Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

Rio de Janeiro was Pearl Jam’s fifth and final Brazilian concert destination of their 2015 Latin America tour. Fittingly, the band partied tonight like it was their last night. After Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, this was also my final tour concert.

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

Pearl Jam performed at Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana Stadium

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

Maracana metro and train station

I caught the metro from Ipanema to Maracana, changing trains at Estacio. The number of people wearing rock t shirts increased with each stop until hundreds of us exited at Maracana Station. A short walk from the station was tonight’s host and one of the most famous venues in the world: Maracana Stadium.

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

Big Rock burger voucher

Before the concert I wanted to eat something. At the food booth I chose Big Rock, not having a clue what it was. Big Rock turned out to be a burger with two meat patties. The burger was edible but not much more. The Big Rock’s name and format is similar to the Big Mac’s so I guess this was its inspiration (if a dull burger could be inspired).

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

The crowd filling up the Piste Premium section in front of the stage, Maracana Stadium

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

Maracana crowd

After what seemed like forever, eventually the band came on stage. Following a brief stop-start, the band launched into Oceans, the only song I had not heard off Ten, their first album.Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

The moon shines brightly above stage

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

The crowd shining their mobile phones lights

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

Singer Eddie Vedder entering the crowd

After putting on a fantastic concert, towards the end Pearl Jam began partying. Eddie invited Edu, a Brazilian fan onto the stage to sing the start of Porch. Eddie then Jeff wrapped themselves in a Brazilian flag. Mike ended up topless and Eddie smashed a guitar.

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

Maracana Stadium filled with Pearl Jam fans

Maracana Stadium in its usual configuration holds over 78,000 people. I expect about that many attended this night.

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

The band towards the end. Topless guitarist Mike is on the left and next to him is bassist Jeff wearing the Brazilian flag

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Rio de Janeiro, 22 November 2015

The band farewelling both the audience and Brazil

The concert finished at midnight due to a curfew but in three hours Pearl Jam still managed 34 songs. This was an awesome concert and a fitting way to end the Brazilian stint. One of the only ways it could have been better was if people refrained from smoking. It felt there was always someone in my immediate vicinity smoking, exacerbating my headache and putting a small downer on the night.

Even though this was my eleventh Pearl Jam concert, they still played five songs new to me. The band also played four songs from No Code, my favourite album. And, for my fourth consecutive concert, Pearl Jam played Rearviewmirror, the best song in the world.

In my three Brazil concerts Pearl Jam played 103 songs, including 63 unique songs (54 originals, 9 covers). This tour I saw the band play 22 songs for the first time.

In eleven concerts I have seen them play 116 unique songs (98 originals, 18 covers). Only two songs, Even Flow and Do The Evolution were played at all eleven gigs.

Rio’s Sunday night metro and rail services usually end at 11pm. Tonight, trains from Maracana were extended to get the concert audience home. I did not linger in the stadium afterwards as I wanted to ensure I got back to Ipanema. Maracana metro station heaved with people and I eventually boarded a train. At Ipanema’s General Osorio station, only exit A was open. Instead of walking a few metres from exit C to my accommodation, I enjoyed a more scenic route, arriving home after 1:30am.

Farewell Pearl Jam, you were awesome!

 

All the Pearl Jam concerts and songs I’ve seen: http://pjdb.net/user.php?f_user=571

The full Rio de Janeiro set-list and other fan-views: http://community.pearljam.com/discussion/248021/rio-de-janeiro-brazil-fanviews-here-11-22-15

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

In Belo Horizonte, besides volunteering and seeing Pearl Jam, I enjoyed time with wonderful hosts Patricia and her mother and celebrated my birthday.

