Author Topic: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days  (Read 6951 times)

Offline Yehoshua

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Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« on: July 12, 2017, 11:55:06 PM »
Part 1: Planning and trip perp

Flights
I started planning this trip in October 2016 deciding where to go. Once I decided on Israel, I originally decided on Hong Kong and Bali as well. The original plan was to go to Israel for 3 full days (Thursday through Sunday), then Bali Monday-Thursday and end the trip in Hong Kong (HKG) Thursday through Monday. I’d been to HKG before in the winter without my wife, and decided it would be a good idea to take her so she could see it as well.

I originally found routing as follows:

LAX-ZRH-TLV on Swiss business, booked with 82.5k Air Canada (AC) miles + ~$44 + CAD$75 for the baby
TLV-HKG-DPS on Cathay business, booked with 40k American (AA) miles + ~$102 + $682 for the baby
DPS-HKG on Cathay economy (I know, I know, it was a drag, but it was booked this way on purpose as I’ll explain later), booked with 12.5k Avios + ~$46 + 1.25k Avios for the baby
HKG-ICN-LAX on Korean first, 80k Korean (KE) miles + ~$172 + 8k KE miles for the baby



We were all set. Except that in March my DW decided to want to spend a little more time in Israel. Lucky for me I was checking and the exact flight I chose opened up on the outbound a week earlier. I quickly paid the CAD$180 (~$133) change fee to Aeroplan and changed to outbound to a week earlier. For the return, I needed to come back earlier since we would be leaving a week earlier, so I decided to come back on a Friday. I know, there could be Shabbos issues, but it would be ok.

I kept the DPS-HKG segment on BA and changed the HKG-ICN-LAX segment to leave about 3 hours after we got to HKG on a redeye to ICN. From there is where KE really shines: I wanted the 11:30am flight back to LA so we’d be over the date line while it was still daytime out. However, there was only 1 seat available on that flight. The helpful agent booked that for my wife. For me, she put me on a waitlist for that flight, while keeping my seat on the 3pm flight we were originally booked on. She then put my wife tentatively on the 3pm flight in case the waitlist didn’t clear. Basically, we were both tentatively booked on both flights: the 11:30 am and the 3pm.

About 3.5 weeks before our flight, on June 12, I got confirmation that I was on the 11:30 am flight if I wanted to be. I quickly called Korean to confirm everything, and all was set. As it turned out, we were the only people in first class on the flight (besides a crew member), so we had the entire cabin to ourselves!

In the end our routing looked the same, but the dates worked out much better. We’d be in Israel for 10 days and Bali for ~3 before returning home. We also had an 8 hour layover in Zurich we needed to plan, but more on that later.

Food
As we’d be in Israel first, we just needed to pick up some food for Bali there. Israel wouldn’t be an issue, we just needed food for Bali. We bought some cup-of-soups and a few instant meals (like couscous and mashed potatoes) and brought along a lot of tuna packets from home. I also brought some oatmeal packets from home for breakfast and some Chewy bars for snacking on/dessert.

Hotels
The way the trip worked out, we’d be arriving in Israel at 3am. I didn’t book a hotel that night, but rather the next night (hoping we could check in early). We spent one night at the Crown Plaza on a free night before going to family friends for the weekend (Fri & Sat nights).

For the next week, we spent:
•   1 night at the Ritz in Hertzalia (used points)
•   2 nights at the Elama Arts Complex in Zichron Yaakov (used points)
•   4 nights at the Waldorf back in Yerushalayim (used 2 free nights and 2 nights on points)

We then spent the remaining time (in Bali) in a very nice AirBNB (thanks @Emkay!) where we paid cash.

Car
I decided to rent a car for the first week we’d be in Israel. I rented a mid-size car through Thifty/Albar (thanks @hocker!) for the week. The rest of the time we just walked around Yerushalayim and got a ride back to the airport on Sunday for cheap.

Driver
For our time in Bali we decided to hire a driver the whole time. We ended up hiring Bali Tours on recommendation from Emkay (thanks!!) for ~$120 for the entire time. He picked us up at the airport, took us around both days we were there, and then drove us back to the airport.

With everything set, we were about to embark on our trip!

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2017, 12:01:03 PM »
nice start

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2017, 03:26:53 PM »
Alright! Nice intro. Can't wait to read more and see pics!

Offline Dawie

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2017, 05:04:16 PM »
 8)

Offline Yehoshua

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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2017, 10:47:22 PM »
Part 2: Flight to Zurich, layover and flight to Israel

Our flight left LAX late, at around 7:20pm. We arrived at the airport at around 4:00pm, checked in, and made our way through the special security for people with babies and disability. We knew from last year to just go straight there. We were through security in about 20 minutes, and from there it was off to the Star Alliance Gold lounge. We spent our time outdoors on the terrace where our daughter (DD) collected rocks from the fountain and had a generally good time running around and plane watching.

