Author Topic: Summer trip to Miami and The Bahamas (with Milan Stopover)  (Read 2376 times)

Offline yitzy93

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Summer trip to Miami and The Bahamas (with Milan Stopover)
« on: October 27, 2022, 07:44:17 PM »
Getting to Miami
Booking award tickets out of LHR most times  will not be good value due to the high taxes, so we tried to find the cheapest option and make the most of our flight experience at the same time, so here is what we came up with:
We started our trip from London (LHR) and flew British Airways to Milan (MXP) on Sunday evening using Avios. We stayed overnight at the Sheraton airport hotel. The entrance of the hotel was located inside terminal 1 which was pretty convenient. It was a nice, clean hotel with a nice pool (which we had to ourselves in the morning). We had originally booked the flight for Monday morning but our flight got cancelled so we changed it to the night before which worked out pretty well for us, we found it a lot more relaxing and broke up our long trip a little. Amex Platinum travel protection covered the cost of the hotel stay due to our original flight being cancelled.
Our next flight (Monday afternoon) was was a 5th freedom route; MXP to JFK with Emirates which was booked using 72500 skywards miles per person and £78 taxes/person. We flew on their A380 in business and we had great seats; we sat in the back section on the front row. We had the A and K seats for ourselves and the kids were in between us on D and G. They wouldn’t allow us to book the D seat as it was reserved for a bassinet seat but we booked the seats around it. When we were in the Emirates lounge in MXP we got called to front desk and asked if we would mind switching our seats around to help out another family who wanted to sit together. Being as we knew exactly what seats we wanted, we chose those seats and it all worked out great!
There was a jet bridge connecting the lounge to the upper deck of the plane, so all business and first passengers board directly from the lounge.
The duration of the flight was pretty good, they gave out some activities for the kids and were always offering more drinks. Everyone was very friendly. The kids slept for around 5 hours which was nice too!!

The bar was very nice and the stewards offered to take the classic photo of us standing behind the bar!

The only disappointment on the flight was the food. We got food from “Rustichelli”, aside from the taste and choice of food, the snack box we received was for economy and was the same food as they served earlier.

Our itinerary allowed for a 2.5hr connection at JFK, which we figured would be enough time assuming there were no delays, however, things didn't quite go to schedule.
When we landed at JFK there was no vacant gate for our plane so we ended up waiting quite a bit until we could get off the plane, which was quite nerve wracking as we had left a bit late and our next flight to Miami was getting closer. We ended up getting off the plane at 8:05 in terminal 4 and the gate for our next flight on JetBlue to FLL was officially closing at 9:15 in terminal 5. We still needed to clear Customs & Immigration, collect our baggage, transfer terminals, re-check our baggage and clear security. All in a little over an hour! No small feat, especially at JFK. At immigration we told someone working there that we needed to catch our flight so he took us to near the front of the line which we waited in for a few minutes and then another booth opened so he told us to go there. We got our luggage pretty quickly and ran to terminal 5, dropped of our luggage, which was quick as we already had gotten our luggage tagged to our final destination in MXP (being that Emirates and JetBlue were still partners then, luckily!). We just had to put our luggage onto the drop off belt and went to security. We got to the gate at 9:14 and made it with a few minutes to spare 🥵.  Flight was uneventful. Flight was booked using JetBlue travel credit which we got by swapping a United voucher we had, with a DDF'er on here.
We rented a car from Avis, so when we arrived we had to take a shuttle to the car rental. Got the car and drove to our Airbnb. 
We stayed quite a bit out from the hustle bustle of Miami, but we weren’t looking for a specific area to stay, we just wanted a nice place with a pool. We were very happy with our Airbnb overall. Really nice, clean and well equipped. It was around a 25 min drive to Hollywood and a 45 min drive to Surfside. We were ok to drive everywhere, it’s a nice way of getting to know a place better!

We had a pool in our Airbnb so we spent a lot of our time in the pool! Beach is always a favourite with us, so we did that a few times also.
One day we went to the Everglades, the park that we went to was called Gator park, we found it on Groupon for $49 for two people and age 5 and under went free. When we got there we had to pay $5 per adult for the national park service entry fee. We went on an airboat with a great tour guide. It was very hot so the alligators don’t usually come out in the heat, but we did have a glimpse of a baby alligator, a turtle and a bird (which I think was called a purple gallinule). Some of the boat ride was fast and the rest was slow so that we could try and spot some wildlife. They provided earplugs for those who wanted as it does get noisy. After the boat tour there is a show with some alligators and snakes, a guy talks to you about them etc. We enjoyed the Everglades and so did our kids!

