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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: @Yehuda on June 08, 2014, 06:17:55 PM

Title: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 08, 2014, 06:17:55 PM
9 months ago, as my engagement was possibly coming up on the horizon (although not even my/her parents knew I had bought a ring or was planning to propose until they got a call after the fact ;) ), my sister suggested I look into miles and maybe plan a nice trip somewhere. I never thought it would be like this.

Something like 35 credit cards (between myself and my wife) later, and in 2 days from now, we take off on what will iy"h be a most incredible journey. 6 1/2 weeks in Israel and Europe, 12 flights (21 legs) almost exclusively in business, and other than Israel, every night at a completely free hotel.

So many things had to fall in place for this to happen. Thank G-d they did. It also obviously would not have been even remotely possible without Dan - giving me this forum (pun intended) to learn how to do this and even joining the conversation himself sometimes - as well as all the other guys here that have offered their advice and experience to help plan this trip. I'd start to list, but wouldn't want to laeve anyone out. You guys are all incredible.

Well, this is where I plan to post the trip report. But, I don't plan to just save it all up for the end. I hope to post here every few days (watch, I'm going to be on here every night) an update from the last few days. Only 1/4 of this is to show off ;-p. 1/4 is to keep a record for our sake. 1/4 is to help others plan their trips based on my information. And 1/4 is to show the n00bs that it really can be done. (Just don't start new threads every time you have a question. Search, read on your own [I sat here and just read for 2 weeks over Succos last year], and then ask in the appropriate places.)

You can read my trip planning thread here (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=37776.0), but I'll just give the highlights summary here... I booked probably one of the last-ever OneWorld Explorer awards (a round-the-world ticket on OW partners). It ticketed on 4/7/14 and the program was shut down (unannounced I should add) the next day, 4/8/14. For just 90K AA pp I booked almost all those flights, in J. Our 1 luxury stay is in the PHP for 5 nights. The pros know it as the place to stay in Paris; and for the noobs, it's a $1000/night Park Hyatt in Paris. My wife's Zaidy graciously gave us a very nice wedding present to come visit him this summer. Little did he know at the time that his money was going to get us 6.5 weeks travelling through Israel and Europe.

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 found out quickly that the cost of taxis/subways/buses, food, and attractions is nothing to sneeze at, but at $1500 for travel/lodging, I decided to do the cities right. Many TRs give a quick list of what was done, but I hope to include my opinion on the different cities/activities, as well as their costs, so you can get an accurate picture of how to plan your trip.

So long for now and thank you all once again -
@Yehuda
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: MC on June 08, 2014, 06:23:25 PM
Looking forward to the TR!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Joe4007 on June 08, 2014, 06:52:38 PM
Looking forward to the TR!
+1!

Safe travels, and enjoy every second!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sam28 on June 08, 2014, 06:55:03 PM
Enjoy . Make sure to add allot of pictures to the tr .
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on June 08, 2014, 06:57:09 PM
Enjoy . Make sure to add allot of pictures to the tr .
+1
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 08, 2014, 07:03:40 PM
Looking forward to the TR!
:)
+1!

Safe travels, and enjoy every second!
Amen! Thanks!
Enjoy . Make sure to add allot of pictures to the tr .
+1
Plan on it. Wish it was easier to post pics here. Will see how much patience I have for uploading pics to the web first so that they can be embedded in the stream. May just leave most pics as attachments.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on June 08, 2014, 07:05:39 PM
How easy /difficult was it arranging the flights & hotels ? (Did you have to deal with reps that don't know if it's day or night)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 08, 2014, 07:13:49 PM
How easy /difficult was it arranging the flights & hotels ? (Did you have to deal with reps that don't know if it's day or night)
Hotels were relatively easy. I basically searched all SPG, IHG, Marriott etc hotels in the cities I'm going to and then picked the ones that needed the least amount of points, so I could maximize the amount of nights I would get. Booking them wasn't difficult at all. Didn't really deal with reps too much, and those I had to deal with knew what they were doing.

Flights was crazy. I collected all my miles for like 5 months and thought that was the hard part, but finding routing that worked to Israel and then trying to figure out how to fly around Europe and then once I decided on OWE, trying to piece it all together with their rules, was all really hard. AA reps who helped with the OWE were mostly clueless except for a few including the one who I assumed was clueless when she said "Oh, I don't think we do OWE anymore" 3 days before the program actually ended. Flying to Israel via UA miles, IIRC it wasn't too difficult dealing with the reps, but again, finding Saver avail to Israel is never easy.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on June 08, 2014, 07:18:33 PM
Hotels were relatively easy. I basically searched all SPG, IHG, Marriott etc hotels in the cities I'm going to and then picked the ones that needed the least amount of points, so I could maximize the amount of nights I would get. Booking them wasn't difficult at all. Didn't really deal with reps too much, and those I had to deal with knew what they were doing.

Flights was crazy. I collected all my miles for like 5 months and thought that was the hard part, but finding routing that worked to Israel and then trying to figure out how to fly around Europe and then once I decided on OWE, trying to piece it all together with their rules, was all really hard. AA reps who helped with the OWE were mostly clueless except for a few including the one who I assumed was clueless when she said "Oh, I don't think we do OWE anymore" 3 days before the program actually ended. Flying to Israel via UA miles, IIRC it wasn't too difficult dealing with the reps, but again, finding Saver avail to Israel is never easy.
Wow! Hope you didn't pull to much hair out dealing with them. Hotels are category 1 ?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 08, 2014, 07:50:29 PM
Wow! Hope you didn't pull to much hair out dealing with them. Hotels are category 1 ?
Hah, there were many stressful times. No, not that low lol. Probably mostly 3-4.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on June 08, 2014, 08:50:32 PM
Let the fun begin. Looking forward to this TR, and not just because I'm going a week after you.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sky121 on June 08, 2014, 08:54:18 PM
I feel like we're all about to go on this honeymoon! :)
I can't believe it's finally here. And while we def want to hear all about it... don't forget to forget about DDF for a while and enjoy your awesome trip!
N'siya Tova!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 08, 2014, 09:02:25 PM
Let the fun begin. Looking forward to this TR, and not just because I'm going a week after you. ;-)
Hopefully you'll BE in some of it!
I feel like we're all about to go on this honeymoon! :)
I can't believe it's finally here. And while we def want to hear all about it... don't forget to forget about DDF for a while and enjoy your awesome trip!
N'siya Tova!
Thanks for the kind words! Amen!
Haha I hope not to be on here too much. My wife deserves some attention after all this ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: ayman on June 09, 2014, 12:32:41 AM
Wow that was fast! I remember when you first started your planning thread. Wasn't too long ago!!
Hope you have a great and safe time!
Can't wait to read some of your stories, you have a real flair for the forum format. :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 09, 2014, 12:35:04 AM
Wow that was fast! I remember when you first started your planning thread. Wasn't too long ago!!
Hope you have a great and safe time!
Can't wait to read some of your stories, you have a real flair for the forum format. :)
Yeah, time flew by. Thanks, Amen!
Appreciate it. I try, I try. ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: stbaum 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) )
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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. ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: lunatic 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
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: efflpetzel 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 :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS 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)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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:
(http://i.imgur.com/FbDzbCJ.jpg?1)
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.
(http://i.imgur.com/snxiOXi.jpg?1)

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.
(http://i.imgur.com/jZYWM35.jpg?1)

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.
(http://i.imgur.com/qFbtfdw.jpg?1)
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:
(http://i.imgur.com/MsRK43w.jpg?1)
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:
(http://i.imgur.com/UrYJ9mZ.jpg?2)
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:
(http://i.imgur.com/Q9HQSeS.jpg?1)
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).
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: PlatinumGuy 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
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on June 12, 2014, 07:01:44 PM
Very nicely written
You're convincing me to go in business class
Enjoy
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on June 12, 2014, 07:06:03 PM
Cafe rimon is a great place. "Same digits different logo", good one
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: PlatinumGuy on June 12, 2014, 07:57:16 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.

IPhones are notoriously bad at roaming

Setting>general>reset>reset network settings often helps
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on June 12, 2014, 08:04:11 PM
IPhones are notoriously bad at roaming

Setting>general>reset>reset network settings often helps
Does everything get deleted ?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: MC on June 12, 2014, 08:42:35 PM

Does everything get deleted ?
Not everything on the iPhone but all the network settings do, which includes any wifi networks and passwords that the phone has "memorized".
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on June 16, 2014, 01:33:40 AM
Nu?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: E R K on June 16, 2014, 01:35:58 AM
Nu?

Let him enjoy his honeymoon!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: PlatinumGuy on June 16, 2014, 01:44:10 AM
Not everything on the iPhone but all the network settings do, which includes any wifi networks and passwords that the phone has "memorized".
Not true afaicr. I have to do it every week or two and I haven't noticed that.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: MC on June 16, 2014, 01:45:44 AM

Not true afaicr. I have to do it every week or two and I haven't noticed that.
Oh? It happened to me, guess I got unlucky?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: PlatinumGuy on June 16, 2014, 01:47:11 AM
Oh? It happened to me, guess I got unlucky?
Dunno, I might wrong
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 16, 2014, 05:22:41 AM
Real updates to come. In Eilat and the hotel charges for wifi plus my data plan is limited so therefore I'm MIA. Just found a store with free wifi so I got a post in here :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on June 16, 2014, 08:15:23 AM
Real updates to come. In Eilat and the hotel charges for wifi plus my data plan is limited so therefore I'm MIA. Just found a store with free wifi so I got a post in here :)
oh
And here I thought you weren't posting because you were enjoying your honeymoon, good to know that you just didn't have wifi
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Super Speed on June 16, 2014, 08:20:07 AM

Not true afaicr. I have to do it every week or two and I haven't noticed that.
I had the same experience as MC.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SRM on June 16, 2014, 08:43:29 AM
Great trip report so far. I look forward to hearing more about your Europe part of the trip and getting some tips for my trip in August :-)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: penina on June 16, 2014, 08:57:00 AM
Great trip report so far. I look forward to hearing more about your Europe part of the trip and getting some tips for my trip in August :-)
+1
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on June 16, 2014, 10:01:32 AM
Enjoy your honeymoon and return to DDF afterwards.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: avadah on June 16, 2014, 03:27:47 PM
I did a 2 week Europe trip and I think the most relaxing part was not having a cell phone.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on June 16, 2014, 03:47:52 PM
I did a 2 week Europe trip and I think the most relaxing part was not having a cell phone.
+1000
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 22, 2014, 09:15:19 AM
@TLV now. Israel was awesome! (As clearly seen by my lack of posts.)

Let Europe begin, Spain here we come!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on June 22, 2014, 09:20:00 AM
@TLV now. Israel was awesome! (As clearly seen by my lack of posts.)

Let Europe begin, Spain here we come!
Enjoy! Waiting to see all those pics.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on June 22, 2014, 11:09:02 AM
@TLV now. Israel was awesome! (As clearly seen by my lack of posts.)

Let Europe begin, Spain here we come!
that's it
when I got a notification that a reply has been posted to a topic that you are Watching, I made time and was prepared to read a weeks worth of activities,
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: efflpetzel on June 22, 2014, 11:54:32 AM

that's it
when I got a notification that a reply has been posted to a topic that you are Watching, I made time and was prepared to read a weeks worth of activities,
+1,
My eyes lit up when I saw this, I kinda regret telling him to stay off ddf
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on June 22, 2014, 11:59:36 AM
+1,
My eyes lit up when I saw this, I kinda regret telling him to stay off ddf
-1, I'm glad he's been able to stay off. Hopefully he's enjoying the trip too much to be bothered writing a TR. I also can't wait to read one when he eventually posts one.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: efflpetzel on June 22, 2014, 12:00:12 PM
'Twas a joke
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on June 22, 2014, 12:01:51 PM
-1, I'm glad he's been able to stay off. Hopefully he's enjoying the trip too much to be bothered writing a TR. I also can't wait to read one when he eventually posts one.
by the time he writes a trip report he'll forget half of the details
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: MC on June 22, 2014, 12:02:20 PM

by the time he writes a trip report he'll forget half of the details
Nah, it's easy to remember especially if you have pictures to help.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 22, 2014, 04:50:56 PM
This conversation makes me feel like a celebrity. Let's see, where were we?

Wow, just looked back and I left you at the Tunnel Tours on Thursday night over a week ago. So let's recap, but a bit shorter hopefully. Unfortunately, we were both sick in Israel. My wife got sick on the plane and was nauseous/had a stomach bug until Shabbos. I was fine until I woke up Friday night with 100 degree fever, nausea and a stomach bug. My wife was still amazing and came out for the Tunnel Tours and made her way through the shuk even with feeling like garbage. On Friday, we were hoping to get out to Meah Shearim (she felt fine enough to attempt to make it) but then ran into my cousins in the street and decided to go to their apartment (just about 5 min from us) for the first time. We just chilled there with all the cousins for a little while, then went back to Zaidy to get ready for Shabbos. We Davened Friday night at some small Shul w/ a young crowd 3 minutes from home (don't remember the name) and then had dinner with my wife's aunt/uncle and a few of their kids/grandkids. Was nice to meet some more of her family for the first time. Shabbos morning was when I woke up feeling like an absolute wreck. I was able to stumble to the lunch table to introduce myself to some more of her cousins but then went right back to bed. It was really annoying being sick on our trip, but we easily agreed that being sick at Zaidy's was the best place for it to happen. I got some medicine called Acamole (which is supposedly just Israeli Tylenol) and it worked amazingly. By the afternoon, my fever was gone and I felt good enough to go visit my aunt/uncle/cousins who were having a big Shabbos Kallah for my cousin. A few of my good friends who made Aliyah were there, so it was really nice to see everyone. I was still feeling yuch, so we spent Motzai Shabbos packing for Eilat and debating whether we should even attempt going. Our flight was scheduled for Sunday at around noon.

More on Eilat in the next post... Sorry this one wasn't too exciting. Hello from Madrid!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on June 22, 2014, 04:59:17 PM
-1, I'm glad he's been able to stay off. Hopefully he's enjoying the trip too much to be bothered writing a TR. I also can't wait to read one when he eventually posts one.

+1

Enjoy your trip and return to DDF when it's over.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 26, 2014, 05:44:56 AM
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?
But bh I have my wife who is the calmest person in the world (Guiness Records, 2006). She turned around and saw the IB custserv desk, and we went over and explained that we missed it. The guy took about 5 minutes and... got us on the next flight BCN-MAD with enough time to catch MAD-SVQ... for FREE!! I've never really been in a situation where I missed a flight bc it was completely my fault, so I didn't know what to expect (and I don't know if this is the norm), but we were really impressed with how quickly he fixed the issue and how there was no charge. BH!

Eilat TR is almost done. Hope to post it tonight.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on June 26, 2014, 08:27:43 AM
WOWOW!!! Lucky you enjoy every minute, we are here waiting to hear every detail!

P.s. If you can please write by each flight, hotel how it was booked and how many miles/cash it took! tnx
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 26, 2014, 01:12:49 PM
WOWOW!!! Lucky you enjoy every minute, we are here waiting to hear every detail!

P.s. If you can please write by each flight, hotel how it was booked and how many miles/cash it took! tnx

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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: MC on June 26, 2014, 01:25:26 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!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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:
(http://i.imgur.com/gduH9CA.jpg?1) (http://i.imgur.com/QZeQSWX.jpg?1)

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!!
(http://i.imgur.com/03CSuRC.jpg?2)

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:
(http://i.imgur.com/RndI0pY.jpg?1)
;)
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!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 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
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS 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
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: stbaum 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)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS 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
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on June 26, 2014, 06:12:53 PM
Seems like it's much better to rent a car to head to Eilat
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: bubble347 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rediplus 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: PlatinumGuy 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.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Emkay 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
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on June 27, 2014, 05:25:31 AM
ive done both and prefer flying
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: bubble347 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?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sky121 on June 29, 2014, 02:38:18 AM
Nice TR so far. Hope you're feeling better.
No snorkeling in Eilat?
Let's hope you get there again feeling better. :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on June 29, 2014, 02:51:34 AM
Do you dislike driving in general or is that something about this drive?
i dont dislike driving in general but i generally prefer to fly.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: PlatinumGuy on June 29, 2014, 03:17:35 AM
i dont dislike driving in general but i generally prefer to fly.
Not a fare comparison. Have someone else drive you
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 29, 2014, 03:27:02 AM
Nice TR so far. Hope you're feeling better.
No snorkeling in Eilat?
Let's hope you get there again feeling better. :)
Thanks! Yeah, MUCH better bh.
Yeah couldn't make it to any water sports unfortunately. Obviously, not the best way to experience Eilat, but I'm not sure whether I would go there again. Think I'd rather do other things if I'm in Israel. Anyway, Hawaii would ideally be my next "actual" vacation and we can try snorkeling there :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on June 29, 2014, 08:23:44 AM
We are waiting here for more updates... ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on June 29, 2014, 08:27:30 AM
We are waiting here for more updates... ;)

Don't put pressure on the dude; let him enjoy his vacation DDF free!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on June 29, 2014, 08:29:10 AM
Don't put pressure on the dude; let him enjoy his vacation DDF free!
+1, just giving advice if he is looking to do something when his wife is asleep ;) :D ;D
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on June 29, 2014, 08:29:51 AM
+1, just giving advice if he is looking to do something when his wife is asleep ;) :D ;D

 :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on June 29, 2014, 08:52:26 AM
Not a fare comparison. Have someone else drive you
no difference if im driving or being driven
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on June 29, 2014, 11:40:19 AM
I work on TRs while on planes or when she's asleep but in Israel with being sick, I couldn't do any writing and then it's just been a game of catch up. Slowly finishing up the rest of Israel. I know, I know, it's Europe you guys really want to see, but we'll get there iy"h.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on June 29, 2014, 12:07:09 PM
I work on TRs while on planes or when she's asleep but in Israel with being sick, I couldn't do any writing and then it's just been a game of catch up. Slowly finishing up the rest of Israel. I know, I know, it's Europe you guys really want to see, but we'll get there iy"h.

Feel better! I hope you are totally back to yourself, so you can enjoy.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: penina on July 02, 2014, 10:32:07 AM
Feel better! I hope you are totally back to yourself, so you can enjoy.

+1
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 03, 2014, 02:29:39 AM
Thursday, the first day we were finally feeling good and thank G-d because it rocked, and it would’ve been a real shame to be sick today.
Because we were unsure whether we would go to Ein Gedi, we did not pre-book a car rental. But after the wedding, we decided to go, so my brother booked a car for $30 from Thrifty (I believe). He picked it up Thursday morning (and had a really tough time. They wanted to see his Israeli Visa which luckily he had with him and they made him wait a long time. Plus, the car wasn’t clean when he got it. Instead of cleaning it while he was in the office, they waited till he came out at which point he said just give it to me as is.) Waze helped us get there although as we experienced in Israe - and since then in Spain - Waze did not feel as accurate outside America but that definitely could be because we are not used to the signs in foreign countries. We got off at the exit for Ein Gedi (about a 1.5 hour drive IIRC) but overshot the parking lot as there’s no sign as you go by. We ended up on a dirt road with some Ibex, so we got some great pics and then turned around till we found where we needed to go. Parking is free and cost of admission is 29 NIS pp. There is 1 straight path to follow, which requires being in shape a bit but not too much. As you climb, you pass by several waterfalls (that are all really just offshoots of one waterfall at the top). There were so few people on the hike, so we stopped by several of the falls to go in the water. It’s not really deep enough to swim around, but it is nice to cool off in the water. Once you get about 45-60 minutes up the mountain, there are 2 options: circle down to the beginning or continue onto the second path which leads higher up the mountain. From the map, it looked like there were no more falls up the second path and they told us at the entrance that it takes another 3-4 hours for the longer hike, so we went back down. We decided to skip Café Café and just got some snacks from the shop at the bottom. BTW Café Café’s site implies that it’s in a strip mall of some sort near the hotels, but we definitely saw a standalone one (maybe there are 2) about 15 minutes before reaching Ein Gedi. We got in the car and headed to the Dead Sea. We didn’t continue on the main road towards the hotel area (where I assume the free beaches are), but instead headed back towards Yerushalayim as we had passed a beach called “Mineral Beach”. Even if it cost money, my siblings just wanted to go there, so we did. It was 50 shek to get in (oh well) and it we had a great time. My siblings did the fish spa here that we did in Eilat. It was cheaper than ours but not as clean water/organized as the one in Eilat. We floated for a while, did the mud thing, and my siblings went into the steaming mineral pool they offered there. We headed back to Yerushalayim, showered and changed and went off to Sheva Brachos at Café Rimon.

Friday, we finally made it to Meah Shearim (my mom came too) and did all the classic things there – bought some tzitzis, got Mitz Pri, bought a nice Olive Wood sign, and stopped in Manny’s for old time’s sake. Friday night dinner was Sheva Brachos at the apt my cousin’s rented. We davened outside in the backyard and ate outside on the Mirpeset, which was really nice. Shabbos, we davened at HaNasi and again ate by my cousin’s. Motzai Shabbos we visited my friend’s apt who recently made Aliyah. We got back around midnight and just caught Katzefet (the one that opened in Rechavia where Heimeshe Essen used to be) before they closed. Midnight ice cream is the best kind!

Sunday… time to say goodbye :-/
We spent the morning going to the shuk and Yaffo area looking for a cell phone store to unlock my phone. Why? After I switched my phone situation to Sprint, it was clear they were wrong about me normally using 20MB a month and that 40 would be plenty. I had $70 in int’l charges after 1 week. I realized  I should have just gotten my phone unlocked in NY and then the Tmobile sim would have worked and all would have been well, but I didn’t. So we looked around and found a bunch of stores that unlocked phones, but most wouldn’t do a Sprint iPhone and the few that would wanted 700+ shekel! Something about Sprint was the problem. Anyway, if we were going to pay that, we might as well just keep going over on Sprint’s plan. We got lunch at Shalom Falafel (I wasn’t a fan) and picked up some groceries on the way to have some food for the next day, Madrid, as we heard mixed reviews about the Kashrus of the restaurant there. We went back and packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes to Zaidy (and thanked him a million times again) and after all the taxi issues we had on this trip, we just reserved a Nesher to get us to the airport. Really not sure why we didn’t do this the whole time. I guess I thought a taxi couldn’t be much more than 2 people on a Nesher, and I viewed Nesher as the cheap way Yeshiva guys get to the airport, but really, with the little luggage we brought on this trip, and after the taxi driver didn’t really make a cheap deal with us for our 4 airport trips, it would have been much cheaper/smarter to go Nesher the whole way.
We got to TLV with some time, so we went into the Dan Lounge. Not sure if there is more than one, but this one was right near our Iberia gate. We weren’t sure about the Kashrus of the lounge and the workers couldn’t show me a Teudah, so we just took some drinks and had them with our leftover falafels from lunch. Curious what people think about taking a few drinks from a lounge with you as you leave? We’ve done it now a few times as drinks are really expensive on the road. We’ve found cans of soda in supermarkets for .60 euro, but normally, when you just buy at a machine or at a mini-market, drinks are often 2-3 euros which you have to remember is 3-4 dollars. Anyway, we rationalized that we “paid” for access to the lounge and didn’t partake of the food offered, so we could take a few drinks with us. (Perhaps they even allow it. We have no idea if the policy of lounges is just to feed you while there. Maybe all lounges allow you to take a snack with you?) Back to the story, we went to the gate, boarded and once again realized that it’s really nice to be flying business. It’s just nice to get on the plane first and have guaranteed room for your bags (esp as we only had carry-ons – and they’re pushing the inches limit ;)). The plane was 2x2 – obviously not as nice as EWR-MUC, but still roomy. Ever since then, it’s always been 3 seats with the middle empty (well, not really as I sat in it ;)) as ilherman forewarned. Even when the seat map seemed like it was 4 rows of 1 seat each, that was a trick - the “rows” were just blocked off middle seats. Something got messed up here and they only had 1 KSML for us, but my wife wasn’t too hungry, and it looked gross, so we only ate a little. Realized I think it’s weird to be posting pics of the food, so yeah, I’m going to stop that. Not even sure which company supplied it, so I can’t offer that info either.

