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Re: Chase Sapphire Reserve Membershit
September 01, 2016, 11:25:58 PM
Air Serbia NYC-TLV RT review in coach Just flew this itinerary with a 15 hour layover on the way back in Belgrade. Flights and Belgrade airport are perfectly fine. I can walk the whole airport in 5 min. Had an empty seat next to me on 3/4 flights. I went into town and saw some attractions, and while not much to do (at least at nightime), I felt very safe. Happy to answer any questions.

p.s. they also give you a hotel if you have a long layover but I found out about it too late

January 23, 2017, 05:29:45 PM
Re: Chase UR booking tool for hotels - taxes and fees? fully refundable? I remember being charged ~$8 for my 5 night stay in BCN. Don't know anything about cancelation policy, but I'd assume it's the same as the hotels (don't quote me on that). Also, remember that UR doesn't allow same day bookings.
March 18, 2018, 01:02:09 AM
Re: Amtrak
Very sneaky and bad

Yes, very sneaky! I got hit with this last week. Had no idea why I was being hit by the fee. I ended up just changing it instead of cancelling. Then the snow storm hit, so I got a refund. You would think they would want to find ways to satisfy customers these days with all their bad press as of late...

March 25, 2018, 07:58:59 PM
Re: Air Serbia NYC-TLV Anyone know how to get the free hotel?
January 28, 2020, 07:45:22 PM
Re: Portugal Master Thread Wanted to give a little TR (my first) about a couple things in Lisbon. :)

I had a 6hr layover between Chicago & TLV, and took an opportunity to visit Shaarei Tikvah, and check out the kosher market.

Took an Uber to Shaarei Tikvah for 10 Euro, and my driver was an off-season tour guide. I had a conversation with another lady a couple of days later who said her group had similar luck with their taxi driver, so if you find yourself in Lisbon in the Jan-Feb months it seems like driving folks around is a common pick-up job for tour guides who are filling in gaps during the slow season! Amongst other things, he pointed out the aqueduct, which I took a mental note to check out in more depth during my next visit.

You have to prearrange a visit to Shaarei Tikvah, but it was easy to send an email to, and there is more info for larger groups here: They asked for a copy of my passport or the number in advance, for security. Be advised that they do not allow carry-on luggage into the shul. I didn't have a problem with my backpack, but my rollerboard raised concern.

Sandra is a GEM!! Not only did I get a tour and history of the shul and the current community, Sandra covered the history of Jews in Portugal going back to 2nd temple periods. She spent about an hour with me 1:1. It would have been difficult with my littlest kids (they'd have been bored, I think?), but pre-teens and up should be comfortable. Not too much walking around, we sat in the sanctuary until we went upstairs to the women's balcony (which you could skip if you don't like the stairs).

The recommended donation is 5 Euro, but I personally recommend much more - the website has a PayPal donation link, and bank info if you want to send an electronic donation.

After the tour, I elected to walk to the kosher market ( I made it, but huffing and puffing - took just under 20 min on slippery cobblestone sidewalks (it had been drizzly) up and down steep hills. I imagine an Uber would have cost under 3 Euro (and some of my self-respect at not being able to walk 20 min up and down the mountain). The market is new since my last visit to Lisbon in 2014. They have a variety of Israeli products, reheatable meals (like airline food), ramen, snacks, candy, etc. When I was there, there was a modest selection of cheese and deli - enough to make a snack or stock an Airbnb kitchen, just not enough to be picky. I imagine that might be different during a more popular tourist season, though. The owner also bakes fresh challah for Shabbat (order in advance:, and has a large stock of frozen kosher meats & products (including pita). If you're just passing through, contact them in advance to request a sandwich ( There's an excellent wine selection, and Shabbat-friendly equipment (disposables, hot plates for rent, etc.).

From the kosher market, I took a 6 Euro Uber back to the airport.

On my return, I had a chance to go to the ANA lounge via Priority Pass. There was a great selection of breakfast cereals, drinks, whole fresh fruit (apples, oranges), and a bunch of other fresh-made non-kosher food I was jealous of. Best of all... they have sleeping rooms, which I was super grateful to take advantage of after the 5am flight from TLV. The only catch to the lounges at LIS is that they are all on the other side of passport control from the flights between US & Israel. The airport is split into S and N 'wings' of Terminal 1. Both of my flights out of LIS, to ORD and to TLV, were from N and the lounges are in S, beyond border control. I had 4 hours in LIS, so it was worth it - under 2 hours wouldn't have been worth standing in the longish border control line.

January 29, 2020, 11:38:39 AM
Re: Air Serbia NYC-TLV, Add Your Name To The Wiki For Minyan/Trips!
Since I live in New York, I'm not too worried about the outbound flight - I'll just bring food from home.

It's the return flight from Belgrade that will be more challenging if there's no kosher food on the flight. I guess I'll have to find something nonperishable before I leave Israel.

I emailed the chabad in Belgrade to see if they can prepare food for the plane.

February 25, 2020, 10:48:26 PM
Re: Chase Sapphire Reserve BENEFITS master thread Return protection never left the CSR. Dunno what all these bloggers are talking about.
February 26, 2020, 11:19:26 AM
Re: When is this all expected to be over?
Just overheard someone saying, after 1 week home with my wife, I'm ready to die...
WOW I love being home with my wife.

מצא או מוצא

March 16, 2020, 04:36:31 PM
Re: So How Was Your Shul This Week? Okay, getting this thread back on track (or trying to anyway), I live in Flatbush and have been davening alone at home (not outdoor minyan) since Shabbos Vayakhel-Pekudei. While I was excited by the prospect of finally getting back to tefillah b'tzibbur, I was quite hesitant about implementation of rules and compliance.

Thursday night I ventured out for my first minyan in months to a shul with a Rav that I trusted would do things properly. The minyan was by sign-up only, and there were only 13 people there (in a huge room) and it went pretty smoothly. Friday morning I went back to that same shul, and there were 17 people in the minyan, of whom 2 showed up without masks, 3 who came in masks removed them, and there was a meshulach circulating - insane!

Shabbos I went to my usual shul (which wasn't open until then), which has 3 levels - simcha hall in basement, main shul, and ezras nashim. They had 2 zmanim for Friday night and 2 for Shabbos morning, with 2 minyanim at each time, one in the social hall (10 people), and another upstairs with 10 on the main floor and 10 in the ezras nashim. Seats were assigned and marked off in blue tape. B"H I davened all tefillos there (in the ezras nashim), and compliance was quite excellent, clearly helped by the Rav's presence.

This morning I went to shacharis elsewhere and ended up davening alone in the ezras nashim due to people not wearing masks. Mincha I tried yet another option that had 27 people reasonably spread out, but with 7 (25%) wearing their masks over their chins or mouths, but not noses. Compared to other communities this may sound okay, but to me, it's not. It's a disgrace to be so cavalier with people's lives, and with shul rules for entry.

Looks like I'll be sticking to my Shabbos minyan for the foreseeable future. Sad that we've waited so long to come back home, and people can't have enough respect for their fellow Jew to follow the rules and let others feel safe in shul.

May 24, 2020, 07:02:51 PM