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Messages - Wizmanison

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16
Deals/Deal Requests / Re: Shutterfly Master Thread
« on: May 15, 2019, 03:52:40 PM »
It worked when I posted yesterday. I don't know about now.
It didnít work when I posted yesterday.

17
Deals/Deal Requests / Re: Shutterfly Master Thread
« on: May 14, 2019, 10:04:38 PM »
Not if you use code SHIP4FREE, which expires 5/15

SHIP4FREE does not stack with the sign up promos.

18
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Paris Master Thread
« on: May 08, 2019, 04:08:48 PM »
Please note Darjeeling closed down as of April 17th, and only available to order online from their boutique.

They are looking to relocate after owner of building wanted them out.

Please note Thai One closed down as well.

You sure they closed down? When I was there in February I was told Thai One was just undergoing an extensive remodel.

19
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Singapore Master Thread
« on: May 07, 2019, 10:28:39 AM »
OK hotel. Base suite is nice. Not too far from shul but the location isnít in a nice environment.
Have the same thoughts. The hotel is really nice and modern as well as close to public transportation but after my stay I regretted not staying closer to where the main attractions were. However, Uber wasnít that expensive and if your open to ubering everywhere than the Andaz should be more than fine.

20
Nice work there!
 Was waiting for this for quite some time!
Does the message on the seats really work?

Thank you! The massage works as well as they do on any other business class flights I flew... pretty worthless IMO.

21
EGYPT:

We landed at 4:30pm and Cairoís airport was rather interesting. The outside looked rather nice and modern, whereas the inside was not nearly as much. They did not have Wi-Fi, which is just truly inconvenient these days.



Customs/immigration and getting a visa was pretty simple. Just had to pay $25 each for the visa. We hired a guide for $205 for the next 25 hours or so hours we spent in Egypt. We shopped around until we negotiated the best price we found for this guide. This included rides to and from the airport, all the entrance fees, lunch (Which we obviously did not take advantage of), and a camel ride by the pyramids. Our guide Laila was kind, knowledgable, and highly recommended. I will post her contact information because when seeing only a few others post theirs it was really helpful. The company was Egypt Tailor Made and her email was: Lailahassan33@gmail.com She mentioned how tourism has been really bad since the revolution and most people think Cairo is not a safe place, which in turn has a real effect on everything from wages to taxes and so on. She mentioned there were only 12 jews living in Cairo but that they had 25 synagogues and that she did not know of any hatred towards jews although it is pretty clear that there is no separation between state and IslamÖ I didn't care or want to delve any deeper about the 12 jews or synagogues as we were exhausted and we fell asleep on what must have been at least an hour drive from the airport to the Bazaar. Regardless, we felt safe and had no problems throughout our stay here which will hopefully shape the thoughts of the countless people who warned us how unsafe Egypt was and how we must be crazy to go thereÖ

In regards to Egypt and its infrastructure, driving in Egypt is quite hectic to say the least. Although there are lane lines they are simply a recommendation and not an enforced rule. Just like seat belts, texting and driving, stop lights, and the list goes on. Cars and motorcycles confidently drive inches away from each other and I can say that in the short time I spent in Egypt I heard more car honks then I have in total all my life. They honk for any and every reason. The traffic is likely always terrible and it can take hours to get from the airport to the old city.

Our first stop on our tour was the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar. Here we simply walked through the Bazaar passing by shops, cafes, restaurants, in a souk like format. There were some tourists and lots of locals as this seems to be the place to hang out at night. The Bazaar streets are filled with historic buildings as well as several Mosques. We were not here for long before we left as there was not much to see.

On the drive to the old city from the airport









Popular spot for locals to hang out at night





Driving by the Nile River

Our drive to the Le Meridian Pyramids in Giza took us quite a long time (about an hour) with the traffic. Upon arrival, like almost everywhere else in Cairo (not exaggerating), we had to go through metal detectors and the bag check machine. When checking in I had already confirmed an upgrade prior to arrival to a pyramid view room. The lobby was pretty nice and we were to exhausted to properly check out the property so we went straight to our room. As I emailed every property before our stay how excited we were to stay, blah blah blah, celebrating anniversary, birthday, honeymoon, as well as the holidays as it was Christmas time (which all happened to be true) to heighten my chances of upgrades at every hotel they also brought along gifts like birthday cakes, champagne, rose petals decorations and so onÖ Itís a shame the cakes and the champagne had to go to waste every time so we just gifted it to the bell man or the cleaners every time. Whether they understood what we were saying or not was beyond me.









