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Maine (Acadia National Park #3) Im not that good at writing, so Ill keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: Im trying to visit every National Park in the USA. This was a short trip in October 2018 to see Acadia National Park.

   HomeAway Property- 3/5
  • This was a weekend trip with a few family members. We started our drive Thursday night in Brooklyn and arrived Friday AM. The property was clean and had everything we expected. It was just across the bay from Acadia National Park (which means it was far since we had to circle the bay to get there)

   Brought our own

   Acadia National Park- 5/5
  • Entry was free here with our America the Beautiful Park Pass. This was in October, when fall foliage is at its peak. Words cant describe the beauty. Unbelievable. We first visited the park on Motzei Shabbos to see the stars. Being from Brooklyn, Id never seen the Milky Way before. It was beautiful. We headed to Sand Beach so we could get the best unobstructed views. The next morning, we headed back to the park and started with a drive up Cadillac Mountain. The park was rather full that day, being a Sunday in what is probably their busiest season. We kept on stopping along the way to take in the views and it only got more breathtaking the higher we went. Next, we headed to Precipice Trail. This is the most fun Ive ever had hiking. Its a rock scramble so youre never on even ground- think of rock climbing but with thousand-foot drops at your side and very little to hold onto. Bring along gloves- otherwise your hands will be raw by the time you get to the top. We also forgot to bring along water which had us drinking from streams along the way- not safe at all We then headed back to Sand Beach to see it in its daytime glory, and then started the all night drive back to NY.

September 10, 2019, 05:52:29 PM
Nashville, Tennessee Im not that good at writing, so Ill keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: This trip in September 2018 was during Chol Hamoed Sukkos. We spent one day in Nashville and one day at Mammoth Cave National Park

   PHL to BNA on American Airlines
  • This was an award ticket. 7.5k Amex MR points transferred to BA.
  • We live in Brooklyn but the only available flights were from PHL, so we rented a car in Brooklyn that we could drop-off at PHL (and thereby fly back to NYC)
   BNA to LGA on American Airlines
  • This was an award ticket. 7.5k Amex MR points transferred to BA.

   Hyatt Place Nashville/Brentwood- 3/5

Method of Transport:
   Car Rental- National

   Grins Vegetarian Caf- 3/5
   Aryeh's Kitchen- 4/5
  • Food was absolutely delicious!
   We schlepped along our tiny pop-up Sukkah (which we used all of one time because of the constant rain). American managed to rip the handle off the carrying case, so I filed a report and got reimbursed for the full value of the sukkah

   Ryman Auditorium- 3/5
   Belle Meade Plantation- 3/5
   Lower Broadway
   Parthenon- 1/5
  • Theres nothing to see here
   Hop on Hop Off- 2/5

September 10, 2019, 05:55:52 PM
Kentucky (Mammoth Cave National Park #2) Im not that good at writing, so Ill keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: Im trying to visit every National Park in the USA. This was a short trip in September 2018 to see Mammoth Cave National Park.

Flights and Hotels:
   We drove from Nashville. See my Nashville, Tennessee trip report.

Method of Transport:
   Car Rental- National

   Hyatt Place Bowling Green- 3/5

   Brought our own- along with a tiny pop-up Sukkah

   Mammoth Cave National Park- 3/5
  • Entry to the park grounds are free but all the ranger guided tours (which is pretty much the only thing to do here) require reservations and have a fee. We took three tours in total (the most we could fit into one day). The tours range from one to three hours. Some are fascinating, especially where you have to squeeze through formations to get around.

September 10, 2019, 05:57:07 PM
Prague, Czech Republic Im not that good at writing, so Ill keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: Dan posted cheap flights to Paris in February 2018, so we grabbed some, even though the flights we booked were over 6 months in the future. I believe this is the only time I had flights booked more than a month in advance. We travelled in late August, and spent 4 days in Prague, 2 days in Nice and Monaco, and 4 days in Paris.

