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Re: What's the best way to book?
I'm seeing 30k ow in J, why's it a steal for a fake J product

30k is correct. The 35k is for RT in Y.

It's a steal because it's a great deal for a an infinitely better seat on 5-hour flight.

June 22, 2017, 08:05:52 PM
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Re: Where Are You Posting From Now? TGU

Survived the landing. It's every bit as crazy as you've heard.

June 29, 2017, 11:27:49 AM
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Re: Where Are You Posting From Now? My own properly-sized bed, after being subjected to Sedom-like beds for 9 nights.

Ahhhhhh.

July 02, 2017, 10:05:23 PM
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[UPDATE: Some Flickr Accts, Too] IMPORTANT: Photobucket Hosting No Longer Works Update 11/01/18: Some Flickr accounts may also be affected. See this post for details.

Photobucket just decided to charge $400/year to host your images. If you have anything uploaded and embedded there your images will no longer show up. You will need to re-upload and re-link from a different image host.

Personally, I need to redo all GIFs on my TRs now. (My images are hosted on Flickr, but my GIFs are on Photobucket.)

Of course the question is how do we know that your new host will not pull the same trick next week... Maybe it's time to have TR pictures hosted on the DDF side.

Mods - it seems that we'd need a mechanism for users to edit their old TR posts; I know I do. Maybe some sort of temporary permissions on a thread by thread basis.

July 03, 2017, 10:37:59 AM
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Re: IMPORTANT: Photobucket Hosting No Longer Works; You May Need To Update Your TRs
FTFY
TR's should have the ability to edit forever.

Good point.

Oiy va voy.

Indeed. Over 10 BILLION images affected, all over the web.

Crazy.

July 03, 2017, 11:05:06 AM
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Re: Countries That Have Food Restrictions Posting here to clean up the wiki.


From Gov.UK :

Quote
Food

What you can bring into the UK depends on whether youíre travelling from within or outside the European Union.

The EU also includes Andorra, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland in this context.
Within the EU
You can bring any fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy or other animal products (eg fish, eggs and honey) into the UK if youíre travelling from a country within the EU.

Outside the EU
Meat, dairy products and potatoes
You canít bring meat, meat products, milk, dairy products or potatoes into the UK from outside the EU unless youíre coming from:

Iceland
the Faroe Islands
Greenland
You can bring up to 10kg from these countries.

Fruit and vegetables
You can bring up to 2kg of fruit and vegetables (except potatoes) into the UK as long as they are:

in personal baggage
for you and your family or friends (ie you canít sell them)
free from signs of pests and diseases
Eggs, honey and fish
You can bring:

egg products, eggs and honey (up to 2kg in total)
fish (up to 20kg in total or 1 fish, whichever is the heaviest)
Any fish you bring in must be fresh and gutted, cooked, cured, dried or smoked.

July 03, 2017, 11:08:33 AM
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Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure







It was many years ago that I discovered the existence of Jade Mountain Resort on the island of St. Lucia. This was years before I discovered my true love of travel and the miles and points game which made it all possible; all I knew was that this incredible place existed and that I want to stay there, preferably to celebrate my tenth wedding anniversary. The fact that rooms are between $2000 and $3000 a night didn't faze me much; clearly, by the time I was married for ten years I'd be a millionaire (at least!) and able to afford it, no problem.

Well as the years went by my tenth anniversary inched ever closer, but the million dollars remained elusive. It was becoming clear that there is no way in the world that I am blowing ten grand on a few night's worth of Jade Mountain. While the resort has remained on my bucket list, for the last few years I've been vaguely looking for an alternative place to go.

While the Maldives or Bora Bora were the obvious candidates, we needed something closer as we couldn't leave our daughter for too long. My main objectives were privacy and incredible snorkeling; with that and the time constraints, the obvious answer was somewhere in the Caribbean.

And so I found myself a few months ago marching into the house, cold, wet, and exhausted. I had just finished shoveling three feet of snow off the driveway and I was sick of it. I plopped down on the couch with one goal: book a tropical vacation.

Looking through a collection of "top places to snorkel" type lists, one unlikely place kept on popping up: the Bay Islands of Honduras. I had never even heard of these islands, and yet here they were, touted as a snorkeling and diving mecca. Further research showed that this was indeed true - despite not exactly being on a typical tourist's radar, the underwater world here is absolutely beautiful and pristine.

Still sitting on my couch on that cold, cold, wet day, a magical word jumped out at me: cheap private island.

Cheap private island? If there was an oxymoron in the travel world, surely this is it. Private islands are for the likes of Richard Branson and I don't know... the Queen of England? No way that a schlub like me could ever afford to even rent one for a few nights.

But if the internet says that a cheap private island can be had in Honduras, it's gotta be true. Do I duly did some research, and lo, not only does it exist, but the reviews were numerous and positive!

A private island? Incredible snorkeling? Cheap, to boot? Sign me up! I immediately fired off an email to the owner and got the booking-ball rolling.

