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I seemed to have found a small hotel glitch at the Boscolo venezia.

This can save over 200 Euro a night on the suites

If you search night by night on the hotel's website you'll see packages available for 200 euro a night for the regular rooms, (much cheaper then the regular summer rate)
This packages are titled winter package but they're bookable in the summer (I just booked) and include a free massage etc.

For example check august 21st check in for one night, a suite is 522, but with the package its only 350!

for the regular rooms you're saving about 100 euro a night but you get all the following benefits

"Experience - Winter Package, see Rate details

Additional Information
Summer Package
Summer is the perfect occasion to celebrate Venice take the
chance to enjoy some relaxing time for a romantic getaway or
some precious quality time with your family
Discover our packages and get ready to cherish unforgettable
moments in our marvelous hotels located in the most fascinating
cities in Europe
The offer includes
- A one-night stay for 2 pax with breakfast included
- Welcome tipical venetian drink, the Spritz
- Relax Massage 40min per pax*
- 10 pct off on other Spa treatments
- Free access at our SPA with a choice of hot Teas
- 10 pct off at our Restaurant Il Giardino Segreto
- Early check in and late check-out (upon availability)
- Free upgrade (upon availability)
* It is not a couple massage. Please reserve the massage when
you book your package, kindly call our Reception"

Up In The Air / Delta miles can now be used for Westjet flights
« on: March 29, 2017, 08:56:49 PM »
Lots more saver availability now USA-Canada

Up In The Air / Has AS done another stealth Deval?! This time on CX
« on: December 07, 2016, 10:24:09 AM »
Although this has happened before and was confirmed to be a glitch


AS charts now show Intra asia as 50/70 J/F OW on CX.

The same glitch happening twice? Not very likely

I wanted to bring up something that hasn't been discussed here. Air Serbia recently starting flying to JFK. Their reviews are great, reverse herringbone business class with very friendly service. The flight from Belgrade to TLV has a real business class seat,  not just a blocked middle.
Availability seems to be great you can search on

Cheapest option seems to be Etihad 81k miles each way in business class with no YQ. You can also stopover in Serbia with no extra charge if you want.

Has anyone here booked or flown this route?

Goods For Sale/Trade / $1000 to ANA for $800
« on: November 03, 2016, 03:47:59 PM »
Looking for someone to trigger an amex offer on my card by spending $1000 on ANA.
You will pay me $800

A mileage program which has long been overlooked but is an SPG partner is VA.

I was having some fun with their search feature and noticed you can book SQ J seats with VA that otherwise are usually restricted only to KF members. Better yet there is no YQ! Search for example SFO-ICN on sept 5th, you'll see SQ has seats in J and F, other partners have no seats on on this flight. However VA can book the J seat with no YQ.
You cannot book SQ F though.

In other news Delta flights are now bookable online. Previously this required PUTPAC. Their rates for Short haul are better then using DL itself.

VA recently raised rates for DL but lowered them for SQ.
You cannot mix carriers or classes on a single ticket.

Just Shmooze / Where have you been banned from? Masterthread!
« on: April 08, 2016, 01:51:34 AM »
Okay guys, I'm surprised there isn't a thread for this already.
There's a saying, if you're not banned yet, you're not hitting them hard enough, so don't be embarrassed!
I'm curious to know all the random places/companies DDFers have been banned from, and how it happened (if there's a funny story)

I'll start with myself.

Up In The Air / DTW-LGA and vice versa for $43!!
« on: April 05, 2016, 11:22:11 PM »
Several dates available throughout april/may/June

Total Miles Flown 55,449 mi
17,052 In Business class
38,397 In Economy class
about 4000 in an Amtrak train
Total cost (of flights and transcontinental train only) 190,334 points + $1721

Please give your tips on what to do in each place and where to stay (I prefer Hyatt, SPG, and IHG categories one and two)
I chase passport stamps, that is why for Europe I designed my flights so that I go in and out of the Schengen area, after this trip I will have been to basically every single European country.

I chose to go to Beirut because I don't know any other orthodox Jews, and Certainly not DDFers, who have been there. Gotta be the first for something.
I plan to go through customs and immigration for every stopover that is over 2 hours

All my plans are subject to change in case of political instability, or schedule changes. 

