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From the Parthenon to the Eiffel Tower to the Canals, a week across Europe Planning and booking

After a week of all talk no action about our upcoming trip, we just jumped into it.
It was Sunday 02/24/19 and we had nothing booked, rather the basic idea of the trip. Just before 3pm I booked a 6:40pm $58 Elal flight to ATH on a wet leased 738 from Air Explore. With nothing but our first flight booked we were off to the airport. We brought along minimal food, so any time I don't mention the food assume we were starving, or ate that.

Although not much was planned, and or booked before, I will include all of our bookings here, as well as in the TR as we booked.


TLV-ATH LY Y 737-800 $58
ATH-CDG- A3 Y A320 $153.07/10,204 PTS
ORY-VCE U2 (EasyJet) $185 (our delay in booking it cost us $60 or so)
VCE-FCO Italo high speed train “Salotto” €75
FCO-TLV D8 (Norwegian) $128.30/8,553 UR

ATH Wyndham Grand Athens €128
CDG Park Hyatt 30k Hyatt
VCE Hilton Molino Stucky 31k HH
FCO Aleph Hotel Rome 72k HH

March 03, 2019, 01:36:08 PM
Narrow-body across a wide-body (of water) Introduction
It was April 2nd 2019, I had just arrived at JFK from Madrid and was taking the Airtrain to pick up a rental car, and there, right before me it was, parked at a gate in terminal 7. Having arrived a few hours ago from it’s notorious trip across the pond, and with a few hours to go for the return trip, there it was. The aircraft, was unmistakable, she was one of a kind.
I was going to fly her, before her rumored retirement in 2020, some way or another I would fly her, it was only a question of when and how.
Of course this aircraft was British Airways’ one and only A318, with a registration of G-EUNA operating flights BA001, and BA002. Having heard so much about it, and now seeing it, I had to try it, there simply wasn’t another option.
I captured a picture, and just stared until I had to exit the train, oh the beauty.

So what is a such a small aircraft doing so far from its operating airlines hub, nearly 3,500 miles and across the ocean?
Well, BA operates nearly 150 aircraft from the A320 family at this moment, yet just one A318. This one A318 flies a very unique route, unique in many ways, the flight, BA001 is the only flight from London City Airport (LCY) to cross the atlantic. Being in service since 2009 on this exact route, 3,500 miles to NYC, just about the max range of the aircraft. 6 days a week the BabyBus departs LCY in the AM, makes a quick stop in Shannon, Ireland to refuel, where you clear US customs and continue to JFK. From there it returns to LCY direct as BA002. Due to LCY’s small size the runway is not large enough for an A318 with fuel for 7 hours to takeoff, which is why it must refuel in SNN to continue all the way. In the early days of aviation this was the norm with all aircraft crossing the atlantic, refuel in SNN before continuing on to their final destination. And this isn’t all the uniqueness of the flight.

Now it was time to book it, a few weeks later I had to fly from TLV to NYC, my first thought was to check BA001, and much to my surprise there was an available seat, I immediately put it on hold for 57.5K AA+ over $600. Now I just had to position myself in London, and figure out how to lower those taxes, thankfully when transiting in London you don’t pay the departure tax, and YQ is lower. First class from TLV on BA was open, but business not, while a business class itinerary would cost me 70K AA, first would cost 115K. I wasn’t ready to spend another 45K AA for 5 hours in first, instead I found RJ available via AMM with great times, 8:30AM departure, with a 3:25PM arrival. And so for 70K AA and just over $300 it was booked.

June 26, 2019
After an all nighter it was time to head to the airport, check in and security were a breeze and in no time I was in the Dan lounge. After davening Shacharis I went over to the Schmoozy Bar for a good breakfast drink. I was in seat 2J on the A319 which departed just a little late, caught a 20 minute nap on the 25 minute flight to AMM, after clearing security I went straight to the Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge where I got a couch and slept for 2 hours. At 12PM we departed to LHR, I got a good nap on that flight after being served a (Kosher?) meal.

I spoke to my seatmate a bit about our shared joy for aviation while taxiing in London, here's the interesting start to our conversation:
Him (seeing me take pictures of the 747s painted in the historic livery in LHR): Those are in honor of BAs 100 year anniversary
Me: mmmhmmm
Him: You know they’re retiring the 747s soon?
Me: mmmhmmm
Him: So are you continuing on from London?
Me (noticing his love for aviation): Yes, tomorrow to New York on the A318
Him: A380?
Me: 318
Him (Second guessing himself for talking aviation to me): 380?
Me: nope
Him: The big one? Double decker?
Me: No, the little guy, from London City.
Him: oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, of course, BA001.
I later told him I originated in TLV and got a weird reaction, after we deplaned he made sure to say “by the way I’m from Gaza, I moved to Manchester just 3 years back”

Arriving in LHR T3 customs and passport control were a breeze and in no time I was on “The Tube”. I paid just over £13 from the Airport to the city for a day pass for those zones, and took an Uber from the city to my hotel. I chose to stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Docklands Riverside, it’s location close to London City Airport, and not too far from the attractions was perfect. The cost was just 50k HH for the single night and thanks to my Diamond status I was so lucky to get upgraded to their largest suite, King One Bedroom Executive Suite, at a cash rate of £350 the value was solid. After declining a hot cookie at a check in, I was told about the hotels free ferry across the river to Canary Wharf. As soon as I was settled in, and checked out the great view, I headed straight to the ferry and crossed the river. Looking for directions to the Tower Bridge, Maps recommended a “Lime”, while IME Limes are usually electric scooters, here they were electric bikes, my total cost was $7.73, £1 initiation fee, and £.15 a minute there on, totaling £6.61.
At Tower Bridge I got a lashing out from a self proclaimed lawyer for riding my bike across on the sidewalk. From there I biked to the London Bridge, which turns out is a scam, as there is nothing to it. I dropped my bike off and rode the  “underground” to Big Ben when is worthless as it’s under construction, and continued past the London Eye to Downing street. All on foot I strolled to the Buckingham Palace, most importantly I took some pictures of the Telephone booths, Mailbox’, and any other iconically British item I passed. From there I headed to the Victoria Station,  where I picked up some Kosher DD sandwiches for dinner, opting for the lazy option as opposed to going all the way to Golders Green. As hard as it was with all my excitement for tomorrow, it was time to go to sleep.

