Topic Wiki

Still in progress... 3.5 weeks done, 2.5 to go!

As per a great suggestion from Joe, here are the links to each city's TR:
Israel: Part 1
Israel: Part 2 (very short)
Israel: Part 3 - Eilat
Israel: Part 4 - Ein Gedi/Dead Sea
Madrid
(Pics from Israel and Madrid)
Barcelona
Seville
Gibraltar
Rome
Florence
Pisa
Venice
Switzerland

Trip planning thread: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=37776.0
There you can find all the info about how I booked what. May take some searching in there.
« Last edited by @Yehuda on October 29, 2015, 05:06:09 PM »

Author Topic: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report  (Read 38020 times)

Offline stbaum

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Apr 2014
  • Posts: 1298
  • Total likes: 16
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2014, 11:29:05 AM »
Good Luck! Safe travels!! don't forget to put a bit in the pushka for some shliach mitzvah gelt...
(i mainly posted so this thread can now be in my 'participated' feed 8) )
My greatest achievement? I am fluent in FRIENDS quotes

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8893
  • Total likes: 53
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2014, 11:37:46 AM »
Good Luck! Safe travels!! don't forget to put a bit in the pushka for some shliach mitzvah gelt...
(i mainly posted so this thread can now be in my 'participated' feed 8) )
Thanks, amen! Good idea, no one gave me any money, I'll have to just give my own tzeddakah. ;)

Offline lunatic

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: May 2009
  • Posts: 4107
  • Total likes: 1
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 8
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2014, 12:07:12 PM »

The total cost of travel and lodging is approximately $1500 a person. That's not for showing off, that's just for realizing how incredible miles are. Most people pay almost $1500 to sit in coach and go just to Israel.


I assume that this does not include food. I think it would be helpful to others (or at least myself) to see that, after you calculate it

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8893
  • Total likes: 53
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2014, 12:25:44 PM »
I assume that this does not include food. I think it would be helpful to others (or at least myself) to see that, after you calculate it
Correct. I plan on to include costs as I go along. At the end, I can post what the entire trip cost.

Offline efflpetzel

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Aug 2012
  • Posts: 2121
  • Total likes: 12
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2014, 12:31:02 PM »
Dude just go & enjoy your trip to the max, Its a once in a lifetime trip so chap arein & make it memorable,

DDF should be way in the back of your mind, not in the front :)
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 03:01:36 PM by efflpetzel »

Offline SOS

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: Apr 2014
  • Posts: 671
  • Total likes: 0
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Programs: SPG Gold, Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold, Avis First, Hertz Five Star, National Executive
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2014, 02:44:45 PM »
enjoy
cant wait for the trip report, but everyone else is right, forget about ddf for the next month, (or as long as you can hold out)

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8893
  • Total likes: 53
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2014, 06:18:03 PM »
Well you guys were right about forgetting about DDF for at least a little while. Couldn't possibly go a whole month, though.  ;D

So, my wife is sleeping off her jetlag (*ETA: this is my third time sitting down to write this post (warning: it's long) so now she's just sleeping b/c it's 12:30AM), so I figured now would be a perfect time for the first post. Let's start with this: Wow.


Wow. Business class. Wow. Wow. Wow. It's everything the pictures Dan has posted and the guys here talk about - probably even better when it's your first time. It was really cool, like really really. So let's recap the day...

We left for Elizabeth, my hometown, and went straight to Dunkin' Donuts for lunch. We also bought some extras for the journey. Then we drove to my mother's house and parked my car in her driveway for the next 6 weeks. Convenient :) She kindly left work early to drive us to EWR - normally a 10 minute drive, but traffic made it take closer to 20. Business checkin had no line and no one to ask us about our carryons which were each 1inch too big in a 1 direction. In case you didn't read in my planning thread, we each took just 1 rolling carryon and a backpack - packed about 10 days worth of clothes and plan to do laundry throughout the trip. Security had an average wait and bh no questions asked - tealights for Shabbos (opted to not deal with bringing matches) and we bought 3oz liquids and had them in their quart-size ziploc bags and no problems. We got through security 10 minutes before boarding, and even though my wife wanted to just go sit by the gate, she agreed to let me check out the United lounge just to at least see what a lounge looks like (she came along). From a first-timer's view, lounges are nice, but not that spectacular. Sure, it had nice wooden walls and fancy tiles, but the real "benefit" seemed to be the exclusivity of the whole thing (and that's with probably 100-200 people in there). So, if you're into that feeling, I can hear why you'd like it. Free wifi was probably the benefit I liked most (even for our short stay), although my wife liked her free banana. ;) Now for the businessman, however, I could see how this place would rock. If you really have work to do, there were a ton of almost-fully enclosed individual cubicles (walls up to the ceiling) with a desk, chair and outlets as well as a few communal printers. The restaurant/lounging area was quite full, but I do hear that sitting there for a few hours is nicer than sitting by the gate. Again, especially because of the wifi. We left after about 10 minutes and went to the gate, got straight on line for boarding group 1 :) met another frum couple flying J (and probably paying a bit more than $33) and boarded the plane within 5 minutes.