Anyway, off to Madrid – let Europe (and the real TR) begin!

ETA: TLV-MAD on IB was part of the OWE. The OWE for 2 ppl in J in total was 180K AA (incl. 32K SPG) + $1552. I don't remember the exact breakdown of the $1552 per leg, but about half the legs were $60-80 pp and half were $100-120 pp. (Assume the cheaper half were the IB flights and the more expensive legs were BA.)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: lunatic on July 03, 2014, 07:30:29 AM
There is a cafe cafe in a small round mall near the former let meridian
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on July 04, 2014, 08:21:09 AM
Thanks keep it coming,
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: HP58 on July 05, 2014, 04:15:00 PM
Wow.  Just went through this thread for the first time. Real nice TR. Can't wait for the Europe part...
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 07, 2014, 06:55:38 PM
There is a cafe cafe in a small round mall near the former let meridian
Right, that's what it looked like from there site - we just never made it that far down the road. There is also one about 15 minutes before you reach Ein Gedi.

Thanks keep it coming,
Wow.  Just went through this thread for the first time. Real nice TR. Can't wait for the Europe part...
Thanks guys, glad you like it.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 07, 2014, 06:55:51 PM
Madrid
We landed in MAD and went through passport control very quickly (no line). We took a taxi to the hotel. (And as we later decided, it's just easier to taxi to the hotel upon arrival and try to learn the subways while there for possibly returning to the airport via a cheaper transportation method.) Taxi cost 30€ to TRYP Madrid Chamberi, booked for 2 nights at 11K Melia points/nights. This was thanks to the Melia deal that popped up in the forums where you got 12K points just for creating an account. A few of their hotels could be booked for 11K so I got one night under my name and 1 under my wife's. Never heard of Melia before, but the hotel was modernly designed and was a nice stay. As we learned on our trip so far (this post is coming out 2 weeks into our trip), it seems like most hotels have similar layouts for their non-suite/fancy/upgraded rooms. Assuming the room was recently renovated, it should be a nice stay.

From Gmap and GoDaven, I knew the hotel was close to a Shul - Beth Knesset Beth Yaacov. Another thing we learned on the trip is that you hope GoDaven is correct with Minyan times, but you don't really know till you show up in Shul. Got a bit lost on the way to Shacharis, but once I learned the route, it was about 5 min to Shul. Really convenient. Here is where I began to learn that basically every Shul in Europe has a security guard (usually a Jew) who asks for your passport and asks similar Q's to TLV security - what are you doing here? etc. Davening was super-Sefardi and super-long. Because we were unsure of the Kashrus of the Kosher restaurant (and we would be in Barcelona the next day), we brought food from Israel for Madrid. We had some Nature Valley bars for breakfast and then headed off to the Royal Palace. Hotel clerk helped us figure out the Metro for the day, and we really liked it. It was less than 5 min to the Metro station, buying tickets was not complicated (basically every machine we've come to in Europe has an English option) but it's a bit different than NY. You have to put in your destination and then it tells you how much your ticket will cost. I don't remember exactly how much we paid but it was probably around 1.5-2€ pp. Not sure if there were any like 10-trip passes because we were only there for a day, so it wouldn't be worth it. Royal Palace had about a 10-15 minutes wait, so there was no need to buy tickets online ahead of time. It cost 5€ for students, not sure how much for regular. You first enter a beautiful courtyard with the Palace on one side and a church on the other. The church is actually outside the gates of the courtyard, but at first glance, it looks like the courtyard is surrounded by a huge palace on one side and a huge church on the other. Gives it a nice symmetrical look.
Palace:
(http://i.imgur.com/BlCSFRV.jpg?1)
The Palace is elaborate and ornate. All the rooms were still furnished, so you can actually see how it may have looked like and try to put yourself in the rich days of yore. The walls/ceilings are all handpainted with beautiful detailing. We chose not to buy the audio guide and were more than satisfied. It's not like the people who once lived here were "famous", so hearing the history didn't really interest us. Walking around and reading the few English captions (most were in Spanish) was more than enough in our opinion. Pictures weren't allowed, but we did sneak in a few (*potch*). Here's a dining room to give you a sense of the grandeur (blurry bc I didn't have time to wait for it to focus before a guard started walking over):
(http://i.imgur.com/xY0uRIW.jpg?1)
Walking through took about an hour and then we found out there's an armory to look through as well. It's hard to find - on the opposite side of the courtyard, near the church and the entrance is not really recognizable from afar. Just walk to that side of the courtyard and look in the corner, you'll see a door. Armory is 2 floors of old armor, swords, shields, horse-protection, spears, etc. Cool stuff, but after a few minutes, it was just looking at the same stuff over and over again. I think the most impressive part of it was how much they had in the building, i.e. how much they were able to preserve throughout the years.

After the Palace, I wanted to go have lunch at the Secret Gardens, a place I read about on TA that was supposed to be like 5 minutes away I thought. Gmaps was a problem as our data was capped at 40MB/month as I believe I posted earlier and we were already approaching that or over it (I forget at this point), but with people's help also we were able to find it. Don't go. lol. It's a small fenced in garden with some benches and bushes, but really nothing to look at at all. Didn't stop us from having our sandwiches that we brought from Israel. From there we took the Metro to Atocha Train Station (needed the line/stop for Atocha-Renfe) where we waited for our train to Toledo. We had already bought tickets online (which was a hassle, if you read my trip planning thread), but that was probably unecessary. The train was pretty much full, but I would bet that if we bought tickets when we showed up (we were there a bit early for the train) then we would have been able to get a seat. On the way back to Madrid, there were plenty of empty seats. The train ticket was 20.30€ RT pp. So you know, your ticket tells you what "coche" or "caboose" your seat is on as well as the row and seat number. We found that out after being asked to move from our seats. Our ticket was for a specific departure time, and I imagine you can't just take a different train like on NJ Transit if you can't even sit in the wrong seat. The train ride was about a 1/2 hour and then we took a 5 min cab for 5€ to the Santa Maria la Blanca (The Virgin Mary, as the building is now owned by a church) Shul. We knew that we were going on a Monday and therefore the El Transito Shul/Museum would be closed, but we planned on visiting Toledo anyway. (Turned out El Transito was closed the entire month for renovation or something, so I'm glad we didn't go on a different day of the week expecting to see it.) Entrance was 2.5€ pp and we went in. This is when things went sour for us. The Shul is just an empty room, a memory of the glory it may have once held. There are no pews, no Jewish decorations, no sign of an Aron - nothing to show it was once a Shul, not even it's name. Sure, it's got the nice horseshoe arches that you'll see in the Google pics (and I took one or 2 of my own), but that's it. It's a nice size, but smaller than the Google images make it out to be. We were really underwhelmed and disappointed that we schlepped out there for that. We walked outside to find the "museum" that was included in the entrance fee and there was a small room with an exhibit - run by nuns. LOL no jokes. They had a few paintings of Adam and Eve, etc. and we walked out quite quickly. We were disappointed. We walked by El Transito just to see the outside, although it's facade is not particularly noteworthy. We headed back the way we came and found an antique store, so we checked it out. There was actually a collection of Judaica items, so we shmoozed with the shop owner about them. They were all from about 1860 and owned by a wealthy Toledo man who knew he had Jewish roots. On his travels, he would find Judaica items and have his artists back home make copies of them. Now many of the items were put up for sale in this antique store. The shop owner gave us more of a Toledo Jewish history background than the Shul, unfortunately. We walked back towards the train station thinking if we find a cab, we'll take it and if not, we'll walk. We actually didn't bump into any, but kind of remembered our way back impressively and after about 45 minutes we found the train station. Was a nice day, so the walk didn't kill us. BTW the train station itself is small but very nice and old-fashioned. We had to wait a bit for our train and shortly we were back on our way to Madrid. Last point on Toledo: For us, Toledo was a waste of time and you'll see in the Spain thread, that in the moment, I posted - no one go to Toledo! But, I realize now (after taking Jewish tours in Barcelona and Rome) that certain places - especially those with little physical remains - are not the same without a tour. Too bad the only tour I found for Toledo (that Solomon guy) wanted over 300€ for a tour which was very out of our price range, but I think you really need a tour to learn about the community and then just see the Shul as an addition to help your imagination. Could be El Transito is much more like a Shul and the museum there is better, and in that case, a trip to Toledo w/o a tour may be worth it, but if all you're going is to see Santa Maria la Blanca and you don't have a tour, I wouldn't go.

Our next stop was Retiro Park. W/o really being able to use Gmaps, we asked around a bit and found where the park was - took about 10 minutes to walk from Atocha. The park is amazing. We loved it. It's huge and has several different types of areas - places to lay out and read in the sun, places to sit on a bench in the shade, areas that were kinda like mazes, fountains, bridges, streams, and finally when you get to the middle, a cool sculptured structure (that you've probably seen on Google Images) overlooking a huge lake. That's where we found out you can rent a boat and go around the lake! As much as I planned most of the itinerary down to the nitty gritty, it's fun to do something extra. We rented a boat for 45 min for just 5.8€ (!) and had a blast. After boating we found a stand that sold Ben & Jerry's which was the perfect snack on a hot day. We took a Metro back to the hotel and I went off to Mincha/Maariv - these went quicker, more the speed of an Ashkenazi Minyan and then the Rabbi spoke for a few minutes afterwards. I went over to him then to ask about the restaurant. If found out it's called La Escudilla and was actually, believe it or not, between my hotel and the Shul! Pretty cool that I picked the hotel right in the center of the Jewish things. He also told me it's under his Shul's supervision and is Glatt Kosher. Now, Chabad did tell me via email that they only eat at home, so I don't know if this is a political thing (which I hear more and more on my trip that Chabad and the local Rabbinate have political problems in many cities) or if the Hashgacha is not reliable. I guess you have to decide on your own or find out more info. I stopped by the restaurant just to see it and they told me they're open till midnight. Kinda impressive for a Kosher restaurant in a not highly-populated Jewish community that also doesn't see a ton of tourists. I went back to the hotel as we weren't going to eat there anyway as we had deli sandwiches from Israel for dinner.

The next morning I went to the same Shul and since we were confident with the subways, we asked the hotel clerk how to get to the airport without paying 30€ for a taxi. It was about a 15 minute walk to the Metro and if we had more than our 2 rolling carryons and backpacks, I don't think we could have done it, but we got to the train and paid (a bit more than our other Metro rides) and got on. There were 2 airport stops for the different terminals. We bought the ticket for the last stop in case that's what we needed (didn't want to take a chance of not buying enough fare and getting stopped on the train), but got off at the first stop. We bumped into a really nice teen or 20-something kid who spoke English/Spanish and offered to ask an airport worker if the terminals we stopped at were for Iberia domestic flights. We needed him because - and I left this out - we barely found English-speakers in Spain. Outside of our hotel clerks, we were literally working with "cuanto" "donde..." and "gracias". Italy, on the other hand, has been a breeze with English. Might just be our experience, but yeah. Anyway, we got off at the wrong stop, so we thanked the kid and got on the next train. 1 stop later, we got off and we saw signs in Spanish that seemed to say something about paying 3€ extra to get out of an airport station. We had no idea where to pay that if that's even what it meant, so we just walked out into the airport. We found an info-type desk and asked about the extra fee and in our broken English conversation, they said just go on. So, no idea what that fee is, if it's anything at all. We checked in, which was a bit confusing as they wouldn't let us online since we weren't checking bags. They made us go to a self-checkin machine, which was fine, we just didn't know what was going on at first. We found the Iberia lounge (which we visited 3 times that week ;)) and enjoyed the free cokes. With about 20 minutes till boarding, I went on a stroll and saw an ad in Spanish for a phone and all I could understand was 1€ a day with GoEurope and Orange. I was intrigued and turned around to find an electronics store right there. So I went in and for the first time, found a store employee who really spoke English! He explained that it's an Orange (which I heard of from Israel) pre-paid sim card called Mundo that works in Spain and the rest of Europe. You have to load at least 5€ onto it and if you load 35, they give you an extra 10 for free. For 10€, you get 1GB of data in Spain for a month and if you leave Spain and go to other parts of Europe, they can activate GoEurope, which charges your card 1€ for 100MB of data a day. I was like whoa! This is exactly what I needed! My phone was definitely unlocked to handle an int'l sim card and we were messed up with this Sprint 40MB/month thing, so I said let's do this, my flight's in a 1/2 hour! He cut the sim down to micro and created an account for me and got my phone working (took some time) and then I ran back to the lounge where my wife was waiting a bit nervously as she had no idea where I was and it was already boarding time. I apologized and explained the great deal and we ran to the gate. We made it b"h and got onto the plane to BCN. (Part of the OWE.) Flight was 2x2, so we had wider seats that kinda reclined. They for some reason only had 1 KSML, but my wife wasn't hungry anyway. They also brought out PSP's loaded with about 10 movies. Was kinda cool!
And that's it for MAD!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 08, 2014, 03:05:58 AM


Madrid
We landed in MAD and went through passport control very quickly (no line)....

Wow, incredible! Sounds like you had a blast! 😉
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 08, 2014, 03:13:56 AM

Wow, incredible! Sounds like you had a blast! 😉
Can't wait to get to my VCE TR. Would you believe there was a DO??
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on July 08, 2014, 03:18:13 AM
Can't wait to get to my VCE TR. Would you believe there was a DO??
Who with ?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 08, 2014, 03:18:56 AM
Can't wait to get to my VCE TR. Would you believe there was a DO??
No, who with?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 08, 2014, 03:19:55 AM
Who with ?
Yehoshua himself.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sam28 on July 08, 2014, 01:36:31 PM
Nice report so far we need some more pictures please .
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 08, 2014, 01:54:41 PM
Nice report so far we need some more pictures please .
Thanks, can try. Pics are a bit annoying bc I need to upload them first to something like imgur and make them smaller. Anything you would specifically like to see from what I've written so far?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on July 08, 2014, 01:57:32 PM
Thanks, can try. Pics are a bit annoying bc I need to upload them first to something like imgur and make them smaller. Anything you would specifically like to see from what I've written so far?
umm, everything ?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on July 08, 2014, 03:13:52 PM
umm, everything ?

Lets see them when you get home! Enjoy every second.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sam28 on July 08, 2014, 03:33:26 PM
also can u try to make small paragraph please as it would be  much more easier to read .

thanks .
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 08, 2014, 03:50:55 PM
umm, everything ?
Ha

Lets see them when you get home! Enjoy every second.

Ha not a bad idea

also can u try to make small paragraph please as it would be  much more easier to read .

thanks .

I was trying to put each activity in its own paragraph, but I hear what you're saying - it's still too much in each par.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on July 08, 2014, 03:52:39 PM
I was trying to put each activity in its own paragraph, but I hear what you're saying - it's still too much in each par.
You might just have to publish a book about it. :) I'd buy it.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 08, 2014, 03:54:05 PM
You might just have to publish a book about it. :) I'd buy it.
I take that as a compliment to my writing :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on July 08, 2014, 03:56:47 PM
I take that as a compliment to my writing :)
Yup. Big compliment.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: stbaum on July 09, 2014, 02:12:01 PM
You might just have to publish a book about it. :) I'd buy it.

I really enjoyed this book. you might too

http://www.amazon.com/Month-Italy-Rediscovering-Art-Vacation/dp/0985338741
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on July 15, 2014, 09:01:30 PM
its been a while since the last update....
and @yehuda was active on ddf.....
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 16, 2014, 01:33:45 AM
its been a while since the last update....
and @yehuda was active on ddf.....
Hah, I never got around to planning Paris, so I had to do that now. Didn't realize how long TRs take, so I'm taking a lot of ppl's advice and doing it slowly. I have been trying to keep a short history of each day so I have good memory reminders for when I write the TRs.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: AtallD on July 17, 2014, 10:10:01 PM
Just came across this... what an awesome TR! Can't wait to hear more
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on July 24, 2014, 05:57:35 PM
Just got back today :)



Welcome back
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 24, 2014, 08:02:39 PM
Welcome back
Thanks!

Back in the US of A! Wow, I've missed English and dollars and Kosher food EVERYWHERE!

Time to get to some TRs. After reading Yehoshua's TR, I see it's a much clearer to read than the way I've been writing. I'll try to use more bolded headlines, paragraphs and pics.
Here's some pics from the beginning of the trip till now to make up for the lack of pics before...

Ibex that we ran into when we overshot Ein Gedi:
(http://i.imgur.com/pQKTfYm.jpg?1)

View from the top of the first level hike in Ein Gedi (overlooking the Dead Sea):
(http://i.imgur.com/xTJaslb.jpg?1)

Our seats on TLV-MAD, one of the few times we had 2 larger seats instead of a regular row with the middle seat left empty. Sorry it's not a great view:
(http://i.imgur.com/1H2JFYh.jpg?1)

3 sides of the courtyard in the the Royal Palace in Madrid.
1) The Palace (a different view from the one I posted earlier):
(http://i.imgur.com/3WA7IbB.jpg?1)

2 Row of arches that form one of the walls:
(http://i.imgur.com/lPgajAT.jpg?1)

3) Church opposite the Palace that forms a 3rd "wall": (My only picture of a church from the trip. It just felt really cool standing in this courtyard with these 2 humongous buildings on either side.)
(http://i.imgur.com/IMOPhn7.jpg?1)

Train station in Toledo:
(http://i.imgur.com/V9mY416.jpg?1)

Santa Maria La Blanca Synagogue: (I told you it's empty and looks just like the pictures you'll find on Google.)
(http://i.imgur.com/NrDJHxC.jpg?1)

Fountain in Madrid Atocha train station with tons of turtles:
(http://i.imgur.com/h9hN7Iw.jpg?1)

In Retiro Park:
(http://i.imgur.com/rMwTBwy.jpg?1)

Beautiful lake (with boat rentals) in Retiro:
(http://i.imgur.com/QrL6W4M.jpg?1)

That's all for now. In midst of putting together all my finals costs for the trip and writing up Barcelona.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 24, 2014, 08:44:03 PM
Thanks!

Back in the US of A! Wow, I've missed English and dollars and Kosher food EVERYWHERE!

Time to get to some TRs. After reading Yehoshua's TR, I see it's a much clearer to read than the way I've been writing. I'll try to use more bolded headlines, paragraphs and pics.
Here's some pics from the beginning of the trip till now to make up for the lack of pics before...

Ibex that we ran into when we overshot Ein Gedi:
(http://i.imgur.com/pQKTfYm.jpg?1)

View from the top of the first level hike in Ein Gedi (overlooking the Dead Sea):
(http://i.imgur.com/xTJaslb.jpg?1)

Our seats on TLV-MAD, one of the few times we had 2 larger seats instead of a regular row with the middle seat left empty. Sorry it's not a great view:
(http://i.imgur.com/1H2JFYh.jpg?1)

3 sides of the courtyard in the the Royal Palace in Madrid.
1) The Palace (a different view from the one I posted earlier):
(http://i.imgur.com/3WA7IbB.jpg?1)

2 Row of arches that form one of the walls:
(http://i.imgur.com/lPgajAT.jpg?1)

3) Church opposite the Palace that forms a 3rd "wall": (My only picture of a church from the trip. It just felt really cool standing in this courtyard with these 2 humongous buildings on either side.)
(http://i.imgur.com/IMOPhn7.jpg?1)

Train station in Toledo:
(http://i.imgur.com/V9mY416.jpg?1)

Santa Maria La Blanca Synagogue: (I told you it's empty and looks just like the pictures you'll find on Google.)
(http://i.imgur.com/NrDJHxC.jpg?1)

Fountain in Madrid Atocha train station with tons of turtles:
(http://i.imgur.com/h9hN7Iw.jpg?1)

In Retiro Park:
(http://i.imgur.com/rMwTBwy.jpg?1)

Beautiful lake (with boat rentals) in Retiro:
(http://i.imgur.com/QrL6W4M.jpg?1)

That's all for now. In midst of putting together all my finals costs for the trip and writing up Barcelona.
Welcome back! Your TR is perfectly readable. I've had no complaints so far. I like the pics and look forward to reading the rest!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on July 24, 2014, 10:52:53 PM
Now u have to get used to American water & food again.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: bubble347 on July 24, 2014, 11:05:16 PM
Now u have to get used to American water & food again.
I doubt that would be too difficult!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on July 24, 2014, 11:07:01 PM
I doubt that would be too difficult!
He's been away a long time. Probably just getting used to European water.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Racer7400 on July 24, 2014, 11:33:50 PM
Wow great TR so far. I can't wait for the rest.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 25, 2014, 07:23:18 PM
Back! Shabbos at my mother in Jersey but I'm saying we're home safely, bh! What a trip. CLT was boring for an overnight, just FYI. :)
Welcome back! Your TR is perfectly readable. I've had no complaints so far. I like the pics and look forward to reading the rest!
Thanks :)

Now u have to get used to American water & food again.
Ha, hope it's better than our first few days in Israel!
Wow great TR so far. I can't wait for the rest.
Thanks!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 27, 2014, 11:59:54 AM
Barcelona

When we landed, we went to the info desk and found out that it would be 2 trains to get to the hotel, so we opted for a taxi that “should be 30”. It came out to 41€ of course. ;) We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal for 7K SPG/night for 2 nights. We settled into the room (w/ free water bottles – perk of staying at an SPG) and went down to the front desk to learn the metro. The closest stop was a bit further than it was in Madrid, but not bad – took a good 5 minutes to walk to. We were trying to figure out how to buy tickets at the station when an English-speaker saw us and helped us get a 10-pass for 10.30€. The metro was nice like Madrid and thinking about it now, it was kinda cool learning the different metro systems throughout the trip although we only got to use each one for a few days. Now I have a list of the all the things I wish NYC subways had. ;)
Funky office building outside the metro station:
(http://i.imgur.com/UOFLmz4.jpg?1)
We got on a train and got out near La Ramblas, which is basically the pedestrian-only shopping street of Barcelona. Unfortunately we didn’t check the weather and it was raining, so I gave my cap to my wife to protect her shaitel and then bought myself the cheesiest Barcelona hat we could find for… 7€! >:(

Anyway, we strolled down the long strip until we found Maccabi restaurant. We really liked this place. My wife got a hamburger that was full of flavor and I opted for the shnitzel, which was a bit of a weird texture but tasted good. The portions were large enough that we were full halfway through and were able to save the other half for dinner. In total we spent 28.4€ there for what turned out to be 2 meals, so you can see their pricing and portions are pretty good. I spoke to the Mashgiach here about the other Kosher restaurant, Delicias, to find out what the deal was. Obviously, you have to assume that he wants to support his own restaurant so his words have to be listened to with that in mind, but he told me that Delicias is under the Hashgacha of a Rav in Portugal and although there is a Mashgiach on premises, the Rav never comes to check out the place. As opposed to Maccabi, which has the Chabad Rabbi leaving in Barcelona. That was his argument and we ended up not going to Delicias at all. Maccabi was great and cheap anyway, so no big deal. He also told me that Lays regular potato chips are Kosher in Spain – they’re the ones in the red bag and the only ingredients are potatoes and oil.

