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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: skyguy918 on September 12, 2016, 04:49:11 PM

Title: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: skyguy918 on September 12, 2016, 04:49:11 PM
Here we go, my first large trip report (I’ve done a few small things here and there, but this is my first full trip recap effort). There's next to nothing about Savannah on DDF, and we really enjoyed our trip, so I figured I'd put as much detail (and photos) as I could.

NOTE: I obviously set up the pictures and captions on my desktop, and I'm reasonably certain some of my formatting won't work well on a phone or tapa, and possibly even on some desktop's depending on screen size. I'd love to hear feedback from people as to whether the layout worked well from whatever device they viewed it from.

Planning
Having enrolled myself and my wife in the JetBlue Points Match promo (not enough SPG points to do the kids too), we had to decide where to go and for how long. Last resort would be the in-and-outs that many DDF’ers seem to have done, to wherever the cheapest option would be, but we much preferred an actual trip where we could visit a city. But, since we were leaving our other 2 children with my in-laws, we couldn't be away for too long. We actually booked Charleston first, but quickly decided to switch to Savannah for a number of reasons. As far as timing, we would fly flew in Tuesday morning and out Wednesday evening – basically giving us 2 days and 1 night. I booked window and aisle for both flights, hoping to bring the infant car seat on the plane. Our flights were as follows:

8/23 7:05AM JFK-SAV
8/24 5:50PM SAV-JFK

Flight and Arrival in Savannah
Tuesday morning we were up and out nice and early for our 7:05 AM flight, taking an Uber to JFK for free with a referral credit I discovered I still had. Unfortunately, we forgot the cooler bag with what was supposed to be that day’s lunch at home. Instead, we picked up a sandwich and a salad from Fresko at the CIBO in T5 right after security. I’m curious if they might have had other choices at the other CIBO’s, because I did not like the selection. It was a rip-off, but I guess that’s what happens when you have to buy food at the airport.

The flight was full, so no extra seat for baby, but b”h he was extremely well behaved. After a short flight, we arrived at SAV. It’s a nice little airport with some local character. All the rental companies have the cars on-site, so we proceeded to the Dollar desk, where I had reserved the cheapest option - under $40 for 2 days. The woman at the desk was trying to get everyone to upgrade, and not to a level above, but to the biggest thing she could sell you on. She said “there’s no trunk in the car you’re getting, how about a Jeep instead.” That sounded bad enough to upgrade, but we figured, let’s go out and see what it is, and come back if we can’t squeeze in. Lo and behold it’s a Chevy Cruze (that’s a compact, the category of the Civic, Corolla, etc. – not even Chevy’s smallest car), with plenty of room in the trunk for all our stuff. It was also extremely well equipped for such a budget car (and such a budget rental price!).

Forsyth Park
We had some time to kill before the first real item on our itinerary, so we stopped at Publix by the airport for some snacks and headed into Savannah to squeeze in Forsyth Park. It’s a nice little park, and you immediately get a sense of the type of city you’re in. This is not NYC, it's got a very southern feel and an air of history about it. Especially striking are the colorful houses facing the park, something that can be found all over the historic parts of Savannah. Having said that, there’s not much to do or see there, and the trolley tours (more on that later) usually cover it too. It was nice to stop by given our schedule, but not a must see attraction. The northern half of the park is covered with live oaks (the state tree), with paths surrounding a very pretty fountain. The southern half is mostly open fields, with a really tall confederate memorial smack in the middle, and a memorial for the Spanish-American War at the southern tip. In between, there's a playground, a 'fragrant garden' and a cafe. After 15-20 minutes, we’d seen the sight and moved on to the next attraction.

(L)Plaque commemorating the naming of the park, right in front of (R)the big fountain featured in the northern portion of the park.

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/9/8110/29549976105_2c23309b62_n.jpg) (https://c2.staticflickr.com/9/8110/29549976105_6ed6abba9f_o.jpg)   (https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8162/29440709832_748a5d44e8_n.jpg) (https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8162/29440709832_87d197e108_o.jpg)

(L)Crepe myrtle with a few flowers, dwarfed by live oak, covered in Spanish moss (which seemed to cover nearly every tree). (R)Walled 'fragrant' garden

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8322/28927220603_7983f133de_n.jpg) (https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8322/28927220603_68c14a5c3a_o.jpg)   (https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8021/29440709262_36d56a5a53_n.jpg) (https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8021/29440709262_02b4928a4a_o.jpg)

(L)Little bird pond/fountain in the middle of the fragrant garden. Not much there in the heat of summer's end, but I did find this one (R)rose.