The seats were just amazing. I think this pic will suffice for a description:

We're talking outlets by each seat, TVs that definitely seemed bigger than in couch, shelves to hold things, and of course, wider seats that move in every-which-way ending with a full recline into a bed. Was simply awesome.

We downloaded plenty of TV for the trip, but once we saw the movie selection, we decided we should save our TV for when we don't have a TV with 200 movies to pick from. We started watching Captain Phillips, which was fantastic btw.

Not too long into the movie, and it was time for dinner. Let's get something straight here. Pro DDFers generally talk pretty badly about KSMLs, but I thought the experience was great - #1 the service (which is the same for KSML or regular meals) and #2 I actually liked the food! Food was Borenstein's. The tray tables fold out from the middle handrest/shelf thing and then they bring out tablecloths. TABLECLOTHS! Dinner was served as a 3 course meal! Sure, it was nothing like the non-kosher food coming out of the galley, but it was still good.
First course was a little appetizer cup of nuts. Tasty, although my wife didn't eat much of hers so I snacked on hers too. Again, it was not much compared to the non-KSML, but I still thought it did its job of warming up the taste buds.


Then we had some sort of fish dish, which was really good. I'm not a huge fish fan, but this thing was full of flavor.


Finally, the main course and dessert (brought out together). My Rabbi said to either wash on the rolls or avoid them altogether. We decided to wash and used the little cup thing with a handle they give you for drinking. Probably not a reviis, but better than nothing, I imagine. The entree was pretty good (as opposed to the fish which I called really good ;)) Rice and veggies were good and chicken was flavorful, but not as much as the fish. Chocolate cake thing was rich and good, just not such a fan of nuts in my cake. Good pieces of pineapple - flavorful and not mushy or too hard.

Again, I liked the meal, but as that's a matter of opinion, realize I'm someone who has never flown J before and rarely on flights that offer meals, so for me, it was a great experience.

After dinner, we watched Frozen. Good movie but nowhere near the "amazing" that the world is making it out to be. Doesn't come close to the classic Disney princesses nor the more recent Disney hits. I did not get why people rave about it. Anyway, flight was about 7.5 hours to MUC. Problem with that is you land around 1AM EST which is 7:30 there, so we were just getting tired as the flight was ending. Even with our plush beds, we only went to sleep for like the last hour of the flight.

Got to MUC for a 4hr stop and walked to the gate just to get familiar with where we needed to go. (Seems like TLV is always at the same gate area - allllll the way down, last gates in the terminal.) Then we went back to find the LH J lounge. Much smaller than UA EWR lounge, but also nice looking. There were showers (didn't use them) and we easily found space to settle down. Wifi was spotty, but we had a nice corner for me to Daven. Was much more comfortable to Daven in the lounge (even in Germany - which felt weird being in the entire time) than Davening at the gate in MIA a few weeks ago. Some fruit here as well, but that was the end of the Kosher food, although they were serving fresh eggs and other foods for free, which I did not see avail at UA EWR. This was also the first time I tried my phone, which we'll get into later.
The Jewish couple we met in EWR warned us that security for MUC-TLV is crazy with crazy Q's and they once saw them trying to force a woman to take off her hat. They did their job scaring my wife, but security was a breeze. Other than inquisitively checking my Tide packets that we brought along, they just asked to see my watch/belt that were in my carryon and then we were good to go. Bumped into my cousin at the gate, who was also heading to Israel for the wedding and shortly thereafter we boarded, our flight in LH J, again group 1 :)

J on this flight was as ilherman had warned me to expect of some of my flights. My wife had the window, I the aisle and this sat between us:

Basically it's like paying for a third seat. Some rows had nothing in that seat, we had this tray. Would have been nicer w/no tray so we could stretch out a bit more. As we didn't sleep much on the last flight/in the lounge, we immediately crashed on this flight. Too bad really, because this was like sleeping in coach and sleeping on the first flight would have been much more comfortable. Anyway, I woke up about 45 min before landing and they came over right away and offered to bring out the KSML. I was honestly surprised there even was a meal. FME, a 4 hr domestic flight doesn't have a meal, but here a 4 hr MUC-TLV flight did. (Yes, I ordered it. But I just made the request on all our flights b/c you never know.) This meal was 2 courses (and came with a tablecloth too ;) although one of lesser quality), and they asked if I wanted the courses separate, but I said just bring them out together. I wasn't really hungry, but I also wanted to see what it looked/tasted like. Food was from Sohar's and was under the Beis Din of Frankfurt Am Main (I believe). Part of me was curious about hechsherim on plane food as I've obviously never heard of BDF, but the combination of "this is the company the airline is getting from, they must have done some sort of research" + the way the Teudah was worded + the way the food is wrapped made me feel comfortable eating it. If anyone knows of any airlines where the KSML isn't reliable, please do let me know!
First course/dessert:

Fish wasn't my thing, didn't bother washing for the bread, didn't even think of touching the yellowish thing on the left, and the dessert mousse-like thing was pretty good.
Entree:

Veggies were eh, rice was okay, and the chicken itself wasn't bad - but it was covered in a thick layer of sesame seeds (for some reason, they think that's an acceptable form of breading), so I was basically chocking with each bite.