After we ate, we headed towards our scheduled Jewish tour with Urban Cultours. After 5 minutes of waiting at the meeting point, I realized I misread the address, and we dashed over to the correct place. We found Dominique waiting with an older couple and no one was upset that we were 5 minutes late. The tour was really great. Dominique has been researching the Jewish history in Barcelona for years and is a heavy advocate in protecting Jewish areas like the cemetery that still exists. Dominique showed us the old Roman city that existed within Barcelona (I didn’t even know the Romans were there at any point) and which streets were where the Jews lived. She pointed out stones with Hebrew words that were tombstones taken from the Jewish cemetery and used as building stones, a doorpost that clearly once had a Mezuzah, the old palace where it’s historically logical that Ramban had his famous disputation in and the few other Jewish things you could still see in the streets. You also visit a basement that was most likely once a Shul. A rich Jew bought the property after historians became confident about its past, and now it’s been remodeled to look a little like a Shul from that time. A guide there gives you a brief background into the property and purchase. If you want to just visit the Shul and not take the Jewish tour, you can for a small donation. As students joining others who had already “opened up” the tour, it was supposed to be 45€ pp but when she didn’t have change, she just told us to pay 80€ and that was it – was very nice of her.

*Quick rant on Jewish tours*
As we learned from this tour and the Jewish tour in Rome, you can walk through an area that has a ton of Jewish history and not know it if you don’t have a tour guide since so little actually remains for you to see by “walking around” the Jewish quarter. So for those on the edge about Jewish tours – it seems like each major European city has 1 or 2 companies that offer Jewish tours and the reviews always seem to be amazing, so I would think it’s safe to assume that they usually will be. Your decision, therefore, is likely based on whether you want to shell out the cash for the experience. Obviously in Barcelona for example, you could go around seeing the few remaining Jewish things on your own (if you knew where to look) but hearing the guide take you back in time to those days is really the focus of the tour and these little pieces just added a nice touch to the history. That’s really what we got out of this tour as well as in Rome. It’s basically a live history lesson in the place where the history took place. Sorry for the long rant here, I was just personally debating back and forth whether Jewish tours were worth it, so I hope my explanation can help others in their decision.

It was also here on this tour with the older couple that our trip really hit us. The retired wealthy couple travelling for 2 weeks through Spain and paying probably double what we were for a Jewish tour (as well as taking other Jewish tours throughout Spain) is how travelling the world is “supposed” to be. Yet here we were, just 2 young people going through the same experience that the world has taught us is supposed to be reserved for the rich and/or retired. Felt kinda cool.

After the tour we realized that the functioning Shul, Comunidad Israelita de Barcelona, was completely out of the way from the hotel (and Chabad was even further out of the way and only has Shacharis), plus we had no idea what time Mincha/Maariv was, so we just headed back to the hotel for the night where we had the leftover Maccabi food for dinner.

In the morning, I really wanted to Daven with a Minyan (something I learned throughout the trip was not going to be an easy thing to do), so we got up early to head to 7:30 Shacharis. It was going to be like a 35 min metro ride, which would have meant getting up super early, so we shelled out the money for a 15 min taxi instead for 12.30€. We found out that the GoDaven-listed time was pretty accurate, but there weren’t 10 people there. This Shul could easily fit a few hundred people, and unfortunately, there wasn’t a Minyan. After a little while, everyone started Davening by themselves, and I was disappointed as we took the taxi and woke up specifically for Minyan but then after about 20 minutes, 3 Israeli tourists popped in and we had a Minyan! It was a miracle! Publish it in the next cheesy Jewish story book. :)

After Shacharis, we found the Kosher grocery, Isamar Kosher, down the block and waited a few minutes till they opened. There is a deli counter (not sure about the Hashgacha) and a small grocery. We’re talking the minimum of the minimum here. We picked up hamburger buns and Nutella and a few packages of mini-muffins to last us for food while we travelled out of Barcelona and through Seville. It’s always nice getting food from groceries instead of restaurants as 20€ worth of food lasted 4 meals for us. :) We had some of the muffins for breakfast and it turns out they were Pesachdik, so yeah they were kinda gross, but you eat what you can when you’re in the middle of Spain.

From Issamar, we walked to La Pedrera/Casa Mila, which is the house that Gaudi lived in and designed. (He’s famous for his architecture throughout Barcelona.) The exterior of the house is cool, but unfortunately it was covered in scaffolding (although they designed the image that covered the scaffolding to look like the façade – something we saw throughout our trip – not like it made up for missing the actual view though). We pre-booked tickets for this for 16€, but there was no line at all. We opted to skip the audio guide, as we did for most of the sites on our trip. The self-guided tour starts on the roof and we mistakenly chose to take the stairs to the top instead of the elevator as the building didn’t look too tall. There were a lot more stairs than we realized, and they were just in a small stairwell, so it’s not like you see anything cool while you walk. Anyway, on the roof you can walk around (not really any especially nice views) and see the different weird, random “structures” that are built on it. They’re funky and cool to look at for a few minutes, but then you start heading downstairs.
La Pedrera roof "structures":
(http://i.imgur.com/WfZ5iqo.jpg?1)
Most of the tour was walking through the different floors of the house but it looks more like a museum, not living quarters. We quickly realized we were really in a Gaudi museum with exhibits on how he designed the different buildings he made. Although we didn’t have the audio guide, I don’t think it would have added much – there were enough English plaques to read – but the place was not for us. We didn’t care too much for all the detail on the architecture and were bored, so we moved through quickly. Finally, we entered a floor that was more of a living floor and they had a few rooms that were furnished olden-day style, which we really liked. After we finished, we went next door to another exhibit that came included in our ticket. The enclosed, outdoor lobby of this building was very nice – in Gaudi style – but the exhibit was terrible. It was a collection of photographs from some unknown photographer – and they weren’t very good nor “kosher”. We left after 5 minutes. That exhibit didn’t factor into our “liking” of La Pedrera, but we still wouldn’t recommend spending the money to see it unless you’re into architecture or Gaudi’s work. Maybe pass by the building to see the exterior (when it’s not under scaffolding) if it’s on your way, but yeah, we didn’t really enjoy it. We probably spent an hour there in total.

We then took the metro to Park Guell. After we got out, we had to ask around how to get to the park and were directed toward the famous (at least in the Spain Master Thread) escalator in the middle of the street. The park is at the top of a hill from the metro, and there is literally a row of like 5 escalators built into the sidewalk to go up.
Escalator in the middle of the street:
(http://i.imgur.com/wVQgKFf.jpg?1)
The park was free and really large. You first walk down a winding, paved path and then you’re at the bottom where you can pay to access the parts of the park that have Gaudi statues and buildings to walk through. We actually bumped into the couple from the Jewish tour here who were waiting for their entrance time to spend money and see the Gaudi stuff. ;) We passed on paying more money (and waiting on lines), as the park was nice in itself and we felt we had seen enough Gaudi in the morning. We stopped under some cool arches and had some chocolate spread sandwiches (the first of many – *barf*) and listened to some band try to perform American music with Spanish accents. ;)
Cool arches (not the ones we are under) in Park Guell:
(http://i.imgur.com/THB7AD5.jpg?1)
We continued on the path which now led up the mountain and had some nice things to take pictures of. We ventured onward until we got to a fork in the road and chose a direction which turned out to lead all the way to the top where we had a breathtaking view of Barcelona. (Sorry, I realize now we only have pics of the view with us in them, so you'll have to go yourself to see what the view was like. ;)) There were a bunch of people up there and some cute dogs, and we were really glad we made it up to the top. There was a path descending the hill opposite the way we came, so we started taking it down, but it quickly turned into a dirt path. We couldn’t see any of the actual park down below, and we weren’t sure if we were even still officially in the park, so we went back up and headed down the way we originally came. In total, we probably spent about 1.5-2 hours in the park.
Artistic photo taken with my fancy DSLR that came with a built in iPhone 5 on the back:
(http://i.imgur.com/mzVkqks.jpg?1)

We did not go to Sagrada Familia (as its a church so you'd really just be going to take a pic, which we weren't dying to do), but we did see it from our hotel window and in between buildings as we travelled the streets.

After the park, we took a metro to Maccabi for dinner. We ordered a steak and a tuna avocado salad to split. The steak was phenomenal. It came out as 2 pieces (which was great for us) and it was just bursting with flavor. The salad was also really good. We finished off with my wife’s favorite dessert of warm chocolate cake with ice cream, but unfortunately, it was much more cake-ier than most restaurants make it and the inside wasn’t so gooey-chocolatey. Oh well, still didn’t take away from the awesomeness of the steak. Dinner was 43€ and was plenty for 2 people. While we were eating, we had them prepare pastas for us to take with us for dinner the next night in Seville. The 2 pastas together were 19.8€, so again you can see it really wasn't an expensive place.

After dinner, we quickly debated going to Mincha/Maariv and decided not to thinking about our barely-Minyan Shacharis experience and we could only imagine how Mincha/Maariv would turn out. It was too bad that our hotel wasn’t near La Ramblas, which wasn’t near Shul, which wasn’t near the hotel, etc. We enjoyed the Four Points, but if you have the points/money to stay closer to either the Shul or “town” you would be better off IMO, which is something we learned throughout out trip. We knew that by only staying at points-hotels and by trying to stay at cheap ones that we would often be far from things, but that’s what you have to do when you go on such a long trip. If you could stay closer to at least 1 main area, then I would obviously say to do that.

In the morning, we continued our tradition of trying to return to the airport via a cheaper method, and we followed the hotel clerk’s advice to take the metro. Again, I wouldn’t suggest this if you’re travelling with a lot of luggage. We walked to a station that was a bit further than our regular metro stop (took about 15 min after getting a bit lost even with Gmaps). As we had used up our 10-pass the previous night, we had to buy tickets just for this ride. I’m having a bit of difficulty remembering exactly, but I believe that when purchasing an individual ticket, you have to pick your destination like in Madrid and a ticket to the airport was 4.20€ pp. If I remember that correctly, then it shows how getting a 10-pass is really worth it since I think it could have worked for this trip and saved you about 3€ pp. Anyway, we got on the train and were on our way. I assume that because our flight tickets were “confusing” – an AA-booked RTW on different airlines – we were never able to checkin online ahead of time, nor could we even checkin at a self checkin machine. This was annoying because we never able to find out online which terminal we needed, as you saw if you read my Madrid TR above. So, despite the hotel clerk telling us that we would need the terminal that the train drops you off at, airport workers told us we needed a different terminal that had to be accessed via a free shuttle bus. In the end, it was no big deal, but this was one of the reasons why we always tried to be at the airport 2 hours before our flight. Most of the time this meant relaxing in a lounge, but in times like this, it was helpful to have some flexibility. We waited for the bus and finally got to our terminal. This is where the story I posted above came into play.

We walked into the terminal at 7:58AM and couldn’t find our 9AM flight on the board. That’s because our flight was at 8AM, in 2 minutes, and I had misread my itinerary. I freaked out for a bit as we needed to make the connection in Madrid to Seville, didn’t know if/how much we would be charged for getting on another flight, if there was even room on another flight, and would missing a flight affect the rest of the ever-so-delicate OWE ticket? My ever-so-calm wife turned around and saw an IB customer service desk right there, so we went up to the counter and told the guy what happened. He was a bit hesitant at first and mumbled some stuff while looking at the computer and then voila! He had us on the next flight to Madrid FOR FREE and it would even get us there on time for our connection! We didn’t know for sure at the time, but b”h nothing happened to our OWE either. So yeah, thank G-d that all worked out. The flight to MAD and from there to SVQ were 3x3 seating with the middle seat blocked off. I probably said this already, but even though most flights were like that, the other benefits of flying business were really awesome – lounges with free drinks, priority checkin, priority security line, and priority boarding (i.e. guaranteed room for our carry-ons). Obviously, free bags would also be great, but we didn’t need them. ;) We found out that IB wasn’t going to get us KSMLs for the intra-Spain flights, but they did confirm that they will get us for our last IB leg on the way to Rome.

On to Seville!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 27, 2014, 01:38:37 PM


Barcelona

When we landed, we went to the info desk and found out that it would be 2 trains to get to the hotel, so we opted for a taxi that “should be 30”...

Nice installment! Can't wait for the rest!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on July 27, 2014, 01:47:20 PM
Nice!! waiting for the rest!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on July 27, 2014, 01:53:51 PM
Now we wait a week for the next installment of this serial
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 30, 2014, 11:37:46 AM
Ha, not a week later! Thanks for the feedback guys.

Seville

Even with missing the BCN-MAD flight, we got to MAD with enough time to go to the lounge, which we got quite accustomed to being there 3 times in 7 days. We had some more hamburger buns with Nutella for lunch and then we were off to our gate. MAD-SVQ was again a 3x3 plane with the middle seat blocked off. No KSML.

SVQ seemed really small and instead of looking for an information desk to find out about public transportation, we just went straight for a cab to the hotel. You should be able to guess my next words by now... Even though the hotel had told me over the phone a taxi should be 22€, it was actually 30€. >:(  :) The ride was just 10 minutes, which made it even more frustrating, but what can you do?

We checked in to the AC Hotel Sevilla Torneo for one night at 10K Marriott and then asked the front desk how to get to the Royal Alcazar. There's a bus that leaves from right behind the hotel for about 1.6€ pp. It probably took about 20 minutes to get to town and then we walked for about 10-15 minutes till we got to the palace.
Nice street in Seville - cool overhanging sheets to provide shade:
(http://i.imgur.com/2OSSwDN.jpg?1)
There's a huge, and I mean just gargantuan, church complex right across from the palace that alone was very impressive to look at. We continued towards the Alcazar and got in line. After about 5 minutes, someone came up to us and told us they were all part of a group and that we should just skip them. We then walked straight inside to the ticket counter and paid just 2€ each as students! Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was too late to get an entrance ticket to the "upstairs" area which I assume has the living quarters. That's one of our favorite parts of these old palaces (and the Ogden Mills mansion we visited in NY) - we love to see the furniture and all the nostalgia. But anyway, we stepped into the courtyard and looked around. They were in the middle of setting up some sort of dinner there and there was a stage set up with a large screen. Maybe all the dignitaries were coming here tonight! (Ya, sure.) There is no 1 specific way to go here (as opposed to the Royal Palace in Madrid), and with my OCD, I made sure we checked each doorway that led out of the courtyard. The first few doorways on the right side lead you into a few rooms inside the palace. Some large tapestries hung on the walls, but the rooms didn't really blow us away. Then we headed into another doorway which led into a series of large (empty) rooms that were all decorated with different Moorish architecture. The rooms were completely covered from ceiling to floor with crazy intricately carved work and mosaic tiles. Some of the rooms led outdoors to mini courtyards decorated in similar fashion.
Mini courtyard:
(http://i.imgur.com/DvoAdtu.jpg?1)
After checking out these rooms for a while, we find one that led outside to a small garden with some fountains. That led out back to the much larger gardens where we really began to enjoy ourselves. The first garden area was really more of like a large backyard. Most of it was just grass and trees with a few paths running through that led to different statues and some small fountains. In here we found...
Peacocks!
(http://i.imgur.com/yy7hiGw.jpg?2)
Boy were those things beautiful! As we moved towards the back of the garden (which btw is enclosed by a castle wall - pretty cool) we started seeing some more fancier-looking garden pieces. There's a maze of tall bushes, but it unfortunately had a complete wall around it of bushes, so you can't try to make it through the maze. :( After that, we chose to turn towards what looked to be the real fancy garden and left the backyard area. This are was much larger and was full of long pools of water, incredible landscaping, rows of hedges shaped beautifully, etc. All the things you expect from a palace garden!
Random nice structure (I think it's just a wall) infront of one of the pools:
(http://i.imgur.com/NpVRKRE.jpg?1)

We had a really nice time at the Alcazar and probably spent about 1.5-2 hours there. We headed out and decided to walk around the city a bit instead of just calling it a night. We ended up finding our way to the river, passed on taking a cruise, and just enjoyed the views. Seville was definitely one of the most beautiful cities on our trip. We loved walking through the streets. When we had enough, we walked back through the city to the bus stop and took the bus (again, like 1.5€) back to the hotel. At the hotel, we ate the dinner from Maccabi in Barcelona that we ordered to go as we were eating there. We both got spaghetti with garlic and even being a day old and not warm, it was incredible! (Both pastas together were 19.8€.) We really liked Maccabi in case you can't tell. ;)

Friday morning, we took a taxi to Hertz at the Santa Justa Railway Station to get our car to drive to Gibraltar . It cost about 8€ and of course, he dropped us off in the lot for 4 other car rental companies, but Hertz turned out not to be there. We walked through the station and out to the lots on the other side and found it. Things went quickly in there except that they wouldn't honor the USAA underage fee waived deal. Instead of it costing about $145, they wanted $234 and that's what they got. :( At the counter, they said they never heard of USAA and later on I called Hertz and they made me email them my original reservation with the lower price. 2 weeks later, they got back to me and said USAA only works in America and even if the reservation went through online, the international pick-up location didn't have to honor it. Now that I'm home, I'm going to try and fight it a bit more as this happened on my Italy rental as well. The car was nice (a Mercedez!) and automatic :) and we were off! Driving in a foreign country was not the most fun but with Waze, we were able to get onto the highway and once there, I was much more comfortable. RT tolls from Seville to Gibraltar were 14.5€ and gas came out to about $32 on my cc bill although I could have sworn I paid close to 38 euro at the pump. When we got off the highway near the border, driving became more difficult. The road to Gibraltar had a ton of roundabouts and getting and out of them was a bit stressful. But more on that next!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 30, 2014, 12:09:04 PM
Sounds like Seville is really worth visiting. I've never seen anything like those sheets over the street before, cool!  Nice pictures, too.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Joe4007 on July 30, 2014, 12:20:20 PM
Excellent report!

I think it would be a good idea to link all the report posts in the wiki.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 30, 2014, 12:30:40 PM
Excellent report!

I think it would be a good idea to link all the report posts in the wiki.
Excellent idea! Also, once I'm done. I hope to bring each city to it's proper Master Thread. (I hope to reword them a bit before doing so as a lot of them reference the previous city and without context I think it can be confusing.)

Sounds like Seville is really worth visiting. I've never seen anything like those sheets over the street before, cool!  Nice pictures, too.
Yeah, if you make it to Spain, I think it's a nice place to stop in its own right + its proximity to GIB (which is a MUST for Shabbos). Too bad there's no Kosher food.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 30, 2014, 12:43:02 PM
Excellent idea! Also, once I'm done. I hope to bring each city to it's proper Master Thread. (I hope to reword them a bit before doing so as a lot of them reference the previous city and without context I think it can be confusing.)
Yeah, if you make it to Spain, I think it's a nice place to stop in its own right + its proximity to GIB (which is a MUST for Shabbos). Too bad there's no Kosher food.
That sounds like a great idea!

We do plan on making it to Spain, maybe next summer, but that's a little too far away to plan just yet. We did fine with our food we brought from home, so I think we'd be fine for a few days without kosher food there.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 30, 2014, 12:45:09 PM
That sounds like a great idea!

We do plan on making it to Spain, maybe next summer, but that's a little too far away to plan just yet. We did fine with our food we brought from home, so I think we'd be fine for a few days without kosher food there.
Of course. We did it, too. Just would be nice :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 30, 2014, 12:46:16 PM
Of course. We did it, too. Just would be nice :)
I know. It's also too bad that there's no real authentic Spanish kosher restaurant in Spain (at least from what you've mentioned in this TR).
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 30, 2014, 12:56:12 PM
I know. It's also too bad that there's no real authentic Spanish kosher restaurant in Spain (at least from what you've mentioned in this TR).
We didn't come across any, although we didn't go to La Escudilla in MAD or Delicias in BCN. I imagine those are prob not authentic "Spanish" anyway. Could be in other cities like Torremolinos, which supposedly has a few Kosher options.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 30, 2014, 01:06:24 PM
Could be in other cities like Torremolinos, which supposedly has a few Kosher options.
Interesting. I've never heard of Torremolinos, although if we go to Malaga it looks like it's near by.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 30, 2014, 01:11:21 PM
Interesting. I've never heard of Torremolinos, although if we go to Malaga it looks like it's near by.
It's been mentioned in the Spain thread. Yeah, it's near Malaga.

OK! Just updated the wiki! Thanks Joe.

Also, updated Seville to include the hotel we stayed at and for how many points - forgot to include that.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on July 30, 2014, 01:16:51 PM
Wow nice! cant wait to see the GIB report, planning on doing it, Now u got me thinking of doing SVQ with it
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 30, 2014, 01:35:04 PM
Wow nice! cant wait to see the GIB report, planning on doing it, Now u got me thinking of doing SVQ with it
Thanks! That's the point of writing these things :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on August 03, 2014, 02:38:57 PM
Need to make some time for going through this thread. Just by skimming it--looks awesome. never too early to start planning a honeymoon ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on August 07, 2014, 11:49:27 AM
Did your td bank atm card work without any fees?
Did you find atm's in Rome, Venice or Amsterdam that didn't charge any fees?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on August 07, 2014, 12:27:01 PM
Did your td bank atm card work without any fees?
Did you find atm's in Rome, Venice or Amsterdam that didn't charge any fees?
Just got my statement and there was no indication of any credits to my account for fees. Will have to call up to find out about that. Noticed random ATMs claiming no fee, but don't remember what cities they were in.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on August 10, 2014, 02:33:31 AM
@yehuda Where did you daven in Rome and in Amsterdam?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on August 10, 2014, 02:59:08 AM
We are waiting for the upcoming reports!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: joey123 on August 10, 2014, 03:18:45 AM
We are waiting for the upcoming reports!

Eagerly... Indeed!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on August 10, 2014, 03:20:15 AM


Ha, not a week later! Thanks for the feedback guys.

It's already more than a week
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on August 10, 2014, 06:10:38 AM
@yehuda Where did you daven in Rome and in Amsterdam?
Rome at the Great Synagogue when I could.
Amsterdam at the Chabad Yeshiva which was right near the hotel. I can try to get the address later.


