Brazil Pt IV: JJ 3186 IGU – GIG

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JJ 3186

After bidding farewell to our hosts, we headed to the bus stop. We intended to take bus 120 to the airport but two went pass without stopping as they were too full.

Fearing that we might never get on the bus, we decided to get a taxi. It didn’t take much to convince the two Russian guys at the bus stop to share the taxi with us and we were at the airport 20 minutes later. The 11km taxi ride was 40 BRL, pretty expensive in my opinion.

The terminal felt rather claustrophobic with the low ceilings.

Check-in counters

Check-in

Check-in

Departures

Shirt selling World Cup merchandise

After getting our boarding passes, we went through the security to reach the holding area. Due to the number of flights departing around the same time, it was heaving with passengers.

TV’s showing football of course

There were a few shops and a cafe selling pão de queijo.

Jewellery shop

Ying and I kept wondering where the strange smell came from.

From pão de queijo of course

We saw our plane arrived and it had a special livery which celebrated 20 years of TAM’s loyalty programme Fidelidade.

Special livery

There was no aerobridge and we could walk from the terminal to the aircraft. We chose to board from the rear door.

Made up of many portraits

20 years of TAM Fidelidade

Tail

Flight: TAM JJ 3186
Depart: Foz do Iguaçu/Cataratas International Airport (IGU) – 13:01
Arrive: Rio de Janeiro Galeão (GIG) – 15:00
Duration: 1h59m
Distance: 734 miles (1,181 km)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Registration: PR-MHS
Seat: 21B

Online check-in wasn’t available for TAM and I got a middle seat for the first time in a long while. The plane seemed to be full.

ABC

DEF

I settled down to my seat and started to rummage through the seat pocket content.

Seat pocket content

Resigned to no window

Safety video played on overhead screen

Take-off

The crew went around to distribute the snack and drinks after we got to cruising altitude.

Snack pack, TAM-style

In-flight meal and drink

With no window, the primary entertainment was the inflight magazine. It had quite a few interesting articles and kept me engaged for most of the flight.

I didn’t know TAM has a female CEO

World Cup Stats

Cycling cultures around the world

Alcohol in Saudi Arabia? Are you kidding me?

All about coffee

Article on parilla featured La Brigada

Recommendations for Rio

TAM Fleet

Pele selling SIM cards

Neymar Jr selling TVs

TAM ad featuring Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marcelo

It seemed that we always got some awesome neighbour.

Not the first time

Almost there

We were welcomed to the rainy Rio de Janeiro by a row of Coca Cola ads.

Coca Cola in Korean

Japanese

Ad

While the belt for our plane was a generic one, Ying discovered that there was one with World Cup theme.

Our boring belt

Not in use

GOAL

I found out that it was possible to collect our World Cup match tickets at GIG from the website and we were keen to do that to avoid wasting time collecting them.

TAM uses Terminal 2 at GIG and World Cup ticket collection kiosks were over at Terminal 1. After getting assistance from a friendly guy at the information counter, we followed the signs to Terminal 1.

GIG Terminal 2

Avian with GOL in the background, taken along the walkway linking T1 and T2

The ticket collection point at GIG Terminal 1 was well-staffed and one volunteer told us that it would be much faster to use the self-service machines.

Self service machines

Needed the card that I used to pay

Fuleco made sure that we got our tickets

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Brazil Pt III: Iguaçu

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Parque Nacional do Iguaçu

There was one other Russian guy who was staying at the same place as us and we exchanged tips over breakfast. He had visited the Brazilian side while we did the Argentine side the day before. We told him to adjust his expectations since Garganta del Diablo Trail was closed on the Argentine side.

After breakfast, Ferdinando brought us to the moneychangers where we finally got our hands to some Brazilian Reals (BRL). We got 2.29 BRL to 1 USD at Foz do Iguaçu, the best rate that we would get in Brazil.

Our new Russian friend was heading to Argentina while we were going to the park on the Brazilian side. Ferdinando made sure that we got on the right buses before he returned home.

It was standing room only when we boarded and bus 120 (2.85 BRL) would take around 30 minutes to reach the park entrance, via the airport.