As soon as we landed and I turned on my phone, the cab I had pre-booked from Derech Eretz taxi (for 180₪ to Rechavia) called. I made the mistake of telling them to have a driver there at 4pm even though we weren't scheduled to land till 4:15 (which is when we actually did land). I picked up and told him we'd be out in 5 minutes since we don't have any checked bags. Hebrew-English situation wasn't great there. I also completely forgot about passport control and how long it takes to walk out of TLV + change money to be able to pay him. I changed $60 for 184₪ as they had a crazy fee of like 18₪ I think plus they only gave me a 3.32 rate. Of course, I then turn the corner to find an ATM which would have given me the correct rate, and since I opened up a TD acct before I left, I would have been refunded any ATM fees. The driver kept calling every 5 minutes from when we landed, and at 4:45 we finally found him (turns out he's frum, which was nice). He charged us an extra 87₪ for keeping him waiting for 45 min. I wasn't going to argue, as we felt bad about making him wait. I should have given them/they should have asked me for my flight info and what time I land, but anyway, he agreed to take us on our 3 other trips to the airport over the next 10 days and give us some sort of deal on those trips. (We'll see how much that will be when we get to it.) We had to stop at an ATM to take out more money as I barely had enough for the regular fare let alone the wait fee. I ended up giving him 84₪ extra as that was just the change in my pocket.

We get to my wife's Zaidy's apartment (which happens to be huge and nice) and a few minutes later, we were out to dinner (perks of staying by Zaidy ;)). Caught Maariv at the Gra minyan factory, which is conveniently located 5 minutes away.

Today (Thursday 6/12) we slept in as we hadn't gotten much on the planes and it's just classic jetlag to Israel. I went out with a good friend for lunch at Maoz (just falafel to keep it Parve) and then an ice coffee (which was great) at this new place next to Katzefet called Coffix (coffee shop) - everything is 5₪. Lunch was on my friend. :)
In the afternoon, we walked to the Shuk and bought some socks - the items I had conveniently forgotten to pack. (Had to be something, right?) We also picked up a few head coverings for the Mrs. which were insanely cheap. 20₪ for a scarf that would cost $20 in Brooklyn. Same digits, different logo. Big difference. It was actually our 5th month anniversary today :-) so we went out to Cafe Rimon, my wife's favorite place - don't get on my back if you have some other place that's "definitely better" - chill. ;) Zaidy actually came along with us which made this probably the cheapest anniversary dinner we'll ever have. ;) After dinner, Zaidy booked the tunnel tours for the two of us, so we said our goodbyes and walked to the Kotel. It's nice to be there as always, although I imagine the experience will never the same as it was the first time I saw it. For your info, the tour was 30₪ pp (although we didn't pay for it). After the tour, we taxied back to Rechavia, as we were too tired to walk - 60₪.

Sorry that was incredibly long. Didn't see the point in making it 2 separate posts. If you plan to comment, do everyone a favor and don't quote the entire thing. :)

Good night.

ETA: Ooo I left out the cell phone mess. If you recall, I got a Tmobile sim w/ unlimited intl text and data for $50/mo. I was planning to call only when necessary and through the Vonage app, which has pretty good rates. However, even with unlocking my Sprint iPhone, the sim didn't work in America although I was told it might work once I leave the country. I borrowed a friend's old Tmobile phone just in case. When we landed in MUC, we tried the iPhone and it didn't work - SIM not valid. The Tmobile phone did work, and that stayed the same in Israel, but I was unhappy because the phone really is not that great and we had to carry 2 phones with us, as we only wanted to call from Vonage (which I had purchased the credit for on my iPhone, not the Tmobile phone). The iPhone was useful at Zaidy's where we have wifi, but otherwise, it wasn't too useful. I spent a long time last night calling Tmobile, Sprint and Apple and no one could figure out why it wouldn't work. Sprint supposedly only unlocked it for intl use with an intl carrier's sim card (which Tmobile isn't) and claimed they couldn't unlock it completely - only Apple can. Apple laughed at the idea that they could unlock a phone. Sprint eventually gave me an unlock code and told me to call Tmobile who could unlock it with the code, as Sprint can't unlock their own phones completely. Yeah, I don't get any of this either. Tmobile laughed at the suggestion that they could unlock someone else's phone and, finally, I called Sprint to find out their intl rates. I bought 4MB/mo for $40 from Sprint and everything works fine on my wonderful iPhone. Price isn't much different than with Tmobile, the only now is that I can't text w/o iMessage or Whatsapp (no big deal) and I have to watch my data. 40MB does not seem to be a lot at all (although I never really stream video/audio) and the reps looked into my history and saw that I only used 20MB last month and the month previously. After 1 day here of barely using my data, I've used 5MB, so I don't really get that... Will have to look into it more (as well as cancel Tmobile).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 06:30:21 PM by @Yehuda »