I went to shower quickly, and then we were off to the gate. We boarded first, because of DD, at around 6:50pm, a bit late, but otherwise ok. We got settled in the bulkhead seats, but unfortunately, they didn’t have a bassinet for DD. Not that she would have used it: she didn’t stay in the bassinets on the Cathay flights for a more than a second, but it would have been nice to have the extra space.

We left by 8:00pm, and after we had a quick dinner, “we” went to sleep. By that I mean “I” went to sleep. DW decided to put DD to bed on the seat, flattened, but there wasn’t much room for her to sleep. While DD and I slept well for most of the flight, DW didn’t sleep much at all.

We landed in Zurich at around 3:00pm and were among the first ones off the plane. We landed in a deserted E terminal, where we made our way to the lounge. We were there for a few minutes, getting drinks, using the bathroom, etc. before continuing to the train station to get tickets to the city.

I had been in touch with the people we had stayed at last time we were in Zurich, and they offered us to come over and rest at their house. By the time we took the train to their house it was closer to 5:30pm. I should mention that the weather in Zurich couldn’t have been any more different than the last time we were there. While the last time it was overcast and around 60 F, this time it was clear, sunny and a warm 95 F!

We took the train to our friends’ house with the intention of possibly going out to dinner. When we got there, DW promptly wanted to go to sleep. Since I wasn’t tired at that point, I just stayed up with DD in the small apartment. There was no AC there (who’d put in AC when it’s so cool most of the year?) but the building remained tolerable. We schmoozed with our host for a while before she offered us some bread and tuna for dinner.

And boy did it hit the spot! She gave us a whole loaf of bread along with some tuna to make some sandwiches. By this time DW had gotten up and was a bit hungry, so I made us some sandwiches for an abbreviated dinner.

Now our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:40pm that evening. Our host figured we’d catch the 9:06pm train from the Enge station (the train comes twice an hour, at :06 and :36) and be at the airport 21 minutes later. Well unfortunately that didn’t happen.

I decided to go to mincha at 8:35pm. I went by myself because our host’s husband, while home, already davened. I was just planning on staying for mincha, but when they didn’t say aleinu and went right into maariv I couldn’t resist. I stayed for maaariv which was done just prior to 9:00pm (they're fast, what can I say). Now at this point I’d completely forgotten I was supposed to be at the train at 9:06pm, so I strolled back to their house.

When I got there at 9:10pm, our hostess was freaking out, to put it mildly. She may be American by birth, but that didn’t stop her from going all out panicked on us. She first said we'd miss our flight if we took the train and that we should take a local taxi service. She called someone she knew and asked when they could be there by. When they said 9:30, it was pointless to take them, so we just decided to take the train and call it a day. We did leave super early to go to the train station at around 9:20pm.

We waited for our train, said goodbye to our host (she waited with us) when it came, and were at the airport at 9:57pm, on the dot. All we needed to go now was to get to our gate. So we ran.

We first ran all the way up from the train station to the departures level, which was completely deserted. We headed straight towards the gate where we met our first hurdle: We didn’t have the stroller/car seat (Doona) tagged. I sprinted to the counter, got a tag, and sprinted back, where the stern woman looked at us, looked at our boarding passes, and simply said, “you’re late, you probably won’t make your flight.” We had 40 minutes to get to our plane, so I said we’ll take our chances and she waved us though.

Our next hurdle was security. We were the only ones there; they stayed open just for us. Unlike in LAX, here they needed to check every last piece of baby food we brought with us, as well as anything over 3oz in our bags. Since no one else was at security, we had everyone working for us. After a few agonizing minutes we were though, when all the people working at security proceeded to close up shop and go home for the night.

It was now 10:20.

We then walked until we came for immigration. They officer there had no clue what time our flight was, so he didn’t comment. Off to the train to take us back to the E gates. When we got down, the train was 1 minute away; wonderful! We took the train to the E gates, hurried up to the departures level got to the gate and…..got in line to board.

We got on the plane at 10:25pm, but then proceeded to wait for some connecting passengers another 30 minutes. At least we made it!

The flight to Tel Aviv was short, at just under 4 hours. I slept a bit, but just enough to be awake when before we knew it we were on final approach. I should mention that most of the other passengers were fine with us having a baby on the flight, except the couple seated directly behind us. He was Israeli, and tried to change his seat upon seeing us (we were there first FWIW), but they didn’t have any other 2 seats together. He was afraid the baby would cry the whole flight, and he wouldn’t be able to get his sleep. Lucky for him DD slept the entire time and only cried for a second before landing (at which point the passenger behind us got up and complained).

Before we knew it, we arrived into Tel Aviv at around 3:30am!

