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 38021 times)

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #60 on: June 26, 2014, 01:27:31 PM »
Aw I got so excited when I saw a post in here... I thought we were finally getting the next installment of your gripping TR!
You are... :)

Eilat
Okay, the first exciting adventure on our journey (other than flying J ;)). Remember, at this point I really wasn't feeling well. My fever had gone away thank G-d, but the stomach bug was really a problem. We had a flight at 1PM Sunday and were seriously considering not going, but we finally decided to take the chance. I was most afraid of being able to sit in the car for 45 min to the airport, but the taxi driver agreed to make any restroom stops necessary (of course, for an extra fee). That's about as detailed as I'll get about my condition ;). We took the taxi driver that took us to Yerushalayim when we landed originally, as he agreed to take us on the rest of our journeys for a "good price" (as was suggested in the forums that I try to set up). He was hard to communicate with as he barely spoke a word of English, but we wanted to get the best deal possible, so we used him. We got to Sde Dov airport for 250 shek (remember, he charged 180 to get to Ben Gurion on the other trip). We went through security (very quickly) in the 1-terminal, 2-gate airport and then went to checkin. The Arkia agent kinda looked at us and said, "You're flying from Ben Gurion." Gulp. In the confusion of booking the flight/hotel package online, I saw some flights out of BG and some out of SD and I just mixed  up which one we actually went with. We ran out of the airport and grabbed a cab to go to BG - 150 shek! (airport cab, non-negotiable) Clearly, we really did get a good deal from "our" cabbie. We get to Terminal 1 at BG (which is not the main terminal, but I believe the one that just handles flights to Eilat) and it is similar to SD - quick security and checkin and we're there with enough time to sit by the gate a few minutes. I'll kindly remind you throughout this that I was feeling absolutely terrible during this chavaya. My wife was a trooper when she was sick, so I fought through and complained only about a million times. :) Time for boarding meant filing into a bus outside that drove us to the plane. The bus waited for a while as it wouldn't leave till everyone boarded and then only drove about 3 minutes, so we calculated we probably could have walked to the plane faster. But nu-nu. This was the first time either of us got on a plane from the ground, walking up the steps to the door. Kinda felt like the president on Air Force One or something. :) The plane was actually kinda nice. 2x2 seating with surprisingly roomy seats. The flight itself was about 40 minutes from the time we took off. Interestingly, the plane never got too high - during the entire flight, you could clearly see the land/houses below - was kinda cool. They offered some drinks on the plane and before we knew it, we were there walking down the steps again but this time, into 100 degree weather. I thought about how cold it was in NY this winter and did not complain about the heat. We got off the plane and found the Isrotel shuttle man pointing us to the shuttle bus (same bus for all Isrotel properties). They waited a little while for people to get their bags and then we left. As we took the 5 minute drive, I realized that the hotels in Eilat, for the most part, are clustered into 1 or 2 areas, all on top of each other. Each has its privacy, but they are literally all next door. Even more interesting, is that many of the hotels are under the same chain. There must be at least 5 Isrotels, 5 Astrals, 5 Leonardos and 2 Dans. All at different levels of the quality spectrum, but I still don't get it. Anyway, we got to the King Solomon and it was a zoo. There were tons of people in the lobby and probably a million kids running around, but we checked in after a short wait and went straight to the room. FYI the smell in the lobby was horrendous. It bothered me till the last few hours we had in Eilat - must be their cleaning supplies, but I didn't get used to it till we were ready to leave. The room was very nice, modern and had a small balcony overlooking the gorgeous pool. Because I wasn't feeling well, we took it easy and chilled in the room for a while. The hotel charged for wifi (no, we did not get it) which was incredibly annoying as our phone situation limited us with data so we really could only use it on wifi. (We ended up finding stores that had wifi and sat outside them when we needed internet.) Anyway, I finally felt the strength to go out, so we went for a stroll to the beach (about 10 min walk). The sun was setting, so we just walked around the boardwalk and put our feet in the water a bit. Some pics:


ETA: I forgot to mention this! We went back to the hotel and found a bit of a surprise! I called beforehand, as I did with every hotel, and told them it was our honeymoon. We came back to find a bottle of champagne (reliable hechsher!) in a bucket of ice, a bowl of fruit, cookies, and 2 bottles of water (which I'm learning more and more is unfortunately a "nice" thing to get for free) and also... these t-shirts!!


