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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report Sounds like Seville is really worth visiting. I've never seen anything like those sheets over the street before, cool!  Nice pictures, too.
July 30, 2014, 12:09:04 PM
Re: Yehoshua's Spain, Gibraltar, Paris & London TR
YES! Some people should follow your lead on fast TR's.  ::)

But in all honesty, it is tough and takes a lot of work. Even more impressed in what short of a time span you put this together. Sounds like a fun adventure you 2 had. Enjoyed it a lot.
Thanks! I've found the writing TRs on the way home is the only way I can guarantee it'll get done in a timely manner. That said I work on it basically non-stop for 5 hours, so it's a bit draining by the time it's done. I'm glad you enjoyed!

July 17, 2015, 11:56:24 AM
Yehoshua's New Orleans Mini-TR Planning

It was fast approaching Pesach and time to start planning our biannual Chol HaMoed trip. While we’ve visited Montreal and Maine in the past, both are within 650 miles of PHL (our starting point) and until recently were only 4.5k Avios. Now that all flights under 1150 miles (in North America), it was time to maximize the distance of our next trip. At 1089 miles, PHL-MSY fit the bill perfectly as the farthest destination from PHL under 1150 miles. On top of that we really wanted to visit the city, but hearing mixed reviews decided to just spend 1 night. It took a while for availability on the flights we wanted to open up, but about 3 weeks out we got the exact flights we wanted, nonstop PHL-MSY on AA.

Figuring out where to stay took the longest. The areas we considered were the French Quarter, the Warehouse District or the CBD. Now all of these areas are less than 1 mile from one to the other, so it really wasn’t that big of a difference. There are a lot of SPG and a few Hyatt hotels, some of which are good deals (when using points) and some of which are not. I’d decided to go with either the Hyatt French Quarter or the Hyatt Regency NOLA in the CBD, both were going for 15k Hyatt.

There were two reasons I ended up going with the HR over the H-FQ: First, I’d heard staying in the FQ may not be nice and will most definitely be loud. We’re not big party people and didn’t regret this decision at all. Second, I checked the UR travel page.

On, the cheapest rate for a standard room at the HR was going for $261 (before tax, with the members only/AAA rate). UR had the exact same room for only $82, or about 6250 UR. While this may not be the best rate to cash in your UR at, I decided to use them anyway since 1) didn’t want to spend cash anyway and 2) it was way cheaper than transferring UR to Hyatt.

Another thing we needed to figure out was transportation and food. Car rentals and parking in NOLA are both really expensive, and with everything so close it didn’t make sense to rent a car. Taxis are $36 flat rate between the city (CBD, FQ area) and the airport for 2 people ($15 for each additional person). Lucky for us UberX got permission to pickup at MSY just a few days before we arrived, and their flat rate is $33 for the same area with no additional fees for extra passengers. Uber it was.

For food we just brought a few things from PHL: a box of matza, some matza rolls I’d made, some fresh fruit and vegetables and some chocolate. We meant to bring cheese but ended up forgetting it in PHL. We also bought some more vegetables while there. No, it wasn’t gourmet food, and no, we didn’t get to taste the kosher Cajun food, but it sustained us for the 24.5 hours we were there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 First day in NOLA
Our flight landed about 30 minutes early, getting us in at 11:40am. We didn’t check any bags, so just proceeded to the Transportation Center where all ride sharing services are picked up from. The MSY airport is tiny, but there aren’t clear signs to the TC. In reality it’s just opposite the JetBlue baggage claim, so if you arrive on American just go left at the curbside (or walk inside if it’s hot) and then cross the roadway. Uber drivers wait in a lot across the street and take about 2 minutes to arrive. They actually have to park and you just walk to their car, which isn’t too bad.

It took about 20 minutes to get to the hotel with no traffic. After checking in and trekking up to our room (you need to take an escalator or elevator to the 3rd floor, then walk to another bank of elevators to get to your room) we ate a quick lunch and got ready to head out to the WWII museum, a 20 minute (leisurely) walk away.

Our room

View from our room

Hotel atrium

The WWII museum was by far the most interesting part of our trip and the main reason why we’d go back. The museum is split into a few buildings all connected with either indoor over-street walkways or on ground level within a courtyard. While we didn’t have time to see the entire museum, we did see parts. We spend most of our time in the Road to Tokyo exhibit (all about the Pacific side of the war) and the Road to Berlin (about the Allies attempts to reach Berlin). We also visited the Boeing center (not very interesting) which is just a few old planes you can look at from above on walkways with a few tiny showcases and signs. We were also told they’re going to be constructing a new building that will just focus on D-Day, though that’s still just a plan as of now.  We spent 3 full hours, from 2-5p when they closed, and felt we could have easily spent another 2 hours there.

Boeing center

Victory Garden at the WWII Museum

After the museum we took a walk through the Warehouse District to the French Quarter. We were very lucky that the weather was beautiful (78 degrees with a strong breeze, medium humidity) so all our walks were very pleasant. We walked down Decatur until we saw the Natchez river boat and decided that that would be a good place to rest for a while and eat. While we were sitting around there (there are lots of benches to sit on, some are under small trees) music started playing (it sounded like it was coming from the boat?) so we were able to relax for a bit there.

Magazine Street in the Warehouse District

Streetcar on Canal St.

Natchez river boat

We continued walking along the river walk to the French Market. Since we arrived there after 6pm, many stores were closed, but it was still cool to see. We continued walking through Jefferson Square back towards Canal Street, weaving our way in and out of the various streets on the FQ. As many have said, Royale Street was very nice and pleasant, but the one block we walked down Bourbon street was more than enough for us. Maybe it was because they blocked off the street to vehicles, but there were way too many drunk people, loud music and a general raunchy crowd. Besides for that one street, we though the FQ was very nice. We were able to see street performers and musicians on other blocks without feeling like we missed anything.

French Market

French Market

Finally someone spelled it like they pronounce it, French Market

Classic street in the FQ

Street band in the FQ

Is it just me, or is the blue building a bit crooked?

Tiny door

The one and only Bourbon St.

After a quick pit stop for a bathroom in the Hyatt FQ (I had to see what I was missing) we continued our walk up Canal Street back to our hotel. We even small marching band crossing the street that got police cars to block traffic just for them.

The walk back to the hotel wasn’t anything to special, though it does pass by a large library and one of the ugliest city hall buildings I’ve ever seen.  We got back to the hotel exhausted and had an early night.

NOLA City Hall

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 Last day in NOLA
After an early night we were up early to make the most of the few hours we had before our flight home. By 9:00am we were out the door on our way to take the St. Charles streetcar line to the Gardens District. While we paid the $1.25 fare for both trips, they do offer a $3 all day pass which is cheaper if you plan on taking more than 2 trips.

St. Charles Streetcar

The trip was very pleasant despite the higher humidity, and within 30 minutes we were at the Washington St. stop. The Gardens District is known for its classic NOLA architecture and has strict building codes on how people can remodel their homes. We walked around the residential streets looking at the houses until we came to the Lafayette Cemetery, the only cemetery in NOLA that you can access without a tour. We walked around for a few minutes, noticing that all the graves were above ground. It was quite unique.

Lafayette Cemetery

We then walked down Magazine Street where all the shops are in the neighborhood. After about 1 hour we headed back to the hotel via the same streetcar line, ordered another Uber and left for the airport.

Overall our short stay in NOLA was very nice. We’d like to go back to do a few things we didn’t have a chance to do while there this time, including the kosher restaurants, Oak Alley and the plantations, Audubon Park (described to us a Central Park without the muggers) and of course the rest of the WWII museum.  If I’d have know better, I’d say that 2-3 full days would be enough there, but 1 was certainly not enough for us.

April 28, 2016, 04:00:11 PM
Yehoshua's South Africa TR Planning and Routing
The planning for this trip started back in November 2015 when I decided that I wanted to go to Africa in the summer. I’d never flown any of the “Big 3” Gulf carriers, so that was the goal on this trip. I ended up booking:

For 100k AS I booked (blue on map)
7/5 LAX-DXB in EK F A380 4:45pm-7:30pm+1
7/7 DXB-JNB in EF F 777 2:20pm-8:50pm

For our domestic flight I bought cheap coach seats on Mango (orange on map):

7/13 JNB-CPT 8:10am-10:20am

For 135k AA I booked (red and brown on map)
7/17 CPT-DOH in QR J 787 1:20pm-11:50pm
7/18 DOH-AUH in QR F A320 8:25am-10:30am
7/19 AUH-JFK in EY F A380 3:35am-9:35am
7/19 JFK-LAX in AA F A321 12:30pm-3:54pm

For hotels we booked the following:

PH Dubai for 1 night for ~12k UR booked through UR
Black Rhino Game Lodge in Pilanesburg Game Reserve for ~$168 cash (redeemed for A+ credit)
Intercontinental OR Tambo (JNB airport) for 1 night for 30k IHG
Protea Sea Point hotel for 4 nights: 1 night for 15k Marriott, 3 nights for ~$67/night
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi for 1 night for ~$87

We stayed with friends of friends in Joburg for the 3 nights we were there before going to the game reserve.

For food, we brought along some instant oatmeal for breakfast in Dubai, Joburg (before our flight to CPT) and Doha. Joburg and Cape Town both have kosher restaurants, but we needed food for Pilanesburg. We could have ordered from POM, had them ship it to LA, and schlep it around the world with us, but I found another solution. Kosher World in Joburg also has travel meals for a fraction of the price. While I only asked for dairy and pareve items, the price range was from R55-81 for a 500g portion, or about $3.75-$5.50 for just over 1 lb. of food. You can’t beat that! Like POM, the meals are frozen in advance and can be heated in the microwave or oven. To contact KosherWorld, you can email them from their website. They responded to me rather quickly and we arranged everything via email.

Now on to the trip itself.

July 18, 2016, 06:07:19 AM
Re: Maui Master Thread
Look at my TR I did Haleakala day in that order.
So did I. I also have a TR, but sunrise when I went was just after 7am.

September 01, 2016, 03:36:02 PM
Re: Maui Master Thread
Any idea how long it takes to do Haleakala, Olivine Pools, & Blowhole?
Most of the day, depending on if you drive along West Maui or go the other way, how long you spend at each location and if you do the acid war zone hike to get to the blowhole or not.

September 02, 2016, 03:37:10 PM
Re: What Award Itinerary Did You Just Book/Hold?
Sorry its AA to CDG and Nikki to VIE
Thanks for clarifying.

September 04, 2016, 12:54:56 PM
Re: Yehoshua's Spain, Gibraltar, Paris & London TR
Very nice TR thanks for that
Especially the London part
Also not making me feel bad I canceled the knightbridge and opted for the grand Sheraton which was a greater value at the time of my booking
Glad you enjoyed.

