Author Topic: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021  (Read 7747 times)

Offline LFR

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LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« on: July 06, 2021, 10:02:21 AM »
Greetings. WARNING: Very long report but I'm including lots of details anticipating that people will use the exact details to make their own trip simple. No fireworks here but hopefully good info. Ignore typos for time being. Wrote it quickly.  We've been wanting to travel to Northwest Europe for a while and Dan's Pre-Covid 2019 definitely convinced me that Amsterdam was a worthy destination. We also wanted to go back to Paris which we hadn't been to in 10 years and with our 15th anniversary approaching we figured we'd be able to do hit both places assuming Covid restrictions allowed. When, in Oct 2020, travel to Europe seemed like something that would never be possible I saw a deal from PHL (where I live) to Amsterdam on AA for $124 RT (plus $499 in taxes ;)  ). I had used my newly acquired AA Executive Platinum status on a few occasions since being "gifted it" as a result of being a Hyatt Globalist and I figured if this trip actually proved to be doable that I'd have a good chance of getting upgraded. As May rolled along the information was very unclear on who- if anyone- would be allowed into the Netherlands and the official rule was that no Americans would be allowed in unless they had an actual reason (family, medical personnel etc...). We were scheduled to depart 6/24 from PHL and lo and behold an announcement came out about a week before that the Netherlands was essentially going from open to NO Americans on June 23rd to open to ALL Americans starting June 24th. Typical Covid weirdness/lack of logic/reason. I'll speed things up:

Since we weren't sure whether an upgrade to business on the 787 was a sure thing I used my Systemwide Upgrades to guarantee that I'd have the lie flat seat both there and back. Considering there were 24 people (and 10 staff) on the flight back from AMS yesterday and roughly the same number on the way there we would have been all but guaranteed an upgrade both ways but I don't regret having used the upgrades. We had seats 2D and 2H on the way there and what SeatGuru doesn't tell you is that there's a HUGE downside to any of these seats which are connected to other seats. In my case I should have opted for row 1 (facing backwards) because the person connected to my seat moved around a lot and at best we got a few hours of "sleep." Didn't eat the meals wherever they were from.

The Thalys between Paris and Amsterdam is AMAZING. Not particularly fancy or even clean but its a typical European model of efficiency. Because we didn't know how long customs and luggage would take I had booked at 11:30 train from AMS to Paris that was scheduled to get into Paris at 2:30 when little kosher food would still be available). I knew there was a 9:30 am Thalys with seats available that if we rushed we'd be able to get to. Probably because the plane and airport were so empty we were able to go from our seats, got our luggage and to the train station in Schipol in a matter of probably 30-35 minutes. After paying a 144 Euro change fee for 2 people we were scheduled to arrive in Paris at 12:30. Ubered from Paris Nord to the Park Hyatt (booked at 30k points per night for 4 nights). The Park Hyatt - as most people here have already reported is absolutely incredible. Most of the interior is pretty dated by now but the staff is exceptionally nice and accomodating for all things kosher, shabbos, etc. They were sold out of suites but we got one of the Deluxe rooms which was more than enough for 2 people. Because the room wouldn't be ready they told us to go have coffee in the main bar/restaurant area off the lobby and within 20 minutes the room was ready. Fridge in room was great for storing the kosher food we eventually got and the hotel gave us a free bottle of kosher Bordeaux for our anniversary. Be aware that the lights in the fridge have the whole magnet/light/shabbos issue. Also be aware that the Toto washlet will be on all shabbos unless you find the buttons hidden on the side to run it off (no way to unplug it).

As you can read in any previous Paris Trip Report Paris has a mind-blowingly overwhelming food situation. Knowing it was closing around 2:30 on Friday we ran from the PHP to l'int'ee caffe which is dairy Italian. We got there as they were winding down but the host was very accommodating telling us we could pick any pasta and the owner/manager came back in order to pour non-mevushal wine for us. I'll ad a disclaimer at this point that there is non-mevushal wine and non-glatt meat all over Paris (see previous trip reports and not to infer from anything here that the places we dined at are acceptable to all). The place was pretty much an authentic Parisian indoors/outdoors restaurant and we regretted not having a chance to go back. Plus the Pasta was great. Because we didn't ahve a chance to have a full meal we went straight on foot to the XXV location on Avenue des Ternes. There we had some awesome Fench pastries and alos bought a brioche for shalushedes and some other baked goods to go. We still needed more shabbos food so we walked from XXV to the 17th arrondissement where we bought some more wine and some other food for shabbos. For most of the food, however, we ordered through Uber Eats from By Ella. Her food is great but A) she included 1 set of plastic cutlery and B) throughout Europe sandwiches are NOT overstuffed so the Sandwhich NYC Deli, Sandwhich boeuf, and Yom shishi sandwiches were all very flavorful and fresh but did not contain an abundance of meat. Her banana bread was great, babka mediocre and Formulae salade was very small but good. More like an appetizer.

