Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rio de Janeiro - we are HERE

We flew LAN http://www.lan.com/en_ca/sitio_personas/index.html to Sao Paulo with a stopover in Lima.  The flight was long but I really enjoyed flying with LAN, they served us hot meals and the meals included beverages, including wine/beer etc.  Now one thing we were not expecting was that we would have to get off the plane in Lima but we were told we had to disembark because the crew was changing and the plane needed cleaning.  We got off and we weren’t too sure where to go, we followed the signs for In Transit passengers, what this meant is we had to go thru security again.  Although it went very fast as I believe it was only for in transit people but not a 100% sure.  The security is lighter in Lima than in Canada/US as we didn’t have to remove shoes, they didn’t seem to care that we had water in our water bottles.  We went right back to our gate and waited and they allowed those in transit to board the plane first.

stop for lunch, an espresso and practice some of our Portuguese

When we arrived in Sao Paulo we were had to go thru Brazilian customs/immigration.  On the plane we were given the form for the tourist card.  When we arrived at the customs agent they stamped our passports and our card and gave us back the tourist card.  Now make sure to keep that card because you have to turn it in when you leave the country.  We then had to pick up our suitcases and then leave the customs area (oh they put our bags thru the x ray too).  Note there are duty free shops in the airport that you can buy your stuff at and then put in your suitcase before your next flight.  We did buy a bottle of Baileys and Vodka to enjoy on the ship, prices were okay, certainly cheaper that Canada but not much of a savings for American from what I heard. 

 We now had a few hours to kill 2.5 to be exact until our flight to Rio.  We could of booked an earlier flight but we didn’t want to risk it and miss it.  And with having to go thru customs and re checking in at the TAM counter.  We had a small bite to eat and then we decided to head to our gate.  Our flight was boarding at an International gate, even though the flight was a domestic one.  So again we went thru security and the customs agent checked our passports and wanted to see the tourist card, we gave it to him and he said that was all.  But I knew I needed that tourist card!  So I asked for it back and after he realized we were heading to Rio and not leaving Brazil he gave it back to us.  Note that if you loose that tourist card it pricy when you do decide to leave the country!

airport in Sao Paulo, all the terminals in the same building and accessible

Arriving in Rio was a cinch… bags took a long time to get there but as soon as we had them we cleared the secure area and before you even exit the door to the main airport there were women in little booths trying to get your attention to take their taxi/shuttle rides to the city.  We had already arranged a shuttle with ShuttleRio http://shuttlerio.com.br/home/en/en/ and our meeting place was right outside the secure area.  We were picked up right on schedule and the ride to the hotel was about 20 minutes.  The price of the shuttle was 15R each, a real bargain. 

our hotel, about a 15 min walk from Leblon, highly recommend, beautiful resort

We are staying at the Sheraton in Leblon.  This hotel is one that Princess uses but we booked it independently.  We were assigned a room on the fifth floor initially and when we first entered we noticed a large king bed and the view was amazing but that is where it ended, lots of stains on the carpet, paint chipped on the walls, wall in the bathroom had stains on it.  The closet door was very hard to open/close, the bathroom only had a large shower stall that was tiled and we really needed to clean up so we decided on a quick shower but as soon as I stepped in the shower I slipped cause there was no shower matt and the tiles were very slippery.  The facet was loose and the face plate was disconnected.  The soap dish in the shower was not tight and couldn’t hold a thing without it swinging around because it was so loose.  I got out of the shower and called down to the front desk to state how disappointed I was in the room.  I explained we are here for six nights and considering the price this room would not do.  They then assigned us to a room on one of their renovated floors, the 16th.  This room is much better, new carpets, bathtub, closet doors open/shut, very nice and I am happy. 

check out this view from our room, beautiful!

Cause tonight we are tired and we want to get to bed early we head downstairs to one of their restaurants and I had a lovely Portuguese Pizza that had ham, onions, peas, cheese, and cooked egg.  It was very very good, and the surroundings were breathless.  We hit the hay around 11 pm.

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