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Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread Just got back from Cancun Mexico; here's a recap:

We arrived at Cancun airport on Sunday and planned to take an Uber to the Intercontinental Presidente Cancun Resort, but they told us the cab drivers told us (and I later confirmed) that Uber isn't allowed to pick up from, only drop off at the airport. We decided to push through the hoards of cab drivers and rent a car from the Hertz there instead. It was about $150 for 5 days when you use the Amex collision insurance (I printed out proof from Amex).

Sunday, Day 1
Didn't do much. Got to the hotel, went to Walmart, and ordered food from the Chabad that was delivered to our hotel.

Monday, Day 2
We woke up early and drove a little over an hour to Xplor park. The park was great. Ziplining, ATVs, and swimming in caves. One thing to keep in mind... they do not allow regular sunscreen because it ruins their ecosystem. Can only use biodegradable sunscreen that they sell there or at Walmart for about $4.

For dinner, we ate at Dag Dag. It was a small little establishment. Owners are a friendly couple, and they guy will entertain with some of his own live music. Bring cash... no credit cards.

Tuesday, Day 3
We woke up early again and drove to the Coba ruins. I wanted to see some ruins and Chichen Itza sounded to overrun with tourists, plus at Coba, you can climb the large ~150 foot high structure. Best decision I made. Coba was awesome. Parking was 50 pesos (~$3) and admission was 70 pesos a person (~$4.50). It was raining when we got there and the stone steps looked really slippery, but we decided to climb it anyhow; after all, we did just drive 2.5 hours. They have a rope hanging down from the top that everyone uses to climb. It's a little dangerous, and I'm surprised nobody there died. I think they may stop allowing people to climb it soon, so check beforehand. The view on top is definitely worth the climb. Stunning.

Next we drove to Tulum to see the ruins there. It is a cool place, and would probably be nicer with a tour guide, but you can't climb them, so it's a little more boring. The beach there is stunning though.

After that, we drove to Playa del Carmen, a cute town, where we ate at Mas Pan. The place was so cheap. We got shaksuka, salad, and a baguette for only about $4.

Wednesday, Day 4
We were supposed to go to Isla Mujeres, but it started pouring and the ferry broke down. Just make sure not to get ripped off at the ferry. The tickets say $19 each, but they tried adding on a 35% "tax".

For dinner, we decided to try Red Heifer even though some people mentioned that it wasn't good. I was blown away. The food was amazing, the service was great, and the restaurant is beautiful. I think the negative reviews are from before they moved to their new location. One recommendation... get the nachos. They are really good.

Thursday, Day 5
Heading to the airport. I was so excited that were leaving Mexico without any trouble with the police when I accidentally didn't see a red light and passed the white line right in front of a cop. Immediately got pulled over by two cops. The cop who didn't speak English calls me out of the car while the cop that did speak English went to go flirt with my wife. Go figure. Using Google Translate on his phone, he told me that I went through a red light which was an "infraction" and usually costed $300 (which isn't true). I told him that was a lot of money, and asked if I could pay there. His face lit up, and he asked how much. We went back and forth. I mentioned $50 USD, and he said "too little" and started writing a ticket. I asked him to hold on, went the car, and pulled out the $50. His buddy saw it and eagerly accepted it, so they let us go.

August 27, 2017, 06:22:00 PM
Re: Paris Master Thread
Wife wanted to go shopping instead so we picked up il palazzo pizzas for lunch to bring onto plane (italian KSML), which were both really excellent Pizza dSolo level.
here is my review of the Intercontinental Le Grand, which we absolutely loved (partially bc they treated us great as lowly Plats with 3 free night awards). hoping to put together a mini TR of our 3 night stay at some point but happy to take questions on any current paris stuff i may know about. Meals were both really enjoyable, though the Grand Synagogue davening friday night was a little off putting and not a very religious experience for me. Chabad was much more classic, and food was a bit better (excellent gefilte, shnitzel and chulent).

Thanks for your review. It was nice to see you in Paris over Shabbos. Maybe we'll meet again in the next random city.

I will try writing a trip report soon. Hopefully on Sunday. We stayed in Paris for 8 days and did a lot, so it should be informative.

December 08, 2017, 11:20:31 AM
mtag17's Paris TR I recently came back from Paris after an eight-day vacation there. Here is is my detailed trip report:

Day 1 - Monday, November 20

My wife and I had taken an overnight Delta flight leaving NYC Sunday at around 7 pm, and arriving in Paris around 7 am the next morning. We arrived in Paris CDG (the charge 0,70 to use the airport bathroom!) and headed to take the train to our hotel. Because of prior research, I knew not to be the Paris Visite Pass (designed for tourists) if you can help it, and instead buy the Navigo (weekly) Pass designed for commuters.

The Navigo allows for unlimited travel on the buses, subways (RATP) and trains (SNCF) through all 7 zones in Paris for about 25. This means that you can travel as many times as you wish to and from both airports, Disneyland (haven't gone, but probably not worth going when you can just go to Orlando), and Versailles, as well as all around Paris. The only caveats are that the Navigo pass only works Sunday through Sunday, so if you are coming in on a Wednesday and leaving on a Tuesday, it may not be worthwhile getting. Also, you need to either bring a small photo of your face to put on the Navigo Pass or buy them from a kiosk for 5 each (I brought two pics along with me). Last thing, I don't believe that the Navigo pass works on the Roissey airport bus; you would need to take the train which worked out fine for us.