For davening I kinda assumed that the Synagogue de la Victoire (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Synagogue_of_Paris) would have a mostly normal schedule. Long story short: I'd tell people to avoid this shul for all things frumkiet and ruchniyos but its a great museum for a tourist to see. I believe the rabbi means well and is dealing with a difficult situation and not-so-frum demographic but certain things are simply ridiculous and borderline intolerable: Things to not start when they are supposed to. Don't know what time mincha was Friday night but it probably started about 20 minutes after plag some time around 8:30. I actually didn't even stay for kabbolos shabbos and maariv (mainly because I was in weekday clothes). Shabbos morning there's a choir which is kinda cool but there's also a female conductor who's basically standing prominently in the middle of the "stage" and there were many women sitting in the men's section despite the fact that the women has there own mechtzah'd off section 5 feet away. There were no "mixed pews" with both men and women but between women all over the place and walking up and down aisles it definitely gave off a very non orthodox feel. There was a bar mitzvah (and maybe a sheva brachos) in shul so there were 3 speeches in French and the davening is LONG. When I returned for mincha the rabbi was giving a pre-mincha halacha shiur to about 7 people which I was impressed by (the shul not just being a museum to gawk at). Following mincha there was a shalushedes and no maariv. Luckily I found a solid shul a few blocks away https://www.alloj.com/fr/synagogue/saint-lazare.html which had a 10:50 maariv and havdala. I returned to that shul for mincha maariv the next day of the 17th of tammuz and it was about an hour total. Just FYI. Since shabbos was over at 11 there wasn't really anything to do Saturday night and the next day was the fast day. The big Synagogue needed me as a 10th for shacharis and they had one in the annex (no selichos).

Sunday/ 17th tammuz- The PHP is right near the Louvre and we had booked tickets in advance. This is basically as empty as the museum will ever be. Just showed my tickets and walked right in with no wait. Spent entire day there basically till closing, mincha/maariv at the shul above and broke the fast at 10:45 at what seems to be the newest/hottest place, Le Bazaar. The restaurant is (not glatt and) right outside the city of Paris past the 17th arrondissement.  Roughly a 20 euro Uber from the PHP. Amazing meal amazing foie gras and very accommodating. Seems somewhat hard to get a reservation day-of or a few days before but the maitre d I spoke to on the phone pretty much said that if we were to show up he would help us. When we arrived around 10:15 the place was packed. Pretty much every seat taken and most of the diners were yarmulka-less (and the fast was still going). Amazing energy very cool location and great food all around.

One thing I forgot to mention until now: The best mode of transportation in Paris (aside from the super-cheap Ubers and your feet) are the scooters. I've loved scooters in any city I've been to that has them and even though I think it creates major blight on the sidewalks its an incredible way to see the city at 18 mph and CHEAP. The only one that you'll probably use there is Lime because its owned by Uber so you can book them through your regular Uber app. VERY VERY enjoyable just to cruise around on them with no particular destination in mind.

Monday June 28th- after 7:45 shacharis (7:45 on mon and thu and 8 other mornings) on Rue Salnier ACROSS from Beth El  we went to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galeries_Lafayette for a few minutes seeing the impressive building, looking at a few items and going up to the roof which is worth a visit. Scootered from there to Montemarte (worth a visit but not much to dow other that walking around and seeing the view (although I think there may be a museum there)) and from there ubered to the Marais so that we could stop at the few places there. L'as du falaffel lives up to its reputation as world-class falaffel. That's not to say its the best I've ever had but its certainly in the same category. The fact that it does all the things right that other kosher restaurants do wrong is a great help. By that I mean: the place is as well oiled a machine as it gets. When you order the classic falaffel they're basically churning them out so fast that it comes to you almost seconds later. The big line outside was for takeout only which I think appeals to people on the go and because the falaffel is 2 euro cheaper per falaffel for takeout (i believe) but to get a table and sit down inside only took a few minutes of waiting. I'd call the place a must-visit because its delicious, its fast, its a scene and there a a bunch of things to visit in the Marais afterwards. We went right afterwards to Damyel (the old location on Rue Richer closed) and had some incredible (expensive) macarons (i'm not a macaron guy but these were particularly good).

