My first night in the city was spent on the forty-second floor of the Edifício Itália, the second tallest building in the city, but the highest place in town to get a drink. Overcast as it was when we arrived, the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows was somewhat unremarkable, but as we finished our caiprinhas, the cloud began to lift and the city unfolded beneath us.
Britain is rightly proud of its track record of job creation, but a successful 21st Century economy requires more. Ahead of the 2015 Election, it is time for all parties to face up to the changing face of the labour market, and set out their commitments to building a more sustainable, productive and robust economy that offers opportunities for all workers, and cities, throughout the UK.
When we asked people to give us advice about going to Brazil, everyone always mentioned Rio de Janeiro. Rio this, Rio that, just go to Rio. But no one really said much about São Paulo. It seemed like people didn't really go there much. As our cab weaved through traffic in São Paulo's city center, our virgin eyeballs take in the first impressions of this rarely recommended city.
The election itself will inevitably focus on issues that matter most to voters - from jobs and housing to wages and welfare. But it is less well recognised that the election in 2015 will be determined primarily in our urban areas, and that the fortunes of each of the major political parties depend upon how they perform in, and help support, UK cities.
Art and travel, for the most part, go hand in hand. I imagine when you travel you have a fair few museums and galleries listed on your itinerary. But why are people so eager to spend their day inside an air-conditioned building looking at illusions of the world, when they could be out and about actually exploring the real world?
People go to the States for all kinds of reasons - to take a road trip, visit great cities like New York, see the fall colours, take the kids to Disneyland or hang out in Hollywood. It's not often that food is given as a reason for going, but because of its size and diversity, the USA is one of the best countries in which to enjoy great eating.
Beyond established hotspots such as the US and UK, there's a whole movement of other digital and creative hubs, from Nairobi to Recife and Jakarta to Cairo. Less obvious pools of ideas and talent: growing markets of youth consumers and the originators of new creative ideas, social innovation and cultural leadership.
It looks increasingly likely that the UK economy has now entered into a period of sustained recovery, following the deepest peacetime recession in the last 100 years. But as the seventh edition of Cities Outlook shows, this recovery is far from balanced, and our cities need more control if they are to fulfill their potential.
This week I was a panellist at the launch event for the inaugural Ipsos MORI Top Cities survey - a worldwide poll that crowned London as the most popular city in Europe, but forced us to tip our bowler hats to New York as the global winner. But in amongst the data were a few fascinating phenomena...
George Osborne's budget yesterday rightly focussed on some of the issues vital to improving the economic performance of our cities, including increased access to housing, new infrastructure investment, and empowering our urban areas to take greater direct control of their economies themselves. But many of the policies announced will be implemented from 2015, meaning that this is a budget which more about growth tomorrow than growth today
Permutation upon permutation of exasperated expletives have been thrown at the now infamous Edinburgh Tram project. Each time I return to the city after a length of time on tour I expect the fervent dissing of the tram works to have quietened a little, that the city's drivers and pedestrians will have accepted the situation and moved on to another subject of complaint.
The late writer Christopher Hitchens wrote that when you come to New York, you go to bed an hour later and wake up an hour earlier, and I can confirm this anecdotally myself. Noradrenaline is the key 'wake-up' drug of the brain and it may be that the shear repeated novelty and stimulus of this great city is chemically flooding my brain with this brain-protecting substance.