The Andes - so near but yet so far

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 31 (Rio and away) November 19
Get up and head down to brekkie.  This time we get a table right against the window looking across to the beach.  The day is going to be sunny, just our luck!  Back to the room and get the pack started. Al wants some Havaiana thongs so we wander around looking for them. Most shops are closed but we find a drug store that is open so he buys a pair and also a pair of Ipanemas.  Head back to the beach and contemplate sitting in the sun for an hour but decide getting the pack right is more important.  The boys will be out in force today as the day warms up .
Back to the hotel, squeeze everything in and it's time to head home. Check out and ask for a cab but they get a car for us instead.  70 reais, no idea if that's good or bad but it is new and airconditioned.  We skirt around the lagoon behind Ipanema/Leblon. It is huge, and absolutely beautiful.  There is so much more we have to see in Rio, our new favourite place.  Not long before we get to the airport I get an SMS from Qantas telling us the flight from Santiago has been delayed 2 hours and won't depart now till 2.36am.  If it's true we are going to miss our connection in Auckland.  Here we go again.
Get our tickets issued at the LAN counter, ask about the delay and they say they have no record of it, okey dokey, check-in and check our luggage right through to Brisbane.  Fantastic!  
Get a coffee and something for lunch as the flight doesn't leave until 2.35, go to the duty free and buy chucaca to make the caipirinhas.  Plane to Santiago is a newly refurbed 767.  Great seats, widescreen tvs in the head backs, hundreds of movies, TV shows, 300 CDs etc etc all on demand.  Crew is lovely.  Up and just about straight down into Sao Paulo with some amazing swooping manoeuvres down through the clouds to prepare for landing.  Nothing can describe this place from the air. It is a sea of high rises stretching in to the distance that abruptly stops and the countryside begins.  Incredible to think the whole population of Australia could live in that one city.
Two and a half hours to Santiago, during which time lunch is served at would be 6pm Rio time, and we cross the awesome Andes just as the sun is going down.  Santiago is literally at the edge of them.  Go to the transfer desk and we're told there will be a delay and we say we already know.  Get some dinner vouchers, have dinner and then try and sleep on those comfy airport seats.  Try and organise alternative flight in Auckland but we're told that can only be arranged there. 

Eventually board at 2.50 and then it's obvious some people have checked in and then decided they didn't want to wait so must have gone home.  They call for them over and over but no-one puts their hand up. So we then have to wait until they get their bags off.  We finally departed at 4.15, over five hours late.
The plane was a big disappointment.  After the great 767 I thought our A340 would have the same video on demand, comfy seats etc etc but it was like travelling on a plane from 15 years ago.  The seats groaned, screens that came out of the ceiling down the middle of the plane, you get the idea.  Had dinner (again) just after take-off, pretty awful to be honest, took my sleeping tablets and tried to get some sleep.
Got a few hours but the seats were really uncomfortable (although not as bad as the business class seats on that Alitalia flight) and spent most of the however many hours it was tossing and turning.  Brekkie was better than dinner. 
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