First impression: the Brazilian side seemed more well-maintained compared to the Argentine side.

Fuleco welcoming us

Ticket prices

Map of the park

Ticket counters

49.20 BRL each

South Korean National Team has its base at Foz do Iguaçu – kinda explained why we ran into Korea TV film crew at Restaurante China later

Shop

Posing with Coati the mascot

The shuttle buses ran regularly between the park entrance and the start of the trail and the tickets were included in the admission.

Shuttle bus stop

We alighted at the start of the trail to light drizzle.

Like in Argentina, there are signs warning people not to feed the animals

The Falls

Brazilian side had a more panoramic view of the falls

I wouldn’t want to be in the boat

Lots of mist

The light drizzle turned into heavy rain.

Trail on the Brazilian side

Overflowing with water

Obligatory shot

We decided to seek refuge at a refreshment place while waiting for the rain to subside.

Brazilian side has problem with coatis too

The adjective that I could think of to describe the sight is “angry”

So misty that I couldn’t see the water surface

Walkway to see Garganta del Diablo

Taking a right turn

Walking in

We only managed to walk halfway on the walkway because the spray from the fall was too powerful. We were thoroughly soaked despite having our ponchos on.

Soaked

Plaque

Before returning, we went to the lookout area. It was closest to the falls and we could feel the power of the waterfall.

Feeling the fury of the Devil’s Throat

Snapped the pictures and then quickly put away my camera to avoid more water from getting into it

So much water

We would walk along the upper part of the river before it becomes the falls on our way to the bus station.

I wouldn’t want to drop into the river

Where’s the honey?

There were souvenir shops and food options at the bus station. The choices of food weren’t very inspiring and we decided that we would be better off having lunch back in town.

Fast food

Gift shop

Most visitors combine the visit to Iguaçu with a visit to the bird park located a few minutes’ walk away from the park entrance. We didn’t visit it as we didn’t have much interest and we were soaked from experiencing the falls up close. It is probably a better idea to visit the bird park first if one is interested.

Bus 120 between Park, Airport and Centro (2.85 BRL)

We spent slightly over two hours at the Brazilian side. There was only one trail but one could get a more panoramic view of the falls. Personally I enjoyed the Brazilian side better as we got really close to Garganta del Diablo. Probably it wasn’t a fair comparison since we didn’t experience Garganta from the Argentine side.

Brazil Pt II: Dining in Foz do Iguaçu

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We decided NOT to be adventurous in Foz do Iguaçu and chose to have Asian food during our time there.

After settling down at our accommodation, we decided to head out for dinner. A search on TripAdvisor revealed that Miyako, ranked #14 in the city, was three blocks away.

Took us some time to locate it and we were among the first diners of the evening. The restaurant is operated by a Japanese family although the waitress who served us was a Brazilian.

The food took some time to arrive and the servings were huge.

Tempura

Curry rice with pork cutlet

Ramen

The tempura and curry rice were decent enough but the ramen was a let-down. The taste wasn’t quite what we were used to. The total cost was 105.60 BRL and apparently merchants in the region accept USD, BRL and ARS. I used my credit card as we didn’t have any BRL with us.

The patron mix was quite interesting. We saw a Brazilian family fully kitted in the national team jersey and there were several other Asians around. There was a big group of Mandarin-speaking speakers whom we could tell to be Taiwanese from their accents. On my way out, I noticed many Paraguayan-registered vehicles outside the restaurant and they should belong to the Taiwanese. They crossed the Friendship Bridge to Brazil for meals, not unlike how Singaporeans go to Johor Bahru for food.

The next day, after our visit to the Brazilian side of the falls, we stopped by at Restaurante China for late lunch.

Restaurante China

We had to decide between the buffet or ordering a la carte and we chose the latter. Both of us were dying to have some Chinese-style vegetables.

Tofu soup

Veg

Sweet and sour pork

Once again the portion was huge and it was a pretty satisfying meal. Towards the end of the meal, a group of Chinese tourists came in for dinner. This was the first time that we met Chinese tour group since United States.