We ordered Big Apple Pizza as they had free delivery. 75 shek for a pie and 1.5L soda. (This was mostly for my wife, although I was able to eat a few slices at some point.) We found out the hotel actually had a shul with a minyan 3x a day, but unfortunately, I could not make it down there at all during our stay.

The next day, I felt just as bad, so we spent the morning in the room. My wife really wanted to just sit by the beach, and I felt stupid going all the way to Eilat and not getting out, so we got up and made it down there. At this point, we noticed the hotel was already much quieter - could be Sunday was people's last day before heading out from Eilat. We also noticed a curious thing - there were more people just at our hotel's pool than there were on the entire beach. We quickly found out why. Just as Dan warns, Eilat does not have a nice beach. As opposed to the hundred of feet of nice-ish sand you'll find even on the Jersey shore, there is maybe 50 feet of beach in Eilat from the boardwalk to the water. And it's nothing close to sand. It's literally composed of small pebbles and some larger rocks. Now, to stick up for a Eilat just a little bit, we did find a patch of real sand at what must have been a bar type of place, fenced in by wooden beams. Proof:

;)
So, yeah, the beach wasn't that great, and I don't understand why Israelis go down there instead of Tel Aviv, but we got into the water and had a nice time chilling there. The water was really nice and the views were beautiful as you can see from the pics above.
There was a guy handing out 10% off coupons at the beach for Cafe Cafe at the infamous Ice Mall and he kindly gave us a look and said "it's Mehadrin", so we took one and headed there in the evening. The front desk clerk was a temporary staffer who sent us on a crazy roundabout route to the mall that took like a 1/2 hour. When we left at night, we realized it was literally a 5 minute walk if you go a different route. The mall was... FAR from an "ice" mall. It's a  dome shaped building with regular stores lining the walls and then there is an ice rink in the middle. Sure, it's cool to see that in Eilat, but it's not a mall with ice floors or walls or wtvr else you might think of when you hear ice mall. Anyway, we walked around a bit and found Cafe Cafe which is under Badatz Beit Yosef (which I remembered from Yeshiva was on the list of acceptable logos) but we only got some drinks and headed back to the hotel as I wasn't feeling well.

