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Messages - ponash123

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1
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Dubai Master Thread
« on: June 15, 2018, 10:37:05 AM »
http://www.mohap.gov.ae/en/AwarenessCenter/Pages/UnauthorizedMedicines.aspx

Has anyone had a problem with this? Do they enforce it? This list has basic drugs like Tylenol, Excedrin...

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Trip Reports / Re: Iceland trip - February - via DD icelandair deal
« on: March 21, 2018, 10:20:17 AM »
Nice!
You were there a week or 2 after me and looks like you had infinitely better weather.

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Trip Reports / Re: Winter Weekend Getaway to Iceland
« on: March 09, 2018, 09:44:25 AM »
Great pictures and TR! Not exactly #1 on my list of winter destinations but who knows...that may change  ::)

Not for the faint of heart, that's for sure!

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Trip Reports / Re: Winter Weekend Getaway to Iceland
« on: March 09, 2018, 09:43:24 AM »
Just saw this and wow, wow, wow, what a cool trip and TR!  Yashar Koach to you all for your adventurous spirit too! I love to travel and would never have even considered half of the things you all did (like snorkeling in the winter in a glacier??)! Holy smokes, that’s cool!

Wow!! What an amazing vacation!!  You planned a superb itinerary and you were a  huge sport when it didn't work out exactly the way you wanted. Your pictures are beautiful and it definitely makes me add a trip to Iceland to my bucket list.

Thank you for sharing the details on your trip!!

Thanks! It was definitely an experience!

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Iceland Master Thread
« on: March 08, 2018, 03:54:31 PM »
Trip report posted here

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Trip Reports / Re: Winter Weekend Getaway to Iceland
« on: March 08, 2018, 10:23:10 AM »
Great report! I'm glad you had a good time. If I thought having my glacier hike cancelled in the summer due to weather was rough, man you really braved it having your schedule changed to many times! I want to go back in the winter, and this report definitely will make me go in with an open mind to what may happen. Your pictures are great! I didn't realize snorkeling is open in the winter.
Thanks! I went with the mindset that it's the winter and anything can happen. That being said, I didn't really think that most of our plans would be cancelled  :)

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Trip Reports / Winter Weekend Getaway to Iceland
« on: March 07, 2018, 05:20:05 PM »
Iceland was the perfect location for a quick weekend trip. So, when Icelandair ran a sale a few months ago, we quickly booked tickets without thinking twice about it.
I then set out planning an itinerary, attempting to maximize our brief time there to the fullest.
Well… woman plans, and God laughs.
 
We started out Thursday evening by heading on an uneventful flight. By trying to save on luggage space, we had worn our thick coats and boots on the plane. By the time we landed in Keflavik Friday morning, we were hot and looking forward to some cool weather.

I was dismayed to see the temperature displayed on my screen at a balmy 40 degrees, but as I’d soon learn, this was not the 40 I was used to.

We stepped out of the airport and were stunned at the ferocity and intensity of the winds and hail, we were literally almost blown over. In a matter of minutes, we were freezing cold and any exposed skin was numb. It was super exhilarating after spending so much time on a stuffy airplane.

We made our way to the car rental by airport shuttle. We chose Blue Car Rental for their customer service and prices, and they didn’t disappoint. They provide studded tires all winter and we got a wifi router for free, which really came in handy for mapping.

We packed up the car, which was a lot hard than it sounds and involved filling a rooftop luggage rack while having to hold onto it with all my strength so the lid doesn’t go flying backwards, at the same time holding onto the car door, so it doesn’t fly off into the wilderness, amid attempting to lift suitcases onto the roof of the car, all the while being whipped in the face by freezing rain and wind.

With that taken care of, we set out on our way. It was completely dark and felt like it was in middle of the night, but in reality, it was already around 9:00 AM (the lack of streetlights doesn’t help matters).