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(L)Confederate memorial. (R)Spanish-American war memorial.

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8337/28945694443_97d32631b3.jpg) (https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8337/28945694443_0a594c83a2_o.jpg)   (https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7532/29459492982_6c851d1b56.jpg) (https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7532/29459492982_9350242562_o.jpg)

Just to give you a sense of the very different vibe of the area, here are some of the houses lining the park:

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8426/29279065970_79e941d10e_m.jpg) (https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8426/29279065970_4b212e71e6_o.jpg)   (https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8151/29459492892_01258157b2_m.jpg) (https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8151/29459492892_ccbdd45d2a_o.jpg)   (https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8022/29279064540_013e52191a_m.jpg) (https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8022/29279064540_0f180c61f9_o.jpg)

Dolphin Boat Tour

Our next stop was a dolphin boat tour. Savannah is situated on the Savannah River, but fairly close to the mouth where it flows into the Atlantic. As a result, there are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that hang out downriver of the city. I had first seen a company that operates out of Savannah proper, but it was twice the price of all the other companies I eventually found, which launch from Tybee Island. If Hilton Head is Savannah's nearby resort town, Tybee is its nearby beach town - no fancy chain hotels, no fancy vacation communities. We were planning on visiting Tybee anyway, so it was a no-brainer to drive out that way for the dolphin tour as well. We booked an 11:30 tour with Captain Derek's Dolphin Adventure (http://tybeedolphinadventure.com/) - $16/person after tax for a 60-90 minute ride. They let us bring the stroller on without a problem, though I had to carry it to where we sat as the boat is not quite big enough for maneuvering the stroller.

They operate with a captain piloting the boat, and another guy who basically attempts to entertain with jokes, and points out the dolphins when they start appearing. We saw a good number of dolphins at a distance, until finally a pair of them decided to come right up to the boat and say hi. They also speed the boat up at one point to make waves, hoping to have the dolphins 'surf' in the wake, but they were unsuccessful getting the dolphins to do that on our tour. It's a nice ride providing some relief from the heat and humidity, and it was definitely cool to see the dolphins up close. If I were to do something like this again though, I'd make sure to bring something faster than my point and shoot, as you have to be quick to catch the dolphins in frame.

As we were boarding the tour, we saw (L)this dredging vessel coming upriver, followed by (R)a container ship. The guide later told us that they're doing dredging work to deepen the channel for even bigger container ships, and when there's a storm coming, they bring all the ships into the relative come of the river a day or two before.

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(L)Our first dolphin sighting! After getting a bunch of not too great shots from distance, (R)eventually they decided to come hang out near the boat for a few minutes.

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8361/29525733951_e77211c3d5_n.jpg) (https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8361/29525733951_d712858187_o.jpg)    (https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8424/29316015500_b83001c03c_n.jpg) (https://c5.staticflickr.com/9/8424/29316015500_d0013ebcde_o.jpg)

Fort Pulaski, built after the War of 1812 as part of the US coastal defense system, saw significant fighting in the civil war (that's why the walls are so scarred, you can zoom in to see).

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(L)Cockpur Island Lighthouse, the smallest lighthouse in Georgia. At low tide you can walk from the fort, but as you can see it's covered by water in the middle of the day. (R)Tybee Island Lighthouse, the largest lighthouse in Georgia, and one of seven colonial era lighthouses still standing today.

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8367/28980796954_4c3572ce08_m.jpg) (https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8367/28980796954_62193693de_o.jpg)   (https://c6.staticflickr.com/9/8158/29616970565_8d63a2f7c6_n.jpg) (https://c6.staticflickr.com/9/8158/29616970565_be71a9c8e4_o.jpg)     

(L)Just a nice shot from the marina looking back over the marshes at a storm that thankfully never hit us. (R)Someone on the boat pointed out a rainbow in the cloud and this was the best shot I was able to get.

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8126/29526363951_fc4599cdd2_n.jpg) (https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8126/29526363951_7ae9037668_o.jpg)    (https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8145/28980798534_8b28e1bb4f_n.jpg) (https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8145/28980798534_ded079d2d0_o.jpg)

Tybee Island

After the tour, we continued on to the rest of Tybee Island. We stopped at the North Beach parking lot, where my wife went to check on the conditions on the beach. It was too hot for the baby, and too not-deserted for me, but she did see a sign that made us realize we'd seen Tybee Island in nature shows, as it's a significant nesting site for sea turtles. The lighthouse is right by that lot, as is a museum in an old fort (Fort Scriven), but neither were open, so we moved on. I had seen something about a pier and pavilion at Tybee's South Beach, so we headed that way to check it out. Parking is $2/hour, but we didn't have quarters, so I ended up paying the $4 cc minimum. We thought we'd get our money's worth by also visiting the marine science center, which is right next to the pavilion, but we ended up deciding to skip it in the interest of time. The pier and pavilion were worthwhile in their own right.