   EWR to ORY on British Airways
  • This was a paid ticket- $410.76 per ticket (Thank you Dan!)
  • They moved the timing around on our flights a few times. We tried getting some sort of upgrade/refund for the time changes, especially since we were set to land on a Friday and still wanted to make it to Prague before Shabbos, but unfortunately, we were unsuccessful.
   CDG to PRG on CSA
  • This was a paid ticket
  • We were nervous as it was Friday. At check-in they told us that only one of us had been ticketed, and I would have to go on stand-by. We immediately asked to speak to a supervisor who was able to get me a ticket. She also checked all our bags without weight restrictions for our troubles.
  • CDG was a mess. At the gate there was standing room only, with multiple flights departing from the same gate and frequent delays. Bh we made it onto our flight with enough time to spare before Shabbos.
   PRG to NCE on CSA
  • This was a paid ticket
  • We continued our trip and headed to Nice.

   Hotel King David Prague- 3/5
  • The hotel is outdated and not overly comfortable. Given the choice though, I would probably still choose this over any other hotel in the area, because of the food. They offer a nice spread every morning for breakfast. We also ate the Friday night meal here and it was wonderful.

Method of Transport:

   Friday Night- King David Hotel- 4/5 (for the food)
   Shabbos Lunch- Chabad- 3/5
  • We slept in on Shabbos morning and by the time we made it to Chabad, the meal was over. They were gracious enough to offer us some food. It was standard fair and not very good although Im sure we would have had a nicer experience had we made it there in time.
   U Milo Kosher Italian Dairy- 3/5
  • The restaurant was new at the time, so the service was lacking. The food was ok.
   Chabad Kosher Grill- 3/5
   Chabad's Shelanu Kosher Restaurant- 3/5
  • The food was ok, but the service was SLOW. We wanted to catch the last bus to Terezin to tour the camp, but it took them so long to get our food ready that when we arrived to the bus stop one minute early, we had already missed the bus

   Old Town Square- 5/5
  • This is the first time I truly felt the medieval era. There was something about standing near these foreboding Churches and black Towers that lets you be transported back in time.
   Wittmann Tours- 3/5
  • This was a walking tour of the city that included the Jewish Cemetery (4/5), the Jewish Shuls (4/5), and the Jewish Museum in Prague (4/5). Our tour guide wasnt Jewish, so his stories didnt have much taam although he was in his 90s and had memories from before the war which was both fascinating and sad at the same time (my grandfather lived in Prague before the war and was forced to flee)
   Charles Bridge- 5/5
  • Absolutely beautiful. A lot of history connected to the place, especially to the sculpture of Jesus with a pasuk written around it. Lots of street vendors as well as beggars with their face down supposedly due to the shame at their situation.
   Prague Castle- 3/5
  • We didnt spend enough time here, and the tour was rather dry. I have a feeling that a good tour guide could up that rating to a 5/5
   Hop on hop off tour- 2/5

September 11, 2019, 04:34:49 PM
Panama Im not that good at writing, so Ill keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: We decided on a Tuesday afternoon in July that wed like to get a way for July 4, which was the next day. We definitely overpaid for most things here, but it was an awesome trip.

   JFK to CUN on Interjet
  • This was a paid ticket
   CUN to PTY on Copa Air
  • Award Booking: 17.5k KrisFlyer Miles +42.60 SGD per ticket (These KrisFlyer miles were left over from my trip to Singapore, and were just sitting there waiting to expire)
   PTY to MIA to JFK on AA
  • This was a paid ticket
  • This was actually a Skiplagged ticket, which then continued onto Montreal.

   Le Mridien Panama
  • This hotel was not too close to the Jewish Community, but Ubers were cheap. The traffic is crazy, so I recommend staying close to the Jewish Community so that food is readily accessible.

