Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Touch of Britishness

Huge loss of brownie points for the World's Favourite Airline before I've even seen the plane. No separate Club check-in channel when I arrive (I would have been able to use it even though I'm only flying economy), then the real horror: No lounge at Sao Paulo airport! "It's not open today, Sir". "What do you mean, not open? You have two international flights departing from this airport." Not open. Should I throw in the "Don't you know who I am" card, but suspect it will get me nowhere. Or worse, a sarcastic comment relating to her knowing exactly who I am having just checked me in. Normally I wouldn't be so bothered, but could really do with internet (okay I mean "free internet") to work out what I'm doing for the rest of today. And it's running an hour late. And it's not even on a stand. We're going to be bused out to the 747. It can only get worse if I get an ultra-camp steward looking after my bit of the plane. Like I always do on Thai Airways.

The plan for today, which is evolving minute by minute, and which sets my next two months, , is to turn up in Buenos Aires, and try to get a flight immediately to Comodoro Rivadavia on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia. It's been quite difficult to work out where to fly to, as the hopeless maps in my guideboooks don't make it obvious what is connected to what by roads. I don't want to fly somewhere then find I have a 24 hour bus ride to get to my trek access town.

Small mercy is that there is only one airport in BA (well, that I know about) - whereas most big cities here have separate domestic and international airports. I did briefly manage to check the Aerolineas Argentina website yesterday, and there are four flights a day operated by Austral, though their web site said there weren't any (or no availability) for today. Perhaps it just can't deal with next-day bookings though. So turn up and try to do that. Web site said cost was a shade under £100, which isn't bad for a 2 1/2 hour flight.

Amusingly the "amazing deal" Air Pass you can buy if you're a foreigner (you have to buy it outside the country and have a return international ticket) gives you flights for (I think) US$ 260 per flight, and you have to buy at least two or three flights. What a great deal when you can book it for a third less directly! Plus once you've got that you're restricted to Aerolineas Argentina - I know LADE also flies to Comodoro Rivadavia, and you never know, there might be a few dodgy airlines that I'll tell Mum about once I've survived the flight!

And if I can't sort that out today, I'll have to find somewhere to stay. The airport in Buenos Aires is bloomin' miles out of the city and there's only a pricey bus service to and fro, which is fairly irritating. Perhaps I should just kip in the airport - after all, this is what backpacking is all about, eh? ;)

Very Italian - Barbara's favourite pizzaria

What on earth is that?!

Observations as I leave Brazil
They are into their "Pão de Queijo" here. They are little round puff balls filled with cheese, sold in cafes everywhere. One almost has the impression that cheese doesn't count in diets here. I had a "Light Wrap" yesterday in Fran's Cafe and honestly, it must have had a fistful of melted cheese in it. I'm not complaining mind, just "observing" :) Furthermore a "large" cappuccino is about the size of two expressos.

On the roads - Brazil is accident central. I don't think I've seen so many cars involved in accidents in any country in the world. I've witnessed two in the three weeks I've been here, and have seen countless others minutes after the event. Seatbelts on in the taxi!

I have been to many countries where it could be said that one can, as it were, bat well above your average. Mostly this is because the countries are poor, and girls chase money - and why not? Here in Brazil, however, is unique in that the same happens but for different reasons - here there are just so many attractive girls that the bar has been raised somewhat. Girls who back home in London would have men tripping over and head-turning here do not even get second glances. You see this effect itself in geeky spotty short chaps walking along the street with model-material hanging off their arm. Of course, this happens everywhere to a certain extent. Not like here though! Why am I leaving?!!

Swanky bars

..with swanky toilets. Which door would you choose?!

On the plane now. In economy. Further delays experienced due to problems with brakes, which was tactfully explained by the Captain. As Paul was saying to me, with lots of problems it's a difficult line to tread between explaining that a problem is serious enough to warrant disrupting the schedule,without frightening people, or annoying them because the issue seems insignificant. I wonder whether the issue with brakes was there on landing - presumably if so, nothing would be said about that! Mother with two children next to me. Our hostess, Clare, is playing with one of the children, a little boy who must be about 3 and his little soft toy BA jumbo. Delightful moment: "Where are the doors [on the toy plane]?", she asks. In all seriousness he says to her "It's not real, you know".

Useful stuff from the BA inflight mag:

1. The Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze doesn't get flooded till 2008, so there's still a chance to see it! Adrian, get your backside out here!

2. Malaysia celebrates 50 years of independence this year, with celebrations culminating in an enormous party on August 31st. Hopefully I'll be around there then!

3. Nobu Matsuhisa (he of Nobu restaurants worldwide) recommends a place called Daiwa, a tiny sushi bar in inner market in Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, where the omakase (chef's choice) is the thing to have - apparently the toro and red snapper nigiri are "out of this world"!

Right, back to reading the Telegraph and Guardian, and the fun of contrasting their stories. T: European economy on a downturn. G: Euros never been better and we're missing out. T: Independent study has shown that immigrants add practically nothing to the economy. G: Our economy couldn't survive without them. The only thing they (and I) agree on is the outrageous rail price rises. Another rant for another day...

Update: I'm off to Patagonia this evening! Hurrah!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cant believe you are publicly admitting to reading the Guardian! Your Chingford East Conservative selection may be at risk!