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Road trip from Chicago-Memphis-New Orleans-St Louis This is my first trip report so I hope I did it right but we had a great time so I figured it could help people by sharing:
Monday- Drove from Chicago for  4 hours and slept in Salem, IL at Holiday Inn express. We loved the Holiday Inn Express because the rooms are clean with duvet covers, they give us extra cots  and cribs without a problem and my kids really enjoyed their breakfast buffet with tons of kosher options like oatmeal, bagels with cream cheese, lots of cereals, chocolate milk, yogurts and more.
Tuesday- Got started early and drove for 4 hours and made it by the skin of our teeth to Memphis’ famous Peabody Hotel. Every morning at the Peabody Hotel they have the duck walk ceremony where the famous ducks that live in the hotel parade down the red carpet to their fountain in the center of the  very fancy hotel lobby. The walk is complete with a duck master in his royal attire. The lobby is packed with people so it’s hard to unless you have a good spot, kids are allowed to sit on both sides of the red carpet. After we toured the hotel and the roof where the ducks go to sleep at night we moved on. Our next activity was Mud Island which is is an exact replica of the Mississippi River and goes for a half a mile starting from “Minnesota” all the way to the “Gulf of Mexico” with the actual Mississippi River flowing throughout. It was a enjoyable and educational for the whole family. I highly recommend it. After a nice lunch at Mud Island overlooking the Mississippi River we moved on to the great pyramid in the middle of Memphis AKA Bass Pro Shop. When I was doing my research on activities in Memphis I kept on seeing people recommending this Bass Pro Shop, we are not big outdoorsy people so I didn’t have high hopes for this. Boy was I wrong, when you enter the pyramid you are essentially entering another land with trees and bears, alligators and scuba divers, boats and motorcycles. There is just so much to see.I let my kids loose to explore it all. They have a shooting range, bowling alley, hotel and the worlds largest indoor glass elevator that takes you to the top of the pyramid for a view of the whole city. We could’ve stayed much longer but the clock was ticking and we needed to move on to our next activity. We picked up some baked goods at Rikki’s Cookie Corner (which also sells pizza every Tuesday) and drove to the Memphis JCC. It was no easy task getting a guest pass for the JCC but when there’s a will there’s a way. The JCC has a great pool complete with two big water slides, diving board, lazy river and two shallow kids pools with slides and play areas. The best part was they have a DELICIOUS kosher BBQ restaurant in the JCC called Holy Cow which you can eat poolside! After leaving the JCC we did a little drive by of Elvis Presley’s home and airplane and drove two more hours until we got to Jackson, Mississippi where we slept at our favorite hotel the Holiday Inn Express.
Wednesday- After filling up from the breakfast buffet we drove two more hours until we were in Louisiana. We signed up for an Alligator swamp tour called Cajun Encounters. It was over 90 degrees but the boat was shaded so we were okay. Our tour guide was very engaging and informative about the homes and land surrounding the swamp and how they were effected by the Hurricane. He even fed the alligators by holding the food on a stick and the alligator almost jumped into our boat! Definitely something the kids won’t forget. Next we went to Storyland Park in New Orleans which is a very cute park with tons of nursery tale statues to look at and play with. For dinner we unfortunately decided to go to Casablanca which is a Moroccan restaurant and definitely not the place to go with kids. I would suggest going to Kosher Cajun which is around the corner. After dinner we checked into our hotel which was in the French Quarter. After the kids went swimming in the hotels pool they conked out and we had a babysitter watch them while we checked out the nightlife of the city. We walked all over the French quarter and ended up at the uber famous Cafe Du Monde, those beignets were amazing.
Thursday- We drove to Waffles on Maple which my kids and I loved, my husband not so much. We took a little drive by tour of the cemeteries in New Orleans which is interesting because nobody is buried underground due to the flooding so you can see the difference between where the rich people are buried and the poor people. We got back to the French Quarter and had a private tour geared towards kids of the French quarter. Our tour guide was so great and engaging for the kids, she brought games and kosher food all related to the history of New Orleans. I decided to switch our plans a bit since we all enjoyed Memphis so much to drive back and get a quick swim at the JCC and dinner from Holy Cow.
Friday- after staying just outside of Memphis we drove until we got to St. Louis which we were staying for shabbos. I heard great things about the City Museum so we decided to check it out. Well I am not sure how to describe the museum so I would just suggest that everyone with kids between the ages of 3-21 must go there! You can and SHOULD spend the entire day there. If you go in the summer there’s a whole climbing area outside that can’t be done in the winter.
Shabbos- we had a very nice shabbos in St Louis and headed home to Chicago but not before going to Shnucks and getting their .50 cent donuts...

