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Topics - moish

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Trip Reports / New Zealand with some Seoul
« on: November 03, 2013, 08:11:30 PM »
Part 1: Introduction, Miscellaneous Tips & Getting There

I always wanted to see New Zealand. I had originally thought I’d combine it with Australia, and when planning my Australia trip that’s what I had in mind. After researching both countries it became apparent, however, that to combine them into one 3 week trip wouldn’t do either country justice. It had to be two separate trips. And so it was.

This was to be our most ambitious trip to date. Travelling with a 5 year old and a 2 year old is never easy, and did I mention my wife was 6 months pregnant at the time? After consulting with my wife’s doctor who assured us it was safe, we decided to go ahead.

- As far as kosher food is concerned, there isn’t much outside of Auckland and Wellington, cities not really on the tourist map. Armed with the local kosher list and plenty of food from Israel, we made do, primarily eating protein out of a can or box. New Zealand has somewhat strict customs guidelines, but after reading through them carefully, you can see that chicken and meat is allowed as long as it’s shelf stable and contains no bones. Thus, there is a large variety of kosher shelf meals produced by Meal Mart and Kiryas Joel that are permitted. I bought some Mountain Oven bags from Amazon to heat up the meals if I ever found myself without access to a microwave.

There is a kosher list which we loaded onto our phones, and we made frequent stops to the supermarkets. Many cereals are kosher including the Australia/NZ favorite, Nutri Grain. Additionally, most of the lox had a hashgachah on it, and some supermarkets even had fresh packaged salmon with a hashgachah that we would bring back to our room and cook up. We also bought fresh eggs which we cooked up in the morning. It was always an adventure going to the supermarket to see what could find.

- I knew we would be taking long flights and long drives, so I made sure to have 2 tablets on hand for the kids loaded up with various kid friendly videos. I also downloaded some talking books (Cat in the hat etc.) and Marvelous Midos Machine type stuff. Of equal importance was bringing tons of nosh and treats.

- To be honest, the proper way to “do” New Zealand is to do it the way the myriad of young Israelis we encountered do it. They basically come after finishing army service, buy a car, and basically drive & hike for 3 months. There is so much natural beauty, the way to properly experience it is by going on these multiday hikes, something obviously I couldn’t do in my situation. Nevertheless, I think we got a nice taste of the country in the 18 days we were there.

- I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the dateline issue. Without going into specifics, there are some serious halachic questions as to when Shabbos is. Is it the local Saturday or Sunday? It would be wise for someone thinking of taking this trip to discuss the issues with a competent orthodox rav. For what it’s worth, I basically kept 2 days of Shabbos. So in the 18 days we were there, only 12 were actual touring days. It was either that, or not to go at all. For a short overview of the issues, see here

- As far as our routing, we booked an AA All Partner award TLV-HKG-AKL on El Al & Cathay in Buisness for 45k miles, and then a United award CHC-SYD-ICN on Air New Zealand & Asiana, ICN-HND-LAX on Asiana & ANA, and finally EWR-TLV on United, all in Business Class for 127,500 (I think). Remember that I needed 4 seats, so it was kind of a miracle that I was able to get pretty much everything I had wanted. 

TIP – In the beginning, Cathay had only 3 seats available HKG-AKL, so I voluntary downgraded myself for that leg hoping/assuming it would open up as we got closer. But even within 2 weeks of the flight, KVS showed no availability for the flight, even when searching Cathay’s website. For some reason I got it in my head to call AA who told me they saw availability and put me in business. So it would seem that AA sees availability even when Cathay’s website doesn’t.

Getting to New Zealand from TLV is a real doozy, to be quite honest. Unlike on our trip to Australia, where we cut the trip by stopping in Abu Dhabi, our trip to AKL entailed a 9pm departure for an 11 hour flight to HKG, arriving at 2pm, then after a mere 1:30 layover, we took the 3:25pm flight from HKG to AKL, another 11 hour flight which got us in at 7:30am Friday morning. I figured we would be zonked when we finally arrived, so I planned a light day in Auckland with the idea of spending our 2 day Shabbos resting up for our adventure.

I don’t remember the flights anymore as much time has elapsed, but I do remember my 2 year old, which I might mention is a very hard age to travel with, absolutely refusing to go to sleep on the second flight when they turned out the lights, and struggling with him not to make a racket while the other Business passengers were trying to get some shut eye. I couldn’t help thinking, “Have I made a huge mistake by attempting this..."