Shot from the London Bridge:

June 27, 2019
I woke up naturally at 6:30AM and noticed how my 6:45 wakeup call never came. After showering, Davening, and packing I checked out and tried calling an Uber to the airport. Seems that London has a shortage of Ubers because for 10 minutes I tried and no one bit. Lucky for me a “Black Taxi” pulled up just then and he drove me to London City Airport for what totaled under £30.
Check in was a breeze as there is a special counter just for this flight, after a painful, but thankfully not too long security I was off to the Pilot’s Bar and Restaurant for my complimentary breakfast, which consisted of a black coffee and a Gin and Tonic.

The Restaurant is a nice 10 minute walk from gate 21 which was being used for this flight. In LCY all flights use stairs to board, which as an Avgeek that was great. The views were simply stunning, here shot from on top of the stairs and once in my seat, as well as the shot I managed to grab being first on board. 

I had kept an eye on the flight availability and seat map all week, from the looks it would be more full than I had hoped, at the end of the day 22 of the 32 seats were occupied. Being configured in a 2-2 configuration with 8 rows of business and no economy the flight really had a Private Jet feel, seated in 1K I was lucky to have an empty seat next to me as it seemed most passengers were not flying solo.
Once we boarded we were told of a minor delay due to an issue with a passengers ticket, as we were waiting I noticed an aborted takeoff which was really cool. Well not so cool because that was because all airspace is north London was closed, reason being unknown at the time, but after an hour or so we were in the air. Once in NYC my phone blow up with links, apparently an AI flight from Mumbai was diverted to STN in London for an emergency landing. Being alongside the water the takeoff is really nice, and because of the short runway, the engines are revved while the brakes are locked and only released once at full force, in under just 25 seconds we were airborne.
The flight to Shannon was about an hour and 15 minutes, during that time the first course of the meal was served, eating kosher I was offered to be served part on the first leg, which I declined because that would mean I would have to open the packaging, instead I opted for a drink.  To keep the weight down, the aircraft has no inflight entertainment, instead they hand out Ipads, we surprisingly decent headphones. The flight has some sort of data roaming option (which I was unable to connect to) the FA warned me that it will be extremely expensive, and there is free wifi in SNN if I need to send something important.
In SNN we had a quick 40 minute turnaround where we cleared customs, trying to enter the lounge my fellow passengers told me they weren't allowing as they want to board us already. It was at the gate there where I briefly became Paul Mccartney’s grandson.
British dude: Can I ask you something weird?
Me: was that just it?
BD: You’re Paul Mccartney’s grandson, right?
Me: Yes? No? Maybe? If you want I can be.
BD: The customs agent told me he’s on our flight so [as the most handsome] I assumed it was you. 
Once reboarded we were greeted by our new Captain and FO, and we took off. Immediately after departing lunch (??) was served. The food was actually not my style food, so I’d rate it an 8 on the ZSH scale, but it definitely was worthy of a H/10 for those who do like tomato sauce style meats.

After a good meal I took a nap, the seat although not that comfortable, it worked, and was more than roomy enough.

After waking up, I was offered an “afternoon tea” to which I replied “no thanks” as I don’t drink tea. But the FA insisted and offered to “show it to me”, really confused I agreed. Well turns out an “afternoon tea” is some sort of snack. This was actually quite good as well and I’ll put it at a 9 on the ZSH scale.

During the flight I caught a small conversation with the Caption who ran back into the cockpit so quickly at one point when we “hit a bump”. Arriving at JFK felt like I just came from Miami, we parked at a gate in T7 and were by baggage in a few short steps. Since we already cleared customs it was like a domestic arrival where we took our bags and left, back to the Airtrain where this all began.

July 01, 2019, 12:17:48 PM
Re: Venice Master Thread
Not sure if this is the best place to post for a non biased answer but this thread is more active then then the Florence thread... Is it recommended to spend shabbos in Florence or Venice?


January 05, 2020, 07:44:30 PM
Re: Venice Master Thread I did do shabbos in florance due to cost (yeshiva guy budget). It was fine. Very walkable but not so much to do. We ate at Chabad and davened with the great synogouge. There no eruv (Venice has one) so the logistics can be challenging.
January 05, 2020, 07:48:16 PM
Re: Venice Master Thread Venice. As much of a no brainer as you'll find in life.
January 05, 2020, 08:16:38 PM
Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi Nice! It makes wanting to go somewhere harder when reading an old fashioned TR, especially one leaving from LAX.
October 27, 2020, 02:30:01 PM
Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi Awesome start... thanks for taking us along...
October 27, 2020, 02:33:06 PM
Re: Where Are You Posting From Now?

October 28, 2020, 10:42:42 AM
Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
Yeah I could agree that they should have made better use of this space:

I look at it a bit different.

The front of the beds needs an empty space, direct ocean view, unobstructed.

They allocated the side portion that ST Regis has (see pic) and relocated that space to the bathroom.

Hey, in pictures it looks better but in reality its a much needed space for a stay longer then 2 days, this is so much more truer for people eating kosher.

October 28, 2020, 08:33:46 PM