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Re: joke for sheva brachot
It should have to do with...inlaws...

Q:  What do you do if you miss your MIL??

Well, maybe not all that appropriate ;)

February 06, 2011, 10:40:58 PM
Re: joke for sheva brachot A man tells his friend he's thinking of divorcing his wife.
"We just don't communicate anymore. She hasn't spoke to me in weeks."
"Think it over," his friend advises. "A woman like that is hard to find."

February 21, 2011, 03:27:55 PM
Helicopters $10.50 with Missle Bomb must buy fast!
amazon $10 helicopters

December 31, 2013, 12:23:09 PM
Re: Helicopters $10.50 with Missle Bomb
when do you ever find a heli for $10 shipped!!!
@davidmal do you know davidmalcohen the op? if one of the two of tou know the "guy" who selling this poj helicopter tell "him" he will get a lot of returns. must buy tell him fast

December 31, 2013, 04:58:53 PM
Re: Sub-forums: a solution to the "master thread" madness? Maybe... We should have a thread in 'Start Here' with all the Master threads?
July 28, 2014, 07:38:56 PM
Re: Upcoming SPG Hotels
Can't be. Because the W is being built by Daniel Libeskind.

Oh ok, because the King David would be a perfect fit for the W brand

November 10, 2014, 11:13:37 AM
Re: Best Frozen Pizza
I love the Macabee frozen pizza bagels.
yeah but you have to let them completely defrost before you make them otherwise the outside will burn and the inside will still be frozen.

January 16, 2015, 12:33:53 AM
Re: How To Pronounce DO? What Does It Mean?
Have them take 500 from me and give them to you.


Seriously, though, why shouldn't posts in this board count? JS, I can understand - it's a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding. But DO posts are useful, constructive conversations, just like GD or even Trip/Destination Reports. So why don't posts on this board count?

April 01, 2015, 12:36:15 AM
Re: Sports Teams With Kosher Food Stands
Anyone know what type of kosher food they have at jet games?
Depends where you are seated. The stands have hot dogs, knishes and i believe chicken nuggets and pretzels. There is a little more selection in the Chase and Toyota clubs. If you have access to MetLife 50 or the Coaches Club, they have hot dogs and other hot food (similar idea to legends at Yankees).

November 12, 2015, 02:12:00 PM
Mrs. Hvaces42's Surprise London Birthday Adventure So I figure I’ll give this TR thing a whirl. First time TR so bear with the lack of proper captions and photo formatting issues. And away we go...

With my wife’s birthday fast approaching (and it being a very significant number, 21, of course) I was stumped as to what gift I could possibly get the woman who has everything. Jewelry, what woman needs more jewelry? Clothing, eh, a closet full of clothing is more than enough. Fancy restaurants and surprise parties, old hat. Hmmm…Dan’s Deals Twitter Notifications to the rescue!!!

BA’s Business Class Sale came at the perfect moment. My wife and I hadn’t been overseas in 5 years and the last time we were, we transited through LHR without exiting the airport. The initial sale notification didn’t really get my attention. Then the pay with Avios information started filtering in and this began to look like, and actually turned into, a steal.

I was sitting on a pile of Avios after having been F/R’d by Amex and having to choose wisely between the programs I would transfer my soon expiring MR. I chose to transfer a chunk to my already sizeable Avios account. So the 60k Avios were really a drop in the bucket compared with the $1,700+ in airfare that it saved me.

After signing up for AARP membership, I quickly booked the 2 seats on BA’s latest flight out on Motzei Shabbos, her actual birthday, returning Tuesday evening on the latest BA flight out of LHR. Only after I was booked and confirmed did I realize that I could have reserved on AA’s 77W and still made it on Motzei Shabbos or pushed the return to Wednesday, but I guess you live and learn.

Now came the planning stage. As this was to be a surprise birthday trip plus I needed to work out some kinks and a high level security clearance list of people who could help me pull this off. In addition, we needed hotel, food, work schedule adjustments and child care arrangements.

My schedule is flexible and not much of an issue. Mrs. Hvaces42 on the other hand works weekends and per diem so I needed to make sure both her employers could have coverage for the days she wouldn’t be here and that she wouldn’t be asked to come in per diem on the days we would be away. Took care of that with both her workplaces.

That being covered it was time to do some research. DDF Destination and Trip Planning Forum is an invaluable tool. Additionally, being that so many people had taken advantage of the BA sale, including Dan, it was great to see itineraries in progress.

Based on the recommendations I got, it was a choice between the Hyatt Regency Churchill and the Andaz. A quick check of the Regency website made the choice easy. They were under construction. Who wants to deal with that? So the Andaz it was. (I couldn’t be that far off because the Rebbe Reb Dan also considered the Andaz ) I tried to see if a DSU was available but there was none and I held no hope as it was a holiday week and the regular rooms were actually selling out fast.

Transferred 25k UR to Hyatt (I know, poor use of UR, but I don’t have any Hyatt points or Chase Hyatt) and booked a Points + Cash booking for a King room 12.5k per night plus £99. After booking the room rate dropped had some more buyers remorse for using the points, but what was done was done. Around Thanksgiving Hyatt had a 15% off sale on Certificates. I purchased a $300 certificate for $276 on my Capital One Venture card, hoping to use it to pay the cash portion. Used 27,600 Capital One points to erase that certificate purchase.

Contacted Hyatt Concierge through Twitter to see if we could get room upgrade in celebration of Mrs. Hvaces42’s birthday. Was not promised anything. Contacted the Andaz Concierge directly via email and gave them the rundown of what I wanted to do for the birthday including flowers and kosher cake. They suggested I order cake directly and have it delivered. They provided me with the option to purchase flowers for £25, which I found very reasonable so I ordered through them. Andaz Concierge was very responsive and helpful even though they screwed up after the fact.

Next it was figuring out what we must see and what we could get away without seeing. I modeled my itinerary on Dan’s with some modifications for the short nature of our trip versus his 5 days and kid-friendly itinerary.

This is what the final itinerary looked like. Of course it changed upon arrival but it gave us some guidance.

Sunday 12/27:
Arriving at LHR 9:30am Pickup from LHR
Private Driver to Windsor Castle.
Driver to take bags to Andaz Liverpool Street
Underground/Train to Golders Green
Dinner at Kaifeng 
Underground to Andaz.
Monday 12/28:
Tower of London  and Tower bridge.
Lunch 1701 at Selfridge’s
British Museum
Emirates Air Line Cable Car
Dinner LaFiesta.    

Tuesday 12/29:
Underground to Changing of the Guards tour
London Eye
Churchill War Rooms
London Dungeon
Underground/Train to LHR 7:30pm Departure

Finally, some loose ends needed to be tied up; cell phone, food recommendations and transportation.

I spoke with Sprint and they have a phenomenal plan which charges $0.20 per minute of talk and unlimited 2G data included in my plan. They offered me a plan with 500MB of 3G data for $50, but I declined. Andaz offers free wifi and leaving four kids at home we were able to Skype and Whatsapp call with them from the hotel and communicate regularly throughout the day using the phone when we needed to do so.

After some fits and starts regarding food recommendations and even a nice suggestion from some DDF users to cancel my trip because I was frustrated with Bevis Marks closing and other poor food reviews I just picked a few choices and figured I’d give the birthday girl her choices of where we would eat.

DDF user ZOW was kind enough to send me some Oyster Cards pre-loaded with a few pounds each which are required for entry (and exit) from the Underground. I did some research and couldn’t figure out how to load the cards online as it required activation by “tapping” in at an Underground station. I figured I had enough on each card to get me where I wanted to go. Then I learned that there is a maximum charge that you can be charged per person each day when using the Oyster card on the Underground. So I was basically good to go.

Lastly, I needed a driver to pick us up from LHR and take us to Windsor Castle, bring food, fetch the surprise birthday cake from Stamford Hill and drop the cake and our luggage at the hotel. Every one of my English friends had a driver for me, until I needed a phone number?!?!? I finally got one who wasn’t available on that day and he referred his friend who was very competent and helpful. He charged us £100 plus disbursements. I asked him to bring sandwiches as well as rolls. He only brought us rolls. Otherwise he was prompt and got the job done. A bit of a steep price, but a reliable, frum, driver to deliver my luggage, which I was not going to leave to an Uber driver.

We left JFK Terminal 7 on BA 0114 which is “Sleeper Service”. We checked in and were directed to the Lounge Dining Room where we were served pre-flight dinner. I think this was very smart as it maximized the amount of time we could get to sleep on board.

The meal was Borenstein standard business class food. Not too great. The appetizer was some kind of cold fish dish, which is not something I would eat anyway. My wife tasted it and it was dry and tasteless. The main dish was a very tasty chicken in a bbq type sauce. It was filling.

As it was Motzei Shabbos we left a bit later than we normally would have so we didn’t take in the full lounge experience including the free Elemis spa and showers, which we took at home.         

We flew on a 777-200 with a 2-4-2 configuration in J. We sat in seats E-F middle seats of the 4 seats. The seats did not have aisle access but one aisle seat was empty so it wasn’t too bad. The seats were comfortable and we were quickly asleep. I slept for most of the flight, my wife not that much.

Davened on the plane. Had a quick breakfast of fruit (nothing else offered). We were given landing cards and Fast Track Immigration entry. Had a quick immigration and customs experience and we were out in no time. Driver was waiting so we couldn’t use the arrivals lounge and wanted to get going.

We left for Windsor Castle right away. The weather was a bit drizzly, but not too cold. We arrived in Windsor in 20-25 minutes. The left side driving was a bit disconcerting to me.
IMG_1298 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1295 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1292 by hvaces42, on Flickr
St. George’s Chapel

IMG_1291 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1289 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1286 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1287 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1283 by hvaces42, on Flickr

At Windsor Castle we waited on line for tickets for about 10 minutes. The tickets were approximately £25 each adult. You can rent headsets for an audio self-tour. We didn’t but it definitely looked worthwhile. There is a full airport style security check after you buy tickets before you get in to the actual castle.