September 27, 2016, 09:08:29 PM
Re: The Pros And Cons Of Where You Live
Uber in most big/high COL cities is higher than the rest of the country. NJ rates are similar to OH.
That's the beauty of LA: Uber's rates are among the cheapest in the country and it's a big city.

September 28, 2016, 05:55:00 PM
Re: Los Angeles Master Thread Full Mazal'rella Review:

We went back to Mazal'rella the night after our first (disastrous) evening.  On Monday night our experience was 1000 times better than it was the night before. We ate inside and had an extremely attentive server, Karen.

Within 5 minutes of sitting down we had our orders in. Karen brought out some toasted bread with an olive oil and vinegar mix to dip the in.

Toast, 7/10

We started the meal with the Parmesan and truffle oil fries and the endive and blue salad, a salad with frisee, endives, and a blue cheese dressing.

Parmesan fries, 9/10

Endive and blue salad, 9/10

The portion of fries was quite large, more than enough for 2 people for an appetizer. I'd say it can easily be enough for 4 people.

The salad was a nice size for 2 people, though it could be a main for 1 person if you add on the optional fish (salmon, $9 or tuna, $11). It was also nice that they lightly dressed the salad and included extra dressing on the side, in case the person you're splitting the salad with is less enthusiastic about blue cheese that you are.  ;)

For the main course we ordered the Salmon with an apple and onion risotto and green peas. Since we were planning on splitting the entree anyway, Karen asked if we'd like the kitchen to just split it for us which we thought was a really good idea.

Half a portion of the fish and risotto entree, Fish: 10/10, Risotto: 1/10

While the speed of the service was greatly improved, the risotto came to the table cold and bland. There were only 2 small pieces of apple in it (both in DW's dish) and it was completely bland with just a hint of onion. The rice itself was gluey, too soft and not all the grains were separated. However, the salmon was cooked absolutely perfectly. The skip was crispy and served skin-side up as it should be. We asked for the fish medium (the proper temp for fish, not sure why they even asked) and they delivered.

I told Karen the risotto was bland and cold. She took back the dishes (after we'd already eaten the fish) and brought us another bowl of risotto. This time the risotto had flavor and was nice at hot. Unfortunately the rice was still gluey, on the soft side and full of rice clumps.

For dessert we had the chocolate flatbreads. This dessert was new as of that night, since the night before I heard a few people request a chocolate dessert which was previously not on the menu. The dessert was a plain flatbread topped with a house made chocolate hazelnut spread, strawberries and whipped cream.

Chocolate flatbread dessert, 8/10

While the dessert was nothing fancy, it tasted very good, was warm, and hit the spot. My only comments were the whipped cream presentation (it should have been piped on instead of globed on) and the flatbread itself should have been crispier. It wasn't soggy, but rather a bit chewy, almost like a toaster pastry.

We finished the meal 1:20 after we arrived and left full and satisfied.

I'm not sure if the service the 2nd night was so much better because they were trying to impress us or if that's the normal service (they claim it's normal). I really hope it was their normal service, for if it was they have a lot better chance at succeeding. The portions weren't super large (with the exception of the fires), so you'll need an appetizer, salad/flatbread, and main to be full if you're splitting everything.  While we didn't pay for our meal on Monday, the whole meal (including the sparkling water I ordered) would have cost close to $100 including tax. While on the subject of tax, I noticed on Sunday they charged me 9.25% sales tax on the meal. The tax should be 9% through 12/31/16, at which point it will go down to 8.75% at least until 4/1/17. I told them that and hope they change it soon. Overall I'd consider going back for a special occasion.

November 16, 2016, 11:02:58 AM
Re: Bali Master Thread
I'm assuming you've read this:
Yup. Though thanks for the reminder to reread.

November 23, 2016, 07:30:38 PM
Re: Los Angeles Master Thread Western Kosher: now on Google Express!
February 06, 2017, 01:38:40 AM
Re: 500 Internal Server Error/502 Bad Gateway Thanks for the quick fix!
February 06, 2017, 12:26:46 PM
Re: Los Angeles Master Thread
I have a 55 minute layover in LAX between two Delta flights (JFK>LAX,  LAX>OGG). Is this enough time for us and one checked bag to transfer between flights? Its an award fliught and im wondering if I should try and change it to a 2.5 hr layover to be safer.

hope this is the right place for this.
When are the flights? Delta is moving terminals soon so it could be a lot harder. Better to be safe and change to 2.5 hr layover. If the flight was very soon it still would be tight, but possibly doable.

March 20, 2017, 10:45:20 AM
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH Wow, what a day! Thanks for sharing.
May 02, 2017, 12:10:13 PM
Re: Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure Wow, looking forward to the rest before next December!
July 04, 2017, 06:50:11 AM
Re: Los Angeles Master Thread
Thanks. Don't see much private villas with pools there.

Not necessarily looking for Jewish neighborhoods. Just want to know where to concentrate my search in order to find a decently priced private villa with pool.

Would've looked in Palm Springs if not for the temperatures there.
Look west, near the beach. Brentwood (90049) and all of Santa Monica are nice areas. You can also look in the area in between 90035 & 90036 (90048) which is nice. Venice is ok, but can get a little sketchy in areas. Any place easy of downtown is a no-go, but Silverlake is a nice area as well.

July 09, 2017, 06:54:22 PM
Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Part 1: Planning and trip perp

I started planning this trip in October 2016 deciding where to go. Once I decided on Israel, I originally decided on Hong Kong and Bali as well. The original plan was to go to Israel for 3 full days (Thursday through Sunday), then Bali Monday-Thursday and end the trip in Hong Kong (HKG) Thursday through Monday. I’d been to HKG before in the winter without my wife, and decided it would be a good idea to take her so she could see it as well.

I originally found routing as follows:

LAX-ZRH-TLV on Swiss business, booked with 82.5k Air Canada (AC) miles + ~$44 + CAD$75 for the baby
TLV-HKG-DPS on Cathay business, booked with 40k American (AA) miles + ~$102 + $682 for the baby
DPS-HKG on Cathay economy (I know, I know, it was a drag, but it was booked this way on purpose as I’ll explain later), booked with 12.5k Avios + ~$46 + 1.25k Avios for the baby
HKG-ICN-LAX on Korean first, 80k Korean (KE) miles + ~$172 + 8k KE miles for the baby

We were all set. Except that in March my DW decided to want to spend a little more time in Israel. Lucky for me I was checking and the exact flight I chose opened up on the outbound a week earlier. I quickly paid the CAD$180 (~$133) change fee to Aeroplan and changed to outbound to a week earlier. For the return, I needed to come back earlier since we would be leaving a week earlier, so I decided to come back on a Friday. I know, there could be Shabbos issues, but it would be ok.

I kept the DPS-HKG segment on BA and changed the HKG-ICN-LAX segment to leave about 3 hours after we got to HKG on a redeye to ICN. From there is where KE really shines: I wanted the 11:30am flight back to LA so we’d be over the date line while it was still daytime out. However, there was only 1 seat available on that flight. The helpful agent booked that for my wife. For me, she put me on a waitlist for that flight, while keeping my seat on the 3pm flight we were originally booked on. She then put my wife tentatively on the 3pm flight in case the waitlist didn’t clear. Basically, we were both tentatively booked on both flights: the 11:30 am and the 3pm.

About 3.5 weeks before our flight, on June 12, I got confirmation that I was on the 11:30 am flight if I wanted to be. I quickly called Korean to confirm everything, and all was set. As it turned out, we were the only people in first class on the flight (besides a crew member), so we had the entire cabin to ourselves!

In the end our routing looked the same, but the dates worked out much better. We’d be in Israel for 10 days and Bali for ~3 before returning home. We also had an 8 hour layover in Zurich we needed to plan, but more on that later.

As we’d be in Israel first, we just needed to pick up some food for Bali there. Israel wouldn’t be an issue, we just needed food for Bali. We bought some cup-of-soups and a few instant meals (like couscous and mashed potatoes) and brought along a lot of tuna packets from home. I also brought some oatmeal packets from home for breakfast and some Chewy bars for snacking on/dessert.

The way the trip worked out, we’d be arriving in Israel at 3am. I didn’t book a hotel that night, but rather the next night (hoping we could check in early). We spent one night at the Crown Plaza on a free night before going to family friends for the weekend (Fri & Sat nights).

For the next week, we spent:
•   1 night at the Ritz in Hertzalia (used points)
•   2 nights at the Elama Arts Complex in Zichron Yaakov (used points)
•   4 nights at the Waldorf back in Yerushalayim (used 2 free nights and 2 nights on points)

We then spent the remaining time (in Bali) in a very nice AirBNB (thanks @Emkay!) where we paid cash.

I decided to rent a car for the first week we’d be in Israel. I rented a mid-size car through Thifty/Albar (thanks @hocker!) for the week. The rest of the time we just walked around Yerushalayim and got a ride back to the airport on Sunday for cheap.

For our time in Bali we decided to hire a driver the whole time. We ended up hiring Bali Tours on recommendation from Emkay (thanks!!) for ~$120 for the entire time. He picked us up at the airport, took us around both days we were there, and then drove us back to the airport.

With everything set, we were about to embark on our trip!

July 12, 2017, 11:55:06 PM
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH Wow!! Great TR so far. Really enjoyed reading.
July 13, 2017, 11:00:28 AM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Part 2: Flight to Zurich, layover and flight to Israel

Our flight left LAX late, at around 7:20pm. We arrived at the airport at around 4:00pm, checked in, and made our way through the special security for people with babies and disability. We knew from last year to just go straight there. We were through security in about 20 minutes, and from there it was off to the Star Alliance Gold lounge. We spent our time outdoors on the terrace where our daughter (DD) collected rocks from the fountain and had a generally good time running around and plane watching.

I went to shower quickly, and then we were off to the gate. We boarded first, because of DD, at around 6:50pm, a bit late, but otherwise ok. We got settled in the bulkhead seats, but unfortunately, they didn’t have a bassinet for DD. Not that she would have used it: she didn’t stay in the bassinets on the Cathay flights for a more than a second, but it would have been nice to have the extra space.

We left by 8:00pm, and after we had a quick dinner, “we” went to sleep. By that I mean “I” went to sleep. DW decided to put DD to bed on the seat, flattened, but there wasn’t much room for her to sleep. While DD and I slept well for most of the flight, DW didn’t sleep much at all.

We landed in Zurich at around 3:00pm and were among the first ones off the plane. We landed in a deserted E terminal, where we made our way to the lounge. We were there for a few minutes, getting drinks, using the bathroom, etc. before continuing to the train station to get tickets to the city.