NYC-TLV Free flight, courtesy of birthright

New York (JFK) to Tel Aviv (TLV) — Mon, Jul 11 Overnight flight El Al 4
Dep: 12:00 pm Arr: 5:25 am 10h 25m Boeing 747

10 days in Israel

Tel Aviv (TLV) to Johannesburg (JNB) — Fri, Jul 22 El Al 53
Dep: 5:50 am Arr: 2:05 pm 9h 15m Boeing 767 35k QF points plus $154 YQ

Shabbos in Johannesburg by a friend

Johannesburg (JNB) to Richards Bay (RCB) — Sun, Jul 24 South African Airways 1213 Dep: 4:55 pm Arr: 6:10 pm 1h 15m De Havilland-Bombardier Dash-8 $100

Sunday-Tuesday by Family

Tuesday to Friday - 3 day Bush hiking tour

Durban (DUR) to Cape Town (CPT)
Fri, Jul 29 British Airways 6310
Dep: 10:45 am Arr: 12:55 pm 2h 10m Boeing 737 $72

Shabbos In Cape Town

Cape Town (CPT) to Harare (HRE) — Sun, Jul 31 - $271.70

Cape Town (CPT) to Gaborone (GBE) — Sun, Jul 31 Air Botswana 332
Dep: 1:30 pm Arr: 3:30 pm 2h 0m Embraer ERJ-145

Layover in GBE 23h 0m Hotel Needed

Gaborone (GBE) to Harare (HRE) — Mon, Aug 1 Air Botswana 264
Dep: 2:30 pm Arr: 4:40 pm 2h 10m ATR 72

1 night at the holiday Inn Harare, 10k IHG points

Harare (HRE) to Casablanca (CMN) — Tue, Aug 2 17.5K Ua + $51

Harare (HRE) to Addis Ababa (ADD) — Tue, Aug 2 Ethiopian Airlines 863
Dep: 3:29 pm Arr: 8:19 pm 3h 50m Boeing 787
Layover in ADD 2h 26m

Addis Ababa (ADD) to Beirut (BEY) — Tue, Aug 2 Ethiopian Airlines 416
Dep: 10:45 pm Arr: 3:25 am 4h 40m Boeing 737
Layover in BEY 8h 35m

Beirut (BEY) to Cairo (CAI) — Wed, Aug 3 EgyptAir 710
Dep: 12:00 pm Arr: 1:30 pm 1h 30m Boeing 737
Layover in CAI 20h 55m Hotel Cat 1-2 SPG, costing 3-4k Points, Recommendations?

Cairo (CAI) to Casablanca (CMN) — Thu, Aug 4 EgyptAir 847
Dep: 10:25 am Arr: 1:45 pm 5h 20m Airbus A321

Take the train to Marrakech
Sleep at the Le Meridien N'fis hotel 2-3k SPG a night
Shabbos in Marrakech

Saturday night, overnight sleeper train to Tangier

Tangier (TNG) to London (LHR) — $170
Sun, Aug 7 Tangier (TNG) to Madrid (MAD) —
Sun, Aug 7 Iberia 8375 Dep: 12:25 pm Arr: 2:50 pm 1h 25m Canadair RJ 1000 Layover in MAD 1h 5m
Madrid (MAD) to London (LHR) — Sun, Aug 7 Iberia 3166
Dep: 3:55 pm Arr: 5:20 pm 2h 25m Airbus A321

London (LHR) to Prague (PRG) — 4.5k Avios +$25
Sun, Aug 7 British Airways 858
Dep: 7:45 pm Arr: 10:40 pm 1h 55m Airbus A320
Hotel Needed, Recommendations?

Prague (PRG) to Bucharest (OTP) — $117.10
Mon, Aug 8 Czech Airlines 802
Dep: 11:40 am Arr: 2:35 pm 1h 55m Airbus A319
Hotel Needed, Recommendations?

Bucharest (OTP) to Lisbon (LIS) — $179.36 Including bag fee
Tue, Aug 9 Hahn Air Systems 888
Dep: 7:15 am Arr: 9:55 am 4h 40m Boeing 737
Hotel Needed, Recommendations?