Offline PlatinumGuy

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Apr 2011
  • Posts: 9384
  • Total likes: 22
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 8
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2014, 06:33:51 PM »
"We downloaded plenty of TV for the trip, but once we saw the movie selection, we decided we should save our TV for when we don't have a TV with 200 movies to pick from. We started watching Captain Phillips, which was fantastic btw"

Newley weds...


Good to see something like and put everything in perspective once in a while
Purpose > Pleasure

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8893
  • Total likes: 53
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2014, 06:35:50 PM »
"We downloaded plenty of TV for the trip, but once we saw the movie selection, we decided we should save our TV for when we don't have a TV with 200 movies to pick from. We started watching Captain Phillips, which was fantastic btw"

Newley weds...


Good to see something like and put everything in perspective once in a while
:) One day iy"h we'll have kids and have to learn to enjoy our vacations in a different way.

Online Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 8823
  • Total likes: 58
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2014, 06:57:43 PM »
Great start to the trip. Too bad about your T-Mobile sim not working in your iphone. I guess somethings couldn't go as planned. I had a slightly different issue last time I used T-Mo out out of the US. Granted I was using a dumb phone, but I couldn't connect to data internationally because the phone was originally from AT&T (it was unlocked). Not a big deal, but I really didn't like carrying around 2 phones the whole time. Although in truth one of them was always in my wife's bag so it wan't too bad.

Offline SOS

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: Apr 2014
  • Posts: 671
  • Total likes: 0
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Programs: SPG Gold, Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold, Avis First, Hertz Five Star, National Executive
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2014, 07:01:44 PM »
Very nicely written
You're convincing me to go in business class
Enjoy

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8893
  • Total likes: 53
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2014, 07:04:18 PM »
Great start to the trip. Too bad about your T-Mobile sim not working in your iphone. I guess somethings couldn't go as planned. I had a slightly different issue last time I used T-Mo out out of the US. Granted I was using a dumb phone, but I couldn't connect to data internationally because the phone was originally from AT&T (it was unlocked). Not a big deal, but I really didn't like carrying around 2 phones the whole time. Although in truth one of them was always in my wife's bag so it wan't too bad.
Yeah, it was really bothering me and definitely affected my mood, which wasn't great. I knew some things might not go as planned, but a phone is a big deal to me, and it's with us for 6.5 weeks. If we miss an activity or a flight (I think I can say c"v there) then it will be annoying and have to be figured out, but it's just 1 thing (maybe it affects the next flight also etc) but the phone is every day. Anyway, yeah, thank G-d it worked out. (We were gna do the same thing with keeping 1 phone in my wife's bag. Glad we don't have to deal with any of that.)

Very nicely written
You're convincing me to go in business class
Enjoy
Thanks, yeah it's definitely an experience and a world different from coach.

Online TimT

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 16348
  • Total likes: 278
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2014, 07:06:03 PM »
Cafe rimon is a great place. "Same digits different logo", good one

Online Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 8823
  • Total likes: 58
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2014, 07:16:14 PM »
Yeah, it was really bothering me and definitely affected my mood, which wasn't great. I knew some things might not go as planned, but a phone is a big deal to me, and it's with us for 6.5 weeks. If we miss an activity or a flight (I think I can say c"v there) then it will be annoying and have to be figured out, but it's just 1 thing (maybe it affects the next flight also etc) but the phone is every day. Anyway, yeah, thank G-d it worked out. (We were gna do the same thing with keeping 1 phone in my wife's bag. Glad we don't have to deal with any of that.)
I'd probably be feeling the same way as you if I was going to be away 6.5 weeks. When we were in South America it we were out of the US (we did stop at my in-laws in Philly for shabbos on the way back) for 10 days); big difference.

Offline @Yehuda

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Posts: 8893
  • Total likes: 53
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2014, 07:17:20 PM »
Cafe rimon is a great place. "Same digits different logo", good one
:)
I'd probably be feeling the same way as you if I was going to be away 6.5 weeks. When we were in South America it we were out of the US (we did stop at my in-laws in Philly for shabbos on the way back) for 10 days); big difference.
Exactly. :)

K good night for real