May 02, 2019, 12:38:06 AM
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Exploring Chicago in a day For my daughters 10 year birthday I surprised her with a trip to downtown Chicago with her best friends who happens to be cousins with the King of deals himself. We started out early in the morning by taking the Metra train to downtown, we got off by the French market which is directly below the train station. It was cool to see the different vendors and even a kosher one (Bebe’s) we ended up just getting some chocolate truffles from one of the stands. We then headed outside where we got to our first destination, Willis Tower. Back when I was a kid it was the tallest building in the world now I don’t even know if it’s in the top ten. After checking out the building we got on the Hop On/Hop off bus. The girls of course ran straight to the upper level so they could enjoy the view and beautiful weather. Our next stop was Millennium Park, they have a great waterfall/splash area where kids have a lot of fun trying to escape the water spout. After drying off we checked out the Chicago Cultural Museum which was across the street, it was magnificent. We moved on to the famous bean in Millennium Park and then sat down to eat lunch In Grant Park where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was rehearsing. We got back on the bus and enjoyed the scenery while listening to the very informative tour guides. If you read the book Devil in the White City it makes the tour even more interesting. Our next stop was at Maggie Daley Park which is huge and a great place to lose kids. Thankfully I was just with two 10 year olds that I could trust and let them explore on their own. Definitely a must go to place if your traveling to Chicago with kids. We got back on the bus and headed over to Michigan Ave and the famous Water Tower Place the girls were in heaven at the American Girl Doll store and could’ve stayed for hours. After dragging them out we headed over to Wrigley Field just as the Cubs game was finishing after getting some selfies we walked to Milts and had dinner with the rest of the family that met us there. Some would end the day here but I wanted this Bday to be epic so we drove to Navy Pier and let the kids run in the sprinklers there. Lo and behold the local camp Yeshivas HaKayitz had color war breakout just a few feet away from where we were sitting. Once it got sufficiently dark outside we headed over to the center of Navy Pier And the fireworks started (FYI navy pier has fireworks every Saturday night and Wednesday night in the summer). It was a great grand finale to a wonderful day!
May 09, 2019, 09:49:58 PM
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Re: Chicago Master Thread
We have 2 pizza shops in West Rogers Park, Chalavi (Aka Main Pizza) and Tel Aviv Pizza and two in Skokie, EJ's Pizza and Sarah's Brick Oven Pizza. Lots of different opinions on which is the best.
For vegetarian/vegan you can go to Emma's cafe in Skokie or Bond Coffee Shop in West Rogers Park.
 Thanks! Which pizza shop do you think would best accommodate a large group?

Probably EJ's since they have a back room, you should call them to ask if you can reserve it.