From Damyel went to the Pompidou museum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_Pompidou . HIGHLY suggest going. Worth it just for the building and layout alone. However, as is the case with any modern art museum be aware that not everything is rated G/PG and also know that the temporary exhibits they have in place right now are complete and utter garbage (specifically Women in Abstraction and the Hito Steyerl nonsense). The main floor which goes through the 19th and 20th centuries is awesome. NOTE: in addition to the building being worth the visit there is a cafe/restaurant on the top floor which has incredible views of Paris, is itself an architectural marvel, and good place to get coffee/beer whatever in a cool setting.

Dinner at Kavod. Still as great as the place was 10 years ago. When we showed up we were one of the only parties there and I felt bad that it was one of many businesses/restaurants which clearly was still suffering the effects of no tourism and Covid policies. By the time we were gone, though, every seat was taken and we actually saw our second group of Americans since Friday (chassidishe looking guy who it turns out was also staying at the Park Hyatt). Food was out of this world, the French wine that the host suggested was perfect, the staff couldn't have been nicer and its a very pleasant setting. At no point during our 10 days in Europe did I perceive danger in any way (and there were plenty of people in Paris moving about with yarmulka and tzizis visible so don't believe the stories that everyone is living in fear there) but if you are worried just know that since Kavod is next to the Israeli embassy there is a constant military/police presence outside essentially guarding the restaurant.

Walked from Kavod to check the box off of seeing the Eiffel Tower up close (its still closed till later this month) and scootered back from there to hotel.

Next morning had a 11 am Thalys train booked from Paris Nord to Brussels with a Hertz automatic car waiting for me at the Brussels Train station. Driving from Paris to Brussels is 3 hours + and the train is 1:20. Also the one one way fee from Paris to Amsterdam was significantly more than the one way from Brussels to Amsterdam so all in all it made sense to do. The process of leaving the train in Brussels and getting the car in the train station and retrieving the car was SO easy that I did not regret this decision.

My apologies if this is too long/detailed. As I wrote above I'm only including this level of detail to help with other people's planning NOT because I think this was a particularly riveting story.

next up: Belgium.

Offline LFR

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2021, 10:25:03 AM »
Gonna add some pictures and other details here.

One major thing I forgot was that the Park Hyatt got a pretty soild breakfast from XXV and had it delivered to the room. Consisted of baguettes, pastries, jellies, butter, orange juice (and coffee from the hotel).

Linte caffe:





Old Damyel on Rue Richer:




Kavod:


















Persian part of Louvre with many articles from the palace in Shushan:











XXV breakfast in PHP"




Pompidou cafe and roof:










XXV cafe:





Le Bazaar:











« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 10:39:12 AM by LFR »

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2021, 11:04:47 AM »
Greetings. WARNING: Very long report but I'm including lots of details anticipating that people will use the exact details to make their own trip simple. No fireworks here but hopefully good info. Ignore typos for time being. Wrote it quickly.  We've been wanting to travel to Northwest Europe for a while and Dan's Pre-Covid 2019 definitely convinced me that Amsterdam was a worthy destination. We also wanted to go back to Paris which we hadn't been to in 10 years and with our 15th anniversary approaching we figured we'd be able to do hit both places assuming Covid restrictions allowed. When, in Oct 2020, travel to Europe seemed like something that would never be possible I saw a deal from PHL (where I live) to Amsterdam on AA for $124 RT (plus $499 in taxes ;)  ). I had used my newly acquired AA Executive Platinum status on a few occasions since being "gifted it" as a result of being a Hyatt Globalist and I figured if this trip actually proved to be doable that I'd have a good chance of getting upgraded. As May rolled along the information was very unclear on who- if anyone- would be allowed into the Netherlands and the official rule was that no Americans would be allowed in unless they had an actual reason (family, medical personnel etc...). We were scheduled to depart 6/24 from PHL and lo and behold an announcement came out about a week before that the Netherlands was essentially going from open to NO Americans on June 23rd to open to ALL Americans starting June 24th. Typical Covid weirdness/lack of logic/reason. I'll speed things up:

Since we weren't sure whether an upgrade to business on the 787 was a sure thing I used my Systemwide Upgrades to guarantee that I'd have the lie flat seat both there and back. Considering there were 24 people (and 10 staff) on the flight back from AMS yesterday and roughly the same number on the way there we would have been all but guaranteed an upgrade both ways but I don't regret having used the upgrades. We had seats 2D and 2H on the way there and what SeatGuru doesn't tell you is that there's a HUGE downside to any of these seats which are connected to other seats. In my case I should have opted for row 1 (facing backwards) because the person connected to my seat moved around a lot and at best we got a few hours of "sleep." Didn't eat the meals wherever they were from.

The Thalys between Paris and Amsterdam is AMAZING. Not particularly fancy or even clean but its a typical European model of efficiency. Because we didn't know how long customs and luggage would take I had booked at 11:30 train from AMS to Paris that was scheduled to get into Paris at 2:30 when little kosher food would still be available). I knew there was a 9:30 am Thalys with seats available that if we rushed we'd be able to get to. Probably because the plane and airport were so empty we were able to go from our seats, got our luggage and to the train station in Schipol in a matter of probably 30-35 minutes. After paying a 144 Euro change fee for 2 people we were scheduled to arrive in Paris at 12:30. Ubered from Paris Nord to the Park Hyatt (booked at 30k points per night for 4 nights). The Park Hyatt - as most people here have already reported is absolutely incredible. Most of the interior is pretty dated by now but the staff is exceptionally nice and accomodating for all things kosher, shabbos, etc. They were sold out of suites but we got one of the Deluxe rooms which was more than enough for 2 people. Because the room wouldn't be ready they told us to go have coffee in the main bar/restaurant area off the lobby and within 20 minutes the room was ready. Fridge in room was great for storing the kosher food we eventually got and the hotel gave us a free bottle of kosher Bordeaux for our anniversary. Be aware that the lights in the fridge have the whole magnet/light/shabbos issue. Also be aware that the Toto washlet will be on all shabbos unless you find the buttons hidden on the side to run it off (no way to unplug it).

As you can read in any previous Paris Trip Report Paris has a mind-blowingly overwhelming food situation. Knowing it was closing around 2:30 on Friday we ran from the PHP to l'int'ee caffe which is dairy Italian. We got there as they were winding down but the host was very accommodating telling us we could pick any pasta and the owner/manager came back in order to pour non-mevushal wine for us. I'll ad a disclaimer at this point that there is non-mevushal wine and non-glatt meat all over Paris (see previous trip reports and not to infer from anything here that the places we dined at are acceptable to all). The place was pretty much an authentic Parisian indoors/outdoors restaurant and we regretted not having a chance to go back. Plus the Pasta was great. Because we didn't ahve a chance to have a full meal we went straight on foot to the XXV location on Avenue des Ternes. There we had some awesome Fench pastries and alos bought a brioche for shalushedes and some other baked goods to go. We still needed more shabbos food so we walked from XXV to the 17th arrondissement where we bought some more wine and some other food for shabbos. For most of the food, however, we ordered through Uber Eats from By Ella. Her food is great but A) she included 1 set of plastic cutlery and B) throughout Europe sandwiches are NOT overstuffed so the Sandwhich NYC Deli, Sandwhich boeuf, and Yom shishi sandwiches were all very flavorful and fresh but did not contain an abundance of meat. Her banana bread was great, babka mediocre and Formulae salade was very small but good. More like an appetizer.

For davening I kinda assumed that the Synagogue de la Victoire (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Synagogue_of_Paris) would have a mostly normal schedule. Long story short: I'd tell people to avoid this shul for all things frumkiet and ruchniyos but its a great museum for a tourist to see. I believe the rabbi means well and is dealing with a difficult situation and not-so-frum demographic but certain things are simply ridiculous and borderline intolerable: Things to not start when they are supposed to. Don't know what time mincha was Friday night but it probably started about 20 minutes after plag some time around 8:30. I actually didn't even stay for kabbolos shabbos and maariv (mainly because I was in weekday clothes). Shabbos morning there's a choir which is kinda cool but there's also a female conductor who's basically standing prominently in the middle of the "stage" and there were many women sitting in the men's section despite the fact that the women has there own mechtzah'd off section 5 feet away. There were no "mixed pews" with both men and women but between women all over the place and walking up and down aisles it definitely gave off a very non orthodox feel. There was a bar mitzvah (and maybe a sheva brachos) in shul so there were 3 speeches in French and the davening is LONG. When I returned for mincha the rabbi was giving a pre-mincha halacha shiur to about 7 people which I was impressed by (the shul not just being a museum to gawk at). Following mincha there was a shalushedes and no maariv. Luckily I found a solid shul a few blocks away https://www.alloj.com/fr/synagogue/saint-lazare.html which had a 10:50 maariv and havdala. I returned to that shul for mincha maariv the next day of the 17th of tammuz and it was about an hour total. Just FYI. Since shabbos was over at 11 there wasn't really anything to do Saturday night and the next day was the fast day. The big Synagogue needed me as a 10th for shacharis and they had one in the annex (no selichos).

Sunday/ 17th tammuz- The PHP is right near the Louvre and we had booked tickets in advance. This is basically as empty as the museum will ever be. Just showed my tickets and walked right in with no wait. Spent entire day there basically till closing, mincha/maariv at the shul above and broke the fast at 10:45 at what seems to be the newest/hottest place, Le Bazaar. The restaurant is (not glatt and) right outside the city of Paris past the 17th arrondissement.  Roughly a 20 euro Uber from the PHP. Amazing meal amazing foie gras and very accommodating. Seems somewhat hard to get a reservation day-of or a few days before but the maitre d I spoke to on the phone pretty much said that if we were to show up he would help us. When we arrived around 10:15 the place was packed. Pretty much every seat taken and most of the diners were yarmulka-less (and the fast was still going). Amazing energy very cool location and great food all around.

One thing I forgot to mention until now: The best mode of transportation in Paris (aside from the super-cheap Ubers and your feet) are the scooters. I've loved scooters in any city I've been to that has them and even though I think it creates major blight on the sidewalks its an incredible way to see the city at 18 mph and CHEAP. The only one that you'll probably use there is Lime because its owned by Uber so you can book them through your regular Uber app. VERY VERY enjoyable just to cruise around on them with no particular destination in mind.

Monday June 28th- after 7:45 shacharis (7:45 on mon and thu and 8 other mornings) on Rue Salnier ACROSS from Beth El  we went to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galeries_Lafayette for a few minutes seeing the impressive building, looking at a few items and going up to the roof which is worth a visit. Scootered from there to Montemarte (worth a visit but not much to dow other that walking around and seeing the view (although I think there may be a museum there)) and from there ubered to the Marais so that we could stop at the few places there. L'as du falaffel lives up to its reputation as world-class falaffel. That's not to say its the best I've ever had but its certainly in the same category. The fact that it does all the things right that other kosher restaurants do wrong is a great help. By that I mean: the place is as well oiled a machine as it gets. When you order the classic falaffel they're basically churning them out so fast that it comes to you almost seconds later. The big line outside was for takeout only which I think appeals to people on the go and because the falaffel is 2 euro cheaper per falaffel for takeout (i believe) but to get a table and sit down inside only took a few minutes of waiting. I'd call the place a must-visit because its delicious, its fast, its a scene and there a a bunch of things to visit in the Marais afterwards. We went right afterwards to Damyel (the old location on Rue Richer closed) and had some incredible (expensive) macarons (i'm not a macaron guy but these were particularly good).

From Damyel went to the Pompidou museum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_Pompidou . HIGHLY suggest going. Worth it just for the building and layout alone. However, as is the case with any modern art museum be aware that not everything is rated G/PG and also know that the temporary exhibits they have in place right now are complete and utter garbage (specifically Women in Abstraction and the Hito Steyerl nonsense). The main floor which goes through the 19th and 20th centuries is awesome. NOTE: in addition to the building being worth the visit there is a cafe/restaurant on the top floor which has incredible views of Paris, is itself an architectural marvel, and good place to get coffee/beer whatever in a cool setting.

Dinner at Kavod. Still as great as the place was 10 years ago. When we showed up we were one of the only parties there and I felt bad that it was one of many businesses/restaurants which clearly was still suffering the effects of no tourism and Covid policies. By the time we were gone, though, every seat was taken and we actually saw our second group of Americans since Friday (chassidishe looking guy who it turns out was also staying at the Park Hyatt). Food was out of this world, the French wine that the host suggested was perfect, the staff couldn't have been nicer and its a very pleasant setting. At no point during our 10 days in Europe did I perceive danger in any way (and there were plenty of people in Paris moving about with yarmulka and tzizis visible so don't believe the stories that everyone is living in fear there) but if you are worried just know that since Kavod is next to the Israeli embassy there is a constant military/police presence outside essentially guarding the restaurant.

Walked from Kavod to check the box off of seeing the Eiffel Tower up close (its still closed till later this month) and scootered back from there to hotel.

Next morning had a 11 am Thalys train booked from Paris Nord to Brussels with a Hertz automatic car waiting for me at the Brussels Train station. Driving from Paris to Brussels is 3 hours + and the train is 1:20. Also the one one way fee from Paris to Amsterdam was significantly more than the one way from Brussels to Amsterdam so all in all it made sense to do. The process of leaving the train in Brussels and getting the car in the train station and retrieving the car was SO easy that I did not regret this decision.

My apologies if this is too long/detailed. As I wrote above I'm only including this level of detail to help with other people's planning NOT because I think this was a particularly riveting story.

next up: Belgium.
Very cool.
Awaiting your next TR.

Offline ltttc

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2021, 01:53:29 PM »
Did you do anything in Amsterdam??

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2021, 01:59:47 PM »
Did you do anything in Amsterdam??
Yes, he wrote about it, check his latest posts.

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2021, 02:11:21 PM »
Great TR.
Train is definitely the way to travel through the EU it's so easy.
Did le bazaar have any glatt options or was it fully non glatt?

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Offline LFR

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2021, 02:31:39 PM »
Amsterdam- gonna recap that here or paste what SuperFlyer just linked to.

Train is a great way to go but ideally I would have just flown into Paris. NO nonstops between PHL and CDG and this deal $600 RT nonstop with pretty much guaranteed upgrade to business was too good to pass up so I figured worst case scenario Amsterdam would be a good jumping off point- and it was. (We thought kids would have visiting day July 4 when we booked so in theory we could have done the whole thing differently and stayed in Paris the second shabbos instead of the first. whatever)

Le Bazaar- I didn't ask. I think I saw in DDF that they have. After the fast ended a "frummer" sephardi crowd showed up and I'd be surprised if they didn't have a chalak option.

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2021, 02:35:02 PM »
Great TR.
Train is definitely the way to travel through the EU it's so easy.
Did le bazaar have any glatt options or was it fully non glatt?
An old TR of mine, if you are into spelling mistakes... Continued while falling asleep typically.

Disclaimer: doesn't contain gastronomic related content which some viewers might find offensive.

https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=1881.msg15854.msg#15854

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2021, 03:08:37 PM »
Belgium June 29. Arrived at Brussels train station. When we got to Paris on Friday they DID have a checkpoint where they were asking all arrivals fro Covid results/ Vax proof. They seemed to be giving some people a hard time too. No way off the train platform without walking by em. Our standard vax cards worked just fine and there was no discussion at all. In Belgium the Covid laws are a little weird (seems that anyone can basically come in for less than 48 hours but again its all unclear). We got a free Covid test in Paris on Monday in anticipation of being asked to provide one upon arrival in Brussels. Pretty cool feature that France has free Covid testing all over but a) I guess that's a byproduct of socialism and b) hopefully this will all be a faint memory by the time you're there. Anyways in the Brussels train station there was nothing resembling a checkpoint so we were able to clear the way to the rental car easily.

Had a few things I would have liked to see in Brussels AND I really wanted to visit their best kosher restaurant (supposedly better than anything in Antwerp), O Delices D'Alice, but sadly they only opened for dinner. Since there simply wasn't enough time we heeded to the advice of others on DDF and skipped Brussels entirely. Went straight Kleinblatt's where we got a mix of milchig and pareve desserts some to eat within seconds and some to save for the next day in Bruges where there's almost no kosher food (will return to that). We didn't have enough time for a sit down meal at Hoffy's and didn't want to take any of their delectable looking heimish food to go when we knew we'd have no way to warm it up. Plus we were coming back the next night to dine there properly. We could have gotten something like schnitzel and bought bread but instead we went the nebech route and bought 4 3 euro sandwiches at a kosher supermarket a couple doors down. You have to understand something about European vs American attitudes towards portions: the whole supersizing/overstuffed thing is basically foreign to them.  Our cheese and tuna sandwiches had such a think layer of cheese and of tuna that we actually thought at the start they they packed just a baguette with nothing in it. Was enough food and we wanted to leave the door open on ice cream and/or chocolate for dessert.

Kleinblatt's:








I was going back and forth on staying in the Marriott in Ghent for dollars (149 EURO) vs the two Hyatt SLH properties in Bruge one of which was closed). Even though the one we decided upon in Bruges (hotelorangerie.be/en/) had tons of availability it actually became unavailable on the Hyatt site day of because basically Hyatt has a certain allotment of rooms that they are able to sell and they went through that allotment. The hotel staff is horrible. First (and last) time that I felt something that was either general-not-niceness or anti-semitism anywhere in Europe. I booked the room through them and called beforehand to check on my Hyatt Globalists benefits.  They told me a) i'd have free parking and b) I'd get "the best room available." Showed up and got the parking but got a non-existent upgrade because the horrible person behind the desk said that I misunderstood everything. Very difficult to deal with. There were other annoying things she did/said but I'll leave that out for now. In sum: if you're easygoing feel free to stay there but expect a normal boutique hotel and absolutely nothing special. When I saw the Marriott in Ghent the next day- even though I didn't go inside- I felt like it would have been the smarter option though it would have meant driving away from Antwer the next day and then completely retracing our path past Ghent again whereas Bruges is pretty much all the way to the west of Belgium.

