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Messages - astrophy

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1
Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: Marriott gift card
« on: May 16, 2021, 12:31:22 PM »
*sold

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Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: Marriott gift card
« on: May 13, 2021, 01:19:56 AM »
Selling $400 @ 88% (two $200 Ritz cards)

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I was wondering if there were any new data points with Chase/Visa return protection? I purchased a $350 camera from eBay that was new and sealed. I noticed that it tends to overheat when recording long duration 4K video. I am wondering what the difference in paperwork is like between purchase protection vs return protection. I saw some were asked to take it some place to get a repair estimate if you are filing a purchase protection. I believe a return protection you are on the hook to ship the item to them. The ebay store does not accept returns.

Ebay, as long as the item is in new/sealed condition, has never been an issue with Amex. Initially I'm not seeing anything in the T&C's that prevents a return from something purchased on eBay.

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: New JW Marriott Maldives
« on: October 13, 2019, 02:58:37 PM »
We originally booked to stay at the JW Maldives the first week of October. They delayed their opening until November 1st with a soft opening of October 15th. We were re-accommodated at the St Regis in an OWV at the 85k price per night (which after the peak/non-peak pricing kicked in Marriott was kind enough to return some points since some days fell in off peak even though the hotel was sold out). They also only ask us to pay the cheaper flight, which saved ~$200.

Upon arriving I spoke with many employees who said over and over that we were very lucky to have been moved as a majority of the employees at the resort are new to working in hospitality, they finalized their menus two weeks before opening, etc.. Even the GM at the St. Regis said we were very lucky and spoke at length.

Beyond the service many staff I spoke with, who are natives of the Maldives, said that it's a subpar location due to choppy water and that the seaplane can have difficulties taking off and landing when the water is not flat.

I think 85k is a great deal for an OWV, even better if you can get off-peak pricing. The island looks like it may have more beach space than the St. Regis and the villas are spaced out a bit more. What I can't tell is if they've added more sea wall barriers to the south part of the island and to the OWVs on the east side. Beyond the fact the base room is an OWV, it seems the St. Regis has an advantage in every other area. There are already complaints on Flyertalk that on first appearance the menus seem to be more expensive at the JW than at the St. Regis.

Eager to read the first reviews.

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Maldives Master Thread
« on: July 01, 2019, 03:20:01 PM »
Booked 5 nights at the JW Marriott Maldives first week of October. Island is around the same size as the St. Regis and about 20% fewer rooms. Fifth night free makes an over water villa 340k points. Transportation is $630 all-in per person by seaplane. They completed a tiny airport not too far from the resort that should see flights from MLE soon. Not sure if this will lower the price of transportation as you'd need to add on a short boat ride.

Interestingly Marriott took down the ability to book a reservation today for the property. Not sure if that means they are delaying the opening again.

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Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: Alaska Companion Fare Code
« on: October 18, 2018, 12:40:37 PM »
One $99+taxes code for sale. $20. Expires 12-10-2018
Pls email

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Trip Reports / Re: Honeymoon: Cape Town, SA - Safari - Mauritius
« on: February 24, 2018, 11:27:23 PM »
For me there was no specific reason. But once i got to Mauritius and met the american couple that told us Mauritius was so much better than Seychelles maybe that can be a reason for you.

We did Seychelles in January and can tell you that it is amazing. Hopefully will get to a trip report, but we did Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Praslin, La Digue, Mahe, Cape Town, and then a safari.

Pros for Seychelles:
- One island had nothing but bikes to get around and it was so much fun.
- Very easy to rent a car and find a private pristine beach that is picturesque and have it all to yourself.
- Has a few beaches that are typically always ranked top ten in the world.
- Flights to/from UAE and JNB make it just as easy as MRU to get to. (I think I paid $330 one way to get to CPT from SEZ)

Negatives:
- The accommodations are either very high end, somewhat over priced Airbnbs, self catering apartments, or budget hotels.
- Not sure how Mauritius is, but like most islands outside of southeast Asia the customer service isn't the best.
- Going out to eat can be pricey.

I would say that a majority of people who have been to both usually state a preference of Seychelles over Mauritius, but we've yet to go to Mauritius. I don't think I would go out of my way to go back to the Seychelles because it's not easy to get to, but we were very happy with our choice. Mauritius looks fantastic as well. I will say that we did not see many Americans in the Seychelles. Mostly French and Italian. There is also a lot more island hopping which we enjoy. Even in peak season (Christmas and New Years) the most popular beaches weren't the crowded and it was extremely easy to find nice secluded spots where you might not see another person all day. I think Mauritius is going to have better beaches at the high end resorts, whereas the Seychelles' best beaches were typically not next to large resorts with the exception of Mahe.