I had been in touch with the people we had stayed at last time we were in Zurich, and they offered us to come over and rest at their house. By the time we took the train to their house it was closer to 5:30pm. I should mention that the weather in Zurich couldn’t have been any more different than the last time we were there. While the last time it was overcast and around 60 F, this time it was clear, sunny and a warm 95 F!

We took the train to our friends’ house with the intention of possibly going out to dinner. When we got there, DW promptly wanted to go to sleep. Since I wasn’t tired at that point, I just stayed up with DD in the small apartment. There was no AC there (who’d put in AC when it’s so cool most of the year?) but the building remained tolerable. We schmoozed with our host for a while before she offered us some bread and tuna for dinner.

And boy did it hit the spot! She gave us a whole loaf of bread along with some tuna to make some sandwiches. By this time DW had gotten up and was a bit hungry, so I made us some sandwiches for an abbreviated dinner.

Now our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:40pm that evening. Our host figured we’d catch the 9:06pm train from the Enge station (the train comes twice an hour, at :06 and :36) and be at the airport 21 minutes later. Well unfortunately that didn’t happen.

I decided to go to mincha at 8:35pm. I went by myself because our host’s husband, while home, already davened. I was just planning on staying for mincha, but when they didn’t say aleinu and went right into maariv I couldn’t resist. I stayed for maaariv which was done just prior to 9:00pm (they're fast, what can I say). Now at this point I’d completely forgotten I was supposed to be at the train at 9:06pm, so I strolled back to their house.

When I got there at 9:10pm, our hostess was freaking out, to put it mildly. She may be American by birth, but that didn’t stop her from going all out panicked on us. She first said we'd miss our flight if we took the train and that we should take a local taxi service. She called someone she knew and asked when they could be there by. When they said 9:30, it was pointless to take them, so we just decided to take the train and call it a day. We did leave super early to go to the train station at around 9:20pm.

We waited for our train, said goodbye to our host (she waited with us) when it came, and were at the airport at 9:57pm, on the dot. All we needed to go now was to get to our gate. So we ran.

We first ran all the way up from the train station to the departures level, which was completely deserted. We headed straight towards the gate where we met our first hurdle: We didn’t have the stroller/car seat (Doona) tagged. I sprinted to the counter, got a tag, and sprinted back, where the stern woman looked at us, looked at our boarding passes, and simply said, “you’re late, you probably won’t make your flight.” We had 40 minutes to get to our plane, so I said we’ll take our chances and she waved us though.

Our next hurdle was security. We were the only ones there; they stayed open just for us. Unlike in LAX, here they needed to check every last piece of baby food we brought with us, as well as anything over 3oz in our bags. Since no one else was at security, we had everyone working for us. After a few agonizing minutes we were though, when all the people working at security proceeded to close up shop and go home for the night.

It was now 10:20.

We then walked until we came for immigration. They officer there had no clue what time our flight was, so he didn’t comment. Off to the train to take us back to the E gates. When we got down, the train was 1 minute away; wonderful! We took the train to the E gates, hurried up to the departures level got to the gate and… in line to board.

We got on the plane at 10:25pm, but then proceeded to wait for some connecting passengers another 30 minutes. At least we made it!

The flight to Tel Aviv was short, at just under 4 hours. I slept a bit, but just enough to be awake when before we knew it we were on final approach. I should mention that most of the other passengers were fine with us having a baby on the flight, except the couple seated directly behind us. He was Israeli, and tried to change his seat upon seeing us (we were there first FWIW), but they didn’t have any other 2 seats together. He was afraid the baby would cry the whole flight, and he wouldn’t be able to get his sleep. Lucky for him DD slept the entire time and only cried for a second before landing (at which point the passenger behind us got up and complained).

Before we knew it, we arrived into Tel Aviv at around 3:30am!

(Don't worry, there are loads of pictures coming, just none yet, sorry.)

July 13, 2017, 10:47:22 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Part 3: Thursday: A day of Rest

We arrived in TLV, got off the plane and waited for our stroller. We were waiting with a few other families until after everyone else had gone before they brought out our Doona. The benefit of the long wait was that the arrivals hall was pretty empty at that point. We went through customs, got our bags, and were off to rent the car.

After a few minutes at the rental counter, we were on our way to Yerushalayim at 4:50am. The ride to Yerushalayim wasn’t that bad as the road was empty, so we just flew. DD was super tired, so she just fell asleep.

When we arrived at the Crowne Plaza at around 5:40am it was still too early to check in. They told us that the person in charge of early check in arrives at 7:00am and to wait until then, so we waited in the car while DD slept. At around 6:45 she woke up so we went to the lobby. DD was quite fussy, despite her just waking up from her nap. The front desk said that the person who can see if a room is available for early check in won’t arrive until 7:30 and asked us to wait a bit more.

At this point I was quite tired, but I needed to daven. I went to the hotel’s shul downstairs and davened there. Around 8:00am DW texted me while I was davening telling us the room was ready. I guess having a super fussy, whining baby in the lobby does have its benefits.

I finished davening and we went to our room. I will say that the hotel is a bit passed its prime; ok maybe a bit more than a little, but we were too tired to care. I showered and we all just crashed.

Hotel bathroom

Views from the room

We slept until 3:00 pm.

When we woke up we felt well rested and super hungry. Time to go to the Kotel and get something to eat. We decided to go to Mamila for parking and to eat at Café Rimon. We got to our car and lo and behold it was dead. Like super dead. I asked the concierge if they had a battery charger for the car, but they didn’t. The security guard in the front also didn’t have one, but said that taxis usually have one.

We spent the next 45 minutes trying to find a cab that had a charger. At around 30 minutes in DW was getting super hungry, so she decided to just flag down a cab. Meanwhile every car that entered the hotel’s premises didn’t have a charger. Finally, just as I was about to get in the cab and call it quits, the concierge found a lovely British chussid who had one and helped us out. We paid the cab 20 shekel for his time, he drove off all mad, we thanked everyone for their time and help, and got in our car and drove to Mamila.

By the time we parked and got up to the restaurant it was almost 5:30 pm. We had a lovely dinner at Café Rimon, and a nice meetup afterwards with a friend a few restaurants down.

Our food at Café Rimon

We walked though Shaar Yafo to the kotel. Halfway through our walk DW decided to see if a family friend was home. She turned a few corners and knocked on their door. We said a quick hello and off we went to the kotel, right in time for mincha. I davened mincha (it was Yom Kippur Katan, though the minyan I davened at didn’t say the special tefilos for Yom Kippur Katan) before we left through the Armenian Quarter at DW’s insistence.

We drove back to the hotel and were so tried we went straight to bed.

July 14, 2017, 07:09:43 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Part 4: Friday: Geula on Erev Shabbos

We woke up at a normal time (around 8:30 am) on Friday. The plan for today was to go to Geula, walk around, and meet my BIL & SIL for lunch. After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and headed to Geula (in a fully charged car this time!).

Breakfast at the Crown Plaza

Driving around Geula was a bit tight, but we eventually found parking on a side street (it was paid parking though the app; more on that later). We walked 2 blocks to Geula and walked up and down the street. We were mainly window shopping here, as neither of us could decide what we wanted exactly. After going down Mea Shearim and all the way up Geula, we stopped by Mitz Pri to get a drink while we waited for my BIL & SIL.

We finally met up with them and walked to J2 pizza for lunch. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but DW and DD ate something. We offered to drive them back to their apartment in Machal, so we all walked back to the car after lunch. Lo and behold we got a parking ticket for not paying.

“Not a big deal,” said my BIL, “I can take care of it for you for nothing.”

Wow, thanks! A few minutes later, after texting one of his friends, we were all set. The total bill: 10 agurot.

We drove them back to their apartment and spent some time there. Our next stop was in Bayit V’Gan visiting more family. We drove there, spent about an hour there, and continued on to Har Nof at about 4:30 pm.

We got to our friends in Har Nof a good 2 hours before Shabbos. After settling down in their converted/illegal basement, we got ready for Shabbos. Their house was really spectacular, and it was nice to see them again. Too bad I missed some of their kids who were not there for Shabbos. We got ready for Shabbos, went to shul and came back to a delicious meal. DD went to sleep after I’d left for shul, and slept peacefully….until DD woke up sometime in the middle of the night screaming because she was getting a few new teeth.

Despite the mid-night wakeup, DW got me up for shul at 7:20 am, and continued sleeping until I got home from shul at 10:45am. It’s really hard to wake up in such a basement!

July 14, 2017, 07:13:14 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Shabbos: At friends in Har Nof

Shabbos morning started very early with a painful, 2:00 am scream from our daughter: she was getting 3 new teeth. After giving her some Tylenol and putting her back to sleep, we all slept soundly. Somehow DW was up and woke me up in time for shachris at 8:00am.

Shachris was nice, but packed. When it was over we headed back to our hosts house and were headed out to lunch. My first order of business was to wake up DW and DD who were still sleeping soundly at 10:45! I woke them up and we were off to my wife’s cousin for lunch, just down the block.

We had a lovely lunch with her family, and we all enjoyed a lot. We got back to our host’s house and took an afternoon nap. Before long it was time for mincha and seuda shishis. After mincha we got back to their house and the front gate was locked. Without missing a beat, our host took off his jacket and climbed over the wall to open the door from the inside. As one does.

After maariv we just hung around their house while our hosts got ready for an upcoming family wedding (they were making a tiered wedding “cake” which was just pieces of Styrofoam covered in fondant). Our hostess needed to go to her son’s house that night to watch his new baby overnight, so we just said goodbye to her before she left.

DW has having trouble putting DD to bed, but eventually she got her to sleep somewhere around midnight.

July 17, 2017, 11:59:13 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Sunday: Ritzalia

Sunday morning after shachris our host told me he was going to kollel to learn and that I could just go back to their house. I got there to find the place very quiet as everyone was sleeping. I had breakfast.

Eventually their girls work up and went about their day, and DW and DD got up as well. With no one home, we packed up and headed out, our first stop being Yesh supermarket in Har Nof. We stocked up on some snacks and some instant soups for the Bali part of our trip. We were almost ready to go back to the car when DW saw a woman selling head coverings for a fraction of the price they charge in the US, so she got some.

All stocked up and ready to go, we got back in the car and drove to the Ritz in Hertzalia. We arrived a bit early, around 2:15 pm, and unfortunately our room was not ready. We were told we could spend some time in the vicinity and check in at 3:00 pm.

We went to the mall below the hotel and went to the supermarket for food for lunch. We at in the food court before walking around the mall for a bit. We even walked around outside for a bit before the heat got to us and we went back inside. By this point it was 3:00 pm and time to check in. Or so we thought.