The bill came up to be close to 100 BRL and both of us were quite stunned with it. While walking back to the accommodation, we realised that it shouldn’t be so expensive and decided to go back and clarify with the cashier (in Mandarin). Turned out that she mixed up our bill with the other table (Korean film crew) and the actual bill was a more reasonable 80 BRL.

Evening came but due to our heavy Chinese lunch, we weren’t hungry. We asked Mariana the directions to the nearest supermarket, which was around 10+ minutes’ walk away.

It turned out to be quite interesting as many products had special World Cup packaging.

Garoto – Official World Cup chocolates

Pringooools

250 ml Coca Cola

Ying was amused to find ‘Omo’ (which means ‘oh my’ in Korean) in Brazil.

Omo

Beside yogurt, snacks and water, we also bought some mate. We kept forgetting to purchase it at Argentina and only remembered when we saw them again Brazil. Southern Brazil is pretty similar to Argentina in terms of mate consumption and we reckoned that it would be harder to find them in Rio de Janeiro.

On our way back, we ran into an Asian man in his 60s who addressed us in Mandarin. Turned out that he was an Indonesian Chinese who migrated to Brazil in the 1960s to escape anti-Chinese measures implemented by Suharto. His family operated Restaurante China, the restaurant that we had visited earlier in the day. What a coincidence.

Brazil Pt I: Private double room with breakfast

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Us with our awesome hosts Ferdinando and Mariana

While planning the Iguazu portion of the trip, we faced a dilemma with the choice of accommodation. We had only two nights; should we split our stay between Argentina and Brazil or stay both nights in Brazil?

In the end, we decided that it would be better to spend both nights at Foz do Iguaçu. Emerson’s listing was one of the top in the area and we paid 155 SGD for our two nights there.

To get there from Iguazu National Park in Argentina, we took the shuttle bus (40 ARS) to the bus station at Puerto Iguazú.

Puerto Iguazú bus station – this side is where the international buses (Brazil and Paraguay) depart from

Domestic side

Different operators

We randomly approached a counter and luckily the guy could speak pretty good English. He told us that the Crucero del Norte had the next departure to Foz do Iguaçu.

One could choose between paying for the bus tickets in ARS or BRL; the ticket cost us 15 ARS each.

On-board the bus to Brazil

All passengers were asked to disembark at the Argentine side where the Argentine immigration officials stamped us out. We got back on the bus and were driven across Rio Iguazu to the Brazilian immigration.

The bus only stopped after we were driven through the Brazilian border. Brazil doesn’t require Argentinians and Paraguayans to go through border formalities and we were the only ones who got off here.

Our bus between Argentina and Brazil

Our arrival coincided with the World Cup match between Brazil and Mexico and all but one of the immigration officials were glued to the TV screen. I was sure that she wasn’t really happy that we disrupted her viewing of the match.

Brazilian immigration

We went back to the bus stop to wait for the next Cruzero del Norte bus. It would take almost half an hour.

Long wait for the next Cruzero del Norte bus

Bus heading to Paraguay

Spotted a truck with a French registration plate

We would check out their website later and find out that the truck belongs to a French family traveling around the world.

Dacaluf

The instructions given was very clear and we dropped off at the bus stop as given in the instructions. We found ourselves at the house after a short walk from the bus stop.

Emerson is actually living in Europe and the house belongs to his parents Ferdinando and Mariana. They had invited their family over to watch the game and Emerson’s sister helped to check us in.

Comfortable room

It had a small TV where we could watch the World Cup

While neither Mariana nor Ferdinando could speak English, they were very helpful and welcoming. Fernando brought us to the moneychangers the next day and made sure that we got the on right bus to the falls. Breakfast was included and Mariana prepared it for us for both mornings.

Breakfast

Despite the language barrier, we still managed to chat with them (Thanks Google Translate!). Learned a bit about their family and shared some interesting stuff about Singapore with them.

The accommodation itself is located in a quiet neighbourhood one block away from Av. das Cataratas, where one could catch bus to the airport, the National Park as well as Argentina. There are also some restaurants nearby and we didn’t even go to the town centre at all. We felt safe during our time there and even walked out for dinner and grocery shopping in the evenings.