In less than 60 days the World Cup will kick off here in São Paulo. For those who don’t have tickets to the opening game, an official place has been designated in Anhangabau for people to gather and watch the action from a big screen. If you are unfamiliar with the Anhangabau neighbourhood, it’s a pretty rundown area in the centre of the city…and it is also home to one of the most eccentric bars I’ve ever seen in my life.
When I renamed this blog a few months ago, I did so with the intention of reviewing some of the places in this city that you’re not likely to find in any guide books; I will start with this bar.
So, why is it so strange?
Well, if you’ve ever caught yourself thinking ‘I just wish my Brazilian barman looked a little bit more like Osama Bin Laden’, this is the drinking hole for you. Just down the road from where the official Fan Fest in Anhangabau will be held is ‘The Bin Laden Bar’ (Bar do Bin Laden).
It is next to the Hotel Cambridge and is very popular with fans of rock music (who’ve rated it 4.1 out of 5 on the bar’s Facebook page). Most weekends, drinkers will spill out onto the street in their black clothes to socialise and listen to music like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC…and drinks are served courtesy of Francisco Fernandes (Or Francisco Laden as he likes to call himself). According to his Tumbler page, after 9/11 someone called the cops to inform them that Osama was actually working as a barman in São Paulo, believing Fernandes to be the real deal.
Now, if I were told I looked like the most notorious criminal of the 21st century I’d probably shave off my beard, dye my hair and buy myself a new wardrobe. But when the police visited Francisco he was so pleased with the comparison, he decided to change the name of his bar (It used to be Galeria do Rock) and then further promote his new-found notoriety with a couple of Brazilian TV show appearances.
My friend lives very close to this place, and I’ve walked past the bar on numerous occasions, looking in very suspiciously each time that I’ve passed it. Then recently curiosity got the better of me and my friends, and we decided to see what it was like inside.
Adorning the walls are at least a hundred pictures of Francisco in his Bin Laden attire, smiling alongside patrons of the bar. I’m not gonna lie; the pride this guy has about being a Bin Laden look-a-like is pretty unsettling. Interestingly, he is on every picture on the wall except one. The only picture he doesn’t feature on is in the snooker area.
Wanna know who that picture is of? Well if you guessed Jesus Christ, you’d be absolutely right!
I left there feeling pretty confused!
Bar do Bin Laden- 9 de Julio 232, Sao Paulo, SP