View of the pool from our Balcony

Balcony night view from our room with Pyramid View

Besides the Balcony view of the pyramids, the room was nothing special. We lit our 8th day of Chanukah candles on the balcony overlooking the pyramids, ate our food that we had the hotel store and heat up for our short stay, and then called it a night. Since the Wi-Fi was truly terrible and was constantly turning on and off I called the front desk to complain and they sent a technician over to install my very own modem for the room which actually helped a lot.

Being able to light our last night of Chanukah candles with the view of the Pyramids was surreal

Just to show how the meals were labeled

Olive Chicken made by me :)

Schnitzel and cous-cous that we made



The following morning was super stressful. I intended to check into my Emirates flight scheduled for that evening to MLE only to see that my wifeís flight was under a different name! I had booked this ticket using my Merril+ points and this was the first time I ever used them. I booked using the portal and only realized the day of that her ticket was booked in some other name I definitely have no recollection of putting in. I found it truly strange as her birthday and all the other info was correct but whatever... Just another issue to deal with on this trip! I only had a couple minutes to deal with this as our tour guide had just arrived downstairs to start our days journey. Just my luck the power in the room seemed to go out taking out the modem. I had no time to call and get someone to fix it so I came to peace with the situation and decided to not let it ruin my morning activity of visiting one of the 7 wonders; the Giza Pyramids.

22
JFK-CAI:

For our EY flight, we arrived about an hour before departure (not on purpose!) and went to the Biz check in line. Like anything else in this hobby/life, when you are nice enough or simply genuinely kind, your chances of YMMV are greater skewed to benefit you. Therefore, the rep at the desk was nice enough to let us pass while being 15 pounds over the limit. We were then guided to the expedited security lane for business and first passengers, which are placed directly beside the TSA pre-check lane. It was nice to be able to chose between the two and at that instance the pre-check lane had no one in it so we went with that.





From there, it was only a short walk to the Etihad lounge. The lounge was truly stunning. At first glance the exterior and entrance of the lounge was breath taking. Inside, the lighting and design of the room and bar were definitely notable. After spending about 10-15 minutes in the lounge it was time to head to the gate for boarding.









The cabin was really nice and although flying in the apartment suites did not work out (although there was availability; ANA and EY have been having issues, for a couple months leading up to when they decided to implement a temporary suspension, where ANA was only showing availability for some seats) their business class product is still great. Kosher hot meal was served mixed. As in, we got our breakfast starter with dinner and dinner starter with breakfast. Besides for that, the food was bland and not the best, as expected. The bar/lounge was also really cool and we hung out there for a little bit. One thing I usually love on these flights is being able to view the camera views on the plane and see below and straight ahead. When not seeing oceans or clouds it was quite cool to see icy mountains and landscape tops among other things.













We landed in Abu Dhabi airport, which looks quite nice, and since our flight to CAI was booked in economy, for whatever reason, and we were not able to enter the EY lounge. So we went to the nearest PP lounge which was actually really nice and I gravitated towards the back where I davened Shacarit and then we walked back to our gate for boarding.







Our Economy EY flight was about 4 hours and we pretty much slept through the whole thing. Our kosher meal did not look appealing at all so we passed on that. We happened to be sitting next to someone my wife met once at work and he kindly noted some things to see as well as tips for Cairo, which were already on our itinerary.







Will work harder on getting the more exciting parts of this TR out ASAP!

23
Unnecessarily Hyper Detailed Trip Report:

Hello and welcome to my second TR since I found this amazing Hobby! (You can find my first TR about Kauai here and second of Maui here. TR in the works are 1. Cancun, 2.South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, and Israel 3. Bora Bora 4.Miami 5. Park City Utah 6. London and Paris - Writing them down so I am held accountable for actually writing the TR's!)

Since I have taken so many pictures and I am not the best at choosing what to or not to include I have decided, throughout the TR, to include less important pictures embedded in the writing, as is done in the above paragraph, as opposed to cluttering the TR with standalone pictures. The standalone pictures will also be clickable so that if someone wants to see more pictures related to that one picture displayed they can do so by clicking through. Also, please note that any clickable links are simply to help the reader and have no affiliate link or anything of the sort to my knowledge.

