Topic Wiki

Still in progress... 3.5 weeks done, 2.5 to go!

As per a great suggestion from Joe, here are the links to each city's TR:
Israel: Part 1
Israel: Part 2 (very short)
Israel: Part 3 - Eilat
Israel: Part 4 - Ein Gedi/Dead Sea
Madrid
(Pics from Israel and Madrid)
Barcelona
Seville
Gibraltar
Rome
Florence
Pisa
Venice
Switzerland

Trip planning thread: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=37776.0
There you can find all the info about how I booked what. May take some searching in there.
« Last edited by @Yehuda on October 29, 2015, 05:06:09 PM »

Author Topic: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report  (Read 65340 times)

Offline SOS

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #195 on: January 14, 2015, 07:53:12 PM »
After some thought, I decided I will do a quick TR of my Orlando trip now and then probably post a much longer version afterwards. I know it's "just" Orlando so why does it need a long TR? Because it's easy since I just went and it's fresh in my mind, because I like writing and had time, and because I think it's written as a good story and some here may enjoy it. BUT, I know it's not practical for a lot of folk, so I'll just the quick rundown now.



Offline @Yehuda

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #196 on: January 15, 2015, 10:06:09 PM »
To make up for not having my MCO TR for tonight and because I started writing this on 12/26, here is Gibraltar!

Humbly, I present you with the next installment. I can't guarantee more will come soon, though...

Gibraltar
I think a quick recap is in order to catch you up from where we left off on the way out of Seville. T'was a Friday morningÖ

We took a taxi to Hertz at the Santa Justa Railway Station to get a car to drive to Gibraltar. The cab dropped us off at the wrong part of the train station, but eventually we found Hertz. Unfortunately, they wouldn't honor the USAA underage fee waived deal. Instead of it costing about $145, they wanted $234 and that's what they got. :( At the counter, they said they never heard of USAA and later on I called Hertz and they made me email them my original reservation with the lower price. 2 weeks later, they got back to me and said USAA only works in America and even if the reservation went through online, the international pick-up location didn't have to honor it. This happened on my Italy rental as well (havenít gotten there yet). I thought I had posted about this, but in case I didnít, eventually Hertz agreed to split the cost of the underage fee with me, so I got back about $40 per rental. The car was nice (a Mercedez!) and automatic :) and we were off!

Driving in a foreign country was not the most fun but with Waze, we were able to get onto the highway, and once there, I was much more comfortable. RT tolls from Seville to Gibraltar were 14.5Ä and gas came out to about $32 on my cc bill although I could have sworn I paid close to 38 euro at the pump. When we got off the highway near the border, driving became more difficult. The road to Gibraltar had a ton of roundabouts and getting in and out of them was a bit stressful. Shortly thereafter, we got to the border and went right through! No one stopped us, no questions, just go ahead! Maybe thatís because they knew what was lying up aheadÖ

If we thought driving that last strip from the highway to the border was tough, driving in actual Gibraltar was a nightmare. For such a small country/city, there are SO many people and everyone shares the road. Everyone? Yes, everyone. The road Ė not the sidewalk Ė is shared by cars, scooters/motorbike, and people. Everyone walks in the street, there are probably more scooters than cars and to top it all off, they have a bunch more roundabouts. Iím not some weirdo - Iím not scared of roundabouts in America Ė but these roundabouts had TRAFFIC LIGHTS in them! I had no idea when I was supposed to enter or exit and when I tried, I promise you I almost hit an old lady crossing in an electric wheelchair. People honked at me and screamed at my car because apparently I was getting out of the circle on a red light. Once the lady crossed the street, I sped right through the red just to get the heck out of there. I took a deep breath only to find myself in a maze of narrow roads (with fewer cars/scooters, Iíll admit) that couldnít possibly be 2-way streets, but who knew? Thank G-d for GPS, because the roads donít have street signs in Gibraltar! We followed Waze blindly until it had us turn down an incredibly narrow street where I couldnít see if anyone was coming from the other way. I slowly turned and breathed a sigh of relief when I realized no one was coming. A few more twists and turns and we were outside the Eliott Hotel.

