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I am writing to you now from the beautiful state of Bahia, Brazil. If you’ve never traveled to this area I highly recommend it.

State of Bahia, Brazil

The coast is full of paradisiacal beaches, delectable seafood and spicy stews (the best of which in my opinion is moqueca), samba music, capoeira, and inland just a few hour drive from the Salvador airport is Chapada Diamantina, a national park and wonderland of plateaus, mountains, waterfalls, and limestone caves underneath it all where you can snorkel in the subterranean lakes and rivers. Bahia has got to be one my favorite places in South America, if not the world. It’s the most African influenced region of Brazil.

Itacaré, Brazil
Itacaré, Brazil

My boyfriend and I each redeemed 25k Delta miles on roundtrip GOL flights between Buenos Aires and Salvador, the capital of Bahia, as opposed to paying a lot in cash (we’re heading into high season down here). About a week ago we flew the outbound legs. Our first flight which was scheduled to take off at 5:15 am was delayed by more than five hours, causing us to miss our connection in São Paulo. The connection was then delayed and we were placed on a much later flight, so we ultimately arrived to Salvador at around 11 pm. We should have arrived at 2 pm. We had previously planned to pick up our rental car from the airport and continue the journey with a six hour drive south of Salvador to Itacaré, but arriving at 11 pm did not permit us to stick to the original plan. The GOL staff in São Paulo had “promised” that someone else from GOL would arrange payment for a hotel when arrived in Salvador. Not surprisingly however, we couldn’t locate a single GOL staff member in the entire Salvador airport so we ended up booking our own hotel. Needless to say the whole experience was more than a little bit frustrating.

During this travel day from hell we stumbled across a diamond in the rough at the airport in São Paulo (GRU)–an American Express lounge with good food, good wine, free and functioning wifi, American outlets, and a comfortable couch to sprawl on. It’s the little things that can make all the difference when you’re patience has run out. And it truly made all the difference.

Those with an American Express Platinum or Business Platinum card can access the Amex lounge in São Paulo sponsored by Bradesco. The Amex Platinum cards also come with lounge access to the Centurion and Airspace lounges, as well as Priority Pass lounges (but you have to sign up for the Priority Pass first–learn more about how to make the most out of your Amex Platinum).

Bradesco Cartões Lounge

Terminal 1 of São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)

Scott was surprised at the quality of this lounge when I told him about it. He’s visited the Amex lounges at Buenos Aires’ international airport (EZE) and one in Mexico City, and said both were nothing to write home about. I haven’t signed up for an Amex Platinum card yet–I’m waiting for the sign up bonus to go up since you can only get it once in a lifetime unless it’s a targeted offer–so this was my first Amex lounge experience. We got in via my boyfriend’s American Express Platinum card as you get one free guest.

It wasn’t a huge lounge, but it was big enough and didn’t feel overcrowded despite the high traffic time we visited (between 6 and 8 pm).

This was the main lounge area, which had comfortable couches (one not pictured here that I melted into after my very long and stressful day). There TVs opposite the seating, and a big round table in the background of this photo.


The other sitting area was in front of the food and beverage bars.screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-9-23-55-pm

Notice the white machine in the back left corner that appears to be a refrigerator. It’s actually a charging station with individual lockers. Each locker had a micro USB charger (for Android/Kindle/most other cell phones apart from iPhone) and the latest iPhone charger.screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-38-37-am-1

Food options were tasty and hot dishes were continuously replaced/rotated out for hotter and fresher food.


There were green salads, mini sandwiches…


…mini quiches, some sort of fried dough/meat concoction, beef stroganoff, pumpkin and beef soup that I particularly enjoyed…


…and a variety of desserts.


Soft drinks and bottled waters were available for grabbing on the go.


There wasn’t a full bar but the drinks available were high quality. I had a glass (or three) of a smooth Bordeaux.


Chandon is an Argentina champagne that I like as well.


The Nespresso machine was a nice touch.


There was a business area with a few computers…


…and a family room with toys, books, and a TV playing cartoons.


The cinema room with large leather armchairs looked inviting, but I didn’t want to crowd this happily napping traveler.


Not pictured here are also showers available by appointment.

Bottom Line

Ok, so food tastes better when you’re hungry and all you’ve had all day is McDonald’s. Wifi seems faster when you’ve had little to no functioning internet all day that cuts out after your 30 minute free trial period. And wine certainly tastes better when you’ve been dealing with hours of delays and the prospect of losing a day of your vacation. Nevertheless, I think the Bradesco lounge at São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport was quality and I certainly appreciated the respite on my end. Check it out if you’ve got an American Express Platinum or Business Platinum card with you and are near Terminal 1.

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