The Castle is one of the official residences of the Queen. It is actually used by the Queen regularly. The place is basically a museum that the royal family gets to live in. Artwork, china, room after room of unbelievable excess. As an American it was eye-popping. Everything is old and regal. Obviously there is much more but here is a taste.

20151227_120200 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_120135 by hvaces42, on Flickr

One of the highlights is Queen Mary’s Dollhouse. You are not officially allowed to photograph it so the pictures I have are all low light cell phone shots taken surreptitiously. The detail in the dollhouse was astounding. From the perfectly packed linen closet to the miniature Rolls Royce’s parked in the garage.

20151227_113310 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_113309 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_113149 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_113120 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_113105 by hvaces42, on Flickr

Seeing the Queens Guards standing guard was a welcome surprise. They look like dolls off in the distance until they started marching. It was really cool to watch them. The march every so often without the benefit of looking at their watch and no clocks in sight. St. George’s Chapel is one of the most magnificent buildings I’ve ever seen.

IMG_1304 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1303 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_122458 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_122238 by Hvaces42 hvaces42, on Flickr

We spent approximately 2 hours at Windsor Castle. We left the castle grounds and checked out the touristy shops right on Castle Hill. We actually bought some English wool scarves which were rather decently prices at 2 for £20. You can buy souvenirs in the many shops there. I found that the best souvenir shops were in Terminal 5 at LHR. 

At that point, my wife having basically missed a night of sleep I made an executive decision and changed the plan from taking train and bus to the Andaz to trying out Uber for the first time. I ordered an uberX which quoted at £41 - £55. The wait was about 9 minutes and the driver called us when he had an issue finding us. He showed up in an older Ford minivan but it was clean and the driver was friendly.

The trip back took us through central London past Parliament Square where I got my first look at Big Ben, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. We arrived at the Andaz in a little over an hour. Total Uber charge £46.34 which translated to $69.26 (£1 = $1.4946) on my Capital One Quicksilver card. I always thought that the 20% off Uber on Quicksilver was for USD charges only. I was surprised to get a $13.85 credit. So that trip cost me $55.41, a bargain for that length of trip.

We got the Andaz and checked in. This began our birthday cake saga. The Andaz has this fluid check-in desk with computers on both sides of a conference table in the lobby and concierge associates milling about the lobby. Its very awkward as you dont know where to stand during the check-in process.

So the associate we got had no brains whatsoever. Chatty, flamboyant, flirtatious are a few of the choice adjectives I’ll use for this family friendly site. He’s just talking up a storm and casually tells my wife, “oh I see from the notes here that there was a cake delivered for you, Happy Birthday”. Surprise ruined!!! Oh well.

He did upgrade us to a “Large King” room which wasn’t too large but we didn’t need much of a large room anyway. Having ruined the surprise I asked him to send up the cake right away and the flowers I had ordered through the hotel. We went up to our room on the 5th floor which had views of a courtyard.

Andaz Lobby by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_140421 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_141259 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_141256 by hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_171227 by hvaces42, on Flickr

IMG_1379 by hvaces42, on Flickr

We relaxed for 2 hours and then decided to go to Golders Green for dinner. Still no cake to be seen.

To be continued very soon…       

January 07, 2016, 11:25:00 PM
Re: Mrs. Hvaces42's Surprise London Birthday Adventure Next Installment

We left to Golders Green using the Underground (Moorgate Station, about a 10 minute walk from Andaz). You have to “tap in” and “tap out” of the Underground using the Oyster Card. Make sure you do because they have station monitors watching at each station and there is a fine if you don’t do it. Its also important because the is a maximum charge you can be assessed each day. So its almost a flat fee for unlimited usage of the Underground. I think it depends on what zones you go to. Most of the sites in central London that you will want to see are within the zones that will cost £6.80 – 9.60(I think) per day.

We arrived in Golders Green in approximately 25 minutes. It was one train direct to Golders Green Road Station. Golders Green Road was all lit up for the holidays so it was easy to identify the main street when we got out of the station.

We decided on eating Chinese. Our choices were between Kaifeng, which is a bit further in Hendon (really just a bit up the road) or Met Su Yan. On the walk from the Underground we passed by the other kosher restaurants including Isola Bella, Novellino, White House Express, Pizaza, a schwarma joint and some others that I cant recall off-hand. They were all packed at 5:30 in the evening, granted it was Sunday and a holiday weekend.

We arrived at Met Su Yan and asked to be seated. Met Su Yan is a nice, newer restaurant, seats approximately 70 people. The waitress asked if we had reservations and of course we didn’t. The place was deserted except for two couples sitting in the back. They said they would see if they could seat us. After a minute or so they said we could have a table for two if we promised to leave by 8:00pm. We agreed and were seated smack in the center of the place. A shame I didn’t take pictures of the seating. They were a bit rude to a party of 5 that arrived towards the end of our meal too, moving them from table to table because of later reservations.

They offer a prix fixe menu, three courses (Appetizer or soup, Main, Side dish and Dessert) for £27.50 per person or four courses (additional Second Course or Sushi) for £32.50. We went for the three course meal.

20151227_183032 by We ate some of the nuts before I took pic…tasty salad
, on Flickr

For the appetizer I ordered the Deep Fried Wontons and my DW ordered the Chicken and Shitake Mushroom Dim Sum. Wontons were not real wontons, they were chicken wrapped in spring roll skin, not wonton  wrappers, served with sweet sauce. Dim Sum was four pieces served with ginger based sauce. A bit doughy but tasty.     

20151227_183657 by Wontons
, on Flickr

20151227_184033 by Dim Sum
, on Flickr

For the main dish we shared the Sweet and Sour Chicken and Szechuan Chicken. Portion were tiny. Sweet and Sour very good dish, crispy and properly spiced. Szechuan chicken was tasteless boiled pieces of chicken in jalapeno based pepper and onion mix. Sides were Fried Rice with eggs.

 20151227_184758 by Sweet and Sour Chicken hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_184754 by Szechuan Chicken hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_184800 by Fried Rice with Eggs hvaces42, on Flickr

For dessert we had the hot chocolate cake with ice cream (sorry for the half eaten pics) and the Toffee Apples, which were apple slices deep-fried in a batter with hard glaze served boiling hot!!! Cake and ice cream were phenomenal. Apples started off very bland but by the time I got to piece number four it was quite tasty and I was overdosing on the sugar.

20151227_190700 by Chocolate cake and Ice Cream hvaces42, on Flickr

20151227_190705 by Toffee Apples
, on Flickr

All in all ambiance was ok. We got out in time. Felt a bit pressured, but my fault for not making reservations. Food portions were small and we left a bit hungry. Some dishes hit the mark others did not. Pricey by any standards, especially us being from New York and knowing the Chinese food is not that expensive or unique.

I get the sense when we spoke to other local people that they know this restaurant is over-priced and doesn’t serve decent portions. Final bill was $99.13 (don’t recall how many pounds), including 12.5% tip already on the receipt with no place to add or subtract on final receipt, as chip and signature payment doesn’t allow for final receipts to be signed manually.

We made our way back to the Andaz via Moorgate Station. Got absolutely lost on the 8 minute walk back to Andaz it took us 40 minutes. Google Maps was no help due to the 2G service and lag in time it took to get our location. It was downright scary to walk that area on deserted streets (it is the financial district and very quiet at night and on the weekends). Learned our lesson for the next two days taking Underground, with switching trains once (or twice) to Liverpool Station was a much better and safer alternative.       

January 08, 2016, 11:34:14 AM
London + Scotland Trip Report This is my first trip report. Trying to do my best based on ones that I have read.

Wednesday – BA to LHR departed JFK at 8:15 AM in Business.  We sat on the last row of the top of the plane so that we could use the bassinet/infant seat.  Oh yes, we travelled with a 6 month old.  Flight was amazing, flight attendants were very sweet and accommodating.  The food was decent but looked like garbage compared to the food they were serving the other passengers.  As I mentioned on a previous thread, John Krasinski (The Office) and Emily Blunt were also on my flight sitting next to us with their daughter, they are a completely normal family and very nice.  We arrived in London around 8 PM and got those fast-track passes for customs (the best thing ever) and took a cab to our hotel.  We would normally have taken the tube but with a baby, stroller, car seat, and a bunch of luggage (9-10 day trip with no laundry and our daughter spits up all the time) it just made sense to take a cab. 

We stayed at the Sheraton Park Lane with SPG points.  I know it’s not the hotel that everyone on here was staying at but there were no renovations or construction going on when we were there and they treated us amazing and always put us in the newly renovated rooms (which were renovated about 2-3 weeks before we arrived).

So we arrived and checked in and our room was tiny! (apparently all central London standard rooms are relatively small) and I called the front desk and said that I have too much stuff and a crib and it won’t all fit in the room so they upgraded us to a suite (for free).  We stayed there until we checked out Friday Morning to go to our friends in Edgeware for Shabbos.   We left our stuff with the concierge and checked back in on Sunday and added our weekend bags to what we had in storage.  Didn’t officially check back in until later in the day and they upgraded us to a massive suite with amazing views of Green Park, Hyde Park and the London Eye.  They gave us free coffee and milk and all the rooms we stayed in had nespresso machines. Overall had a fantastic experience and would stay there again.  We checked out in the afternoon on Monday and headed over to the airport to go to Scotland.