Eating in the mall

Supermarket in the mall

Outside of the Ritz

DW and DD went to the lobby while I moved the car to the hotel’s parking lot. I wanted to check in but the associate said our room was still not ready. They said we could go to the roof bar and pool and relax there with free drinks courtesy of the hotel. We did exactly that.

View from the roof

Main pool

After DD splashed around in the kids pool for a bit and we were sipping our nice cool drinks, we were told our room was ready, around 3:30 pm.

Kids Pool. Does anyone know the couple in the lounge chairs?

We went straight to the room, and what do you know, they set up for my birthday! I had told them that it was my birthday before I arrived, but I didn’t think even for a second that they were setting up anything (more along the lines at the Waldorf, but more on that later).

They decorated the bed, sent up a few desserts with the words “Mazal Tov” written on it, had a bunch of balloons tied nearby and gave me a card. This is more than I could have asked for and it was very much appreciated.

My birthday surprise

After settling in to the room, it was time to drive to Benei Brak to visit another family friend.

Views of the room:

There was little traffic on the way there, and we were outside their apartment in less than 30 minutes.

We visited with them for a while and had dinner at their suggestion two doors down at a small, heimish place. I know Benei Brak isn’t known for their restaurants, but this place was especially heimish. My wife loved it, while I thought the food was ok, but the guy working there was just a riot!

Our food at the restaurant, Misadat Muchan U’Mezuman

After dinner we drove back to the hotel just in time for sunset and went to bed. We all slept very well.

July 18, 2017, 12:02:31 AM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Monday: Rosh HaNikra, and an Arab Carnival in Acco

I personally had been waiting for the breakfast at the Ritz for a long time. I’d heard so many good things about it, and to sum it up: it’s totally worth it! We got down to breakfast around 9:30am after davening in the hotel room.

The restaurant was a bit crowded, but we got a table pretty quickly. I spoke to the maître d’ to confirm our 25% off (I had asked the hotel if they could waive the fee for breakfast on account of not having the room ready on time, but they said they could only do 25% off) which he did.

Breafast at the Ritz:

We spent the first few minutes looking at the food before ordering some fresh-squeezed orange juice form the waiter and taking food from the buffet. After eating all we could from the buffet, my wife asked for take-out containers to be able to fill as well, which she was eventually given. We filled them with even more food for lunch and were out of there by 10:30am.

We packed up our stuff and had the hotel take everything down to the car for us. Our stay was indeed excellent.

Our first stop for the day was Rosh HaNikra. We drove up along highway 4 through Haifa. The Haifa section of the highway was a bit crowded, but I didn’t want to pay the toll to go around. We got to Rosh HaNikra around 1pm.

The first thing we noticed after waiting in line for tickets, was the amount of very nicely dressed Arabs that were there. It was the first day of Eid, and they were all out in their Yom Tov clothes. We went down to the grottos and walked around. It was quite hot, so it was quite a relief when we got in the shade at the beginning and a real bummer when we finished up. We relaxed at the bottom for a few minutes before going back to the car to eat lunch.

The Grottos:

Official Boarder fence:

After a relaxing lunch in the car we headed to Acco. When I got to the parking lot we were going to use it was jammed. In fact, the police had blocked off the entrance to Acco right near the Weitzman and David Pinkas Street. That should have been a hint that it was crowded, but we didn’t stop and went to look for parking. The lot we chose was jammed, and nearly everyone was Muslim which I didn’t realize. After waiting there for 10-15 minutes squeezing in around all the cars to try to find a spot, we gave up and went down the block to the lot right before Yehoshafat St. We pulled in, were told we’d have to wait, waited about 5 minutes and left, deciding just to leave for the day.

My only picture of Acco: the walls of the city

It was a bit disappointing, but DD was getting anxious so back down Weitzman it was. Just as we were no more than 2 blocks away we saw a car pulling out and pulled in. We walked down Weitzman to town, and the close we got the more we noticed that we were the only Jews around. No, it wasn’t scary, but it was something to notice. The closer we got to Acco the louder the Muslim music became and the clearer the street party for Eid appeared. After walking just one block in to the party, DW decided that we were not going to go any further.

Sadly, we turned around at that point and walked to the Gan HaMetsuda Festival Gardens so that I could use the bathroom. While I found the bathroom all right, they wanted 3 shekels to use them, so I turned around and went to the ticket booth. I was schmoozing with the lady there for a bit about being a Jew during Eid (she was not a fan to say the least), and she eventually gave me a pass to use the restroom for free.

We quickly got back to our car and headed to our hotel, the Elma Arts Complex, in Zichron Yaakov.

Elma Arts Complex Hotel

Our Room

After checking in at the hotel, we headed out to dinner at the one kosher place in town right on the Midrachov.

Misadat Nili

Our food

Dinner was really good and quick. After dinner, I went to daven Mincha down the block at the shul, while DW and DD walked around.

Midrachov at sunset

Cong. Ohel Yaakov, Zichron

It was quite nice being out there around sunset time, but alas it was time for DDs bedtime. We headed back to the hotel for our first night in Zichron.

July 18, 2017, 12:04:48 AM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
Great new segments! Rosh Hanikra looks really cool - on my list for a future trip. Keep 'em coming!

Note to everyone. This is how you do a TR.
Aww, thank you!

July 18, 2017, 11:46:10 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Tzfat and Caesarea

While Tuesday was our only full day in Zichron, and we decided to visit my cousin in Tzfat. We started the day with breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. While most rooms have breakfast included, when booking with SPG points (as a Gold member) you do not get a free breakfast. I spoke with the mashgiach before our trip to confirm the kashrus of the food and he said basically everything was kosher.

Pictures of breakfast at the Elma:

We had breakfast from the buffet, though I was a tad disappointed having just been at the Ritz’s breakfast. We got ready to go and were in the car by 11:30 am.

We arrived at my cousin’s house in Tzfat at around 1:00 pm. Both DW and DD slept in the car on the way there.  Apparently, my cousin and her husband normally have a late start to their day, as they were just finishing up breakfast when we came. After schmoozing at her house for a while we eventually headed out to a rather late lunch at around 3:00 pm.

My cousin and her husband decided to join us for the day, while her kids were all busy. My cousin’s husband drove us to the center of town, parked and we all walked down to a restaurant. The main street was quite deserted, as it was Tuesday and besides for the big cities, Tuesdays are a quasi-weekend with many people off and businesses closed. We eventually got to the restaurant, and my wife and I ate lunch (my cousin and her husband just got a coffee and a pastry).


Lunch in Tzfat:

After lunch, we decided to walk around the old town which was thankfully covered. We walked around there, my wife bought a necklace, and we met a friend of my cousin in one of the (open) shops. From there we decided to walk back most of the way while my cousin’s husband went to get the car. We ended up at a nice park for 10 minutes before he showed up and we went back to their house.

Park we were at

We picked up our car here, said our goodbyes and drove back to Zichron. Because of our very late lunch we weren’t hungry for dinner so we just put DD to sleep and went to bed.

Wednesday started almost the same as Tuesday. We went to the breakfast buffet (for a charge), played at the pool for a bit, and left the hotel at around 11:30 am.

Pool in the Elma

After stopping for gas, we went straight to Caesarea, a 15-minute drive away. When we arrived, there were loads of spots in the parking lot and basically no line to get in. When we got to the front of the line to pay I told the woman we’d like a pass for everything. She printed our tickets and we were in.

I brought the baby carrier and was carrying our daughter around everywhere. We walked around the area when my wife saw a sign for a movie. We walked there only to find our tickets didn’t in fact cover everything and it would be an extra fee to see the 10-minute movie. Despite the fact that the room was air conditioned, we decided to skip the movie and head to the famous Amphitheater.

Some random picutes of Caesarea:

When we got to the ticket check spot we showed our tickets and were told we needed our receipt as well. After showing that we went in. We walked to the amphitheater and looked around a bit before heading back along the water. We didn’t mind one bit walking in the “splash zone” along the water, as it was quite hot out.

More Pictures…

By the time we got back to the walls heading out of that area, my wife wanted to go back to the movie since we had our receipt and apparently it was good (both the movie and the amphitheater section cost extra). We were told once again that our tickets didn’t include the movie and in the words on the person there, “I don’t know how you got in if you didn’t pay.”

We were enjoying sitting in front of the air conditioning, me taking a break from carrying DD and DW just cooling off, when a large group of Americans walked in and DD went straight for them. After entertaining the group for a bit, and us just sitting there pathetically not going in, the woman working there decided to let us just go in anyway.

It’s a good thing we didn’t end up paying. After about 2 minutes of sitting in the video, DD decided she didn’t like the dark and started whining. Out we went. I offered DW to sit in the rest of the movie about the area, but she didn’t want to, preferring to just go.

We walked out, ate lunch in the car, and were off to Yerushalayim by 1:45 pm. When we arrived in Yerushalayim around 3:00pm, after DW and DD had slept in the car, we first went to the street they named after my wife’s Yerushalmi great-great-grandfather. We filled up the car and drove to the hotel, the Waldorf Astoria.

After dropping DW and DD off at the hotel, I went around the block to return the car. While I first found the car rental office to return the vehicle, they told me that this was not the spot you return cars. I started following the guy’s directions, but after a short while of realizing they were leading nowhere, I went back to the office to ask where to return the car.

Turns out I was going to the wrong area. The correct area to return the car was in an underground parking lot a few blocks away. Once in there were loads of signs for the rental return, and I eventually found it and returned the car.

After a short walk back to the WA, we were off to our room.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Once we were settled in we decided to go out for dinner at Luciana Restaurant in the Mamilla mall. We had a bit of trouble finding it exactly (you enter an indoor part of the mall right near Fox), but we eventually made it upstairs to Luciana. While the restaurant definitely wasn’t cheap (it was the most expensive meal we had in Israel!), the food was absolutely fantastic!! I was literally making sure every last piece of food we got was consumed it was that good.

Dinner at Luciana:

Inside of the restaurant

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and got ready for bed. DW took a nice, relaxing bath after DD was asleep while I was on my computer for a bit, and then we went to bed.

July 18, 2017, 11:48:38 PM
Re: Florence Italy master thread
So to recap - Ruth's had a local hashgacha by the local chief Rabbi of Florence and not by Chabbad.  In May 2017, said Rabbi left the city of Florence and because there was no local Rabbi to certify, Ruth's no longer carried the local hashgacha.  To remedy, Ruth's received certification from the IKC and the IKC is currently  the certifying agency.  Acceptance of the IKC is at best controversial (I won't eat their establishments) and I hope when the new Rabbi gets hired, he and the local Chabad can work something out that the Chabbad will at least respect his Kashrus standards.
That's a good summary IMO.