(L)Food court under the pavilion. (R)Fishing pier past the pavilion, stretching out into the ocean.

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Semi-panoramic view from the fishing pier of the pavilion, the beach, and the resorts in the background.

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We took in the views and sea breeze for a half hour or so before heading back to the car and back into Savannah.

Congregation Mickve Israel
Next stop was Congregation Mickve Israel, the 3rd oldest Jewish congregation in America (after Spanish and Portuguese in NY, and Touro in RI). They have tours that last around 30-45 minutes, with a $7/person suggested donation (they made it seem mandatory though, which was fine by me as I was planning to pay that amount anyway). The tour takes you into the shul and then to a single room museum they made in a relatively modern part of the building that also houses the office, gift shop, meeting rooms, etc. I did not realize this beforehand, but it may be halachically problematic to enter the shul itself (my Rov told me after that I shouldn't have gone in), so AYLOR beforehand if you plan to go. They seat you in the shul while the tour guide talks about the history of Jews in Savannah and the congregation itself. Then you go up by the aron and where they open it to show the sifrei torah. Finally they bring you up to the museum room to see all the historical artifacts they have curated for tourists.

The history is remarkable, as the Jewish presence in Georgia dates back nearly to the founding of the colony. This congregation didn't officially become reform until 1904, though it seems like it was fairly progressive as time went on, and very integrated into it's surroundings. The building itself highlights this with its Gothic style, more reminiscent of a church than a shul, and artifacts in the museum that show the role of congregants in Savannah, and more generally American, society.

Not my photo, but I wanted to highlight just how church-like the building is from the outside (you can click through to see the photographer's flickr page).

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5110/5752869762_19fa0299d2.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/9LmXKG)     

(L)Sefer torah which was brought over by the first Jews to come to Georgia in 1733. (R)Note from Robert E. Lee to one of the congregants.

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(L)Front of the shul, including aron and bimah. (C)Looking back from near the aron on the rest of the shul. Note the organ above the doors in the back. (R) One of the 8 large stained glass windows covering the sides of the building.

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8016/29527988942_dee1bb93ce_n.jpg) (https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8016/29527988942_ba9efd49cb_o.jpg)    (https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8035/29012600384_de37878e22_n.jpg) (https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8035/29012600384_84493090fb_o.jpg)    (https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8244/29527989142_d04f2f65cf_n.jpg) (https://c7.staticflickr.com/9/8244/29527989142_1392a1b9a0_o.jpg)

(L)Shofar, havdalah set, haggadah, shabbos lamp, siddurim, and megillah. (C)Ceremonial helmet of Rabbi George Solomon, who was the Rabbi of Mickve Israel from 1903-1945, and served as a chaplain in both world wars. (R)Menorah at middle right and mohel's set (which was brought over on the boat with the Torah above) at bottom left.

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8183/29014576183_bd88e8e5a3_n.jpg) (https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8183/29014576183_f45d95a033_o.jpg)   (https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8016/29640658395_6b79dd1412_n.jpg) (https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8016/29640658395_0ae0a6f3de_o.jpg)   (https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8579/29527989002_61b30529c7_n.jpg) (https://c3.staticflickr.com/9/8579/29527989002_bc830c8f50_o.jpg)

It was now late enough to check-in, so we headed to the hotel to get settled before mincha/maariv and dinner.

Part 2 will cover the hotel, kosher food and minyan, trolley tour and City Market.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: Yaalili on September 12, 2016, 08:03:23 PM
Nice start. thanks.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: zow on September 12, 2016, 09:34:28 PM
Nice.
What's the issue with entering the shul? Is there something that could be perceived as avodah zarah ?
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: skyguy918 on September 12, 2016, 10:56:51 PM
Nice.
What's the issue with entering the shul? Is there something that could be perceived as avodah zarah ?
Along those lines. It wasn't a very long conversation with my Rov. My wife had remembered toward the end of the tour that she had once learned siomething about it being a problem to enter the sanctuary of a reform or conservative shul. When we got back, I asked my Rov, and he said if it's still used for services you shouldn't go in.