(Don't worry, there are loads of pictures coming, just none yet, sorry.)

Offline mmgfarb

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Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2017, 12:21:01 AM »
Great start! Kudos for getting the second part out so soon.
How did you find LX J to be?
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2017, 12:32:34 AM »
Great start! Kudos for getting the second part out so soon.
How did you find LX J to be?
You're welcome. You should know I don't like to wait when it comes to getting TRs out.

 LX J is nice. The beds are comfortable and the service is good. It's nothing special, but I'd say it's a pretty mediocre business class. The part where they shine is they have normal business class on the way to Isreal.

Offline mmgfarb

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2017, 12:35:26 AM »
You're welcome. You should know I don't like to wait when it comes to getting TRs out.

 LX J is nice. The beds are comfortable and the service is good. It's nothing special, but I'd say it's a pretty mediocre business class. The part where they shine is they have normal business class on the way to Isreal.
Yep, it's nice not to have to wait so long like some other people here, ahem, @SomethingFishy

Thanks, I think I'm going to go with LX for succos, the only other option that makes sense is TK but from what I've seen, LX is a better choice all around.
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline Denverite

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2017, 06:19:40 AM »
Looking forward to the rest, although you did stress me out with the part about getting to the airport so late!  :P

LX J is nice. The beds are comfortable and the service is good. It's nothing special, but I'd say it's a pretty mediocre business class. The part where they shine is they have normal business class on the way to Isreal.

Didn't know that about J on their Israel leg...good little nugget of info!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2017, 07:09:43 PM »
Part 3: Thursday: A day of Rest

We arrived in TLV, got off the plane and waited for our stroller. We were waiting with a few other families until after everyone else had gone before they brought out our Doona. The benefit of the long wait was that the arrivals hall was pretty empty at that point. We went through customs, got our bags, and were off to rent the car.

After a few minutes at the rental counter, we were on our way to Yerushalayim at 4:50am. The ride to Yerushalayim wasn’t that bad as the road was empty, so we just flew. DD was super tired, so she just fell asleep.

When we arrived at the Crowne Plaza at around 5:40am it was still too early to check in. They told us that the person in charge of early check in arrives at 7:00am and to wait until then, so we waited in the car while DD slept. At around 6:45 she woke up so we went to the lobby. DD was quite fussy, despite her just waking up from her nap. The front desk said that the person who can see if a room is available for early check in won’t arrive until 7:30 and asked us to wait a bit more.

At this point I was quite tired, but I needed to daven. I went to the hotel’s shul downstairs and davened there. Around 8:00am DW texted me while I was davening telling us the room was ready. I guess having a super fussy, whining baby in the lobby does have its benefits.

I finished davening and we went to our room. I will say that the hotel is a bit passed its prime; ok maybe a bit more than a little, but we were too tired to care. I showered and we all just crashed.




Hotel bathroom




Views from the room

We slept until 3:00 pm.

When we woke up we felt well rested and super hungry. Time to go to the Kotel and get something to eat. We decided to go to Mamila for parking and to eat at Café Rimon. We got to our car and lo and behold it was dead. Like super dead. I asked the concierge if they had a battery charger for the car, but they didn’t. The security guard in the front also didn’t have one, but said that taxis usually have one.

We spent the next 45 minutes trying to find a cab that had a charger. At around 30 minutes in DW was getting super hungry, so she decided to just flag down a cab. Meanwhile every car that entered the hotel’s premises didn’t have a charger. Finally, just as I was about to get in the cab and call it quits, the concierge found a lovely British chussid who had one and helped us out. We paid the cab 20 shekel for his time, he drove off all mad, we thanked everyone for their time and help, and got in our car and drove to Mamila.

By the time we parked and got up to the restaurant it was almost 5:30 pm. We had a lovely dinner at Café Rimon, and a nice meetup afterwards with a friend a few restaurants down.




Our food at Café Rimon

We walked though Shaar Yafo to the kotel. Halfway through our walk DW decided to see if a family friend was home. She turned a few corners and knocked on their door. We said a quick hello and off we went to the kotel, right in time for mincha. I davened mincha (it was Yom Kippur Katan, though the minyan I davened at didn’t say the special tefilos for Yom Kippur Katan) before we left through the Armenian Quarter at DW’s insistence.

We drove back to the hotel and were so tried we went straight to bed.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2017, 07:13:14 PM »
Part 4: Friday: Geula on Erev Shabbos

We woke up at a normal time (around 8:30 am) on Friday. The plan for today was to go to Geula, walk around, and meet my BIL & SIL for lunch. After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and headed to Geula (in a fully charged car this time!).