July 19, 2017, 02:49:29 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Music Museum, Geula and the Kotel

For our first morning we were super excited to try the free breakfast. We were down stairs at the breakfast buffet as soon as I got back from the Great Synagogue at around 9:00 am.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

Our first stop for the day was at the new(-ish) music museum in Kikar HaMusica. It on was a lovely pedestrian-only street with umbrellas overhead for shade.

Umbrella-covered street

Music Museum

It was a small museum of 2 floors, though it was done in a very nice way. Each visitor got a tablet and a pair of wireless headphones to go along with it. There were QR codes all over the museum, by each exhibit, that you scanned with the tablet. The code that you scanned had either a video that played or a list of instruments that you were looking at. If you clicked on the instrument you could read about it and hear a sample of someone playing it. You can imagine my surprise when I heard a modern American song playing as the sample music on one of the instruments!

Music Museum

Finally, at the end of the museum they have a 3D Beis HaMikdash experience. While I’m not one who likes 3D things, especially if it involves putting on goggles which this did, DW was a big fan and really enjoyed herself. DD was not on her best behavior at the museum, so we may have done it a bit quicker than had she not been there, or had she been better behaved, but it was still a fun way to spend 2 hours.

After the music museum, we decided to walk to Geula now that I finally decided what I needed there. Up Yaffo and down Strauss, and before we knew it we were in Geula. I went to get the few things I wanted and we headed back to the hotel. On the way, we decided to stop for lunch at Ma’afe Ne’eman on the corner of King George and Yaffo. We each got a salad bowl which came with a roll.

After a nice, light lunch at the bakery we headed back to the hotel for a bit to relax and cool down. Since we were leaving Israel on Sunday, we decided that a visit to the Kotel was in order since we didn’t want to go on Friday or Shabbos. We walked through Mamilla and through Shaar Yaffo to the Kotel. I davened Mincha there then we headed back.

Aaron at the Kotel

We met up with my wife’s cousin for a few minutes on the way back, as he was in the Old City anyway for the summer. We stopped at Holy Bagel to pick up food for a light dinner. Once we got our food, we walked out of the Old City and back to our hotel, bidding DW’s cousin goodbye at the Old City walls.

We had an exhausting day of walking, so once we got back to the hotel we just had a light dinner of bagels and I went back to the great Synagogue for Maariv. When I got back, DD was sound asleep, so we just relaxed for the rest of the evening before turning in for the night.

July 19, 2017, 09:19:51 PM
Re: Los Angeles Master Thread
is the beverly hills waldorf located  near any shuls? cant find anything walking distance via google maps
Link to Wiki Map of Jewish & Kosher LA:

July 20, 2017, 02:41:19 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Machane Yehuda on Erev Shabbos

Friday started out without many plans. I went to the Great Synagogue for Shachris at 8am once again, and then we went to breakfast at the hotel. The plan was to eat the Friday night meal in our room and Shabbos day at my brother-in-law’s apartment in Machal.

We decided to walk to the shuk, Machane Yehuda. We loaded DD into the baby carrier and were off. With a nice stroll down Yaffo, we eventually arrived at Machane Yehuda around 11:30am. We slowly made our way through all the stalls, pushing our way amongst all the people there.

By this point, DD had fallen asleep in the baby carrier. We were looking for two things: food for Friday night, and some candy for my BIL for the next day. We first stopped to purchase some challah rolls from one stall that thankfully accepted credit card. I mean, when you get 6 rolls for under $4.50 that’s a good deal to me!

Our next stop was at a super crowded candy stall to buy a tray as a gift for Shabbos. My wife got the last tray they had and filled it up for a decent price. Our other goal was to find food for Shabbos. We looked at most of the stalls as we walked up and down the different alleyways of the market, but alas we didn’t end up finding anything worth getting.

We walked back to the WA at that point. We first stopped in a supermarket to get a dip for that evening. Our next stop was at Ma’afe Ne’eman once again to get two salads for Shabbos. We then stopped at Re:bar for a smoothie which was quite refreshing on such a hot day. We finally made it back to the hotel at around 1:15pm.

Future home of the Museum of Tolerance, Israel

Besides going out to look for some more dips and food for Shabbos a few hours later, we didn’t do that much else on our last full weekday in Israel. We hung around the hotel, got ready for Shabbos, and eventually went to daven at the shul in the hotel around 7:40pm.

I should mention the ordeal with the Shabbos key. All rooms come with a manual key to be used on Shabbos which you get from the front desk before. The first time I went down to get the key they said ours was missing and to come back later. An hour or two later when I showed back up they said they’d need to get an extra key from somewhere else. Finally, on the third attempt, I got them to get the key on the spot from the other location, though they did caution that it was the “extra” key and they didn’t have another. With the Shabbos key in hand, it was time for Shabbos.

July 20, 2017, 10:31:06 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Flights to Hong Kong and Bali
Sunday started much the same as the other days we were at the WA. I went to shul at 8:00 am and met DW and DD at breakfast. After a final breakfast (at which the soft pretzels were quite stale), we went upstairs to pack a bit.

We then went back down stairs to the restaurant to meet up our friends from LA. It was nice seeing both of them (he’d been sleeping on Shabbos) as well as their baby. We didn’t have that much time, but DW got to spend a bit longer than I did since I needed to check out.

At 11:00 am I had a car service pick us up and take us to the airport for 170 Shekel. The driver, a frum man, arrived on time, loaded our things into the car and off we went. We didn’t encounter much traffic and arrived at the airport around 11:45 am.

The check-in hall had a huge line for the counters we needed, but we quickly found the business class line and were through to check-in in a few minutes. The check-in took a really long time, as the agent at first assumed we were Israeli and was asking for our visa to travel to Indonesia. Eventually we were all set.

We walked to security (we couldn’t find a business class line) and immigration. At immigration they were encouraging people to use the automated system, even those people like us who were waiting in line to speak to a person.

I figured I’d go and try the machine, and after my great experience, I had DW go as well. We waited for the person at the counter for DD since she was in her car seat and we didn’t want to take her out of her car seat. Around the corner we went, and as we were about to go through the gates, we couldn’t find DW’s ticket.

At first she became very mad with me, saying how I must have lost it somewhere, and how could I do that. She then proceeded to have me—then her—go through my entire bag to find it. She went back to speak to the agent about what to do if she lost the paper, and he said it would be a whole mess and would take quite a while to sort out.

As DW gets back to me, exasperated, we all walk back to go begin the long process we’d have to go through, we lo and behold there’s DW’s ticket sitting on the floor right where we’d been standing when we were at the window for DD’s customs! We picked up the paper and were off.

Because of the long time it took them to check us in, the wait at security and the whole mix up at customs we were running a bit late. We decided to skip the lounge and head straight for the gate. We got to the gate about 15 minutes before the actually started boarding. Lucky for us there was a kids’ play area right nearby that we let DD run around in to get some of her energy out. Before we knew it, it was time for boarding and we got on the plane.

Our flight to HKG

We got on the plane and were directed left towards business class. We were seated in the middle section in the 2nd row while the 1st row remained empty the entire flight. The rest of business class was full.

Lots of leg room on CX’s new A350

It took a bit to get settled, but once we were everything went smoothly. We left a few minutes late, at around 2:15 pm, but the reset of the flight was smooth. As it turns out, the dean of her seminary was on the flight a few rows behind us, so she introduced me to him. We took turns eating lunch while the other person held DD, who was just OK for the flight. They let us bring the Doona on the plane and put it in an empty seat, but DD was not allowed to go in it.

I slept well during the flight. After the meal when it was time to sleep, I did just that: went to sleep. DW and DD slept well too, but upon landing had a hard time. When we were landing (in HKG in the summer), the rough air was a bit too much for DW. I held DD while DW puked her guts out into the provided bag.

Dinner on CX

Breakfast on CX

Once we got off the plane in HKG we went through security and made our way to The Wing lounge to rest. Turns out the business class part of The Wing lounge, while they might have nice showers, didn’t have a nice area to wait. We were both very tired, so we schlepped all the way to The Pier Business Class lounge. Once there, we went to the very end, to the quiet room, and just slept.

Well more specifically, DW & DD slept. I went to shower. After my shower, I davened and lied down on another recliner for about 45 minutes. About 10 minutes before we needed to leave the lounge I woke up DW & DD so they could get ready to go. Our gate, number 33, was a few minutes from the lounge, and by the time we got there, they were about to start boarding.

Our flight to Bali

The plane we were on to Bali was not as nice as the plane to Hong Kong. The seats were almost lie flat, and there were 3 seats in the middle section. We were on the window section with just two seats, which ended up being fine. They did take DD’s car seat away to be returned in DPS.

The flight was short and sweet. DD was in a great mood for the flight spent much of the flight in our laps and on my seat. Before we knew it, we were landing in Bali. After a short taxi to the gate, we were among the first off of the plane, only to have to wait until nearly everyone was gone to get our car seat.

Food on the way to Bali

We then walked to the customs hall, where we proceeded to wait for about an hour until we finally got through to get our checked bag. We waited again to go through customs though oddly we didn’t see the line for things to declare, so we just went through the regular lane. I was bringing in tuna packets which I declared on the customs form, but ultimately no one was there to give us any problems and we went right through.

The next thing we needed to do was find our guide. I’d hired someone to pick us up at the airport, drive us around for 2 days, and drive us back to the airport all for a grand total of US$115. Right when you exit customs there are loads of people holding up signs for people who they’re going to meet. It was a bit overwhelming, at first, so we just walked around behind them to try to find our guy. I was texting the owner of the company, who said the guide was there. After a bit of back and forth and a lot of hashgacha, I ran into him. His name was Wayan (surprise) and he took us straight to his car.

He had a great attitude, spoke English very well, and was a pleasure to deal with. We sat in a bit of traffic leaving the airport, and even more once we got on our way because it was around 5 pm and rush hour.

I mentioned about an hour in that I needed to stop to get cash at an ATM. Around that time Wayan must have wanted a cigarette, so he pulled over and I took out some cash. He spoke to the owner of the Airbnb we were going to in order to find out exactly where it was. The owner told him, and about one hour and 45 minutes after we left the airport we arrived at our Airbnb.

The owners of the Airbnb, a Norwegian married to a Balinese woman, were actually visiting from Norway for 3 weeks, so she met us at the car and showed us around the place. We got settled, had dinner, and went got ready to go to bed.

Our place in Bali:

All of a sudden, all the lights went off. Not only was DD scared, but it was pitch black! Within 30 seconds of the lights going out, there was a knock on the front door. It was the owner with a lit candle she was giving us to light all the other candles around their place. No sooner did we light all the candles and get a romantic mood going than the electricity came back on.