Thursday – tube to London Eye, we really had a great time and really enjoyed this. We got the fast pass tickets and they were well worth it as the lines were crazy on Christmas Eve.  We got there late and “missed” our time slot but they didn’t care and let us on either way. We walked around that area a bit and explored that area of London.  We then headed back to the area of our hotel and walked down Park Lane to Selfridges to get food at the kosher counter there.  It was such a madhouse and the food was 50% off because they were closing for Christmas.  Walked around Selfirgde’s a bit to see the store. Everything in London is really nice around Christmas time, the decorations are phenomenal, much cooler than NYC.  We walked some more around London and then I went to a convenience store to buy a Lebara SIM card.  I had ordered a giff gaff to the hotel but it never came so I had to improvise.  I got a plan with some data and 100 international minutes to call the US in case I needed to.  I believe the whole package with the SIM card cost me 20 pounds.  For the meantime, I used KNOWROAMING which was good bc I had ordered a card sticker from them and it was $15 and there was a promo for a $15 credit to the account.  So I used that Wednesday night and Thursday until I got my Lebara SIM card.  Hotel I used Wifi.  We then took the tube to Baker Street to check out the famous Reuben’s.  The food was decent, neither of us were in the mood for salt beef so we ordered the lamb chops and the beef wellington and the artichoke/avocado appetizer.  We really liked the artichoke/avocado appetizer and the lamb chops were okay and the beef wellington was too heavy.   We also got 2 desserts, chocolate mousse which wasn’t good and then a hot soufflé cake which was amazing.  Tube back to the Green Park Station and walked (about 15-20 min) to Hyde Park to walk around London’s Winter Wonderland (Christmas Festival).  This was really cool, had awesome lights and decorations and ice skating, bumper cars, carousels, arcade games and food and drinks (obviously nothing kosher).  Walked back to Hotel and called it a night

Friday – Tube was shut down on Christmas. Our friends from Edgeware picked us up at our Hotel and went for a walk along the river Thames, had a really nice time and really enjoyed all of the sights over there.  Headed over to Edgewood and had a very nice Shabbos there with our friends.

Saturday Night – We used our friend’s babysitter and they got a different one for their child and we went out to Golders Green.  The babysitter was a high school boy who was very mature and responsible and was studying for the UK version of the P-SAT’s.  Our daughter was sleeping by the time we left and she slept the whole time we were gone.  He was really nice and he only charged us 5 pounds an hour which I thought was very reasonable.  We were out for 3 hours and I just gave him a 20 pound note and told him not to give me change.  We went to Pizzaza and loved it!  We each got milkshakes (Oreo and Kit-Kat) and they were amazing, we got a personal pie and regular fries and their famous pesto fries which were all very good.  The pesto fries are basically fries sautéed in pesto for a few minutes after they’re fried.  Service was phenomenal and they give you their 4 sauces for everything which is sweet chili, pesto, pizza sauce and garlic mayo.  Then we went to Kosher Kingdom (their BIG kosher supermarket) and bought some food for the rest of our trip.  We also went to the bakery across the street to buy freshly baked bread for sandwiches and chocolate rugelach which were amazing.  The baked goods in London were amazing.  The bakery was called Grodzinski’s. 

Sunday –  we went to Orli’s for breakfast in Edgeware and uber’d back to the Park Lane Hotel and then took the tube to the Victoria Coach Station where we boarded a bus to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour.  We’re both HUGE Harry Potter fans so this was fun for us.  It’s a really really cool place and we had a phenomenal time.  We got off on baker street on the bus back to London and went to Reuben’s again and got Salt Beef sandwiches which were nothing short of amazing also tried their schnitzel which was great too. They serve it with a lemon similar to how people eat fish n chips and its actually really good on schnitzel too. 

Monday – we walked to Buckingham Palace and around that whole area to Marble Arch and then to Knightsbridge to go to Harrods’s famous Boxing Day Sale.  We walked around that area a bit and headed back to the hotel to pick up our stuff.  Instead of going to the airport, we stopped off at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel at Heathrow to drop off our bags that we no longer needed (dirty clothes, Shabbos outfits, etc…) because this is where we going to stay the night before our early AM flight back to JFK from LHR.  Headed to the airport and flew BA (4.5K Avios) to Glasgow, flight was good. A little difficult bc short and many changes to altitude but we got our own row and it was a 3X3 plane and was virtually empty so was comfortable.  We uber’d to our hotel.  We wanted to stay somewhere close to a bunch of things in Glasgow that we could rely on as good, decent hotel.  Marriott’s were Category 6 but $80 in cash so I paid the cash rate and stayed at the Glasgow Marriott. The water was broken and wouldn’t shut off in the room so they upgraded us to a suite.  The cribs in Marriott’s we found to better than in SPG hotels.  In Marriott they gave us Pack N Plays and SPG gave us those metal cribs and our daughter wasn’t too fond of them.

Tuesday – I went in the morning to the only kosher Restaurant/Store in all of Scotland called the Café at Mark’s Deli. They were very nice.  I used Uber there and back. I got some Deli and food for the rest of our trip. Their Salt beef isn’t as good as Reuben’s and I only tried the cold version but it was pretty solid. We took some sandwiches to go and some meat alone for deli sandwiches at night.  Came back to the Hotel and checked out but left my stuff there and they refrigerated the cold bag I had with me in addition to the regular bag storage which was nice.  We then took Uber to the Glengoyne Distillery to do a Distillery tour.  We chose the Malt Master Tour and they told us we were the first ones to do that tour with a baby, even a child.  We got a look around the distillery and got to see the process of how things are done and it was really cool. The site is also very pretty, there is a waterfall in the back and they start you off with a dram (they gave us what we would call a bit more than a shot) of the 12 year old.  After the tour we went to the Malt room where we were each presented with 5 scotch whiskeys that were 18 years old all barreled differently with drams of each one to try.  They gave us an empty 220ml bottle and some measuring cups and beakers and we made our own whiskey.  This was awesome and a super cool activity.  I would definitely recommend this tour. Very intimate and fun.  We had a great tour guide but I forgot her name she was probably in her fifties.  There were only 8 others on the tour with us.  We took a cab back to the hotel to get our stuff then took an Uber to Edinburgh where we spent that night and 2 more days.  We had too much stuff to take the train and uber wasn’t too bad. I think it was 50 pounds.  We stayed Tuesday and Wednesday night at the AMAZING Glasshouse Hotel in Edinburgh.  This was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at. They upgraded us for FREE to the Auchentashen Suite which is their biggest and nicest room in the hotel by far (I checked out other rooms when I was there).  They name their suites after Scotch Whiskeys.  The room had a waterfall shower and a Jacuzzi and Panoramic views of Edinburgh that included Calton Hill and the Edinburgh Castle.  The room comes with a fully stocked minibar that’s FREE for guests staying in the Auchentashen Suite, a Nespresso machine, and snacks.  The room had 2 tv’s, one in the living area and one in the bedroom.  Behind the bed they had a divider and that’s where we put our daughter in the pack n play from the hotel.  They actually brought us a pack n play and it was broken so we asked if they could send another one, they said they were fully booked and didn’t have another one.  Then they came back 30 minutes later with a brand new one from the other Marriott in Edinburgh that is around 25 minutes away. Very good service.  When you stay in the suites that are named after Scotch Whiskeys you can go to the bar and try your room’s whiskey for free (2 double shots, one for each guest).  They didn’t have Auchentashen so felt bad and offered me 2 shots of Glenfarclas 40 (which they sell for 39.95 pounds a shot).  The service at this hotel was amazing. So nice and so quick and just had a wonderful experience here and would highly recommend this hotel to anyone and would definitely stay there again.  It’s also so close to everything in Edinburgh.  We didn’t take cabs anywhere inside Edinburgh, we just walked everywhere.

Wednesday – We went for a walk on Princess Street to see the Balmoral Hotel and Waldorf Hotel and then headed to the Edinburgh Castle to begin our Royal Mile walk.  Edinburgh Castle is really pretty and offers fantastic views of the entire city.  We then walked along the royal mile and stopped at all the shops we found interesting.  If you’re a whiskey fan, stop by Cadenhead’s which is a private bottling company that goes into Distilleries and bottles parts of barrels and blends with other whiskeys or keeps them single barrel.  They will let you try anything you want as long as they have an open bottle and they are very knowledgeable.  Then we finished the Royal Mile walk at the Palace at Holyrood House.  We got a late start to the day so we got their afterhours so we didn’t go for a tour inside but we got some really awesome sunset/dusk/nighttime pictures of the Palace.   We walked through the Scotland Winter Wonderland World Festival on the way back to the hotel for about 45 minutes.  We visited all the world shops that were selling little trinkets.  They had Ferris Wheels, bumper cars, carousels, arcade games and an ice rink. This was similar to the London Winter Wonderland but added the shops which London didn’t have.  We went back to the hotel to eat our dinner and to watch the Hogmanay Fireworks (New Years Festival).  Since our Hotel offers incredible views of Calton Hill which was where the torch ceremony ended and the fireworks began we just had to step outside onto the Gardens and we got amazing views of the fireworks.  They were amazing.

Thursday – We checked out of the hotel in the morning and left our bags with the concierge.  We went back to the Palace at Holyrood House for a tour of the palace.  This is where the Queen stays for about a week in July.  Very cool palace, functioning and lots of history. The tour is done well.  It’s self-guided with a headset.  The palace is located on a 10 acre property (I think that’s what they said) and so it offers spectacular greenery and views of the hills outside Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat.  Then we walked back to the Hotel to eat our lunch (Tuna on rice cakes).  And then walked over to St. Andrew’s Square to the other Winter Festival they have.  This one is smaller, has only local Scottish vendors and a small ice skating rink in the middle.  My wife bought some Scottish lotions and lip and hand balms.  She says they are amazing and smell great. We bought some candles. They had a bunch of Gin, Beer, and Scotch Vendors.  I met this man who started the St. Andrew’s Distillery which is located in St. Andrews (the location of the big University there) and they make beer, gin and scotch.  He was selling a bottle of his 10 year old which wasn’t his it was Bruichladdich’s.  Apparently the story is that Jim McEwan loves this guy’s beer so they traded a barrel for some beer and that is the first thing they bottled at this distillery.  They recently started making scotch but it’s not aged for three years yet so its technically not scotch. I bought some.  I hope to hear more about this distillery soon, he mentioned he’s doing a trade show in NYC sometime in 2016. We walked around Harvey Nichols and then headed back to the hotel to get our stuff and head to the airport to go back to London.  Airport was empty, crazy sight. Our plane was half full and the flight was very quick and we were back in London in 55 minutes.  We took the hotel shuttle hopper to get to the Sheraton Skyline Hotel.  I did not like this hotel.  I should have stayed in the other Sheraton that’s closer to the airport.  They told me the hotel was fully booked but when I got into the room it had a foul odor (that eventually went away) but when I complained that I couldn’t stay there they told me it was fully booked and then showed me 3 empty rooms, go figure.   It was fine was only there for a couple of hours, checked out in the morning and left on the shuttle hopper to the airport and flew back to JFK via LHR early on Friday morning.  The business lounge in British airways was much nicer than the one in JFK.  The flight was great, food was ok.