August 08, 2019, 11:46:16 AM
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Re: Random airline-questions. If i get a Chase Ink Business card will it go towards my personal 5/24?
August 14, 2019, 03:06:39 PM
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A weekend in Nor-Cal My sister who lives in Oakland, CA had a baby boy so it was time to check out Nor-Cal! I originally booked only myself a flight on United Airlines for 25K RT but then later decided I would make it a mother/son trip and added my 8 year old on the reservation. It would be his first time on the West Coast. After doing some quick research I got my itinerary planned and we were off. We landed very late Thursday night and went straight to bed. Friday morning we started off at the Berkeley Bowl, it is the most amazing fruit and vegetable store I have ever seen. Who knew there were 25 types of oranges and apples, it made choosing one very difficult! We saw different types of vegetables that I have never seen or heard of before. It was really cool and I would definitely recommend it. We then had lunch at Oakland Kosher which is a small kosher grocery store that also has hamburgers, falafels, shwarma, shnitzel sandwiches and more. My son got the hamburger and I got the falafel which were both good. Once we were full we were ready for the activity of the day, hiking in Redwood Memorial Park. It took us around 15 minutes to get there and park. Our goal was to start from the top of the mountain and get to the bottom. It was a very beautiful hike complete with redwood trees and streams of water at the bottom. We lost our way and couldn't figure out how to get back so we ended up walking for many hours. Somehow we managed to find our way and got back in time for Shabbos. We went to the daven at Beth Jacob Congregation and truly enjoyed it. For kiddush after shabbos day davening they had Flying Falafel's food for a sit down lunch. Sunday was our last day and we were going to check out San Francisco. I had booked us a tour of Alcatraz first thing in the morning. When we started driving there we noticed bumper to bumper traffic by the bridge and were told that there was a marathon going on and many streets were closed. I knew we would miss our tour of Alcatraz so i called them and asked if we could get a new time or refund, the woman on the phone said they were all booked for the rest of the day and they do not offer refunds for missed tours. I was very upset since my son and I had been so looking forward to going there. We arrived in San Francisco over an hour and a half later and parked our car and walked over to the pier where the boat takes you to Alcatraz. I figured it doesn't hurt to ask in person for a refund. I showed the women our reservation and asked if there is anything she can do, she said immediately it's no problem and we should just go on the standby line for the next boat and we would get on. I was thrilled! Sure enough we were able to board the boat with no problem. We sat on the top deck and enjoyed the ride, we even saw dolphins in the water! Once we got to Alcatraz they give you an audio tour to listen to as you walk through. My son loved it and cannot stop talking about it! While we were there there was a book signing going on by an actual inmate of Alcatraz who was in prison there for 5 years, that was the icing on the cake! Once we got back to San Francisco we walked along the Piers until Pier 39, we did some window shopping and ended up at a magician/acrobat/comedian show which was going on at the end of the Pier. He was really hysterical and even called my son up to be part of his show. After the show we went to the water where all the sea lions sun bathe and splash each other. It is really a sight to see. We continued until we got to the USS Pampanito in Fisherman's Wharf which was used in WWII. Of course you cant just see the outside of an actual submarine without going inside it so we got on board and checked it out, which is pretty neat but I am glad i only had to be on it for 30 minutes. At this point we are starving so we headed over to the kosher Krispy Kreme in Fisherman's Wharf. After regaining some energy it was time to make the hike to Lombard street, the crookedest street in the world. We were originally going to take a cable car up to it but decided not to wait for it to come. It was quite a hike up that street and definitely not for the faint of hearts. My son tried stopping many times and told me to just go without him but somehow we made it to the top. Once you get to the top tons of people are in the street taking pictures of the view and of Lombard Street. I am glad we got to say we did it! Once we got back down we got our car and drove to Frena which has two locations, we went to the one on Geary Blvd. It's kind of like a bakery with some hot food items and salads i believe. I got the egg in a basket and the Sabich and my son got the pizza bagel. They have sufganiot and hamentashen all year round and they were both very good. We still had a bit of time until our flight so we decided to check out the Pacific Ocean and drove to Lands End Lookout Point. You can just park your car at the top and walk down the steps until you hit the beach and water. It had spectacular views especially since we were there around sunset. My son even found a cave that we checked out and could see through a hole the waves crashing around it. We also walked down to the rocky area where the waves were crashing onto them. It was a wonderful ending to our trip. We got to SFO a few hours before our flight so we hung out at the United Lounge and my son had a lot of fun with their coke machine that you pick which flavors you want together and it makes your drink. We had the red eye flight and landed home at 6 AM on Monday, my son slept the whole flight so he was brought straight to school. We both had a great trip and very special memories.
September 03, 2019, 10:09:05 PM
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Re: Switzerland Master Thread
Yom Kippur is approaching and you're worried about skiing next summer ?!? sounds like an emergency..

So it's ok to read about trip planning but not to post about it before Yom Kippur?

October 02, 2019, 04:22:32 PM
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Re: Panama Master Thread
I had amazing experience.
People have bad days sometimes, she also.
I understand its fustrating, but its not like a amazon price mistake, she is a hard working human and if she made a mistake, then dont expect her to honour it just because she misquoted
Use someone else, but I dont think a one negative from 100 positive should break her reputation

I have been in contact with her for a few months now. It was not a one time occurrence. Her customer service is horrendous. I think all the business she has gotten is too much for her to handle. I am just letting people in this forum know about my experience and they can decide for themselves. I did get a different tour guide who was extremely accommodating  and charged 1/3 of Sorhay's prices. When I was doing research on our trip to Panama I didn't hear about too many other tour guides so for people that don't want to spend thousands of dollars on tours there are much better options for them.

November 18, 2019, 11:36:20 AM
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Re: Venice Master Thread
Not sure if this is the best place to post for a non biased answer but this thread is more active then then the Florence thread... Is it recommended to spend shabbos in Florence or Venice?

Venice

January 05, 2020, 07:44:30 PM
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Re: Bartenura Extra Virgin Olive Oil 16.9oz 90 Cents at Target
Emptied about 3 stores today.

Got the grape juice, matzah ball mix, onion dip mix, olive oil, jelly rings, and soups. Got about $75 worth of stuff which filled up about total of 3 shopping carts. Going to keep some of it for the house and donate the rest. Couldn't just let the food go to trash which the store worked said they will most likely go since they were in the back already.

thanks for letting us know and saving me a trip to target.