R' Moshe seems to speak about it in a few places:
http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=920&st=&pgnum=177 (אות ו)
http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=918&st=&pgnum=330&hilite= (יז second paragraph)
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: zow on September 12, 2016, 11:37:36 PM
Along those lines. It wasn't a very long conversation with my Rov. My wife had remembered toward the end of the tour that she had once learned siomething about it being a problem to enter the sanctuary of a reform or conservative shul. When we got back, I asked my Rov, and he said if it's still used for services you shouldn't go in.

R' Moshe seems to speak about it in a few places:
http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=920&st=&pgnum=177 (אות ו)
http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=918&st=&pgnum=330&hilite= (יז second paragraph)
Hi. Thanks very much. I never heard of that and my Hebrew is not strong enough to comprehend what you sent. But I will ask my LOR, who I know is a big fan of R Moshe.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: skyguy918 on September 12, 2016, 11:43:47 PM
Hi. Thanks very much. I never heard of that and my Hebrew is not strong enough to comprehend what you sent. But I will ask my LOR, who I know is a big fan of R Moshe.
Even if you understand every word, better to ask your Rov. I don't get the sense that this would be an absolute universal psak, but what do I know.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: tageed-lee on September 13, 2016, 10:27:25 AM
Thanks for sharing! I've been to SAV and enjoyed as well...
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: mgoldhammer18 on September 15, 2016, 10:19:56 AM
Very nice.  Looking forward to part 2.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: yslkwd on September 21, 2016, 12:29:23 AM
Nice job!
I was just there. The forums don't have much else on Savana.
We also went into the shul we didn't realize it was reform till after. Beautiful shul but very sad
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: LoLo on September 21, 2016, 11:18:59 AM
Great report, thanks for taking the time to write it. Looking fwd to the rest.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: @Yehuda on September 21, 2016, 02:52:48 PM
Nice report! Great to have stuff on places that aren't discussed as much. I hope you added it to the trip reports wiki and the Savannah wiki (if it exists). Didn't know there were actual beautiful Shuls in America! :P Why is there an issue? Is it not Orthodox?
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: skyguy918 on September 21, 2016, 03:46:22 PM
Nice report! Great to have stuff on places that aren't discussed as much. I hope you added it to the trip reports wiki and the Savannah wiki (if it exists). Didn't know there were actual beautiful Shuls in America! :P Why is there an issue? Is it not Orthodox?
Posted to the TR master thread with a link to here and added to the wiki there. Posted to the Savannah thread with a link to here.

You'd be surprised. There are actually lots of old, beautiful shuls in cities all across America, but many are pretty much empty these days. A lot of them are conservative or reform as well. Mickve Israel is currently an active reform congregation - edited to make that clear guess it's too late to edit.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: @Yehuda on September 21, 2016, 03:54:05 PM
Posted to the TR master thread with a link to here and added to the wiki there. Posted to the Savannah thread with a link to here.

You'd be surprised. There are actually lots of old, beautiful shuls in cities all across America, but many are pretty much empty these days. A lot of them are conservative or reform as well. Mickve Israel is currently an active reform congregation - edited to make that clear guess it's too late to edit.
Great. Cool to know, shame Orthodox congs can't figure out how to spend their millions to make an actually beautiful Shul. Yep - too late to edit without getting a mod involved.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: Matovu on November 21, 2016, 10:02:31 AM
possible for part 2 ?
please
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: skyguy918 on November 21, 2016, 11:05:59 AM
possible for part 2 ?
please

I had part 2a written up - just the hotel. I'll dump that here for you and hopefully get around to the rest soon. I didn't put captions on the photos yet, but this group is pretty self explanatory.

The parts I didn't write up yet would be about the Orthodox shul, the food, trolley tour and City Market (plus some outlet shopping by the airport).



Hotel
We stayed our one night in Savannah at the Westin Savannah Harbor, and we were very happy with it. It's located on the riverfront, but not on the Savannah side. Rather it's on an island directly across from the Savannah riverfront, next to the convention center. This turned out to be a great location. It's quiet and relaxing, with great views of the river and of Savannah itself (something you wouldn't get with the hotels on the Savannah side of the river). Being on the other side was not a big deal at all, as it's a short 5 minute drive back into the historic district, or a 5 minute free ferry ride that runs pretty frequently.

It's a category 4 (10k/night) which we booked on a relative's SPG platinum account. I had read mixed reports on this hotel's treatment of plats, and I had instructions from my relative not to press for anything not offered. Thankfully that was moot. They upgraded us to a river facing corner suite on the 14th floor (out of 16). It doesn't precisely fit any of the room descriptions on their site, but it seemed to be a presidential suite minus the balconies. They also appear to have waived the resort fee, and gave us a voucher for free continental breakfast. Parking is free (or technically included in the resort fee we didn't pay), which is another plus in comparison to hotels in Savannah proper. All in all, a really suite (pun intended) deal for 10k SPG.