I don't know how to add more pictures so I just attached four. the first is the palace at holyrood house, the second is fresh salt beef from Reubens, thirdis the Suite door of the Glasshouse in Edinburgh and the fourth is in the Glengoyne Distillery.

January 11, 2016, 11:21:32 AM
Re: Where is... Where is Marco Polo? I have not seen him in a while, did I miss something or he just disappeared?
January 27, 2016, 09:33:00 AM
Re: The zow Family's First Cancun Vacation Trip Report, 2/2016 Part 2 - Monday.

Flights from BOS to BWI and then from BWI to CUN were uneventful. I was kicking myself for forgetting to bring along DW's expired AXP, but we probably wouldn't have had time, and only she would have been allowed entry, if at all. DD2 wanted wifi inflight bwi to Cun, so we splurged. She said it was spotty, not worth it, and we didn't end up getting it on our return.

I already posted in real time the kosher meal we received on WN (Star-K!):

Arrival in CUN was similar to others' reported experience. Long wait, maybe 30-45 minutes?, at immigration. Once through, about 20-30 minute wait to go through X-Ray scanner of all bags. After getting all our bags through, we pushed the button and got green light. But even then, from other DDFers' experience, I knew we were not home free. Sure enough, I hear one agent say something about one of our multi-colored bags. I also heard them say something about frutas, but I know we didn't have any produce, nor did we have any perishables whatsoever. All we had were packaged snacks. So, we kept walking because they weren't talking to me directly. But before we can make it to the exit doors, an officer stops us and says she wants to examine our bags. Asks if we have any meat or chicken. Nope. But she is looking for fruit. As she's rifling though our bag, it occurs to me that our can of tennis balls might be the culprit. Sure enough, they thought we were trying to smuggle in citrus, chas v'shalom.  So after that slight delay, off we went.

We rented at Hertz as I said before. The area outside the customs area and, particularly, past the rental car and shuttle desks, was packed with people.  We could see the row of rental car offices just about 100 yards away. Apparently people do take shuttle bus but seemed to us so much easier to walk, given the crowds of people and apparent gridlock. Glad we walked. Was easy, though we had to snake around a fence that prevents walking as the crow flies.

Already reported above how Hertz made sure we got the executive treatment...not. But the rental process was reasonably smooth. When they brought the SUV out, I proceeded to start taking photos of any little scratch. Not to be outdone, the Hertz guy was also taking photos with his iPad, and they eventually emailed me the photos with the rental agreement. I like that protocol.

Driving from airport to the strip was uneventful. I was very cautious with my speed. Of course in had my wallet prepped with a $10USD and $5 USD no more, but thankfully never had to use them.

We passed a Krispy Kreme Doughnut store. We didn't stop. I can't find anything online either way regarding its hashgacha or lack thereof. Does anyone know?

Arrived at the Aloft uneventfully. Parking was ridiculously cheap. I don't recall but something like $2USD overnight. Got checked in easily, two adjacent non-connecting rooms. Rooms are spartan but as Shiframeir said, they do provide bottled water. The beds were comfortable and the bathrooms clean and functional. We didn't have a chance to check out the rooftop pool. When I asked the front desk agent if the water was warm, she said sure. When I asked if it was heated, she smiled sheepishly, so I take that as a "no".

We were all hungry for dinner. We decided to go to Dag Dag. Called first and got no answer. Decided to walk over but got there and found the place dark. The security guard for the building told us it hadn't been open for months.

By now, the natives (three teenagers) were not only hungry but also feeling that maybe Moses had taken them out of Egypt, where they always had plenty of meat, chicken, fish, etc, with the unfulfilled promise of the land of milk and honey. Fortunately, as always, Hashem heard their rumblings and gave them a sign.
(Photos from Google)

Key thing here is that the Kosher Luxus - Red Heifer is one place. And they moved sometime in mid 2015 from near LM to current location, around corner from Aloft. And the good news is that with the move, the quality of food and service seems to have moved up a few notches.

Unfortunately I didn't take many photos but we were satisfied with almost everything we ordered. After reading Dan's report, I kept looking for the guacamole from the package and the uninspired local cuisine, but we didn't find it. They served a bread basket that could have been refilled but I don't recall that they did.  Dan had described the bread as airy and not satisfying; I thought it was pretty tasty and of good substance, not airy. Everything we had was tasty; some items, like the duck carnitas and the beef tostadas were especially memorable. The nachos were just fair -- they didn't have any pareve sour cream which we think is essential. In general, we loved the appetizers and liked the mains. That's our general experience most places.

Dessert was good but nothing to write home about. There was a volcano cake (the red heifer brownie) thing that wasn't sufficiently gooey but was okay.

The service was excellent. Attentive but not stuffy. Had a nice bottle of wine.

We got back to the Aloft, crashed, and got ready for a good night sleep in advance of our first full day in Cancun.

March 25, 2016, 03:35:09 PM
Re: Where is...
Where is Marco Polo? I have not seen him in a while, did I miss something or he just disappeared?
30 to go and then you too can retire and fall off the face of the world ;)

May 11, 2016, 09:31:32 AM
Re: Where is...
Where is Marco Polo? I have not seen him in a while, did I miss something or he just disappeared?

Every time I come across his name I get chills. As Dan recently put it "i"m chatting with strangers". You can be in his surrounding  for years, but then he can just vanish off the earth.

May 24, 2016, 01:39:17 PM
Re: Pictures taken from or on the plane/airports (only taken yourself) Couldn't get a normal picture, but I just saw 2 of these land at JFK.

June 05, 2016, 11:51:34 AM
Re: Zero Gravity Chairs Case Of 2 Lounge Patio Chairs Outdoor $49.99 via eBay DD these chairs are junk I bought 4 last year 2 are broken
July 17, 2016, 11:18:43 AM
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: Boston for a 22 Hour Mileage Run TR with @Itsyehuda Not exactly a milage run but more of a fun beer run.

Would love to visit Boston again.

August 04, 2016, 03:50:41 PM
Re: Boston for a 22 Hour Mileage Run TR with @Itsyehuda Thanks for the HT and the TR.
You did so much in <24h.
Hope to meet you next time.

August 04, 2016, 06:03:08 PM
Nescafe Italy/London Honeymoon I wanted to start my report by thanking all DDF’ers for helping me plan this trip. I couldn’t have done it without you! 

This was our first trip and therefore the first report that I am writing, so pardon my lack of experience in writing a TR!

Ever since we got married almost a year ago we had wanted to go to Italy, but we weren’t sure how to go about doing it. That was until I bumped into DDF which gave me all the information I needed and a big push to start planning our trip. After reading through various threads on Italy, I was ready to go ahead and book tickets.
While searching for tickets, I saw that the best prices would be with BA to Milan since tickets to Venice were $500 more per ticket. I figured we would take the train from Milan to Venice, where we planned to start out trip. Since we were flying through LHR we decided to stay in London for a few days at the end of our trip. I therefore booked tickets JFK-LHR-LIN and LHR-JFK for $828.79 pp (using AARP-Cardofferu). I then booked tickets with Ryanair Business Plus from CIA-STN for $85 pp.

About a week after booking, I noticed that the price from JFK-VCE (via LHR) dropped to about $900 pp. which made me call up BA and ask if there was a possibility to change our reservation. To make a long story short: after 12 hours of continuous calling, and finally speaking to a supervisor, my reservation was switched to JFK-LGW-VCE for the price difference of $57 pp and a $25 processing fee. This was much cheaper and more convenient than taking the train from Milan to Venice.   (Of the 100 times I called, one of the agents felt bad for me and credited me 3,500 Avios to my account. So I got that too)

Ill skip the planning and write about the trip as you can read through the same hundreds of pages and get the same information I got 