Confins, Belo Horizonte’s main airport, is located almost 40km out of the city. To reach the city centre I took the executive bus (R$23.70). Patricia was kindly waiting for me and we took a taxi to her Mum’s house.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

With Patricia’s bubbly mother prior to dinner

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Another hilly street

Belo Horizonte, like Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo, is full of hills and my hosts lived on a steep sloping street.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

A cheese shop, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte. Minas Gerais is famous for cheese and it featured prominently in the market

On my birthday Patricia and I planned to visit Inhotim, a sprawling contemporary art and environmental space outside of the city. However, continuous morning rain caused localised flooding and changed our plans. Instead, we visited Mercardo Central (Belo Horizonte’s ‘Central Market’). Like Adelaide’s Central Market, Mercardo Central has dozens of stalls and is the place to buy fresh food in Belo Horizonte. Although most foods were cheaper than in Australia, I was still surprised at how expensive they were relative to the wage difference.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Turkish apricots, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Apricots in Brazil are named Damasco after the city of Damascus, Syria.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Chilli stall, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Fruit stall, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

I loved exploring the market and looking at the various stalls. Patricia explained local specialities and was a font of knowledge.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Stall selling baskets, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Birthday lunch with Patricia, Casa Cheia, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Feijao Tropeiro Com Torresmo, a traditional Minas Gerais pork dish, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil Lace-work, Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

After Mercado Central, Patricia dropped me off for my first Brazilian haircut. The haircut experience went well, despite limited shared language.

The Miss Brasil 2015 beauty contest was televised from Sao Paulo. Comment was made that, despite Brazil’s majority African-origin and mixed-race population, the top ten finalists were all light-skinned with straight hair

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Patricia’s mother’s cleaners made a delicious lunch on the 20th: galinha caipira (‘country chicken’), tutu de feijão (a bean dish), rice, salad and pasta (latter two not pictured)

The salad and pasta served for lunch on the 20th both featured pickled palm hearts. Although I had seen jars of palm hearts in Australia, I don’t recall tasting them. The hearts complemented the salad and pasta nicely and they are a new favourite food. However, reading the Wikipedia article detailing the poaching of wild palms for heart harvesting, has now tempered my enjoyment.

Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

With Patricia and her mother

On the 20th I caught a taxi to the city centre and then the executive bus back to Confins Airport. Next to my departure gate was California Coffee cafe. What an ironic name for a cafe in Minas Gerais, the biggest coffee growing state in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee-producer.

Thank you to Patricia, her mother and relatives for making a wonderful and memorable Belo Horizonte stay.

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Belo Horizonte, 20 November 2015

Pearl Jam performed a fantastic concert in Sao Paulo but Belo Horizonte’s performance was amazing!

It rained consistently the concert afternoon and evening. Rain combined with peak-hour in Belo Horizonte leads to crawling traffic. My taxi to Isabela’s apartment (R$25.10 on meter; R$30 including tip) experienced some delays. However, this was nothing compared with the drive to Mineirao Stadium.

Bruna drove admirably for over two hours to cover the limited distance (as short as 13.5km according to Google Maps). To dodge the worst of the traffic we took many side roads. We even went up a road too steep for the vehicle and had to delicately turn around to go back down.

We eventually arrived to the stadium around 8:30pm, the time Pearl Jam has previously started. Pete, Pearl Jam’s head of security was viewing proceedings at my entry gate. After seeing how many people were still lining up, I expect he advised the band to start later. Although my ticket wouldn’t scan, entry staff let me through. After a quick toilet stop and water drink I was on the ground, ready for the band.

Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

Entering the stadium Pista Premium section

Within minutes, Pearl Jam came out and gave an epic performance, starting with a song I didn’t recognise (The Beatles’ Rain). The rain had stopped by now and hardly a drop fell during the concert.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/mkL0bEl9sUU” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

A partial video of Even Flow from the night. Even though I have seen this song played at every Pearl Jam concert, in Brazil the audience participation never makes Even Flow boring

Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

Singer Eddie Vedder talked about the mining disaster in both English and Portuguese during the night. He expressed his sympathy with locals and slammed the operator. A crowd recorded video of Eddie saying this was shown on the news with the next day. Eddie also said concert proceeds would support the families hurt by the disaster.

Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

The crowd lights up during Imagine (Lennon)

In tribute to the terrorism victims at the concert in Paris, the band covered Eagles of Death Metal’s Want You So Hard (Bad Boy News).

Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

Tonight the band played 36 songs in just less than three hours. Even in my tenth concert, I still saw eleven(!) songs for the first time. Personal highlights included Sometimes, Rearviewmirror and  Mankind, the latter sung by guitarist Stone Gossard.

Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

Singer Eddie Vedder at the side of the stage

Mineirao Stadium’s seating is largely covered and the covering helped keep the sound in, creating an amazing atmosphere. Even though the crowd wasn’t as into the concert as in Sao Paulo, the atmosphere was better. It appeared that many of the attendees in my section came to concert for the ‘event’ and not for the music. People lined up for beer throughout the concert and I’m sure Heineken and the promoter made massive profits. Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

The lights are on near the concert end

Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

Pearl Jam band members waving good night

Pearl Jam Belo Horizonte

The crowd exiting the ground

Once out of the stadium I caught up again with Bruna, Bruno and Isabela. We all agreed that Pearl Jam put an a fantastic show. Thankfully, the Uber ride home did not take two hours. Not that I would have noticed, as I slept most of the way back.

 

For the full set list and more fan views: http://community.pearljam.com/discussion/247991/belo-horizonte-brazil-fanviews-here-11-20-15

Pearl Jam nerds, here are the songs I’ve seen live: http://pjdb.net/user.php?f_user=571

I’m about to catch the metro to Maracana for tonight’s Rio de Janeiro gig, Pearl Jam’s fifth and final Brazilian concert of their 2015 Latin American tour. Stay tuned for my report on this as well as a write up of my time in Belo Horizonte.

Volunteering after the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster

Belo Horizonte is the capital of Brazil’s Minas Gerais (‘General Mines’) state, where the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster occured. On the fifth of November the wall of an iron ore mine tailings dam operated by Samarco (a Vale/BHP Billiton joint venture) collapsed, flooding towns, killing several people and causing an ongoing environmental and ecological catastrophe. The poisonous dam water is still flowing downstream and yesterday a friend said it had almost reached the sea.

The disaster region’s administrative centre, the town of Mariana, is only 20km from Bento Rodrigues. The flood victims were moved to Mariana and the disaster relief is coordinated from here. Patricia’s nieces Isabela and Bruna and their friends Bruna and Maria Clara went to volunteer in Mariana yesterday and I was lucky enough to join them. I could have explored the nearby world heritage listed historic town of Ouro Preto but chose the more meaningful option.

The entire 120km drive from Belo Horizonte to Mariana was hilly. I’m amazed at how hilly the region is. The relief centre is a large warehouse fronted by a smaller shop front where disaster survivors receive aid.

The mountain of toilet paper

The toilet paper mountain, Mariana, Minas Gerais

The warehouse contained masses of of donated supplies: non-perishable food, toilet paper, bottled water, cleaning products, linen and shoes.

Piles of shoes in the foreground and bags of unsorted shoes in the right background

Piles of sorted shoes in the foreground and bags of unsorted shoes in the right background, Mariana, Minas Gerais

There were many bags and piles of second hand shoes of all types from thongs to high heels and slippers to sneakers.

One of the final hat sightings

One of the final sightings of my Barmah hat, Mariana, Minas Gerais

Following registration, our job was to sort the shoes, ensure the pairs were together and place them on the appropriate pile: male, female, girl, boy, single and worn out shoes. Shopping trolleys of shoes were then taken as required around to the shop front to be selected. Shoe shorting wasn’t well coordinated and could have been streamlined with a better process, clearer labelling and crates to place shoes in.

The shoe sorting team

The shoe-sorting volunteer team, Mariana, Minas Gerais

In our final few hours we separated the single okay shoes from the damaged and worn-out shoes, looking for pairs and shifting more than 30 garbage bags of poorly shoes to the loading dock for disposal.