Method of Transport:
  • These were ridiculously cheap ($2-$3 for a 15-minute trip)

   Panama has a large Jewish community, with a ton of kosher food. We found to be particularly useful.
   Most dairy establishments use Cholov Yisroel for everything except one or two items, so if you are makpid, just ask which dishes are/arent CY.
   Shabbos Meals- Chabad- 4/5
  • The food and company were great, but after reserving our meal here we found out that the local Jewish community offers meals as well (one shul hosts Friday night, and another Shabbos Lunch). It would probably have been more of an experience to mingle with the locals.
   La Spezia- 4/5
  • Delicious Pizza!
   Jeffreys Bakery- 4/5
  • Good breakfast place
   Pita Pan- 3/5
   Restaurant KO- 3/5
   Aroma Restaurant- 4/5
   Aria Restaurant- 3/5
  • Their main dishes were horrid, but the sides and soups were all delicious!
   Most of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leafs are kosher which makes things very convenient, especially in the airport.

   Casco Viejo- 4/5
  • Loved the restorative Spanish charm!
   Museo Del Canal in Casco Viejo- 3/5
  • A somewhat boring museum of the Panama Canal
   Embara Indigenous Tribe- 4/5
  • This tour was arranged by our hotel. While the tribes were fascinating, our tour guide was less so. He was more of a driver than anything else and was unable to answer our numerous questions. Note that this drive is not for anyone who gets carsick. To get to the Embara you need to pass through an unpaved forest and a landfill. I believe this was $280 per group.
   Jewish Tour- 4/5
  • This was an amazing tour of all the shuls and history of the community given by a local community member
   Panama Canal- 3/5
  • We first headed to the canal late one day, and got stuck in horrible traffic, unlike anything Ive seen before. We arrived about two minutes after the ticket booths had closed and were denied entry. We returned again on Friday, and while it was rainy, it was cool to see the ships passing through the locks. On the way back we hit another traffic jam (what were we thinking??), realizing that it was fifteen minutes to the zman, traffic wasnt moving, and we still had a ton of things to get ready, we jumped out of the taxi on the causeway, jumped over the divider onto some grass, and ran the ten minutes to our hotel. That mustve been a site
   San Blas- 5/5
  • This tour was arranged by our hotel. I would dub San Blas the Maldives of the West. The waters here are just wow. The territory falls under the Guna Yala tribe and so its not under the jurisdiction of the Panamanian government. To get here we passed through a mountain region with unpaved roads (my bottom was sore for days after). We then crossed a makeshift border where we presented our passports and an entry fee. The standard tour takes you to some beautiful uninhabited islands to spend a few hours relaxing. We asked our driver to change things up a bit, so he took us to his familys island. It was incredible. They live in extreme poverty, and the entire island is full of houses built out of containers. It was really an eye-opening experience. Also, dont forget to lather in sunscreen. The day started out cloudy, so we didnt think much of it. By the time we got to the city, we were roasted. I believe we paid $165/per person.
   Market- 3/5
  • Dont ask me where this is a random cab driver dropped us off here.

September 11, 2019, 05:05:27 PM
Re: United Arab Emirates
Wow! that is one of the wildest things I've heard in a very long time. Not in any way bad just fascinating and not the p'sak either I'm just astounding that you wanted to and you pulled it off. (pics please) What were you wearing? Everyone knows you can spot a jew from miles away especially the ones that wear a baseball cap with their peyos bulging out, I get you weren't that obvious but still that is...wild!

Well, for the wanting part, it's one of the most beautiful modern buildings in the world, so that's that.
As for the looking Jewish part, we definitely got that part down pat :). They have no issue with Jews, and couldn't care less what we looked like. At the entrance to the mosque they have dressing rooms and since our ankles weren't covered, they kindly requested us to change into Muslim garb (they provide). It was one of the highlights for sure :)

September 17, 2019, 04:38:46 PM
Re: Important: Check your no rush credits, many are expiring on Friday 11/2 Just got $34 in no-rush shipping credits expiring on 11/9 converted to promotional credit. At first the agent said that these can't be converted (I specifically asked), when I asked if there's absolutely nothing he can do to help me, he agreed to convert them.
November 06, 2019, 04:02:23 PM
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January 21, 2020, 05:58:45 PM
The Chillul Hashem here is heartbreaking to me

March 17, 2020, 05:42:30 PM