Author Topic: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA  (Read 2124 times)

Offline mgoldhammer18

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DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« on: January 25, 2017, 06:58:17 AM »

Background:
Just a bit of a background of my history prior to this trip.  When DW and I got married, we knew we wanted to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon.  At the time, we weren’t really involved in miles and points (though we had tons without even realizing).  When trying to book a trip to Hawaii at the time, the prices were outrageous.  We ended up going to Atlantis in the Bahamas which ended up costing more than a potential Hawaii trip would have cost us.  I told DW when she IYH graduates nursing school, I will take her to Hawaii.  After years of DW taking different pre requisites for different nursing programs, finally starting a program, having a kid which caused a delay in her graduation, she BH finally finished this past December.  She deserved the trip I promised her.
Planning:
Which Island-We always wanted to go to Maui, but the main attraction in Maui is the road to Hana.  On our trip from Miami down to the Florida Keys last year, DB was not able to handle the drive, so I decided that Maui wouldn’t be ideal this time around being that we were bringing DB on the trip with us.  I thought maybe Oahu, seems like it would be good for a baby.  After reading up here on DDF I figured going to Oahu is like a klala-Why make the trek out to Hawaii and go there?  I thought that the big Island required more time, so I decided on Kauai.
Flights:
I decided on the way to spend a weekend in Los Angeles since we have never been there before.  I heard great things about Virgin America (don’t listen to those great things, I’ll go into detail later), so I transferred some MR points to Virgin and booked a one way to LAX from EWR then later changed the flight leaving from JFK later on in the evening due to a scheduling conflict.  I used citi points to book us in lie flat first class seats from LAX-LIH (aircraft was later changed unfortunately).  I used aadvantage points to book us from LIH-LAX-JFK (not saver rewards, hard to find saver availability).
Hotels:
Though all of our flights were free, I decided to pay for hotels on this trip.  Why?  Because this was DW’s trip and I let her choose the hotels.  I told DW to choose any hotel in LA within the Eruv, she chose the Kimpton Hotel Wilshire.  I don’t know about you, but I did not have Kimpton points.  After months of checking their site, I finally locked in a fantastic rate on a great room.  For Kauai DW chose GHK; she has good taste ;)  I was low on chase points, so with the help of somebody here on DDF, I booked at a fraction of the cost of what it would have cost me had I paid out of pocket.  I literally paid about 15-20% of what the average guest paid for the most basic room that GHK has to offer. (I will not say how much I paid or who helped me out as to not solicit for anybody here on DDF). 
Rental Cars:
After constant searching around and playing with the codes, I settled on Alamo for each leg of the trip renting a standard SUV for each part of the trip.
Food:
Guess what!  I work across the street from Pomegranate, so obviously POM meals were a no brainer…WRONG!  We decided we didn’t want to shlep the POM meals since we had a weekend stopover in LA.  I know, what’s the matter with me?  What we ended up doing was we took an extra suitcase with us-took things out of our other suitcases which made them lighter and put them in the extra suitcase, used that suitcase for just food from LAX-LIH and no matter what the weight on our bags, we wouldn’t be charged due to flying first.  After the trip we wouldn’t take any food home with us which helped us redistribute the weight into the extra bag.  We went to Ralph’s before our flight and bought enough food for the week.
Next up, Los Angeles….

Online Emkay

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2017, 07:31:51 AM »
Great start.

Offline sruliL

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2017, 11:23:24 PM »
Can't wait for the rest...
Life's not about doing things good, its about doing good things.