Yeah, sorry guys. I've fallen behind :(
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rediplus on August 18, 2014, 04:15:57 PM
i cant book my spain trip until you post the finale at Gibraltar...
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on August 18, 2014, 04:17:46 PM
i cant book my spain trip until you post the finale at Gibraltar...
That's sweet. TR's are harder to get to than I imagined. I can briefly tell you that Friday afternoon to Motzai Shabbos was not enough time to go up the Rock and do a dolphin tour. So in terms of planning how much time to spend there, give yourself some more time.

I started this TR, but there is more to write. Hopefully soon.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on August 22, 2014, 04:01:30 PM
@yehuda I don't know how you did a 6 week trip going from country to country, I just did a 10 day trip and I was exhausted at the end...
I could only imagine how exhausting the Spain part of your trip was....
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on August 24, 2014, 01:11:05 AM
@yehuda I don't know how you did a 6 week trip going from country to country, I just did a 10 day trip and I was exhausted at the end...
I could only imagine how exhausting the Spain part of your trip was....
Ha, yeah that was like 6 flights and a 2 long car rides in 1 week. But we just called it early every night (and sometimes slept in a bit) but didn't get too exhausted till the last few days of the trip.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on August 24, 2014, 04:22:24 AM
Wanna plan a Spain trip for the upcoming winter, we are waiting for the gib and the rest spain report ;D





Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on August 24, 2014, 08:51:15 AM
Wanna plan a Spain trip for the upcoming winter, we are waiting for the gib and the rest spain report ;D
Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I started on GIB then actually started being productive with my studying, so I stopped the TR, then we went to DEN and I wanted to get those TRs done as it's clearly better when everything is fresh in your mind. Then I got home to a flooded apt (http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=17387.msg900167#msg900167), so yeah I'm behind with this. lol

I'll just tell you, you want more than just a Friday afternoon and Shabbos there (we left Motzai Shab) and be prepared for crazy driving once you cross the border. Really cool how many Jews there are there, and they walk around with yarmulkahs on.

Sunday morning we flew out of Spain, so GIB was really the last part of our Spain trip, so you have most of the info already there. Hopefully will get to GIB once things settle down.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on August 24, 2014, 04:09:37 PM
i hope you at least day tripped to tangiers
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on August 24, 2014, 11:19:26 PM
i hope you at least day tripped to tangiers
Nope. Didn't even notice that idea in the GIB thread. Either way, we had about 5 non-Shabbos hours there. Was a mistake, but nu, not everything was going to work out perfectly.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on September 02, 2014, 06:31:23 PM


@yehuda I dont think you can write in your signature
'TR in progress from our 6.5 week Honeymoon through Europe'

maybe try 'half a trip report of my honeymoon trip/euro trip', or you can continue your trip report ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on September 02, 2014, 06:33:38 PM
Oy :-(
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rediplus on September 10, 2014, 01:40:01 PM
how much time would you say is enough in Seville ? or the highlights. i want to drive to GIB on Friday so if i wake up early friday morning how or what can i see if i i leave at around 1 or 2 pm.
thanks
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on September 10, 2014, 01:44:43 PM
how much time would you say is enough in Seville ? or the highlights. i want to drive to GIB on Friday so if i wake up early friday morning how or what can i see if i i leave at around 1 or 2 pm.
thanks
I hope you have Sun in GIB because Shabbos alone is not enough.
From what I researched, the Alcazar is the only main attraction and if you start in the morning, you'll be done by 1. You may also want to see the river (walkable from the Alcazar) and/or go on a boat, but I don't think it's a more special boat ride than on any other river. Seeing the river was nice, but not a must. Walking the streets was great - we though Seville was one of the cutest town/streets area on our trip.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rediplus on September 10, 2014, 01:56:47 PM
I'm looking into booking the hotel now in GIB. doesnt look like there are any that use points. so the Elliott has a 3 night special where you get the 3rd night free on the weekends. so Sunday night is free. so planning on spending Sunday in GIB and maybe go to Tangiers. still trying to figure out Shabbos in GIB , Food, shul , hotel , electric doors , etc..
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Mountain Man on September 10, 2014, 05:17:50 PM
@Yehuda Wow what a trip. The whole thing looks so exciting. I wish I was able to pull off a honeymoon like this. I took a month long roadtrip across the US which was nice but I was naive then and used Priceline for hotels instead of points. I kind of wish I planned it out in detail like you did with Israel and Europe.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on September 10, 2014, 05:50:24 PM
@Yehuda Wow what a trip. The whole thing looks so exciting. I wish I was able to pull off a honeymoon like this. I took a month long roadtrip across the US which was nice but I was naive then and used Priceline for hotels instead of points. I kind of wish I planned it out in detail like you did with Israel and Europe.
2nd honeymoon?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on September 10, 2014, 06:30:19 PM
@Yehuda Wow what a trip. The whole thing looks so exciting. I wish I was able to pull off a honeymoon like this. I took a month long roadtrip across the US which was nice but I was naive then and used Priceline for hotels instead of points. I kind of wish I planned it out in detail like you did with Israel and Europe.
It works just as well for anniversaries or vacations.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Mountain Man on September 10, 2014, 06:47:08 PM
2nd honeymoon?

I wish but I don't think I'll ever be able to take off that much time again. Hopefully I can pull a 10 day trip one of these days.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on September 11, 2014, 06:49:19 AM
I'm looking into booking the hotel now in GIB. doesnt look like there are any that use points. so the Elliott has a 3 night special where you get the 3rd night free on the weekends. so Sunday night is free. so planning on spending Sunday in GIB and maybe go to Tangiers. still trying to figure out Shabbos in GIB , Food, shul , hotel , electric doors , etc..
No point options, although if you want to burn UR, Eliott and one other is in the UR "mall" (but it's not a good redemption value - just saying in case you wanted a free hotel).

Seems like a good plan (nice deal at Elliott), 3 nights is probably great unless you go to Tangiers. Expect no time to do anything on Friday if you first leave SVQ at 1pm. So you'll want Sunday for climbing The Rock, dolphin tour, caves tour. 2 Kosher groceries exist and a bakery - ask the locals where they are - everything is on 1 main street that's about 5 blocks long. Fleishig places aren't so pashut there as per the locals. I only went to 1 shul, but just try the different ones out if you want. They're only open during davening times, so my plan of visiting them all Shabbos afternoon didn't work out. Elliott has key entry but they ask for 50GBP deposit. Btw be careful with currency, they take GBP but they also have their own Pound (which is what most ATMs will give you there) however it's not accepted anywhere else but GIB. We got stuck with a few Gib Pounds when we left. Elliott front desk will trade with you 1:1 if you ask. Elliott has a manual side lobby door but it's closed at night, so we worked out with them that we'll stand infront of the main door (far enough from the sensor) and someone will see us and come to let us in. Not sure if that's halachically okay but turns out the clerk didn't see us waving like mad men, so we waited till someone entered the lobby and ran in behind them. There must be a site where you can find a contact email for the Rabbi or one of the Shuls to ask about getting set up for Shabbos meals as everyone there seemed really nice - if you have problems PM me.

@Yehuda Wow what a trip. The whole thing looks so exciting. I wish I was able to pull off a honeymoon like this. I took a month long roadtrip across the US which was nice but I was naive then and used Priceline for hotels instead of points. I kind of wish I planned it out in detail like you did with Israel and Europe.
Thanks! I'm sure your trip was awesome too! I can't imagine most ppl can take off for 6 weeks, and I don't expect to be able to either, but smaller trips are great too!

2nd honeymoon?
I know someone who's done 3 already ;)

It works just as well for anniversaries or vacations.
+1
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on September 11, 2014, 12:58:00 PM
I really wanna go with my wife to Spain this upcoming Jan. (basically Gibraltar), My only concern is, how is the weather there in the winter? Officially Spain is warm (warmer) in the winter, just the question is if this means nice summer days (as it was summer), or its just not so cold but it still has the winter affects as winds, rain et´c!!

TIA

I know this isnt the best thread for it, but here I have more chances for an answer. ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on September 11, 2014, 01:00:00 PM
I really wanna go with my wife to Spain this upcoming Jan. (basically Gibraltar), My only concern is, how is the weather there in the winter? Officially Spain is warm (warmer) in the winter, just the question is if this means nice summer days (as it was summer), or its just not so cold but it still has the winter affects as winds, rain et´c!!

TIA

I know this isnt the best thread for it, but here I have more chances for an answer. ;)
Ha, well I was there in the summer so I can't comment. Why not look on Google. Maybe look for weather sites that let you see past temperatures and look at random dates over the last few Jans.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sruly101 on September 11, 2014, 01:03:31 PM
Ha, well I was there in the summer so I can't comment. Why not look on Google. Maybe look for weather sites that let you see past temperatures and look at random dates over the last few Jans.
Did it already (always google before asking ;)) but I didnt come out with a clear answer, Maybe there is a GIB guy here that can provide me with details ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rediplus on September 11, 2014, 02:41:39 PM
No point options, although if you want to burn UR, Eliott and one other is in the UR "mall" (but it's not a good redemption value - just saying in case you wanted a free hotel).

Seems like a good plan (nice deal at Elliott), 3 nights is probably great unless you go to Tangiers. Expect no time to do anything on Friday if you first leave SVQ at 1pm. So you'll want Sunday for climbing The Rock, dolphin tour, caves tour. 2 Kosher groceries exist and a bakery - ask the locals where they are - everything is on 1 main street that's about 5 blocks long. Fleishig places aren't so pashut there as per the locals. I only went to 1 shul, but just try the different ones out if you want. They're only open during davening times, so my plan of visiting them all Shabbos afternoon didn't work out. Elliott has key entry but they ask for 50GBP deposit. Btw be careful with currency, they take GBP but they also have their own Pound (which is what most ATMs will give you there) however it's not accepted anywhere else but GIB. We got stuck with a few Gib Pounds when we left. Elliott front desk will trade with you 1:1 if you ask. Elliott has a manual side lobby door but it's closed at night, so we worked out with them that we'll stand infront of the main door (far enough from the sensor) and someone will see us and come to let us in. Not sure if that's halachically okay but turns out the clerk didn't see us waving like mad men, so we waited till someone entered the lobby and ran in behind them. There must be a site where you can find a contact email for the Rabbi or one of the Shuls to ask about getting set up for Shabbos meals as everyone there seemed really nice - if you have problems PM me.
Thanks for the information. Maybe i can trade you for those GIBs. By the way what did you do for shabbos meals ? did you get invited out ? or did you eat in the room and buy the food there ?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Esther on October 29, 2014, 01:51:10 PM
Thanks for the awesome trip report! I noticed you made comments how you wouldn't recommend certain modes of transportation if you have a lot of luggage. How did you manage going from place to place even with the luggage you had? Did you go straight to the hotel for early check-in/storage of luggage and then go about your day?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 29, 2014, 02:04:48 PM
Thanks for the awesome trip report! I noticed you made comments how you wouldn't recommend certain modes of transportation if you have a lot of luggage. How did you manage going from place to place even with the luggage you had? Did you go straight to the hotel for early check-in/storage of luggage and then go about your day?
YW. I really have to do more of it. We basically always went from the airport via cab to the hotel. I don't think we ever had an issue of being there too early and having to store bags. I mean I'd have to look through my calendar/notes to confirm, but I don't think we ever landed at like 8AM and were at a hotel by 9. It was always in the afternoon or evening that we landed, so they were okay with letting us into the rooms. In terms of going from the hotel back to the airport, we usually tried to take public transportation.

Our logic was that at the airport, the info desk may know where your hotel is, but they don't necessarily know the best public transportation route. Plus, we're always antsy after a flight just to get to the hotel. On the return, though, the hotel always knows where the airport is and the best/cheapest ways to get there, so it was easier to plan the return journey with the front desk clerk the night before departure than it was to plan the trip in the busy airport with some info clerk who doesn't really know the best way to get where you need to go, although we did ask a bunch of info desks on our trip - and ended up just taking cabs. :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Esther on October 29, 2014, 02:38:31 PM
YW. I really have to do more of it. We basically always went from the airport via cab to the hotel. I don't think we ever had an issue of being there too early and having to store bags. I mean I'd have to look through my calendar/notes to confirm, but I don't think we ever landed at like 8AM and were at a hotel by 9. It was always in the afternoon or evening that we landed, so they were okay with letting us into the rooms. In terms of going from the hotel back to the airport, we usually tried to take public transportation.

Our logic was that at the airport, the info desk may know where your hotel is, but they don't necessarily know the best public transportation route. Plus, we're always antsy after a flight just to get to the hotel. On the return, though, the hotel always knows where the airport is and the best/cheapest ways to get there, so it was easier to plan the return journey with the front desk clerk the night before departure than it was to plan the trip in the busy airport with some info clerk who doesn't really know the best way to get where you need to go, although we did ask a bunch of info desks on our trip - and ended up just taking cabs. :)

Thanks. I'm eagerly awaiting as I'm planning Spain, Italy, and Switzerland for the end of December!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 29, 2014, 04:16:47 PM
Thanks. I'm eagerly awaiting as I'm planning Spain, Italy, and Switzerland for the end of December!
Hey, at least I finished Spain! ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on November 09, 2014, 11:10:02 PM
Somebody seems to be trying to make some $$ off of his DDF knowledge from some innocent college kids...
 :P
What's $150 ?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on November 09, 2014, 11:13:54 PM
Somebody seems to be trying to make some $$ off of his DDF knowledge from some innocent college kids...
 :P
Does that bother you? Good for him!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: tzvicoco on November 09, 2014, 11:22:56 PM
Does that bother you? Good for him!
depends how he does it... Lots of what he did wouldn't be advisable for most college kids who will probably destroy their credit scores because they can't dedicate quite as much time to this "hobby," and may get in way over their heads. I've started to get friends involved, but I make sure to be very careful about it. That's all I'm saying.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: tzvicoco on November 09, 2014, 11:24:52 PM
What's $150 ?
Entrance Fees: $150
10 discover card referral bonuses: $500
Other credit card referrals: A bunch of miles
Total: More than $150
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 10, 2014, 07:31:00 AM
Good morning everyone! :)

Looks like the first post about this was deleted (by tzvicoco? by a mod?) so I don't know exactly what was posted, but I will bring this up as I think it's fitting here:
Now you're in an elite class. You have your own personal haters.

I don't know who you are (although I tried figuring it out) but thanks for bringing up your points. I plan to explain the amount of time I put into this, while at the same time explain how people who are far more expert than I am, spend even more time here while holding full time jobs. I think you're also underestimating how much time a college student has on his/her hands, but I guess that's different for every student. Also, staying organized and making sure not to hurt your credit doesn't take time, it takes organization and responsibility. (Which happen to be lessons that college students usually learn.) I wasn't planning on telling them to signup for credit cards on the spot nor even using referral links, I was really just planning on teaching people how to get their feet wet. But now you've given me a good idea, so thanks. :)

Does that bother you? Good for him!
Thanks!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on November 10, 2014, 07:37:39 AM
Go for it. Good luck
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 10, 2014, 07:38:59 AM
Go for it. Good luck
Thanks :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: tzvicoco on November 10, 2014, 08:59:19 AM
Good morning everyone! :)

Looks like the first post about this was deleted (by tzvicoco? by a mod?) so I don't know exactly what was posted, but I will bring this up as I think it's fitting here:
I don't know who you are (although I tried figuring it out) but thanks for bringing up your points. I plan to explain the amount of time I put into this, while at the same time explain how people who are far more expert than I am, spend even more time here while holding full time jobs. I think you're also underestimating how much time a college student has on his/her hands, but I guess that's different for every student. Also, staying organized and making sure not to hurt your credit doesn't take time, it takes organization and responsibility. (Which happen to be lessons that college students usually learn.) I wasn't planning on telling them to signup for credit cards on the spot nor even using referral links, I was really just planning on teaching people how to get their feet wet. But now you've given me a good idea, so thanks. :)
Thanks!
A) I think it's very funny you view yourself so highly that you think I'm a "hater."
B) just because I'm not a frequent poster does not mean I've done less than you in this game
C) I'm always wary of people trying to make money off of this kind of knowledge, because, well, the people who know this stuff are the people that like to make easy money. But I think there's a proper way to do it, and it sounds like you'll do just fine, so good luck!
D) I do disagree on your assessment of college student though, and I recommend you stress as much as possible that they shouldn't dive in too quickly and that it does take responsibility.
E) I deleted the first post, only because moose pointed out that it had your email address in the picture.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 10, 2014, 10:33:38 AM
A) I think it's very funny you view yourself so highly that you think I'm a "hater."
B) just because I'm not a frequent poster does not mean I've done less than you in this game
C) I'm always wary of people trying to make money off of this kind of knowledge, because, well, the people who know this stuff are the people that like to make easy money. But I think there's a proper way to do it, and it sounds like you'll do just fine, so good luck!
D) I do disagree on your assessment of college student though, and I recommend you stress as much as possible that they shouldn't dive in too quickly and that it does take responsibility.
E) I deleted the first post, only because moose pointed out that it had your email address in the picture.
If you knew me, you'd know I really don't think I know much about this stuff. I'm the first to admit there are many people here who are way more knowledgeable and experienced that I am. I know post count doesn't indicate that one knows what they're doing/talking about.

I often get asked for help from friends and on a few occasions even sat down for an hour or two and explained start to finish how to get in the game. Afterwards, they always say - you could really charge for information like this. So, I'm trying it. Small group, small market - and hey I love talking about this stuff (comes up all the time at Shabbos meals), so why not just try it out? I'm not as sleazy as you think, but obviously there's no way to prove that.

I love DDF. This place has become (partly because I had nothing to do for a year) a new group of friends for me. I'm on here chatting more than I am on FB. That's why I have a lot of posts - I enjoy the conversation flow just as much as asking pointed questions/answers. I'm not claiming I know so much, I just enjoy this and thought hey maybe I could make a few bucks while getting more people involved. If anyone takes my session seriously, you can be sure they'll be popping up on the forums in the coming weeks.

Thanks for the advice about how to approach the diving in too quickly issue. I don't think it'll be one, but I can address it. I appreciate that you took down the picture with my email. Thanks for pointing that out, DrMoose.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: ilherman on November 10, 2014, 10:59:07 AM
Go for it. Good luck
+1

Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Novo on November 11, 2014, 12:23:57 PM
Hmmm. Where will it be? Maybe I'll also attend.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on November 11, 2014, 01:47:41 PM
Hmmm. Where will it be? Maybe I'll also attend.
You don't know the basics yet ?  :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Novo on November 12, 2014, 11:03:14 AM
You don't know the basics yet ?  :)
Just for the schmooz.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 12, 2014, 11:22:56 AM
Yeah! I shmooz real good! And the DO aspect :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: E-MAN on November 12, 2014, 12:45:44 PM
Seems that the posts leading up to this conversation were deleted. Care to fill the rest of us in?
From the pieces I'm able to put together it seems that Yehuda is giving his own seminar and charging an entrance fee...
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: TimT on November 12, 2014, 12:51:15 PM
Seems that the posts leading up to this conversation were deleted. Care to fill the rest of us in?
From the pieces I'm able to put together it seems that Yehuda is giving his own seminar and charging an entrance fee...
PM @Yehuda. If he wants he'll respond
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 17, 2014, 03:11:27 PM
Well, it only took about a million years, but I finally added up our total dollar cost, give or take a few dollar in case my exchange rates weren't perfect. This includes flights, hotels, trains, car rentals, buses, taxis, food and activities for 6 1/2 weeks.
$8,551.83
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on November 17, 2014, 03:16:33 PM
Well, it only took about a million years, but I finally added up our total dollar cost, give or take a few dollar in case my exchange rates weren't perfect. This includes flights, hotels, trains, car rentals, buses, taxis, food and activities for 6 1/2 weeks.
$8,551.83
Wow! That's only $657.84/person/week or $93.98/person/day! Great job!!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: MC on November 17, 2014, 03:20:04 PM

Well, it only took about a million years, but I finally added up our total dollar cost, give or take a few dollar in case my exchange rates weren't perfect. This includes flights, hotels, trains, car rentals, buses, taxis, food and activities for 6 1/2 weeks.
$8,551.83
Wow!
And in another million years, we're expecting the "what it would have cost without points" total :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 17, 2014, 03:27:34 PM
Wow! That's only $657.84/person/week or $93.98/person/day! Great job!!
Thanks! I really didn't know what was reasonable to expect. I thought we could keep it at about $100 a day (not including the flights) but that wasn't based on any actual budget. We weren't particularly stingy nor spendy (I can't think of the actual English word to describe that), but yeah, I think it was a fair amount of money spent.

We also used 803,000 points and 6 cc nights.

Wow!
And in another million years, we're expecting the "what it would have cost without points" total :)
Lol I don't think I can put that together. I don't know the dollar costs of my flights or hotels on the day that I booked them, but hey, let's just say it was a lot more. 5 nights at PHP is ~$5000 and a OW J ticket EWR-TLV is another couple of thousand. So let's say those two items alone add up to almost how much I actually spent in cash. :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on November 17, 2014, 03:37:24 PM
Thanks! I really didn't know what was reasonable to expect. I thought we could keep it at about $100 a day (not including the flights) but that wasn't based on any actual budget. We weren't particularly stingy nor spendy (I can't think of the actual English word to describe that), but yeah, I think it was a fair amount of money spent.

We also used 803,000 points and 6 cc nights.
It's definitely not expensive. My daily cost was $154.31/person, but we only used 160k UA and 48,500 SPG.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 17, 2014, 03:39:25 PM
It's definitely not expensive. My daily cost was $154.31/person, but we only used 160k UA and 48,500 SPG.
Cool, okay. Nice comparison. Although, bringing in the miles you used isn't so comparable based on how many flights/days our trips were.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on November 17, 2014, 03:42:03 PM
Cool, okay. Nice comparison. Although, bringing in the miles you used isn't so comparable based on how many flights/days our trips were.
True, true. Still you did better.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 17, 2014, 03:42:45 PM
True, true. Still you did better.
Eh, it's not a competition ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on November 17, 2014, 03:53:15 PM
Eh, it's not a competition ;)
I'm trying to give you a complement.  ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 17, 2014, 03:55:02 PM
I'm trying to give you a complement.  ;)
I know I know. Thanks :D
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on January 14, 2015, 07:53:12 PM
After some thought, I decided I will do a quick TR of my Orlando trip now and then probably post a much longer version afterwards. I know it's "just" Orlando so why does it need a long TR? Because it's easy since I just went and it's fresh in my mind, because I like writing and had time, and because I think it's written as a good story and some here may enjoy it. BUT, I know it's not practical for a lot of folk, so I'll just the quick rundown now.


Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 15, 2015, 10:06:09 PM
To make up for not having my MCO TR for tonight and because I started writing this on 12/26, here is Gibraltar!

Humbly, I present you with the next installment. I can't guarantee more will come soon, though...