As I am sure most of you have come to realize, for me at least, planning a trip like this was insanely time consuming. I would find myself spending sleepless nights and countless hours researching every destination I either wanted to go to or was advised to by those so kind to answer me through PM, on and off the thread, or from reading what must be thousands of comments spread out through different forums and threads. Although, this was not my first multi-city redemption since I started to amass points (LAX-JFK-ZRH-LHR,LTN-TLV-ZRH-ORD-LAX) this trip was definitely way more difficult to plan and more emotional considering the amount of points I was using. 


So, over a three week and two day period these are the destinations we visited:

Los Angeles-New York-Abu Dhabi-Cairo-Maldives-Singapore-Bali-(the following are 5 cities/islands throughout Thailand) Koh Samui-Bangkok-Phuket-Phi Phi Islands-Chiang Mai- Abu Dhabi-Dubai-New York-Los Angeles


Before our first flight I realized my wifeís birth year was incorrect on our Etihad (EY) flights but I was able to do fix it easily by calling in. (In hindsight we likely didnít have to even bother fixing this as it seems to be quite rare that they verify birthdates). With that taken care of we proceeded to our first flight. We flew Jetblue from LAX-JFK. Matching to Mosaic through their status match they offered in July was really convenient. Besides for constantly getting upgraded to EMS since matching, I have been setting google alerts for my flights and Ďprice matchingí it every time a lower fare became available. Since my wife is a heavy packer and we had a ton of food to bring with us(seems I forgot to take a picture of the cooler bag or its contents), the increased 70 pound luggage limit for Mosaic members really came in handy. We were already considerably over the 70 lb. limit but after chatting up the CSR she allowed us to breeze through with no excess baggage fees and upgraded EMS seats. I love Mosaic <3
   
We spent a little over 24 hours in NY to see family and to pick-up some POM meals before heading to JFK for the first long leg of the trip.

More about the POM meals for those interested:

I only ordered a few items from POM, as we found it easier for us to make, freeze, double wrap, and pack into our Polar Bear Cooler our own homemade food. It was super simple. We just made food as if we were making it to serve but prepared bigger portions that we then divided into aluminum takeout pans we purchased from amazon. We used a label maker we got from one of Danís post a while ago to label what was what and then shoved it in the bag with some ice packs providing enough room to fit the rest of the POM meals we were collecting from NY. My wife also created an itinerary (which we of course didnít actually follow) of what meals we will be eating and when, so we get a sense of what food we want and when we would have it as well as all the non frozen goods we needed for day to day or for shabbat (feel free to PM if youíd want it for any reason at all).

Food we prepared:
BBQ Ribs w/ Cous cous X 3
Schnitzel w/ Cous cous X 5
BBQ Chicken wings X 4
Olive Chicken X 6
Salmon fish X 2

Pom Meals:


I will review them as we eat them throughout the TR. But, pretty much everything but a dish or two was really amazing. Like everyone says the dairy food was truly spectacular and we wish we would have ordered more of those over the meat meals!

I flew EY to AUH. I decided to take advantage of the free stopover EY offers and visit Egypt, for about 32 hours, before heading off to our main destination of this trip; The Maldives.

24
+2.. You need help writing it? ;)
Writing is the easy part! Itís the embedding and sorting through pictures that would take me too long! But, I intent to start working more on it ASAP as well as my several other TRís :/

25
Amazing TR and pictures!

26
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Paris Master Thread
« on: February 21, 2019, 08:14:36 PM »
Had the same thing in August. Schlepped there only to find it closed
Did you post about it here? Read through all 212 pages and donít recall anyone saying it had been shut :/

27
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Paris Master Thread
« on: February 21, 2019, 07:52:52 PM »
Although Google says otherwise, ThaiOne is closed for renovations for not sure how long but the place looked completely gutted. It will probably be at least 3-6 months if and when it re opens but that's just an assumption.

28
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Paris Master Thread
« on: February 19, 2019, 05:48:05 AM »
Doesnít seem to be any updates info on the breakfast situation at PHP so thought Iíd update the thread that they no longer offer any sort of breakfast option as they claim to have received to many complaints about the quality of the food from their caterers and therefore stoped offering it.

Are the closest breakfast options to the PHP really only Korcaz, Chez Akol, and Charles Traiteur? All of which are at least 20 minutes by car/train away.

29
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Los Angeles Master Thread
« on: February 08, 2019, 05:52:30 PM »

30
Goods For Sale/Trade / Re: IHG nights for sale
« on: February 07, 2019, 04:48:15 PM »
Selling one uncapped platinum elite night

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