The first thing I needed to do is choose an island. Yes, it turns out that there are actually two  to choose from... Sandy Cay is the smaller one of the two, but offered more privacy and a better reef. Little Cay is a bit bigger (yes, I know...), has a larger and nicer house, and a protected swimming area great for kids. Considering that our priorities were privacy and snorkeling, Sandy Cay easily emerged as the winner.

And so, for the princely sum of $140 a night, we became the sole inhabitants of a private island in paradise.

And by private, I mean private. There is nothing on the island but sand, palm trees, and a single house. No neighbors, no staff, no yentas insistent on learning your entire family history. Just utter and complete privacy.

The reviews were invaluable for a number of reasons, most importantly for helping to set expectations. This was not a 5-star resort; if I had to quantify the house, I'd compare it to a bungalow in the Catskills. Large and decent, but not new or fancy by any stretch of the imagination (I'll expound on these details greatly further along in this TR). The pictures on their website were somewhat out of date; but recent reviews and trip reports more than made up for that.

Booking the island was somewhat of an adventure in and of itself. Honduras, being the third-world country that it is, is slow enough. Couple that with "island time" and every email took three days to get a response to. Eventually we learned to live with it; that's just how things are done there (we had the same exact experience with every Honduran we dealt with). Payment was by Money Gram only, and 50% up front was required to secure the reservation. Not something I'd normally be comfortable with, but reading many people's positive experiences sure helped. It took over a week, but eventually everything was all set.



Now we had to figure out how to get there; this was by far easier said than done.

Getting to Honduras itself is easy; there are tons of flights to San Pedro Sula (SAP), which is the biggest city in the country and its main point of entry. UA, AV, and CM all fly there, so there was even decent *A award availability. The problem with that (of course there's a problem!) is that getting from there to the islands involves an overnight. With SAP holding the honorable distinction of the third most dangerous city in the world (recently downgraded from #1), that was not a particularly relishing thought.

Additionally, there were a few other wrinkles that complicated the flight planning tremendously. As per anecdotal accounts online, the mainland airports were far stricter at customs than on the islands; the flights to SAP mostly left between 1 and 3am, which was highly undesirable; and if I was going to Honduras, I really really wanted to fly in and out of TGU, which has been on my bucket list forever.

To top all that off, I had won a raffle recently for $600 worth of airfare which I wanted to use on this trip, which made me lean away from using only points. In any case, pretty much all the award availability was in J, which seemed like a waste on such relatively short flights.

And then came the internal flights... There are very few scheduled flights to the islands, none on "real" airlines, and most are on Shabbos anyway. But we could charter a plane for quite cheap... Or should we instead take a pair of ferries, which takes 4 hours but costs less...?

As you can imagine, adding all this up into a comprehensive itinerary resulted in the mother of all spreadsheets.

After weeks of looking, booking, and cancelling, I had an itinerary in place. On Sunday, we'd fly United to Houston and on to Roatan - the "big" airport on the islands. Overnight on Roatan. Monday morning we'd charter a plane to the next, smaller island, Utila. In Utila we'd meet the owner of our island and be taken over by boat, where we'd stay for three nights.

For the return, we'd take boat back to Utila early Thursday morning. We'll fly a hinky-dinky airline called Aerolineas Sosa to La Ceiba (on the mainland) and continue over to Tegucigalpa. From there we'd fly Copa to Panama City, have lunch in town, and fly home to JFK.

United: EWR-IAH-RTB; $436 x2, -$600 from the raffle. Booked in Y, got Y+ due to status, got upgraded to J on the second leg.
Private charter: RTB-UII; $278 for the plane.
Aerolineas Sosa: UII-LCE-TGU; $139 x2.
Copa: TGU-PTY-JFK; 30k UA x2, booked in J.







With an overnight on Roatan, only one thing was left: find a hotel. Luckily, this turned out to be a rather easy task: the top rated hotel on Trip Advisor was also the cheapest. $75 secured us a room in the lovely Seagrape Plantation Resort, which we ended up being extremely pleased with.



And so after a few weeks of planning, we were all set for an epic anniversary trip.

July 04, 2017, 01:16:04 AM
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Re: Something Fishy's Trip Reports Thread New TR started.

Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure

July 04, 2017, 01:21:35 AM
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Re: Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure
Is the island going to be killed off like every other good thing ever posted here? ;D  #GHK effect?
Do they store kosher food still? Two fridges and two freezers, and they don't even charge a delivery fee!


Is it safe? Definitely not. I nearly sat on a stingray at one point.
Is there kosher food in the grocery store on the private island? Yep. But you'll need to get the coconuts down yourself.
Is there a minyan on the private island? Nine crabs and an iguana. Does that count?
:D


July 04, 2017, 10:53:46 AM
4
Re: Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure
what about Zika?

That's actually a legit question.

Officially, there's a risk of zika according to the CDC. But my research showed that the CDC is overgeneralizing based on the entire country (as they nearly always do). There have been no reports of zika on the Bay Islands, and outside of swampy areas mosquitoes are not that common. On a tiny island with no standing water they're even less of a problem.

Of course we took the obvious precautions, including spraying our clothing with permethrin and using DEET-based insect repellent.

In the end, as expected, neither of us got any mosquito bites.

July 04, 2017, 11:06:03 AM
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