We made a quick stop at Bridge Between Continents, only because we were in the area.  It’s a nice little photo op but that’s about it.



We then made another stop at Gunnuhver Hot Springs. This was actually pretty fascinating and I’m glad we went. There’s a strong smell of Sulphur, hot mud and boiling spitting water, with a large spring that sends clouds of steam in the air. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a stop.



At this point it was starting to get a bit lighter. We made our way to Blue Lagoon for our scheduled 10:00 visit. I had heard repeatedly that it’s overpriced and a tourist trap. It was all these things, but we still enjoyed immensely (aside from getting in and out, which was no fun). We watched sunrise from the boiling hot water, while the air around us was freezing cold. It looks otherworldly with the milky blue water surrounded by steam and black rocks. (For any females, the sulfur did a REAL number on our hair)





After spending a couple of hours at Blue Lagoon, we drove up to Reykjavik where we had rented an Airbnb for our stay, which worked out great.

While getting ready for Shabbos, I made a quick trip to the nearby Bonus store. Not much there has a hechsher. Either way, everything is extremely overpriced, but we bought some fruits and vegetables.

We enjoyed a nice relaxing Shabbos. A funny moment was Friday night, after going to bed really early, a couple of us woke at around 9:30 and spent 20 minutes wandering the house trying to figure out if it was AM or PM. It was dark outside, and we weren’t sure if we had slept for 1 hour or 12. As it got later, and the sun didn’t rise, we brilliantly deduced that it must actually be PM and went back to bed.

Motzei Shabbos is when things started to go sideways. When Shabbos was over, I pulled out a computer and see an email that our snowmobiling for Sunday has been cancelled due to weather concerns (more on that later). They had emailed me Saturday morning, so I made a last ditch effort and replied asking if anything had changed.

On top of that, our plan for the night was to try to see the Northern Lights, and when checking the forecast sites, I was greeting with a glaring big zero. On the maps I could see that there was less cloud cover at that particular moment over Grotta Island Lighthouse. We figured it’s worth a shot and raced over, but to no avail. The sky was foggy and cloudy with nary a light in sight.

We were disappointed but, ready to salvage the rest of the night, we headed to Laugavegur Street, which is the main shopping street in Reykjavik. It’s a cool, quirky street and we enjoyed strolling around and shopping. It was surprising when a random passerby came over and asked us if we're Jewish. After affirming, he threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed 'Thank God! I thought I was the only one!". He wasn't religious, but I guess our crowd of skirts drew him over.  We understood his surprise, as the only Jew we saw was in the airport waiting to transfer to Israel.



We got back to another email confirming that snowmobiling was well and truly cancelled. I quickly put together a backup itinerary and we were off to bed. 

Sunday’s schedule was supposed to look like this: leave early and drive out to the meeting point at Húsafell. We’d meet up with the snowmobiling company where’d we drive out onto Langjökull Glacier for snowmobiling. It sounded incredible and we were really looking forward. After the 4-hour tour, we were going to drive to Þingvellir for a snorkeling tour at Silfra.

In place of the snowmobiling, we chose to do the standard Golden Circle tour and end up at Þingvellir where we needed to be anyways.

We drove out of Reykjavik and promptly saw why the snowmobiling was cancelled. The car was shaking from the wind and when I stepped outside, my hat flew straight off my head and I was practically lifted into the air! I assume that out on the glacier, it’s that much worse.

Our first stop was Kerið Crater, a striking volcanic crater lake just along the Golden Circle route. The lake was frozen, which was a very different look than the bright blue water that’s seen in the summer. We spent some time admiring the amazing view and trying (some of us failing) to not go slipping and sliding on the very icy ground.



Next up was Geysir, the famous hot spring that gives its name to geysers all over the world. Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area has a few hot springs, including Strokkur, which spouts a large amount of water every 10 minutes or so. It was freezing and full on icy sleeting, so we only stayed for a couple of minutes.