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2017, 11:45:19 AM »
Thursday 1/5:
Our flight was scheduled for 8:10 that evening.  I was at work doing my own thing that day, then all of a sudden I get an alert that our flight is delayed to 8:44-Okay, not so bad.  When I got home to do some last minute preparations I decided to check the status of the flight again, it is now delayed to 8:54 without giving us a reason why, so I decided to give them a call, and the agent said it was due to the weather.  It was rumored to snow that night beginning at around midnight, so I wasn’t sure what weather he was referring to. 
So we got to the airport and could not find the virgin America check in counter.  It was hidden behind Eithad and Emitates.  An El Al agent actually saw me walking by and told me to follow her to check into the 7:45 flight; funny thing is that she remembered me from 6 years before where I waited by her desk over night when my flight was cancelled due to a huge snow storm, so she just assumed I was flying to Israel that night.  We get to the check in counter and after checking in our bags the agent tells me I have to pay for the extra leg room (which I decided to pay out of pocket for a few months before).  I told her it was already paid for.  She said it was paid for on my original flight from EWR and it wasn’t transferred.  I told her that makes no sense, but regardless, the agent on the phone told me that the extra legroom was confirmed and paid for.  After checking her system she said that it WAS NOT paid for, but she’ll just let it go.  I told her that I DID pay for it, but thanks.  We checked in, went through security (long line).  Then decided to find our gate before heading to the lounge (something I usually do).  So I got to the gate and there were no chairs there, which was weird.  We then decided to go buy a couple of things for the plane and then we started looking for the lounge.  We passed by our gate on the way to the lounge and we saw the people who were hanging out by the chairless gate going through the gate doors, so we thought it was boarding time, it was after 8 o’clock, sort of made sense.  We proceeded through the doors and we saw a stair case that led downstairs…
So we went downstairs and that’s actually where the gate was; I felt like I was in a third world country.  I figured we would just stay there since it was basically boarding time.  There was literally one person working the gate and he didn’t even work for Virgin.  He explained to us that’s there’s a little delay and we have to wait for the bus of people from the last flight to come and then we can take the bus to the plan.  Wait…Bus?!?!  Where was I?  I thought I was at JFK!  The coolest part of the night is that Kareem Abdul Jabar walked into the gate; he just got off the virgin flight that just arrived.  The gate agent started calling people to board the bus, not the plane; obviously first class first, etc.  I then asked him why can’t people with infants board yet, he told me to wait.  People with infants get to board with everybody else, how lovely.  Anyway, we took the bus to the plane.  We walked on the tarmac to these stairs that were enclosed in plastic and made our way up to the plane.  Very strange experience, I thought we were in a third world country.
We get onto the plane and we get to our seats.  I said that there must be some sort of mistake; I reserved extra legroom.  If we fly in coach with DB, we like to get extra legroom because we make a bed area for her on the floor with blankets, pillows…I told the flight attendant that I reserved extra legroom; she responded that my seat was an extra legroom seat.  The seat maybe had an extra inch compared to the standard coach seat.  So I asked her if DW and DB can move a row up to the first row, they have tons of leg room, she responded no, it’s an extra $199 if you want to make the switch.  I was furious beyond words (imagine how DW felt).  I thought maybe I should have transferred some more MR points to book first.  I asked myself why I listened to my friends who told me to fly virgin. 
The pilot then explained why there was a delay.  He said that there was construction on the tarmac in LAX which delayed the flight to JFK and since the flight was delayed, JFK decided to put them in their back up back up terminal; they got shafted due to their tardiness.  The flight was decent.  DB slept 5 of the 6 hours with the occasional kvetch because she didn’t have the room to move since she was in our arms the whole time. 
We landed and got our bags.  Waited by the rental car pick up area.  Of course DB was awake.  We got to Alamo, process was smooth.  We chose the Hyundai Santa Fe.  Car was good.  Drove to the hotel, DB fell asleep in the car.  I pulled up to the hotel and the valet asked me if he wanted me if I wanted valet.  I asked him if there was any on street parking nearby, to which he responded “I don’t know.”  I said, whatever, it’s three in the morning, it’s been a long night, I’ll valet for one night.  I got to the check in desk and made sure the room was set up for DB, and he said that it was.  He told me I had a $10 mini bar credit (doesn’t get a person much).  We then went up to our room, DB in DW’s hands sleeping, and we walked in and something was off-we walked into the room and there was a pullout bed from a couch opened, not what I was expecting for a master in a suite, then DW walked down the hallway of our room and said they messed up.  That area was the living room, the master was down the hall.  They set up the room for a kid, not a baby.  At this point DB woke up unfortunately and did not want to go back to sleep.  I told them they need to fix it.  They finally brought up the crib.  DB decided she didn’t want to sleep because she thought it was 6 in the morning, but after a while we got her to finally go to sleep.
What a long night!

Offline sruliL

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2017, 01:53:50 PM »
Oh boy... Hope it gets better.
Life's not about doing things good, its about doing good things.

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2017, 03:32:49 PM »
Oh boy... Hope it gets better.