Gibraltar
I think a quick recap is in order to catch you up from where we left off on the way out of Seville. T'was a Friday morning…

We took a taxi to Hertz at the Santa Justa Railway Station to get a car to drive to Gibraltar. The cab dropped us off at the wrong part of the train station, but eventually we found Hertz. Unfortunately, they wouldn't honor the USAA underage fee waived deal. Instead of it costing about $145, they wanted $234 and that's what they got. :( At the counter, they said they never heard of USAA and later on I called Hertz and they made me email them my original reservation with the lower price. 2 weeks later, they got back to me and said USAA only works in America and even if the reservation went through online, the international pick-up location didn't have to honor it. This happened on my Italy rental as well (haven’t gotten there yet). I thought I had posted about this, but in case I didn’t, eventually Hertz agreed to split the cost of the underage fee with me, so I got back about $40 per rental. The car was nice (a Mercedez!) and automatic :) and we were off!

Driving in a foreign country was not the most fun but with Waze, we were able to get onto the highway, and once there, I was much more comfortable. RT tolls from Seville to Gibraltar were 14.5€ and gas came out to about $32 on my cc bill although I could have sworn I paid close to 38 euro at the pump. When we got off the highway near the border, driving became more difficult. The road to Gibraltar had a ton of roundabouts and getting in and out of them was a bit stressful. Shortly thereafter, we got to the border and went right through! No one stopped us, no questions, just go ahead! Maybe that’s because they knew what was lying up ahead…

If we thought driving that last strip from the highway to the border was tough, driving in actual Gibraltar was a nightmare. For such a small country/city, there are SO many people and everyone shares the road. Everyone? Yes, everyone. The road – not the sidewalk – is shared by cars, scooters/motorbike, and people. Everyone walks in the street, there are probably more scooters than cars and to top it all off, they have a bunch more roundabouts. I’m not some weirdo - I’m not scared of roundabouts in America – but these roundabouts had TRAFFIC LIGHTS in them! I had no idea when I was supposed to enter or exit and when I tried, I promise you I almost hit an old lady crossing in an electric wheelchair. People honked at me and screamed at my car because apparently I was getting out of the circle on a red light. Once the lady crossed the street, I sped right through the red just to get the heck out of there. I took a deep breath only to find myself in a maze of narrow roads (with fewer cars/scooters, I’ll admit) that couldn’t possibly be 2-way streets, but who knew? Thank G-d for GPS, because the roads don’t have street signs in Gibraltar! We followed Waze blindly until it had us turn down an incredibly narrow street where I couldn’t see if anyone was coming from the other way. I slowly turned and breathed a sigh of relief when I realized no one was coming. A few more twists and turns and we were outside the Eliott Hotel.

Right outside the hotel is a public parking lot that was just as narrow as the roads. Somehow b”h I found a spot there and ran into the hotel. I asked the clerk for information about the free parking lot at 2-4 Red Sands Roads (that SamKey, I believe, mentioned in the GIB thread), but they had no idea what I was talking about or where it was. We ended up passing by the lot on our Shabbos walk and it was a good, decent walk from the hotel, as forewarned by SamKey. After the driving experience and because we were already running late, I decided to just pay them the $20 for parking (I’ve converted my expenses to USD at this point, but yes, I paid in GBP), and we got our stuff from the car and checked into our room. We got a manual key for Shabbos, but had to put down a deposit of 50 GBP to do so. FIFTY!? For a key!? Lol

At this point, I assume you know that I was trying to spend as little actual cash as possible for the travel costs of this trip. With that in mind, bear with my craziness… I booked the Eliott from Amoma.com for something like $160 IIRC, which was cheaper than booking direct. A few days later, I realized that through the UR booking tool, I could use my UR in a terrible way and redeem them for my stay. So, I paid $15 to cancel my Amoma reservation and then used 14K UR to get the night. Stupid? Crazy? I don’t care. :-)

The Eliott is one of the closest hotels to the Shuls and to our host, as we ate our meals by someone my mother knows. It’s definitely not gorgeous, but it’s also not terrible. It clearly hasn’t been renovated in a while, so the décor was old. This was going to be our first Shabbos at a hotel, so I took all the advice I got from DDF and went through the checklist. The lights/AC in the room seemed like there was no timer issue. There might have actually been one for the AC, but it was cool enough to just leave the sliding door open (there was a door, but no real porch IIRC). The front desk agreed to let us light tea lights (that we brought with us) on the front desk itself, and they happily supplied matches. As I said, we got a manual key. The lobby has a manual door on the side, but at nights, they lock it from the outside. They told us that at night, we could just go to the front doors and wave/they’ll see us and come let us in, but after standing there (just outside the reach of the sensor) for a few minutes, no one was coming. Eventually another guest walked in, and we jumped in right behind her. The biggest issue was staying in the room on Shabbos. Before the trip began, I called up to find out if we could checkout late on Shabbos, but they said we would have to pay for the 2nd night since they’re normally full. I really didn’t want to do that (and nothing changed in that regard when we actually checked in), so we agreed that we would pack our bags before Shabbos and leave them in the lobby’s storage room and just keep whatever we needed with us for the night and move them into the storage room in the morning. Hachana? Maybe. I don’t know. It wasn’t fun at all, but what can ya do if you don’t wanna lay out the cash? It’s not such a cheap place, it’s not such a nice place, but supposedly it’s better than the other options, and since there aren’t too many – I’d suggest staying there. I’d also suggest more time in GIB :-) but you’ll see that soon.

I thought we would get to GIB around noon and have time to walk around and find some food, but by the time we settled into the room, we had less than a ½ hour till our 2PM pre-booked dolphin boat tour. There are, I believe, 2 companies that run dolphin tours, and I booked from Dolphin Adventure since they had a web-order discount of like 5GBP. Total cost was 20GBP/person. We grabbed a map from reception and made our way to the docks. It was pretty easy to tell that GIB had 1 main street, appropriately named Main Street, so we followed that for about 10-15 minutes. We soon realized that pre-booking might have saved a few dollars, but it was not necessary for the purpose of actually reserving a spot since there were reps (mostly from the competing company) selling tickets all over. It was a bit confusing to figure out where the ticket office exactly was, but a rep from the competitor helped us find our ticket window. We got there just as the clock struck 2, and they said they were holding the boat for us and told us to run to the docks. We got to the boat as the last few people were boarding (so we didn’t feel terribly bad) and within 2 minutes, we were off!
We were probably out on the water for an hour and a quarter, and it was really fun. The water was so clear, the crew was nice, there weren’t too many people on board, and the breeze felt great. After about 20-30 minutes, the boat is far enough from shore that they can start looking for dolphins. The crew told us about the different types of dolphins they have in the area and how they come into this area for food and then swim back out into more open waters. Finally, we found dolphins!

(http://i.imgur.com/3qIGQ0o.jpg?1)

(http://i.imgur.com/bX1zfIB.jpg?1)

It was extremely cool watching them swim, come up for air, and move together in groups. Interestingly, they also move based on the currents that the boat creates as it moves, so they kind of swim along with the drifting boat. At times we lost them, found them, found other groups, and yeah it was a cool/fun experience! I would say the boat turned around at just the right time as I was beginning to get bored – I mean how long can you just keep following dolphins swim? We got back to shore, checked our watches, and then the realization hit…

We weren't going to have enough time to go up The Rock and see the monkeys.

Because we got to the hotel a little late, we didn’t have time to find food before the dolphin tour, so at this point, we were really hungry. We knew that we wouldn’t have time to get food and still go up the Rock, so we just decided we would get food and head back to the hotel. It was a sad decision, since ideally we would have liked to have done the activity that Gibraltar is famous for, but having prepaid for the dolphin tour, we just decided it was what it was. I realize now that we could have forgone the dolphin tour and considered the money we spent there as admission for seeing the monkeys – to make wasting the $40 easier on our minds – but we didn’t think of that in the moment, and we also thought we would still have time after the dolphins to go up the Rock.

A quick Google search brought us to a Kosher restaurant (I can’t remember the name) down the block. (Surprised now that I didn’t research the Kosher places before I went.) We caught them before they closed for Shabbos, but the guy behind the counter took one look at me and said, “We don’t have certification, you may not want to eat here.” I thought that was really nice, and I was very impressed with his honesty. We left and wandered around until we found Jews who pointed us in the direction of a Kosher grocery. We got some food like cheese and crackers as well as some snacks for Shabbos. The owners told us there’s another grocery a few blocks away as well as a Kosher bakery nearby, so we headed off in that direction. We found the 2nd grocery and got some more snacks and found out that the bakery was already closed. We went back to the hotel to eat the food we got and then got ready for Shabbos. We had time, but unfortunately, just not enough to hike up the mountain. Oh well. Probably one of maybe 2 real mistakes we made on the trip.

Once we were ready, we had to pack up our bags and bring them down to the storage room as I mentioned before. Once that was all settled, my wife lit candles on the front desk (kinda cool!), and we left for Shul. The only thing we took with us was a package of deli that we had bought for meals on Sunday with the hope of keeping it in our hosts’ fridge over Shabbos. Our host had told us how to go to the Shul that he Davens at, Nefusot Yehuda, and we found it without much difficulty. Upon arrival, the security guard outside asked us who we were and who we were visiting. When we told him, he said, “Oh, that’s me!” Hehe. The Shul was beautiful with intricately carved walls and ceiling – what I believe is known as Moorish architecture. Davening was Sefard (or the like) and after it was over, we walked with him back to his house, which was back past the Eliott and up one block. He had a nice house that looked like he owned the first floor and someone else owned the upstairs, and we had a very nice meal with him and his family. The whole family has British accents (which is super cute with kids), and they also have a gorgeous husky! We told him about our restaurant experience. He thought that was nice, and IIRC and I think I do, he also told us that all the restaurants in Gibraltar are iffy with Kashrus. The meal lasted a while, and when it was done, we said goodbye, walked down the block to the Eliott, tried waving at the front desk clerk to get in as I mentioned before, and then collapsed for the night.

In the morning, we went back to the same Shul. I know people here mentioned that all 4 Shuls are gorgeous and worth seeing, but we decided to just Daven in the same Shul as our host. I also want to point out that the Jews were really friendly in Gibraltar. Walking in the street with our host, we were stopped and asked if we needed somewhere to eat. It’s also really cool that everyone feels comfortable wearing yarmulkahs and Tzitzis out in public here. Gibraltar was the only place we really saw that in Europe. Lunch was very nice, and we told our hosts about our hotel dilemma. Right away, they said to crash on their couch if we needed to rest or to go for a walk and gladly come back at any time. We napped on their couch for a while and then went for a walk to find a lighthouse that they suggested to see. They hadn’t been there in a while and knew it was outside the Eruv, but didn’t know exactly how far it was. We walked a good 45 minutes and never got to the lighthouse, so we turned around to make sure to be back in time for Mincha. Was a nice walk (a bit tiring), and it was on this walk that we got a good view of the cable car up the Rock as well as a nice view of the Rock itself. We also passed by a parking lot on a “Red Sands Road” :) Didn’t notice if it was free, but it was definitely a good walk to the hotel, and we definitely could not have handled finding it with our time constraints and ability to deal with GIB driving any longer. We Davened Mincha and then went back to our host for Shalosh Seudos where he informed us that he eats Shalosh Seudos for a few hours and ends Shabbos really late, but that we should feel free to go to Shul for Maariv and end Shabbos when we wanted to. Never heard of that before, but cool. So we caught Maariv and Havdalah in Shul, went back to our hosts to pick up our deli package :) and then went back to the Eliott to get our bags. Driving at night out of Gibraltar was a breeze compared to Friday afternoon and before we knew it, we were back on the highway to Seville.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on January 15, 2015, 11:05:34 PM
Wow, sounds like it was fun. I assume you'd've stayed longer to go up the Rock or would you just skip the dolphin thing and stay the same amount of time (if you had to do it again)?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 15, 2015, 11:07:40 PM
Wow, sounds like it was fun. I assume you'd've stayed longer to go up the Rock or would you just skip the dolphin thing and stay the same amount of time (if you had to do it again)?
The latter. And I would have left SVQ earlier on Friday.

I left out that GIB is really nice to just walk around. Very cute town. You should enjoy!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on January 15, 2015, 11:12:57 PM
The latter. And I would have left SVQ earlier on Friday.

I left out that GIB is really nice to just walk around. Very cute town. You should enjoy!
Thanks. I hope to leave SVQ by 9:00 to give more time in GIB, but in reality we'll probably leave by 10 and get to GIB around 12:30. I haven't planned GIB yet, but we'll probably just do the Rock.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on January 15, 2015, 11:14:54 PM
Did you ask your LOR regarding shabbos candles on the front desk? Why not just use a light in the room
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 16, 2015, 07:32:26 AM
Thanks. I hope to leave SVQ by 9:00 to give more time in GIB, but in reality we'll probably leave by 10 and get to GIB around 12:30. I haven't planned GIB yet, but we'll probably just do the Rock.
We also had hoped to leave at 9AM. Call the Eliott, pretend to be me and see if you can find out what time we actually checked in on Friday 6/27/14. Would give you a good estimate of what time you may actually get there when you plan on leaving SVQ at 9.

Did you ask your LOR regarding shabbos candles on the front desk? Why not just use a light in the room
Yeah. I don't remember the exact Psak but IIRC he told me to try to light candles first and if a hotel says no, then just turn on the bathroom lights (can't remember if we were supposed to make a Bracha on the lights, but I bet my wife would remember). They were more than happy to let us light on the front desk and even excitedly watched my wife light.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on January 16, 2015, 08:36:21 AM
We also had hoped to leave at 9AM. Call the Eliott, pretend to be me and see if you can find out what time we actually checked in on Friday 6/27/14. Would give you a good estimate of what time you may actually get there when you plan on leaving SVQ at 9.
Yeah. I don't remember the exact Psak but IIRC he told me to try to light candles first and if a hotel says no, then just turn on the bathroom lights (can't remember if we were supposed to make a Bracha on the lights, but I bet my wife would remember). They were more than happy to let us light on the front desk and even excitedly watched my wife light.
Your rabbi said to light candles on the front desk or in your room?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 16, 2015, 08:39:28 AM
Your rabbi said to light candles on the front desk or in your room?
I don't recall him specifying. I can't imagine the room would have been allowed by the hotel staff.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on January 16, 2015, 08:51:29 AM
I don't recall him specifying. I can't imagine the room would have been allowed by the hotel staff.
And I can't imagine your Rabbi would have said to light on the front desk. You should clarify that for future situations
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 16, 2015, 09:04:23 AM
And I can't imagine your Rabbi would have said to light on the front desk. You should clarify that for future situations
Thanks. I hear the concern. I'm actually pretty sure I discussed with him the idea of lighting but not in the room. Either way, I can check with him next time I see him.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: EJB on January 16, 2015, 09:07:56 AM
Thanks. I hear the concern. I'm actually pretty sure I discussed with him the idea of lighting but not in the room. Either way, I can check with him next time I see him.

What's the issue with lighting in your room? Never had a problem before.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 16, 2015, 09:10:03 AM
What's the issue with lighting in your room? Never had a problem before.
I didn't want to without asking. Maybe I'm a goody-goody? Maybe risk averse?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on January 16, 2015, 09:17:20 AM
What's the issue with lighting in your room? Never had a problem before.
bad idea to leave candles unsupervised in your room
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: JayR on January 16, 2015, 09:26:56 AM
And I can't imagine your Rabbi would have said to light on the front desk. You should clarify that for future situations

Why? Is bc your not benefiting it from the light if it's in a well lit lobby?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on January 16, 2015, 09:28:54 AM
Why? Is bc your not benefiting it from the light if it's in a well lit lobby?
No. Because you can only light in a place wish is meyuchad for you
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 16, 2015, 09:31:31 AM
No. Because you can only light in a place wish is meyuchad for you
^ Yeah, that's what I would have guessed. According to your reasoning, JayR, even lighting in your dining room would be an issue if the chandelier is on.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: EJB on January 16, 2015, 09:33:07 AM

bad idea to leave candles unsupervised in your room

Tea lights?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on January 16, 2015, 09:46:33 AM
Tea lights?
still a bad idea. besides the actual danger, what happens if they come into your room while your out?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: EJB on January 16, 2015, 09:47:34 AM

still a bad idea. besides the actual danger, what happens if they come into your room while your out?

We usually don't leave at night
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on January 16, 2015, 09:48:49 AM
bad idea to leave candles unsupervised in your room
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on January 16, 2015, 09:59:37 AM
We usually don't leave at night
if you were following the flow of the conversation, you will notice that we were referring to a situation where someone left the hotel to eat somewhere else.

im noticing a new trend on ddf these days...
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 16, 2015, 10:00:13 AM
if you were following the flow of the conversation, you will notice that we were referring to a situation where someone left the hotel to eat somewhere else.

im noticing a new trend on ddf these days...
And went to Shul...
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: EJB on January 16, 2015, 10:26:31 AM

And went to Shul...

With a baby there's little chance that will happen for my wife :). Regardless I've left a room w tea lights and don't have a problem w that (as long as there aren't strong drafts)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: EJB on January 16, 2015, 10:34:33 AM
if you were following the flow of the conversation, you will notice that we were referring to a situation where someone left the hotel to eat somewhere else.

im noticing a new trend on ddf these days...

Leaving tea lights unattended does not seem to me more dangerous than leaving a halogen/incandescent lamp unattended. Both can cause fires if toppled. Both should not be left susceptible to toppling.

And if you're concerned the hotel staff will open your door, put up a "do not disturb" sign. I'm assuming most people do that on shabbos anyway.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: JayR on January 16, 2015, 11:42:16 AM
^ Yeah, that's what I would have guessed. According to your reasoning, JayR, even lighting in your dining room would be an issue if the chandelier is on.
Lighting candles for Shabbos is for illuminating darkness. We light in the dining room to look at the light (maybe to have hano'ah). (The reason of lighting in a miyuchad area is CMIIW to see the light).

The norm in hotels for Yom Tov is to have a communal lighting even though it doesn't satisfy the obligation. The best would be to light in the hotel dining room where you would be eating.

When eating out, there's a question whether to light where you sleep or eat. R Moshe held to light where your eating.

As per @yehuda's case, lighting where you eat wasn't an option, and given that there's no need to be more machmir than the usual way (communal lighting), lighting by the front desk was fine. (As always, ask you LOR for a real Psak).

Regarding lighting in a room, I usually leave them in a sink in the room (if more than one).
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on January 16, 2015, 11:44:11 AM
i ordered a new laptop from dell and applied a lot of coupons so that i basically got it for about 50 percent off  and got my conf email. when i didnt receive it by the estimated arrival date i called them only to be told that they cancelled my order bec i put on too many coupons . they never emailed me or called me they simply cancelled it w/o warning  is there anyhing i can do to somehow force them to comlete my order? is there anything legally binding them once they send me a confirmation nemail is that somehow similar to the signing of a contract? any info would be of help. (if you need more details about the order id be more than happy to provide them. thanx
Many poskim will to you never to light with a Bracha in a communal area
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on January 17, 2015, 02:40:09 PM
And if you're concerned the hotel staff will open your door, put up a "do not disturb" sign. I'm assuming most people do that on shabbos anyway.
doesnt always work
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 02, 2015, 11:27:26 PM
aaaaaand we're back!

Rome

We drove back from Gibraltar to Seville on Motzai Shabbos and stayed once again at the AC Hotel Sevilla Torneo for 10K Marriott. They charged 7 Euro to park overnight in their indoor parking garage. It's kinda cool - you drive around behind the building and there's an elevator back there that you actually drive into, and it brings you down to the parking lot!

We didn't get much sleep that night as we had driven for a few hours to Seville and had to wake up bright and early to catch our 9:35AM flight to MAD connecting to FCO. We filled up with gas at a station we passed near the airport and then headed for Hertz. Unfortunately, we were turned down for USAA - they had no idea what it was. I know I mentioned this before, so just a recap - we paid the full price and after much haggling on the phone once we were back home, I got Hertz to split the cost of the underage fee with me (about $40). We checked in and were told there was a lounge, but we could not find it. It definitely was not where everyone was pointing us and where the map said, so we sat by the gate and I Davened Shacharis. Felt just as weird as Davening in the MUC lounge and frankly as weird as when I Davened by a gate in MIA once. Whatever, you do what you gotta do. For breakfast we had some rugelach that our Shabbos hosts had given us as food for the road. We got to MAD quickly and caught the noon flight on IB to FCO. IIRC correctly (unfortunately, writing this TR so late has made me forget details) these seats were not the 3 seats with the middle blocked off, but were 2 larger seats that were a step above that intra-Europe J class. We were given PSPs (PlayStation Portables) to watch movies on - kinda cool! For lunch we had the deli that we bought in Gibraltar and had kept in our hosts’ fridge over Shabbos. After collecting our bags in FCO, we started figuring out how to get to the hotel. I knew there was a paid hotel shuttle, but it ran on a schedule that didn’t work with our schedule. We were heading towards the cabs when we got hounded by a bunch of shuttle services that were very Israeli-esque in terms of trying to just get you into their shuttle. Everyone offered the same price of 20 Euro pp, but one guy that convinced us said he would drive us alone and in his Mercedez (or something fancy like that). He was the clear winner.

The Sheraton Roma is about 20 minutes from the airport and another 15-20 minutes from the city, but it was just 7K SPG a night (plus about $8/night city tax), which was super cheap for a 4 night stay - remember we were trying to make our points go far, not fancy. The hotel was nice, but a bit dated, and the front desk clerk gave us passes for free wifi as our honeymoon gift. Sure, we'd have loved a suite, but throughout our trip, we were more than happy to get free wifi as a gift. I thought that we could catch the New Rome Free Walking Tour  which is at 5:30PM daily, but we were tired from the lack of sleep the night before and the 2 flights, that we decided to just stay in. Our room looked out over the pool - which was nice - but there was some party/event going on that night. It was loud throughout the night with tons of people down there. I also thought we would make it to the city for dinner and even found out the time for Mincha/Maariv at the Great Synagogue, but yeah, that didn't happen. Watched some TV and had some more of the deli IIRC and called it a night. We didn't end up getting to do a first evening activity, but that didn't stop us from having a blast over the next 10 days as Italy was our favorite country in Europe!

Monday - Rome, Day 1

IIRC today was the first day that we needed to do laundry in Europe, so after waking up, we packed our laundry into a backpack and then headed out for Shacharis at the Great Synagogue. Taking the metro there was... terrible. The hotel was a 15 minute walk to the nearest metro (most of it walking on roads that didn't have sidewalks), and there was no clerk to help figure out how to buy metro passes/what kind we would need, so we just guessed with the machine. The train was covered in graffitti. Every inch. I never saw a grosser train in my life. I know we were in the suburbs (I guess?) but still, yuck. The ride was something like a 1/2 hour and then we had to walk another 15-20 minutes in Rome to get to the Jewish Ghetto/Shul. It's nuts how few metro stops they have in the city. The Great Synagogue is gorgeous. Man I wish they still built Shuls like this nowadays.

(http://i.imgur.com/FTBp8rs.jpg?1)
Great Synagogue of Rome, exterior

(http://i.imgur.com/aHboVPe.jpg?1)
Great Synagogue of Rome, interior/Aron Kodesh

(http://i.imgur.com/LomSbMb.jpg?1)
Great Synagogue of Rome, ceiling

Davening was in Nusach Italki, but easy enough to follow and was a regular speed. After Shul, I believe we took our first trip to the bakery for breakfast - but we did not like what we got. Basically, the Shul is on the outside "wall" of the Ghetto and the restaurants are all in one strip on a nice pedestrian street/square behind the Shul. The bakery is tiny and didn't have a lot of options. Across the street seemed to be another bakery, but it wasn't open the entire time we were there. We'll get to the other places when we get up to them.