My volunteer nametag

My volunteer name tag, Mariana, Minas Gerais

Different media visited throughout the day and Globo, Brazil’s largest television company recorded me sorting shoes. I could be on Brazilian TV! If you watch Globo and see a person wearing a Barmah hat sorting shoes, that’s me! Unfortunately, that will be the final footage of my hat as it later disappeared off a seat a few metres from where we were sorting shoes.

No, this is not the replacement hat

No, this hat is not a satisfactory placement

The warehouse shopfront where survivors receive their supplies and choose their shoes

The relief centre store front where survivors receive supplies and choose, shoes, Mariana, Minas Gerais

Storm clouds threatening

Ominous storm clouds, Mariana, Minas Gerais

Rain came several times during the day and as we left the relief centre storms threatened. Due to hail on the route back we postponed our return journey and stayed for a coffee at Isabella’s boyfriend’s aunt’s nearby boutique hotel located next to a stream on a (surprise, surprise) steep street. As soon as the aunt heard I was Australian she went on a tirade (in Portuguese) about BHP Billiton.

The stream below the boutique hotel

The stream below the boutique hotel, Mariana, Minas Gerais

Chicken parmigana at the restaurant

At Sinha Olimpia Restaurant, Mariana, Minas Gerais

Chicken Parmigana, Sinha Olimpia Restaurant, Mariana, MInas Gerais

Mashed potato, potato chips, rice and tomato sauce accompanied the chicken parmigana

The storm was still impacting the road back to Belo Horizonte so we had dinner at Sinha Olimpia Restaurant a few buildings down the street. A large, delicious share plate of chicken parmigana and (for me) a caipirinha later, we drove home.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Besides Pearl Jam and jet lag, I did manage to see and do a few other things during my time in behemoth Sao Paulo.

With Pablo at Vila Madalena restaurant

With Pablo at restaurant

On my second night, via a mutual friend (thanks Lucy!), I met Pablo, an Argentinean who has lived in Sao Paulo for a decade. Over beef picanha and a strong caipirinha cocktail Pablo provided an insightful introduction to South America, Brazil and Sao Paulo.

Brazilian steak sizzling at table

The picanha (beef) with chopped onions cooking over a flame (top of photo). Diners finish cooking the meat to their liking

Hostel Alice interior wall

An interior wall of the very friendly Hostel Alice, Vila Madalena

With my jet lag and post-trip tiredness, I hardly left Hostel Alice in the first few days. The very helpful and friendly hostel staff (Renata, Denise, Gabriele) and fellow guests (Joana, Marcio, Cassio) made it a home away from home.

ATMs at Sao Paulo’s main Guarulhos International Airport did not accept foreign debit or credit cards so I didn’t have Brazilian Rials for a few days. Luckily, the restaurant and hostel accepted cards. A bank nearby the Vila Madalena metro station appeared to only allow withdrawals up to R$500 (less than AUD$200) – something to consider for fellow travellers to Brazil.

Vila Madalena graffiti

Vila Madalena graffiti

Vila Madalena is a neighbourhood famous for its nightlife, culture and art. Towards the end of Rua Harmonie (the same street as the hostel) is an area full of graffiti art. A trip highlight occured when, while walking on the street, twice in two minutes Brazilians asked me for directions!

Standing in front of Vila Madalena graffiti

On my walk back to the hostel, another local not only knew I was a foreigner but guessed I was Australian due to my hat’s similarity to Mick Dundee’s from Crocodile Dundee.

