When we first arrived in Brasilia almost four years ago, we felt that we had all the time in the world to explore this great country. In fact we thought we had too much time! Frankly, neither C nor I were all that thrilled to be posted to Brasilia – but that is another story for another day!
However, time is surely and steadily ticking by, and I am becoming acutely aware that our time here in Brazil is running out. All these trips and excursions that we have put off for one reason or the other are starting to pile up and the likelihood is, is that we won’t be able to do all of them.
So, one day just by chance I looked at my calendar and saw there was a long weekend coming up where C would actually be in town – I jumped at the chance to spend it at Chapadas dos Veadeiros National Park. I immediately got in touch with a few friends to see if they wanted to join – and as luck would have it, two couples had already planned to go and the third couple were keen to join as well. So within 20 minutes of sending out the initial email we had all booked and paid for our accommodation and we were set! I love it when the stars align like this! Continue reading →
Although I may not have been blogging frequently (if at all!) over the last year, that does not mean to say that I have not been travelling. In fact, C and I have managed to do a number of incredible trips squeezed in-between being pregnant, having the baby and C’s very hectic travel schedule.
The most memorable of these trips was our family Christmas vacation to Bonito and South Pantanal – a trip so incredible, that I thought it was best to share this story first!
There was a time when C and I were living in Mexico City that we felt the need to flee. Run away from the noise, hide from the crowds and shun the traffic – just for a few days, just to get our breath back.
Every couple of months, we would pack our bags, throw them into the boot of the car and head out of town for the weekend. We would explore quaint colonial towns such as Guanajato, San Miguell de Allendeor Malinalcowhere we could walk undisturbed on the cobblestoned streets, and enjoy good tequila while watching the world go by. Or we would go riding for the weekend at a wonderful ranchwe discovered outside of the city.. These little getaways were essential, and allowed us enough breathing room to really enjoy living in such a colossal city.
A few weeks ago, my Peruvian and I along with another couple went on a fantastic trip to the Amazon. Well, to be more precise, a cruise on the Tapajos River up in the North of Brazil. And what an experience it was.
My, my, my it has been quiet around here lately – I do apologise.
I have come to the realisation that I am a terrible blogger, as I am just unable to multi-task! As soon as I have a lot on my plate, The Travelling Chopsticks get pushed to the curb side. All inspiration dries up, and I just focus on the tasks at hand.
What is that you may ask? Well – it is all quite exciting really.
Teaching: I have started to teach English privately, and currently have three students. As these are my first ‘real’ (AKA paying) students, a LOT of time has gone into researching lesson plans and finding suitable material.
World Cup: Even though I am not a big football fan, the World Cup has taken up a lot of time. In fact we have had seven (I repeat SEVEN) of C’s friends come to stay with us over the last 10 days, and as you can imagine, it has been hectic!
Buying Property: C and I have decided that we are finally grown up enough that we should buy something of our own. Our natural choice is the U.S. as one day if we are ever sent back to the Mother Ship, we will be in the D.C area. The logistics and research of buying property in a country you do not live in (and in my case never lived in) is quite a challenge!
A tip that I have picked up over time when looking for good places to eat, is I think a universal one. If the restaurant is busy, you know you are on to something good, but, if the restaurant is busy AND is filled with locals – you know you have hit the jackpot!
Probably the most famous type of Brazilian restaurant outside of Brazil is the churrascaria, a type of Brazilian steak house. However, what sets them apart from other types of steak houses is their ‘rodizio’ style service, whereby you pay a fix price and the waiters bring different types and cuts of meat to your table, usually on a large skewer or knife throughout the meal until the customer has signalled that they have had enough.
Not surprisingly the Brazilian churrascaria has proven to be hugely popular throughout the world and today you will find churrascarias in most major international cities. One of the better known restaurants outside of Brazil, is Fogo de Chão, as they have several restaurants throughout the US.
They also have a restaurant here in Brasilia and after two month of living in Brazil, C and I decided that it was almost scandalous that we had yet to go. So on Friday, C and I went for a steak night…um, I mean date night!