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Not sure about with this type of resident rate, but I know that LATAM and Avianca give Peruvian citizens a discounted rate as well for domestic travel. You typically have to use the Peruvian or Spanish version of the site to book it, but I'm pretty sure when you go to check in they check your passport to make sure you are eligible for the rate.

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Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: Southwest Airlines Points Sale
« on: November 27, 2017, 03:44:35 PM »
SOLD

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Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: Southwest Airlines Points Sale
« on: November 27, 2017, 01:43:20 PM »

I think these are a form of compensation (delay, issues, etc) vouchers and can be used for anyone. Effectively "SW gift cards".

They are having a California promotion where people can win points through a giveaway.

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Goods For Sale/Trade / Southwest Airlines Points Sale
« on: November 27, 2017, 12:33:29 PM »
I have three vouchers that add up to 20,000 points (5k, 5k, 10k). Looking for $270.

These can be deposited into any account and do not count towards any status qualification.

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Trip Reports / Re: {Tznius Disclaimer} St. Lucia Marriage Proposal
« on: November 18, 2017, 09:42:52 PM »
I apologize in advance if some of the photos made anyone feel uncomfortable. There is a disclaimer now and in the future I'll know to be more selective with my images so the reports are more friendly to all users of the board.

Thanks for all the positive comments!

13
Trip Reports / {Tznius Disclaimer} St. Lucia Marriage Proposal
« on: November 18, 2017, 05:44:11 PM »
www.youtube.com/watch?v=63ARdRDRPbg

Last year we took advantage of the amazing JetBlue promotion where they'd match your Virgin America point balance. We took a cheap flight from Long Beach to SFO and obtained 75k points each.

St Lucia (Christmas 2016)
Flight: JetBlue
Route: SAN-JFK-UVF









I booked an apartment through Airbnb just above the town of Soufrière. It was newly built and owned by a tour guide operator. I believe it was around $110-125, which is double the typical price due to the holiday. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14671676?location=Soufriere%2C%20Saint%20Lucia&tier_override=0&s=YIxWJ34a




After unpacking our bags in Soufrière we headed down to the beach for the sunset. I spent a looooong time finding the perfect spot to propose. Searching through Google maps I was able to find a secluded spot with a great view. I typically make vacation videos so placing the cameras around to catch the proposal didn't give anything away  :)



Some highlights over the next five nights:

Lunch at Jade Mountain Resort. The place was completely empty! A lot of people will come for dinner, but we found that lunch was less than half the cost. It seems if you come right before dinner the place is typically empty, which was an amazing experience. You'll need to book in advance, but I get the impression that once you've come they have no problem allowing you back if you just want to use the bar.











The waiter asked me discreetly if we were on our honeymoon, and I mentioned that I had just proposed the night before. He pat me on the back and said, "Then I will make sure this is a very special lunch for you both!".  After finishing lunch he prepared a special desert for us both as if I had planned it all in advance! They also gave us each a free drink (they gave me a very nice cognac).





The meal after a generous tip came out to $113. The waiters are very well trained and ask if they can do a photo-shoot with your camera so that you can remember your visit. I have to say that I wasn't sure how they would treat non-guests but it was an amazing experience. The only awkward thing is that we went to take the photo below and peered over the ledge to see the property below and noticed two people naked on their balcony. So while the guests rooms are amazing, I'm not sure they are as private as they may seem!

Sugar Beach (Jalousie Beach) on Christmas. I would say it is worth spending two to three hours here. We had our Airbnb owner book us a drop off here and a pick up from Anse Chastanet Beach. I believe we took a golf cart down with the hotel. Usually they ask that you purchase a meal or what not, but they did not mention that to us. The beach is divided in two with about 20% being the "public side". The hotel wants you to pay for a day pass to use the day beds and umbrella. I think this was $50 per person. We tried to put our towel down on the non-public side, but a hotel employee tried to request us to leave (which you don't have to). Eventually we found that they are so persistent that it wasn't worth the trouble and moved our stuff under the shade of some trees. We brought a insulated bag full of local beers and snacks and had a great time otherwise.









We then negotiated a price for a water taxi that already had a tour group. I think it was ~$5-7 a person for the both of us. This avoids the need to have an expensive meal at the hotel in order to get the golf cart ride back up the hill where your taxi can pick you up from.



Anse Chastanet Beach







If you have snorkeling gear to bring.. then I'd bring it here. I'm not sure if it is worth renting gear as the amount you can see snorkeling in my opinion is rather limited, but it's the best beach for it in the area. We had a nice meal right next to the beach that wasn't expensive.





