Brazil World Cup, here I come! Thank you to my miles and points, I love you!
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TBB Management: TBB Buzz type posts are off until our return from Brazil! No way to keep up with the blogs until this travel adventure is over. I haven’t read any blogs today, it’s kind of weird and my eyes so need the break! If any MUST reads happen over the next week please let me know Expect something here at TBB but no Buzz posts. Feel free to keep coming back and use my Amazon link lol. Emails and comment replies will be very limited, sorry!
HOW AND WHY
It all started with my tweet late on Thursday night “I am having this crazy thought…going to Brazil for the next Greece game to join my brother who is on the bus there after the Japan game”. And then the magic of Twitter happened! THANKS to Amol @PointstoPointsB of Hack My Trip, Jamison @jamucsb of PointsSummary and Kenny @KennyBSAT of Miles4More who were instrumental in helping me book this last minute award trip! As you know I was too busy reading blogs and making fun of them to find the time to sit down to this myself. Besides, I thought it was a pipe dream! A few frenetic hours later to put it all together and voila I am off to the Brazil World Cup on Saturday late afternoon!
I still think the right strategy is to earn and burn your miles/points because they will undoubtedly be devalued. But do not underestimate the power of having a stash of miles/points in several loyalty programs and being opportunistic at certain times. I like using my miles/points to save money AND have experiences otherwise I would not have the opportunity to be a part of. Just like last year I decided to tack on a trip to Norway from a trip I won to London, here was my opportunity to:
1) Keep the word to my brother that I will join him in Brazil and go to the games Greece plays. Well, call it the difficulty of putting it together, the fact that the Greek team games were very far from his home in Sao Paulo, the non too encouraging reports about crime, unrest and of course there was no way in hell I can take all this time off! I…conveniently decided to watch the World Cup in the comfort of my own living room. Well, amazingly, the Greek team is still in it and they have a chance to advance with a win against Ivory Coast (and assuming Japan does not beat Colombia).
2) It’s the World Cup come on! The greatest show on Earth in my opinion. I have been watching it since 1978.
3) Be a part of history if Greece managed to win in Fortaleza and advance to the 2nd round (first time ever). I can say “I was there!” Which may mean I will look to stay longer…oh oh.
4) It’s my birthday today June 21st and I deserve it and need a break from miles/points blogs!
5) Why the hell not, we only live once!
FINAL TALLY OF MILES/POINTS & TAXES/FEES
55,000 United miles & $90.13 in taxes & fees : DTW-EWR UA Economy & EWR-GRU UA Business First & VCP-FOR on Azul
10,000 AA miles & 84.69 in taxes & fees: FOR-GRU on TAM
62,500 AA miles & 131.15 in taxes & fees: GRU-MIA on AA First & MIA-DTW on AA First
Holiday Inn Fortaleza 3 nights for 15k IHG Rewards points per night. Total 45k points
Notes: Shocked that these were available at this time and I pulled the trigger!
The fees include the punitive and confiscatory $75 close to ticketing fee (Delta does not have this shockingly!).
Everything booked online except the inter Brazil flight.
I could not get the British Airways website to work for the inter Brazil flight, it hanged in the last screen telling me “the flight was sold out in the last few minutes” Really?”
Therefore, I called AA and got the TAM flight. It was dicey for a while waiting many hours for the ticketing to occur (tip: call and ask to “escalate”)
I was shocked that the Holiday Inn was available!
The fees were charged on my Barclays Arrival card and will be reimbursed…running low now.
My brother went to the first two games. He says he has managed to find me a game ticket so it appears I am all set and hope for no weather or mechanical delays.
NEED YOUR HELP
I haven’t had any time to research so I am kindly asking for your input:
I have 13 hours between my flights and my transfer from GRU to the other airport in Sao Paulo VCP. How to best get there? Maybe I should look to book a separate flight out of GRU to FOR and not have to transit for 13 hours! But these darn award tickets do not ticket fast and can not push them along as I will be in Brazil! And I must watch the USA game vs Germany on Sunday! Will Azul allow me to board an earlier flight with no (or low) fees?
Landing in FOR at 1.45 am and wonder if the taxis will cost me a fortune.
Any feedback on Fortaleza? What to do? Where to eat? What to see?
Has anyone stayed at the Fortaleza Holiday Inn? Upgrades?
Any lounge recommendations?
How is the internet in these Brazilian airports?
My first time flying UA Business, AA First, Azul and TAM. No idea what to expect! All I know is that these are no Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines. I would definitely love to get some sleep on the overnight flights!
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happy birthday! and first?
Is this a first First? It’s a special group you now belong to 🙂 Thanks for the tip on Azul buses connecting Sao Paulo airports, worked out great!
Nice job on the trip. I need to start checking Twitter even more obsessively. I’m slipping!
Jamison @ Points Summary says
Happy birthday! You can find free wifi in the departures level of GRU, but I recommend buying a SIM Card. Try TIM since it’s the best prepaid option and I got service all over Brazil. That transfer from GRU to VCP is going to be costly since it’s pretty far up north (115km!). try GRU-FOR or CGH-FOR. Have a great time in Brazil!