Breakfast at the Crown Plaza

Driving around Geula was a bit tight, but we eventually found parking on a side street (it was paid parking though the app; more on that later). We walked 2 blocks to Geula and walked up and down the street. We were mainly window shopping here, as neither of us could decide what we wanted exactly. After going down Mea Shearim and all the way up Geula, we stopped by Mitz Pri to get a drink while we waited for my BIL & SIL.

We finally met up with them and walked to J2 pizza for lunch. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but DW and DD ate something. We offered to drive them back to their apartment in Machal, so we all walked back to the car after lunch. Lo and behold we got a parking ticket for not paying.

“Not a big deal,” said my BIL, “I can take care of it for you for nothing.”

Wow, thanks! A few minutes later, after texting one of his friends, we were all set. The total bill: 10 agurot.

We drove them back to their apartment and spent some time there. Our next stop was in Bayit V’Gan visiting more family. We drove there, spent about an hour there, and continued on to Har Nof at about 4:30 pm.

We got to our friends in Har Nof a good 2 hours before Shabbos. After settling down in their converted/illegal basement, we got ready for Shabbos. Their house was really spectacular, and it was nice to see them again. Too bad I missed some of their kids who were not there for Shabbos. We got ready for Shabbos, went to shul and came back to a delicious meal. DD went to sleep after I’d left for shul, and slept peacefully….until DD woke up sometime in the middle of the night screaming because she was getting a few new teeth.

Despite the mid-night wakeup, DW got me up for shul at 7:20 am, and continued sleeping until I got home from shul at 10:45am. It’s really hard to wake up in such a basement!

Offline yitrap

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2017, 11:28:26 PM »
Sooooo how does one get in touch with said friend of BIL?

Offline rollingstone

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2017, 11:52:48 PM »
Part 4: Friday: Geula on Erev Shabbos

We woke up at a normal time (around 8:30 am) on Friday. The plan for today was to go to Geula, walk around, and meet my BIL & SIL for lunch. After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and headed to Geula (in a fully charged car this time!).








Breakfast at the Crown Plaza

Driving around Geula was a bit tight, but we eventually found parking on a side street (it was paid parking though the app; more on that later). We walked 2 blocks to Geula and walked up and down the street. We were mainly window shopping here, as neither of us could decide what we wanted exactly. After going down Mea Shearim and all the way up Geula, we stopped by Mitz Pri to get a drink while we waited for my BIL & SIL.

We finally met up with them and walked to J2 pizza for lunch. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but DW and DD ate something. We offered to drive them back to their apartment in Machal, so we all walked back to the car after lunch. Lo and behold we got a parking ticket for not paying.

“Not a big deal,” said my BIL, “I can take care of it for you for nothing.”

Wow, thanks! A few minutes later, after texting one of his friends, we were all set. The total bill: 10 agurot.

We drove them back to their apartment and spent some time there. Our next stop was in Bayit V’Gan visiting more family. We drove there, spent about an hour there, and continued on to Har Nof at about 4:30 pm.

We got to our friends in Har Nof a good 2 hours before Shabbos. After settling down in their converted/illegal basement, we got ready for Shabbos. Their house was really spectacular, and it was nice to see them again. Too bad I missed some of their kids who were not there for Shabbos. We got ready for Shabbos, went to shul and came back to a delicious meal. DD went to sleep after I’d left for shul, and slept peacefully….until DD woke up sometime in the middle of the night screaming because she was getting a few new teeth.

Despite the mid-night wakeup, DW got me up for shul at 7:20 am, and continued sleeping until I got home from shul at 10:45am. It’s really hard to wake up in such a basement!
If you care to pay Israeli tickets, from what i heard the 10 agurot payment option doesn't work anymore. (They'll bill you for the rest)

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2017, 11:59:13 PM »
Shabbos: At friends in Har Nof

Shabbos morning started very early with a painful, 2:00 am scream from our daughter: she was getting 3 new teeth. After giving her some Tylenol and putting her back to sleep, we all slept soundly. Somehow DW was up and woke me up in time for shachris at 8:00am.

Shachris was nice, but packed. When it was over we headed back to our hosts house and were headed out to lunch. My first order of business was to wake up DW and DD who were still sleeping soundly at 10:45! I woke them up and we were off to my wife’s cousin for lunch, just down the block.

We had a lovely lunch with her family, and we all enjoyed a lot. We got back to our host’s house and took an afternoon nap. Before long it was time for mincha and seuda shishis. After mincha we got back to their house and the front gate was locked. Without missing a beat, our host took off his jacket and climbed over the wall to open the door from the inside. As one does.

After maariv we just hung around their house while our hosts got ready for an upcoming family wedding (they were making a tiered wedding “cake” which was just pieces of Styrofoam covered in fondant). Our hostess needed to go to her son’s house that night to watch his new baby overnight, so we just said goodbye to her before she left.

DW has having trouble putting DD to bed, but eventually she got her to sleep somewhere around midnight.