We made a quick stop in the downtown before having the driver take us home:


Horseback riding on the beach. This was on the other side of the island. It is a bit more expensive to do horseback riding here, but the views are incredible. I believe the helmets are optional, going back I'd probably opt not to use them. We thought going near the time of the sunset would be the best time as the air temp is cooler. While it was a more comfortable temp, the photos in the morning might have been a bit more spectacular. The only downside is that I think the horses are a bit tired late in the day. I'd advice early morning if possible.  http://www.atlanticridingstables.com/



Soufrière city tour:

Active "drive through" volcano


Botanical Garden
Local BBQ


Banana Plantation



Volcanic Mud Baths



I thought this was a tourist trap. It was packed and hot. I'd go for the sake of going, but try to research when this place is slow because it is busy with holidays and when cruise ships are docked. There is a fun waterfall near by for you to rise off at.



Lunch at Mango Tree
A little more expensive, but great views, decent food, and a fun place to have a few drinks. You can ask ahead of time if you can swim in their pool.







On the way up to the airport to depart for Barbados we took a photo stop at Marigot Bay.


If we had more days we would have rented a car and explored some of the local towns as we didn't get much time in them otherwise.





Overall we really enjoyed Saint Lucia. Would we go back? Probably not. While you can go up north and see pigeon island, we felt staying in Soufrière was the way to go. The landscape of the island is amazing, but the beaches aren't worth the hassle. You end up spending a good chunk of money to get transportation to the beach, have limited food options, and Sugar Beach has a very large hill to climb if you don't buy a meal there. Airbnb provides a great alternatives to the resorts. I found very mixed reviews on anything that wasn't a high-end hotel. There are some great local BBQ places, but the food options are rather lacking unless you are up to paying for expensive meals at hotels and resorts. The cost of renting a car is a bit high and the taxis aren't that cheap. I'd opt for a few transfers and one or two days with a tour guide.

14
Trip Reports / {Tznius Disclaimer} Barbados 2017 New Years w/ 4K Video
« on: November 18, 2017, 05:35:48 PM »


Last year we took advantage of the amazing JetBlue promotion where they'd match your Virgin America point balance. We took a cheap flight from Long Beach to SFO and obtained 75k points each.

Barbados
Flight: LIAT
Route: SLU-BGI

We found some cheap island hopper flights with LIAT. They were below $100 each. The SLU airport is in the north of Saint Lucia. The tiny airport made departing the country very easy. They have a small cafe for coffee and food and even a small duty free shop.





We hopped into a cab upon arrival to a district called Rockley. I spent some time talking with people who frequently go to Barbados and found that Rockley Beach area was a great place to stay. We spent a lot of time looking at hotels and once again the reviews for anything beyond high end were fairly mixed and prices were inflated for New Years. We ended up doing another Airbnb and were really happy with our choice. Upon meeting our hosts who were retired locals, the owner drove us to the super market and we were able to pick up supplies for the week. Really amazing hosts that we got to know well on a personal level.
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5792972

Accra Beach
A short walk from our Airbnb. There is a tiki bar that rents out chairs and umbrellas. Included in the price was a voucher for food and drink you could use at their bar. There were some tiny waves you could have a little fun with. On a good day it would be a great place to take a surf lesson. Definitely worth a trip to visit.







Worthing Beach
Our favorite beach in Barbados. The beach here is fairly empty and lined with mostly houses and not many resorts. In a given hour you might see about 5-8 people walk by. There is a super market within a short walk if you want to grab a hot lunch there to bring with you to the beach.













Crane Beach
Our second favorite beach in Barbados. We took a taxi to The Crane Resort. It's a bit of a drive, but worth it. We had lunch overlooking the beach. I don't recall the price of lunch or drinks, but they did not seem to be inflated. The beach has some rough waves, which are great for bodyboarding/boogieboarding. I'd suggest asking the guys who rent out the boards if you can pay extra and rent some swim fins as you can catch some really fun waves if you have a set of fins. You could potentially surf here if you have some experience, but it's not the best place for surfing. You'll want to go to the other side of the island to catch some good waves. You can rent beach chairs with an umbrella, but be prepared to barter as I think you have to buy a day pass to use the hotel's chairs and have to walk further down the beach to get chairs rented out by locals. There is a place to cliff dive, but I suggest you only try it if you are an experienced swimmer due to the waves.








Catamaran Tour
http://sailcalabaza.com/
We headed up north of Bridgetown for a catamaran tour. The company provides you transportation to/from the boat, food, drink, and alcohol for around $95 a person if you choose not to hire the whole boat. The company we used is rated number one on tripadvisor and they seem to book quickly, so I'd book as far in advance as possible. The tour is a lot of fun. The staff on board a great and know how to give a good time. Swimming with turtles is very hit and miss. You may only have one or two turtles around, but a ton of tourists. If you have experience snorkeling you will find the experience more enjoyable as most people are floating above with life jackets. The ship wrecks are near by. They seem to be vessels that we sunk there on purpose at the end of their life.

































St. Lawrence Gap


This is a great area for bars and restaurants. We ended up going to Beach One for New Years, which had a set menu for around $150-200 pp. The food was really great and the view from the restaurant is beautiful.












