary to get here this morning. The main exports are coffee, sugar and (a surprise), orange juice! In fact there is a pipeline from the orange juice plant to the port itself where it is loaded onto ships for export.
We had a long drive along the beautiful and wide beaches. The city has a series of 7 canals to control flooding. The beach areas seem to be divided by where the canals start.
The minimum wage here is $300/month which Pedro compared to the salary of Thomas Lemar, a famous soccer player, which is $200 million/ year. The city has 450,000 inhabitants and Sao Paulo by comparison has 15 million. A funny thing that Paolo was talking about (and with his accent)- was that there are many cycle paths. Some of the people on the tour thought he was saying “psychopaths” so that took a bit of explaining and after that he called them bike paths!
The tour had three stops. First we went to the Santos Futebol Clube which is where the world famous Pele got his start when he was only 15. He only played on two teams, this one and then the Cosmos in NY. My dad was a huge Pele fan and I remember going to see the Cosmos with him many times. The club is really more of a museum to Pele and other stars. The many trophies on display are quite impressive. The matches are mostly on weekends, so the field was empty and we could see it from one of the doors.
Our next stop was the Zoobotanical Orchid Park. This was a very serene park that we spent about an hour wandering through. The orchid house is closed and you had to look quite closely to find any as they bloom from the trees. We did spot these two.
There were several animals and lots of birds. One of the animals is the agouti. They look like a squirrel without the tail and they roam free in the gardens and bury fruits and seeds. They are quick and I couldn’t get a good shot but here’s the best I could do.
Here are some of the other birds we saw.
There were other animals, many turtles and even a small alligator. It was hot today and this garden was delightful because of all of the shade.
Our last stop was the coffee museum. The building itself is just beautiful. It was the former Coffee Stock Market and was opened in 1922 to focus, arrange and control coffee transactions. This took place in the main hall of the building (Auction Room) until the end of the 1950s. It was opened as a museum in 1988 to preserve and disseminate the history of coffee in Brazil.
As we drove around the city, Pedro said that they have all of the American based food places – McDonalds, Subway, etc. But even we couldn’t help him with this one!
Tomorrow we arrive in Rio for 2 days. The second day is the end of this segment of the cruise for many guests and of course, the beginning of our next segment from Rio to Cape Town.