Bruges is an amazing amazing little city but 1) everything that's not the Belfry and restaurants/bars close early (like 5 pm) and 2) You can definitely get the "feel" for the entire town in 2-4 hours. There is no Jewish history whatsoever in the twon so there's no old shul to see. If you like beer they have amazing beer though. The best I had was in a hole in the wall called De Garre (De Garre 1, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) which is the only place on earth you can get this on tap https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/48/13889/





Amazing beer and cool little place. Before having that beer we went up to the top of the Belfry. The Belfry was one of the many attractions where "timed" tickets are encouraged and then when you show up you're literally the only one there. Cool views from the top but I can see someone claiming its a waste of money. I was happy having done it.

Chocolates in Bruges: there are at least two world class Belgian confectionaries that have kosher Belgian chocolate, Leonidas and Neuhaus. You probably will not be able to easily find this online and providing these links was actually a big motivation for me to post this: I'm not claiming this is a good hasgocha so do your own research but https://www.leonidas-choco.com/img/liste_produits_casher.pdf and here you can click on kosher on the left hand side https://www.neuhauschocolates.com/en_US/shop/kosher/?https%3A%2F%2Fwww.neuhauschocolates.com%2Fen_US%2Fshop%2Fkosher%2F=undefined&start=0&sz=24 . The guy in the Neuhaus store had some sort of paper which specified what was under hasgocha too. The chocolates were all very authentic very tasty and not even so expensive by Damyel (and that chocolate place in Surside) standards. Great thing to have in town and to at least get part of the "authentic" Belgian experience.

Belfry:







Bruges:























Chocolate:








We were done with Bruges by 11 am or so. there were a bunch of museums that were probably worth seeing but we had to triage so they were skipped entirely.

In the car on the way to Ghent we finished the Kleinblatts from the day before. Highly recommend the dairy thing with custard and the pareve bluberry pastry which is about as real and fresh as it gets. The place really lives up to expectations but it's not Patis or some other fancy place where they're trying to knock your socks off with some concoction. Its all extremely traditional stuff and I have a feeling their main business is regular breads that are sent all over.









Ghent:



Offline LFR

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2021, 03:09:35 PM »
lol on offensive content

An old TR of mine, if you are into spelling mistakes... Continued while falling asleep typically.

Disclaimer: doesn't contain gastronomic related content which some viewers might find offensive.

https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=1881.msg15854.msg#15854

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2021, 03:17:25 PM »
In Ghent or Bruges you could probably have stayed at good places, cheaper, and at a top hotel in promotion, rather than burning points.

Not into movies really, but you see that annoying attitudes (the guy running a museum), in a movie called: "In Bruges".

Ghent has a beautiful and very very old castle.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 03:33:43 PM by SuperFlyer »

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2021, 03:20:54 PM »
Fun fact, on that beer glass you are holding, it says (translated): I'm bonkers.

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2021, 03:32:00 PM »
Good point on hotel.

In Bruges has countless scenes that make visiting the city worth it but specifically the Belfry.

LOL had no idea on the cup. Good stuff


In Ghent or Bruges you could probably stay good cheaper, paying at a top hotel in promotion, rather than burning points.

Not into movies really, but you are that annoying attitudes (the guy running a museum), in a movie called: "In Bruges".

Ghent has a beautiful and very very old castle.

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2021, 04:16:40 PM »
Nice TR. Definitely should have gone to the excellent Chabad on Champs-élysées for Shabbos davening and meals though.
Was there any glatt meat available at the Paris restaurants you went to?
Is Ardelys C"Y chocolate on Rue Manin in Paris' 19th no longer around? Google says permanently closed :( @mendoul
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: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2021, 04:29:09 PM »
Ghent: Ghent is kinda on the way to Antwerp and is much more of a real city than Bruges. Bruges feels like Harry Potter world at Universal whereas Ghent feels like the Old City of Jerusalem where a bigger more modern city rose around it. The only things we wanted to do in Ghent were

1) see the castle
2) quick boat tour
3) walk around for a bit


Parked in a metered spot about a half a mile from the center of town which was kinda dumb with luggage left in the car but a local told me its extremely safe so.... Right when we got to the center of town where the Marriott and the castle are we saw a boat tour leaving for about 14 Euro a person so we jumped on and the guide gave a very basic tour in a few languages including English. Just go to whatever boat is sitting waiting outside the Marriott.















Between the boat tour and the castle we stopped at one of the many treif eateries for a Westmalle Dubbel (https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/208/674/)





which was especially enjoyable in the cold weather sitting next to a fire.

We went straight to Gravensteen, the castle, (https://historischehuizen.stad.gent/nl/gravensteen) which is an honest to goodness castle on water equipped with torture chambers and the works. The audio guide is led by a "comedian" who is particularly unfunny and is so busy making "jokes" that there's very little of actual historical value that he tells about the castle. I would suggest listening to it and feeling fine skipping ahead whenever you want. Using that method the castle can be gone through very quickly. Stopped at a few shops on way out, went to car and put Hoffy's in, and we were off to Antwerp.