Apparently, this was the first time in years that they’d lost all power, but at least it was only for 10 minutes or so. We finished getting ready for bed and went to sleep. It was a long and exhausting two days, but we were finally in Bali.

July 23, 2017, 12:45:59 AM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
Just curious, why did you go with an AirBnB? To have a kitchen?
That, it's more space, dry cheap, in the right location, and hotels charge more (points and dollars) for less space.

July 24, 2017, 08:46:41 AM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Day 1 in Bali: Coffee Factory, Batik, Silver Market and the Monkey Forest

Our first day in Bali started out at around 8:00am. We’d all gotten to bed on the early side, and as Bali is only 5 hours ahead of Israel, it’s only half the jet lag compared to going to Israel from LA. I woke up, davened and got ready for the day.

We had oatmeal packets we’d brought from LA in small, plastic bowls for breakfast. Once I opened the front door, our hostess also provided us with our requested fruit plate, which was a nice addition to our meal.

As we didn’t know when we’d be up, we asked Wayan to come at 11:00 am, as we likely wouldn’t be ready before then. We decided to do the Coffee plantation, a few of the markets, and the Monkey Forest. If we were still in the mood of continuing, we’d also do the rice terraces, but as it turns out we saved those for tomorrow.

We left at 10:45am, as Wayan had come early and we were ready to go. Our first stop was the chocolate factory, Pod. I had mentioned that I’d wanted to see the cacao growing, and this is where they took us. This was a bit of letdown for me, as we didn’t end up going somewhere where I could buy cocoa powder, rather we went to a factory with a self-guided tour.

After driving for 1:15, we arrived at Pod. We went in and one of the people took us on a “tour.” The reason I put it in quotes is because she just basically showed us a few different cacao pods in different stages of processing. The pods are for demonstration purposes, not for actual use, so it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. We were able to walk along the outside of the building watching them make the chocolate on the inside, but besides reading the signs as to what was happening, there wasn’t anything else going on.


People making chocolate

The people at Pod were extremely nice, and were sorry we couldn’t taste anything (nothing was Kosher, as expected). I inquired about buying cocoa powder, but they don’t sell any. Back in the car we went to our next stop: The Batik factory.

Now when I’d reserved the tour, I thought I was specific about what we wanted to see and what we didn’t want to see. Wayan was just driving us to where he assumed we’d want to go based on the conversation I had before we arrived, so I don’t fault him for anything.

Anyway, after nearly an hour of driving we were there. By this time we were hungry, so we took DD out of the car so she could walk around. We all ate on the side while the people waited for us to be finished before starting our “tour.” Once we were ready to start, the whole “tour” lasted about 10 minutes. It was basically a row outside with a few props to show people what Batik is, as well as a woman actually making it.

In short, Batik is intricately designed fabric, where the patterns are made out of wax, then melted off. The effect is a cool pattern on the fabric. For more info, look on Wikipedia.

A Batik stamp, one of the methods used to make the Batik patterns

Examples of different types of Batik

Woman weaving at Batik

After we finished at the Batik factory, we headed over to the silver market that I’d seen driving to the Batik place. It was just a few doors down.

This place was slightly more interesting. We were met by a guide who took us to the work room of all the people working at the factory in the silver department (the gold department is not open to the public for security reasons, understandably).  We got to see how they made and refined, by hand, many of the pieces they sell. From bending the silver into patterns to adding gems, it was all done here.

Stairs at the silver place

Working on the silver

Their signature moths

After seeing how they made and refined the products, it was time to go into the (nicely air-conditioned) show room. Our guide showed us around for a bit, and DW ended up getting a pair of earrings for under $24, which I thought was a good deal. Sure, I may have been able to get them cheaper elsewhere, but it was cheap enough for me there so I bought them.

From the silver market we headed to the Monkey Forest about 40 minutes away. Wayan dropped us off and showed us where he’d be waiting. The entrance fee (around IDR 50k/person) we paid in cash and in we went. This place was amazing. DD really enjoyed seeing all the monkeys and nearly petting them (there are signs warning against touching them).

We spent about 1:20 there, walking on many of the trails looking for more moneys. It was pretty cool, but after 1:20 DD and DW had had enough, so we left. We drove back through the main part of town, looking at all the shops and “touristy” things that we were avoiding. We were quite tired this point, so despite it only being around 5:15 pm, we headed back for the day and decided to save the Rice Terraces for the next day.

Monkey Forest:

We arrived back at our place, and while DD and DW were relaxing and going in the pool, I decided to go to the supermarket for some veggies. The owner of the Airbnb offered to take me, so together we set out on the 25-minute drive during rush hour.

I spent about 15 minutes in the supermarket looking at all the vegetables they had, as well as searching the rest of the store for anything kosher. Spoiler alert: they didn’t have anything I could find besides things that don’t need a hechsher. Most of the products are made in Indonesia and are just not kosher.

Though I was not in the mood to shop for sheitels, but if you were you could always get some at the supermarket

We headed back to our place, and I prepared more noodles for dinner. While I was gone, DW took DD in the pool for a minute, but they both ended up only spending a few minutes in the water. After a nice (and simple) dinner, we bathed DD and put her to bed.

Despite not doing a ton of stuff that day and the day getting off to (in my mind) not such a great start, we had a lovely time and wanted to rest up for our next and final day in Bali.

July 24, 2017, 10:22:39 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Day 2 in Bali: Rice terraces and the Bali Zoo

For our second day in Bali we planned to take it a bit easier and opted for just 2 stops: The rice terraces and the zoo. We woke up a bit earlier than the day before, got ready and were out the door to go by 10:15 am. Once again, our hosts provided us with fresh fruit in the morning, though we didn’t eat a ton of it before heading out.

Our first stop was the rice terraces. We were visiting in the beginning of July, so it was the off season for rice: none was growing. That didn’t stop us from enjoying it though. We arrived at the rice terraces 35 minutes after leaving our Airbnb, which was quite close.

Seen in the parking lot near the rice terraces

Once there, we parked and went down to pay the nominal entrance fee. We then proceeded to walk about 5 minutes down the main street to where the entrance was located. There was no one to take our tickets when we got there; I think it’s mainly on the honor system. Our guide told us where to meet him on the way back, and off we were.

I’d always wanted to walk down the rice terraces to see them from the bottom, but DW wasn’t such a fan of walking. DD was in the backpack carrier, so she didn’t care either way. We started walking down the mountain. While it’s not the easiest of paths (it’s not paved and there are no escalators), we made it about 75% of the way down.

Views of the rice terraces

At that point DW had had enough, and I didn’t want to push her any more. We stopped under an overhang/rest area where a small shop was set up selling cold beverages. We admired the surrounding area, took a few pictures and then began the climb up.

The daunting climb up

Apparently you can take a picture with the baskets as this guy did

Once back on the street, we decided to look for some souvenirs at the many stalls we passed on the way there.  We ended up buying a shot glass and a dress for DD, both of which averaged out to a good price. We made it back to the car, found Wayan, and were off to the Zoo.

Bali zoo

About an hour after we left the rice terraces we arrived at the zoo. Once again Wayan explained that he’d wait near the car and we’d see him when we were done. We got our tickets for the zoo (which were about ~$25/person) and then sat down right outside the zoo to eat lunch, as no food is allowed in.

After eating lunch we were ready to go. We’d brought the Doona this time so DW could go in if she wanted to, she just didn’t want to. They took the obligatory photo of us holding some colorful birds, but here they actually took it with your camera in addition to the zoo’s camera. Sweet!

We ended up exploring the zoo backwards. The path that loops around the entire zoo went one way and we were going the other way. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but the worst part was some of the signs were angled the wrong way for us. Ultimately it wasn’t the biggest deal, but most people view the zoo the other way.

DD loved the zoo! At every new animal she would just stop and look at it before either reaching for it or just walking on. I’d say the highlight of the zoo for her was the petting zoo. Here, unlike in the US, the petting zoo was just open to the public, without having any zoo employees around. Among the animals they had in the petting zoo were some kangaroos, goats, and a lamb.

DD had a great time sticking her hand out to all the animals and looking at all of them up close and personal. This exhibit wasn’t extremely large, but the animals were all (either on sedatives or just) extremely calm and friendly. I’d say it was probably her highlight of the trip to Bali!

After walking around the main path we took the bus to the elephant exhibit. Most people going here are paying to go on the elephants and ride them around the path. We weren’t. We just went to see them and to explore the area. Lucky for us it was feeding time for one of the elephants just as we were arriving.

We got to feed the elephant some food (for free!) and pet its trunk. It was a bit close for such a large animal for DD, but DW and I both enjoyed it a lot. We only spent 20 minutes or so in the elephant area before heading back and out of the zoo.

Feeding the elephant

Elephant saddled up for a ride

We met Wayan in the parking lot where he was talking with lots of other guides. The drive back to our place was pretty quick at only about 30 minutes, and that includes stopping for a religious procession. We made up with Wayan that he’d pick us up the following day to take us to the airport at 11:00 am and bid him good night.

Religious procession blocking traffic

We had more cup-of-soups and vegetables for dinner and put DD to sleep. We relaxed for some time, as well as packed up a bit before turning in for the night. I know it sounds boring, but the Bali Zoo was one of the highlights of our trip to Bali and I’d highly recommend it.

July 25, 2017, 11:41:37 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
Nice TR

What is the reason you went all the way to Bali?
What is unique about this place, beaches?
Thanks. Because it's pretty. We didn't go to any beaches.

July 26, 2017, 01:01:49 AM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days The main reason I went with Airbnb as opposed to hotels was because of price. While the hotels in Nusa Dua do offer some great cash deals, we really wanted to be in Ubud. There's a few hotels there, but we weren't interested in spending the cash/points to stay in a 1 room place when for the same price we could have an entire house all to ourselves with a great, private swimming pool (which I'll speak more about in the final segment coming (hopefully) tonight.

Everything else you said about Bali is true though, form the Hindu culture to the friendly people. I'm not either sure how the Muslims didn't get a hold in Bali, but I'm sure glad they didn't.

July 26, 2017, 01:04:14 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days Last day in Bali & flights back home: DPS-HKG-ICN-LAX

Our flight left in the late afternoon back to HKG, around 4:10 pm. For our last morning in Bali we decided to just stick to the Airbnb so DW and DD could go swimming in the pool. After we woke up and got ready, that’s exactly what they did.

While swimming in the pool seemed like a good idea, it was in fact a bit chilly for DW to be in the water, and DD wasn’t interested in swimming either for that matter. They both spent about 30 minutes in and out of the water while I watched before coming out and showering.

While we didn’t use it, this is the outdoor shower

We had made up with Wayan to pick us up to go back to the airport at around 11 am. While DW bathed DD quickly and showered herself, I packed up. By the time they were ready to go it was around 11:00 am. We didn’t see our Norwegian hosts when we left, but bid goodbye to those around us.