Woman taking photo of girl in front of graffiti

A woman photographing a girl (her daughter?) in front of graffiti art, Vila Madalena

Steep street, Vila Madalena

Some Vila Madalena streets are very steep

Gelato, Vila Madalena

Always a winner: delicious tiramisu, passionfruit and cherry-chocolate flavoured gelato for lunch

Bromeliads and orchids attached to tree, Vila Madalena

Plants including orchids and bromeliads were attached to many Vila Madalena tree trunks

Painted bin and pole, Vila Madalena

Even rubbish bins are disguised in Vila Madalena

Women holding sign for job, Vila Madalena

Woman employed to hold advertising sign all day

"Australian bread", Sao Paulo

“Australian bread”

On my final evening in Sao Paulo, I caught up with Cleide from the Pearl Jam pre-concert party. The cafe we visited sold selected sandwiches made with Australian bread, a soft, light-brown bun. I don’t know how this bread came to be associated with Australia. I guess Australian bread is widely known in Brazil as the flight I took from Sao Paulo to Belo Horizonte also sold sandwiches made with it. Can anyone solve this mystery?

Theatre sculpture, Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo

Next to a lake in Ibirapuera Park with central Sao Paulo in the background

Ibirapuera Park is a major Sao Paulo landmark and, in a city lacking public space, a venue thousands of locals visit every day, especially on weekends. The park contains lakes, pavilions, monuments, museums, a running and cycling track and many other facilities. Keeping up the Australian theme, black swans live in the lakes.

DSC01262 (Large)

 

A sculpture in one of the pavilions

Contemporary art inside theatre, Ibirapuera Park,

Either another artwork or contemporary seating at an Ibirapuera Park pavilion

Hundreds of young people congregated in one area of the park. Amongst them were many young teenage (e.g. 13 to 16 years old) same-sex pairs flirting with and kissing each other.

Street from taxiing plane, Congonhas Airport, Sao Paulo

My plane to Belo Horizonte taxiing metres from the street prior to take-off from Congonhas Airport, Sao Paulo

I will return to Sao Paulo on this trip as there are many more things I would like to see and do including Liberdade (the Japanese district), free architecture and walking tours, the Central Market (Mercado Municipal) and museums and galleries.

My flight to Belo Horizonte departed from a different airport to the one I arrived at. Congonhas Airport is a domestic-only airport located closer to central Sao Paulo than the larger Guarulhos International Airport and my taxi from the hostel to Congonhas cost R$43, far less than a taxi to Guarulhos.

Pearl Jam Live in Concert, Sao Paulo, 14 November 2015

What a fantastic evening!

One of my dreams was to see Pearl Jam play live in South America, the home of their craziest fans. After hearing the band play my favourite song (Rearviewmirror) for the first time at their 2014 Perth concert, my wish for this concert was to enjoy the moment and soak up the atmosphere.

Sao Paulo was the second of five Brazilian Pearl Jam concerts as part of their 2015 Latin American tour.

My Pearl Jam Sao Paulo experience began with an unofficial fan gathering the night before at O’Malley’s pub in central Sao Paulo. There I chatted with other fans, both Brazilian and foreign and shared our pre-concert excitement, including Cleide, a fellow runner and a passionate soccer fan. Coincidentally, that evening Brazil played Argentina in a world cup qualifier in Buenos Aires and loud cheers rang out when Brazil came back to draw the match 1:1.

The pub had an interesting payment system I had not experienced before. Upon entry each person was given a card. Food and drinks were put against that card like a tab. Prior to leaving, each person paid their bill in order to receive an exit ticket. No exit ticket, no exit. My bill totalled R$109 for two pints of stout (R$19 each), a grilled tuna salad (R$31) and the R$40 male cover charge. If I recall correctly, females paid R$30.

Thank you to Dimitrios, a fanatical Pearl Jam fan from Greece who found the venue and created the Facebook event. It was a great night except for the terrible news from Paris flashing up on the television screens.

With other Pearl Jam fans outside Sampa Hostel before taking the van to the concert

With other Pearl Jam fans outside Sampa Hostel before going to the concert

The next afternoon I walked 10 minutes to Sampa Hostel to catch a specially chartered van taking fans to and from Morumbi, the concert venue (40 real). Cheers to Hostel Alice for reserving my place!

