DAYS 53-56:  After a lovely 12-days in Buenos Aires, it was time for another Travel Day with a trip onward to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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We are getting really good at this packing thing

After a quick ride to AEP – the downtown airport located about 7 miles from our apartment – we were ready for our flight check-in.  We have been arriving at the airports 3-hours before our flights – this pattern is an unfortunate result of the MIA episode in which three Bepkos missed their flight to Costa Rica.  Once our bags were checked and boarding passes received… we learned that the flight to Sao Paulo was already an hour delayed!  And there were NO lounges for which our Priority Pass would give us access.

Luckily, one of our premium credit card came to the rescue.  I have a Chase Ritz-Carlton card which allows for $300 each year for baggage fees, airline upgrades, and – yes – entrance fees to airport lounges.  There was a VIP lounge for which we were able to purchase a day pass, with reimbursement from Chase later.  ASIDE:  I don’t really recommend this credit card.  I only acquired it in order to spend our way to Platinum status with Ritz-Carlton which could then be used to match our way to Platinum SPG status.  That being said, we did get three nights free at a Ritz-Carlton hotel so if you like to stay in high-end Ritz hotels, the credit card may be worth the look.

The VIP lounge was nice – with awesome ice cream sandwiches, Argentinean wines, and tasty snacks.   Not sure how many extra calories these lounges are costing Jeni and I.  But eventually, the time to fly (and the time to stop snacking) arrived.

AEP to GRU comes in at 1054 miles and this was our last flight on LATAM Airlines.  Flight went by pretty quickly and – again – I was amazed at how quickly we went through Customs & Immigrations once we hit Brazil.  We were a little freaked out with the Immigrations officer pulled another officer over and started looking at our Brazil visa very closely and talking (in Portuguese) to the other officer.  Brazil has pretty stringent policies for their visas.  We had to appear in person at the San Francisco Consulate, drop off passports and application, come back in 7 days to get passports with the visa – AND time the visa just right because you need to enter Brazil within a certain number of days after getting out visa, and we were going to be traveling to Brazil over 7 weeks after leaving the US, etc. etc.

Turns out, our officer was just showing the other officer (new on her job) the proper way a Brazil visa should look.  But our hearts were beating faster.

Next stop, the InterContinental Hotel Sao Paulo.  Our home for the next 3-nights.

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The hotel was in a great part of town, although we really didn’t get out much.  We planned on these days being a bit of rest, some serious school time for the kiddos, and – the main reason for stopping in Sao Paulo – a dinner for Jeni and I at D.O.M.

Interesting note… Alice Cooper and the band The Cult were apparently staying at our hotel as they were in town playing at a huge weekend rock concert.  There was also a K-POP related event at the hotel which meant large crowds of people milling out in front of the hotel for a few days.

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ASIDE: We actually got the first night free on both of the rooms (parents had a separate room from the kiddos) thanks to the Chase IHG branded credit card.  For those who know me, I’ve spent the last few years playing the credit-card game in order to acquire as many reward points as possible.  So far on this trip, it has paid off for two free nights at the luxury SPG hotel in Cusco, Peru, and now allowed us two free nights at the InterContinental.  I DO recommend this credit card.  In addition to points which can be used for InterContinental rooms, it only costs $49 per year and gives you one free night at any IHG hotel at your anniversary.  I’m planning on using that $49 annual fee and parlaying it into a free night at the InterContinental Da Nang (Vietnam).

But the big event was dinner at D.O.M. on the last night of our stay.  This is rated as the #16 Restaurant in the World, and is the highest Michelin starred restaurant (2-stars) in all of Brazil.  Plus, the chef is Alex Atala.  He was featured in season 2 of Netflix’s Chef Table (a must-series for foodies) and is currently Jeni’s Chef Crush.

This dinner was excellent, especially with our luck in finding Chef Atala apparently waiting for us at the door.  This made it easy to get our photo with him right off the bat.  I tried to just get a photo of Jeni and the chef, but he kept insisting that I ruin the photo and be included.

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This dinner cracked the top 10 best dining experiences and was a 16-course tour-de-force through mostly Brazilian ingredients.

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It didn’t hurt that I went through a few glasses of champagne (1999 vintage but unfortunately I forgot the name) that was some of the tastiest by-the-glass champagne I’ve had at a restaurant.  Here are just a few of the offerings… sorry about the sub-par photos.

At least at the end of the meal, I was finally able to get a photo of just Jeni and Chef Atala… right before we staggered out the door into the waiting Uber car.  We highly recommend a visit to this establishment on one’s next trip to Sao Paulo!

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Luckily… our flight from GRU – JNB the following day wasn’t until 6PM so we had time to sleep off the meal and accompanying adult beverages.  Tchau tchau – until our next blog post that takes us to South Africa!

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED TO DATE: 10,544 miles