Azul runs free transfer buses: http://www.voeazul.com.br/en/azul-experience/bus -> should look into it.
Jamison @ Points Summary says
wow, great tip!
Best tip ever! Worked like a charm. NO wifi on the buses but very new, clean and comfy
Jamison @ Points Summary says
best thing to eat in Brazil is local food such as pao de queijo, pastel, kibe, and coxinha. Try a churrasco restaurant and have feijoada on Wed & Saturdays. Kilo restaurants are awesome and you pay by the weight. For dessert, try Acai. Beverages, caipirinha (national drink) and Brahma beer. If you like soft drinks, try Guarana!
No offense, but those things (pao de queijo, pastel, kibe, and coxinha) are all fried snacks. That’s akin to encouraging someone to eat french fries and onion rings when they visit the States.
George, see if your brother can find somewhere that serves good northeastern cuisine, as Fortaleza’s in the northeast and the cuisine is unique. Dishes include baião de dois, carne de sol, paçoca, and others. If they recommend a moqueca (roughly a fish stew), ask for it ensopado, which is to leave out the heavy, heavy palm oil.
Drink cold beer (bem gelado) instead of caipirinhas and you’ll last on your feet much longer. You’ll notice locals drinking much more beer than they do cocktails, and the beer’s all lousy and bland, which is why it’s best served very cold.
The Flight Deal is right; the transfer to Viracopos is not to be messed with. It looks like you have to get from Guarulhos to Congonhas, Terminal Barra Funda, or Shopping El Dorado, then out to Viracopos, as there’s no direct Guarulhos to Viracopos bus. The Azul buses are free if your subsequent flight is on Azul. Looks like your best bet is Guarulhos to Congonhas to Viracopos. (They won’t transfer your bags, obviously.)
Traffic in São Paulo is legendarily awful; it can take hours to get from Guarulhos into Moema and Congonhas some days. I wouldn’t bother trying to see sights or relax, until you got to Campinas/Viracopos.
And happy birthday.
Not much time to try much of these suggestions as far as eating. Breakfast is included in the Holiday Inn and I make most of it. It’s an all day game day Tuesday! Look for me in the stands behind a goal most likely with the hardcore Greek fans.
Yes had to take the Azul buses from GUR to Congohnes and then another one to Viracopos. Very smooth operation, you just show your boarding pass and driver lets you in. Clean and comfy buses. No wifi
Many more happy returns of the day, George.
That was the best gift from me to myself 🙂 Thanks.
Happy birthday, George!
Thank you .
Happy Birthday George! Enjoy every minute!
Thank you. Everything has gone smooth so far. Game day Tuesday. We hope for the best!
I’ve never found the public wifi reliable in Brazilian airports; the lounges do have better service.
Every public spot with a TV should have the US-Germany game on. And every restaurant and bar except the finest ones seems to have a TV.
I’ve never tried to stand-by for an earlier flight on Azul, but it looks like the fees you pay depend on the Azul fare class you bought.
Tried to stand by but flights are full and the ones which were not required a connection getting me in around 2 am too. So I kept my original flight. Brother and a friend of his came by to pick me up with the friend’s car.
Happy birthday & safe travels, George!
Sounds like a wonderful way to spend the weekend & those miles.
Looking forward yo hearing the recap in A2.
Thank you, smooth sailing so far. I am pumped for the game!
Hmmm, no live reporting from the game? I only have Univision and don’t know Spanish. Hopefully you get to meet Vanessa Huppenkothen, best part of the WC so far.
Vanessa says hi
….then I woke up 🙂
The common man says
Happy buzz-day TBB!
GRU is not a great place to get stuck for that long – the free wifi is awful and the lounges suck. The centurion lounge is tiny.
Maybe get a day room at the airport marriott? We saw the free Azul transfer buses as well – they looked quite comfy. Azul is awesome btw – we caught the holland aus game on board their plane.
Enjoy your trip we will miss you.
The Azul buses worked great. Yeah, the free wifi in GRU sucked so bad I could not check in at Foursquare which still bothers me!
Happy birthday, George, and go Greece! Check out this post http://bit.ly/1svhzZB for some good packing-for-Brazil tips.
Thanks a lot!
Happy birthday, have a fun time at the game(s)! Nice work on the award bookings, those dang $75 close in booking fees from AA are ridiculous!
Thanks. Yeah hate paying them $75 close in booking fees but sometimes you just can not avoid them. And this was one of these times!
I spent Mother’s Day in CLT courtesy of this crazy hobby. Maybe, when I work up to miles balances like TBB has, I can spend a Mother’s Day in someplace further away 😉 !
I love that you are doing this. I should work on being more spontaneous too!