Either way, we took the train to our hotel, the AC Hotel by Marriott Paris Porte Maillot that I used my 7-night category 1-5 Marriott voucher. It was a category 6 hotel in the 17th arrondismont, and so we easily upgraded the voucher with 10,000 SPG points (30,000 Marriott). The hotel was actually pretty nice and friendly, and our room came with a refrigerator. More on Shabbos practicalities soon.

One last thing to note for Monday (and every other day too), Parisians eat differently than we do in the US. From what I understand, Parisians do not really eat what we consider breakfast, and therefore you will be hardpressed to find any place that will serve a bagel and eggs; at least not that I have seen. And likewise, you will have a very hard time finding a single restaurant that will open before 7:30 pm for dinner.

Day 2 - Tuesday, November 21

I have been wanting to go to visit the World War II sights in Normandy, France, and this seems like the best opportunity as I could get. I purchased 2 round-trip rail tickets from Paris to Bayeux on the SNCF website (not the Rail Europe website which is designed for tourists and overpriced) for 32 each. It was a 2.25 hour trip, and comfortable in 2nd class. 1st class did not look any better (except for maybe the non-kosher food served there), so I wouldn't pay any extra for that. The seats in 2nd class are much better than in an airplane, and it was adequate.

From Bayeux, we took an afternoon group tour (the I booked beforehand) from Normandy Sightseeing Tours for 70 each. There were 6 other people in our group, and the tour was amazing. We saw the sights of Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, as well as hanging around the beautiful and historic Bayeux, and sitting in the Hotel de la Gare bar to kill 2 hours until our train arrived.

When we arrived back in Paris that night, we ate dinner at Il Conte. It was good, and I will hopefully edit this post and post pictures soon.

Day 3 - Wednesday, November 22

We took the metro over to Korcarz and had macarons and pastries (which are really expensive at all places in Paris).

After that, we made our way over to the Louvre Museum where we spent a few hours exploring. A couple of things I want to mention about the Louvre. First of all, do not waste your money on the audio guide. It was really not good, and it quickly became annoying to hold around, especially with the wires tangling everywhere. Next piece of advice... you have to go see the Mona Lisa because it's so famous, but other than the fact that it's so famous and protected by sheets of bulletproof glass and buy a barrier that keeps you 10 feet away, you would never notice it among the other massive and beautiful works of art in the Louvre. And final thing on the Louvre, bring water with you because it is very expensive there.

For dinner, we ate at Pitzman's. The pizza could've been good, but they put fish stuff on top that ruined it. If you go, make sure to ask for "pizza sans poisson" (without fish).

Day 4 - Thursday, November 23

We took the SNCF train to the Versailles and made our way to the Palace of Versailles. It's a magnificent palace, and I highly recommend going. We spent a couple of hours exploring the palace and its gardens. We went on a day when the fountains were not running (cheaper that way), and I don't feel like I missed out on anything.

For dinner, we went to eat at Darjeeling. The food was really good, but my wife made the mistake of telling the waiter she liked spicy food. Let's just say she regretted that move.

Day 5 - Friday, November 24

We made our way to two bakeries, Charles Tratieur and La Delicieuse. The food was good, but like everything else in Paris, it was small and expensive as well.

Next, we walked to the "lock bridge", Pont des Arts. Most of the locks have been removed, but there is still a small section on a neighboring bridge to get your picture taken.

Lastly, we visited the Arc de Triomphe before going back to the hotel for Shabbos. We didn't go up but rather stayed across the street where we were able to take much better pictures.

Day 6 - Shabbos, November 25

For the day meal, we walked to the Chabad of Champs Elysees. Getting out of the hotel wasn't too bad. There is easy access to the stairs without any electric components like a key card. The front door was a bit trickier as it is an automatic revolving door. However there is a door right next to it that is intended for the staff, but you can ask someone to open it for you. Keep in mind that Paris does not have an eruv.

Day 7 - Sunday, November 26

On our last full day in Paris, we went to go visit the Eiffel Tower. We didn't see a purpose in paying to go up as we already did what is basically the same thing in Las Vegas a few months prior. It was nice to get pictures there, but there are a lot of people there semi-aggressively trying to peddle the same stuff.

After the Eiffel Tower, we took the subway to "the Pletzel," the old Jewish quarter. It was actually quite a happening place there, and we really enjoyed it. You see some interesting things. Oh, and the food is amazing. We picked up a falafel from L'as du Falafel, and it was the best I have ever tasted. The line was long.

For dinner, we ate at Le Shine. The food was really good, but the portions were small.

Day 8 - Monday, November 27

The last day was basically just getting to the airport and going home. One thing to keep say about it though, everything at CDG airport is about waiting in lines. It's really annoying.

Also a nice story... we had booked a flight that stopped over in London for 2 hours. However the flight had been overbooked, and we were therefore given a direct flight to NYC instead, plus a 22 airport voucher and 150 in cash for our "trouble." Win.

December 22, 2017, 03:12:58 PM