Lisbon (LIS) to Vancouver (YVR) — 30k Ua + $110
Wed, Aug 10 Lisbon (LIS) to London (LHR) — Wed, Aug 10
TAP 356 Dep: 3:05 pm Arr: 5:45 pm 2h 40m Airbus A319
Layover in LHR 1h 25m
London (LHR) to Dublin (DUB) — Wed, Aug 10
Aer Lingus 177 Dep: 7:10 pm Arr: 8:25 pm 1h 15m Airbus A320
Hotel Needed, Recommendations?

Dublin (DUB) to London (LHR) — Thu, Aug 11 Aer Lingus 182
Dep: 7:00 pm Arr: 8:20 pm 1h 20m Airbus A320
Layover in LHR 13h 45m - Staying at a friend

London (LHR) to Vancouver (YVR) — Fri, Aug 12 Air Canada 855
Dep: 10:05 am Arr: 11:35 am 9h 30m Boeing 777
Hotel Needed, Cat 2 SPGs, Recommendations?

Vancouver (YVR) to Cuzco (CUZ) — 30K AA + $87.54 in Business class
Mon, Aug 15  Vancouver (YVR) to New York (JFK)
Cathay Pacific 888 Dep: 10:50 pm Arr: 7:00 am 5h 10m Boeing 777 Business
 Layover in JFK Tue, Aug 16 16h 45m

New York (JFK) to Lima (LIM) — Tue, Aug 16
LAN Airlines 531 Dep: 11:45 pm Arr: 6:25 am 7h 40m Boeing 787 Business Layover in LIM Wed,  1h 35m
Lima (LIM) to Cuzco (CUZ) — Wed, Aug 17 LAN Airlines 2023
Dep: 8:00 am Arr: 9:30 am 1h 30m Airbus A320

Two nights at a Hotel in Cusco, either Hilton or SPG luxury collection, thoughts?
Train to Machu Pichu and back

Cuzco (CUZ) to Lima (LIM) — Fri, Aug 19 LAN Airlines 2028 4.5K avios + $4.75
 Dep: 8:35 am Arr: 10:00 am 1h 25m Airbus A319
Shabbos in Lima

Lima (LIM) to Cairns (CNS) — Sun, Aug 21 Business Class 65k AA points + $100.44

Lima (LIM) to Santiago (SCL) — Sun, Aug 21 LAN Airlines 531
Dep: 8:35 am Arr: 2:05 pm 3h 30m Boeing 787 Business (D)
Layover in SCL 10h 50m Things to do in SCL?

Santiago (SCL) to Auckland (AKL) — Mon, Aug 22 LAN Airlines 801
Dep: 12:55 am Arr: 5:05 am 13h 10m Boeing 787 Business
Layover in AKL Tue, Aug 23 14h 25m Things to do?

Auckland (AKL) to Melbourne (MEL) — Tue, Aug 23 Qantas 156
Dep: 7:30 pm Arr: 9:40 pm 4h 10m Boeing 737 Business
Layover in MEL 11h 30m Hotel needed, recommendations?

Melbourne (MEL) to Cairns (CNS) — Wed, Aug 24 Qantas 702
Dep: 9:10 am Arr: 12:35 pm 3h 25m Boeing 737 Business

Wednesday and Thursday in Cairns, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and local rain-forest

Cairns (CNS) to Sydney (SYD) — Fri, Aug 26 V Australia 1408 $117.90
 Dep: 6:15 am Arr: 9:10 am 2h 55m Embraer RJ-190

Shabbos in Sydney at a friends

Sydney (SYD) to Los Angeles (LAX) — Sun, Aug 28  V Australia 1 $148.56
Dep: 9:50 am Arr: 6:30 am 13h 40m Boeing 777
1 Day and night in LA

Aug 29  Los Angeles LAX 6:05 AM San Francisco SFO 7:25 AM Southwest Flight 1986 3834SW points + $5.6

9:10am - 2:50pm (Aug 31) 51 hr, 40 min 6 California Zephyr TRANSFER - CHI (6 hr, 40 min) 9:30pm - 6:23pm (Sep 1) 19 hr, 53 min 48 Lake Shore Limited - $186

It all started back in August when Dan posted United Business class saver space in the spring to HNL and suggested some DDFers join him for the Kalalau trail. I had never heard of the Kalalau trail, but being always ready for adventure, I was excited for the challenge.