We went to Gulfoss Waterfall next. I was thinking we can really skip it since we had much more impressive waterfalls on schedule for Monday. But as it turned out, I'm glad we went and we got at least one waterfall in! (cue ominous foreshadowing music)

Gulfoss was actually quite beautiful. The whole surrounding landscape was snow covered and the falls themselves were frozen solid, so it was a sight to behold.



After admiring the falls, we went into the rest stop to eat lunch. At this point we were soaking wet and freezing. It was raining so hard that our supposedly waterproof coats and boots were completely soaked through and we were drenched. None of us were even slightly in the mood of going into icy water now to snorkel, but we had scheduled the tour.

We headed out towards Þingvellir, and when we were almost there we came to a road that had a small 'closed' sign somewhere on the sign. We started going anyway but quickly realized that the entire road was covered in a sheet of ice. Not feeling particularly fond about taking an icy plunge into the nearby lake, we turned around and went the long way around the park. 

Þingvellir National Park:


We had made a special appointment for later in the day. Generally, they don't go past around 2:00 PM this time of year so they have full sunlight, but they agreed to move it later to accommodate our schedule. We ended up being even later that we were supposed to be, due to the circuitous route we were forced to take, but it turned out fine.

Once we got to the right area of Þingvellir National Park, we quickly met our guides from Arctic Adventures and began suiting up in a large cargo van (no building or changing rooms). We first donned a thin suit over our base layer, and then squiggled and danced our way into a thick dry suit that squeezes the living daylights out of you. For the slightly claustrophobic it's not fun, but you can breathe through it and get used to it. We then did a frigid penguin march to the entrance where there's a ladder going down into the water. 

The water in the Silfra fissure is fresh glacial water, which keeps a temperature of 35°F year-round. It's a cool concept that it's freezing cold outside and you are in the water. The water was cold when we first entered, but the dry suit did an excellent job and it was really not bad. Putting your face is another story as the only parts that got cold was anything exposed, namely hands and lips. The guide warned us that our lips would turn numb and we'd come out 'looking like Angelina Jolie'. As he had warned, it was painfully cold for the first moment, and then you stop feeling much at all. In order to keep some feelings in your hands, they advise you to keep them behind your back, out of the water, for when you’re just floating. This was a bit warmer than keeping them in the water, as the gloves we were wearing didn’t do much to keep the cold out.

Silfra is the only place where one can dive or snorkel directly in the crack between two continental plates. The fissure is actually a crack between the North American and European continents, meaning you can actually be swimming right where the plates meet and drift apart slowly.

The water takes your breath away, in more ways than one. The underwater visibility is amazing, partly because of the temperature (it’s glacial water), and because it’s filtered through the underground lava.   

This is different than any other snorkeling I’ve done, as there’s no coral or fish, but it was a completely different kind of adventure and an incredibly cool one at that. Plus the water is clear and tastes fresh and delicious. 



The Silfra Fissure:


After a snorkeling tour of about 35 minutes (shortened a bit due to the sun setting), we climbed out and walked back to the lot. We then began the arduous task of peeling off our layers, which is harder than it sounds in icy temperature and with completely numb hands. The guides served us some hot chocolate which helped warm us up a bit.

We were hoping to catch some Northern Lights tonight but realized that it was still super cloudy and we’d have to admit defeat. So, soaking wet, tired, and shivering, we drove back to Reykjavik for the night.

 

Monday was supposed to look like this:

Leave Reykjavik very early and drive to Vik. Catch sunrise at Reynisfjara Beach, one of the most beautiful black sand beaches. After spending some time there, we’d drive west up the coast towards the airport, making stops along the way at Skógafoss and Seljalandfoss Waterfalls. We’d be at the airport in Keflavik in time to return the car and catch our 5:00 PM flight.

Like the previous couple of days, Mother Nature had other ideas. We woke up as planned, packed up the car and were out of the house at 7:00 AM. Within 10 minutes of leaving Reyjkavik, it had started to snow heavily, and visibility was steadily worsening.

