Sunday, May 02, 2004

Grand Hyatt São Paulo

I slept 5 hours straight on the flight! Amazing.

The most amazing sight was flying over Sao Paulo. For miles and miles, through wisps of clouds, all you could see was 20-30 story white apartment block buildings. This city is huge!

Going through customs and immigration ended up being a non-issue. There are rumours of taking hours to get through, but we were the first flight in from the U.S. and so we were the first in line. They separate Americans, who are subject to a photo and fingerprint screening. But the people who worked the booth were very friendly and smiled a lot.

Very hot and humid today, at least 80 degrees.

A driver from the Hyatt named Carlos picked me up at the airport, and we drove in following a river. He told me they are dredging it because it floods during the rainy season, and then they are going to spend 20 years to extract all the pollution from it. Not a pleasant drive in, and there were edges of a shanty town to be seen, but suddenly a gleaming office park appeared to the left of the freeway, and the Grand Hyatt is on the edge of it.

I was greeted very warmly by the hotel. Phenominal service. Room is spectacular, and the Grand Club Lounge is nice indeed. A very large mall is nearby, so I will try and get my camera cord there later today if I remember. Tonight I will work out and maybe go swimming, then eat room service and chill out. Right now, I plan on washing up and going to see some sights downtown. They say the metrô is very safe and clean, so I am thinking I might try taking that.

Sat May 02, 9:00pm CST

American Airlines Flight 0963

What an exciting trip!

This morning was so crazy, doing laundry at 8am, rushing around packing and getting ready for my trip. By the time I got to O’Hare, I was relieved to be on my way. The bad news was that I realized that I left my cable connection from my digital camera to the computer in my desk. How stupid! I looked it up, to FedEx it to me would take at least 5 days and cost $60. That means that I may be in Argentina by then, half way done with my trip. I’m going to see if during the week I can buy a cable in Sao Paulo.

It is interesting to read the guide books about São Paulo. Everyone has mentioned security to me, and the guide books are very “light” on it. Of course – they don’t want to scare you. In reality, I think São Paulo is probably like any large city. Know where you are going, don’t be flashy and you’ll be ok. I bought a Fodor’s PocketBook on it on Friday, and there are certain areas where it says “be cautious,” etc. But it is specific to different areas – for instance, about the “Avenida Paulista” area it says “… Avenida Paulista may well be the safest place in the city. Even so, stay alert and hold onto your bags, particularly in Parque Trianon.” It is stuff like that which is telling me “be careful.”

I also read that Cirrus/MasterCard are not widely accepted in Brazil. So… I am going to look up and make sure I find a Citibank (they MUST have a branch in São Paulo, it is the world’s 3rd largest city!) and get money there if I need to.

I really like the fact that I fly overnight, and there is only a 2-hr time change (forward). So even though the flight is 10 hrs long, I will arrive in the AM overnight. Yeah! I hate jet lag. I’ll be refreshed and ready – there is a driver to greet me at the airport, and I should get to the hotel and be ready to hit the market. On Sundays, most stores are closed as in much of Europe. But there is an outdoor market that everyone talks about at Plaça Republica, and it is near many sites to see, so I think I will do that. And take pictures!

The Grand Hyatt São Paulo is supposed to be just incredible, I know the marketplace is difficult and they are losing money. But I look forward to the experience, and I have worked so hard on their rates that I think the presentation will go well. I really enjoy talking to the staff there and I can’t wait to meet them! I also hear the hotel is just so spectacular… it should be a great introduction to the “new” Hyatt International product.

Ahh… business class on American. Food, wine, food, food. Dinner is about to be served, so I have to sign off. I love the fact that you have champagne before you take off, crudité and nuts, wine right after take off, newspapers, space, you can even plug in your lap top. It is easy to get used to this, even though 10 hour flights suck. I love that AA gives you a private DVD player with 20 movies to select. Lots to occupy the time!

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