The trip:
Our flight (JFK-LGW) was scheduled for Wednesday night at 9:55PM but was delayed by almost an hour. Our connection time in LGW was about 1:30 which was just enough time for me to daven (it was Rosh Chodesh and that took longer) and head to our gate.
We arrived in VCE after 3PM exhausted after not sleeping a whole night on the flight. In the arrival terminal, after stopping at an ATM for Euro (not foreign exchange fees for CPC) we headed to the information desk to buy tickets for the Alilaguna Boat which was €15 pp for a 1 way ticket. The agent at the desk was not well informed on which stop to get off by until we showed him on the map where we have to go. You can get this information by checking the hotel website.  We also bought a map for €3 which was unnecessary as the hotel provided maps for free.
We took a 10 minute walk through the white underpass/tunnel and followed the signs to the vaparetto/water taxi and boarded the Boat. We took the orange line (there are also red and blue lines) to the Guglie stop (as per our hotels website) (Pronounced Goo-Lee). The ride was about 45 minutes and the walk from the stop to the hotel was about 5 minutes with luggage. We arrived at our hotel 5:30.
We stayed at the Carnival Palace Hotel as it is the nicest hotel in the Jewish Ghetto area and we planned to eat there Shabbos. After settling into our hotel room, (and changing into comfortable sneakers) we headed out to explore the Ghetto neighborhood. We first stopped into Gam Gam to make a reservation for supper. We then strolled around and found the Chabad Shul, said hi to Rami and got all davening times. We then headed back to Gam Gam for supper. We ordered an entrée of Humus and meat (€9), Tagliatelle with meat sauce (like sloppy joes) (€9.5) and Shwarma (€15). Water is not for free. It has to be purchased with every meal unless you’re a cheapskake and bring your own (not sure if its ‘legal’) water costed €3. (pictures of food to follow). I liked the food, but my wife didn’t love it since she doesn’t like Isreali spices (zatar ect) that are used there.
After supper, I went to daven Mincha & Maariv in the Chabad Shul. (9:30ish)
After mincha/maariv, we took a vaparetto down the Grand Canal. Since it was so late at night, we had to buy vaparetto tickets at St. Lucia train station, which was about a 10-15 minute walk away from our hotel. The English option on our ACTV (24 hour ticket machines) didn’t work of course, so we stood there for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do. Some kind lady finally helped us (she spoke Spanish) buy a 1 day pass (€20 pp), as we planned to use it the whole next day. We found out afterwards that we could’ve bought a student 3 day pass, which is only available at the airport, to save money (€35 pp)
We got back to our hotel room at about 12:00 really tired as we still didn’t sleep since Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. (it was Thursday night).
Friday: Murano, Burano.......... to be continued

August 15, 2016, 11:01:25 PM
Re: Boston for a 22 Hour Mileage Run TR with @Itsyehuda Nice TR!
I'm sure others will find this handy

August 16, 2016, 01:10:14 AM
Re: Best of DDF
I just bought this then i realized i don't have a porch... lol

August 16, 2016, 12:58:06 PM
Re: Nescafe Italy/London Honeymoon Friday:

Our hotel gave us (with our request at front desk) a percolator for hot water so we can make coffee. We brought a bottle of milk from NY as we didn’t know if we would be able to get kosher milk in VCE. BTW, there was no fridge in our room only a mini bar but it was a large mini bar so we were able to fit other perishables (milk, cold cuts) in it (Our hotel in Pisa and Rome had the same thing). One problem however, the mini bar (in Venice only) made a noise every time you closed it so we couldn’t use it on Shabbos. 

After drinking a coffee, I headed to the Ghetto and I davened shachris at Chabad (9:00). After shachris, I went back to the hotel, had some leftover sandwiches from our flight, and headed out to take the 4.2 vaparetto to Murano (as instructed by our hotel receptionist). We arrived at Murano at about 11:30. We wanted to be there before 12 as we heard that the Glass Factories took a long lunch break from 12-2 (which turned out not to be accurate. Lunch was from 1:00-2:00)

After wandering around, we ended up in a factory behind a nice big shop which told us that it costed €5 pp to watch the glass blowing. Since we weren’t well informed that all others were free, we paid €10 to see it and got a 10% discount on anything we wanted to buy in the shop.  (the shop was an expensive one so we didn’t buy there) The glass blowing was fascinating!

After looking around at all the glass pieces, we started roaming the streets of Murano to find souvenirs. At about 2:00 we took the #12 Vaparetto to Burano.

Burano was a really beautiful Island! We got some fabulous pictures. We even managed to get ‘lost’ on the tiny island ;) After about an hour, we made our way back to the Vaparetto stop to head back to our hotel to prepare for Shabbos.

We are not sure what we did wrong, but the trip back to our hotel took over 2 hours!!!!! (Good thing we left early
enough) Eventually we made it back to the ghetto area and we were lucky to find that Gam Gam Goodies was still open at 5:30 (their hours 8AM-6PM erev Shabbos). We bought some pizza and coffee (€9 for small pizza and €4 for coffee). We also stopped in the bakery (Open Friday until 7) for some Shabbos goodies. Goodies in hand, we got back to our hotel starving and hot as there was a heat wave (of course that happens when we’re there!!!) On our way up, we stopped at the receptionist desk to pick up our key to our room for Shabbos.

After eating, we decided to hurry and make an early Shabbos so we can daven in the Italian shul to hear the Italian Nussach (7:30).
We arrived 15 minutes late to the shul to find a huge crowd gathered in the square outside the shul due to some technical issues that they had inside. We were advised to take along our passports but we weren’t asked to show ID. They only started davening close to 8:00. Davening was a really beautiful experience. The davening was very different than anything we were used to, which enhanced our experience.
After Davening, we took a short walk before heading to the Art Gallery which we had reserved for the Shabbos meals prior to our trip. As we walked in, we were warmly greeted by Rami who showed us to our table which was beautifully set up with Challah, wine, and a nice array of dips. Waiters were very friendly and served the meal each at their own pace. The fish was served in tomato sauce- it was pretty good. Chicken soup was watered down. Main course was chicken with a variety of side dishes. All dishes were served in generous portions and waiters were more than glad to bring doubles when asked. After the meal was over, we took a short walk (was after 12:00) and headed back to the hotel for some rest.

Shabbos day:

I woke up and made my way to Chabad for davening (10:00). Arriving there, I found a table set with cake, cookies and hot coffee. The place was so full that I didn’t even have a chair to sit on. Davening was similar to what I was used to at home. Rami gave a speech before Mussaf in honor of Gimmel Tammuz, Yuhr Tzeit of previous Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT”L. After Mussaf, my wife and I decided to skip the Kiddush in the square and headed straight to the Gallery for the Shabbos meal. Just as the previous night, the tables were nicely set and the meal was very enjoyable. The food was very traditional. Salmon fish, dips, eggs, chulent, cold cuts, and kugel. After thinking that we ate enough for one meal, plates of cake a fruit were brought in for dessert!

It was a great experience to meet people from so many different backgrounds and countries. We got to chat with many people about random discussions.

Everyone in the gallery felt like one big family!

Overall, I felt that the price paid (€75 pp)was well worth what was given. (Although my wife didn’t love the food as she doesn’t like the zatar spice (as mentioned before ;) ) which was used in most of the dishes (the peanut gallery is adding “including the chulent!!! LOL!)

After the meal, ‘paper’ map in hand, (no google maps….. ) we started our tour around Venice. Our ultimate goal was to reach the Rialto Bridge, which we wanted to visit. We wanted to visit this on Shabbos as the bridge is under construction and we knew we wouldn’t need pictures. We explored Venice for almost 3 hours (in the heat wave) and then made our way back to our hotel for a Shabbos afternoon nap.
After our nap, it was just about time for Mincha. After Mincha, we yet again made our way to the Gallery for ANOTHER meal.  Surprisingly enough, the tables were set as if we hadn’t eaten in a few days!!! We spent some time chatting over food and made our way back to Chabad for Maariv. After Maariv, Everyone congregated in the square outside the shul for Havdalah. As soon as Rami finished Havdalah, all the men started singing and dancing. The scene was very memorable and moving to see all different types of Yidden all in one big circle!
Gam Gam Goodies was closed on Motzei Shabbos but Ghimmel Garden was open. After getting back to our hotel, the late hour made us decide not to go back there for Melaveh Malka. Instead we had some rolls that we bought in the local bakery before Shabbos. (FYI, for some reason the bakery was open on Shabbos too….. not sure what that means)
Coming soon….. Jewish Ghetto tour, San Marco Square, and Pisa.

August 17, 2016, 10:58:40 PM
Re: $6 Spider-Man waffle maker Whoa. This, as they say, is a game changer.
August 24, 2016, 05:04:24 AM
Re: HOT!! Hyatt Regency Paris Etoilele club room for 3k points plus 20 EUR a night! Can't argue with the price, but note that the hotel is rated 3/5 on both Yelp and Trip Advisor. Once you are paying for airfare and taking the time, might be worth to spend a few euro more and make a great trip out of it. Might not be the prevailing DDF mentality, but just my $.02 worth.
August 28, 2016, 11:06:18 AM
Re: Nescafe Italy/London Honeymoon Sunday:

After Shachris at Chabad, we started our day with the Jewish Ghetto Tour. We took the first tour at 10:30. The tour guide herself was not that amazing (to say the least) but we had to do the tour as this was the only way to gain access to the all shuls in the ghetto. The tour costed €10/€8 with student ID. The Shuls were magnificent!!!!!!! We were told that as of 3 weeks before, photography was allowed in all the shuls so I got to take some beautiful pictures. (hope to post some as soon as I figure out how to!)

After the tour, we strolled around the museum and saw some stunning silver pieces and handmade torah mantels aging back a few hundred years. We were in a bit of a hurry since we still wanted to have enough time to spend in San Marco Square so we bought pizza and coffee from Gam Gam Goodies for brunch. We also bought milk from there as well since we didn’t know if Rome would have kosher milk. (Kosher Delight Grocery in Rome did have) We also made a stop in the bakery to buy some goodies for later since the bakery closes at 12 on Sunday. FYI, all shops (convenience stores) close early on Sunday for some reason.
With all our goodies, we headed back to the hotel to check-out, which was at 12. The guy at the front desk saw us walking in with our pizza in hand and told us we that we can take our time eating lunch before checking out. We checked out about 12:15 and gave the hotel to put our luggage in the holding area. We even asked them to keep some things in the refrigerator for us- which they did gladly. We had a very nice experience with the hotel in general. We would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wanting to stay in the Jewish Ghetto area over Shabbos.

