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Re: Which/How Many Commercial Airports Have You Flown Through?
North America:
32 Domestic + 138 Intl = 170 Total
How can you not have been to Boston?! When are you coming for a visit?

August 10, 2017, 09:33:18 PM
Re: HOT!!!! AC ERROR FARES!! I got a pleasant surprise when booking BOS-PEK for me, DW, DD1 and DD2. Google Flights had it for about $200 pp but when I went to ticket, the price dropped to about $150 pp. I thought for sure the repricing was going to mean the deal was dead but in reality, it got even better. Anyone else have this?
August 27, 2017, 01:15:11 PM
Re: Gift Card and gas Promo at Stop & Shop or Giant
Next week, Nov. 3-9:
2x on Amex GCs.
Thanks.  Always appreciate that you take the time to post these advance notices.

October 28, 2017, 11:30:00 PM
Re: Amazon-glad storage bags(gallon)-108-as low as $3.59
yes very simple just go out of taptalk into Chrome page and back into Taptalk very simple.
You must be way more techie than I am. Would you mind walking me through?
Go out to where?
Open the Chrome app?
Then I have to navigate to DDF?
Not so simple.

November 02, 2017, 10:39:10 AM
Re: Honeymoon: Cape Town, SA - Safari - Mauritius I nominate for best first TR.
Thanks for all the excellent writing and photos and stories.
Wishing you and Esther a beautiful life together.

November 06, 2017, 01:29:34 PM
Re: Dubai Master Thread
Dune safari is nice and fun, enjoy your trip.
Thanks.  Gotta also say that the Park Hyatt Dubai absolutely rocks (as others have said here).

November 12, 2017, 02:03:17 PM
zow’s father-daughter Dubai TR Overview:
We snagged the August 2017 AC error fares (~$247 pp RT, including the seat assignment fees for the long-haul legs) for BOS-DXB via YYZ. Spent four nights in Dubai, including Shabbat. Sightseeing, relaxing, and hopefully helping my daughter to appreciate the people, land and culture of a different part of the world. We left Boston Tuesday after work/school; arrived in DXB Wednesday evening; visited Abu Dhabi Thursday; did dune bashing tour Friday; chill Shabbat at the Park Hyatt; Dubai Mall and Fountain Show motshash; Jumeira Mosque, Burj al Arab and, finishing with sunset from Burj Khalifa on Sunday, before departing DXB at midnight Sunday night.

Flights and Airports:
Tuesday afternoon BOS-YYZ
  AC departs BOS from a sterile alcove in Terminal B, with no direct lounge access. 
Fortunately, I learned that I could access the main Terminal B area with my AC boarding pass and use the Admirals Club. Does mean need to go through TSA twice but not a big deal with PreCheck and short lines. 
Had about 90-min layover in YYZ, enjoyed the PP lounge, though not much kosher there.
Tuesday night YYZ-DXB
  No matter how you look at it, it is a long flight, especially in Y. The flight was totally full. We had reserved the window and aisle, but gave up the aisle when Mrs. Middle arrived.  The KSML (Hamasbia, IIRC) were edible.  The crew was particularly kind and accommodating.   They were very understanding when I asked them if I could daven in the galley area.  Slept about 4-5 hours (not great sleep but adequate) before davening shacharit.  Then watched TV most of remainder. Davened mincha. Arrived into DXB.
  Immigration line was long. It must have been 25+ minutes.  But no issue whatsoever from the friendly Emirati border agent. On my passport there is an Israel stamp (from 2010–they don’t stamp any more) and the yellow security stickers on the problem.  My daughter’s name is very problem. 
  Got our luggage , walked through the green “nothing to declare” line, and voila into the arrival hall.
  Picked up our Hertz rental (had reserved via PL) — they have a desk just past customs.  Cars are parked in the lot just across the roadway—in a short-term Parking lot area.  Got 2018 Mazda 6. About $40/day, all in.
  Grabbed a SIM card from du    For about $15, I think I got 20 SMS, 20 min of calling (anywhere) but only 200MB data, which was gone in the blink of an eye.  (But no worries, as we mostly used WiFi, and we were actually able to use our regular Sprint — free low speed data and $0.20 min for calls.)
(Lodging and activities will follow in subsequent posts.)

We got to the airport way early—7pm for a midnight flight. Check in didn’t open until 9pm —bummer.  But no worries, daughter and I hung at Starbucks (FYI Can’t use Starbucks app/card in UAE.).
After about 90 minutes helping  my daughter learn how to manipulate equations for velocity, acceleration, gravity, etc., we checked in, made our way through security and immigration, and then to the Priority Pass Lounge.
  Immigration was again a breeze.  The agent was friendly, kidded with me a bit (I said we had a great time and wish we didn’t have to go home ... he said we can make sure you don’t get on your flight!). Makes such a difference in life when people interact with you with kindness. I mean, would it cost TSA agents or US CBP anything to be nice, or at least cordial? I know they have a job to do, but they are also ambassadors for our country.  [End rant.]

We spent about 90 minutes in the Priority Pass Lounge. It was very nice.  Not much for strictly kosher diners.  They did have little cups of Baskin Robbins ice cream. They did not have the StarK hechsher, so I didn’t says only kosher if the hechsher is present.  :(. Nice bar and nice shower. 

One comment about Dubai airport.  Dan made a point of saying and showing how stunning it is. He was in the Emirates Terminal. I was in the other international terminal (all airlines except EK). It was fine, but didn’t strike me as gorgeous or stunning. 

