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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
2
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
2
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
1
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
1
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
1
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
4
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
1
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
1
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
2
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
3
Re: Chicago Master Thread
Hi, first time forum poster, so please bear with me as i'm sure i'm doing it all wrong.
Anyone have any idea which upper tier Chicago Marriott approved hotel has a gorgeous indoor pool??
Pictures on websites aren't that illustrative.
Thanks in advance.

Great job!!

February 03, 2020, 11:02:28 AM
1
Re: Chicago Master Thread
LOL - considering it took me several hours to locate your response...but it totally could have been worse.
Thanks, Divora M ;-)
Feeling super accomplished.
Now what?
Not a single response. Is it because I'm only a copper something or other? Do I smell bad?
Which poster do I need to be the Aunt of to get a reply around here?
Kidding. Going to go use the close-my-eyes-and-point method. I'll make it work.
KBye

p.s. i had to google which bank offers Ultimate Reward Points. I should be banned from here.

@TovaNathan patience, my dear. People will respond soon...hopefully
Or.... how about we paint the town tonight and check out each hotel?  :D

February 03, 2020, 12:49:56 PM
1
Re: Chicago Master Thread
That reminds me, I once stayed at the Marriott Chicago O'hare. They had a nice sized pool, and you were able to swim outside under a partition. It was pretty cool. It's a cat 4, so not top of the line, but still nice.

Thanks! That was exactly what she was looking for!

February 03, 2020, 08:45:23 PM
1
Panama Forever in our Hearts After hearing so many wonderful reports of friends trips to Panama we decided that we were going to go this year for the kids winter break vacation. I did many hours of research of Panama and felt fully prepared for the trip. We flew on UA nonstop from ORD to PTY for 17.5k  there and AA back for 15k with a stop in MIA.  Upon arriving in the PTY airport we were going to get an UBER but since it was like 90 degrees outside and we had all our bags and kids we opted to just take one of the cab companies right outside the airport doors for $30. We stayed at the Marriott Executive Apartments which I got for $61/day with their price match guarantee and then used my Barclay card and got reimbursed for the whole thing. I wanted a hotel that we would have a kitchen area, within the eruv and close to a shul. This hotel checked all the boxes and we were extremely happy with it. We had two queen size beds, a pull out couch that turned into a full size bed and another pull out bed that turned into a twin sized bed. Shevet Achim shul was a 7 minute walk from the hotel and there is a nice park down the block as well.

We arrived on Thursday and after checking into our hotel we took an UBER to Jeffreys Bakery. We got pizza, empanadas, pasta, Ike's salad (which was amazing!) cheesecake and gelato for dessert. We took another UBER to the Amador Causeway and were dropped off by a huge park for the kids to play in they also have a splash pad for kids to run around in. We then rented a family bike for $10/half an hour and biked down the causeway during sunset. Once we got back the kids went to the pool for a night time swim and we went out to eat at Aria, which was phenomenal!

Friday my DH went to Shevet Ahim shul for Shachris and gave our passports so we would be allowed to enter on Shabbos while I took the kids to Coffee Bean for breakfast. We met up in old city of Panama called Casco Viejo and had a private tour in english of the Presidential Palace. as we were leaving the Vice President of Panama came out of his car and gave us a nice wave After the tour we walked around the old city, bought some souvenirs and met Miss Paraguay doing a commercial in the square. We then took an UBER to DeliK and stocked up on food for the week and takeout food for Shabbos. We got back to our hotel and all went swimming until Shabbos.

Shabbos we all walked to shul together in the morning. They have security starting down the block and in front of the shuls entrances. It is a beautiful shul and the people are so friendly. My son even managed to find the candy man at shul even though he does not speak spanish. After shul my husband was approached by someone who asked if we would like to come to their home for shabbos lunch. We gladly accepted since all we were going to have for lunch was cold chicken nuggets. I was also very curious to hear more about the frum community in Panama. We had an amazing lunch and stayed for a good part of the afternoon, then they walked us back to our hotel and came up to our hotel room since our kids were the same ages and wanted to have a shabbos party. Once it was time for Mincha we walked my DH to shul and I went with my kids to the park until it was time for Shalosh Seudos which the shul hosts for the community. After hearing havdallah in shul we walked back to our hotel and my kids naturally grabbed their bathing suits and jumped in the pool. We went to Le Spezia for melva malka since we heard it was the best pizza in town and it did not disappoint. 