After hotel checkout, we bought 1 day Vaparetto bus tickets from the local shop down the block as we were going to use the boat a few times throughout the day. We took the Vaparetto to San Marco Square where we headed to the Doges Palace. We were very eager to get in as we were told by one of the tourists that we met over Shabbos in the Gallery that there is a special Jewish exhibit in the palace in commemoration of 500 years of the Jewish Ghetto. We purchased tickets for €19/€12 with student ID. After walking around and taking some pictures, we followed signs to the Jewish exhibit. We passed many gorgeous paintings and furniture throughout the palace. With the help of a few curators, we finally found the exhibit only to learn that we needed a separate ticket for the exhibit!! Having no other choice, we trekked back down to the main entrance to buy the additional ticket required for entry (€2 pp). Additional ticket in hand, we trudged back upstairs in the heat (There was no AC in the palace!!!) and finally made it back to the exhibit. It was worth the hassle!!!!! On display there were some seforim as old as 500 years and some kesubos aging 200-300 years. I was fascinated by all those things as I have a strong interest in old Seforim. We spent the better part of an hour by this exhibit. (It didn’t hurt that the exhibit had AC LOL)  We then explored other parts of the palace and headed toward the exit, stopping in the yard for some nice pictures.

Upon leaving the Palace, we wandered around the Square window shopping and taking more pictures. At about 4:00, we headed to the Vaparetto station and made our way back to the Ghetto area. We stopped into our hotel to cool off and have a cold drink (which we ended up buying in the hotel bar for a hefty price because all shops were closed!!!) We then headed to Ghimmel Garden for dinner before we left Venice. When we arrived we were told that the restaurant doesn’t open until 7:00. Since we had a train to catch (no tickets bought yet), we made our way to Gam Gam for dinner. I ordered the Mussaka Gam Gam (€12). My wife, wanting to be on the safe side to avoid the zatar, figured the Shnitzel (€14) would be her best bet. Both dishes (even my wife agrees ;) ) were delicious!!!

After picking up our luggage from the hotel holding area, hopping onto a Vaparetto, we arrived at St. Lucia Train Station about 6:00. From my research prior to our trip, I knew that the last 2 trains out of Venice to Pisa were at 6:25PM and 7:25PM both were with about an hour connection time in Florence. We didn’t book in advance since we weren’t sure which train would work better for our schedule.  As we walked in, we immediately saw a kiosk that appeared to have been the place to purchase train tickets. We quickly made our way to the desk where the agent told us that the 6:25 was sold out (even 1st class) He said he would be able to put us on the 7:25 train (1st class was the only one available). Reluctantly, we agreed only to hear that he would be charging us commission on our tickets as he worked for a travel agency!!!! I thanked him for his time and he was kind enough to show us where to purchase tickets directly from the train company. We quickly made our way to one of the machines (it was already 6:15) and with the help of an agent who worked for the train company, we were able to purchase 1st class tickets on the 6:25 train. It seems that the last few seats are locked and can only be purchased directly from the company- even the travel agent didn’t have access!!!! For the train from Florence to Pisa, I was told that I can board any train in Florence using this ticket.

We ran to the main platform and stared at the screen until our platform # was displayed. We were told to keep our eyes focused on the screen as the platform only appears a few minutes before the departure time. Additionally we were informed that our train’s main destination was to Rome (Roma Termini) but it was making a stop in Florence. As soon as the platform appeared, we RAAAANNNNN to our train in fear that we would miss it!!!! We actually made the train, and made ourselves comfortable in our 1st class seats. (I would highly recommend buying 1st class tickets as a first option since it is a very big difference in comfort but not that much more expensive.)

Upon arrival to Florence, we learned that the connecting train to Pisa was delayed by 45 minutes. After about 1:30 waiting (standing in front of the main screen in fear of missing our connection), we finally boarded a train to Pisa. After boarding the train, I realized (not sure how) that I had to validate the tickets for this train so I quickly ran back to the machine to validate praying all along that we do not miss our train. Phew! We didn’t.
This train was a regional train with no 1st class nor designated seats. There were also no compartments for luggage so we sat with our luggage. After a tiring hour long train ride, we were glad to arrive to Pisa train station. As we pulled into the station, a fellow passenger, who appeared to have been staring at us all along, came over to us and started asking me questions about Palestine. Not looking for any trouble, I told him that I only spoke English (which is true) and didn’t understand what he was saying. This was our only anti-Semitic experience throughout our whole trip.  As soon as the doors open, we bolted off the train and made our way down the stairs from the platform, only to learn that we had to go up another flight of stairs to the exit. Exhausted from dragging our luggage all over the place, we were more than glad to see that our hotel was literally right across the street of the train station exit.

We checked in to the NH Pisa hotel at about 11PM. Right after checking in, we went to a local grocery to get cold water and beer. Then we made our way back to our hotel room for midnight snack/cold cut sandwiches (which we had brought from home) and called it a night.

Next Up……….Leaning Tower of Pisa, Rome

August 28, 2016, 07:30:39 PM
Re: amazan Nature Valley Granola Bars
use Subscribe & Save and

Clip 25% Off Coupon to about $7
first of all repost
secondly you need to add a link or something next time

August 30, 2016, 01:04:42 PM
Re: 6 Foot Folding Table $39 Pickup or $78 for 2 Free Shipping Sukkos.
August 30, 2016, 04:41:29 PM
Re: Nescafe Italy/London Honeymoon NH Pisa:

Our hotel room was very nice and clean. Was worth the price (about $115) being that they had great service, and was well located. One hitch that we had in the room was that we couldn’t figure out how to close the bedside lamp. We tried all the light switches- there were about 20 (as the room was dark when we entered). But to no avail! The light was stubborn and refused to cooperate!!!! We continued to battle the lamp well into the AM hours. We even tried to unplug the lamp- for some reason the plug was screwed into the outlet!!!!! Finally, we came up with a grand plan “We will call the front desk and ask for help”!! However, the directory was in Italian and after many attempts (and probably waking up other hotel guests) we gave up and decided to just unscrew the bulb!!! At least that was not permanently connected to the lamp! Other than that, we were very satisfied.  :)


Being that the earliest direct train to Rome was at 1:57PM, there is not much to do in Pisa besides taking pictures at the leaning tower, and we arrived in Pisa close to midnight the night before, we decided to take our time in the morning with davening and breakfast. For breakfast we had delicious tuna sandwiches (bought rolls in Venice the day before, small mayo and tuna cans brought from home) and some hot coffee (our room was equipped with a small percolator) substituting milk with coffee creamers that we took from the plane since we wouldn’t have where to refrigerate the big bottle of milk until later that evening.

At about 11:30, we checked out of the hotel leaving our luggage in hotel storage. We were told that there was a bus across the street from the hotel which will stop right near the leaning tower. (Think it costs €2) After checking google maps, we chose to take the scenic 20 minute walk instead.

Since we were afraid that tickets for the direct train to Rome will sell out, we made a quick stop at the train station across the street to purchase tickets for the 1:57 train so that we wouldn’t be pressured to get back to the train station early.

We then headed to the leaning tower which was WOW!!!!!!!  It was amazing to see the tower, which we had heard so much about, is so obviously slanted. We (and everyone else) took pictures while trying to hold the tower up and then trying to push it down! Many people looked quite silly in awkward positions.  :) (who are we to judge LOL) We spent about an hour taking pictures and buying souvenirs. We even found one shop that was selling mugs and shot glasses on a slant, which was just too cute not to buy!

We didn’t end up climbing the tower since by the time went online to book tickets (about 2 weeks before visiting Pisa) there were not slots available in our time-frame. (FYI, tickets can be booked up to 20 days prior to scheduled visit date)

We then headed back to the hotel to fetch our luggage and head to the train station. Thankfully our train was running on time and as soon as we arrived to the station, we boarded the first class cabin for our ride. Since we were satisfied with the 1st class seats to Florence, we bought 1st class tickets for this ride as well. But, the first class on this train was not nearly as nice or comfortable as the day before. We were still glad that we were sitting there as opposed to the main cabin.

The train ride lasted about 2.5 hours. It was a very scenic route!

Upon arrival to the Roma Termini Station at about 4:30, we collected our luggage and made our way to the exit. There were taxi’s outside waiting for customers, however, due to the fear of being ripped off, we decided to use Uber instead. (Yes! There is Uber in Rome). After a few minute wait for the Uber, (during which taxi drivers tried to convince us that the Uber would rip us off) the driver contacted me as he was circling for a few minutes and was unable to locate us. Finally we were sitting in our Uber and enjoyed a very pleasant ride as our friendly driver pointed out some landmarks on the way. Some 20 minutes later, we pulled up to a building which matched the address of our hotel.

While planning our trip, we were unsure which hotel to book for our stay in Rome. Many fellow DDF’ers stayed at one of the Sheraton hotels but we weren’t so sure about staying there since both Sheraton hotels are quite far from the main sites and attractions. Additionally, various TR’s mentioned that the public transportation in Rome was unreliable, and unsafe too, which led us to seek other hotel options. We were looking for a hotel that would be walking distance to the Ghetto area, and would also be safe to walk at night. After much research on TA, we settled on Hotel Navona, which seemed to have pretty good reviews, was within 10-15 minutes walking distance to most attractions, and was very decently priced.

Upon arrival to the above mentioned building, we entered the courtyard when DW said (in a calm voice that we all know means troube) “we are not staying in this place”!!!!!! I couldn’t agree more as the outside décor was ‘less than beautiful’ to say the least. I told DW to reserve judgement until we reached our room. (All the while I praying that Sheraton still has available rooms). We rang the bell by the main entrance where there was a sign “Hotel Navona- 2nd Floor”. After a short wait, a bellhop greeted us and helped us with our luggage. We read online that the building does not have an elevator but the hotel provides a bellhop. Fortunately, that turned out not to be accurate as they recently installed a small elevator, which was just enough for the bellhop and our luggage. We waited for the next shift……!!

After exiting the elevator and entering the 2nd floor, we calmed down somewhat seeing that the front desk and hallway were pretty ok looking. We checked in, and got a map of all the main attractions and headed to our room, holding our breath all the while. We were relieved to see that our room was by far much nicer than the courtyard!!!! By now DW agreed that we can stay here for our 3 night stay in Rome. PHEW! The room was actually pretty spacious; we even had a little porch.

After we settled into our room, we went for a stroll to explore the Ghetto area where the shul and all kosher restaurants are located (7-8 minute walk from our hotel.)

