Today's list is travel-related only... I will have some more business observations after my time in the Lotus Top Gun training class today and in the customer meetings in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow...

1.        Down the street from this hotel is an apartment/condominium building with an amenity that is fairly unique to São Paulo -- a helipad on the roof.  I have been told there are more helicopters here than anywhere else, used by high profile commuters to avoid the congestion of the streets.
2.        Speaking of congestion, I had been lead to believe that sitting in traffic was a permanent hobby here.  In my experience so far, while there is a lot of traffic, it's not surprisingly heavy.  Also, many cars and all taxis have been converted to run on alcohol/ethanol and/or natural gas, so the smog factor is significantly lower than I anticipated.  I'm not sure I'd want to drive here -- there's no grid/quadrant system and street names sometimes are verbose (Alameda Joaquim Eugénio de Lima is nearby) -- but getting around has been pretty straightforward.
3.        Twitter followers know that I had lunch yesterday at Fogo de Chao, a rodizio (all-you-can-eat) churrascaria.  If you've eaten in one of these elsewhere, then you know the drill -- tons of good food, meat on skewers served by dashing young men, all for one price.  The restaurant's business model strives to get you in and out as quickly as possible, consuming as little of the meat as possible.  And this is what happened.  We held off the meats as long as possible, but once we turned the little discs up to the green side, they were more like vultures than servers.  We ended up consuming the meat quickly, and while it was really very good (especially the filet mignon and the lambchop), I ended up hungry a few hours later.  One side note from Fogo de Chao -- in the US, some of the churrascarras serve roasted pineapple from the skewer in the same way they serve the various meats.  My colleague Ricardo Rossi Neto had never heard of this, and it wasn't on offer during our lunch.  However, just as we were readying to leave, another table received several plates of roasted pineapple, straight out of the kitchen.  That's what I'm talking about!  So Ricardo asked, and he was told that it is not on the menu but they do make it.  A few minutes later, we all enjoyed some warm roasted pineapple, topped with cinnamon and sugar.  Super yummy.
4.        Another excellent meal this week was pizza (yes, pizza) at Quintal do Bráz.  I am not sure if I am ready to give up my Chicago deep dish and move here, but these pizzas were very tasty and creative.  Another surprise at that dinner was Brahma Black beer.  I'm not a particularly big beer drinker, but Ricardo promised me that I would enjoy this.  Like Guinness, it uses nitrogen instead of CO2 for a lighter consistency.  It was like drinking creamy chocolate milk, and felt lighter and smoother than drinking the Irish stout.  I'm still not sure I would have more than one, but I could see where it would be very easy to do so.
5.        My only disappointment of this trip has been the Intercontinental Hotel here in São Paulo.  I appear to have an ATM sign on my forehead when I use the hotel services.  On one trip to the IBM office this week, instead of hailing one of the plentiful taxis, they offered me a ride in the hotel's car.  This ended up being R$35 for 15 minutes instead of a R$10-12 taxi ride...in a luxurious Honda Civic (nothing against a Civic, just that I've seen hotels in Japan where the "hotel car" is a Maybach).  This is the first hotel I've stayed in in South America or Asia where bottled water in the room (used for, as an example, tooth brushing), is not free (in fact, a bottle of no-name water is R$8).  When I arrived at the hotel at 10 AM, even though they had some rooms available, they would not check me in -- unless I paid an additional half day's hotel rate.  This is the stay where I'll make the chain's "gold" status level, but no matter.  Instead, I was offered to buy some kind of status for US$200 that would get me upgraded.  No thanks.  Then to add insult to that, all of my colleagues who are here speaking at the class are on the club level.

More tonight or tomorrow from Rio. :)

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