After it seemed Dan's trip wouldn't work out, Efflpletzl messaged myself and MosheD, suggesting we do it ourselves.

For starters I wanted to thank Dan, for without him and the forums, this would have never have happened. I also wanted to thank SF for giving me some photography tips before I left. I apologize that I was exhausted and didn't have the energy to dig my DSLR out of my bag and take nearly as many photos as I wanted to. Some people hike with their DSLR around their neck, but I was worried that I would trip and ruin it.

Anyways we met up, and realized that United saver would be impossible as we didn't want to wait until the spring to go.
We decided to book on Delta Metal, with myself using 25K Korean, someone else used 25k Flying blue.
The benefit of Korean is they allow two free stopovers, but they're a real PITA to get a hold of, you need to call them, and they call you back when they're open. Then you have to deal with Delta saver availability issues. In fact we needed to change our entire trip dates, because by the time I got through to Korean award ticketing, Delta had pulled the space. Plus Delta's Availability are heavily married, so there was no space LAX-LIH, only MSP-LAX-LIH, which was very frustrating, and the agents are unhelpful. In the End Bh I got a Stopover in LAX on the outbound, and a stopover to visit family in DTW on the inbound, Luckily you can place the award on hold until like a day before flying, and changes are free. The guy using Flying blue took a trailing stopover to Cancun.

I flew to LAX on Friday, spent shabbos there, and after reading enough DDF I realized my life wasn't worth living unless I visited the Tierra Sur restaurant at the Baron Herzog winery. I went there with a friend on Sunday, then drove down the beautiful Pacific Coast highway to LAX, to meet MosheD and Efflpletzl, who had just flown in from NYC. We met up in the Delta Skyclub LAX, which is really superb for a Domestic lounge.

We contacted the Shluchim in Kauai and offered to bring food from the mainland, which they greatly appreciated.
After an uneventful flight to LIH, we arranged someone to drive us to Princeville, where we had booked a private villa on Airbnb, we got a great deal through the AmEx promo. When we got there we went straight to bed, as we wanted to start hiking early the next morning.
At 6:30AM we left for the Kee'e Beach trail-head, getting there at about 7, just as it was getting light out.

We didn't purchase camping permits and didn't run in to any issues, however we heard that after we left the beach on the return, the police came and were giving out citations to those there Illegally
We planned to Daven Shachris at the Hanakapiai river, which is at the two mile marker. This turned out to be a very good idea, as the first three miles are the most strenuous, its very important to pace oneself, starting early and taking breaks when necessary. The entire time we were worried about the river crossings holding us up, but all the river crossings there and back were low enough that we were able to cross while stepping on boulders and not getting wet. The one exception was crossing the Kalalau river, one member of our group slipped on a wet rock and fell waist deep into the river, ruining his phone. While I don't think you need a waterproof sack for your Teffilin as I had (a backpack rain-fly would do fine) you should have a little waterproof pouch for your cell phone.

The trail had very tropical feeling, very wet and very muddy, with all sorts of flora and fauna all around. At the mile two marker we were already covered in Mud and throughout the day I slipped on the mud more then once, on downhill switchback curves while trudging through 3 inches of mud, luckily I didn't fall off the trail. Just watch out for slippery roots.

After eating and Davening we continued onto the third mile, which is very difficult, but our excitement and enthusiasm kept us going. We were unaware that the first three miles are the hardest, and at about the 4 mile marker, one member of our team told us the uphills were just too difficult, his muscles were cramping up and we should go on, we really didn't want to leave him but he didn't want to hold us back from reaching Kalalau. We advised him to hike to the river at mile 6, camp there, and head back the next day. Keep reading to hear how he amazingly made it to Kalalau though! The reason I included this is to advise everyone that the hike is harder then you think, and less is more with carrying. The guy who had a hard time brought lots of good food, but regretted it and ended up sharing it with other hikers and the ever present cats along the trail.