Sunday we went to Ancon Hill and hiked to the top. It is the tallest point in Panama City and you can see the flag from all over.
After the hike to cool off from the heat we went to the Multi Plaza mall and had Mrs. Fields' ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Our next stop was the Panama Canal at the Miraflores Locks. We got tickets for the IMAX (a must see) museum and observation deck. It was really cool to watch the ships pass through the locks and get raised and lowered just by the water pressure.
We met friends of our at Kava for dinner and it was very good.

Monday we were going to Pearl Islands so we needed to be at the Amador Causeway to get on the ferry by 7:30 am. The ferry ride is an hour and a half but it is very relaxing and even has a bathroom on the boat. Once we arrived at Cantadora we were greeted by Ilene and her husband and they got us all the snorkeling gear we needed and headed on out. They took us to three different deserted islands which we snorkeled, went fishing and relaxed on the beach. It was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. It was so nice having two tour guides since Ilene was able to stay back with my two younger kids while her husband took the rest of us out snorkeling in deeper water. Ilene showed my kids what hermit crabs are and they became a little obsessed with collecting them.
After Ilene dropped us off at Cantadora we ate lunch on the beach and explored the island. We got on the ferry leaving at 3:30 pm and were back in Panama City by 5 pm We went to Lula by Darna for dinner which was also really good.

Tuesday we had booked Monkey Island and Embrera Village with Alon Levy. He is the nicest guy I have ever worked with. He is so accommodating, patient and safety conscious. He picked us up from our hotel and we went to Monkey Island first where we saw three types of monkeys, a sloth up in a tree and two huge iguanas.
We then continued on the panama canal next to the huge ships to the village. We were greeted by the villagers and were showed around. The chief explained their history and how they live. I had brought a pot, oil and knife so they cooked us tilapia and fried plantains. It was a great lunch!
After we were dropped back at our hotel we went to Aria again for dinner.

Wednesday we went again with Alon to Anton Valley. It is a pretty long car ride to get there but it was worth it. We first went horseback riding through the beautiful mountain side. It was the first time my younger kids went horseback riding and they loved it. Water chestnut beds.
After horseback riding we went to a waterfall that you need to go over a very shaky bridge to get there. You can't go under the waterfall but there was a pool of water that is for swimming.

Once we were done swimming we went to see the Petroglyphs and then to the market. We were so exhausted from the day since we got back to our hotel at 7 pm we ordered from the kosher pty app food from Pita Plus and ate it poolside while the kids swam.

Thursday we were leaving and our flight was at 2 pm but we still had one more thing to do. We took an UBER to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort and went ziplining through the rainforest. It was just built in October 2019 and is $53/ per person for 10 lines which is cheaper and way better then the ziplining in Anton Valley. They were also having a promotion during the time we went that the videos and pictures the photographer took of us were free!
We headed back to our hotel, got our luggage and made it to the airport with time to stop at Coffee Bean for food for the plane ride home.

It was an incredible trip for our family and can't wait to go back!

February 25, 2020, 12:11:35 AM
8
Re: Why I flew Spirit and would do so again! I have been flying Spirit for over 13 years now and I have had only one bad experience when they canceled our morning flight erev succos and the only other flight is at night. We learned our lesson never to fly Spirit erev yom tov since they only have one or two flights a day and won't put you on another airline. We love Spirit and Frontier airlines and I have been flying them with my family for many years and it has saved us thousands of dollars in airfare. We live in Chicago so during the winter I take my kids on either day trips or overnight trips to Miami which costs between $25-50 round trip (that's cheaper then taking them to a children's museum)! When we travel on Spirit each kid has a carry-on which is a Spirit approved size that is considered a personal bag with wheels so we don't pay their baggage fees, we bring our own snacks and we bring empty water bottles to the airport and fill it up at the water fountains by our gate (you can ask for a cup with ice for no charge on the airplane). I definitely don't pay for choosing our seats and our family has never been split up. Most of our flights have been on time which is a lot more then I can say for American Airlines. People are always complaining how Spirit seems cheap at first but after all the add ons its comes out the same price as the other airlines but if you know how to pack lightly and know their system you should be saving tons of money flying them. On our last trip to NY my 4 year old came up with a joke, what do Rhino's and Spirit Airlines have in common? They both charge!  ;D
February 25, 2020, 01:17:08 PM
1
Re: Chicago Master Thread
anyone flew into Chicago recently? curious how they're handling the quarantine requirement if at all.

I just flew into ORD and we did not have to fill out any paperwork.

July 20, 2020, 11:50:40 PM
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Re: Chicago Master Thread
so what changed with this quarantine or is the only point to scare away tourists?


