Sunday, February 21, 2010

Flight to Santiago and first few days here

My alarm went off at 3:30 AM, and I got changed and brought the last of my luggage downstairs to be ready for my taxi at 4.  The girl working at the hostel assured me that I would have plenty of time to get there for my 6:05 flight, but I still felt uneasy about it.

I got to the airport around 4:15, and the line to check in to TAM Linheas Areas (my airline) was stretching haflway down the terminal.  I was mad at myself for not insisting on catching my taxi early, but figured all I could do at that point was get in line and hope for the best.

I got checked in 5:05 or so, and according to my ticket I was supposed to be boarding right then.  I hurried to get to security but was misled by the signs and was down in a shopping area.  After talking to a few people I made it there and got through security quickly.

It's about 5:20, and I'm in the line for the immigration police.  I clutched my passport and paperwork they gave me when I entered, hoping things will go quickly.  I finally get through around 5:35 and dash to my gate.  I get there, and nothing is showing on the screen, and no one is there from the airlines.  I was puzzled and asked a woman holding a small child if it was the correct gate for the flight to Sao Paulo, and she assured me that it was.

The airline staff casually strolled up to the gate at 5:55 and proceeded to go through the gate and disappear without talking to anyone.  They came back about 5 minutes later and were bombarded by passengers with questions.  We started boarding around 6:15, and I had a surprise on board.

I was trying to find seat 10K and wasn't able to do so at first.  Then I realized that for some reason they put me in the last row of first class.  This was totally awesome and unexpected, but actually my 2nd time flying 1st class on an international flight.  Here I am enjoying my seat that reclines:
I just wish that this would have happened on my flight that was 4 hours from Sao Paulo to Santiago instead of the 1 hour flight from Rio to Sao Paulo.

By the time we take off, it is almost 7:00.  We landed at 8:00, and my connecting flight is scheduled to leave at 8:55.  Luckily I am one of the first off the plane, but we had to all pile into a shuttle bus and take it to the terminal.  By the time I get to the terminal it is now 8:15, and I'm assuring myself that everything is going to be OK.  I checked the monitors, and they are all flashing that they are making the last call for my flight.

After a few wrong turns, I find my way to gate 27.  Of course, my gate is the one furthest away from where I am.  I break into a run for short times, as I am not as in shape as I could be and also am carrying my laptop case and a backpack.

I got to the gate at 8:30 and noticed the plane pulled up.  A few seconds later a woman walked up from the connector, and I asked her about boarding.  She gave me a confused look, and I eventually figured out that they changed the gate from when they printed my boarding pass earlier that morning.

I rushed to the nearest monitor, but it had just changed to a screen for advertisements.  The next 30 seconds felt like an eterninty, but the screen finally switched, and I noticed it moved to gate 20A.  I made a quick dash and was out of breath when I got there, but I was able to board with 20 minutes to spare.

I sat down in my seat and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I was starving and was planning on getting something to eat in the airport, but that didn't happen given the circumstances.  Then of course the flight was delayed for over an hour while we sat on the plane.

I arrived around 1:00 that afternoon, and got my bags and to the hostel without a problem.  After a quick phone call home, I got to meet some of the other people in the program.  It turns out we are all roommates for this first month, and Rochelle had already bought a bottle of wine to celebrate our first night here:

Afterwards I took a trip to the supermarket, and when I was back some others had arrived and we all went out for dinner.  We went to Patio Bellavista, which is comparable to the Americana in Glendale.  There were all types of restaurants and small shops, and we ate at a nice restaurant overlooking a patio where live jazz was being played.  There were people seated all over enjoying dinner and walking around enjoying the ambiance.  Sadly I didn't think to bring my camera with me, but others told me they will send pictures to me.

Today I was up early and made breakfast and unpacked a bit before going out to explore on my own.  I went to the Santa Lucia area, which apparently has lots of shops and a good place to get a haircut.  I wandered around and explored the area and got a haircut for 3300 pesos (or about $6.60).  I also stopped and got some tea and toast:

 In a department store later on I got a nice pair of sandals for 5000 pesos (about $10) and then headed back.  A bit later on everyone decided to head out to explore, and we got to ride on the Metro for the first time and ate some Doner kebabs at a local place.  I haven't had one since I was in Europe last time in 2005, so it was really delicious.

Then we headed to Patio Bellavista again, as some people were craving yogurt.  While we were there I snapped some pictures, but they don't do justice to the night ambiance and jazz that was playing last night.

It's hard to believe that the entire day has gone by already. I'm so happy to be here and want to enjoy every moment of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment