Author Topic: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR  (Read 1216 times)

Online chff

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Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« on: February 06, 2019, 12:09:38 AM »
Given all the #fakenews on our trip I feel I must write a TR quickly…. All pictures are my own #nofilter (unless otherwise stated).


1 - Flights
Given the timings I was down to taking either the UA or AA flight on Motzai Shabbos NYC>EZE and same on the return Thursday night. Every other day UA either did or didn’t have X/XN class, and for a while AA was only showing Saver going (30k) and the return 130k for econ, Saver Business on both was מאן דכר שמיה. (In fact I don’t AA showed saver on JFK-EZE for the next year or so, and even hardly opened up anything close in). When I decided to pull the plug on the flights, I booked UA “Plan B” on the return (given that AA didn’t even have saver econ. AA was an hour later, but UA was a 764 which is better in econ then AA’s 777 10-Abreast). Booking was pretty easy, called UA and asked the agent if she knew about “Plan B where you pay the I rate and be waitlisted” she said she will check, placed me on hold and came back that she can do it. I transferred points from Chase, but she said she doesn’t see it, I said but I do, so she said book econ and so I did, she then placed me on hold and came back that the Plan B was done. I checked my account and saw the 30k Saver was refunded and a new ticket for 60k was processed. Given that UA still allows open seat assignments I just booked 2 regular window seats, tried at once to sweet talk into a free E+ but didn’t work and decided at the moment not to waste more time.
Given that I was waiting for a UA signup bonus I felt I don’t want to waste more UR points and decided to do the AA flight going (and that day UA didn’t have X/XN class going). Now with #firstworldissues I have more points then I burn, and had lots of AA points that I never touched (and even had an account with 58k expiring, so I did the WSJ & other stuff thru the portal and got that account upto 60k - the points post real quickly), but decided not to look like a fool on DDF so I transferred 18k Amex points to BA using the 40% bonus & booked AA for 25k Avios (and kept on thinking if Business opens up & I’ll have to rebook it from AA what will I do with the BA points…). Given that AA blocks all normal seats I paid 150 (x2) for 2 Window MCE. (And thinking back the next few days that I should have book an EXST for 18k Avios and be confirmed with Ghetto upgrade)
 
Now for a fun poll: Would you have flown before Shabbos on Thursday just for business? Would you take a risky stop on Motzai with a chance of killing your Sunday just to avoid economy?
 
For the domestic I booked the AR AEP>USH>AEP for 25k SkyPesos + $7.10 in tax (which I paid using my CSR which earns 3 points as travel, yielding a total of 21.3 Chase UR points, equivalent to about 43 cents, according to TPG’s latest valuations) vs $600 revenue AR. I called in the AR agent line & via my ticket numbers they told me the AR locators & assigned me seats (Window+Aisle in row 7).
 
AA & UA both allow 2 checked bags to Argentina, while AR only allows 1 or 30lbs on domestic tickets. Many online reports said they didn’t bother with overweight. On their website they listed as 30>50lbs overweight at about 650 ARS (about $18 USD) which is paid at the airport only & extra bag 650 ARS at airport or 399 ARS if pre-purchased on the website. A few weeks later I realized that the extra bag jumped in price to 1099 ARS at airport or 549 ARS if pre-purchased on the website so I right away purchased an extra bag per person round trip and for some reason I was billed 330 ARS per way per bag, which came out to about $17 & change round trip. If you selected on AR’s site to pay in USD it was $27 USD per bag/way…

Offline lubaby

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2019, 12:15:53 AM »
+ $7.10 in tax (which I paid using my CSR which earns 3 points as travel, yielding a total of 21.3 Chase UR points, equivalent to about 43 cents, according to TPG’s latest valuations)
This should be mandatory for all TR's  :D
Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

Offline ludmila

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2019, 02:45:37 AM »
Thanks.
I was the Best,still the Best, and will always be the Best.
Pele Good,Maradona Better, George Best.

Offline davidrotts63

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 04:20:38 AM »
This should be mandatory for all TR's  :D
-1

Can't wait for the rest (mainly your pics ), but please avoid TPGs gross evaluations.
(Quit) pulling out the flowers, and watering the weeds. -Peter Lynch

Online chff

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 04:29:23 PM »
2 - Motzei Shabbos - Dec 8

Before Shabbos I was already all packed up & ready to roll. Motzei Shabbos I was home 10 mins after the zman, made Havdala, Chanukah Candles, (showered…) and left for the airport. When I checked in online I was surprised to see AA had an equipment swap from the non-PE to the new one with Premium Economy (which has less MCE) and found myself with 2 middle seats. PE had an open a middle seat so I decided to try it out for myself and the other I took a MCE window a few rows behind. On the way to the airport I saw on the app a PE Window seat open but they asked (another?) $150 for it (not sure if it was the window seat that had the extra charge or because it was the bulkhead) so I paid the $150 and made a mental note that I will send an email to AA to request a refund (& will do so do right away but never got to it. In the end AA automatically refunded me). When we got to the airport we dropped off our luggage (no issues with being 51/52lbs EACH) and quickly went through PreCheck security & headed to the gate where we met up with another few travelers.



I tried with the gate agent for my seats but all she had to offer was the PE middle bulkhead but I didn’t take it as I hate bulkheads (but I should have because the PE on AA is very not up to par) and before I even had a chance to say anything the captain walked around the desk & asked for a better seat for a family member so the gate agent assigned her the open PE bulkhead.



When it came time to board, we headed onto the plane & tried to switch seats but of course no one was willing to switch to a middle seat :(. I have to say AA’s premium is really bad - pretty cramped. The plug is in the armrest to the back & not easy to get to, the headphone jack is the 3 pin premium jack (& when I asked the crew for a converter half argued with me that it doesn’t need till one FA said he will bring me a converter but took him over an hour. Seems like they aren’t fully trained on the PE seats. (Yes, I had my own but was really lazy to reach into my overstuffed bag…).



When I checked FlightRadar24 I saw UA979 was right behind us racing towards EZE.



I skipped the meal and just put on my new Bose QC25 and dozed off to sleep (PE did get a good pillow even as they don’t have yet PE “service”. In addition there was an amenity kit & sort of better headphones on the seat). After a decent sleep (& crossing the equator for the first time) I woke up and headed to the rear galley & with the crews permission I davened there. UA was still racing behind us



went back to my seat & the crew served breakfast (Break what? AA for a 10-hour international flight?)





switched to the window seat for landing.



As we landed & turned off the runway I saw UA979 landing right behind us
and both parked at the gate next to each other, although UA did get the gate closer to passport control.



Deplaned and headed to passport control where there was a pretty line but moving at a decent pace.



At the baggage claim we met the other travelers that flew in on the UA flight. Got our bags, loaded up the free baggage carts (take that, USA!) and headed thru customs, (where every bag got x-rayed,) and into the arrivals hall. (My biggest fears was that my bags should get stuck in NY but with the US legacy carriers you can track your bags on the app where I saw that they were all loaded onto our flight).
« Last Edit: February 07, 2019, 07:14:39 PM by chff »

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 07:21:21 PM »
3. Sunday - Dec 9

There was a discussion how to transfer from EZE to AEP, an Uber was about $15-20 USD (see @Dan’s DP regarding Amex) but given that I was planning to stop for food I didn’t want to shlep all out luggage into & out of an Uber/Taxi or have them wait so I opted for a Jewish driver, and managed to get one thru a contact in Argentina (Price was about $40 USD all in). The driver/dispatcher didn’t speak a word of English but Google Translate did a fine job. The driver waited for me in the Arrivals hall, helped us push a luggage cart till his van.



and we left the airport to Luba Café, (why Luba? It was the first listed on Chabad’s website). After about 35/40 minutes’ drive we arrived to Luba and we went inside while my driver waited in the van outside. The employees by Luba didn’t speak a word of English, luckily there was a Jewish lady there who translated and we ordered some food and met some other travelers there. After brunch we ordered some cakes to-go (the lady wasn’t there anymore so international sign language did the trick) paid our check and left.











As @Dan asked around if someone can go buy some milk I headed to a grocery, bought a few bottles of milk



and headed to AEP airport (about 15 minutes’ drive).



Check-in was quick, no mention about the “overweight 30>50lbs” but as I was walking away from the check-in desk a lady came over and told me my carry-on ways a ton and I should take out something, I told her ok and just walked away…



At that point there was no line by security, the Americans were busy drinking their water bottles before security even though as the guards told them liquids are allowed through. Headed to the gate where we met up with more people, davened Mincha and waited for our flight to be called.



Pre-boarding was called and line 16+ was directed to a different line and then Sky-Priority was called. I got in the line and the gate agent told me "you are not Sky-Priority" so I told her “but someone told me to go” so she just let me through, and I headed down to the bus. After a short bus ride we arrived to the aircraft, boarded and settled in for the flight down to Ushuaia.





Flight was full (maybe 4 empty seats). About 10 minutes late we pushed back, taxied for a while (including back taxi on the runway to due closed taxiways) and about 45 minutes late we took-off.





Flight was uneventful, some travelers took the time to introduce themselves to other travelers. At 6:55pm we started to descent and a few minutes later the beautiful Tierra del Fuego came into view,







and at 7:09pm the aircraft made a 90 degree right turn (the flight path is to avoid Chile’s airspace)



while continuing the straight descent above the Beagle Channel







into Ushuaia - Malvinas Argentinas International Airport (Pop Quiz: who knows the reason for the name “Malvinas”?). At 7:15 we landed (only 5 minutes late even with the 45 minutes late departure),



back taxied on the runway (given this airport consists of no taxiways at all) and parked at the gate minutes later.



We all headed into the tiny baggage claim room (there was no mystery which belt to go to as there is only one) and all hand bags were x-rayed before entering the room for food that is prohibited in Patagonia.



After claiming my bags we exited the baggage claim where there was a representative from the hotel directing us to a bus waiting outside.



I meanwhile headed to the baggage claim office to inquire about the 2 bags that were missing from @Dan’s group in the morning. First the agent said “we will find it and deliver to the hotel” but I was firm and requested that he check the system to see if the bags were loaded on our flight, and upon confirmation that it was another agent went into the baggage claim area and few minutes later walked out pushing a cart with the 2 bags. He matched the tags with the picture @Moishebatchy sent me and released the bags to me.


 
After everyone got their bags we boarded the bus and departed the airport,















and after about a 15/20 minutes ride we arrived to the hotel at around 8:15pm - finally after the long 23 hour journey we have arrived to the start of our epic expedition.

Offline Joe4007

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2019, 01:26:18 PM »
Thanks. Keep it going.

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2019, 04:37:43 PM »
4. Sunday night

At around 8:15pm (23 hours after leaving home in NYC) we finally arrived to the “Los Cauquenes Resort” for the official start of our “Kosher Antarctica” expedition.



This beautiful hotel is situated on the banks of the Beagle Channel, with great views all the way to Chile. The hotel is a member of ”SLH” and I’m guessing @Dan was hoping that it would be part of World of Hyatt by the time of our trip, but doesn’t look like any SLH in South America joined World of Hyatt. Upon arrival we were all greeted by @Something Fishy & @Dan. The reception had all room cards ready, and the hotel’s staff started to offload the luggage from the bus and later took them to everyone’s room.




 
At 8:45pm everyone gathered in the hotel’s dining room for dinner, where there was a gift bag waiting for everyone with a Menorah & trip memorabilia.







@Something Fishy & @Dan made a joint welcome speech
 


& then (Rabbi?) @Moishebatchy started the “רוחניות” part of the trip with a siyum (seems like @Moishebatchy makes on average .78 siyums per week).



After dinner there was some fruit for snack



& we all went on the deck to watch the beautiful long sunset over the Beagle Channel, taking pictures while bothering @Something Fishy “is this a nice picture?” “this is the way to take pictures?”.













We then davened Mariv and then everyone per their minhang started to light the Chanukah Candles, singing together הנרות הללו into the night.





That day in Ushuaia was extremely hot and the rooms had no A/C so I asked the front desk if they had fans, and he just answered me “open the window, there are no mosquitoes” (as he knew that I was going to ask him that as Argentina is a Zika listed country on the CDC’s site - but I had anticipated no Zika as 10 miles west Chile had none so I knew it can’t be Ushuaia does have).



Offline Dan

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2019, 04:50:59 PM »
Nice TR so far :)
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2019, 05:25:42 PM »

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2019, 12:10:14 AM »
5. Monday Morning





In the morning after Shacris



was served breakfast (note that all food for Ushuaia were brought in and left there, for the cruise itself food came from Montreal and were loaded on the boat when OOE re-registered the boat before the season).



Afterwards everyone packed up and left their luggage in the hotel lobby where an truck came from the boat and transferred the luggage directly to the boat, and everyone was free to roam Ushuaia for a few hours.



As noted the fuel shortage meant we had to leave a few hours earlier than planned many people than had plans were forced to work around and do changes, but I personally didn’t have any plans in advance. I took my time very leisurely and then saw what others were doing so decided to go check out Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego just to say I was at the edge of Argentina. People were teaming up 4 per taxi, but as I was going to be ready later than most other people, only @Moishebatchy was able to join me (luckily we were only 3 people as no way would 4 Americans fit in such a car). Luckily we got a driver that spoke English (many others were complaining that their drivers only spoke Spanish so I showed them how to download Google Translate offline and they were able to communicate easily). Most of Ushuaia is not paved (would guess the same reason why most of Alaska isn’t paved - as the winter snow cracks the pavement creating many potholes and it’s just easier like this) -





we headed to the park and the driver kept on raving what beautiful views the park has but in reality (i’m borrowing the words from @Something Fishy) they were from “meh” to “feh”...



Entrance fee was 490ARS per person (Local Argentines pay way cheaper). First we stopped at the "Correo del Fin del Mundo" - “The end of the World Post Office” where we bought some postcards and mailed them out. The postmaster was making a living selling fake passports and stamping fake stamps in your real passport accompanied with a picture from his late dad may he rest in peace. Took a little longer then expected as there was my neighbors from Brooklyn (I’m not going to be קורא בשמם) who were controlling the lines and creating havoc & I was just praying that they shouldn’t be on our ship.



We then continued to the very end of Route 3 where the "Pan-American Highway" starts and it is the very southwestern edge you can drive in Argentina, surrounded by Chile from 3 sides. We got out and took some pictures and headed back to the car as it was getting late.









We then headed back towards Ushuaia (and had to do a quick detour to the hotel as I forgot something there)


I’m still wondering what’s wrong with this car - hint: 4 Americans are in it…..

and went to the Albatros Hotel (right next to Puerto Ushuaia) which is the meeting point for One Ocean Expedition (little did I know what impact “Albatros” will have on me).




first glimpse of our ship



OOE had coffee served there (no kosher stuff) and many people walked around the corner to the many gift shops to stock up on souvenirs. At about 1:15 we loaded onto 2 busses for the short ride to the port (as it’s a “closed customs area” and “you can’t walk in” and must go by bus), where one of the ship’s guide said a quick hello to us all,





but then unfortunately my bus couldn't start and we had to transfer over to the 2nd bus while some people had to wait for the bus to come back to get them.



We then took the very long drive into the port area





and onto the dock till our boat (where there was a fuel truck parked),



everyone got off the bus and headed up the gangway to the deck 5, no passports checked or vouchers requested. 






« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 12:33:47 AM by chff »

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2019, 10:57:47 AM »
Minor detail I left out - Monday Morning was prepared wraps with tuna (or Turkey?) to take along for lunch

Offline sam28

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Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2019, 11:44:03 AM »
Nice TR keep it coming