11-12 March 2007
30 hours from bed to bed, I finally arrived safely in my hotel room in São Paulo. The trip has been an eye opening experience thus far – this little girl has been too spoilt by the creature comforts of Qantas and was slightly mortified by the age of the Aerolinas Argentinas planes and the less than tempting food proffered by this lovely airline.
The flight from Sydney to Auckland (the first transit point) was thankfully short – a little snooze and the first of many stale bread rolls later, we rolled off the plane and headed for the transit lounge. The next leg – the long haul from Auckland to Buenos Aires was hard. The turbulence we experienced an hour out of Auckland was frightening – like a roller coaster without the safety harness which sent chills down my spine. A number of passengers were genuinely scared and let out a few cries of anguish. However, within minutes, all was smooth sailing again and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Buenos Aires airport was welcoming, and I took myself to their transit lounge to await my connecting flight in 3 hours time. As I was pretty exhausted by this point, I sat down near the boarding gate and caught some shut eye. With no foreign language aids (which country was I in again??) I soon found myself following the crowd that was hurtling towards the gate to embark on my final leg from Buenos Aires to São Paulo.
Once on the plane, squeezed into my tiny window seat on the tiny plane, I along with the rest of the plane sat impatiently waiting for the plane to pull away from the gate. More than 2 hours later, an announcement was made to the annoyance of most of the passengers on board. Not understanding a word of the announcement, I noticed people getting up and retrieving their bags from the overhead compartments with raised voices, and I frantically looked to my neighbours for an explanation. It appeared there was something wrong with the plane and we were to disembark and wait for further instructions. So back to the transit lounge we went – it was to be another 3 hours before we were to finally leave the airport.
Mercifully, the final leg of my journey was without incident. I landed in São Paulo to be greeted with a massive line to clear customs. Another 40 minutes of waiting and I was finally accepted into the country. Armed with my very limited Portuguese (courtesy of a fairly drunk Suz from Saturday evening), I was able to locate a taxi to take me to the hotel.
Oh, and Suz, you were right about the taxi drivers – thanks for the heads up – we flew down the highway at 120km/hr!
Just before midnight, the Mercure Jardins loomed in front of me, and I checked in to a room with a king sized bed, all ready to be Mrs Adrian Howick for a week – I’ll explain this one later.
At the time of handwriting this episode, it was well past midnight and I was awaiting Room Service to deliver a grilled rump to my room – anything that did not resemble stale and soggy bread rolls would be enticing. My Brazilian adventures have begun.