Primos
Another restaurant with a great ocean view located in the gap.



Oistin's Friday Night Fish Fry
If you haven't had a $1 van ride in Barbados.. it's worth the experience. If you are lucky you will get stuffed into an overly packed van full of locals that has a sound system that rivals the best night club on the island. While the techno bass shakes every bone in your body you hold on tight as the van flies through the streets at unreal speeds. It was a blast just to get to Oistin's, unfortunately our van ride back was much more tame. Oistin's Friday night fish fry can get packed. It is very touristy, but still fun to do. The food does seem fairly over priced at $12-20, but the food is good. You can check it off your list and say you did it.








Flying back we took JetBlue from BGI-FLL


We asked for the cost to upgrade to the even more space seats at check-in and were upgraded for free. The priority pass lounge at the Barbados airport is decent, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get to the airport early in order to spend time there. When booking the return award flight they for some reason allowed us a 50 min connection in FLL to San Diego. I knew the chances were strong that we'd miss our connection, but decided not to get a later connecting flight knowing that the travel benefits of my Chase Sapphire Reserve would kick in. Sure enough we arrived 15 minutes late and even though JetBlue promised to have someone at FLL assist through customs/immigration and a ride to our next flight... no one was waiting for us at FLL.

The Chase Sapphire Reserved covered:
- Uber ride to and from FLL to our hotel in Miami
- $150 dinner (excluding alcohol)
- Our hotel stay at the Confidante (Hyatt Unbound Collection)
- Breakfast would have been covered by my hotel status, but my diamond status with Hyatt let us eat in the restaurant.
- $65 worth of toiletries from Walgreens

















On the FLL-SAN leg JetBlue upgraded us to the even more space seats:


15
Deals/Deal Requests / Re: Boxed.com Master Thread
« on: October 23, 2017, 11:03:21 PM »
The Ibotta app for the iPhone is giving 15% back if you shop through their mobile shopping portal. Guessing this will stack well with the Amex offers. The 15% is up to $100 back. Let me know if you need a referral.

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Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: Buying Uber Gift crds
« on: August 18, 2017, 10:50:11 AM »
Looking to buy $100+ at 85%

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Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: Alaska Companion Fare Code
« on: July 25, 2017, 05:15:38 PM »
I have one expiring 8/14/17.

$20 PM me

18
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Mauritius or Seychelles
« on: May 10, 2017, 11:40:24 AM »
Thanks!

We are flying into AUH and are going to do some nights in Dubai and then I think it's a 4.5 hour flight to SEZ.

I've thought about adding on the 15 minute flight to Praslin with a separate ticket. The issue is that we plan to bring two bags each since we will be gone for a month and I've only read one report that Air Seychelles will allow two bags when coming from an international flight. We've done a similar speed boat ride from Bali to near by islands and you are right... after about 30 minutes you are ready for it to be over. Though, I thought there was a direct ferry to La Digue that was offered less frequently each day?

I think the biggest complaints I've heard about La Digue is the lack of food options and things to do. I think possibly the excursions could take care of that? The lack of food options is a downside, but we've been in places in the Philippines that were similar and it wasn't bad.

Do you think its worth spending any days on Mahe if we are planning days on Praslin and La Digue?

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Mauritius or Seychelles
« on: May 09, 2017, 11:49:45 PM »
Say what??? "Mauritius much better than Seychelles"??? Somebody must be smoking crack here!!!
Either that couple didn't step out of the airport or didn't tour the islands of Seychelles at all.  (And yes,
I have landed many times before in Seychelles just to change planes because from Johannesburg
to Abu Dhabi, there is a codeshare with Etihad Airlines and Air Seychelles).

I spent a week in La Digue, Seychelles last December. Praislin Island and La Digue are absolutely stunning.

If one does go to Mauritius, I would highly recommend that one should head straight to Rodrigues Island. (Airport code RRG)

We've booked our flights and will be doing 12 nights in the Seychelles. We were looking at La Digue and Praslin. Do you have a suggestion on how many days to do in each and if Mahe is worth a few nights? La Digue seems to be more affordable with Airbnb's. We also weren't sure what part of each island to stay on. Hard to find good trip reports.

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Peru Master Thread
« on: April 16, 2017, 03:27:37 PM »
Is it reasonable to day trip from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo to MP in 1 full day, or do you have to spend night before in Ollantaytambo / AC to catch the bus? Also, any leads on how to get a good deal on the train tickets?

I've done MP twice and each time leave have left and returned the same day from Cuzco/Urubamba. You can take the first train in the morning or shoot for a ~noon arrival in AC and enter the park at 1pm in order to get 50% off the entrance price to MP.

Not typically any deals for the train tickets that I know of. There are sometimes 2 for 1 tickets out of Ollantaytambo during the middle of the day in off peak seasons.

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