Brazil is a spectacular country made even more enjoyable when you spend it with friends that show you around. I was fortunate that I had friends in Sao Paulo that took care of me when I visited at the end of 2010.
During my first couple of days in Sao Paulo I had the opportunity to try some local food (feijoada, pao de queijo, cocada, bacalhau, etc.) and got spoiled with having fresh squeezed fruit juices constantly, especially orange juice. I became addicted to eating salgadinhos (small salty snacks that reminded me of Spanish tapas) which did not help my waistline. The turnovers are particularly delectable and I loved the ones made of heart of palm.
Different types of sauces (garlic, pepper, etc.)
Pao de Queijo (one of my favorites addictions while in Brazil)
Let's not forget the national dish - feijoada (bean and meat stew)
I did a lot of walking in Sao Paulo and enjoyed getting into different neighborhoods and sampling all the fantastic cuisines that this diverse city offered. It is evident that the different immigrants that make up the population of this great metropolis have left their marks, especially in their culinary contributions. For example, the pizzas here are some of the best that I have had anywhere else and come pretty close to the real thing in Italy. Kibe or quibe has its origin from Lebanese kibbeh and was introduced in Brazil by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants. Let's not forget the Japanese whose contributions were sizable. One of the favorites is pastei or pastry with different fillings. The shapes usually denote the type of fillings they have. For example, half moons contain cheese and square ones meat.
One of the highlights of my culinary journey in Brazil was being invited to a local's house for lunch. An experience like this is priceless, especially when you spend it with good company and great food. We started with meat croquettes followed by a help yourself feast of pernil (pork), collard greens, fish stew, rice and feijoada.
Liberdade is the Japantown of Sao Paulo and it is home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan in the world. Japanese immigrants started arriving into Brazil back in 1908 and today there are approximately 1.5 million people of Japanese descent living in Brazil.
Street Art is big in Sao Paulo
Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge serving as background for Globo TV.
On my last day my friends dropped me off at the airport and it was time to bid farewell. The ride was not a picturesque one with random buildings and warehouses dotting the road. We finally arrived at the parking lot and it looked chaotic and uncovered out in the open. Perhaps this was short term parking but I couldn't believe that it was not inside a building to shelter the passengers going back to the car in case of rain.
After a long walk I checked in at the LAN counter at the end of the terminal. The agent who helped me had to excuse himself twice to the back in order to straighten a problem. At last he handed me my boarding pass and I noticed that it was only for the GRU-LIM portion. I checked a bag and it was properly tagged all the way to SFO. I then went through Immigration and looked around the Duty Free shop before heading to American's Admirals Club.
The club is located on the second floor and it had a buffet arrangement with drinks, sandwiches, fruits, soup, individually portioned salads and sweets.
Next to it was a small office center with internet terminals, xerox and fax machine.
The club was spacious but I felt that some areas the seats were too close together lacking real privacy. It was a good thing that it was not full this afternoon and I had my own corner.
I decided to leave a bit early towards the gate and check out some of the shops. At the gate, the plane was arriving and FA's were ready to board after all passengers disembarked.
Plane at the gate
Flight attendants working my GRU-LIM flight
About 35 min. before dept. a call was made to board Business Class passengers followed by those with children. The purser was at the door and greeted me enthusiastically pointing me towards the side of the cabin where my seat was located. Pre-dept. drinks and the lite version kit were offered. The kit was just a bag with socks, eye shades, earplugs and a pen. I did not save the pictures of this kit in their original size and these are the only ones that I was able to find.
I noticed that there were about 6 crew members who were deadheading and proceeded to occupy the forward section of the cabin.
After take off the FA's sprung into action and were asking for your choice of meals. No menus were offered and there were 3 choices. I opted for the tilapia fish with guava cheesecake and forgot what the other two were. The service was excellent with FA's addressing you by name and and at the end they thanked me for choosing LAN. This was the only flight of the 4 that had a survey distributed by the purser and where FA's personally thanked the passengers. We landed in Lima on time and as usual on LA flights the FA's positioned themselves at the back of the Business cabin when passengers were disembarking.
FA distributing reading materials and amenity kit
Cart with meals and beverages
Amazing guava cheesecake. I am convinced that LAN provides great desserts.
Chocolate to end the meal
American Airlines Admirals Club
Sao Paulo - GRU
Lima - LIM
For an intra-South American flight this was a very nice experience. I find that the distribution of an amenity kit is very generous and the meal adequate in portion with good quality components.
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