Next, we went back to the Shul to meet Sarah from Jewish Roma for our Jewish Ghetto tour! Everyone on DDF talked about it being a highlight of their trip (whether with Jewish Roma or Rome For Jews) and it didn't disappoint. Even though we didn't have the owner, Micaela, we still had a great time. Sarah (who was born in Rome!) was incredibly knowledgeable, spoke English well, and did a great job explaining everything. The reason why people say a tour is awesome here is because this little area of 1-2 streets looks just like any other streets, but when a tour guide explains (with maps and diagrams) how the area used to look and points out how much more enclosed the area was, you get a feel for the Ghetto life that is impossible to get just by walking around on your own. I can't compare JR to RFJ, but this was definitely great. I believe they charge around 90-100 euro pp but - and this is the reason we chose JR over RFJ - they were willing to let us go as students for just 50 euro assuming there were other people interested in a tour that day. There was - a nice group of about 6 other people - so yeah that was awesome for us! The tour lasted around  2-3 hours, included a brief visit to the Shul (something you can't do on your own except during Minyanim) and ended in the Shul's basement which houses a gift shop with some GORGEOUS stuff (that we ended up buying in Venice for much cheaper ;)) and the museum/archive. The 4 euro museum entrance fee was not included in the price of the tour. The museum had an incredibly vast collection of Judaica items from throughout Italy - Parocheses and Torah covers that were intricately designed as well as other classic items like Seforim and Kiddush cups. We definitely went through the museum faster than other groups we saw in there - although we were allowed to stay there after for as long as we wanted. We finished off by entering a second Shul attached to the museum (again in the basement of the Great Synagogue) which was more the size of a Beis Medrash, and I believe she said it's still in use for certain Minyanim. Great, great tour.

After the tour, it was time for our first experience at BA"Ghetto Milky. Eating outside in the street/square was awesome and the food was delectable. We both agreed very quickly that they made the best pasta we ever tasted in our lives. My wife got the pecorino cheese and black pepper pasta dish and was blown away by it. I think she still has daydreams about it. I can’t remember the dish I had, hehe, but believe me it was great! The food was reasonably priced (this meal cost $52) and well worth the money! If you’ve seen me in the Rome thread, you’ll know I speak very highly of the food here.
(We avoided the meat places due to the Kashrus concern of Italians not eating Glatt meat - although some restaurants do offer Glatt as an option, but that sounded a bit sketchy. Additionally, our Rabbi said we could rely on Rabbi Eidlitz from Kosher Quest who gave me the number for a Rabbi in Milan who told me IIRC to stick with the dairy places in Rome. Anyway, the dairy places were great, so we didn't regret missing out on the meat at all.)

After lunch, we walked to the Colosseum (probably like a 20-25 minute walk) for our Colosseum/Roman Forum tour with City Wonders. We booked the tour on Musement ahead of time for $50/person. We were a bit late but we found the group and were the last 2 to arrive, but hey no one said anything to us, hehe. The tour was very professional, with headsets to hear the guide since there were 20-30 people in the group, BUT the tour wasn't great. The guide had a pretty strong accent and wasn't particularly interesting. We got to skip the line, although I didn't notice there to be too much of a line anyway. The Colosseum was much bigger than I anticipated - I mean it really is the size of a large arena.

(http://i.imgur.com/i0JPLNx.jpg?1)
Colosseum, interior

(http://i.imgur.com/Pn6ekDy.jpg?1)
Colosseum, interior

The outside of the Colosseum was covered in scaffolding, unfortunately, and it looked like we hadn’t left NYC. :) I managed to get one shot without scaffolding. I was surprised to see all the holes and found out that’s because they used to be filled with iron clamps that have since been removed. At the bottom of the pic, you can see people dressed up as gladiators - they're all over the place and will take a picture with you for a nice tip. They may or may not be as creepy as the knock-off Disney characters in Times Square.

(http://i.imgur.com/iTy2Fbw.jpg?2)
Colossem, exterior

We didn't really love the tour - we didn't think she added much more than we had already known from Gladiator lol. Doing it again, and I would opt for the free Rick Steve’s audio tour. Once you exit, you walk about 5 minutes to the entrance to the Roman Forum, which is basically an outdoor section/park that has been left untouched since the days of yore - meaning that it's basically a park of ruins. She pointed out different structures/ruins and explained what the buildings once were, but we were outside in the sun and found this part to be extremely boring. We didn't hit up every spot in this park, but finally we made it towards the "goal" - the Arch of Titus.

At this point, the guide announced that we would be hiking up a mountain to see a final few ruins and we quietly told her we were going to finish up on
our own. Not sure really what the deal is with tipping tour guides, but we didn't... gulp!

We stayed by the Arch for a while, contemplating what it represented. Here we were, standing in a city that has so much proof of the greatness it once held. How many other cities have SO many ruins of such large structures!? Look at the arch that was built by a man to showcase his triumphant victory over Israel! Look at how he even carved the Menorah that he proudly carried away onto his arch – to forever show how great he was! And then take a second look. All around you. Everything is… ruins. Nothing is left. No one today claims to be from the Ancient Romans. Yet, those people… those people who were beat down – US – we’re still here today. Smiling under your arch.
I know I wasn’t the first to share such feelings, but boy was it powerful standing there.

(http://i.imgur.com/vGwtuz8.png?1)
Arch of Titus

(http://i.imgur.com/sAOtujT.jpg?2)
Menora on Arch of Titus

After a short while, we headed for the exit (which was extremely hard to find for some reason) and made our way back to the Ghetto for dinner.

(http://i.imgur.com/OCBR58K.jpg?2)
Nice view while walking back to the Ghetto

When we got back to the Ghetto, we were hot and it wasn’t exactly dinner time, so we decided to get some Gelato (7 euro for the 2 of us), which was great and refreshing, but I didn't think it was any better than real ice cream back home. We then went to the Kosher Delight grocery store to see what they had. It’s very small, they had some packaged meat (not Glatt), deli, random Israeli snacks/crackers as well as some fancy cheeses (that I know Yehoshua stocked up on). We picked up some items that we could turn into dinner at the hotel (hey, save some money) and use for meals on the road. We then found a laundromat a few minutes from the Ghetto and put in our laundry. We played on my phone and checked out some street vendors while waiting. When laundry was done, there was still a bit of time till Mincha/Maariv and we were exhausted from our first day, so we decided to just head back to the hotel (an unfortunate decision we came across several times in Rome due to our hotel being so far from “town” and Shkia being so late - close to 8:30). We never ended up taking the hotel’s shuttle from town back to the hotel at night as the timing just never worked out well.

Tuesday - Rome, Day 2

Day 2 was a late wakeup day. After Davening in the hotel, we began our “journey” back to town. We got there shortly before lunchtime and decided it was time to try out Yotvata. While all the Kosher restaurants we saw were in the 1-2 streets of the Ghetto, Yotvata is about 2 blocks away from the Ghetto, also on a small quiet street. We got there before they were officially open, but they let us in and we got to sit outside in the beautiful weather. My wife decided to get a dish similar to her pecorino cheese/black pepper pasta from BA”Ghetto, and she liked the one at BA”Ghetto better, although this one was definitely good, too. I opted for a pizza, and it was delish! Lunch cost $33 – nicely priced.

(http://i.imgur.com/Eun9h0f.png?1)
Pizza and pasta at Yotvata

After lunch, it was time for the Vatican. The Ghetto is kind of centrally located between Old Rome (Colosseum) and the Vatican, with about a 20-25 minute walk to either of the 2, so we walked to the Vatican. After much back-and-forth on the forums, we decided to save some money and not to go with a tour. And, as anyone who read the Rome thread knows, we didn’t like it. I should point out that I didn’t notice any lines to get in. Most people say the lines here are crazy, but just like by the Colosseum, I didn’t find that to be the case. We just walked in, found the booth to buy tickets (~$7 a person and we passed on the audio guides) and then were in. Was surprising and nice. The Vatican Museums (the stuff people visit) is made up of many sections/rooms, with each one being its own “museum” focusing on a different era/location. One issue we had is that without a guide, we didn’t really feel like there was much of an order to go from one section to the next. So, that made it a little difficult to navigate and is the reason why we never even found the Sistine Chapel, let alone deal with exiting the Vatican via the emergency exit to avoid the chapel as others have written about. Some rooms were great. We enjoyed the Egyptian museum with its great artifacts. However, we found a lot of the rooms boring. Paintings didn’t interest us, especially the super religious ones, and some rooms were just full of so many busts of people we never heard of, that we were like, “okay…” Seeing some famous people was cool, I’ll admit, but overall, we weren’t too impressed. It’s definitely possible that the audio guide or a real guide would have drastically changed our experience. For some reason, I didn’t think about Rick Steve’s (I only planned to use it on our trip when we got to the Louvre because I heard that it was great specifically there), but if I did it again, that’s probably how I would go. At one point, you can head out to the courtyard in the middle of the museums, and in the heat of the day and with being tired from all the walking, I… umm… fell asleep at the Vatican.

(http://i.imgur.com/ETR8M59.png?1)
Sleeping at Vatican

We continued walking around the museums and then thought we had seen everything and were getting close to the chapel – maybe we would peek in? – but then we turned around and saw that we were right back where we started, just a few steps from the entrance. Clearly, we didn’t follow the order well (so adventurous!) and didn’t have to deal with walking “all the way back through” the museums to get out as others warned would happen if you couldn’t get the guard to let you out the emergency exit near the chapel.

After the Vatican, we used Google Maps to find a bus to the Trevi Fountain (which was unfortunately turned off and covered with scaffolding) and then walked about 10 minutes to the Pantheon (only peeked in due to it still being a functioning church) and then walked about another 10 minutes to the Ghetto.

(http://i.imgur.com/vuk6Wgo.png?1)
Pantheon

Right outside the Pantheon was a little kiosk with an Israel flag next to it! But the kiosk was covered and had a little sign on it.

(http://i.imgur.com/9w1qsxO.jpg?1)
Closed kiosk

That sign was to be found outside all the Kosher/Jewish establishments that day, and it announced that due to the kidnapping of the 3 boys in Israel, all stores would be closed for a few hours as a “moment of silence” and that there would be a community-wide Tefilla gathering at the Great Synagogue that evening.

(http://i.imgur.com/gmTwYcU.jpg?1)
Sign, up close

We continued on till we got back to the Ghetto and were hoping to get an early dinner at BA”Ghetto, but it was closed still (well past the time listed on the sign), so we opted for some more Gelato while waiting (only 4 euro this time). Eventually, they opened back up and we had yet another scrumptious dinner with the best pasta we’ve ever tasted. :) My wife went for the pecorino cheese again (can’t blame her!) while I asked if they could make a custom order of spicy marinara and penne pasta – to which they gladly obliged! This meal came out to $40.

After dinner, we went to the Great Synagogue for Mincha/Maariv (they make you check your cellphone before you enter – remember, no pictures!) and when we came out, there were hordes of people going in. Someone explained to us that there was a Tefilla ceremony for the 3 boys and now the signs (which we didn’t understand before) made sense. We made the trek back to the subway, and finally made it back to the hotel for the night.

Wednesday - Rome, Day 3

Day 3 was, unfortunately, another late wake up. I kinda knew that would happen as we were scheduled to pack out of the hotel and pick up our car rental in the morning, but what can ya do. Because we were taking our bags (remember just 2 carryons and 2 backpacks) with us, we decided to take a taxi to the Hertz in town. Something seems off about this number, but my notes say the cab only cost 13 euro. Not sure why we didn’t take it more often if that was the case, but nu nu. It took a little bit of time for them to put the paperwork together and this was when they informed me that just like in Spain, they never heard of USAA before. Gulp. As with Spain, we dealt with it and eventually (read: months later) got $40 back from Hertz. Our little automatic/manual Fiat pulled up and the driver was surprised and impressed how we pulled off ordering an automatic. Thank you helpful DDFcars .com guys. :) We packed up our stuff and began what was a scary trip out of Rome. I’m completely fine driving in NYC. I live there, I parallel park all the time, I deal with the double parked cars and the one way streets. But something about the streets of Rome, the non-English signs, the drivers, got to me and it was a frustrating trip till we got to the highway. The highway was a regular highway, but it still wasn’t a super pleasant experience. We opted for a rental car because we wanted to hit up our last “Rome” activity, an hour outside of Rome, and visit Florence and Pisa on the way to Venice, which just kinda gets tough to do with trains. The 3-day car rental came out to around $375 including gas. Not too cheap, but it was an automatic which is expensive in Europe.

After about an hour’s drive (passing a 2 euro toll), we arrived in the city of Tivoli to visit Villa d’Este fountain gardens, which was suggested by Ergel. If I thought driving in Rome was tough, man these tiny, tiny, TINY streets were incredibly hard to navigate. The roads were so narrow at points, that I literally thought I was driving on “roads” that only people were supposed to walk on. But then, I would go a little further and the road would widen out again and I saw cars. It was weird and stressful. The GPS also did not do a great job of finding Ville d’Este, so we ended up driving past it and parked the car literally on the side of the road where we saw a makeshift parking lot (just cars parked near each other) and prayed that the car would still be there when we got back. We walked a couple of minutes around the town and asked our way till we found the entrance.

When you first enter Villa d’Este (11 euro pp), you are inside an old house/mansion. Although we love those kind of places, we were here for the gardens, so we walked through pretty quickly. When you get to the “backyard” you’re blown away by how large the gardens are – several stories high! As you walk around and down, you pass by lots of interesting fountains and some great views. I’ll let all the pictures do the talking.

(http://i.imgur.com/M6fHz87.jpg?1)
For your own safety

(http://i.imgur.com/XITJx7w.jpg?1)
Kinda weak fountain with a gorgeous view behind it

(http://i.imgur.com/bGdN9yw.jpg?1)
Some fountains were funny

(http://i.imgur.com/FXpfu8p.jpg?1)
So my wife took them and made an artistic photo

(http://i.imgur.com/DJe7t31.jpg?1)
The sun doing some funky things and the “house” that you pass through to enter the gardens

(http://i.imgur.com/1k6MOAO.jpg?1)
My brute strength holding down the water

(http://i.imgur.com/kg8JifQ.jpg?1)   
View from the edge of the gardens

Finally, the center of the gardens houses the main attraction and, for it alone, a trip to Tivoli is made worthwhile.

(http://i.imgur.com/gmxgUEX.jpg?1)
Main fountains

(http://i.imgur.com/ypSwhWY.png?1)
Close up of the main fountains

(http://i.imgur.com/GJaup7H.jpg?1)
Behind the main fountains, with a nice rainbow

Absolutely gorgeous!!!! Thanks for the suggestion Ergel! We had a blast here and took our time, including eating some lunch that we brought from Rome. We walked back to the car and drove another 2 hours or so (passing a 14 euro toll – and you thought the GWB was expensive!) till we got to our hotel for the night in Arezzo, the AC Hotel Arezzo. We didn’t have any plans to hang out in Arezzo, but I saw that it was on the way to Florence, which didn’t have any cheap points hotels, so I figured a pit stop for the night wouldn’t be a big deal – and it wasn’t. The hotel was like all the other AC’s we stayed in – sleek, modern, and just a generally nice hotel, and we paid with a Marriott free cat. 1-5 certificate for the night.

That’s all for Rome! May the next installment come out sooner than this one did! :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on May 03, 2015, 12:46:41 AM
Wow, great installment @Yehuda! Thanks for the shout out.  You're right, I did stock up, but my stock piles are dry now. I have to wait another 8 weeks until I can stock up again  :).
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: SOS on May 03, 2015, 01:32:07 AM
Wow I didn't think we would ever see the next installment
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on May 03, 2015, 01:52:15 AM
Wow I didn't think we would ever see the next installment
The next one is the one I want to see the most (in terms of what's included ;)), although at this point in time the Paris one would be a lot more practical.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: AI-TRAVEL on May 03, 2015, 02:05:48 AM
Wow really nice!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 03, 2015, 07:07:37 AM
Wow, great installment @Yehuda! Thanks for the shout out.  You're right, I did stock up, but my stock piles are dry now. I have to wait another 8 weeks until I can stock up again  :).
Wow I didn't think we would ever see the next installment
Wow really nice!
Thanks guys! Glad you enjoyed.

The next one is the one I want to see the most (in terms of what's included ;)), although at this point in time the Paris one would be a lot more practical.
I think you're forgetting I went to Florence and Pisa before Venice ;)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on May 03, 2015, 09:59:22 AM


I think you're forgetting I went to Florence and Pisa before Venice ;)
Valid point. Ok, so I'm waiting for Venice.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 04, 2015, 03:50:55 PM
Florence

As previously written, we rented a car in Rome and drove up Italy, stopping in Tivoli, Florence and Pisa on the way. If you were to drive straight from Rome to Florence, you can do it in under 3 hours. Because there weren't any hotels in Florence that had cheap points options for the points we had, we stayed the night in the city of Arezzo at the AC Hotel Arezzo. Arezzo is basically on the way from Tivoli to Florence, so we figured it would be a good place to spend the night, and it was. The hotel was like all the other AC’s we stayed in – sleek, modern, and just a generally nice hotel, and we paid with a Marriott free cat. 1-5 certificate for the night.

In the morning, we set out for Florence, about an hour's drive, making our total time on the road from Rome to Florence about 4 hours - so, as you can see, our stops really weren't too far out of the way. We passed by another toll (4 euro), so in total, we paid about 21 euro in tolls going from Rome-Florence. Not sure how much it would be if you drive straight.

Our first stop was the Great Synagogue of Florence, which has short tours every 1/2 hour alternating between English and Italian. I believe the Shul's website is where I found out about a nearby parking lot and paid 21 euro for the day. The Great Synagogue doesn't allow pictures inside, unfortunately, so we had to check our phones, etc. by security. The entrance ticket cost about $7 a person (tour or no tour), and it's valid for a few other Synagogues in Italy, including Venice (although we didn't end up taking a tour there). Just like in Rome, the Shul is enormous and gorgeous. The interior is much less colorful than Rome's, but it's almost entirely designed out of wood and is beautiful in its own right. We happened to get there just in time for an English tour, so that was great, but the tour wasn't incredibly spectacular - just a local talking briefly about the history of the Shul. I believe she mentioned that during WWII, the Shul was captured by the Nazis and used as a storage place for motorcycles and other war materials and, for some wonderful reason, was never destroyed. Again, IIRC, a fire took down some of the building at one point, but the community raised the funds necessary for the repairs. After the tour, you can go upstairs to see the "museum", which is really just a small room with some Jewish/Shul-related artifacts (with English captions/explanations). The museum is not "must-see". Next to the Shul is Ruth's Restaurant, which has had (see the Florence thread) controversy over its Kashrus, so we just avoided it. There is a Chabad house just down the block as well, but it was closed when we were there (not that they would have had food anyway).

(http://i.imgur.com/pxuph0J.jpg?1)
Great Synagogue of Florence, exterior

From the Great Synagogue, Google Maps helped us make our towards Ponte Vecchio. We passed by a small convenience store that had the cheapest water and soda we found on our entire trip. We stopped at some shops selling clothes outside and just wandered the streets until we made our way to the bridge. The streets of Florence have that wonderful charm of European cities. We passed by some of the famous Florence museums, but we decided to pass on them. We saw the fake David statue as well as a few others just chilling in the square. As you get closer to the bridge, you notice that you're basically walking into a busy market. Stores and salesmen are selling all sorts of items from clothes to jewelry to food, and it's fun to walk through. We weren't looking for anything in particular, and we didn't end up buying anything. The bridge is cool in that it's a pedestrian bridge that has built-up storefronts on both sides that kind of enclose you in this bridge-market. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of the bridge. However, I did get a nice shot from the bridge looking out (to a different bridge in the distance). Pretty sweet timing that the kayaker was just passing by.

(http://i.imgur.com/vAplBYc.jpg?1)
View from Ponte Vecchio

We continued to walk around Florence as we headed back to our car. I believe we ate lunch back in the car from stuff we picked up at the grocery in Rome. Half a day in Florence was great. If you're into art, the museums here could help you fill a full day and even make staying the night worthwhile, but we weren't so interested and just enjoyed our morning. Off to Pisa!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: morgs on May 04, 2015, 04:04:24 PM
Wow the installments are coming to quick for me to keep up with ;D. Thanks so much for still putting the effort in to finish this up-really enjoyable read!!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 04, 2015, 04:13:00 PM
Wow the installments are coming to quick for me to keep up with ;D. Thanks so much for still putting the effort in to finish this up-really enjoyable read!!
Hehehe :)
My pleasure. I hope to keep moving forward now that busy season is over. It will probably still take a long time, though. We're 3.5 weeks into the trip. 3 more to go! lol
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: morgs on May 04, 2015, 04:19:41 PM

It will probably still take a long time, though. We're 3.5 weeks into the trip. 3 more to go! lol
according to my calculations about another 10 months (assuming there are no extra interruptions of course) ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 04, 2015, 04:22:33 PM
according to my calculations about another 10 months (assuming there are no extra interruptions of course) ;D ;D ;D
Well I have 5 weeks if I want to finish it before the 1 year anniversary of the beginning of the journey.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: morgs on May 04, 2015, 04:25:20 PM
Well I have 5 weeks if I want to finish it before the 1 year anniversary of the beginning of the journey.
then y'all better get workin'!!!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on May 04, 2015, 04:46:27 PM
A shame you didn't go see the David. It's really a site to behold, even if you don't like art
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 04, 2015, 04:53:50 PM
A shame you didn't go see the David. It's really a site to behold, even if you don't like art
I thought about it, and I think I found entrance tickets for something like $15-18 a person, but just couldn't justify it. I'm not sure that we really would have been wowed. We saw famous sculptures in the Louvre and only because my wife studied them in Art History did we feel a need to stand there for more than a minute. So I imagine - and yes, I know I didn't go - that seeing the David would have been similar, except very pricey.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on May 04, 2015, 04:57:42 PM
I thought about it, and I think I found entrance tickets for something like $15-18 a person, but just couldn't justify it. I'm not sure that we really would have been wowed. We saw famous sculptures in the Louvre and only because my wife studied them in Art History did we feel a need to stand there for more than a minute. So I imagine - and yes, I know I didn't go - that seeing the David would have been similar, except very pricey.
It's hard to explain if you haven't seen it. But it's like no other piece of art that I've seen
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 04, 2015, 04:59:15 PM
It's hard to explain if you haven't seen it. But it's like no other piece of art that I've seen
I hear ya.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on May 04, 2015, 05:07:12 PM
Great installment! I thought you'd put Florence and Pisa together, but oh well. I like the speed at which they're coming now that your "busy"  season is over. Keep 'em coming!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 04, 2015, 05:08:13 PM
Great installment! I thought you'd put Florence and Pisa together, but oh well. I like the speed at which they're coming now that your "busy"  season is over. Keep 'em coming!
Thanks! I like the quotes. ;) I kept them separate to make it easier for linking to the Pisa TR.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on May 04, 2015, 06:19:48 PM
Thanks! I like the quotes. ;) I kept them separate to make it easier for linking to the Pisa TR.
That makes sense.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 05, 2015, 10:24:54 AM
Pisa

Once again, we rented a car in Rome to drive up Italy, stopping in Tivoli, Florence and Pisa. The drive from Florence to Pisa took about an hour and didn't have any tolls (finally!). It was now the afternoon, and instead of driving straight to the tower and dealing with parking in the city, we decided to first stop at our hotel, the AC Hotel Pisa - booked with a Marriott free night at cat. 1-5 certificate. Just like the other ACs we stayed by on our trip, the hotel was modern, sleek and did a nice job for a quick night. IIRC the front desk gave us some trouble giving free wifi (tried for our honeymoon) but eventually they gave in. We settled in and then headed back down to get directions to town.