The next morning we checked out and stored our bags with security/front desk. Again, I wasn't feeling well so we tried to figure out what to do as our flight was at 9PM. We considered trying to call and switch to an earlier flight, but didn't want to deal with it. We thought about the aquarium, but it was 94 shek a person plus you had to either bus or taxi there. We decided to just play it safe and stay local, so we went back to the ice mall. We went for one of those fish spas that we thought we would do in Venice. It was kinda cool. 40 shek per person for 20 minutes. You sit down and put your feet in a tank of these little fish that eat the dead skin off your feet. Doesn't hurt at all, just tickles a bit till you get used to it. Then we walked around and went into a lot of the stores. It was here we decided what our "collection" would be: shotglasses. We didn't want to do something classic, but then we realized it has to be something that you'll find in every location and then you're limited to like 5 things - shotglasses, keychains, magnets, etc. so we picked the thing we thought would be most practical in the future - never can have enough glasses for a l'chaim, eh? Then we found an arcade they had there and for 17 shek we got to play a game of pool and air hockey. I was finally beginning to feel better-ish and realized that I hadn't eaten real food in a while, so we looked for food. We looked at the restaurant's Teudot and learned that basically everything is under Rabbanut of Eilat with the same Teudah except a little circle in the middle that either says, "Chalavi" "Chalavi Mehadrin" "Besari" or "Besari Mehadrin". We found Big Apple (which we already knew it was fine from the Rabbi we asked) and it was Chalavi Mehadrin, so for your future reference, it seems like that's a good hechsher. Cafe Cafe was also Chalavi Mehadrin in addition to Badatz Beit Yosef. Next to Cafe Cafe we found a Chinese place that was just Besari, but it was also Badatz Beit Yosef. I didn't remember ever seeing BBY with options of Mehadrin/regular, so we assumed it was safe to eat. They had a deal of 54 shek for a meal and it was plenty for the 2 of us to share. Huge portions and we got a chicken, 2 sides, a soup and a drink. Soup and rice were just the thing I needed.
Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the WOW show on our trip, which no one here really talked about, but we heard rave reviews from friends. (2 hours in a theater didn't sound doable for me.) Anyway, we went back to the hotel and got a cab to the airport as the shuttle was only 1 way - to the hotels. Checkin/flight was smooth and when we landed back at BG, I realized I didn't remind the cabbie to pick us up. We had arranged a time, but he said I should remind him a few hours before we needed him. Turns out he couldn't make it, so he sent a friend to get us but the language barrier really became a problem while I spoke to him from the plane. His guy was at the regular terminal, not terminal 1 and was already waiting for a while and he got angry on the phone. I couldn't communicate with him to figure out where to go or whether his guy was still going to meet us, so we went out, looked for him for 2 minutes and then got in a regular cab for 330 shek :-/. Both cabbies called us at least 20 times over the next 2 days and texted us screaming at us for ditching the driver and threatening to find us as they knew our address. So yeah, at a certain point we obviously stopped picking up. Final result - Derech Eretz taxi had a great price of 180 shek BG-Rechavia (160 to other parts of Yerushalayim) but we just had some bad experiences with being late, going to wrong airport and making deals privately with the driver.

And that's Eilat!

Wednesday was my cousin's wedding! First thing we did in the morning was go to the doctor finally. Got some antibiotics and by the 2nd dose, I was feeling much better b"h. My mother surprised everyone and flew in for the wedding (!) so we went to my cousin's to hang out there for a bit. In the evening my family took a cab to Binyanei HaUmah where we met the chartered bus that was taking everyone to the wedding in Givat Brenner. Ride was long (traffic) but we got there and the place was gorgeous. Outdoor shmorg/Chuppah, I got asked to read the Tannaim 10 minutes before it happened and we had a blast.

Thursday was Ein Gedi/Dead Sea. We'll get to that next!
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 01:35:31 PM by @Yehuda »

Offline sruly101

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #61 on: June 26, 2014, 01:32:02 PM »
Sure. That info can be found in my trip planning thread, but it is spread around a bit. I posted as each thing was booked. Can't hurt to post everything here as well, though.

EWR-MUC-TLV in J for 2 ppl was 120K UA (incl. 55K UR) + $66 booked before the deval so I got that lower redemption.
TLV-ETH-TLV for 2 ppl + 2 nights at King Solomon Eilat was booked from arkia.com as a package for $540.

That's all the flights/hotels covered so far in the TR.
Tnx so much for this info, pls post it in the future in the TR too

Online Yehoshua

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #62 on: June 26, 2014, 01:34:06 PM »
So this had to happen at some point, right?
We missed our flight. BCN-MAD-SVQ. Thought it was at 9AM and we got to the airport at 7:58 to did out the flight was in 2 minutes. A bit of a freak out while my mind raced about what to do. How to get on a new flight? What's it going to cost? Can we still catch the second leg? It's part of my OWE, will this somehow affect our future flights? ....
Wow, I'm glad things worked out! It could have been a lot worse.

