This was my second trip to Rio this year and I have succumbed to its charms. Few places in the world can rival the stunning layout of this gorgeous city flanked by beaches and mountains, but for me one of the most rewarding aspects of visiting Rio is dealing with the cariocas who are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people that I have ever encountered in my travels. A small bonus is at the end of this FR for those interested.
The first time I came it was raining and this second time was no exception. Despite having the best intentions to see all the major sights, the weather did not cooperate and therefore I had to improvise and switch to indoor activities instead. As the saying goes, maybe the third time is the charm and I must come back again. ;)
I decided to take a taxi from my hotel to the airport, so when I checked out at reception, the front desk agent told me that there was another guest heading there and asked if I wouldn't mind sharing the taxi. This would come as a blessing in disguise since that meant that I will split the cost 50/50. The taxi arrived shortly but there was a slight problem - the trunk of the car was very small and only one big luggage was able to fit in. Fortunately there were only 2 of us so I placed my luggage in the back seat with me. In the end I paid R$25 (about USD 6.30 or EUR 5.60) which was a couple of dollars more than what the airport bus would have cost.
Since I had plenty of time I got off at T1 along with the other passenger and walked a little bit. It seems that most European carriers operated out of this terminal and there was a long walkway connecting it to T2. My initial impression of GIG has not changed - this is an ugly airport that does not do justice to the city it serves. Hopefully Oderbrecht TransPort and Changi Airports Intl., who are the operators, can make some real improvements soon.
GIG Terminal 1.
Walkway bridge connecting the two terminals.
AA @ T2
By 16:15, the check-in opens and a friendly agent issued my boarding passes. She also mentioned that the lounge has moved to a new location and points to the back wall where part of the lounge can be seen. Instead of going down the stairs after security, the entrance is now by gate 40. Once you present your credentials to the GOL agent, she directs you through a hallway in the back where you take an elevator to the AA lounge.
GOL Smiles lounge entrance.
On my way to the Admirals Club.
After a warm welcome I settled into a corner in the back and explored the lounge. The new location is brighter and more open than the previous one. The lounge consists of two seating areas with the buffet located to the immediate right of reception. It seems that today was the first opening day for this lounge because I saw some IT technicians testing the computers in the back and a staff snapping pictures. I spoke to one of the staff members about getting a shower later on and he told me that they did not have those available for now due to some maintenance issues.
Main seating room. There is little space to put one's plates in the lounge area so it is better to eat by the buffet tables. I also noticed that the power extension cord is not configured for U.S. plugs unlike the old lounge. One of the nice receptionists checked with me to see if everything was OK and advised me that this new location was temporary.
Adjacent seating area which has a view of the counter.
View of the counters.
Computers in a hallway all the way in the back of the lounge. You can also view the counters from here.
WC's are located right outside of the club. An improvement?
I noticed a small room with 2 showers at the end. I think they were inoperative.
After a while I left the lounge and headed to the gate. There were quite a few agents there.
Boarding was smooth and I was greeted by a smiling FA at the door upon entering the aircraft. The cabin was set in mood lighting mode and the pre-dept. video was playing.
Here is a sample of the boarding music posted on youtube by a fan.
My seat. The Y+ section was semi empty and in the end most passengers had a row for themselves. At the completion of boarding a passenger sat at the opposite aisle seat from my row and prevented me from having a bed while the people behind me stretched out and slept soundly. Aargh!
Dinner service began and I was given my special meal by a friendly FA. I ordered a diabetic meal and it consisted of grilled chicken with vegetables and rice, a salad, fruits for dessert, crackers and some processed cheese. The chicken was tough to cut and afterwards I requested a regular meal to compare.
Cheese course. How processed is processed?
Regular chicken meal with mustard sauce. It was delicious with a sauce that tasted like crème fraîche mixed with moutarde à l'ancienne.
Galley with beverages and snacks.
After a few hours breakfast was served and this time I won the special meal lottery. I received a hot plate of scrambled eggs with roasted tomatoes and fruit while the rest of the passengers had some fruit and a hot croissant.
We arrived in JFK earlier than expected and sat at the gate for a few minutes until Immigrations opened at 06:00.
Rain followed me to Rio again and outdoor activities were extremely limited, so I decided to visit the famous Confeitaria Colombo and have a nice dinner at Cafe Lamas the night before.
Centro. I took the efficient and safe metro to downtown on my way to Confeitaria Colombo.
Museum of Fine Arts.
Founded in 1894, this magnificent landmark is a part of Rio's history and an amazing place to have a light meal or coffee break, especially on a rainy day.
Had a very carioca dish @ Cafe Lamas - Filé à Osvaldo Aranha which is tender filet mignon with a layer of crunchy fried garlic, rice, farofa and Portuguese potatoes. It's not a cheap dish, but worth every cent of it.
Sirio Libanes Rotisseria.
One of the best snacks that I have tasted in Rio were the cheese and chicken esfihas from the Sirio Libanes Rotisseria by Lago Machado. This place is quite an institution and these soft and slightly chewy pillows are out of this world. Just add a few drops of Pimenta Malagueta oil and you are all set.
Cashew drink and esfihas.
American Airlines Admirals Club
Rio De Janeiro - GIG
New York - JFK
This was a good flight on AA with professional and friendly crew.
It was nice to have an open seat next to me, although a full row for myself would have been better. I guess you can't have it all.
Catering was acceptable for Y and the breakfast this time was better than the outbound.
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