July 21, 2020, 10:28:29 AM
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Re: Arizona Master Thread
What Dawie said. Just because you can drive a lot, doesn't mean you should, or that you will enjoy it - especially in 100+ degree weather. Trust me, I have driven from Kansas City to Badlands NP in a day, as well as from Houston to Carlsbad Caverns NP - 650 miles apiece, so I have no problem doing it when it's necessary. But in your case, it's totally unnecessary. Spend a couple days amongst the attractions, then head back to Mesa when you're done. You'll thank us when you get back, and your kids will thank us even more!

Thank you @Traveler718 and @Dawie for talking some sense into me and making our trip unforgettable!  We ended up staying in Yavapai Lodge for one night, walking around the rim then watching sunset and seeing the stars at night, watching the sunrise and then hiking down the SK trail and back before 10 am!

July 21, 2020, 10:50:35 AM
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Re: United MileagePlus Explorer Card
No https://www.dansdeals.com/points-travel/airlines/united/reader-question-use-chase-ultimate-rewards-points-get-united-card-benefits/ plus see this comment

This seems like a better solution:

Jake
I’ve booked through the chase portal and left over a few dollars and when you get your itinerary from United (the long one which is like 5 pages long with all the rules and regulations of airfare) it shows up that you get free baggage but when you get to the kiosk it always makes you pay. The united representative told me just to always show the printed out itinerary and I have always gotten free bags since. Done it more than 6 times within this past year

August 21, 2020, 12:46:24 AM
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Re: Jungle Fever - A Real Panamanian Adventure, by PBaruch (January - February 2020)
Any ideas how to get kitchen/suite using points without relying on the hotel upgradIng us? Can’t seem to book online.
[/quote]

We stayed at the Marriott Executive Apartments and we loved it. It fit our family of 6 in one very large room, it has a kitchen (no oven), it’s within the Eruv and 5 minutes from Shevet Achim.

October 13, 2020, 10:30:00 PM
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Re: South Florida Master Thread
Meat bar or Streets kitchen? Which is better

I have been to both and would recommend Street kitchen.

November 23, 2020, 04:12:15 PM
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Re: Fear of flying
https://fearlessflight.com/

Thanks for posting this link, it was really helpful!

November 23, 2020, 11:11:31 PM
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Hawaii Take 2 Trip Planning:

I have always wanted to visit Hawaii but felt overwhelmed by the idea of planning it but this summer when we were invited to a Bar Mitzvah in LA I decided it would be the perfect time to do a Sunday-Thursday trip of Maui. I booked UA from ORD-LAX rt for $76 pp and then waited until they made a small schedule change on the flight to LAX and had them change it to ORD-SFO so we could spend the first Shabbos with family in Oakland. Our flight from SFO-OGG was on Hawaiian Airlines for $70 pp and then from OGG-LAX was on Delta which we had credit for. Our itinerary was all planned for early December including our free Covid testing appointments at Walgreens but it wasn't meant to be since I tested positive three days before our departure date. I had made sure everything was fully refundable prior to booking (besides for Haleakala sunrise reservation) so I was able to rebook it all a month later for the kids winter break instead. Since we had missed the Bar Mitzvah I decided to extend our time in Maui from Sunday-Motzi Shabbos. I had opened the Marriot Bonvoy credit card which gave us 5 free nights at the Residence Inn Wailea and the last night was 36K points.

We landed in SFO at 9pm on Thursday night and went to sleep soon after. Friday morning we went to Muir Woods National Park (you need to make a reservation for parking beforehand) and had the 4th grade national park pass which let us in for free. We all really enjoyed walking on the path and then we went to the top of the mountain and looked down at the beautiful view. It took us around 1 1/2 to get to the top but my 5 year old had no problem with it.


Sunday we got to SFO for our 7 am flight on HA but I got very nervous seeing that nobody was at the check in counter. Turns out that there were only 30 people on our flight (we were 6 of them) and they had already checked in. Once we got to the gate over an hour early they boarded us and said boarding was complete. It was our first flight on HA and it was amazing. The flight attendants were so attentive and when they handed out sandwiches which we couldn't have they kept on coming over to me asking if we could have any of their first class snacks and even tried giving us the crew food of fruits and fruit cups! They were constantly coming down the aisles handing out water and soda which was completely different from our UA flight where we needed to beg for a bottle of water. We landed an hour and a half early and proceeded to the line where you needed to show your QR code and negative covid test. I was warned before hand that the line could be hours long but when we got there nobody was online. I hadn't planned any activities on Sunday since I wasn't sure how long everything would take but we were out of the airport by 11am and saw in the forecast that it was supposed to rain the next day so we started off running and went straight to the West Maui Mountains. We went to the Nakelala Blowhole and hiked down, I had decided not to do the hike from the Acid Warzone since I thought it would be too hard with the kids, but nobody had mentioned that just going down to the blowhole was no walk in the park! It was pretty scary going down since there is no real path and very sharp lava rocks that will catch your fall....Thank God we made it with no casualties and I was praying that we didn't come all the way down for nothing since I have heard sometimes it is not blowing, thankfully it was blowing at least 30 feet in the air and totally awesome to watch.