Morumbi, officially known as Estádio Cícero Pompeu de Toledo, is one of Sao Paulo’s major soccer stadiums and the home of Sao Paulo FC. My Piste Premium concert ticket gave me access to the general admission section in front of the stage. Arriving after 5pm, I had hours to buy a t-shirt (R$100) at the merchandise stand, enjoy the stadium atmosphere, chat with other fans and watch the crowd build.

Morumbi Stadium filling up with Pearl Jam fans

The Piste Premium general admission section in front of the stage

Vendors carrying eskies wandered the crowd selling water, soft drink and beer

Vendor carrying esky of water, soft drink and beer

Fans wanting to eat or drink didn’t even need to leave their spot in the audience. Both before and during the show, vendors wandered amongst the crowd selling either drinks (water: R$6, soft drink: R$8, beer: R$10) or hot chips (R$12).

The receipt for hot chips

Voucher for hot chips (‘potatoes in cone’) bought at a kiosk

More food and drink was available from kiosks. There, instead of paying cash directly, one had to buy a voucher and exchange it for the items purchased. “Pearl Jam” featured prominently on each voucher and I bet a few fans bought extra vouchers for souvenirs.

As the concert got closer, Mexican waves started in the stands and the sense of anticipation grew

The crowd roars as Pearl Jam enter the stage; the video ends with the first notes of Long Road

After 8:30pm the band entered the stage to a huge roar. Long Road opened the concert followed by Of The Girl and, as I predicted beforehand, Love Boat Captain. Prior to Love Boat Captain, singer Eddie Vedder read out a few words in Portuguese regarding the recent attacks in Paris. Drummer Matt Cameron’s bass drum also featured an outline of the Eiffel Tower.

Lights in the audience during Pearl Jam's cover of Imagine

Fans shine their mobile phone lights during Pearl Jam’s cover of John Lennon’s Imagine

Pearl Jam performing in Sao Paulo

The stage glows

Strong winds and rain hit the stadiums, causing some interruptions. Eddie sang a solo acoustic version of Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town and the first encore break was extended in order to secure loose items, allow the spotlight operators to come down and to protect the stage.

After the rain at Pearl Jam Sao Paulo

After the rain

The audience rocking to the Neil Young cover Rockin’ In The Free World – the couple dancing typify the crowd’s enthusiasm and joy 

Near the end of the concert

Lights on at the end of the concert

The lights are on for the end of the show

Yellow Ledbetter usually signals the end and after this song the band thanked the crowd and said goodbye. However, as it was such a great night the band came back for a final song and third cover, All Along The Watchtower.

Pearl Jam put on a magical night for the ~ 60,000 strong crowd, performing 33 songs over three hours and eleven minutes. It’s very hard to pick favourites from the night but my highlights included Hail, Hail, State Of Love And Trust and Rearviewmirror. The main highlight, however, was the wonderful atmosphere brought about by the crowd and band feeding off each other.

For the full set-list and further fanviews: http://community.pearljam.com/discussion/247890/sao-paulo-brazil-fanviews-here-11-14-15

The good news I have two more occasions to experience the Pearl Jam-Brazil magic: in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro. I can’t wait!

Perth to Sao Paulo via Abu Dhabi

I’m writing this from the friendly Hostel Alice in Sao Paulo, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest city and Brazil’s business and transportation centre. Although it’s obvious in hindsight, I didn’t realise Sao Paulo was named after St Paul from Tarsus in modern day Turkey, a town nearby my former hometown Mersin.

My journey from Perth to Sao Paulo took only two flights but an indirect route and long duration (36 hours). Cara kindly dropped my off at Perth Airport and there I boarded the 11.5 hour Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi. Etihad plane at Perth Airport

The Etihad plane taxiing to the gate, Perth Airport

Etihad’s service and modern plane impressed me although their food was average. I loved the provision of noise-cancelling headphones, particularly since I left mine home in the interests of reducing baggage weight and space.

Abu Dhabi International Airport

After touching down at Abu Dhabi International Airport

With 10 hours overnight in between flights, sleep was key. I knew Abu Dhabi Airport had sleeping pods and I went to find them. I guess I already gave off a backpacker vibe because, when asked about the pods, the information desk man showed me a price list to check if I could afford one before pointing me in the right direction.