Right outside the hotel is a public parking lot that was just as narrow as the roads. Somehow bĒh I found a spot there and ran into the hotel. I asked the clerk for information about the free parking lot at 2-4 Red Sands Roads (that SamKey, I believe, mentioned in the GIB thread), but they had no idea what I was talking about or where it was. We ended up passing by the lot on our Shabbos walk and it was a good, decent walk from the hotel, as forewarned by SamKey. After the driving experience and because we were already running late, I decided to just pay them the $20 for parking (Iíve converted my expenses to USD at this point, but yes, I paid in GBP), and we got our stuff from the car and checked into our room. We got a manual key for Shabbos, but had to put down a deposit of 50 GBP to do so. FIFTY!? For a key!? Lol

At this point, I assume you know that I was trying to spend as little actual cash as possible for the travel costs of this trip. With that in mind, bear with my crazinessÖ I booked the Eliott from Amoma.com for something like $160 IIRC, which was cheaper than booking direct. A few days later, I realized that through the UR booking tool, I could use my UR in a terrible way and redeem them for my stay. So, I paid $15 to cancel my Amoma reservation and then used 14K UR to get the night. Stupid? Crazy? I donít care. :-)

The Eliott is one of the closest hotels to the Shuls and to our host, as we ate our meals by someone my mother knows. Itís definitely not gorgeous, but itís also not terrible. It clearly hasnít been renovated in a while, so the dťcor was old. This was going to be our first Shabbos at a hotel, so I took all the advice I got from DDF and went through the checklist. The lights/AC in the room seemed like there was no timer issue. There might have actually been one for the AC, but it was cool enough to just leave the sliding door open (there was a door, but no real porch IIRC). The front desk agreed to let us light tea lights (that we brought with us) on the front desk itself, and they happily supplied matches. As I said, we got a manual key. The lobby has a manual door on the side, but at nights, they lock it from the outside. They told us that at night, we could just go to the front doors and wave/theyíll see us and come let us in, but after standing there (just outside the reach of the sensor) for a few minutes, no one was coming. Eventually another guest walked in, and we jumped in right behind her. The biggest issue was staying in the room on Shabbos. Before the trip began, I called up to find out if we could checkout late on Shabbos, but they said we would have to pay for the 2nd night since theyíre normally full. I really didnít want to do that (and nothing changed in that regard when we actually checked in), so we agreed that we would pack our bags before Shabbos and leave them in the lobbyís storage room and just keep whatever we needed with us for the night and move them into the storage room in the morning. Hachana? Maybe. I donít know. It wasnít fun at all, but what can ya do if you donít wanna lay out the cash? Itís not such a cheap place, itís not such a nice place, but supposedly itís better than the other options, and since there arenít too many Ė Iíd suggest staying there. Iíd also suggest more time in GIB :-) but youíll see that soon.

I thought we would get to GIB around noon and have time to walk around and find some food, but by the time we settled into the room, we had less than a Ĺ hour till our 2PM pre-booked dolphin boat tour. There are, I believe, 2 companies that run dolphin tours, and I booked from Dolphin Adventure since they had a web-order discount of like 5GBP. Total cost was 20GBP/person. We grabbed a map from reception and made our way to the docks. It was pretty easy to tell that GIB had 1 main street, appropriately named Main Street, so we followed that for about 10-15 minutes. We soon realized that pre-booking might have saved a few dollars, but it was not necessary for the purpose of actually reserving a spot since there were reps (mostly from the competing company) selling tickets all over. It was a bit confusing to figure out where the ticket office exactly was, but a rep from the competitor helped us find our ticket window. We got there just as the clock struck 2, and they said they were holding the boat for us and told us to run to the docks. We got to the boat as the last few people were boarding (so we didnít feel terribly bad) and within 2 minutes, we were off!
We were probably out on the water for an hour and a quarter, and it was really fun. The water was so clear, the crew was nice, there werenít too many people on board, and the breeze felt great. After about 20-30 minutes, the boat is far enough from shore that they can start looking for dolphins. The crew told us about the different types of dolphins they have in the area and how they come into this area for food and then swim back out into more open waters. Finally, we found dolphins!





It was extremely cool watching them swim, come up for air, and move together in groups. Interestingly, they also move based on the currents that the boat creates as it moves, so they kind of swim along with the drifting boat. At times we lost them, found them, found other groups, and yeah it was a cool/fun experience! I would say the boat turned around at just the right time as I was beginning to get bored Ė I mean how long can you just keep following dolphins swim? We got back to shore, checked our watches, and then the realization hitÖ

We weren't going to have enough time to go up The Rock and see the monkeys.