We traveled to Orlando for shabbos, to join some family there. It was a very nice drive, around 3.5 hours. On motzei shabbos we went to Fun Spot which is a great, small amusement park that’s open until 12:00am.

Food in Miami
We shopped at 3 different kosher supermarkets during our stay. Kosher Kingdom (Aventura), Kosher Central (Hollywood) and The Grove (Surfside). None of them are very big, we always assumed that they would be much bigger but they had everything you could need. Kosher stores in Miami are quite pricey. We got good bagels and breadsticks from KC. We went Thursday eve to The Grove to get things for shabbos (as they don’t have much kosher options in Orlando) The Grove had a great deli with everything you could need for shabbos.

First place we tried was Asiatiko. We went for lunch and it was great! It was very quiet and empty which we really enjoyed! The kids got popcorn chicken and truffle fries which were both so good! For appetisers, we got Corn ribs, Gyozas and turkey wrapped dates. Our favourite was the turkey wrapped dates! So good! Then we got the rib eye which was also so good! And the green bean fries too! It was definitely one of our favourite restaurants we went to! The service was good but considering we were one of 3 tables filled there, then you hope it wouldn’t be bad!

We went to Lennys pizza in Hollywood for supper which was ok, definitely better pizza out there… it is takeaway only.
Mendles Backyard BBQ was the next place we tried. We ordered fries before we ordered anything else and we got them in under a minute! We started off with the pico fries which were amazing! Then we got the works burger which was great and the burnt ends which were phenomenal! The service there was amazing! It was very full when we were there but we still got our food so quickly!

Next place we tried was 26 Sushi tapas. It was a great sushi place. We got the El Heat roll, sushi pizza - which was great - and the tuna tower. The kids has Mac and cheese and fries (again!) We were looking forward to quite a few things that were mentioned on the forums - like the trio fries - but they didn’t have it on their menu anymore which was a shame.

We went to Serendipity after for some ice cream. It was great ice cream, and quite filling! We made the mistake of getting them in cones as it was dripping all over the place within minutes of leaving the store;-)The flavours we tried were, cotton candy, strawberry, coffee chip and salted caramel. (Guess which ones the kids chose;))

Then we went to Cafe Noir which was really nice. We got the eggplant carpaccio, the fried mahi-mahi bao buns - which were really good, Milano pizza and the cheesecake - which was quite good and not too heavy.

We ordered pizza from Jerusalem pizza on ubereats to come to the beach, which was great! Really tasty pizza!

We went to street kitchen (although we were still quite full from the pizza)...and got the chicken and waffles, with chicken without the bone as Dan recommended. I really enjoyed that. And we got the surprise steak which was excellent!

Getting to The Bahamas
We left on Tuesday morning to catch our flight from FLL which was at 10:20am to NAS. We landed at around 11:10am. (Booked using JetBlue points)We got our luggage and went to get a taxi from outside. There were lots of people trying to help us get a taxi. We wanted to pay by credit card so they had to call a car that took credit card. They charged us more than they said they would… ended up charging us $50 for a 12 minutes drive! They charge a set price for 2 people plus each extra person and each extra suitcase…

The Bahamas stay
We then got to our hotel, The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. It’s a huge hotel with 2 wings to it. We stayed in the west wing although we did try and get rooms in the east wing as we had heard they were nicer. The west wing rooms are more classic and the east wing is more modern. We arrived before check in so our rooms weren’t ready. We had requested connecting rooms but since we booked with points we did not have that option online and therefore told us there were no connecting rooms available. We put our luggage in their luggage room and went to explore the grounds a bit! We went to the flamingos first, thinking that we would have a chance for the kids to touch them. Turns out, they wanted $80 per person to do that! So we decided that looking at them would be just fine! We then went to get our keys for our rooms. The keys they give are waterproof bracelets! We went into our room to settle in a have something to eat. While we were there we noticed that the tv kept switching on by itself. We called someone to try and fix it and it didn’t do anything. We called again a few times and no one came. Eventually they said that they will move our rooms. It was annoying as we had to repack everything and we didn’t have balconies in our room and the original ones did. We just wanted to get on with our stay so we just left it. We then headed to the touch pools and booked a session there. It was really great! It was $15 each (under 3s went free). We got to touch lots of different types of sea animals, from starfish to horseshoe crabs. Then the guide showed and talked about the nursing sharks, sting rays and turtles. We even got to feed the turtles! The kids loved it!