A short 1:20 minutes later we arrived at the airport. I paid Wayan and we were off.  Inside the (not so air conditioned) terminal we had to first pass through a security check where all bags were screened. When we got to the Cathay check-in counter there was no one in line, though a queue started forming after us.

Sign in the bathroom at DPS airport

We were in economy on this leg, but I decided to try my luck with checking our bag all the way though to LAX. Sure enough it worked! I showed them my (paper) itinerary for the connecting flights in HKG and ICN on Korean Air, and after a while she was able to check the bag all the way to LAX. She even put a “first class” sticker on the bag and allowed us to carry all our carry-ons with us, despite us being in economy on the way to HKG. Score!

We proceeded though security to the terminal and up to the lounge. While the lounge was just a contract lounge used by tons of airlines, we got in with my Priority Pass, courtesy of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

The first thing we did was have lunch, some leftover soups. We took turns eating at the table and looking after DD. We spent some time in the kids room with her before another family came in with their kids and DD was able to socialize a bit.

I guess this is how you say seltzer in Indonesian

Some pictures of the lounge in DPS; it was quite crowded when I went so no good pictures

Before we knew it, it was time to go to the gate. Once at the gate we had all our bags searched again (not sure why), as it was the only way to get into the gate. Shortly after we arrived boarding began with people with disabilities and kids, in other words us.

Our flight

We boarded the plane and settled in. I checked on my phone and the seat next to us was blocked, presumably because we had an infant with us. While they airline made us check the car seat for the flight, having the extra seat really helped. The airline even gave us a bassinet to use, though we mainly used it for storage and DD didn’t want to lie down.

We left a few minutes late and had a pretty smooth flight. The salmon meals were good, though there was not as many side dishes as in first or busienss.

Meal on Cathay, coach

Before we knew it we were landing in HKG. We got off the plane and were waiting for our luggage along with a family that as traveling from Bali to Hong Kong to Vancouver to a smaller town in BC with 2 small kids. When the crew came off the plane and we were still waiting there we knew we’d need help. I spoke to some one and a short time later they brought us our Doona and the other family their stroller.

Since everyone was way ahead of us and it was now almost 10:00pm in HKG, we were through the health check in a matter of minutes looking for the Korean Air transit desk. While it took a while to find, there was no line at the desk when we arrived. After waiting for a while for the agent to fix the broken boarding pass printer, we got our new boarding passes and headed to transit security.

We had a while before our next flight, so after security we headed to the lounge. While I’ve only ever been to The Wing and The Pier lounges in HKG, this was my first time at another lounge. The lounge itself was pretty basic. We parked our stuff down in a pretty much empty area and I went to shower. The shower rooms were empty, and the shower was fine. We waited until it was about 50 minutes before our flight (which was at 12:45 am) to head to the gate, at around 11:55 pm.

Redeye flight to Seoul

We got to the gate and boarded relatively easily. Once on the plane, we headed to our seats, 1A and 1K in the very nose of the 747! While I’d have loved to be in these seats on a daytime flight where I didn’t just want to sleep, that was not the case. At ~3 long, this was a relatively short redeye flight that definitely left us quite tired. They don’t provide amenity kits on the short flights, but the flight attendant did have an eye mask for me.

Korean First Class, 747

We left relatively on time and took off a few minutes later. A few seconds after takeoff I reclined into a bed and was sound asleep in a matter of minutes. After what felt like 10 minutes but in reality was the entire flight with just 10 minutes to go, we were landing in Incheon. We landed on time at 5:25 am on Friday. We were all a bit tired, but we got off the plane and groggily headed to the transit area.

They wanted DW to remove DD from the Doona, but she didn’t and they ended up being ok with it. They understood that we were coming off a redeye flight and were not in the best moods. We found the Korean Air First lounge a few minutes later and went up. It was quite empty when we first arrived they barely had any food out (not that it was kosher). We did see they had a few flavors of Haagen Dazs in the freezer, but that’d have to wait.

I first needed to daven, which I did in a conference-type room. I say that because there was not a long table like your western conference room, but rather a lot of chairs in a U around a low table. After I davened it was time to shower, first DW than me. While DW was showering I took advantage of the free luggage tags they offer and requested some for all of us.

We had a bit of time in the lounge—around 5 hours total—so after a while we went on a walk in the terminal, leaving our bags in the lockers. As we were getting ready to leave, the lounge associate informed us our luggage tags were ready. Boy are they nice!

We walked around a bit, watching the terminal fill up. By this time it was around 8:00 am, the middle of rush hour. We walked down the terminal looking at all the shops. We let DD walk as well as push the Doona, though that didn’t end well. We stopped by a piano that was playing itself and watching it for a bit before returning to the terminal.

We got back to the lounge with a bit more time to kill. At this point we were kind of hungry again, so we had some bread from our bag and some fresh vegetables form the lounge. DW even had a Haagen Dasz ice cream.

Around an hour later at 10:00, about 1:30 minutes prior to departure of our next flight, we were getting antsy, so we just decided to take a leisurely walk to the gate. We got to the gate about 15 minutes before they started boarding our flight, so we just sat tight.

Our flight to LAX

We boarded first (because of the baby, not because we were in first class), and they let us keep the Doona in another seat. We got to our seats, and before we knew it we were ready to go. It was cool being the only passengers (there was one crew) in First Class and having the entire cabin to ourselves.

One of our 7 seats, Korean Air F

Shortly after take-off we put DD to bed in the seat next to DW, and I joined DW for lunch in her suite. It was cool eating together, the first time we’d eaten facing each other on a plane. We had a lovely meal, though it got quite turbulent at the end. I didn’t have a seat belt on, being seated across form DW, though when the flight attendants were asked to take their seats because of the weather I got a bit nervous and decided to go back to my seat. I quickly jumped over to my seat and buckled up.

Korean Air Lunch; Mains: Spinach and Muhroom in puff pastry & a savory pancake

At this point we just wanted to go to sleep. Since it was just us, we asked them to turn off the lights and make our beds, which they gladly did for us, as soon as the turbulence stopped and they were able to get up. I kind of felt bad for the flight attendants on this flight.

They were so b-o-r-e-d, all three of them. Either way, they turned off the lights and we both slept; DW for 3:30 and I slept 5:00. When we woke up it was pitch black outside.

Either way, since DD and DW were up before I got up, she just let DD excitedly explore the cabin. Once I was up and I had them turn on the lights (there’s no point to keeping them off if we’re up, right?) we decided to have breakfast.

Since DD was up at this time, we ate breakfast in shifts, first me then DW. Before we knew it, it was getting light outside and another Friday was dawning. We flew down the coast to some of the amazing views I was treated to last time I flew in from Asia, and before we knew it we landed in LAX at 7:15 am, Friday.

”Breakfast” including vegetables and soul (fish)

Sunrise #2 of Friday

We were out of the plane in no time, and made the long walk to customs. One interesting thing to note, was there was no picture of the president when we were going down the escalator to customs like there was last time. I guess LAX is not a Trump fan.

We were through customs in a matter of minutes, and met by my father waiting to take us home. It was a long 2 days of travel to get home, and sure, we could have done it a bit quicker, but in the end we were happy with Korean Air and all our other flights. A mere 18 days after we left, we were home again, ready to rejuvenate and recuperate for our next big adventure.

July 27, 2017, 02:54:35 PM
Re: Israel & Bali: around the world in 17 days
Great TR, and great to know that Korean charges 10% of mileage for infant!
Yes, totally great all around!

July 28, 2017, 12:38:37 AM
Re: Which/How Many Commercial Airports Have You Flown Through?
Nice! How many total hours for you?
1,438 h 56 min. What are your totals?

August 07, 2017, 05:12:43 PM
Re: Where Are You Posting From Now?
Kids room in JAL J lounge after we were "kindly" escorted out of the F lounge since my daughter decided to cry when we changed her diaper in the bathroom.  There  was a woman waiting for me as I got out.
That's horrible. Almost as bad as the Israeli guys seated behind us on LX J to TLV complaining to the FA that his seat was too close to the baby. She was silent the entire flight except for as soon as she woke up. The Israeli guy behind us lost it and complained to the FA, who did absolutely nothing. We were lucky to be on a plane with no where to go.

August 24, 2017, 09:00:10 AM
Re: Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure Nice segment. I don't think I could ever convince my wife to get on a small plane like that, luggage or not.
September 18, 2017, 09:28:55 AM
A Short Trip to Cabo A Trip to Cabo

Trip planning:
This trip was one of the most last minute trips I planned. I planned it so late mainly because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go until about 3 weeks before. The good news was I’d been monitoring the flights and they were still very cheap. The trip was planned for Sun-Thu.

I ended up booking the flights with Southwest at around $230 each using Chase UR.  I went with SW because they offer free bags and changes, something that ended up being rather helpful, plus they weren’t any more expensive than any other airline that flies there non-stop from LAX. The reason I used Chase instead of SW points is simply because I didn’t have any SW points, since I forgot to apply for their very generous credit card offer this past November. Once I wasn’t using SW points, I just booked with UR because it was just a few hundred points more than booking with SW points that I would transfer from Chase, but I’d be able to earn miles on the flight and not have to pay the ~$130 in taxes that go along with a RR award ticket.

For the hotel, I booked the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar (the best value with SPG) for 6k+$110 per night.

I also rented a car for the grand total price of $9 for the time we’d be there from Europcar through Advantage. There was a National there, but they wanted a lot more, even with the corporate codes. Oh, and for that price I got a Mercedes SUV or similar. I figured renting a car was easier than trying to take 2 kids in a taxi with car seats. What they didn’t tell you, but I knew anyway, is that the price doesn’t include the mandatory insurance you must get to drive in Mexico. It’s not CDW, that was taken care of by my credit card, but rather liability insurance that all drivers in Mexico must have. It ended up costing around $180 for the 4 days, but that’s not too bad for a Mercedes SUV IMO.

The car

For activities, we didn’t really plan much. Since this was our first trip as a family of 4, taking our 2 daughters along with us, we wanted to see what it would be like, and as such didn’t plan anything. Sure, I wanted to see the famous sea arch, but besides for that, nothing besides relaxing by the pool.

So, after I’d booked everything and gotten all packed to go, Motzei Shabbos before we were to leave my youngest daughter was dehydrated and the Dr. didn’t recommend going with her like that. She’d had a small cold, but the Dr. had told us that some time in the sun and warm weather would be helpful for that, but not for dehydration.

That’s where booking with Southwest comes in handy. I called Southwest right away and asked them how much it’d cost to change the flights to Monday. Their answer: $2 total. Awesome! I changed the flight to Monday morning, switched the hotel and called and notified the car rental agency.