Since we hadn’t eaten lunch that day, we went straight to Ba’Ghetto Milky (we stuck to milchig since we didn’t want to run into problems with Glatt meats). We ordered Eggplant rolls filled with tuna and mozzarella cheese as an appetizer (€6.50), Spaghetti with cheese and cubes of salmon (€12.50) and Cheese and Smoked salmon (€12) as mains. Additionally, there is €1.50 pp sitting tax in all restaurants in Rome. Also, just like in Venice, you pay for your water ;).

All the dishes were delicious and we wiped our plates clean. (hopefully the pictures will be posted one day)

After dinner, we headed to the great synagogue for Mincha/Maariv. As informed on DDF, we took along ID, which had to be presented prior to entry. In addition, everyone was subject to a security check and had to pass a metal detector. They were very strict about shutting phones during services, as pictures weren’t allowed and the gabbai strongly enforced the rule. (It later turned out that during a tour, pictures were allowed).

After davening, we took another short walk along the river before heading back and turning in for the night.

Up Next Day #1 in Rome…………

September 04, 2016, 10:59:33 PM
Re: 8 packs of 36 organic fruit leathers only $32
Seems OOS and not allowing me to add to cart. Nice find though.

Back in stock!! but it will sell out fast..

September 05, 2016, 09:09:32 AM
Coleman Road Trip Grill LXE $100 This is a great price for a great grill with amazing reviews.
I have this grill and love it.

September 09, 2016, 12:44:05 PM
Savannah TR on JetBlue promo Here we go, my first large trip report (I’ve done a few small things here and there, but this is my first full trip recap effort). There's next to nothing about Savannah on DDF, and we really enjoyed our trip, so I figured I'd put as much detail (and photos) as I could.

NOTE: I obviously set up the pictures and captions on my desktop, and I'm reasonably certain some of my formatting won't work well on a phone or tapa, and possibly even on some desktop's depending on screen size. I'd love to hear feedback from people as to whether the layout worked well from whatever device they viewed it from.

Having enrolled myself and my wife in the JetBlue Points Match promo (not enough SPG points to do the kids too), we had to decide where to go and for how long. Last resort would be the in-and-outs that many DDF’ers seem to have done, to wherever the cheapest option would be, but we much preferred an actual trip where we could visit a city. But, since we were leaving our other 2 children with my in-laws, we couldn't be away for too long. We actually booked Charleston first, but quickly decided to switch to Savannah for a number of reasons. As far as timing, we would fly flew in Tuesday morning and out Wednesday evening – basically giving us 2 days and 1 night. I booked window and aisle for both flights, hoping to bring the infant car seat on the plane. Our flights were as follows:

8/23 7:05AM JFK-SAV
8/24 5:50PM SAV-JFK

Flight and Arrival in Savannah
Tuesday morning we were up and out nice and early for our 7:05 AM flight, taking an Uber to JFK for free with a referral credit I discovered I still had. Unfortunately, we forgot the cooler bag with what was supposed to be that day’s lunch at home. Instead, we picked up a sandwich and a salad from Fresko at the CIBO in T5 right after security. I’m curious if they might have had other choices at the other CIBO’s, because I did not like the selection. It was a rip-off, but I guess that’s what happens when you have to buy food at the airport.

The flight was full, so no extra seat for baby, but b”h he was extremely well behaved. After a short flight, we arrived at SAV. It’s a nice little airport with some local character. All the rental companies have the cars on-site, so we proceeded to the Dollar desk, where I had reserved the cheapest option - under $40 for 2 days. The woman at the desk was trying to get everyone to upgrade, and not to a level above, but to the biggest thing she could sell you on. She said “there’s no trunk in the car you’re getting, how about a Jeep instead.” That sounded bad enough to upgrade, but we figured, let’s go out and see what it is, and come back if we can’t squeeze in. Lo and behold it’s a Chevy Cruze (that’s a compact, the category of the Civic, Corolla, etc. – not even Chevy’s smallest car), with plenty of room in the trunk for all our stuff. It was also extremely well equipped for such a budget car (and such a budget rental price!).

Forsyth Park
We had some time to kill before the first real item on our itinerary, so we stopped at Publix by the airport for some snacks and headed into Savannah to squeeze in Forsyth Park. It’s a nice little park, and you immediately get a sense of the type of city you’re in. This is not NYC, it's got a very southern feel and an air of history about it. Especially striking are the colorful houses facing the park, something that can be found all over the historic parts of Savannah. Having said that, there’s not much to do or see there, and the trolley tours (more on that later) usually cover it too. It was nice to stop by given our schedule, but not a must see attraction. The northern half of the park is covered with live oaks (the state tree), with paths surrounding a very pretty fountain. The southern half is mostly open fields, with a really tall confederate memorial smack in the middle, and a memorial for the Spanish-American War at the southern tip. In between, there's a playground, a 'fragrant garden' and a cafe. After 15-20 minutes, we’d seen the sight and moved on to the next attraction.

(L)Plaque commemorating the naming of the park, right in front of (R)the big fountain featured in the northern portion of the park.


(L)Crepe myrtle with a few flowers, dwarfed by live oak, covered in Spanish moss (which seemed to cover nearly every tree). (R)Walled 'fragrant' garden


(L)Little bird pond/fountain in the middle of the fragrant garden. Not much there in the heat of summer's end, but I did find this one (R)rose.


(L)Confederate memorial. (R)Spanish-American war memorial.


Just to give you a sense of the very different vibe of the area, here are some of the houses lining the park:


Dolphin Boat Tour

Our next stop was a dolphin boat tour. Savannah is situated on the Savannah River, but fairly close to the mouth where it flows into the Atlantic. As a result, there are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that hang out downriver of the city. I had first seen a company that operates out of Savannah proper, but it was twice the price of all the other companies I eventually found, which launch from Tybee Island. If Hilton Head is Savannah's nearby resort town, Tybee is its nearby beach town - no fancy chain hotels, no fancy vacation communities. We were planning on visiting Tybee anyway, so it was a no-brainer to drive out that way for the dolphin tour as well. We booked an 11:30 tour with Captain Derek's Dolphin Adventure - $16/person after tax for a 60-90 minute ride. They let us bring the stroller on without a problem, though I had to carry it to where we sat as the boat is not quite big enough for maneuvering the stroller.

They operate with a captain piloting the boat, and another guy who basically attempts to entertain with jokes, and points out the dolphins when they start appearing. We saw a good number of dolphins at a distance, until finally a pair of them decided to come right up to the boat and say hi. They also speed the boat up at one point to make waves, hoping to have the dolphins 'surf' in the wake, but they were unsuccessful getting the dolphins to do that on our tour. It's a nice ride providing some relief from the heat and humidity, and it was definitely cool to see the dolphins up close. If I were to do something like this again though, I'd make sure to bring something faster than my point and shoot, as you have to be quick to catch the dolphins in frame.

As we were boarding the tour, we saw (L)this dredging vessel coming upriver, followed by (R)a container ship. The guide later told us that they're doing dredging work to deepen the channel for even bigger container ships, and when there's a storm coming, they bring all the ships into the relative come of the river a day or two before.


(L)Our first dolphin sighting! After getting a bunch of not too great shots from distance, (R)eventually they decided to come hang out near the boat for a few minutes.


Fort Pulaski, built after the War of 1812 as part of the US coastal defense system, saw significant fighting in the civil war (that's why the walls are so scarred, you can zoom in to see).

(L)Cockpur Island Lighthouse, the smallest lighthouse in Georgia. At low tide you can walk from the fort, but as you can see it's covered by water in the middle of the day. (R)Tybee Island Lighthouse, the largest lighthouse in Georgia, and one of seven colonial era lighthouses still standing today.


(L)Just a nice shot from the marina looking back over the marshes at a storm that thankfully never hit us. (R)Someone on the boat pointed out a rainbow in the cloud and this was the best shot I was able to get.


Tybee Island

After the tour, we continued on to the rest of Tybee Island. We stopped at the North Beach parking lot, where my wife went to check on the conditions on the beach. It was too hot for the baby, and too not-deserted for me, but she did see a sign that made us realize we'd seen Tybee Island in nature shows, as it's a significant nesting site for sea turtles. The lighthouse is right by that lot, as is a museum in an old fort (Fort Scriven), but neither were open, so we moved on. I had seen something about a pier and pavilion at Tybee's South Beach, so we headed that way to check it out. Parking is $2/hour, but we didn't have quarters, so I ended up paying the $4 cc minimum. We thought we'd get our money's worth by also visiting the marine science center, which is right next to the pavilion, but we ended up deciding to skip it in the interest of time. The pier and pavilion were worthwhile in their own right.

(L)Food court under the pavilion. (R)Fishing pier past the pavilion, stretching out into the ocean.


Semi-panoramic view from the fishing pier of the pavilion, the beach, and the resorts in the background.


We took in the views and sea breeze for a half hour or so before heading back to the car and back into Savannah.

Congregation Mickve Israel
Next stop was Congregation Mickve Israel, the 3rd oldest Jewish congregation in America (after Spanish and Portuguese in NY, and Touro in RI). They have tours that last around 30-45 minutes, with a $7/person suggested donation (they made it seem mandatory though, which was fine by me as I was planning to pay that amount anyway). The tour takes you into the shul and then to a single room museum they made in a relatively modern part of the building that also houses the office, gift shop, meeting rooms, etc. I did not realize this beforehand, but it may be halachically problematic to enter the shul itself (my Rov told me after that I shouldn't have gone in), so AYLOR beforehand if you plan to go. They seat you in the shul while the tour guide talks about the history of Jews in Savannah and the congregation itself. Then you go up by the aron and where they open it to show the sifrei torah. Finally they bring you up to the museum room to see all the historical artifacts they have curated for tourists.