The other member of the team and I pushed on, and reached the 6th mile marker, the Hanakoa river, where we ate lunch while sitting on large boulders in the middle of the river. After crossing the river the trail to Kalalau was hard to find, as there was a camping area there. We thought we found the trail and continued going, half a mile of uphill hiking later, we reached a sign saying 'Trail ends here' with a big waterfall nearby. We had taken the wrong trail and had gone a mile out of the way roundtrip, which devastated us, as we were very fatigued. We pushed on, the 6th mile to the end isn't very difficult, except for maybe crawlers ledge, which I think is overated, I was basically able to hold on to the side and guide my way across. The only time I felt fear was on the return, there was a 170 degree turn around a ridge (basically cliffs on three sides), I was alone, and the turn was steeply downhill, without really a path but rather climbing down boulders, I was afraid to jump down for fear of the momentum carrying me over the ledge, so I slid down on my back. The pressure on my Backpack caused it to slip towards the ledge when I was halfway down though, precariously dis-balancing my center of gravity, I was only half way down though, and had to leap to the bottom, relying on physics that my pack would recenter itself, for that second hanging there with my pack disbalanced was the only time I felt fear.

Its easy to miss the mile markers and mile 8 was the last one I saw. We kept going and going, and I was looking for mile 9 but I must have missed it. Finally we got to the Kalalau sign followed by a steep decent into the valley. I was completed drained (it was about 5:30PM) and wanted to camp at the bottom, which were nice grassy bluffs leading out to the sea. My hiking partner consulted the map which showed that after the steep decent we should be at mile 10, so we're almost there and we should keep going, I didn't want to trust him because you always feel you're farther then you are, and I didnt want to set out again only to have to hike two miles. I lied down on the ground and was instantly asleep, but after about a half hour my hiking partner pushed me on and we continued. Luckily he was correct and after a little while we reached the Kalalau river, which we crossed on the stones. As I mentioned above, this is where one of the guys slipped on a wet rock and ruined his phone. After we crossed the river, we spent about 10 minutes looking for the continuation of the travel, which ended up being up to the right, from here its only half a mile to the beach, and 2 miles upriver to the end of the valley trail.

We reached the beach with great personal excitement, there were alot of tents set up, but still there was plenty of space for us. We wanted to camp on the beach but were advised by the friendly locals not to, due to the surf and tide. We camped a little back from the beach, near the local residents hangout (these were all taken down by the police shortly after we left We set up our tent, and went to shower in a fresh icy waterfall nearby, we were advised by the locals not to go into the ocean for dangers of strong current. After somewhat successfully making a fire  to soften my dried Salami, I ate it in a wrap with sriracha sauce, I went to my tent about 8:30PM, and a big cat who had broken in to get food jumped out, so make sure to always keep your tents zipped.

The ground was hard, but I still slept like a baby due to sheer exhaustion, finally waking up about 9:30AM, and literally couldn't believe my eyes...

To be continued shortly (with pics)

Goods For Sale/Trade / Looking to buy in as AU on Citi AA exec
« on: December 17, 2015, 10:43:20 AM »
I want to be an AU so i'll have lounge access. will pay $50 annually
I understand your taking a risk with having a random guy as an AU.
References available and I can make you an AU on my cards/put money is escrow etc.

Trip Reports / SVALBARD! (+Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Athens, Istanbul, Oslo)
« on: September 01, 2015, 06:59:18 PM »
First time writing a TR
Svalbard has been a dream/dare of mine ever since i first heard of the Place, I like pushing the limits and going where no one else (whom i know) has gone before.
I also thought it would complement my other big trip i took this year;topicseen
What i found most interesting about the place is how far north it is, yet how mild the climate is, thanks to the gulf-stream.
Additionally i was really excited to see the midnight sun.  I asked a Rov re zmanim, the issues are much smaller in the summer (when the sun never sets, then in the winter, when it never rises) he told me when the sun is in its lowest point in the sky, about 2AM, (the sun is about where it is during the midmorning in a regular city) it is simultaneously shkia, tzais, chatzos halailoh, and alos! Therefore I should rely on shitas Rabenu Tam, and daven marriv from ‘plag’ meaning one and a quarter halachic hours before this point. Since the sun never set, a halachic hour is 2 regular hours

I'm currently studying in London and i had a week free in the summer, so i started looking into it. There are only two airlines that fly there, Norwegian and SAS, however it’s a pretty pricey destination, and I wasn't sure I’d be able to do it. Then i read on wikitravel that it's considered a domestic location for SAS and therefore only 5k euro bonus points each way, i was thinking of doing that. I didn't want to burn 30k Ua miles. However in February united had a partner sale 25K intra Europe, and given their liberal open-jaw and stopover rules, i decided to go for it.
I only had Monday through Friday off, and there was only availability on the Oslo-LYR flight on Wednesday and back down on Friday morning, so i had to do other destinations first, I’ve already toured the cities of nearly all *alliance European hubs, with the exception of ATH, so in the end my itinerary looked like this
Monday London city-Edinburgh (free trailing flight from an earlier avios booking), i planned to take a scenic train up to Aberdeen that evening and fly to CPH, spend the night in CPH, fly out Tuesday morning to Athens, spend the day and night in Athens, then fly Wednesday morning to Istanbul, tour there, before flying that afternoon to OSL and then LYR. I'd spend Wednesday night in Svalbard, tour on Thursday, and leave LYR 4:40 Friday morning, spend the day in OSL, before flying back to London just before Shabbos.
So all in all 25K UA + ~$160 in taxes.

as a single student, I’m probably the whole guy on here who would stay at a hostel or use couch-surfer, when you’re travelling by yourself, and just need a place to crash, it really doesn't matter, i like meeting the locals and it makes for a more 'interesting' trip. Yes BH i Have SPG, MR and UR, but I prefer to save those for when I’m married or otherwise sell them.
So, Monday night, i wanted to try the New Generator hostel in Copenhagen, for Tuesday in Athens, i used a Promo that gave me 5K avios for making any hotel booking, i chose a cheap 4* hotel on the water called hotel tropical. I paid like $80 for it and i earned 5200 avios. Wednesday night i would be landing at 11:50PM (high noon :) in LYR, i looked into lodging there, everything was crazy expensive for crap facilities (~100 a night for what could pass for a bed in a military camp) if you do want to spend money on a hotel, i recommend basecamp hotel. That is when i started looking into couch surfer (which i had a great experience with last summer in Geneva) turns out that in Longyearbyen the people are very friendly, and are usually single workers or scientists; therefore they're happy to host tourists. I had no issues finding a friendly host. Thursday night my flight was 4:40 Am so i figured I’d just basically spend it in the local bar!
I tried finding someone to join me, even posting on the DDF adventure board, eventually everyone fell through and i could only find a partner to accompany me for the first day to Scotland

I was up really late the night before preparing, I told my travel buddy to set an alarm but it was a miscommunication, and he didn't. Our flight was from London city airport ~40 minute drive from me, i planned on taking the train to the airport. However i when my alarm went off, i shut it off, and my buddy woke me up at 7:05 (our flight was at 8:35), keeping a cool head a called a few car services but none of them had cars available due to the fact its rush hour in London. I finally got through to a buddy who rushed over; we got to the airport at 7:50 for an 8:35 flight, and were fine (LCY is one of my favourite airports in the world for that reason). Only issue is, i needed to carry on my bag, so i lost my Tuna and some canned foods at security. Landed in EDI, the tram to the city is £5 from the airport, but only £1.5 from the next (non-airport) stop, my friend and i hiked over to the next stop (I’m called the hobo for a reason), i Only had a couple hours in Edinburgh, due to me getting mixed up with the 24 time and booking my train to ABZ airport 2 hours too early. We walked along the Royal mile; saw the two palaces, and many shops and other attractions. I took the train up to Aberdeen, which was beautiful, and arrived at the small airport with plenty of time to my flight to CPH. I Landed in CPH which is a nice modern airport, typical of Scandinavia, and took the convenient tram to the city, i walked to the Hostel, which was very large, cozy and hip, see their site for more details. I wrote I’m a male, thinking they'd put me in a male room, but they assigned me to a mixed room, so watch out for that. It was very late when I got there and the roommates wanted to sleep so i had to unpack quietly, after looking through all my things i realized I’d somehow lost my charger and had to go out the nearest kiosk to buy a charger for $22 which broke in 2 days (i filed a dispute with chase and they still haven't settled it).