We continued on to the Olivine Pools which is a few miles away and we hiked down another unpaved path with lava rocks everywhere which took a good 30 minutes and finally arrived to the pools which were beautiful and the kids had a great time swimming around and looking for fish.




We started heading back to the car as it started raining and we got totally drenched by the time we got to the car. I was nervous about the driving the WM loop since I heard it was one lane and unpaved for parts of it but my husband had no issues with it and I personally found the PCH road a lot scarier. Once we got to the hotel and checked in we went to the pool area where the kids went swimming and had a BBQ for dinner.

Monday it rained the entire day which the locals said they have never seen before. We had reservations for Haleakala sunrise but we were told that if we valued our life we should not go. The Residence Inn provides free breakfast and it included bagels that were kosher and pas yisrael, jelly, cream cheese, Chobani yogurt, and granola that was also kosher. The only item that we couldn't have was the hard boiled eggs so I asked for raw eggs instead which we made in our room since we had a stovetop. It was really helpful to not have to worry about making breakfast and the kids were able to go down to the lobby every morning and eat it there. After spending half the day in the hotel we decided to try to venture out and went to Front Street in Lahaina. We went souvenir shopping, got ice cream and Dole Whip at Lappert's, saw the Banyan Tree Park and enjoyed the street musicians.



Tuesday we had booked SUP lessons for the family with Outrageous Surf in Lahaina, I had confirmed with him early in the morning that the conditions would be OK. We got there and it was beautiful and sunny, walked to the beach with the paddleboards and we were about to start the lesson but apparently it started getting windy which made it too unsafe to go out to the water. He was very apologetic that we came out all this way for nothing but I was grateful that he didn't have us go out in unsafe conditions. We decided to go to Kaanapali Beach instead and it was gorgeous and empty.


After a while we walked over to the Hyatt Regency which was right next to the beach and the kids enjoyed the slides, bridges, waterfalls and all the animals especially the penguins.



We BBQed dinner on the beach and then headed
to Haleakala for sunset. We got in for free with the handy 4th grade national pass and changed into our winter clothes at the visitors center. We got to the summit about an hour before sunset and were amazed at the sight. It was cloudy where the sun was setting so it wasn't the best visibility but it was definitely worth the trip up. We stayed around an hour and a half so we could see the stars and then went to the hotel.


Wednesday we did the Road to Hana. We stopped at the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees, swam in Ching's pond, Three Bears falls, lava tubes, fruit stand that let us try all the different fruits for $10, Black Sand Beach, cliff jumped into the Venus Pool and hiked Pipiwai Trail until the bamboo forest. There was no traffic on the road and most of the stops we did nobody was there. My kids loved going through the lava tubes so much that they did it by themselves a second time. We did the complete loop and it was beautiful, so cool seeing all the animals grazing along the road. My son decided to take a bamboo stick as a souvenir which turned out to be interesting...











Thursday we took a snorkeling trip to Molokini on the Calyspo. I choose that boat because it was the top rated boat in Maui Revealed. They have three levels, glass bottom, 5 slides and a jumping platform. They give out breakfast which was a muffin and fruit so we enjoyed the fruit. I had bought Dramamine in preparation for the trip but had forgot to pack it so I hoped for the best. About 10 minutes before we got to Molokini my 7 year old and 5 year old stopped talking which is a bad sign. Once we got there my daughter was fine but my 5 year old son was still feeling nauseous so I took him down to get off the boat which would hopefully make him feel better but right before we could get off he threw up all over the floor. The crew was really helpful and got him ginger ale which made him feel a lot better. We finally got off the boat and started snorkeling and it was amazing. All my kids (ages 12,10,7 and 5) were able to snorkel on their own. Once we were done snorkeling we jumped off the platform and went down the slides, the kids had the best time ever. Then we continued on to Turtle town which was the highlight for my 5 year old who loves turtles. I had thought that there would be a lot  more turtles around but after searching for a bit we found a massive turtle by the rocks who we needed to back away at times so it wouldn't touch us (we were warned about the fines). We weren't at Turtle Town for that long and had to get back on the boat. They had unlimited beverages which my 10 year old definitely took advantage of with constantly refilling his cup with different soda's. On our way back we saw some whales from a distance but then the captain stopped the boat because three white whales came close to our boat and then they actually went under the boat and around it! The captain said they haven't seen whales this close up this season even on their whale watching tours. It was pretty incredible.