January 06, 2020, 11:32:54 AM
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From East Coast to the West Coast in a week and a half. This past Succos I decided it would be fun to instead of going to only one state for Succos we should try to go to as many places as possible. We started off in Chicago and headed to Monsey for first days. I just found out about this apple picking orchard that is literally 5 minutes from where we were staying (as opposed to driving 1 1/2 hours to go apple picking in Chicago). It was a lot of fun and would definitely recommend it.218D8FB6-9543-402F-9621-979F89011F83 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
After first days we flew from EWR to SFO with UA, the airport was insane and we would've missed our flight had I not had TSA pre-check and held up the plane for my husband to make it through the business/first class security line. We rented a car in SFO and started our road trip down the PCH. Our first stop was Lover's Point Park near Monterey, CA, it's a beautiful area with a great beach for swimming and surfing.25CF7548-A009-42EC-A48B-6BD29B231F3E by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
D8BAF08D-46B8-42BA-A9CF-33A0139DD693 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
After literally dragging my kids out of the water and into the car we continued on to see the famous Bixby Bridge. It was quite a challenge to get close to the edge with my kids to get a picture with the ocean and bridge in it but it worked out! We were lucky to get a parking spot right before the bridge because I am not sure how you would be able to get a good picture without getting out of the car.
405AF79A-5A2B-46B0-8F64-ECFC88D2C796 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
BA1EB86A-81FC-41DC-95FB-7910790B0E5B by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
The car ride on the edge of the mountain with the oceans waves crashing beneath it was terrifying (it probably did not help that my kids were screaming that we are going to die..), thank God my husband was driving  and was as cool as a cucumber.  No pictures I took could do it justice. Our next stop was at Pfeiffer Beach which is in the Big Sur area (no reception for hours at a time) it was a miracle we found it since there is no sign at all for it. Pfeiffer Beach is known for having purple sand and beautiful spots to watch the sunset. It was extremely windy so we could only stay for a little bit but not before we filled a bottle of purple sand to go. C71D6B20-A6F6-4BD1-947E-E65F9CC07AB5 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
3E2939B7-7BD8-4784-ADBF-E1E47C0A4273 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
1C9AAA23-A695-4E1F-AF5D-EDF20413B184 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
It was getting dark by now so we headed back to Monterey and stayed at the Marriott there. After breakfast the next morning we headed out back to the Big Sur to see the famous McWay Falls. The view is breathtaking and glad we made it back to see it. 5771AB99-87EA-498A-BB07-60A794D880C0 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
1B0BA9E4-5E9A-4994-AD18-5F61BF324E71 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
We stopped at Carmel-by-the-Sea on our way up to Oakland for second days of Yom Tov. We had a wonderful time in Oakland, CA. The community is so warm and welcoming and who could beat a BBQ for simchas torah night! We went to Tinley Park which is 15 minutes away. It is a massive park with all kinds of facilities. We went on a real steam train ($3/person) that took us through the woods, they have a petting zoo that you can bring celery and lettuce and feed the cows and other animals with and nice hiking trails with a playground. AC231B6E-C4C0-43D1-B9DA-4B922A5A0D66 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
1A564C33-5107-4469-BD7F-1B63F70DAE84 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
70A3D0D2-A46A-4116-9AFA-ACD3D136B51A by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
On our last day we decided to check out San Francisco for the few people in our family that haven't been there before. We started out by going to to Marin Headlands and getting a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge. You park your car in the parking lot once you get there and can hike to the top to get the best view. My kids enjoyed looking out for hawks and even saw one close up.315B0B12-FB21-400C-AC2D-B00158EB0316 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
AED71D99-D419-4D17-A5AE-A0BAF28F92E2 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
After crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge we headed over to Lands End Point/ Sutra Baths. They have a cool cave where you can see through the cracks the waves crashing through. My kids also walked along the edge of the Sutra Baths which made me quite nervous. It's a great spot to have a picnic as well. We also saw many wedding parties taking pictures there. 1C9A994A-95A5-4703-A9EB-DC2D78564068 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
6B1163FA-5D03-4AC5-8247-370F782E4AB4 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
By this time we were starving at headed over to the popular Israeli style restaurant called Frena. The neighborhood is the worst I ever seen and car thefts are a daily occurrence there. The food is awesome, we all enjoyed and took more to go (they have sufganiot and hamentashen year round!). IMG_2681 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
We got to SFO and hung out a while at the Air China Lounge which is part of Priority Pass Lounges and then met up with some friends that happened to have a stopover in SFO on their way to Australia. 3E3E8C18-CF6D-4094-B8CA-0685DF8475FB by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
We had a stopover in Las Vegas on our way back to ORD for 4 hours so we grabbed an UBER and went to check out the strip. We saw the volcano eruption at the Mirage, went to the Bellagio for the fountain show and the Ventian to get Coffee Bean for the flight to Chicago. 8A4096FF-0EB0-45BC-A4AC-80E8160DC02B by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr
AA7F3C1E-4724-4572-9FF1-752082970BE9 by Divora Marinelli, on Flickr






January 14, 2020, 11:22:22 PM
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