Picking up on yesterday’s comment discussion on getting mugged in Brazil, my 20something son was nearly assaulted in South America. It was broad daylight, he was in a public square that bordered on a bad neighborhood but was nevertheless a tourist attraction, and he was alone. Suddenly a few guys fell into step with him and tried to convince him to go eat in a nearby restaurant. It got scarier when they did not like how he replied that he’d just eaten. He’s a pretty big guy and is fluent in Spanish. Luckily the guys’ anger at how he replied to them – apparently they felt he was not respectful enough – simmered down and he headed back to bus. By then he’d seen more than enough.
But he’s probably spent a total of about 18 months in various Latin American countries, traveling alone, and that was the only bad experience. My daughter’s mugging in Chicago was much scarier.
My view is this: It is a fact of life that you can get mugged in your home town or half way around the world. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid of leaving your home, just know that bad things happen to good people from time to time. That’s life.
So far I have felt very safe here. But I stick around to places with lots of tourists so far and if I don’t I go with some Brazilians friends of my brother’s. Went to a Brazil game viewing party at the home of a Couchsurfing lady who invited other hosts with their current couch surfers. It was very interesting, felt that community thingie. I was the second oldest there, my brohter (6 yrs older) was the oldest. Kind of weird to me 🙂
Happy Birthday, enjoy the Brazil WC, and wishing all of your dreams today would become realities of tomorrow. Going to World Cup is definitely my dream … Thanks.
Well, I went to the 1994 WC and still have nightmares about it as I watched Greece lose the first 2 games 4-0 both times 🙂 Hope this time is different!
Thanks a lot! Miles make dreams happen 🙂
Buzz Happy B-Day, it will be one you will always remember! Please do me a favor, I will be watching all nine innings of the Greece futbol game ( I like to say futbol, it makes it seem like I know anything about it) I’ll be scouring the stands looking for you in the crowd. Please wear a Greece Jersey and paint your face blue and white so I can spot you in the stands. And a wacky hat.
My jersey is mostly white with blue lines and signs. Not sure If I will have paint. I will be behind the goal near or among the vocal Greek fans with the drums. I may have a flag draped over me but not sure how hot it is going to be in there. It is so hot here, like a sauna!
Andy Shuman @ Lazy Travelers says
Happy Birthday and have fun! My birthday is today. Funny! Stay assured that you will have blast in Brazil, no matter what.
Brazilians are friendly, open people, and very helpful too. Spend some time watching other games on a giant screen at local FIFA Fan Fests. You’ll feel as if being at a stadium without added costs.
In general, I have found a safety situation much better than on my previous visits. There are plenty of police around in full riot gearwith armored vehicles and . I have been to Brazil multiple times and have never been a victim of crime, but was always aware of the dangers. This time around, it felt safer.
Of all Brazilian beers, I like Antarctica better than others. But have some caipirinhas too, they are delicious when made right. Try a rodizio at a good churrascaria at least once. That’s a hell of an experience!
Sorry, no specific tips on Fortaleza, as I’ve never been there. Have fun!
Great, thanks a lot. Too bad you already left. I feel very safe here and yeah these Brazilians are so open and friendly
Andy Shuman @ Lazy Travelers says
On my previous comment, oh well, I’m a writer, not editor. Sorry 🙁
Happy birthday! Sounds like a great trip… Enjoying Portland but getting a hankering for some longer-range travel 🙂
You can do it. click on my Chase Ink Bold link….oops 🙂
Happy b-day George! Just checking in from IC Moorea, will blog this trip soon. Best advice you probably won’t take – skip the cities & games and go to the Pantanal! Have fun!
Thanks a lot, i am back in Michigan now, trip was awesome!
To paraphrase America’s most respected journalist, do you think your presence in Fortaleza had a great or the greatest impact on Greece advancing?
Absolutely, no doubt!
I love Brazil and the culture. Hope you had a terrific time today cheering on the team. You better have a bunch of caipirinhas for me…my favorite cocktail!
I really enjoyed my time in Brazil. Not in Sao Paulo, huge cities are just not for me, so noisy. But Fortaleza was great in the Northeast! I had a caipirinha for you, it was good. I also had a pastel, what a calorie bomb that was!
So are you staying for the next game?! So exciting that they won!
just could not pull it off…too many moving pieces. AA award date change and flights to/from Recife…I am back in Michigan, will be watching the game vs Costa Rica on TV 🙁
What an amazing and dramatic win! I’m sure they couldn’t have done it without you
I was the difference for sure 🙂
I hate this soccer World Cup. Damn it. No new posts or entertaining comments in TBB. It is boring in the evenings. 🙁 When is the World Cup ending, huh?
July 13 is the final 🙂
I am absolutely not an Ann Coulter fan but this headline caught my eye when Pam Mendel @nerdseyeview tweeted it:
I sure hope she is writing tongue-in-cheek but I fear she is not. Still, I found it amusing! Moral decay indeed! Not.
She needs to write for the Onion, but unfortunately I suspect this is not tongue in cheek. She is so offensive that it seems like it must be a spoof, but it isn’t.
Just can’t stand her…she is so angry. I feel sorry for her husband and her family who have to put up with her!
Fellow miles enthusiasts, who is in Sao Paulo?