Saturday, 19 April 2014

Is GRU the worst airport?

Earlier this year this webpage listed the 10 worst airports surprise, surprise Brazil wins! For a relativey international airport, yes its bad. I've grown up in Hong Kong and lived in Singapore - two of what I would consider, the best airports (and airlines) in the world. JFK and Newark definitely deserve their places on that list too but I question GRU being no.1 on their list. 

On Thursday afternoon I flew from GRU Terminal 1 with my 2 girls (4 year old + 2 year old), + 2 pieces of luggage and a buggy. I gave myself some buffer time to get to the airport since it was the start of the Easter holiday weekend. * We got to the airport in 50 minutes, we unloaded right outside the entrance and walked 50 steps to the BA counter (100 mini steps for sleepy little girls). From there, one of the BA staff asked me what flight I was travelling on and took my baggage trolley from me and pushed me through to the Prioridade line. I was checked in in 10 minutes (yes, i know the general queue was probably more of an hour wait but surely everyone appreciated not having to stand in queue alongside some hyperactive toddlers!). 

At the entrance to security I was directed to the front of the queue again, and at immigration I was only held up another 5 minutes as they checked my documentation for Olivia, who is Brazilian born. If your child is Brazilian born they must travel out on their Brazilian passport (we actually once did get out on her UK passport as the Brazilian passport had expired, first one is only valid for 1 year, second one is for 2 years etc), and as I was travelling out on my own with her I needed a document from my husband authorising the travel. You can download the document here and the signatures must be cartorised.** By law it is required for any Brazilian child travelling out of Brazil with one parent but just to be safe I prepare two copies for both children (even if my oldest is not Brazilian), and both me and my husband sign it to give me approval to travel with them. As I've learnt over time here in Brazil, it does not hurt to be overly-prepared when it comes to official documentation : )

I was surprised as there are some new cafés and little restaurants in GRU that didn't exist before. It's slowly getting better.  Check out this new pizza place - though we didn't try it so I can't tell you if it's any good... 

At the gate (which surprisingly did not change, but we were late to board and they hadn't bothered to advise anyone), the ground staff came up to tell us personally that we could board first with the children. 

Then we landed 11 hours later in Heathrow Terminal 5. As the girls have British passports we could take that immigration queue instead which was pretty fast (thankfully as Sophie had a poo emergency) but there is definitely no priority queue. I had one trolley with our luggage; no option here to ask or even pay someone to help you so I had the 4 year old push the buggy with the 2 year old. It then took us 40 bl**dy minutes to transfer to get our car rental and then another hour to haggle as they had no more cars left in our category, to only pay more money to get a smaller car. Husband insists it's much nicer but it can't fit our 256kg allowance that we will return to Brazil with... I've just realised that he's done this to limit my shopping... 

*Check out the traffic a friend sat in for 4.5 hours and travelled just over 80km this weekend!
**To register your signature at your local cartorio check out an old post here

Brazilian Kids Parties

So we actually haven't started the whole circle of Brazilian kids parties. Our girls go to a little local escolinha which is very low key (why we like it) as well as just being around the corner  from where we live. We've done parties at home the last few years which have been chaotic but lots of fun and cheaper than a Buffet which can set you back R4.000k for the bare minimum i.e. just space rental not including the food, drinks and entertainment you want to add on the top of it. In practical terms it makes sense, Brazilian families are generally large and it is custom to invite everyone you know and potentially know and not everyone's apartments / houses can accommodate.

Yesterday we had our first Brazilian event "A Perfect day for Babies" hosted by some local celebs and Sophie & Theo's Cupcakes was "tropicalizad* and it was beautiful! Some of the tables were just incredible - not like any 5 year olds party I've ever been too!

Just google "Buffet Infantil" to find what's available in your neighbourhood.

Photos from Facebook page "A Perfect Day for Babies"

*Brazilian-ified, something that is made to suit Brazilian customs, tastes, lifestyle

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Killer Caterpillars

We've had an invasion in the garden - this beautiful fluffy red caterpillars are hiding in our garden and are super poisonous. My empregada bought one to show me as we have to make sure we get rid of them with kids running around the house. I thought she was telling me a poisonous flower and so we went out into the garden to find more, where I watched her drop the "flower" to the ground and crush it under her foot. Gross. 

I've just had to google what they are... It's a Megalopyge albicollis caterpillar. They have poisonous spines underneath all that fluff which can cause an extreme allergic reaction which includes rashes, blisters, inflammation and breathing difficulty. 

Photograph by Leonardo Tavares Castro, Your Shot