Denmark’s Jonas Helding arrived in Brazil in 1995 on a backpacking holiday and wanted to stay. After being looked after by a Brazilian family in the North-East, he fell in love with Brazil and decided he wanted to call it home. He now lives and works in São Paulo and has some great ideas on where to go and what to see.
Where are you from?
What brought you to Brazil?
I first visited Brazil as part of a trip around the world in 1995. In 1996, I worked half a year as an English teacher in São Lus do Maranhão. I lived with a Brazilian family, who treated me very well – as part of the family. That’s when I realized how lovely this country is and that I wanted to live here.
What do you do here?
I work at the Danish Consulate General as an Export Consultant
What do you miss about Denmark?
Obviously I miss my family and friends a lot. I can’t say that I miss Denmark or the Danish population in general, but Denmark during the summertime is absolutely lovely. The Danish people tend to smile more and treat each other better, when the weather is nice.
What do you most like about Brazil?
I like the people a lot. I was especially well treated by the people in São Lus, who opened their home and heart to me and let me become a part of their lives. I also like Brazilian food, the weather (but not São Paulo during the winter time), the beautiful nature and the fact that Brazilians are always ready for partying and having a good time.
What is your favourite restaurant in Brazil?
I enjoy going to churrascarias. I also like to go to O Velhão (www.velhao.com.br) on Sundays. The food is good there, but nothing special – it’s the whole atmosphere that I like!
Have you tried feijoada? Did you like it?
Of course I have tried feijoada! I don’t always like it. It all depends on how it has been prepared and the quality of the ingredients, which have been used. If it is made of good quality ingredients, I like it, but if it is full of fat and bones, it’s certainly not my favourite.
What difference between Denmark and Brazil do you find most striking?
Obviously the size of the country, the huge social differences (which hardly exist in Denmark), the weather and nature and the people as well. People are very hospitable and helpful in Brazil – especially when you leave São Paulo.
What are 2 things you would recommend to do for a visitor to São Paulo?
Well that all depends on who the visitor is – age etc. However, if the visitor is a likeminded friend I would recommend the following:
Enjoy the views of São Paulo from Terrao Itlia
Take a drive around São Paulo – preferably when the traffic isn’t too intense (don’t ask me when that is) – in order to try to get an idea how huge this city is.
Try some of the many good restaurants and in general go out a lot at night. I would recommend looking for Brazilian bars, where Brazilian music is played instead of hanging out in all the foreign inspired pubs, which you can find almost alike all around the world. I personally enjoy Barnaldo Lucrcia: (www.barnaldolucrecia.com.br).
Try to get invited to a Saturday or Sunday afternoon churrasco – preferably something not too fancy, as they tend to be boring. Normal churrascos where people eat a lot of meat, drink a lot of beer and dance to samba, pagode and Ax music are often much more worthwhile going to.
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