Well, we did end up in Hawaii, so it does  ;)

Offline davidmal

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2017, 03:52:19 PM »
Well, we did end up in Hawaii, so it does  ;)
When you do I hope theres pics
-DMC
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it ~Ferris Bueller"

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2017, 07:41:54 PM »
phone pics 1-17 3577 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

Chairless terminal

phone pics 1-17 3578 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

Basement part of the terminal

phone pics 1-17 3579 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

Bus transporting us to the plane

phone pics 1-17 3580 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

Stairs leading up to the plane (bad picture)

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 08:15:35 AM »
Friday 1/6:

On Friday morning we went for breakfast at Cafe Elite.  Breakfast was very good; a lot of Mexican dishes.  Afterwards we went next door to Schwarz' bakery to pick up challah and cookies for Shabbos.  I knew I wasn't in New York when the kosher bakery was extremely calm on an erev shabbos.  We then went to Coffee Bean to pick up some drinks because unfortunately it is no longer around in NYC, so it was very exciting to go get coffee bean-perhaps it is because I haven't had coffee bean in a while, but I thought that the coffee from the coffee bean in LA was far superior to any other coffee bean that I've been to.  We then headed to Ralph's to pick up food for Friday night dinner.  After going to Ralph's, DB fell asleep in the car because she was so exhausted from the night before.  We knew she was going to sleep for a while, so DW and I figured we should drive around and see all the touristy Hollywood things.  First we drove to the Hollywood sign, then we drove through Beverly Hills to see all of the fancy houses.  We downloaded a map online of where the celebrities supposedly live.  DB woke up and we then went to the Zimmer children's museum.  DB had the best time there.  I recommend it to all travelers to LA with little kids.  Time was really flying while we were there.  We were hungry, so we were looking up where to go to get food.  It was about 1 in the afternoon at this point and all of the nearby kosher places were closing by 1:30 for some reason.  We decided to just go and get ice cream instead.  We went to sweet rose creamery.  I agree with the wiki; it is an ice cream shop that foodies are sure to enjoy.  Though it was unique, there is better ice cream out there in the world.  After wards we quickly stopped by the Grove, then it was off to our hotel to get ready for shabbos.

Friday night-
I davened by Kehilas Ohavei Shalom.  The shul itself is a dying shul; the Rav pays people to help make a minyan.  If you are ever in the area, it's worth it to stop by and help out with a minyan.  I went back to the hotel and we wanted to have our meal by the tables in the lounge near our room, but they had a complimentary wine tasting hour and we were waiting for that to finish.  By the time that was over, DB fell asleep, so we had a nice meal in our Suite.

Offline lunatic

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 09:12:54 PM »
Nice trip so far

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2017, 07:31:16 PM »
1/7-Shabbos:

On Shabbps morning it was drizzling.  We still went to shul because a little rain doesn't stop new Yorkers from walking to Shul.  We went to Bais Kenesses of Faircrest Heights formerly known as Link East shul.  http://linkeastshul.com/  My old camp counselor is the rabbi there.  If you stay in the Le Brea area or anywhere over there, I highly recommend going to this shul.  Friendly, big meat kiddush, groups for kids starting from new born age kids.  After the amazing kiddush, we went back to our hotel and had lunch in the lounge.  I asked the hotel employee if there were any parks for kids in the area, they said no, but the La Brea tar pits were nearby.  We walked to the tar pits and they were actually pretty cool (whether you believe that dinosaurs died in the tar pits or not).  Mincha/Shalosh Seudos/Maariv I went back to Ohavei Shalom, it was fine.  Motzai Shabbos was the night before Asara B'tevet, so I really needed to get some food.  I went to Pizza Mayven.  I knew I wasn't in New York when the employees there seemed so exhausted from all of the work that they had and orders coming in on Motzai Shabbos though the  place was empty; they should go to a pizza store in NYC on a motzash.