Because we got to the hotel a little late, we didnít have time to find food before the dolphin tour, so at this point, we were really hungry. We knew that we wouldnít have time to get food and still go up the Rock, so we just decided we would get food and head back to the hotel. It was a sad decision, since ideally we would have liked to have done the activity that Gibraltar is famous for, but having prepaid for the dolphin tour, we just decided it was what it was. I realize now that we could have forgone the dolphin tour and considered the money we spent there as admission for seeing the monkeys Ė to make wasting the $40 easier on our minds Ė but we didnít think of that in the moment, and we also thought we would still have time after the dolphins to go up the Rock.

A quick Google search brought us to a Kosher restaurant (I canít remember the name) down the block. (Surprised now that I didnít research the Kosher places before I went.) We caught them before they closed for Shabbos, but the guy behind the counter took one look at me and said, ďWe donít have certification, you may not want to eat here.Ē I thought that was really nice, and I was very impressed with his honesty. We left and wandered around until we found Jews who pointed us in the direction of a Kosher grocery. We got some food like cheese and crackers as well as some snacks for Shabbos. The owners told us thereís another grocery a few blocks away as well as a Kosher bakery nearby, so we headed off in that direction. We found the 2nd grocery and got some more snacks and found out that the bakery was already closed. We went back to the hotel to eat the food we got and then got ready for Shabbos. We had time, but unfortunately, just not enough to hike up the mountain. Oh well. Probably one of maybe 2 real mistakes we made on the trip.

Once we were ready, we had to pack up our bags and bring them down to the storage room as I mentioned before. Once that was all settled, my wife lit candles on the front desk (kinda cool!), and we left for Shul. The only thing we took with us was a package of deli that we had bought for meals on Sunday with the hope of keeping it in our hostsí fridge over Shabbos. Our host had told us how to go to the Shul that he Davens at, Nefusot Yehuda, and we found it without much difficulty. Upon arrival, the security guard outside asked us who we were and who we were visiting. When we told him, he said, ďOh, thatís me!Ē Hehe. The Shul was beautiful with intricately carved walls and ceiling Ė what I believe is known as Moorish architecture. Davening was Sefard (or the like) and after it was over, we walked with him back to his house, which was back past the Eliott and up one block. He had a nice house that looked like he owned the first floor and someone else owned the upstairs, and we had a very nice meal with him and his family. The whole family has British accents (which is super cute with kids), and they also have a gorgeous husky! We told him about our restaurant experience. He thought that was nice, and IIRC and I think I do, he also told us that all the restaurants in Gibraltar are iffy with Kashrus. The meal lasted a while, and when it was done, we said goodbye, walked down the block to the Eliott, tried waving at the front desk clerk to get in as I mentioned before, and then collapsed for the night.

In the morning, we went back to the same Shul. I know people here mentioned that all 4 Shuls are gorgeous and worth seeing, but we decided to just Daven in the same Shul as our host. I also want to point out that the Jews were really friendly in Gibraltar. Walking in the street with our host, we were stopped and asked if we needed somewhere to eat. Itís also really cool that everyone feels comfortable wearing yarmulkahs and Tzitzis out in public here. Gibraltar was the only place we really saw that in Europe. Lunch was very nice, and we told our hosts about our hotel dilemma. Right away, they said to crash on their couch if we needed to rest or to go for a walk and gladly come back at any time. We napped on their couch for a while and then went for a walk to find a lighthouse that they suggested to see. They hadnít been there in a while and knew it was outside the Eruv, but didnít know exactly how far it was. We walked a good 45 minutes and never got to the lighthouse, so we turned around to make sure to be back in time for Mincha. Was a nice walk (a bit tiring), and it was on this walk that we got a good view of the cable car up the Rock as well as a nice view of the Rock itself. We also passed by a parking lot on a ďRed Sands RoadĒ :) Didnít notice if it was free, but it was definitely a good walk to the hotel, and we definitely could not have handled finding it with our time constraints and ability to deal with GIB driving any longer. We Davened Mincha and then went back to our host for Shalosh Seudos where he informed us that he eats Shalosh Seudos for a few hours and ends Shabbos really late, but that we should feel free to go to Shul for Maariv and end Shabbos when we wanted to. Never heard of that before, but cool. So we caught Maariv and Havdalah in Shul, went back to our hosts to pick up our deli package :) and then went back to the Eliott to get our bags. Driving at night out of Gibraltar was a breeze compared to Friday afternoon and before we knew it, we were back on the highway to Seville.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #197 on: January 15, 2015, 11:05:34 PM »
Wow, sounds like it was fun. I assume you'd've stayed longer to go up the Rock or would you just skip the dolphin thing and stay the same amount of time (if you had to do it again)?