For those of you living in Brazil and South America I thought I would let you know about my experience with booking a flight with Emirates, so that you if you decide to do so, you will not be as surprised as I was with their rather inconvenient policies!
C and I are planning a trip to Singapore for Christmas. As you can imagine that is not exactly an easy or cheap destination from Brasilia! However, my brother lives in Abu Dhabi and I know that Emirates flies directly to Dubai from both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. So we thought we would fly with Emirates to Dubai, visit him for a few days and continue on with our journey from there. We will then fly back home to Brasilia separately, as I will stay on in Singapore longer and C has to come back and work (well someone has to right?). Rather straight forward I thought….oh how I was mistaken!
Issue Number One (more of an annoyance really)
Booking my ticket directly with Emirates was a nightmare. I had done my research online in regards to what the best routes would be from Brasilia. However as C and I were flying back at different times, I wanted to talk to someone in Emirates to help me book the tickets to ensure C and I were on the same flight outbound, as well as help me find a good price. The prices I saw online where reasonable if we were to go directly to Singapore, but when I wanted to include a stop-over for a few days in Dubai, it doubled!
So I called the Emirates Rio office, but was immediately directed to a call centre (judging by the ladies accent) in the Philippines. The call did not start well, when she told me that there was no such place as Brasilia!! After struggling through a 40 minute call, where she kept giving me the wrong information, giving me wrong quotes and neither of us understanding each other, I decided that I would call again. This time I was directed to a call centre in the US. After explaining what I wanted – the woman essentially told me to do it myself and there was no point in her helping me! I have to admit I was lost for words, and after having spent 40 minutes with other lady in the Philippines I just gave up!
In the end, I asked my brother if he could talk to someone in Emirates in Dubai to see if they could help us. What do you know? The next day after my big brother made a few phone calls he had managed to find the perfect flight for us, half the price as quoted to me online and we were all happy! Time to pay for the tickets!
Issue Number Two (a massive issue)
Now armed with my reservation codes for my flights, I phoned up Emirates in Rio again, again I was transferred to a call centre, this time in India. When I wanted to pay for my tickets, I was told I was unable to do so over the phone or online. Apparently it is Emirates policy that if you are buying a ticket to or from South America, you have to do so in person at an Emirates office!! This is a bit of an issue for me, considering Emirates does not have an office in Brasilia! I was then transferred from various call centres around the world (or at least that is what it felt like) and the best advice I got, was from another guy in India who asked me if I had a friend that could go to an Emirates office to pay for my tickets for me!
When I said that wasn’t an option I was transferred to a very helpful Emirates employee in the US, who was trying to figure out how she could help me, and in the end she put me in touch with the Rio office (the same office I had been trying to call for 48 hours). I was given a glimmer of hope here. The Rio office, said that I could fill out a ‘credit card form’, email them the information and they would be able to process the payment! HOWEVER, when she found out, that I do not have a Brazilian credit card, this option was no longer available. It is Brazil’s policy that they cannot accept international credit cards unless in person!
In the end, my only option was to fly to São Paulo and go personally to the Emirates office there and buy my tickets. As luck would have it, C and I had already planned to visit São Paulo for a long weekend. So yesterday first thing in the morning, we took a taxi to the Emirates office and FINALLY we were able to buy our tickets and put this lengthy saga behind us. C and I are now definitely flying to Singapore via Dubai for Christmas :)
I really make a point of not complaining on The Travelling Chopsticks, as I want this forum to be positive and for inspiration, but I felt that this was rather important information to share. Be prepared that if you would like to fly Emirates in South America, that you will have to go to the office in person to buy your tickets, even if it means you have to fly to get there!
On midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday last week, our plane touched down in a very wet and rainy Brasilia.
The last few days have been aimed entirely at trying to settle in, acquaint ourselves with our new city, and get our life up and running. I have to say, that I am pretty proud of C and I, within 4 days of being in an entirely new country, city and language, we have accomplished the following: Keep Reading