The actual bedroom itself was nice, but fairly standard (the only decent pic I took of it has my wife and baby in it, so I used the most similar photo from their site I could find, which had a balcony instead of the regular window we had). They have the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower - as expected in a Westin - as well as a 42" flatscreen and a fridge in the dresser. Not expected was the TV in the bathroom mirror.

The suite was set up with 2 different room numbers, and a connecting door like you'd have in actual connecting rooms. Not sure the purpose of that, as the second room didn't have beds and can't really be used as 2 separate rooms. The living room area had a second flatscreen and plenty of seating, with a pullout couch for extra sleeping space. The crib wasn't there when we arrived, but they brought it up right away with a quick call. We barely needed the kitchenette, but it was nice to have the extra fridge (this one had a freezer section) and the icemaker next to it. There was also a wine fridge, dishes and cutlery, dishwasher, microwave, and Keurig. We ate our supper at the dining table, which had seats for 6. The suite portion also had an additional bathroom (no TV in the mirror though).

The pool looked really nice, and we would have loved to take a swim at night, but between being exhausted from a long day and the relative crowds at the pool at night, we weren't able to. Instead, we went down in the morning right after breakfast, when it was totally empty. After that, we attempted to take the ferry across for a quick look around River St, but we must have mistimed it. Instead we packed up and checked out.

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Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: Matovu on November 22, 2016, 07:40:05 PM
Thanks so much
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: morgs on January 24, 2017, 12:40:31 AM
Hi skyguy
Any possibility on finishing up the last part of this TR abt food and remaining activities- would be super helpful even with basic info...
Thanks in advance!!
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: skyguy918 on January 24, 2017, 12:16:03 PM
Hi skyguy
Any possibility on finishing up the last part of this TR abt food and remaining activities- would be super helpful even with basic info...
Thanks in advance!!
The shul is called Bnai Brith Jacob (http://bbjsynagogue.com/) (BBJ). It's also a really old congregation, dating back to 1861. They have 1 minyan for shachris, and a shkia mincha/maariv every day. Not sure what the neighborhood is called, but it's south of the areas of interest. Was a non-issue getting there for minyan from the Westin, despite being a fair distance away, as it's nearly all highway driving with little to no traffic. I'd say it was 15 minutes each way - and would probably be similar from any of the hotels in the historic district. There happen to also be lots of cheaper hotels right near the shul - both lower end chain hotels that can be had with points, and super cheap inn/motel types. It's close enough to not be an issue getting to the attractions and can save you some money.

The only food option is BBJ Food Service (http://kosherfoodsavannah.com/). Basically the caterer for the area, but they do individual meal orders. You can order online, and pick it up from the shul's kitchen/dining hall. I just arranged to pick it up after mincha/maariv - the guy davens there anyway. They do have online ordering, but it's probably better to call them, confirm when you can pick it up, etc.

We really enjoyed the food. I had the beef brisket with candied yams and green beans. $14, very tasty and certainly pretty fillign for that price. Pretty sure my wife had stuffed cabbage - no recollection on the sides. Whatever it was, it was good and not too expensive. We ended up getting late lunch there the next day too, but I don't really remember what we had.

On the plane ride back, we sat next to a girl from the neighborhood, and she told us that there's also a Krispy Kreme and a Coldstone.

As far as other activities, we did Ogelthorpe Tours trolley. It's open sided (ie no real window, just posts holding up the roof, so you can see the sites better) They drive around, with a guide telling you the history and significance of the city and various landmarks within it. We had a Groupon or something similar - don't remember the exact cost, but it was very reasonable. We chose to get off at City Market at the end of the tour, and browsed the shops there. If we would've had a little more time, we'd have hung out a bit on River St as well, but that time ended up going towards a longer break for lunch, some outlet shopping near the airport, and just a less rushed ending to the trip.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: morgs on January 29, 2017, 12:17:52 AM
Thank you!
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: zow on January 29, 2017, 11:50:04 PM
Thanks for the TR. Savannah has been on our bucket list for a while so this will help us.
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: ckmk47 on January 30, 2017, 01:38:38 AM

Thank you.  Informative without going on too long on tangents that don't interest me.  ;D
Title: Re: Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
Post by: davidmal on January 31, 2017, 12:20:39 PM
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What a room!