16. IGU-GRU on JJ in Y

16. IGU-GRU on JJ in Y

Foz de Iguacu, Brazil – Sao Paulo

JJ 3556

Departure Time: 6:00 AM

Airbus 320

Economy Class Seat 4F

Duration 1 hour, 45 minutes

Out of all of our flights so far, none have allowed us to do online check-in yet and send boarding passes to our mobile phone, until now.  And this is ironic, because the last random airport I figured would have mobile boarding pass capability was the tiny outpost of Foz de Iguacu, Brazil.  But sure enough, the day before we got an e-mail inviting us to check-in, and when we did we were able to get boarding passes on our phone.  This was great since this was a 6AM flight, meaning we had to be up at our Posada in Argentina at 4:00AM, in our pre-arranged taxi at 4:30AM, across the Argentina border, into Brazil, and into the airport by 5AM.  The last thing we wanted was to get there sooner to get a boarding pass.

Once we arrived at Foz de Iguacu airport, at around 5AM, it was very crowded.  It turns out there was a 5:45AM departure to Curtiba, Brazil, and our 6AM departure on TAM to Sao Paulo.  The check-in line was long, but with our mobile boarding passes, we cleared security and were at the gate by 5:10AM.

This flight is our only on the trip of a million lifetimes in which we actually paid out of pocket.  We started the open-jaw of our AA Oneworld Explorer Award when getting off the plane at Puerto Iguazu, Argentina (IGR), and pick up with our ANA Award Ticket in Sao Paulo (GRU).  In between, we had to get from the Iguazu Falls area to Sao Paulo.  We found economy tickets on Expedia on TAM for $59 each from IGU to GRU, so we made it happen.

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The boarding area at Foz de Iguacu

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The airplane to take us to Sao Paulo as seen walking up on the tarmac in the early morning.  While we had mobile boarding passes, when entering the jetway they were not scanned, just a visual check from the flight attendant.  I thought this was interesting.

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On-board we had some badly needed waters, and some snack boxes which included some toast and Brazilian cream cheese and jam spread.
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The leg room on this TAM A320 was awful.  I don´t know what the seat pitch was, but my knees were literally jammed up to the seat in front of me.
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Interestingly, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), a global consulting firm, sponsored the headrest covers on this plane.

During the flight, Lady Tocqueville and I discussed how much we were looking forward to resuming Business Class flights as part of our Business Class trip.  We had been fortunate to bounce around South America, although many of these flights are economy only.  And with 6AM departures, and knees-to-the-seat seat pitch, we are ready to start to hit some of those long-haul flights on premium carriers.

We landed at Sao Paulo without incident, and enjoyed another remote-stand bus ride into the terminal.  From there we bought tickets on the Airport Express Bus, where for about $15USD a person we had a comfy seat on a coach bus for our ride into Sao Paulo. It was about an hour´s ride into the city, and by 10:30AM we arrived at the entrance of the Renaissance Hotel in Sao Paulo´s Paulista district.

South America: Quick and Dirty Photo Highlights as Seen From my Camera Phone

With our time in South America winding down, I thought I would share some “quick and dirty” photo highlights, of photos coming only from my camera phone.  We have a stronger, more robust Canon G15, but here is just a quick gallery of some sights from my HTC One Camera Phone.

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Monster lobsters at the Mercado Central in Sao Paulo
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While coming into the land border of Brazil from Argentina, Brazillian customs were obviously very busy… someone was checking out the Victoria Secret catalog
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At the base of Iguazu Falls on the Argentina/Brazil border
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The view from our hostel “penthouse” in Buenos Aires
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VIP Wine Tasting, outside, at Bodega La Rural in Mendoza, Argentina (more to come on this later)
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Gaucho napping at an outdoor churrasco in the Andes in Mendoza province Argentina
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The abandoned Moai quarry of Easter Island
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Politically incorrect candy, made by Nestle, in Peru
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Dinner at Astrid y Gaston in Lima, rated as one of the Top 50 restaurants in the world
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The view of Macchu Picchu down in the valley, taken from the higher terraces of Macchu Picchu
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The Apurmaric river outside of Cuzco, which we spent 2-3 hours whitewater rafting down through Class II – IV rapids