Antwerp- at least the jewish ghetto- is basically Boro Park. With that comes a lot of charm and things that would be of interest to many Jews but very true attractions in the ghetto aside from Klenblatt and Hoffy's. Hoffy's was hyped up a little too much before I arrived. Essentially the front portion is a huge takeout counter and the back is a dine in restaurant. This isn't a negative unless you're looking for a true fine dining experience. When we arrived most seats were taken and about half the people were frum. The only other thing I'll mention even though its not a big deal is that when you order a lot of the food they go to the take-out counter put it on a plate and warm it up in a microwave. All of the food is new and tastes great but it takes something away when you can actually see them put your chicken in a microwave. Not all of the food though is warmed up that way. We had a steak that was made new in the kitchen and I think that's the case with some of the "higher end" entrees. Its a special place though. The chassidishe staff members are unbelievably solicitous there is a lot of attention to detail and the food is REALLY good. It's not Barnea, they're not thinking about their instagram page, and they are still basically in 1983 or 1783. These things are more neutral than positives or negatives. I think the value in relaying this is to manage expectations. All of that being said I'd highly suggest anyone who has the opportunity to go to do so.

Starter at Hoffy's:



Bonus: I believe the desserts they serve are from Kleinblatt. 





















Ran from Kleinblatt to Chortkov around the corner for the "quickest" mincha maariv in town. Was pretty quick once they started 10 minutes late. During maariv shmone esrei two older chassidim were "learning" which meant loudly discussing me in yiddish during shmone esrei when the rest of the room was davening. I guess that's what happens when you're the only guy in jeans and you are on your phone a lot... The gist of the conversation seemed to be one guy was apoplectic that I was there and the other guy was probably explaining that it was some kiruv effort or something. I was TEMPTED to let them know that my wife is a direct descendant of the Chortkover and all of the other people on the wall of the shul (and that the rov of the shul is her cousin) and watch their heads explode but figured I'd rather run out and get on our way to Rotterdam.






About an hour and twenty minutes till Rotterdam. Only about a 20 minute detour on route to Amsterdam so definitely worth doing. We were there for literally 30 minutes saw the Market hall which is an architectural marvel and was closed and also saw some the wacky and radical architecture near the Market Hall. One day I'd like to go back during the day and see all of these things but for now I'll just have to wait.

Next post Amsterdam




« Last Edit: July 06, 2021, 04:43:59 PM by LFR »

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2021, 04:36:44 PM »
Yes the synagoue was a mistake. Very close to the hotel so there was that laziness component and I like (in theory) the whole history and Frankfurt nusach thing (even though its basically all sephardim (but the Rothchilds seem to still be bankrolling the place and they have a whole row of seats in shul that they apparently still sit it on Yom Kippur (presumably the Jewish ones and not the one(s) married to Paris Hilton's sister)).

Anyways, Dan's advice is correct and if you wanna see the shul go on Friday as a tourist.

Only meat places were falaffel Kavod and Le Bazaar. Didn't ask at the latter two but I think Falaffel is only glatt. I may be wrong about that. It seems pretty clear that even the "vegetarian" falaffel is fleishigs although some seem to claim that you can ask them to keep it pareve. Not sure...

By Ella https://www.123cacher.com/restaurant/by_ella/ is apparently under Chabad hashgocha and is a GREAT Uber Eats option but as mentioned the sandwiches are on the lighter side meat-wise.

I think google is right on Ardely's. Damyel has had a mystique for me for 20 years but its SO expensive so I may be going less and less on my next trip there in 15 years :)











Nice TR. Definitely should have gone to the excellent Chabad on Champs-élysées for Shabbos davening and meals though.
Was there any glatt meat available at the Paris restaurants you went to?
Is Ardelys C"Y chocolate on Rue Manin in Paris' 19th no longer around? Google says permanently closed :( @mendoul

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2021, 04:38:59 PM »
You're on a roll, very well written.
Rotterdam isn't actually a detour, but in the same tracks leading to Amsterdam.

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2021, 04:42:50 PM »
You're on a roll, very well written.
Rotterdam isn't actually a detour, but in the same tracks leading to Amsterdam.

Thanks. Yeah adds 20 minutes total to the trip but is "right off the highway"

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Re: LFR'S TRIP TO FRANCE BELGIUM AND THE AMSTERDAM JUNE 2021
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2021, 06:53:50 PM »

Did le bazaar have any glatt options or was it fully non glatt?
When I was there they had some glatt options. It is a great place.
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