When we were on our honeymoon in Australia, I made a similar mistake. Out MEL-SYD flight was schedule for 9:30am and our SYD-OOG flight was scheduled for 9:00am a few days later. I mixed up the departure times in my head and thought we were leaving SYD at 9:30. At 8:10am the people we were staying by suggested I check in online while my wife finished packing. When I wasn't allowed to check in online because my flight was within 1 hour, we started racing. Our host literally threw our suitcases in the car and drove like a madwoman to the airport. She look all these back roads to avoid traffic and got us these at 8:30, 1/2 hour before the flight. We checked in, including our bag, and got to go through priority security so we wouldn't have to wait as long.  Of course my wife got stopped because of her long skirt, but we sprinted to the gate, arriving by 8:55. We made the flight albeit very out of breath, only to find that Virgin Australia does not give our free water on their flights!  >:( We made it to the Gold Coast thirsty but on time and with our bags. Lesson learned.

Offline SOS

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #63 on: June 26, 2014, 03:24:22 PM »



 It was here we decided what our "collection" would be: shotglasses. We didn't want to do something classic, but then we realized it has to be something that you'll find in every location and then you're limited to like 5 things - shotglasses, keychains, magnets, etc. so we picked the thing we thought would be most practical in the future - never can have enough glasses for a l'chaim, eh?

I already started a shot glass collection

Enjoy the rest of your trip

Offline stbaum

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #64 on: June 26, 2014, 03:31:36 PM »

I already started a shot glass collection

Enjoy the rest of your trip

my brother in law has that. it makes it SO easy to get them (bro and sis in law) gifts or grab-bags... :) plus it's pretty cheap (if you get one or two of course)
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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #65 on: June 26, 2014, 03:35:46 PM »

 We didn't want to do something classic,

I already started a shot glass collection

Enjoy the rest of your trip

my brother in law has that. it makes it SO easy to get them (bro and sis in law) gifts or grab-bags... :) plus it's pretty cheap (if you get one or two of course)


It seems like shot glasses are a classic collection

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #66 on: June 26, 2014, 03:43:04 PM »
It was here we decided what our "collection" would be: shotglasses. We didn't want to do something classic, but then we realized it has to be something that you'll find in every location and then you're limited to like 5 things - shotglasses, keychains, magnets, etc. so we picked the thing we thought would be most practical in the future - never can have enough glasses for a l'chaim, eh?
We also started a shotglass collection. My parents have been doing this for years now and people get a really kick out of seeing where you've been. The one stipulation we have in our collection is that the glass must be "special."  We didn't want to get a glass just because if it could have easily been from anywhere else (a picture of a beach and a palm tree that could just as easily say Miami and Sydney, Santa Monica, Tel Aviv, etc won't cut it for us). Some places are easier to find these than others.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #67 on: June 26, 2014, 03:54:55 PM »
We also started a shotglass collection. My parents have been doing this for years now and people get a really kick out of seeing where you've been. The one stipulation we have in our collection is that the glass must be "special."  We didn't want to get a glass just because if it could have easily been from anywhere else (a picture of a beach and a palm tree that could just as easily say Miami and Sydney, Santa Monica, Tel Aviv, etc won't cut it for us). Some places are easier to find these than others.
Crazy AUS story, glad it worked out. Yeah, so we haven't been driving ourselves crazy, but we find one store and pick the best from there.

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #68 on: June 26, 2014, 06:12:53 PM »
Seems like it's much better to rent a car to head to Eilat
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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #69 on: June 26, 2014, 07:20:42 PM »
Seems like it's much better to rent a car to head to Eilat
I've done the drive many times I totally agree especially as it's a beautiful drive.
Watch this inspiring video.

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #70 on: June 26, 2014, 09:05:19 PM »
I've done the drive many times I totally agree especially as it's a beautiful drive.
+1 and you get to see the machtesh.

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #71 on: June 27, 2014, 04:25:22 AM »
Seems like it's much better to rent a car to head to Eilat
Flying from Jerusalem makes zero sense.
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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #72 on: June 27, 2014, 04:44:30 AM »
Seems like it's much better to rent a car to head to Eilat
most definitely, I have done both and flying does not compare

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #73 on: June 27, 2014, 05:25:31 AM »
ive done both and prefer flying

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #74 on: June 27, 2014, 10:35:53 AM »
ive done both and prefer flying
Do you dislike driving in general or is that something about this drive?
Watch this inspiring video.