Sunday turned out to be a better day for our youngest, so we decided to go for it and leave on Monday morning. After all, 4 days are better than no days in Cabo.

Monday, January 22, 2018
Our flight Monday morning was at 8:10am. It’s funny how SW works with international flights right now at LAX. SW operates out of T-1, but because of construction, their international flights leave from TBIT, but check-in and security are still in T-1.

Southwest international check-in

There was a bit of a wait to check in due to many computers not printing bag tags, but it took less than 15 minutes anyway. Security was a breeze, and we found the area to wait for the shuttle bus to the international terminal pretty easily. It was there that we were informed that our flight only had 15 passengers on it, so it would be a fairly empty flight. Score!

Our empty flight

We took the bus to the international terminal where we boarded our flight in less than 2 minutes. We took 2 rows: my wife and our youngest in one row and me and our oldest in the other.

The flight was uneventful and was shorter than planned by a good half an hour. We landed in Cabo, got through customs and immigration (we were lucky enough to get the green light), and rented our car in no time at all. We then drove the 45 minutes to the Sheraton.

Landing in Cabo

The hotel was beautiful, if not more so on the outside and from a distance. Up close and personal, the guest room we stayed in was on the tired side. There was nothing wrong with it directly: there were no stains on the sheets or towels, the furniture was new and not fraying/chipping, etc. and the room was well maintained for the most part, but there were some things that just seemed old and worn. Maybe it was the old hooks in the closet where an iron and ironing board once were, maybe it was that one of the hangers (you know, the fancy ones with the satin and foam around them) had the foam coming through, or maybe it was just the slightly cloudy glass on the shower door that was clear once upon a time but was no longer, but it was just a bit tired feeling.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

View from our balcony

While this was only a minor complaint, the rest of the hotel was gorgeous. After we arrived and settled in to our room for a few minutes, we had some lunch and headed down to the pools. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool before heading back to the room at around 5:00 to get ready for dinner.

We showered, bathed and I davened mincha before leaving for the restaurant around 6:15pm. It was a bit tricky to find the correct parking lot, as Google said to turn into a space with two parking garages (the correct one is the one on the right). As an aside, I found our later that there’s a parking garage in the mall next door that is only 20 pesos for 4 hours. The restaurant’s lot is 5 pesos the first hour with validation, but a lot more than 20 pesos after that.

The kosher restaurant, Baja Kosher, which just opened in December 2017, was the only kosher place in town, but it was quite good. The food was all made from scratch (minus the hamburger buns it seems), and was quite tasty. The portions were generous while not being too big, and the staff was friendly. The owner, Benny, was nice and made sure to talk to all the guests. Sure, there were some things that either got lost in translation or were just not worked out 100% because it’s so new, but overall, a great place to eat.

The restaurant

Our food:

Catch of the day


A burger, I forgot the name

Churros with chocolate and raspberry sauces

We left the restaurant around 1:20 after we arrived and headed back to the hotel for the night with a quick stop at Walmart on the way. Benny had recommended that we stop there for fruits and vegetables (as well as other food), since they were quite cheap (which they were). They’re right off Highway 1 a short 5-minute drive from the restaurant. We got what we needed and continued back to the hotel.

Since there is only a 1 hour time difference between Cabo and LA, it made sense just to keep everyone on an LA schedule as opposed to trying to change it for just 4 days. Even so, by this time it was well past their bedtimes even in LA, so everyone slept quite well (once we got to the hotel).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tuesday started out slowly. By the time we finished eating breakfast it was almost 11:00am (late by my standards). I decided to take a walk around the property with my older daughter while my wife stayed back while the younger one slept.

We went to the kids club area and saw the kids pool. We also went to the kids play area and the room that has babysitters who will watch your kid for you (not ours, they were too young). My daughter played with many of the toys in the room and just outside of it for about hour.

We headed back to the hotel room where we had lunch before heading to the beach and pool for the afternoon. We first went to the beach to relax. We let our oldest play in the sand and put her feet in the water. After a few minutes, it was time to go to the pool up above.

It was there that we had a quite uncomfortable experience with some very drunk women in their mid to late 50s.

Somehow one of them, who was not at all drunk, asked where we were visiting from and I said LA. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, the drunkest of all of them was a huge Eagles fan (a Philly football team) and was at an important game for them before she came to Cabo. When she found out my wife was from PHL, she spent the next 20 minutes talking to her (mostly without cursing) and making me quite uncomfortable.

We left as soon as we could, got ready to go to eat dinner at the restaurant again, and did just that. We were done a bit quicker this evening, and were back at the hotel by 7:45pm. The kids went straight to bed, and we were not far behind them.

More food at the restaurant:

Schnitzel again

Salad with grilled pineapple

Green salad

Random: Mexican night was happening at the hotel this night, so they set up the whole courtyard accordingly

Wednesday, January 24, 2018
I didn’t really want to just sit at the pool for another day, so on Wednesday we went on a short, 45-minute glass-bottom boat ride to the famous sea arch.

We left the hotel at around 11:00am, and headed back to the same marina the restaurant is located near. We parked in the mall’s parking lot which costs just 20 pesos for 4 hours. We walked to Dock A where we’d catch the boat. We ended up getting to the dock a minute or so before noon, so we caught the 12:20 boat (they leave every 20 minutes).

The boat ride was fun. My older daughter slept the whole way, while the younger one just drank a bottle in her car seat. I am normally one to avoid boat rides as I get sea sick quite easily, but I was determined to see the sea arch. As it turns out, I was totally fine on the whole ride. It was DW that fed the fish more than just the bread the guide gave us. While she didn’t feel good for part of the ride, after throwing up she felt a lot better and enjoyed the rest of the ride.

Pictures from the boat ride:

Pelican on a rock

Some fish we were feeding

Lover’s Beach

Cool rock formation that is supposed to be like an upside-down Baja California

An opening in the rocks: we’re on the Sea of Cortes side, looking out to the Pacific Ocean on the other side

El Arco, The Arch

Divorce Beach

Southern-most land in Baja, next land due south: Antarctica

An old pirate ship replica

By 1:00pm we were done and decided to head over to the restaurant for lunch instead of dinner. We had a nice lunch once again, and were quite full by the time we left. Since we’d parked right next door in the mall, we just headed back to our car and went back to the hotel.


Grilled Tuna, just caught and filleted

Burger, again I forgot which one

Home-made fish nuggets

Pelican eating a fish, as seen near on the marina

For the rest of the afternoon we headed back to the pool for one last time. We thankfully didn’t run into the rowdy women the day before at the pool. DD wasn’t too interested in being at the pool yet again, so after an hour or so we were done and headed back to our room for a quick dinner.

After dinner and when the kids were asleep, DW went out for a few hours with some of her friends who were also in Cabo, while I stayed back at the hotel with the sleeping little ones. It was a relatively boring time, as the girls slept most of the time, and I turned in a few hours later.

Thursday, January 25, 2018
As this was our last day in Cabo, we had to head to the airport at around 9:15 for our 12:30 pm flight. We woke up earlier than we had previously, got packed up, ate breakfast and were out of the hotel by 9:15am.

We headed back to the airport where we filled up the rental car at a gas station along the way (no one said anything to me or asked to see a receipt of where I filled up, unlike in South Africa). The one thing I will mention is the fact that they double charged me. While the entire conversation happened in Spanish, he basically told me the Visa card I gave him originally didn’t work. I then gave him an AmEx, which worked fine. I got charged on both and disputed the Chase Visa one because it was more. We took a shuttle back to the airport, check in with no line, and headed up to security (again no line).

We were surprised how lax security was though. I had a fill 1.18L Hydroflask with me, as well as a 1L bottle of almond milk. They let all the liquids though no questions asked, but had to scan my wallet again because there were bobby pins in it. Go figure.

We waited at the Priority Pass lounge, which was a nice place to wait. While the first floor was quite crowded and unappealing, the majority of the lounge was upstairs and was basically empty.

The VIP Lounge:

The crowded downstairs part of the lounge

Before long it was time to head to our flight home (it had 40 people on it, so quite full by comparison). We had the same 2 rows just a few rows back as we did on the way to Cabo, and landed in LAX a good half an hour early. We were through customs in a matter of minutes.

While short and a lot less action-packed than some of our other winter break trips, it was still a lot of fun and definitely doable with 2 little kids.

January 28, 2018, 01:15:06 AM
Re: New Orleans Master Thread
Going with young child for 3+ days to New Orleans next December (yes very far away) - room rates seem very cheap that time of year and not worth the regular amount of points in normal programs. I have some points that convert to cash equivalent so thinking of spending those - would like to just use Ubers and public transportation, but would like to have easy access to kosher food (Waffles on Maple, Casablanca, kosher Cajun, Kosher Cafe du Monde) but would really like to just stay in one hotel for 3 nights, and then an airport hotel for the last night (as we have a very early flight out) - any recommendations for hotel that would be easiest to access food? Have 2-3 Hyatt annual nights so might make sense to use those at one of the hotels and combine all 3 for 1 stay, but as it's far away, haven't decided yet. Thoughts?
Read my TR. It's short and answers most of your questions.

February 11, 2018, 01:44:38 AM
Re: Argentina Master Thread
What about ditching some of the BA day trips and sneaking GIG into the itin?
Maybe GIG is before IGU? That's exactly what we did (meaning GIG) and we thought it was quite worth it (besides the fact that it rained the entire time we were in GIG).

March 05, 2018, 10:31:42 PM
Re: Argentina Master Thread
2 nights in GIG, 2 nights in IGU, and 2 nights in EZE are all sufficient.
I love GRU for Shabbos, but not much to do there besides eat.
GIG and EZE are probably both good shabbos options. EZE wins for me because they have a PH :D
+1 to EZE for shabbos. You can also walk to Once for shabbos from the PH if you want to see it.

March 05, 2018, 10:54:56 PM
Re: Free Private Jets? Sign Me Up! A JetSmarting Summer by Something Fishy Don't worry, I had the similar luck, except worse, as it rained the entire first day we were there, and the 2nd day was overcast and windy all day. Still a nice place to visit.
March 25, 2018, 03:43:18 PM
Re: What Award Itinerary Did You Just Book/Hold? Not bad!
April 27, 2018, 12:59:53 AM
Re: Rome Master Thread
Yes ,I have, thank you.
There was lots of good info there, figured I'd post to try to get  a few more perspectives as well.
I also wrote a TR. Slightly different perspective if you're interested.

May 15, 2018, 09:03:49 AM
Re: Rome Master Thread
yes please...
It's online, search on DDF for it.

May 15, 2018, 09:40:09 AM