The history is remarkable, as the Jewish presence in Georgia dates back nearly to the founding of the colony. This congregation didn't officially become reform until 1904, though it seems like it was fairly progressive as time went on, and very integrated into it's surroundings. The building itself highlights this with its Gothic style, more reminiscent of a church than a shul, and artifacts in the museum that show the role of congregants in Savannah, and more generally American, society.

Not my photo, but I wanted to highlight just how church-like the building is from the outside (you can click through to see the photographer's flickr page).


(L)Sefer torah which was brought over by the first Jews to come to Georgia in 1733. (R)Note from Robert E. Lee to one of the congregants.


(L)Front of the shul, including aron and bimah. (C)Looking back from near the aron on the rest of the shul. Note the organ above the doors in the back. (R) One of the 8 large stained glass windows covering the sides of the building.


(L)Shofar, havdalah set, haggadah, shabbos lamp, siddurim, and megillah. (C)Ceremonial helmet of Rabbi George Solomon, who was the Rabbi of Mickve Israel from 1903-1945, and served as a chaplain in both world wars. (R)Menorah at middle right and mohel's set (which was brought over on the boat with the Torah above) at bottom left.


It was now late enough to check-in, so we headed to the hotel to get settled before mincha/maariv and dinner.

Part 2 will cover the hotel, kosher food and minyan, trolley tour and City Market.

September 12, 2016, 04:49:11 PM
Re: Hat Tip Leaderboard
My money is on mileagejunkie.
Careful there. We might have an upset by davidmal.

September 13, 2016, 12:09:15 AM
HOT! $100 off anything (no minimum) on Use code d6qtqbu7j at checkout. Probably will get cancelled but who knows.
September 17, 2016, 08:54:17 PM
Re: Around the World for $1156. JFK-ARN-BKK-KUL-SYD-HNL-PDX-JFK
Doesn't anyone have a job?
Some prefer (or are able) to fit the job into their life as opposed to fit their life into the job.

September 19, 2016, 07:49:39 AM
Re: The funny/strange/interesting video thread...

September 19, 2016, 08:25:31 PM
Re: The funny/strange/interesting video thread...  

September 20, 2016, 05:57:20 PM
Re: Hat Tip Leaderboard Co-favorites at 2:1

Longshot at 12:1

September 21, 2016, 01:33:36 PM
Re: Where Are You Posting From Now?
Upon the Golden Thrown

Giving out a Like to the person who knows what I'm talking about

Hint it's worth $2,000,000

The golden toilet bowl at the Gugenheim Museum.

September 21, 2016, 04:36:03 PM
Re: Where Are You Posting From Now?
Upon the Golden Thrown

Giving out a Like to the person who knows what I'm talking about

Hint it's worth $2,000,000

September 21, 2016, 04:36:36 PM
Re: Where Are You Posting From Now?

Not sure but it's worth more after I make a deposit in it

September 21, 2016, 04:50:26 PM
Re: Nescafe Italy/London Honeymoon Tuesday:

It was really exciting to wake up in Rome as we were scheduled to have a Jewish Ghetto Tour that day which was something that we had been looking forward to for a while. After Shachris and a quick breakfast, we made our way to the shul as that was the meeting place for our 10:00 tour.  Approaching the shul, we saw a group of people which turned out to be a tour from a different company, but they gladly directed us to our tour guide. We booked our tour in advance with Jewish Roma as they offered a student rate of 50€ pp. (as opposed to RFJ who wanted 250€). It was a real pleasure to deal with Janet from JR, who helped us all along in a very friendly manner. In addition, she sent us an email the day prior to the tour informing us who our tour guide would be and how we would be able to contact her if necessary.

Our guide was Sara Pavoncello (not related to Micaela Pavoncello who runs JR). She was absolutely fantastic!!!! She had a great way of presenting the rich history of Jewish Rome. She was more than glad to answer any questions and expand on any topic. Additionally, since she is a native of Rome, she was able to give us a real feel of the Jewish life in Rome.  Also, we got to meet her grandmother and her cousins (seems like everyone is related lol) who coincidently passed by every few minutes. She was even all excited to point out her fiancés uncle who we met along the way. 
During the tour, we visited the Jewish Museum (separate charge not included with the tour fee of 11€/5€ with student ID) which featured beautiful articles aging back a few hundred years. We were amazed to hear that many of the silver pieces (crowns etc.) are still in use today.
We also visited the shul and were allowed to take pictures (which is strictly prohibited during davening, as mentioned before). Sara made sure to give us enough time to appreciate the luxurious artwork in the shul and take as many pictures as we wanted. After visiting the shul, the tour was officially over and we paid for our tour (cash only). The tour lasted 3 ½ hours. Overall, we were overwhelmingly thrilled with the tour and would recommend all to use JR!!!!

Being that we had eaten only a small breakfast, we were famished so we headed to Yotvata for lunch. We ordered Bombolotti spigola e cicoria 11€ (which in plain English means Short pasta with sea bass and chicory), and Quattro Formaggi  9€ (which is a 4 cheese, no sauce pizza). For drinks, DW ordered a sprite 2.50€ and I decided that I can use some caffeine to help me get through the day. On the menu, there was an option of coffee or American coffee. I figured I’d try something Italian and get the coffee. I was shocked to see a coffee in a mug the size of a shot glass (and no milk in it)!!!!! After contemplating what to do, I asked the waiter what other options there were and he told me “oh, you want an American coffee”!!! I readily agreed and the waiter took back my shot glass of coffee. After a few minutes wait, he returned with what looked to be a ‘proper’ cup of coffee. I was astonished to see that I was served a black coffee with no milk on the side!!! I stopped the waiter yet again and asked if I can have some milk in a shot glass ;). The waiter, getting quite frustrated, eventually after a 10 minute wait, got me some milk to add to my coffee. By then I had figured out to order a cappuccino next time since apparently that is the equivalent of an American coffee!! Go figure!

With our doggy bag in hand, we made our way back to the hotel to get some rest before the Free Walking Tour that we had booked for that afternoon.

At about 4:30 we made our way to the Spanish Steps where we were to meet our guide for the Free Walking Tour. We easily located our guide and we handed her our tickets which were mandatory to join the tour (email confirmation is not enough, you need a hard copy). The tour started at 5:00PM with a short lecture of the Spanish Steps history. Since the Spanish steps were under construction at the time, we didn’t spend much time before continuing with the tour. To make a long story short, throughout our two hour tour, we visited the Pantheon, a nice big mall (of the 3 biggest in Italy) 2 churches (where we waited outside), and ended our tour at the Trevi Fountain.
Overall, this tour was a waste of time for us as most of it was based on the history of the churches, which was not to our interest. Additionally, we felt that we would’ve been able to visit the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain (which were the only two landmarks we were interested in) on our own pace without spending a whole afternoon on it.

Leaving the Trevi Fountain, we headed in the direction of Piazza Navona to get some pictures at the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (aka Fiumi Fountain or Fountain of the Four Rivers). Along the way, we passed many stands on the street with locals trying to sell all sorts of things. One stand sold leather items such as wallets and handbags etc. Being that it was our engagement anniversary, I figured that DW can use a new handbag and started negotiating prices. Informed that these sellers can be bargained down I tried my luck by threating to buy elsewhere. As that threat didn’t work, I stepped over to the next stand like 2 feet away, who was more than glad to sell a bag for the price that I wanted  :). Before paying, I asked the seller to prove that the bag was real leather by putting fire to the bag (if it is plastic, it will melt).

Handbag in hand, we arrived to the Pizza Navona, when I noticed that in order to make Mincha in the shul, I had to leave right now. Promising DW that we would be back for pictures, we left the square and made our way to shul for Mincha and Maariv.

After davening, we made our way (yet again) to Ba’Ghetto Milk for dinner. We waited for about 40-45 minutes for a table, which didn’t bother us since we were not very hungry. We ordered Sigari di formaggio e patate (fried cigars filled with cheese and potato) €4 and Spigola Griglia (some sort of Sea Bass) €21. The fish was presented as a whole before being taken back to skin and scale. Being that we only ordered one main, we decided to order the “World’s best Tiramisu” which was highly recommended on DDF by all. We were not disappointed!!! We would recommend anyone visiting Rome to stop in to Ba’Ghetto Milky for some.

Although we had just eaten dessert, I can never say no to Gelato!! So we stopped into the famous Gelato store a few minutes before closing, which was a hop, skip and a jump from Ba’Ghetto, for Gelato! Being that people wrote that the milchige Gelato was not Chalav Yisroel, we stuck to pareve Gelato. The only mistake I made was that I bought only 1 gelato since DW said “she will not be having any” which did not turn out to be the case…….  ;)
At this point it was about 12:00, so we made our way back to our hotel to get some rest for our early tour the next day.

Up Next Day #2 in Rome…………

September 21, 2016, 07:05:42 PM
$2 Bill for $1 Ebay:  $2 Bill for $1

(+ .02 in ebay bucks)

Limit one per person ("The seller only allows buyers to purchase 1 item every 10 days.")
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September 23, 2016, 06:02:13 PM
Re: The funny/strange/interesting video thread...

"Whats the best way to reach you? Email?" 😂😂

September 25, 2016, 10:08:13 PM
Re: Mr. & Mrs. Chapshnell Honeymoon TR - An exciting adventure over a few continents Time to dive!

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The most colorful & beautiful fish Ive ever seen!

September 26, 2016, 12:59:21 PM
Amazon-$29.74 Caza Trail Coffee, Kona Blend, 100 Single Serve Cups Less then 30 ¢ a cup (special for davidmal- ;))

To get this price select S&S an get free shipping as well!
3 other flavors at this price as well


Caza Trail Coffee, Organic Extra Bold Medium Roast, 100 Single Serve Cups

September 27, 2016, 09:09:02 AM
Re: Amazon-$5.26 Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Apples & Cinnamon, Breakfast Cereal, 10-(1.
and give it to people who like the raisins like me....
I have bags filled with raisins, you can come pick them up!  ;) lol

September 27, 2016, 10:36:08 AM
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