Tuesday: ATHENS.
I took the tram back to CPH for my Aegean flight to ATH, however when I proceeded to check-in, they told me there was a 65 euro checked bag fee (I was living out of a 60 litre backpack), I proceeded to show them the booking confirmation from United which said I’m allowed one free checked Bag, but to no avail. Seeing no other choice, I said I’d pay, the woman checked in my bag, and told me to head to the baggage desk to Pay, being a smartalek however, I just went straight to the gate, thinking I’d get away with it. However as the boarding process started, I was called to the counter and told to pay 500 DKK, I didn’t have any DKK, and they didn’t accept CC. getting desperate I tried just asking them to let it slide, but they said they’d get in trouble. They finally directed me to an ATM, where I pulled out the cash. I later complained to United and they sent me a $75 voucher. On my Aegean flight, I was served a stogel meal (yuck). I landed in ATH at about 3Pm and it was HOT, plus it was in middle of their banking crisis. The best way to get to the city is the Metro, but I was staying near the beach so I needed to take the Bus. Now I have an odd policy that that I almost never bring local cash when I travel in civilized countries, if I’m going to be there for a short amount of time, idk exactly how much I’ll need, so I might end up with extra. In Athens however, you cannot buy bus tickets from a CC, so I needed to withdraw cash (luckily the airport ATMs still had cash) from my bank.  After an hour stuff hot bus ride, I arrived at Hotel Tropical, it was a nice but small hotel, the whole area however (read the entire Athens! Was rundown and seedy however), I saw loads of unfinished/abandoned commercial real estate, some of which had people camped out in. there was a lot of litter, but the beach itself was nice. After a quick shower I took the tram to the city, heading for the acropolis, which being a student of Greek Philosophy and society, was of great interest to me, I wasn’t sure of the Halacha of going into the actual Parthenon though, so I stayed out. Still the whole complex was fascinating. I took a little tour train around Athens for 5 euro, mostly because I was worn out by the heat and didn’t want to walk. Beware of all sorts of tourist traps, the Greeks are pretty desperate.  After that I headed to the Chabad restaurant, which I’ve heard good reviews about, beware however that the locality of the restaurant is very ‘Intense’ at night. The restaurant was very nice and the staff friendly, I wasn’t so hungry so I just had a gyro. After that I headed back to my hotel.
Aegean changed my flight time and united didn’t notify me, I woke up early to catch the bus to the airport, which was supposed to come every hour, and take over an hour to get there, however the bus was over half hour late, and ended up taking much shorter time to get there. During the course of the journey the rear doors refused to stay closed, so the passengers forced them closed and barricaded them with people’s luggage so that they wouldn’t open…
On my short flight to IST I again received a stogel meal. Upon arriving in IST, I bought a visa for $20 (IIRC) and then went into the immigration line, which was pretty much every man fends for himself. I didn’t have time to see much, I wanted to see the Blue mosque though, I headed to the airport train station and met a guy selling train tickets to tourists, he accepted Euro/dollars/pounds etc. and was very friendly, and he showed me how to navigate the Istanbul transit system, which isn’t so simple. Upon arriving at the Blue Mosque I checked out the Egyptian obelisks that Constantine had moved there from Rome, they were about 2500 years old and quite impressive.  I wore my tzitsis out in Istanbul and have a small beard, no Issue, I took some photos by the mosque and in its courtyard, it is a very stunning complex.
At the airport for my outbound flight, the officer issuing exit visas seemed to find an issue with my boarding pass and took it with my passport to another clerk, I think he was just checking what KSML meant, but not sure. I Put on Tefillin in the airport, no issues.  My Turkish flight from IST to OSL was the best, brand new A321; I was able to select the exit row in advance with no extra charge, good IFE, and a great Turkish kosher meal with the OK on it. I had a 3 hour stopover in OSL, I was a bit confused if LYR was a domestic destination, in which case I’d have to manually recheck my luggage, turns out for luggage you don’t need to manually transfer. Luckily there was free Wi-Fi in the beautiful airport (so typical of Scandinavian countries).  When it came time to board to LYR I could hardly contain my excitement, everyone on the flight was wearing hiking gear and backpacks, the view from the plane was superb. I just want to note that SAS intra-Europe flights offer no free meals or drinks. Only coffee/tea is free. We landed around midnight, it was bright out, was very confusing to get orientated to. There was no passport control at the airport. I borrowed a local’s cell phone, and called my host who was picking me up. He was a contractor for NASA who furbished scientists living quarters and so helpful and insightful about Longyearbyen.
To be continued (if there’s demand;)

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