My flight was scheduled to leave at 21:00 but I decided to leave for the airport at 13:00 with plenty of time. I took the airport bus located about 2 blocks from my hotel and the ride cost less than USD 5 or EUR 4.40 one way. The bus was almost empty and it made a stop at SDU airport while passing Centro on its way to GIG.
A view of some rough neighborhoods before arriving at the airport.
AA operates out of T2 at the end of the terminal. For such a beautiful city I thought that the airport did not do it any justice. Aesthetically GIG looks more like a functional warehouse than a fitting airport from one of the most famous cities in the world. Come to think of it, is there an airport in Latin America that can be compared to the likes of HKG, SFO or MUC among others? Nevertheless, not everything is lost. GRU and LIM have made major improvements to their facilities and it would be great to see more to come. Now that GIG is managed by Changi one can only hope.
The warehouse ceiling.
The counter will not be opened until 16:15, so I walked around and did some spotting, although there was not much to see.
After check-in, I passed through security and immigration. I then made my way to the Admirals Club which was located inside the Sala VIP. At the entrance, the receptionist greets me and directs me to my left. From what I have read, the Admirals Club used to be RG's F lounge.
Inside the agent checks my boarding pass and welcomes me. At this time the lounge is almost empty with just a couple of people, but that will change later as more people come in as we get closer to the departure of the MIA and JFK flights. There is a good spread of snacks and some hot food items along with soup.
The buffet area.
Chicken pockets, cannelloni of cheese and ham in white sauce, and broccoli quiches.
Ending with a glass of Amarula on the rocks.
I went to the WC and the sink did not have any water. I informed the receptionist and it was resolved later.
Afterwards I decided to take a shower before the flight and was directed outside of the lounge. The showers were located between the AA and GOL club behind the main desk at the entrance of the Sala VIP. Remember that once you enter the Sala VIP and you stand in front of the reception desk, the AA club is on the left and the GOL one on the right.
The showers were functional and that was it.
When I finished, I returned to the AA lounge but it was so crowded that I decided to leave and go wait at the gates.
Eventually it was time to board with priority given to those who qualified.
At the door, I was greeted by a smiling FA and greeted by another one by the galley as I looked for my seat. It seemed that the crew on this flight was friendlier and more approachable than the last one.
A duvet, pillow, amenity kit, menu and bottle of water were in each seat.
Slippers provided this time.
Big screen and some mood lighting.
Once everyone boarded we pushed back.
Dinner service began with linen placed on the table followed by hot towels.
Warm nuts with tomato juice.
Small appetizer once again with salad and main dish all served at the same time.
I had the Grand Marnier fruit salad with sorbet.
After the meal service I saw The Age of Adaline and then visited the galley where the buffet was set. There was a nice assortment of snacks and I was impressed by how nicely presented and varied it was. Kudos to AA for this aspect of their inflight service.
My selection which I brought to my seat.
As we got closer to JFK, the breakfast service started. It was average and boring.
Mood lighting before arrival.
We arrived into JFK a few minutes earlier and had to wait inside the plane since Immigration was not opened until 06:00.
During my stay in Rio I booked a room at Hotel 1900 which is a very nice boutique property located in the Catete neighborhood.
I loved the stylish design, hardwood floors and friendly staff. This hotel is considered among the top 25 in Rio per Tripadvisor.com. The rate includes a free buffet breakfast and late dinner soup (a very rare perk) every day. On the cons side, the wall can be thin and my room was right above reception by the stairs, so I could hear their phones ringing. Also, the breakfast room is small with about 7-8 table so it can get crowded.
The rate that I paid was USD 44 or EUR 38.82 a night which makes it quite a bargain.
Japanese cuisine in Brazil has been adapted to its host country and for those expecting authenticity it might be hard to find unless you specifically look for it. Japanese-Brazilian food is characterized by the incorporation of local cream cheese and the addition to fruits, especially mango. Personally I enjoyed this new variation.
This is a very small establishment specializing in Amazonian cuisine. The most popular item is shrimp soup served with jambu leaves, a local veggie that slightly numbs your mouth. The soup also has a glob of transparent slime that is a by-product of tapioca which adds an interesting texture. A few drops of local hot sauce and you are all set. I found the broth interestingly addictive but the shrimps were salty.
Popular Portuguese restaurant in Largo do Machado. I started with a caldo verde followed by a hearty bacalhau à Gomes de Sá which is cooked with potatoes and onions. GFood was satisfying but service was indifferent.
This restaurant is the oldest in Rio and a tradition for many. It was a meeting place for intellectuals and the Brazilian Communist Party in the past and today it welcomes travelers that are eager to get a feel for this historic landmark. This place is old school with waiters wearing bow ties and serving you with a polite disposition.
I arrived here just as they were about to open with the staff eating in one of the back rooms. I came here to try beef tongue in Madeira sauce over mashed potatoes, which was the highlight of my gastronomical experience in the city. I was presented with a dish that was sublime with very tender pieces of tongue accompanied by a robust sauce that was perfectly paired with a rich and creamy base of mashed potatoes.
American Airlines Admirals Club
Rio De Janeiro - GIG
New York - JFK
An average flight on AA with a friendly crew that made the long trip a bit more tolerable.
Catering continues to disappoint with the small appetizer and everything delivered in one tray with the exception of the dessert. The between snack buffet is a nice feature that offers a good assortment of choices and in that aspect it is above what most competitors offer.
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