After we got off the boat we went to Maui Kosher Farms where we had scheduled a tour. I thought anything after the snorkeling trip would be a let down but it was definitely not. Chani gave us a tour of the mikvah they just built a few months ago, all the fruit trees including a banana tree that she had my kids cut down, all their animals and so much more. After picking some starfruit, herding the sheep, feeding the goats, collecting the eggs from the chickens and ducks we went inside their house and had a taste test which we had to guess which was the chicken, duck and quail eggs (we got them all wrong). Then Chef Mendel prepared dinner for us which was delicious and it was great to have Chani and Mendel join us as well. We left on a huge high but needing to get back to prepare for shabbos. I lit two yartzheit candles before shkiah without a bracha.




Friday we walked to the Wailea Beach where we saw some turtles by the rocks and the kids had fun in the sand and water. Then we walked around The Shops at Wailea where we got ice cream at Lappert's and more souvenirs. We got back to the hotel and the kids went to the pool to swim. I had ordered shabbos meals from Mendel and he delivered them on Friday. His shabbos package has everything you need including wine, candles, matches and a havdallah set. The food was delicious as well as abundant. We were especially excited to see banana bread since my kids were constantly seeing signs for banana bread on the Road To Hana so now they could finally try it. Since we were leaving Motzi shabbos I didn't book the room for that night so I figured we would just leave our suitcases by the front desk before shabbos and hang out in the lobby until shabbos was over. But on Thursday night we started seeing a lot of ants in our room so I told the front desk and they gave us a new room to switch to. I asked if we could have a later checkout for the inconvenience of changing rooms and they said the latest they can give me was 4pm I told them I really need it until 7 pm since it is our Sabbath after a little convincing to the manager she agreed so we were able to have our room for the whole shabbos. After moving rooms and talking during Shabbos we think we figured out that the source of the ants was the bamboo stick my son had brought into the hotel room from the Road to Hana...BH the stick didn't move with us into the new room.






Shabbos was really relaxing and towards the end we took a walk to the Wailea Beach Resort where they had a luau. We sat on the grass and watched the show and a little bit later the manager came up to us and offered us a tray of desserts but we graciously declined so he returned with ice waters and cut up fruit! After shabbos we packed up and headed to the airport where we were taking the red eye to LAX. All the screens on the right side of the plane were not working so I complained and was given $25 pp vouchers.
Sunday we spent the day in LA going to Mensch's for breakfast, then hiked by the Griffith Observatory and Hollywood sign, Pizza World for lunch, Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Shmorg for the plane ride home. We took the red eye from LAX to ORD and slept half of Monday.
It was an incredible trip and can't wait to go back just can't imagine the other islands can beat Maui.

February 10, 2021, 12:40:02 AM
9
Re: Maui Master Thread I posted my TR if anyone is interested in traveling to HI during COVID.
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=123346.0

February 10, 2021, 12:49:12 AM
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Re: Panama Forever in our Hearts
@Divora M @Kobe Bryant any activities you would especially do or would choose to skip with kids that age?

Monkey Island, Panama Canal, Embera Village, Ancon Hill, Pearl Island are all great for kids.

March 09, 2021, 01:16:27 PM
1
Re: Israel Reopening Ben Gurion, Still Closed To Most Foreigners
הצלחה רבה
Keep us posted.

UA did not give any issues with it.

April 12, 2021, 05:36:48 PM
3
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread
It was the most recommended on the other travel forums for US travelers, and considered among the cheapest. - If you want the lowest possible rate, put in $0 for Trip Cost.

https://portal.trawickinternational.com/quote/product/153?agent=9480
"Covers trip cancellation from $0 up to $100,000 and includes $250,000 Primary Medical with coverage for Pre-Existing Medical conditions on plans purchased prior to or with final trip payment. $2000 Trip Delay includes lodging expenses. The optional Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) provides reimbursement for the percentage of the prepaid, non-refundable, forfeited payments you paid for your trip, if you cancel your trip for any reason not otherwise covered. Must be purchased with initial policy and within 21 days of the initial trip deposit date, and the full, nonrefundable trip cost is insured. "

Thanks, I just bought it for our trip.

April 16, 2021, 05:33:24 PM
1