A 2 euro bus ride from nearby the hotel got is to the center of town and, from there, a 10 minute walk through the European streets with all sorts of street vendors and cafes got us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The sight was actually one of the most "wow" moments on the trip for me. I mean, you've heard that there's a tower in Pisa that leans over, and you might have seen a picture, but just seeing it in real life was pretty cool!  The street opens up to a large open lawn with a church in the background, and on this lawn is just a tower that's literally sunken into the ground on an angle. The tower is not incredibly tall or wide, but there it is, just leaning as they promised.

(http://i.imgur.com/Q73xbhW.jpg?1)

My brother in law told us about a fun game to play where you take pictures of all the tourists trying to get a picture of them holding up the tower - but from the wrong angle, so that they look funny. Yehoshua got to his TR first, and I mentioned this idea to him, so I know he posted these kind of pics already, but here are some more for your entertainment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
(http://i.imgur.com/C2GKrDB.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/euCoHyo.jpg?2)
Holding up that tree nicely, eh?
Lol!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
(http://i.imgur.com/dkmY8rp.jpg?2)(http://i.imgur.com/eHiGzT4.jpg?2)
Not sure what these guys are doing.
You're holding the wrong building!

After fooling around taking a bunch of pictures, we decided to just chill on the grass, enjoying the beautiful weather. Not too far from us was this guy, marking the entrance to a nearby art exhibit.

(http://i.imgur.com/Z2mLlqw.jpg?1)

We then headed back to the bus, took it for another 2 euro back to the hotel, ate whatever food we had left from Rome and called it a night.

Next up, a DDF DO halfway around the world in our favorite city on the Eurotrip: Venice!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on May 05, 2015, 12:36:42 PM
Short and sweet. Nice!

Can't wait for Venice, which is finally next!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: 3yummyboys on May 05, 2015, 01:16:53 PM
Loving this TR, thanks for taking the time
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Mech on May 05, 2015, 01:59:43 PM
Awesome! Can't wait to hear your Venice experience!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 05, 2015, 03:44:54 PM
Short and sweet. Nice!

Can't wait for Venice, which is finally next!
Loving this TR, thanks for taking the time
Awesome! Can't wait to hear your Venice experience!
Thanks guys. May I keep pumping these guys out!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: moish on May 27, 2015, 05:41:11 PM
It's hard to explain if you haven't seen it. But it's like no other piece of art that I've seen
i would agree with that
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 22, 2015, 03:33:06 PM
Venice
Venezia!! Our favorite city on our Eurotrip! Let us begin...

To recap quickly - we started off Italy in Rome on a Sunday. On Wednesday, we got a 3 day automatic car rental from Hertz for about $375 (after gas) and drove to Tivoli. On Thursday, we hit up Florence and Pisa, and on Friday, we checked out of the AC Hotel Pisa and began the 3 hour drive to Venice.

Day 1 - Friday, July 4th
Getting to Venice
Driving in Italy isn't too fun. Highway drivers drive quickly and will tailgate you until you get out of their lane - even if you're in the right lane. Driving in the streets (specifically in Rome) was chaotic. Dealing with scooters, traffic, packed intersections, signs in foreign languages... you get the point. However, the streets in Venice were actually pretty normal. So, we got off the highway and headed to fill up with gas. We pulled into a place that admittedly looked kinda closed, but not knowing how things worked here, I checked out a gas pump anyway. The pump seemed to be working, so I put in money (it took cash!) and tried fueling. Nothing came out. The screen acknowledged I put in 50 euro, but it wouldn't give me gas. That's when I confirmed that the storefront was definitely closed, and we quickly realized we weren't getting our 50 euro back. Gulp. Frustrating mistake, but what can you do?

We found an open gas station and then headed to Hertz. There is a drop off location on the actual "island" of Venice (even though there are no cars in Venice), but they charge an exorbitant fee to return to that lot. So, the normal drop off location is near the Venice-Mestre train station, which is not in Venice proper, but rather is near the edge of the Italian mainland. We pulled into the lot and thought it was weird that we had to get a ticket to park, but whatever - we parked and went to the office. It was closed for lunch hour. The Hertz office is actually closed for an hour in the middle of the day every day. ??? We waited for 1/2 hour, and then they let us in (and for some nice reason the guys ahead of us let us skip them). As we expected based on what we were told when we picked up the car, they did not accept the USAA code, so we paid full price. (After the trip, Hertz eventually refunded half the underage fee.) We just wanted to get out of there, but then they informed us that we actually pulled into the wrong lot and would have to pay the 2.5 euro parking fee to get out of that lot and bring the car to their actual lot. Ridiculous. They do not have good signs at this location. We finally got rid of the car, smiling that we wouldn't have to deal with a car for the rest of our Europe journey and headed across the street to the Mestre train station.

Our hotel had explained to me in advance that we would have to take a train from Hertz to Venice proper. In the station, we used the automated machine to buy tickets to the Venice-St. Lucia station (the main Venice train station). Trains were plentiful, running every 15 minutes or so and only cost 1.5 euro! The ride was just about 10 minutes, and before we knew it, we were stepping off into the wonderful city of Venice!

When you step outside the train station, you're right infront of the water with a few stands for the Vaporettos (water buses) that take you through the canals. We found the ticket window, found out which route number to take to San Marco Square (where our hotel was) and picked up single ride tickets since it was already Friday afternoon and our only trip that day would be to the hotel. We got our single ride tickets for 7 euro and then decided not to get on the boat just yet. Here's where I'll introduce our Venice friends.

DO Halfway Around the World
While planning the Venice/Italy portion of our trip on DDF, I found out that Yehoshua and his wife were actually going to be in Venice the same Shabbos we were! IINM this was actually my first DO of any kind, and I was a bit nervous at first. But after spending 2 minutes with them, we realized we'd get along wonderfully, and we ended up having an incredible Shabbos together! Only DansDeals can put something like that together. :)

Lunch at Gam Gam Goodies
Because Yehoshua was already in Venice for a night/morning, he informed us that the train station was actually very close to the Jewish Ghetto and Gam Gam Goodies for a nice lunch. Once again having just 2 rolling carryons and 2 backpacks came in super handy for the 5-10 minute walk. The streets of Venice constantly require you to cross mini bridges over the canals, and although some have ramp-like features, I can imagine it would be annoying to schlep heavy suitcases through the streets. A quick walk with Google Maps, and we found our way to Gam Gam, which sits at one of the entrances to the Ghetto. It's cool because this entrance is really like a small alleyway and feels very Ghetto-like. Right past Gam Gam is another storefront for Gam Gam Goodies, the pizza store. They also have different types of grilled sandwiches, ice cream, drinks and packaged deli. I can't imagine finding a pizza store in America that sells deli packages. :) We got pizza and some deli just to have some food in the hotel for about $16 total. We really liked the pizza here, and as you'll see, returned several times on our trip. The only complaint we had is that it's so small that they don't have any tables and chairs. It didn't matter on our first trip, since we took the food to go anyway. We then walked across the alley to Volpe Bakery and spent 7 euro on pastries and some rolls for the deli. The bakery also has a few Israeli packaged snacks and a fridge of assorted items. See the Venice wiki for information about the Kashrus here.

Getting to Our Hotel - The Comfort Hotel Diana - and Arranging for Shabbos Concerns
We took our food and walked back to the Vaporettos outside the train station. The short walk to/from Goodies gave us a taste of the #1 activity in Venice which we would be fortunate to experience constantly during our 4 days - just walking the streets! The shops selling all types of glass work (real Murano and fake China), crazy masks, and all sorts of tchotchkes are just fantastic and awesome to browse through.

We boarded the Vaporetto to San Marco Square. The boat doesn't go too quickly (private taxis sped right past us), but it doesn't make too many stops, and within about 1/2 hour, we were at San Marco. The stops all have large signs, so it's clear where you need to get off, but there are also a few crew members that can help you. Google Maps helped us with the 3 minute walk (once again with awesome shops!) from the square to our hotel. As I've mentioned many times in this TR, our goal was to stay at every hotel on points and not use cash. The points hotel options in Venice are a bit limited, and after some research, I found a Choice property, the Comfort Hotel Diana, for just 10K a night. They also charged us 6 euro a day (24 total) for taxes upon checkout. 40K MR -> Choice for 4 nights was a steal IMHO even though the hotel was not close to the grandeur of the SPG properties that most DDFers stay at. If my trip was just to Venice, I'd try for a nicer place, but with 6 weeks and only 1 year of playing the game, it's hard to stay at a 5* place every night. The bed/blankets weren't too comfortable, but otherwise we didn't have any complaints. I didn't really try hard for upgrades at any of our hotels (it was my first DDF trip, give me some slack!), so the room wasn't too big, but it definitely had some old-world charm to it.

(http://i.imgur.com/hNUXUcO.jpg?1)
Comfort Hotel Diana Room

We got ready for Shabbos and got the front desk to allow my wife to light candles on a table in the small kitchen area just off the lobby. The rooms only had electronic locks, so we kept our valuables in the safe and took DDF's advice of taping the key card onto the doorjamb and hanging up the Do Not Disturb sign. It felt a bit awkward leaving the room unlocked all Shabbos, but everything important was in the safe and b"h nothing happened. The lobby only has 1 door - and it's automatic - but the front desk is right by the entrance, and the clerk knew about Shabbos and told us that when she sees us approach the hotel, she'll push the button to open the doors. That clerk knew about Shabbos, but others that we encountered over Shabbos weren't as familiar, and we had to weirdly explain what we're doing without outright asking/hinting to them to open the door. I'm not positive on the best Halachic way to hint things to a non-Jew, but we did what we could/knew.

Friday Night in the Ghetto
We headed out and walked through the square towards the Westin and met Yehoshua and his DW in the street. Like I said, after 2 minutes, we were already comfortable with each other and enjoyed our 1/2 hour walk to the Ghetto. Man, walking in Venice is awesome!

(http://i.imgur.com/lRFrZTk.jpg?1)
(No, I didn't take the picture on the walk to Shul. :P)

On the way to the Ghetto, Yehoshua told me that he spoke with some of the Chabad guys in town who told him that the smoothie-like drinks at the 2 Frulala locations are Kosher as long as you don't get the milk or yogurt base. Better yet, Frulala hands out samples in shotglasses to passerby, so on the way to Shul, we all got a small refresher, which was great during the hot walk in our Shabbos clothes! Yehoshua found out about the Davening situation, and we decided to Daven at the community Italian Shul, as opposed to the small Chabad Beis Medrash (they have plans to build a large Shul). Per Yehoshua's warning, we brought our passports with us to show the guard. Davening was Nusach Italki, and there were plenty of Americans in Shul, including some people I recognized. The Shul is pretty nice inside, but it doesn't really compare to the other European Shuls I saw on the trip, like Rome and Florence. (I was only in there on Shabbos, so I don't have any pictures.) In terms of meals, my wife and I originally made reservations for a table in the private art Gallery near Gam Gam, but due to our desire to save when we could, we dropped them shortly before our trip and opted for the free Shabbos meals at Gam Gam (see the Venice wiki because the food situation here has changed). Yehoshua and his wife, though, did have reservations at the Gallery. However, they decided they would rather eat dinner with us rather than alone and decided to pass up on their private meal to join us at the community meal! Was very nice of them. We headed to Gam Gam quickly to make sure we got seats in the first meal, and although we couldn't find space for 4 inside Gam Gam, we found space at the group tables outside on the canal. Sounds cool to eat Shabbos meals outside on the canal, but it was quite hot out, kinda dark, and there was nowhere really to put our jackets - but we made do. Seating got crowded (as everyone says it does at Gam Gam), and we were displaced from sitting near Yehoshua and DW, but they courageously asked people to switch seats with them so they could be near us again. The meal moved along at a good pace, the food was fine, but yeah it was too community-meal-like for me with not a ton of food, too many people, hard to talk, etc. Still had a nice time, but I wasn't in love with it. After dinner, we leisurely walked back to San Marco, dropped off the Yehoshuas on the way back to our hotel, and called it a night - blocking the door lock worked perfectly. It might have been July 4th today, but there was no sign of it here in Venezia!

Day 2 - Shabbos, July 5th
Shabbos Day in the Ghetto
We woke up Shabbos morning and walked to the Ghetto. Yehoshua and his DW were already at the Italian Shul when we got there. There was a Bar Mitzvah, but it still didn't take too long. After Shacharis, Yehoshua and DW headed to the community Kiddush, but we ran to Gam Gam to ensure we got into the first round of meals and maybe even get a table indoors. We found Gam Gam to be still closed, so we waited outside on line. Shortly thereafter, the Yehoshuas showed up with Kiddush and food for us! It was awesome to get some food in our stomachs while waiting- again, really nice of them! While they might have had a nice time at dinner, they were not planning on joining us for lunch again, especially in the heat of the day. At the same time, they did want to eat with us again (can you believe it? :P), so courageous Yehoshua approached the Chabad Rabbi - Rami - and got permission for us to join them in the Gallery!! I'm not sure if it was because the Gallery wasn't full or what, but we were thrilled! The air conditioned Gallery, with our own table, food, waiter, etc. was a MUCH better experience than Gam Gam, IMHO. I know plenty of others like the community meals, so, to each their own.

After lunch, we walked back to our hotels and got in a nice Shabbos nap. When we woke up, we walked back to the Ghetto for Shalosh Seudos and enjoyed another meal with Yehoshua and his wife in the Gallery, who were already there. Once again, they allowed us in without a problem. Really nice of Rabbi Rami. We missed Mincha at the community Shul (they Davened early apparently), so we had to go to Chabad. Boy, was it packed. The Beis Medrash is just a regular, small room and there were SO many people packed in there. Men were in the women's section, women had to stand outside, and the AC was no match for the temperature + body heat. After Mincha, we went back to the Gallery to continue eating until it was time for Maariv, which we caught in the community center. I don't know if they always Daven Maariv there, or why this week they didn't Daven in the Shul, but they Davened there and made Havdalla afterwards. We walked back to Yehoshua's hotel to check out the Westin Europe & Regina. It was really nice with a marble lobby, and their upgraded room was spacious and fancy. After saying our goodbyes, we headed back to our hotel and called it a night. What an awesome, awesome Shabbos!

Day 3 - Sunday, July 6th
After a fantastic Shabbos, it was time to start doing some actual activities in Venice. I woke up, walked to the Ghetto and found that the community was Davening in the Beis Medrash of their winter Shul. There are 2 Shul buildings right across from each other and, because of the way they are built/insulated, one is used during the winter and one during the summer. On Shabbos, they Davened in the summer Shul. But on this morning, they Davened in the Beis Medrash of the Winter Shul. It was nothing special, so I didn't take a picture.

Murano, but not Burano
After Shacharis, I walked back to the hotel, and we got ready for the day and had some of the bakery items we bought on Friday for breakfast. We then went to the front desk and asked them if they have someone who could take us to a glass factory in Murano, and like all hotels in Venice, they happily called their guy. The "captain" of the speedboat picked us up at the hotel and walked with us to a canal where we met up with another group who were going to be sharing the free ride with us. Hey, who cares if you have to share your free ride? The trip took about 1/2 hour IIRC, and the guy informed us that the factories are mostly closed on Sunday, but he brought us to one that was open. I've read that everyone has a different experience by these tours, but boy this was far from a tour. In fact, I'll even go so far as to put "tour" in quotes. :P We walked into a workshop where another boat captain/guide was sitting with a group watching a demonstration that was already in progress, and we were told to just sit with them. There was no explanation of anything, and it was just watching the process of the glassblower taking sand on a stick and magically shaping it into a horse - a figurine we found Murano/Venice to be in love with. While the demonstration was extremely cool, it would have been nice if it was more of a tour and if we didn't just join another group's demonstration. The truth is, it was free, so I'm not complaining. After the horse was complete, we were escorted out of the workshop into the factory store. The store was packed with the most amazing glassworks I've ever seen. It was 2 stories of just the most colorful, detailed pieces of glass - it was really fun to walk through! All the items that were of a decent size ranged from $1,000 to $20,000, so we weren't serious buyers ::) until we got the lower level which had jewelry and other cheaper items. However, things were still relatively expensive in our opinion, so we just browsed for a while and then left. We walked around the street outside, but didn't really explore Murano. I'm not sure if it's just the 1 street/canal we were on or if it's much larger like Venice, but everything across the canal from us didn't look like stores - maybe they're all factories? - so we assumed the shopping was just the one area we were in.

(http://i.imgur.com/y0I1aP8.jpg?1)

Anyway, we wandered into one shop and saw gorgeous drinking glasses and, along with designs made out of 24k gold, some even had Magen Davids and Menorahs painted on them! I fell in love with one and wanted it to be my new Kiddush cup. I haggled with the guy from 60 euro down to 50 (hey, that's like $15!), got my little paper proving it was authentic Murano glass and walked out a happy customer.

(http://i.imgur.com/cEKDYRP.jpg?1)(http://i.imgur.com/whb6o28.jpg?1)

Later on our trip, I found the same glasses at one of the specifically-Jewish glass shops in the Jewish Ghetto for 30 euro (and I trusted the owner claiming they were real Murano). I was not too happy, but whatever, I still love my cup. Anyway, we were getting really hungry and had to make a decision. Originally, the plan was to take a Vaporetto from here to Burano to check out the cool colored houses and then another Vaporetto from there directly to the side of Venice near the Ghetto to get lunch. However, as I said, we were really hungry... So, I texted some friends and found out that Burano is cool for the 5 minutes it takes to get some pictures of the colored houses but that it's not a "must do," so we decided to catch a Vaporetto back to San Marco Square instead. (Looking back now, I wonder if taking a Vaporetto to Burano and switching to the line that goes to Venice near the Ghetto would have been faster than Vaporettoing to San Marco and walking to the Ghetto. Nu nu.) Again, we just bought 1 use passes (7 euro each), since we didn't expect to take another boat ride that day and buying the longer passes (like 3-day or something) just didn't make sense since we weren't planning on taking enough rides to make it worth it. 1/2 hour later, we were back in the square and heading to lunch.

(http://i.imgur.com/cRttbcN.jpg?1)

Lunch at Frulala and Goodies + an Afternoon of Shopping
On the way to lunch, we stopped by Frulala for our first actual purchase. The smoothies (if they can be called that without milk) were tasty and cost 5 euro. They're great for having something to sip on while walking on a hot day. We continued on to Gam Gam Goodies and picked up lunch for $15 for the 2 of us. As they don't have tables/chairs, we took our food and walked further down into the Ghetto where the Chabad storefront is and ate in there since they had a table and didn't mind. Thanks Yehoshua for the idea! After lunch, we spent the afternoon just walking the streets and canals. As opposed to on Shabbos, we could finally enter shops and check out all the cool wares for sale. We definitely came across some interesting glasswork.

(http://i.imgur.com/uDBUES4.jpg?1)

Also as opposed to on Shabbos, we actually could spend money. *gulp* ;) Just walking around and getting these views was such a treat.

(http://i.imgur.com/tYd4tiV.jpg?1)
Gondolas!

And one of my favorite pics...

(http://i.imgur.com/kUcSv09.jpg?1)

Dinner at Goodies
Eventually, we headed back to the Ghetto for dinner. I can't remember why we decided on Goodies for the 3rd time instead of trying out Gam Gam, but we did. Maybe it was because we knew it was good and pretty cheap? We picked up dinner and ate on a bench further down in the Ghetto. We also picked up some of their baked goods for breakfast and some sandwiches for lunch for the next day. Those 3 meals in total cost 17 euro. Thinking back, cost probably was the reason we went back to Goodies for the 3rd time. :) Here's where we hit our first problem with Minyanim. Because Shkia is so late in Europe in the summer, there was still around an hour till Mincha by the time we finished dinner. After a long day, we decided not to wait around and instead headed back to the hotel to call it a night. Staying at a hotel 30 min away from Shul can definitely affect your desire to make all Minyanim, so consider that when picking where to stay.

Day 4 - Monday, July 7th
Not to get down on myself too much, but unfortunately, I didn't have the drive to make the early morning walk back to the Ghetto for Shacharis. After Davening in the hotel, eating breakfast that we bought the previous night in Goodies and getting ready for the day, we headed out for a... BEACH DAY!

A Day at the Beach
Isn't it wonderful to actually have a beach day on your honeymoon instead of just running around to historic sites all day?? ;D It had already been 3 weeks since we were at the beach in Eilat (and about 10 months if you're going by TR days), and I hadn't been feeling well back then (plus there isn't much of a sandy beach there), so we were super excited for our day on the beach. We walked to San Marco and picked up the Vaporetto to Lido Beach. Because we knew the roundtrip travel was all the Vaporetto we would need that day, we just bought roundtrip tickets at 14 euro each (not a savings from a single pass). The trip took about 1/2 hour, and then a straight 10 minute walk takes you across the entire width of the island of Lido, and you're at the beach! Supposedly there are a few beach entrances/areas - some cost money, some are free, some are better, etc. but we just went into the first entrance we saw (and it also happened to be a free one). The beach was pretty crowded, but we found a spot to lay down and enjoy. There were many peddlers selling large towels, and one was particularly aggressive and got quite offended when I offered him 5 euro for his 20 euro towel. He kept walking past us giving us the stink eye - whoops! An important note is that not only is this not some secluded beach in Hawaii, it's also a European beach. We'll leave it at that. After spending some time on the sand, we got a locker rental for 5 euro to dump our stuff and went in for a swim. Proportionally, the ocean was far less crowded than the beach, so that was very nice. However, there was a lot of seaweed floating around, so that was a bit blah. Eventually we went back ashore for lunch, which we brought along from Goodies the night before. We spent some more time on the beach, some more in the water, and in the mid-afternoon, decided to head back to Venice. A very fun, relaxing day. :)

Dinner at Gam Gam
After walking around the area near San Marco, we slowly headed to the Ghetto for an early dinner.  Finally, it was time to check out Gam Gam! We walked in and immediately found that we weren't going to have great service. There was no one at the door seating people, so we kinda just stood there watching waiters rush all over the place, hoping someone saw us. I wanted to just tap someone on the shoulder and be like, "Hey, can we get a table?" but everyone looked so busy, and it was uncomfortable. After about 5 minutes someone came over and seated us. Getting our orders placed and waiting for the food took a very long time with different waiters stopping by randomly asking what we want to order, showing that they clearly didn't know if anyone took our order yet. It wasn't a pleasant service experience, yet I acknowledge that they were very busy. I hope they have figured out how to deal with busy nights since then. We both ordered different pasta/meat dishes. It's nice to have fresh food out here in the middle of Venice, especially Fleishigs, so I appreciate that, but the food was only okay - nothing to write home about. Prices were pretty reasonable as we spent $38 total (although IIRC we didn't get appetizers or desserts). I would try the place again in the future, but we were definitely happy that we chose Goodies for every other meal.