We walked by the beach and took in the views! We then headed back to our room to change and went to the beach to go in the kayaks! It was really nice and relaxing, no waves so the water is relatively still!

We then went to one of the pools which had a water fall an aquarium inside. We stayed until the pool closed at 7 then headed inside to get ready for supper.
They have a kosher restaurant called Cinko in the hotel which is great! We had tried to book Cinko online but there was no availability for a whole month! We thought it must have been a mistake but when we got there they told us it’s not! They are only open from 6pm until 10pm every day, and since it was the summer, it was very full! I went down when it opened to ask the hostess what I could do as we were relying on that for food! She said try come back a little later and maybe she can give me something but probably not. I went back down and she said she will give me a table for 9:30 but she said I should come at 9 and see if there is anything. We did that and got a table at 9:10! The food was great! And there was a few options for the kids to have, kids aged 5 and under eat free if you are staying in the hotel!

The next morning we got up and went to see the flamingo parade which was cute, we got to see the flamingos up close for a bit. Then we went to get ready to spend the day at the water park. The water park is called BahaBay and is included in your stay at the Grand Hyatt. It was a great water park! A big section for the kids, with different slides and a park kind of area with water buckets spilling and different slides to go down. There was a lazy river and some great thrill rides too!

(view on the way up to one of one of the slides)

We then went for a late lunch to the beach which has a kosher food truck called Knosh. I waited to order food for around half an hour! I was one of the first in the line, they just weren’t taking anyones orders as they were too busy preparing previous orders! Then I finally ordered and they said it would be around a half an hour wait for the food! It ended being only a 15 min wait. We got some flatbreads, which was like pizza and some cheesy fries and cauliflower. The food was all very good! We then went back to the water park until closing time which was at 6 and then went to the pool until 7. And had an early night. Since we had eaten lunch so late, we weren’t so hungry we just ate whatever we had brought with us from Miami. We had brought with some noodle soups but there was no kettle so we called for someone to bring one up. It did take around 45 mins for them to bring it up, but in the end we got it!

The next day was the day we were leaving, we got up early as we had booked a morning photoshoot which turned out really nice! We then went back to change and check out. Although we had just planned to spend a little time at the hotel pools, we ended up going back to the water park as the kids were desperate to go back! They had showers in the water park so when we were ready to leave got changed in the water park and then went straight to get our luggage from the luggage room. While we were waiting for our taxi to come, I went to Cafe Madeleine, a cafe in the hotel which has some kosher snacks and sandwiches.

We bought some things for the trip home and were in the taxi on our way to the airport at 12:50pm. Taxi again costed $50 for the 12 mins drive!
We had a flight from NAS to MIA. Nassau airport has a US flight terminal, so we had pre clearance there. We went to find the lounge and eventually realised that the entrance to the lounge was a storefront. It was just a room with tables and chairs. They officially had a “buffet” and drinks that were offered was water (from a cooler) and coffee in paper cups. It was a bit of a joke and couldn’t believe that people would actually pay for this!
The flight was short, just 35 min air time. We went on American Airlines operated by American eagle, it was an Embraer with seats in 2-2 format. (Booked using Chase points)

(breathtaking view from the plane)

We landed at MIA, got our luggage and then realised that we have to walk all the way to the other end of the airport to get to our next flight check in! We asked if there is a quicker way of getting there than walking and they said there wasn’t, which is crazy! We must've spent about half hour walking to the other end of the airport, schlepping 2 heavy suitcases.
We went to the Turkish airlines lounge with our priority pass. It was nice and they had a family area with a kids playroom. It didn’t really have anything in it but it had some little table and chairs with a kids movie on the TV.

Our next flight was to LHR on Virgin Atlantic. (Booked using 35000 Delta miles/person and negligible taxes) It was a very full flight!!  There was apparently only 1 seat empty on the whole plane according to the check-in agent and we were lucky enough to have that seat on our row! The food on the flight was from regal meal, it was ok… we landed at around 10:30 am on Friday morning and were out of the airport by 11:45 and on our way home.
I just want to add that we had AirTags in our suitcases which was reassuring with all our flights, especially with so many peoples suitcases getting lost recently, it was just to put us at ease.

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Summer trip to Miami and The Bahamas (with Milan Stopover)
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2022, 08:03:32 PM »
very nice! tx for all the detail!
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