We checked the weather and realized that were heading straight into the storm, which was supposed to last all day. We had approximately 6 hours of driving on the schedule and knew that the driving conditions will only be getting worse. So, as the responsible young adults that we are, with heavy hearts we turned around and drove back to the house. We hung around and napped for a bit until the sun was starting to rise. We then headed back to Grotta Island Lighthouse to watch sunrise from the nearby beach, which turned out to be quite spectacular.





Sunrise at 10:00 AM:


We spent some time there enjoying the beautiful scenery and then headed to the nearby shopping mall where we strolled around.

Not having much else to do, we went back to Laugavegur Street and enjoyed some time there shopping and walking the streets.





Incredible mountainous scenery at every corner:


Although it was a bit of a waste of day, once we got on the road towards Keflavik, we had no regrets whatsoever. It was snowing heavily and got worse the further out of Reykjavik we got. At one point it was complete white-out conditions and I was driving absolutely blind on a highway full of cars. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and I’m quite glad I didn’t have to do that for hours at a time. Not to mention that I was driving about 5 miles an hour, so we most probably would’ve missed our flight.

Thankfully, we made it to the airport in time. Our flight ended up being delayed, and then stuck on the runway for an hour, so it turned into a not so pleasant trip home, but all’s well that ends well.

Although we didn’t get to cover a lot of what we’d planned, we still had a great time. Iceland is amazingly beautiful, and just driving along the road felt like another planet.

We’ll definitely need to go back though!

Random pictures from the road:







Reykjavik:

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Sri Lanka Master Thread
« on: March 02, 2018, 10:12:24 AM »
I stopped by a bunch. I'll see if I can try to remember which one's.

I'd appreciate it.
Looking in the Ella/Nuwara Eliya area

9
Tech Talk / Re: Google Sheets help
« on: February 22, 2018, 03:27:42 PM »
There's something similar: https://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/74517/equivalent-of-ctrlapostrophe-in-google-sheets

Basically you need to select the cell with data to copy, and the cell below it where you want to paste, then press control-d

Thanks!

10
Tech Talk / Re: Google Sheets help
« on: February 22, 2018, 03:20:54 PM »
Anyone know if there's a way to do ctl ditto in Google Sheets?

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Next Vacation - Ideas
« on: February 22, 2018, 03:19:28 PM »
Sounds good. What is the best way to fly there from the west coast?
That I can't help you with, sorry. I'm on the east coast and haven't looked into it in a while

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Next Vacation - Ideas
« on: February 22, 2018, 02:19:50 PM »
Sounds appealing. Is Tuesday - Friday too tight for all that? Do you need to be a real hiker to do Macchu Picchu?
Probably too tight.
It depends on how you do it. Machu Picchu can be done with a 4 day hike, a 2 day hike, or a one day train ride etc. This also depends on your hiking ability.
I'd suggest you leave out the Amazon and you can probably fit everything else in that time frame.

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Next Vacation - Ideas
« on: February 22, 2018, 01:32:58 PM »
Considering a trip to South America this spring / summer. Here are my requirements:

-May - June
-Good outdoor activities
-Tuesday - Friday
-Zika is not a concern, safety is

I had a good experience in Costa Rica, but want to try out something else. Suggestions?

Peru
Do Cusco, Sacred Valley, Macchu Picchu, couple of days in the Amazon 

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Sri Lanka Master Thread
« on: February 21, 2018, 10:00:56 AM »
Do any of you know about local villages?

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Trip Reports / Re: New Years in Sri Lanka.
« on: February 19, 2018, 10:05:44 PM »
I am not planning on doing north. Tentativley planning on South - Galle, Mirissa, Yala, Nuwara Eliya. I'm thinking I can stop in Ella on the way from Yala to Nuwara Eliya.

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