Again, it was still too early for Mincha, so we decided to walk back to the hotel instead of sticking around. I Davened at the hotel, we relaxed with some TV (somehow we still didn't finish everything I brought with us) and called it a night.

Day 5 - Tuesday, July 8th
Laundry!
After Davening Shacharis in the hotel, we packed up and brought our bags down to leave at the front desk while we went out for our last day in Venice. The hotel does not have a closet to store bags, so we just left them against the lobby wall in full view of the front desk. Was a bit sketchy, but we were not about to schlep everything around with us all day. Packing/leaving the bags was a bit difficult since we had to leave most of our clothing out of the bags as it was time for our second laundry run of our trip. The front desk pointed us in the direction of a laundromat that was 5 minutes away. Laundry here was expensive, costing us 8 euro. Instead of waiting around the laundromat, I convinced my wife to let us stroll around the nearby stores while we waited. Risky perhaps, but all was fine in the end.

Doge's Palace
After packing our clean clothes back into our suitcases in the hotel lobby, we headed out for our 11:30 tour of Doge's Palace. The hotel is just a few minutes from San Marco Square, and the palace is basically just off to the side of the square. We had pre-purchased tickets for the Doge's Palace Secret Itineraries Tour through the Musement deal for about $10 a person. From my research, the palace does not offer a tour of the whole palace (maybe you can find your own guide somewhere), and the entrance fee to just browse on your own costs more than the deal we got. So, we opted for our deal/tour since it was cheaper, brings you into rooms you can't visit otherwise and of course also allows you to walk around afterwards. The tour was great; we really enjoyed it. The tour started with the group of about 20 people following the guide down to the dungeons of the palace. I'm not sure what was crazier - hearing the types of crimes that would warrant prison time or actually seeing the small, cold, musty cells where prisoners were kept.

(http://i.imgur.com/lS149J0.jpg?1)

(http://i.imgur.com/QeQk0yA.jpg?1)
Prison Cells

The guide was very knowledgeable and gave a great history of Venice's royalty. After going down to the dungeons, we were brought up to officer's offices, the courtroom and a torture room. (It was too big for me to call it a "chamber.") We also got to see some "higher quality" cells that were on an upper story. The catch with these rooms was the low clearance - you couldn't stand up straight. The guide told us the story of Casanova who supposedly escaped from his imprisonment in the palace. We went through hidden doors and secret staircases and ended up just popping out into the middle of the crowded, more "museum-like" part of the palace. I highly recommend this tour.

One Final Lunch at Goodies
We didn't browse around the palace too much after the tour because we were hungry, so we headed out and began our final walk to the Ghetto. As you can probably guess, we went to Goodies. Pizza and packaged deli for dinner (which by the way, was awesomely flavored!) cost 15.5 euro. We headed across the alley to Volpe Bakery for drinks (cheaper than Goodies) and rolls for the deli for dinner - total of 3.8 euro. 20 euro total for 2 people for lunch and dinner is pretty sweet.

Alilaguna Probably Means "(Hello and) Goodbye Venice" in English
We made our final walk back to San Marco and to the hotel to grab our bags, and then took a short walk to the canal to catch the Alilaguna boat, which is the only public transportation to/from the airport. We had just missed one, so we had to wait about 20 minutes till the next one. 2 one way tickets cost $40.95. The boat is about the same size as a Vaporetto, and about 1 hour - 1:15 later, we pulled up at the airport. We quickly found out that the dock is a good 10-15 minute walk to the actual airport. If you're schlepping lots of bags with you, it can't be too fun. Private water taxis probably leave from the same area (so you have the same walk), but they go much faster than the Alilaguna (and cost a lot more, too). My n00bness found out that United Club One-Time Passes don't get you into Star Alliance lounges, so we found some seats near the gate, Davened Mincha and hung around the pretty nice airport until it was time for our flight.

As I started with, Venice was incredible. We had an absolute blast, and it was definitely our favorite city on our trip. You can definitely have a wonderful stay without having as long of a trip as we had - as you saw, we had plenty of walking around/free time, but we never got bored of being there. That's all for Venice, and that's basically it for Italy (we stopped back here later for an overnight connection). Off to Switzerland... with only 3 more weeks to go! :P
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Marco Polo on July 22, 2015, 03:53:06 PM
Very nice. glad to see some more parts coming out.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on July 22, 2015, 04:18:08 PM
Excellent installment! Looks like the rest of your time in Venice was really fun. I can't wait for the rest.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: sam28 on July 22, 2015, 05:10:13 PM
wow nice TR
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 22, 2015, 05:15:23 PM
Very nice. glad to see some more parts coming out.
Thanks, I hope I can keep doing this even if it's slowly. I also hope it inspires others to write TRs that are long overdue.

Excellent installment! Looks like the rest of your time in Venice was really fun. I can't wait for the rest.
Thanks! Yeah the second half was so much better than the 1st half  :P ;D. May the rest eventually come...

wow nice TR
Thanks!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rediplus on July 22, 2015, 05:33:41 PM
Great installment as usual. Brings back good memories although my trip was in the winter. Thank you
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: morgs on July 23, 2015, 04:29:08 AM
Great installment as usual. Brings back good memories although my trip was in the winter. Thank you
Thanks for the installment-PLEASE keep them comin-very enjoyable read!!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: ad120 on July 23, 2015, 10:44:55 AM
@Yehuda
not many people would bother posting and even writing that long after their trip. Thank you.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on July 23, 2015, 02:18:28 PM
Great installment as usual. Brings back good memories although my trip was in the winter. Thank you
Aw, shucks. It's fun for me to put this together also.
Thanks for the installment-PLEASE keep them comin-very enjoyable read!!
:) I'll keep trying...
@Yehuda
not many people would bother posting and even writing that long after their trip. Thank you.
:) I hope I inspire others to keep on working on their TRs.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 29, 2015, 03:46:44 PM
Switzerland – July 8

After finishing an amazing 10 days in Italy, we arrived at VCE to catch our 8PM flight to ZRH. If you recall, we most of our flights had been part of a OneWorld Explorer Award ticket which required us to always depart from the same city we arrived in. Our last flight had been into FCO where we then drove through Italy till Venice. Having to get back to FCO to continue our journey, I knew we’d either have to train/drive back down there or pay for a flight from VCE. Then I realized that perhaps we could fit the nearby Switzerland into our journey by taking utilizing one of United’s gracious routing rules. After several HUCAs, I proudly booked a one way ticket on Swiss Airlines from VCE-FCO with a stop in ZRH for 15K miles and $49 per person in coach. Since it’s an international flight for United, you’re allowed a free stopover as long as it’s less than 24 hours long. I had found two legs, VCE-ZRH and ZRH-FCO that had… get ready for it… a 23:55 hour stopover! *pat myself on the back*

(http://i.imgur.com/DaHYZWr.png)
Flying from Venice to Rome with a convenient stop on the way in Zurich ;D

This was our first non J (or fake J) flight on the trip, but for the 1 hour flight, we were just fine :P. Before we blinked, we landed. Despite having already looked into which trains to take from the airport to the hotel, it took time getting used to the airport/trains and buying train tickets, so the whole travel took about an hour. For 13.60CHF each (~$15 – finally, a pretty good currency!), we got tickets for the train from the airport to the main Zurich train station (Zurich Hauptbahnhof or Zurich HB) and a tram (basically an above ground subway – nicer than NYC too) from there to the hotel. We stayed at the Sheraton Zurich Hotel for 16K SPG and really liked it. The room was really modern and huge. As a honeymoon gift, they left us this nice plate that we, unfortunately, couldn’t eat.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/705/21956264733_ee80c8e909_c.jpg)
Swiss chocolate that we can’t eat?? Such a tease

In the morning, we packed up, checked out of the hotel and paid $5 in taxes. I had done some research before the trip about which trains would get us around town and to an Alp, but incredibly, a DDFer from Zurich (who was currently living in Israel) reached out to me and offered to get us an all-day travel pass good for the local trams and the long-distance trains. It’s not easy to obtain one of these as they only go on sale 30 days in advance, only a few are made available for each day and can only be purchased by a Zurich resident. He took care of all of that for us and then actually had someone from his hometown get the passes to him in Israel where he met up with us in Yerushalayim one day while we were there. To do so much for someone you don’t know (and refusing to take anything in return) blew our minds. I love DansDeals.

The passes cost just under $50 each, but were well worth it once you see how much they covered. We first took the tram to Zurich HB where we stored our bags in a locker for 9CHF and then got on another tram to Agudas Achim for Shacharis (IIRC we had to pass through Zurich HB anyway to get to Shul, so it made sense to drop our stuff in the locker anyway). I was caught off guard by how many Jews we saw in the streets – I totally had no idea the Zurich community was so large! Agudas Achim was a Minyan factory (I think), so a new Minyan had been starting when I walked in. After Shul, we went right across the street to the Kosher City Grocery store and were, once again, surprised by how much Kosher food was available. We stocked up on all sorts of food to cover us for breakfast, lunch and dinner for about $50. We got on a tram back to Zurich HB and went to our locker to put my Tallis and Tefillin away. As soon as I opened the locker, I realized my mistake. There went our 9CHF for the day’s locker! :-[ After paying again to re-lock it, we went to speak with an information agent to decide on the best way to get to the Alps with the specific train pass we had. Instead of the classic roundtrip to Lucerne and the (around $100) Golden Ticket up to Mount Pilatus, we opted for trains that would be covered with our pass and decided on Mount Rigi. Unfortunately, this TR is coming so long after we traveled and my notes aren’t so clear, so I'm not positive about our exact route, but it was a day full of train travel with really nice views. We first took a train to the city of Audi (I believe) where we then took another train to the base of the mountain. It was a cloudy and rainy day, but the buildings/cities we passed were really nice and the mountainous sights were still awe-some.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/656/22386730610_a51de49b07_c.jpg)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5674/22387863689_a2ddf681f7_c.jpg)

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5782/21953489613_ba6a15dd6f_c.jpg)

From there, we took a cable car up to the top of Rigi. At times, this train got pretty steep – and boy was it getting colder and wetter by the minute – and as we rode, I read the map of the mountain. The train makes a few stops on its way to the peak, where you can get off and explore or switch train lines to other areas of the mountain. While heading up, our view was still clear, and we saw some sheep chilling in the rain.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/693/22387853869_23e1c8cf16_c.jpg)

Once we finally got to the top, though, we were in one, big, FREEZING cloud.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/746/21958273593_ee478cc75a_c.jpg)
You like that effect, eh??

Thankfully it wasn't raining up here, but because you couldn’t see 5 feet infront of you, there wasn’t any point in walking around. Wearing just sweatshirts was not wise, but we also didn’t exactly have coats with us on our summer Eurotrip ::). We went into the gift shop to warm up for a few minutes before getting back on the train to head down to the next level station below us. At this level, we could see around slightly better and found an information office where we learned about the hiking options in the area, but due to the cold and rainy weather, we opted to just walk around the area nearby. We came across the Mineralbad & Spa which was totally unexpected up here on the mountain, but we left once we found out the prices. We then made our way to the gondola down to the town of Weggis (I believe). Once we were below cloud-level, we got some of our best views of the day with Lake Lucerne at the bottom (although the camera really didn’t capture them well).

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/697/22386714960_c4ec9df949_c.jpg)

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/663/21951920264_d4afafed70_c.jpg)

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/614/21951917724_973a7b6281_c.jpg)
Back on solid ground

We knew that we had to take a boat back from here to Lucerne, but we didn’t know where to go exactly. Instead of asking for help, we just wandered through the small town, checking out the streets and shops until we made our way to the dock where we found out we had some time to kill till the next departure.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/645/22387838139_a7be9a3ec6_c.jpg)
Swiss pets, I guess?

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/714/21951903054_4705f1fa41_c.jpg)
;D ;D

My wife made some friends at the water’s edge.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/650/21953461233_6db3813f7d_c.jpg)

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/760/22574645805_c9a622514a_c.jpg)

The beautiful Lake Lucerne.

(https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5638/22387834099_03ea0c3741_b.jpg)

When it was time to board, we got on the boat and found the trip very pleasant. There was plenty of seating – mostly restaurant-style – with food and drinks being served. The views on the water were great - even caught a few glimpses of snow-capped mountain tops. Within a half hour, we docked at Lucerne. Despite having heard that the city is very nice to walk through, we were getting tired, so we headed into the train station, which was conveniently right next to the dock.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/747/21951901524_4483c1375c_z.jpg)
Our lone picture from Lucerne; some military thing going on, I guess

We took the train back to Zurich HB, picked up our stuff from the locker and got on a train for the airport. I had originally thought we’d go out to dinner (take advantage when there are Kosher restaurants!), but the food we bought in the morning was enough, so we headed to the airport and made it for our 9:05PM flight to Rome. It was too late for the hotel shuttle, so we took a taxi for 35 euro to the Sheraton Golf Parco de' Medici, booked for 7K SPG. The hotel was pretty standard (although it had a golf course out back), and after scheduling the airport shuttle for the morning, we went to sleep.

Despite the rain and cold weather, we had a great 23 hours and 55 minutes in Switzerland!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 29, 2015, 03:49:09 PM
Woohoo for getting another part out!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Marco Polo on October 29, 2015, 03:52:41 PM
It's a good thing you did not try and use green stars before you earned them :p
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on October 29, 2015, 03:56:31 PM
lol, but great job @Yehuda for continuing this TR so long after the trip! May you will indeed finish it one day soon.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: stbaum on October 29, 2015, 04:38:18 PM
oh boy! what an unexpected treat! thanks!
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on October 29, 2015, 04:40:08 PM
oh boy! what an unexpected treat! thanks!
Unexpected indeed.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 29, 2015, 04:47:23 PM
It's a good thing you did not try and use green stars before you earned them :p
Lol give me some time

lol, but great job @Yehuda for continuing this TR so long after the trip! May you will indeed finish it one day soon.
Thanks and Amen!

oh boy! what an unexpected treat! thanks!
Hehe, had some time today.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: zow on October 29, 2015, 09:13:26 PM
Beautiful! How do you remember such detail from, what, more than a year ago? I can barely remember last week.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on October 29, 2015, 09:22:21 PM
Beautiful! How do you remember such detail from, what, more than a year ago? I can barely remember last week.
Probably took notes.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 29, 2015, 09:24:05 PM
Probably took notes.
+1
Yep, although some days have much less than others.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: VacationLover on October 29, 2015, 10:16:03 PM
Interesting that you chose Mt Rigi over Pilatus.

Nice recap though
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Ergel on October 30, 2015, 01:00:54 AM
I still can't believe you refuse to invest $300 in a camera, but whatever.

Bummer on the weather, glad you enjoyed anyways
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Emkay on October 30, 2015, 08:59:55 AM
I still can't believe you refuse to invest $300 in a camera, but whatever.

Bummer on the weather, glad you enjoyed anyways
Give him a link to purchase with miles and he'll be in
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: JayR on October 30, 2015, 09:03:59 AM
Give him a link to purchase with miles and he'll be in
-1, he doesn't part with money or miles ::)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 30, 2015, 09:16:22 AM
Interesting that you chose Mt Rigi over Pilatus.

Nice recap though
Yeah, IINM Pilatus requires you to buy the Golden Ticket to go up (~$100) and Rigi could be ascended via the trains/cable cars that were included in my pass. Hence the decision.
Thanks

I still can't believe you refuse to invest $300 in a camera, but whatever.

Bummer on the weather, glad you enjoyed anyways
Didn't we discuss it's not a money thing? At this point, I'd rather have lower quality pictures than to schlep along another "thing" on a trip. I have a new phone now, curious to see how the pics come out after the next trip.
Yeah, with only 1 day scheduled for ZRH, we had to take whatever weather we got. Thanks

MK, JR
You guys are real cute.  :-*
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: EJB on October 30, 2015, 09:37:52 AM
Do you want my old camera (Nex 6)? I'll $e11 it to you for !@,### m!le$ (censored due to this being against forum rules :))
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rileywiles23 on November 03, 2015, 12:53:27 AM
Nice installment @yehuda. Thank you for sharing.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on November 03, 2015, 03:17:15 PM
Nice installment @yehuda. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: zow on January 19, 2016, 11:29:26 PM
@Yehuda, would you recommend the Sheraton Four Points Diagonal?
Looks like you paid 7,000SPG/night, but now the rate is down to 4,000SPG/night.
That could really help us out, as a family of 5, as we need two rooms.
Do you think we could fit three kids (18, 16, 13) into one of the rooms? I ask, because website suggests it's limited to 2person/room.
Any other suggestions welcome!
Thanks.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on January 19, 2016, 11:57:47 PM
@Yehuda, would you recommend the Sheraton Four Points Diagonal?
Looks like you paid 7,000SPG/night, but now the rate is down to 4,000SPG/night.
That could really help us out, as a family of 5, as we need two rooms.
Do you think we could fit three kids (18, 16, 13) into one of the rooms? I ask, because website suggests it's limited to 2person/room.
Any other suggestions welcome!
Thanks.
We chose not to stay there, favoring a cheap Airbnb in Las Ramblas instead. For us it was more important to be centrally located. I think @Yehuda would agree in hindsight.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: zow on January 20, 2016, 12:31:11 AM

We chose not to stay there, favoring a cheap Airbnb in Las Ramblas instead. For us it was more important to be centrally located. I think @Yehuda would agree in hindsight.
Cool. I think we are heading toward the Airbnb option, too. Thanks.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on January 20, 2016, 12:45:10 AM
Cool. I think we are heading toward the Airbnb option, too. Thanks.
Sure, let me know if you if you want details on the place we stayed at.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 20, 2016, 05:18:32 AM
Agreed. It's nice that it got cheaper, but it's a 20 minute subway ride to anything you'll want to do.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: ajs625 on May 18, 2016, 08:07:28 PM
@yehuda, can I purchase the Doge palace tour for $10? if so, link?
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on May 18, 2016, 08:28:12 PM
@yehuda, can I purchase the Doge palace tour for $10? if so, link?
Musement had a deal back then for 50% off any tour. So, that means it must have been $20 originally. But anyway, looks like those prices have skyrocketed. https://www.musement.com/us/venice/doge-s-palace-venice-v/
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: tmendy226 on October 21, 2017, 11:51:24 PM
Looking forward to reading the rest of the TR :)
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on October 22, 2017, 08:56:51 AM
Looking forward to reading the rest of the TR :)
You and @Something Fishy
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Something Fishy on October 22, 2017, 08:58:22 AM
You and @Something Fishy

Indeed.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: alt123 on December 25, 2017, 02:20:34 PM
Any reviews on Cordoba? I couldn't find anything in the forums. I am debating between spending a day there or Seville.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: zow on December 25, 2017, 02:43:53 PM
Any reviews on Cordoba? I couldn't find anything in the forums. I am debating between spending a day there or Seville.
We had a very nice day in Seville. Nice places who walk/ wander.  A few Jewish history sites but not much left. We saw Flamenco there — very entertaining, not tznius. No kosher food.

Had wanted to visit Córdoba for its Jewish history...maybe next time. 
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on December 25, 2017, 02:54:16 PM
Any reviews on Cordoba? I couldn't find anything in the forums. I am debating between spending a day there or Seville.
Sorry I didn't go to Cordoba, so I can't comment.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: rediplus on December 26, 2017, 03:00:25 AM
There is a Jewish ghetto, some rambam historical items and a statue,  river bridge,  and a palace , the alcazar. There is the usual markets and stuff but not on our to do list. We stayed in Seville and took a bus to cordoba. One day is more than enough.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: DTM on January 06, 2018, 09:40:49 PM
Any reviews on Cordoba? I couldn't find anything in the forums. I am debating between spending a day there or Seville.
I chose Seville and Granada instead of Cordoba for my upcoming trip. Seville has an highly rated Jewish tour guide, Moises Hassan.  Also, I was told that the major sight in Cordoba, the Mesquita, is a Catholic Church (former Mosque). The  Alcazar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada are former residences. Shmuel HaNagid lived in the latter and may have built the famous Fountain of 12 Lions, perhaps modeled after the fountain of 12 bulls described in Malachim as having been built for the Bais HaMikdash by Shlomo HaMalech.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: @Yehuda on January 06, 2018, 09:51:23 PM
I chose Seville and Granada instead of Cordoba for my upcoming trip. Seville has an highly rated Jewish tour guide, Moises Hassan.  Also, I was told that the major sight in Cordoba, the Mesquita, is a Catholic Church (former Mosque). The  Alcazar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada are former residences. Shmuel HaNagid lived in the latter and may have built the famous Fountain of 12 Lions, perhaps modeled after the fountain of 12 bulls described in Malachim as having been built for the Bais HaMikdash by Shlomo HaMalech.
Did you take his tour? I looked into it, but found out there's little Jewish history in Seville so I didn't want to spend money on him.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: DTM on January 06, 2018, 10:11:39 PM
Did you take his tour? I looked into it, but found out there's little Jewish history in Seville so I didn't want to spend money on him.
I booked him for my upcoming, first time, trip to Spain, based on excellent on line reviews
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187443-d4206678-Reviews-Jewish_Seville_Day_Tours-Seville_Province_of_Seville_Andalucia.html
I also booked the hotel Las Casas de la Juderia (literally, houses of the Jewish quarter) which incorporates former Jewish homes located in the middle of the former Jewish quarter. I understand that the Rishonim who lived in Seville included the Ritva, who was the Rav of Seville, and the Avudram. I’m thinking that the absence of physical remnants of Jewish history will make the historical narrative provided by a knowledgeable guide all the more beneficial.
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Shlomo Z on April 28, 2018, 06:32:37 PM
I'm in Israel. My wife and I want to take a short trip to Portugal to meet up with some relatives who will be visiting there. We thought to fly in to Madrid, seemed a better choice than Lisbon.
I need some advice before I choose my exact dates and flights. E.g., not sure about Shabbat. Some questions re kashrut.

If anyone can email me or whatsapp me and have a conversation with me I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,

Shlomo Zalman
+972 546 720 336 or szjessel at g mael
Title: Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
Post by: Yehoshua on April 28, 2018, 11:55:56 PM
I'm in Israel. My wife and I want to take a short trip to Portugal to meet up with some relatives who will be visiting there. We thought to fly in to Madrid, seemed a better choice than Lisbon.
I need some advice before I choose my exact dates and flights. E.g., not sure about Shabbat. Some questions re kashrut.

If anyone can email me or whatsapp me and have a conversation with me I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,

Shlomo Zalman
+972 546 720 336 or szjessel at g mael
Welcome. Glad you found the forums, buy this is probably not the best place to post that question. Try in the trip planning thread or the Spain or Portugal threads.