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #198 on: January 15, 2015, 11:07:40 PM »
Wow, sounds like it was fun. I assume you'd've stayed longer to go up the Rock or would you just skip the dolphin thing and stay the same amount of time (if you had to do it again)?
The latter. And I would have left SVQ earlier on Friday.

I left out that GIB is really nice to just walk around. Very cute town. You should enjoy!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #199 on: January 15, 2015, 11:12:57 PM »
The latter. And I would have left SVQ earlier on Friday.

I left out that GIB is really nice to just walk around. Very cute town. You should enjoy!
Thanks. I hope to leave SVQ by 9:00 to give more time in GIB, but in reality we'll probably leave by 10 and get to GIB around 12:30. I haven't planned GIB yet, but we'll probably just do the Rock.

Offline Ergel

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #200 on: January 15, 2015, 11:14:54 PM »
Did you ask your LOR regarding shabbos candles on the front desk? Why not just use a light in the room
Life isn't about checking the boxes. Nobody cares.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #201 on: January 16, 2015, 07:32:26 AM »
Thanks. I hope to leave SVQ by 9:00 to give more time in GIB, but in reality we'll probably leave by 10 and get to GIB around 12:30. I haven't planned GIB yet, but we'll probably just do the Rock.
We also had hoped to leave at 9AM. Call the Eliott, pretend to be me and see if you can find out what time we actually checked in on Friday 6/27/14. Would give you a good estimate of what time you may actually get there when you plan on leaving SVQ at 9.

Did you ask your LOR regarding shabbos candles on the front desk? Why not just use a light in the room
Yeah. I don't remember the exact Psak but IIRC he told me to try to light candles first and if a hotel says no, then just turn on the bathroom lights (can't remember if we were supposed to make a Bracha on the lights, but I bet my wife would remember). They were more than happy to let us light on the front desk and even excitedly watched my wife light.

Offline Ergel

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #202 on: January 16, 2015, 08:36:21 AM »
We also had hoped to leave at 9AM. Call the Eliott, pretend to be me and see if you can find out what time we actually checked in on Friday 6/27/14. Would give you a good estimate of what time you may actually get there when you plan on leaving SVQ at 9.
Yeah. I don't remember the exact Psak but IIRC he told me to try to light candles first and if a hotel says no, then just turn on the bathroom lights (can't remember if we were supposed to make a Bracha on the lights, but I bet my wife would remember). They were more than happy to let us light on the front desk and even excitedly watched my wife light.
Your rabbi said to light candles on the front desk or in your room?
Life isn't about checking the boxes. Nobody cares.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #203 on: January 16, 2015, 08:39:28 AM »
Your rabbi said to light candles on the front desk or in your room?
I don't recall him specifying. I can't imagine the room would have been allowed by the hotel staff.

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #204 on: January 16, 2015, 08:51:29 AM »
I don't recall him specifying. I can't imagine the room would have been allowed by the hotel staff.
And I can't imagine your Rabbi would have said to light on the front desk. You should clarify that for future situations
Life isn't about checking the boxes. Nobody cares.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #205 on: January 16, 2015, 09:04:23 AM »
And I can't imagine your Rabbi would have said to light on the front desk. You should clarify that for future situations
Thanks. I hear the concern. I'm actually pretty sure I discussed with him the idea of lighting but not in the room. Either way, I can check with him next time I see him.

Offline EJB

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #206 on: January 16, 2015, 09:07:56 AM »
Thanks. I hear the concern. I'm actually pretty sure I discussed with him the idea of lighting but not in the room. Either way, I can check with him next time I see him.

What's the issue with lighting in your room? Never had a problem before.

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #207 on: January 16, 2015, 09:10:03 AM »
What's the issue with lighting in your room? Never had a problem before.
I didn't want to without asking. Maybe I'm a goody-goody? Maybe risk averse?

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #208 on: January 16, 2015, 09:17:20 AM »
What's the issue with lighting in your room? Never had a problem before.
bad idea to leave candles unsupervised in your room

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Re: @Yehuda's Israel/Eurotrip Honeymoon Trip Report
« Reply #209 on: January 16, 2015, 09:26:56 AM »
And I can't imagine your Rabbi would have said to light on the front desk. You should clarify that for future situations

Why? Is bc your not benefiting it from the light if it's in a well lit lobby?
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