To be continued at some point...

Trip Reports / “Light” Trip to Vienna & Prague
« on: August 06, 2013, 05:48:05 PM »
Having a baby a mere 2 weeks before the start of bein hazmanim, I pretty much wrote off any sort of trip. It was to be the first summer since we got married that we were going to simply stay put. However, being bitten by the travel bug as I am, as bein hazmanim progressed, the itch kept on getting stronger. We decided to make a go of it, and planned a “light” trip to Europe to see some of the cities we had missed in our travels. My travelling through Europe until this point had been focused on seeing countries. I had always wanted to see Prague & Vienna so we decided this would be the perfect opportunity. I searched around for flights and found a charter airline flying to Prague for $350 a ticket. Not too bad considering we decided to go a week before we actually left. And off we were, with our 5 year old, 2 year old, a new 3 week old baby.

Our flight on Friday morning was on Travel Service/SmartWings at 9:10am which got us into PRG at about 12:15pm. After eating some lunch, feeding the baby, renting the car etc., we hit the road at about 10 to 2. Driving was fairly easy, and we drove it in under 3.5 hrs plus a half hour for breaks, and we arrived in Vienna at around a quarter to 6. TIP: If you are ever considering doing some serious driving in Europe, it’s definitely worth your while to learn how to drive stick.

Something to remember, we picked up the car in the Czech Republic, and the car had a sticker on it from the CR. When you cross the border into Austria, you need to buy a sticker to put on your windshield to be able to drive there. Any gas station should sell them, and they cost around 10 Euro for 7 days IIRC.

Our first stop was at the kosher restaurant, Alef Alef. As far as Shabbos meals, this is pretty much the only option, and they require prepayment. To our horror though, they were closed when we got there around 6. As it was late, (shekia was around 8:45pm but davening is at 7 with the meal directly following) we rushed to the hotel, the Imperial.

As our plan was to be in Vienna for four nights, I broke one of my rules and booked 2 nights at the Imperial, and 2 nights at the Bristol, both Luxury Collection hotels. The Imperial, the nicest hotel in town, was too expensive to book for all the nights, even at the SPG C+P rate, and to stay at the Bristol all 4 nights also wasn’t an option, because after all, how can we go to Vienna and not stay at the Imperial? So we decided to do 2 and 2.

The Imperial definitely lives up to the hype. It’s truly a beautiful hotel, as the former palace of a prince. When the Queen of England visited Vienna, she was put up at the Imperial due to lack of nicer accommodations. The service was impeccable as well.

Up In The Air / skymiles explained
« on: July 17, 2013, 06:55:19 AM »
cant believe it hasnt been posted yet

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General Discussion / When did the friedeker rebbe arrive in the us?
« on: June 30, 2013, 08:11:34 AM »
someone is trying to sell me a letter from the friedeker rebbe, that he claims is the first letter he wrote in america. does anyone know when he arrived in america, and/or know by some chance what the first letter was about. (maybe its a known thing in chabad circles)

Up In The Air / Amex to SQ transfer trouble
« on: June 12, 2013, 05:15:45 PM »
has anybody transferred in the last week? usually works overnight, but my transfer didnt go through

Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Kvish Hapeleh Near Amuka
« on: April 25, 2013, 08:29:23 PM »
has anyone been there. can anyone point it out on google maps. id like to stop by there tomorrow

General Discussion / meuchedet dentists in jerusalem
« on: February 18, 2013, 03:45:58 AM »
anyone know of and can recommend a good one for kids?

Up In The Air / Minimum Connection Time
« on: February 16, 2013, 06:45:02 PM »
is there a database somewhere with the accurate info for this?

General Discussion / rental rates in arzei habira
« on: February 07, 2013, 11:32:03 AM »
anyone know the prices of rentals in arzei for a typical 100-110 meter apmnt?

General Discussion / cool african webcam
« on: January 23, 2013, 01:50:50 PM »

Up In The Air / shul in TLV?
« on: January 22, 2013, 11:08:17 AM »
anyone know if theres a shul in ben gurion before security?

according to the website, "A synagogue is located in the Greeters' Hall next to Entrance 11 and in the little Rotunda in the Airside Building."

i cant quite decipher that

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