That’s it for now.  Remember, these are just hasty camera phone shots, and not “life menagerie” shots from our G15.  Those may come at a later day :-)

Sao Paulo, Brazil Lunch Mercado Central de Sao Paulo

As part of our sightseeing while in Sao Paulo, we strolled through the Central Market. It was full of fresh sea food, meats, fruits, nuts, and spices; a separate market had all the veggies. There were several food stands, and we chose the busiest one to grab a bite to eat. Tocqueville chose a shrimp and cheese pastel, which was much like an empanada.  It was served with olive oil and a spicy mustard sauce.  Having had enough fried cheese and dough concoctions, I chose to sample a fresh passion fruit juice.  We’ll let the pictures paint the picture for you.

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15. Secret Garden – Iguazu Falls, Argentina

15. Secret Garden – Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Secret Garden Posada

Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

3 nights paid cash (use Xoom to get the “blue market” rate 8.2 Argentine Pesos per 1 USD instead of official 5.5 Argentine Pesos per 1 USD rate).

Standard Room

As I mentioned in my last post, when we arrived in Puerto Iguazu Airport, it was cold and raining.  A cold front had moved in, and while the temperature there is typically 75F high and 50 low that time of year, for the first couple days we were there highs did not get past 48, lows around freezing, and alot of cold rain!  In fact, the first snowfall in almost 40 years was reported nearby.  Needless to say, it was a tough time to see the beautiful Iguazu Falls.

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Just one of many amazing snapshots of Iguazu Falls.  This angle being taken from the Brazillian side of the falls.

When it finally stopped raining, I stopped to get some snapshots of where we were staying, the Secret Garden.  It was 750 pesos per night for a quiet, standard guestroom.  The proprieter, John Fernandes, has 3-4 rooms he rents out.  For the 750 pesos a night, you also get a fresh continental breakfast in the morning, and an evening happy hour at 7PM with fresh, delicious Caipirinhas and homemade snacks like parmesan cheese balls, or bacon crumble cheese bread.  This gives you a great chance to unwind after spending all day at the Falls, and to meet the other guests.  During our time there, we met two Italian couples, and a couple from Texas.

John was in Buenos Ares attending to personal matters, so he delegated in his place a family friend named Bernardo to look after us.  Bernardo was a gracious surrogate host.  When we arrived, he gave us a quick tour of Puerto Iguazu in John´s borrowed truck.  When it was pouring rain, he gave us a ride to the downtown area to grab a bite to eat.  And during the happy hour, he sat down to chat with us and share with us stories of growing up in Argentina.  It was a treat to meet him and stay at this guesthouse.

Two marginal downsides to the Secret Garden are the internet only works in the public area of the property, and not in the rooms.  Additionally, there were no TVs in the room.  Normally, this is not a big deal because it is pleasant to be in the public area of the property, which is 90% outside in a beautifully maintained garden.  And you are hardly there anyway, exploring the falls and the surrounding region.  However, with record lows, really cold rain, and wind, ones hands get cold quickly using the Internet in the covered but cold public area.  And a TV would be nice to pass the time waiting for the weather to subside.  These are only marginal downsides, and during 95% of the year aren´t even noteworthy.  We just happened to be there during the big wet freeze!


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Entrance to the secret garden from the street
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Fresh fruit and jams for breakfast, along with strong Brazillian coffee
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A view of the entrance to our room
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The property´s mascot, Roxie the dog.
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A view of the guesthouses from the public area.  Note the cold wetness…
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The room itself, was comfortable in a basic kind of way.

We spent one day touring the Brazillian side of the falls, and the next day the Argentine side.  The falls are truly epic, and the national parks in Brazil and Argentina are very well maintained and signposted.  This was truly a majestic place.  On the second day, on the Argentine side, the sun finally came out, and it started to warm up.  So we had the unique experience of seeing the falls during an unseasonable swollen period due to the rain, both in with heavy clounds, and in bright sunshine.  It was truly a neat experience!

Our flight to Sao Paulo, was very early in the morning, and we were up at 4AM the morning of the flight.  We had arranged a taxi through Bernardo, and by 4:30AM we were off to the Foz de Iguacu airport, across the border in Brazil.  It was an early one for sure!