Flight home was full. Watched a pretty good movie in Hebrew with English subtitles.  The Women’s Balcony. Chatted with some very nice FAs. Meals were from Thailand Kosher and were fair, edible.  The chicken curry was pretty good but not hot enough.  Didn’t realize until after I opened.   Slept about 5 hours.

Unfortunately flight was about 45 min delayed out of DXB unclear why.  We ended up missing our connection in YYZ, so we went to the Priority Pass Lounge for about an hour, showered and davened.  Lounge is very basic, not nearly as nice as DXB, but functional. 

Got back to BOS, I Ubered home, daughter changed and got her to school and me to work by noon!   A little tired and jet lagged but we both had great stories to tell!

  Hope to write future installments on what we actually did while in Dubai, and a description of the PH, with some pix....

November 19, 2017, 05:38:55 PM
Re: No Trader Joe's Turkeys?
Yes, that's the way I refer to her.

Did not realize that was so uncommon.
Never used it as an appellation, but I like it and will try it out.
Costco has Empire frozen $2.69, if I recall correctly. (Just call me AC :)))

November 21, 2017, 05:15:55 PM
Re: zow’s father-daughter Dubai TR Thursday Activities:
Our first full day.
We checked out of the Ramada and hopped in the car. Weather was great, high 80s and clear.
We toured the gold souk and spice souk. 
Like Dan, we struggled to find parking and, in the end, capitulated and paid 20AED to park in a lot across from an entrance to the Gold souk. 

We were not particularly impressed with the souks. We had no intention of buying anything.  Lots of jewelry stores. Also many stores with fake stuff (Rolex, Louis Vuitton, etc). Every few minutes a storekeeper would come up to us to try to get us to look at his stuff.  Nothing overly aggressive, just a little tiresome.  Compared to the souk in the Arab Q of the Old City of Jerusalem, or even the Machene Yehuda, the souks in Dubai seemed more commercialized, more touristy, albeit cleaner and less crowded. 
If you have seen souks elsewhere, I would say you could skip these souks in Dubai.

We then drove to the PH, checked in, had our first BYOK meal, and then drove to Abu Dhabi and the Sheik Zayed Mosque.  Dan and others have written extensively about the mosque, and our pictures — as much as I like them — are nothing special compared to others’.  Still, a few words and our images:

The mosque is huge and absolutely gorgeous.  Even more so in person than in pictures.  It seems to dwarf structures like Notre Dame and Sagrada Familia. The white marble is breathtaking.  Walking around barefoot (required to remove shoes) is a very cool experience (especially since I don’t even walk fully barefoot in my own home! I mean, what if there is a shard of glass or something in the kitchen floor?!).

The tour was worthwhile. It was very focused on the structure of the mosque itself, and only superficially on the practice of Islam.  I did learn that women have the same “chiyuv” to pray as men, but not as essential for them to pray with a kahal.  Men and women are separated, ostensibly so the women feel more comfortable (not sure I’m buying that explanation). Women can lead prayers for other women but not for men.

The furnishings of the prayer halls are amazing. One chandelier weighs 12.5 tons. The oriental rug is the largest in the world.  There are linear depressions in the carpeting that help the supplicants to align shoulder to shoulder as they pray. 
They face Mecca (they call it the Quibla direction), of course, which got me thinking about which direction I should be facing when davening in Dubai.  I haven’t yet asked my LOR, but from what I read, as people in Israel know and do, the custom is to face Jerusalem, by the closest route.  So, henceforth, I faced almost due WEST!

Back to the tour and the mosque.  We had arrived around 4:15 and had to wait around for the 5:00 tour.  We could have arrived at 4:45 and been fine.  It was nice being there through sunset to see the different colors and light effects on the facades.  I would have loved to see it in full night lighting but we were too tired to stay any longer.

I should also say that they provide abaya for women and white robe for men if not dressed modestly.   Women — even unmarried girls! — need to Cover their hair. And women must cover knees and elbows.  Men couldn’t wear shorts, IIRC.
Entry is free of charge.  There is a metal detector at entrance. 

Would have liked to spend some more time in AUH. The Louvre has just opened days earlier.  My daughter was not interested, and I’m not even sure we could have gotten tickets.  I also considered going for a fancy gold leaf cappuccino at the Emirates Palace. I was intrigued when Lucky posted his pics and story.  But in reality, I wouldn’t drink it out of their beautiful china cup and saucer, and i think that asking them to put it in a paper or glass cup not only defeats the purpose but might even offend.   Not to mention require me to explain myself.  So, as a compromise, I have promised myself a fancy cappuccino next time we visit the WAJ.

Daughter isn’t a big fan of roller coasters, and I’m not either. So, we skipped Ferrari world, too.

Even though our whole trip to Abu Dhabi was just for the Mosque, it was definitely worthwhile.    We drove back to the PH and called ahead so our dinner would ready for us upon our arrival.

Next day’s activity: Arabian Adventures dune bashing, camel ride, and sand boarding. (Coming soon, IYH).

November 21, 2017, 10:31:53 PM
Re: Staples $25 off $100 with Visa Checkout
You are correct, you need to use Visa checkout to get the $25 off.
I get to the checkout screen with the GC in the basket, proceed through Visa Checkout, and it actually says, "get $25 off $100 with Visa Checkout," but it doesn't take the money off the total.

November 27, 2017, 12:01:27 PM