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2017, 08:06:35 PM »
Sunday 1/8:

Sunday morning I woke up early and went to the Young Israel of Hancock Park for Asara B'tevet shacharis.  After returning back to the hotel room, DW and I packed up and prepped for the next leg of our trip, Hawaii. 
Side note:Because our hotel room was on the second floor (they put us on a low floor after requesting it for Shabbos with a baby) there were fewer rooms, but they had spaces on that floor where many of the hotel employees worked.  Our room was next to the trash room, so every morning at 6:30 I heard loud noises coming from there.  Every day the hotel manager would text us and asked if everything was good and if there was anything they could do.  Right after we left the hotel, I texted the manager and told her about the noise that woke me up every morning and that she should compensate everything I took from the mini bar, she said yes.  Should've taken some more things before I left, oh well. 
We first went to Ralph's to pick up food for our trip to Hawaii.  We packed up our entire suit case in the parking lot of Ralph's, perfect.  We started driving and DB fell asleep.  We decided to keep driving around to let her sleep.  We saw some ads that said the Golden Globes were that night at the Beverly Hilton, so we decided to drive by there to see what was going on.  There were police barricades for blocks.  Guests of the hotel had to check in outside and around the corner from the main entrance.  We then drove through the mansions of Beverly Hills again which was very nice.  After DB woke up, we decided to go to Hollywood Blvd.  All I can say about Hollywood Blvd. is that it is over rated and a cleaner version of Times Square; wasn't impressed.  We left Hollywood Blvd. and went to go get some Pizza for DW and DB.  I forgot the name of the Pizza store, but DW said it was much better than Pizza Mayven.  After the pizza store, we went to Jeff's to pick up some food for the plane.  We drove the car back to Alamo and took the shuttle to Delta.  We did curb side check in, was free anyway.  We went to the lounge and my gosh, was it crowded.  There were storms in northern California, so there were many delays and the terminal was over crowded as was the lounge.  Many people that did not have lounge access came to the lounge to try to get the agents there to switch their flights.  Some people kept harassing the agents that they had to call security. 
I forgot to mention that when they printed out our boarding passes the passes said we were in row 5.  When I made the original booking I booked us in row 4, which was the last row of first.  I asked the lounge agent why it said we were in row 5.  She told me that a few weeks before the flight they changed the aircraft.  Originally we were booked in lie flat seats, but this new plane had reclining seats. whatever, still beats coach. 
We went to the gate for boarding time.  Our plane was there, but because of the delays due to the storms,  our gate was occupied by another flight, so we were delayed a little bit.  We finally got onto our plane and went to first class.  Though the seats were not fully reclined, they were brand new and comfortable.  The FA's gave us mai thais.  We didn't think they were kosher, but we took pictures of them anyway.  The flight was good, uneventful.  The kosher meal was horrible, but thank G-d we had Jeff's, unbelievable food. 
We landed, went to baggage claim, picked up our bags, went to Alamo automated check in.  the car options were few, so I chose a Dodge Journey.  We drove to the Grand Hyatt Kauai.  We noticed the tree tunnels at night. 
We arrived at GHK and I told DW to stay in the car since I am technically booked through somebody else's points.  Check in was smooth.  The guy by check in even decided to waive valet for the first night since I was traveling with a baby.  He told me if I need any help with Sabbath and kosher food I should let him know.  We went to our room.  Called it a night. 
We were very much looking forward to our first full day in Kauai.

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: DW's graduation trip to Kauai with a splash of LA
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2017, 10:28:22 AM »
1/9 Monday

Monday morning we woke up super early, before the sun even came up, which was a totally normal thing among all of the hotel guests.  We went to seaview terrace that morning (and every morning) to have some cereal and watch the sun rise.

These pictures were taken from our room, not seaview terrace
phone pics 1-17 3731 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr''

phone pics 1-17 3728 - Copy by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

After breakfast we went back to the room to prepare for the day.  We were then on our way to Waimea Canyon.  The drive up the mountain was a little scary with sharp turns right by a cliff, needless to say, the scary drive was well worth it.  We kept making stops on the way up thinking that there was no official lookout and there were just random spots on the drive up to stop.  Thank G-d we kept driving because the views were spectacular.  It was also a really clear day, so the view was not obstructed by any clouds.

phone pics 1-17 3765 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

phone pics 1-17 3764 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

phone pics 1-17 3763 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

phone pics 1-17 3756 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

phone pics 1-17 3755 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

phone pics 1-17 3754 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

DSCN0768 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

DSCN0767 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

DSCN0766 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

DSCN0764 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

DSCN0763 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

DSCN0762 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr

DSCN0761 by mgoldhammer18, on Flickr