Interior of Abu Dhabi Airport Sleeping Pod

My sleeping pod interior with the cover closed, Terminal 3, Abu Dhabi International Airport

After eventually finding GoSleep Sleeping Pods, the woman kindly offered eight hours for the price of seven. At AUD 95 (they accepted multiple currencies) for seven hours, I bet many backpackers do indeed choose a bench instead.

Abu Dhabi Airport Sleeping Pod

The open sleeping pod

The sleeping pod room was dark and somewhat noisy but the combination of earplugs and my excellent Hibermate Sleep Mask with Ear Muffs blocked out all noise and light. The six hours of sleep was golden and made this long journey manageable. Although expensive for what it is, I recommend the sleeping pods for anyone who needs a sleep and isn’t claustrophobic.

The view shortly after departing Abu Dhabi

The view shortly after departure from Abu Dhabi

Rivers near the West African coast

Rivers near the West African coastline

The 14.5 hour Jet Airways operated flight for Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Sao Paulo flew over a significant chunk of Africa and the Atlantic Ocean, both firsts for me. The African mountains, rivers and plains looked attractive from the sky and the continent is definitely on my future places to visit list.

When not looking out the window, I spent most of my time playing an addictive arcade game on Etihad’s E-Box entertainment system causing the system to crash twice from overuse.

Waters offshore Brazil contain some of the world’s deepest, most technically-difficult to extract and largest reserves of oil and gas. From the plane I was surprised at number and density of the drill ships, production platforms and support vessels.

First sight of the South American continent

My first ever view of the South American continent (and continental Brazil)

The South American continent came into view indicating my journey end and South American adventures start.

Sao Paulo from the air

This photo provides an indication of how massive Sao Paulo is

Jet Airways plane at Sao Paulo Airport

The Jet Airways plane after landing at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport

After landing and going through Brazilian immigration, I was thankful to have prearranged a transfer through the hostel. Luckily Sao Paulo’s infamous traffic behaved itself and the journey into this mega city went smoothly.

Farewell to a multi-generational Mitsubishi Magna

Farewell Mitsubishi Magna

Blooming jacaranda trees provided a fitting backdrop for the Magna’s farewell

Today I farewelled a car that served three generations of family across two states. This morning a tow truck driver came and towed my white Mitsubishi Magna sedan. The car will be auctioned off with proceeds going towards preventing youth homelessness via Kids Under Cover.

The Magna entered life at Mitsubishi’s Tonsley Park assembly line in 1994. In 1995 my dearly departed maternal grandparents purchased the car new from Ceduna Mitsubishi in western South Australia. Later, my parents became owner number two and, in 2009, they were generous enough to give the car to me to use in Western Australia.

Magna in South Australian countryside

The Magna in all its glory in the South Australian countryside, 2006

As part of my move to Perth to join a consultancy in late 2008, I negotiated to have the company pay for car relocation. Packed to the ceiling with my possessions, the Magna crossed the Nullarbor on the Indian Pacific train. Unknown to my then boss at the time, the company paid several hundred dollars to transport a car worth not much more than the transportation fee!

Gaziantep slippers on Magna mirror

A shoe ornament from Gaziantep, Turkey hung from the Magna’s rear view mirror

Changing the state of registration to Western Australia required an inspection. A new windscreen and a few other tweaks later, the Magna was ready to extend its reign for several more years. If the car had no provenance I would not have persisted with the transportation and registration bureaucracy and expense. However, this was not a normal car, but a family heirloom! Indeed, the Magna performed very well and, until the last few years, operated very reliably for a 1994 model. It wasn’t a spectacular car but it performed its job.

Mitsubishi Magna sedan

Before towing, I removed the license plates for return to the Department of Transport

21.5 years and 256,000 kilometres after coming off the production line, the Magna has left the family. Farewell to a fine servant!