Author Topic: Chapshnell's Prague & Les Menuíres, France Trip Report, July-August 2015  (Read 10265 times)

Offline Chapshnell

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Prague-France Trip Report, July-August 2015

Being that we have lots of family in the U.K. we decided to make one big family trip in the French Alps. We would all fly/drive in to Geneva from the USA, London & Israel. However, I have always wanted to be Shabbos in Prague & this years Shabbos nachmi aligned perfectly.

Booked Austrian Air in business class with 70,000 United points per passenger EWR-VIE-PRG first leg is on a 767-300 & the 2nd leg is on a propeller plane with an empty seat next to us as "business class". I have flown numerous airlines in business & first & I must say I am quite disappointed. I know some of you will call me spoiled but being that I did experience better, this trip was a subpar flying experience. For example, I'm 5' 9" & I found the pitch to be very short, as well as the width of the seat to be very narrow. In addition, when I was laying flat I felt shackled as the box where the footwell is located is really small. In addition, the service was subpar as requests needed to be asked twice numerous times & the time it took to arrive was just too slow. However there is one bright spot which I am hopeful other airlines will follow. The KSML from Weiss catering in Brooklyn, NY was absolutely delicious & did not taste like airplane food. The grilled chicken was very good & the beef with pasta was absolutely delicious & soft. Go figure!

The Lufthansa lounge in EWR terminal B isn't anything special but its definitely a better place to wait out to board the plane than the madhouse that was happening at the gate, it was a packed flight. Aside from some snacks, drinks & some alcohol if that makes you happy before flying there isn't anything that stands out.

After arrival into Prague we had the option of taking the bus into the city for approximately $2.50 PP (its like a 45 minute-1 hour ride). However, being that we had kids coming along on this trip & we were very tired we just took a minibus for $50 USD to the King David hotel.

The King David hotel isn't a points bookable hotel I would usually stay in. Its a glatt kosher hotel that is boutique style & I must say is very pretty. I had quite a few free nights from hotels.com which I ended up burning (6 free nights) between Shabbos & Sunday PM at the courtyard by Marriott which is right across from the Prague airport entrance.

Meals at the King David cost 40 euro an adult for the night seuda & 30 euro for the day seuda & it covers Shalosh Seudos as well. Meals for kids are 10% cheaper. Everything is buffet style & I really enjoyed the different style of food, its more Israeli style & it seems that they cater to the crowd as its 90% (or more) Israeli.

Here is a lesson though for all of you where you can learn from my mistake. At check in you are required to sign some guest paper & give your passport for them to swipe into their computer. THEY LOST MY PASSPORT while I wasn't looking. After 4 hours & looking at the cameras they found it. Supposedly they had a fire alarm & the check in agent mistakenly put it down in a cabinet only not to remember where it was. In either case, please keep an eye open at all times where your passport is. To make the story even more weird... My father found a Swedish passport from a previous guest in his room after looking high & low if he left anything behind before checking out. I must say though that they went out of their way to send up platters of fruit, cake & wine to make up for the situation. In addition he gave us a few dollars off our bill from the Shabbos seudas, bar tab.. Etc.. I don't ask for compensation in yiddishe hotels but i'm not going to say no either :)

We didn't do much touring on Friday as we were so exhausted from the trip even if we flew business class we just did some walking around, nothing major.

For Mincha & kabulis Shabbos we walked with our Shabbosdiga clothing through the old town square to the Alt/Neu shul of the Maharal. People sure found our dress amusing as we had pictures taken of us like we were from a different planet, I cant really blame them :)
To get into the shul you need to answer a few interesting questions which I wont post here for future security reasons but some questions are funny. I guess they try & trip you up if your looking to come in & make trouble.. It was a very inspiring davening. Especially being that I am descendant of the Maharal.

Shabbos AM we davened in the hotel, found a few people & we made our own 10:30am minyan. Sorry to the King David management but I cant wake up 7am to daven Shachris Shabbos AM. The Israelis have it easier, as for them the clock is 1 hour behind their usual timezone.

Sunday we walked up the Victov hill. On the top you have nice views of Prague where most if not all of the roofs are in red. They have a small museum on the top, nothing really that interesting but down the hill they have an amazing & free army museum. We rushed through it as we had a tour guide to meet up 2pm but I would love to one day go back & revisit that museum. They have WWI & WWII exhibits. We were only able to cover the WWI exhibit albeit rushed.

Thanks to DDF user Chaim'l, he introduced me to a really wonderful tour guide by the name of Michael "dushi" Dushinski. He lives locally in Prague & has unbelievable knowledge of the old cemetery & Prague in general. I was a little concerned being that we are touring with kids & after a few minutes/hour they will get bored & cranky. However, he is AMAZING with kids & has interesting ways to keep them entertained. I wont give it away :) hire him & he wont disappoint. We wanted to take a 2 hour tour, ended up touring for 4 hours & in truth we rushed through the tour as well & could've gone another 2 hours easy. Theres always next time.. If anyone wants to hire him (I don't get commission, just sharing honestly that he is an amazing guide Michael Dushinski, midushy@gmail.com, +420606498214

Heres a brief recap of the food options I tried...

King David:
Milichiga Restaurant, Fleishiga Restaurant & Bar sandwiches..
I only tried the bar sandwiches as it was Shabbos most of the time while I was there. The avocado & tomato sandwich was excellent. You know its good when your thinking of the next time when you can order it.

King Solomon:
Shnitzel was great, dessert of sorbet was good too. However I heard only later that the hechsher is iffy. I may have some repenting to do this Yom Kippur. They offer Shabbos meals & cater to the orthodox crowd but a reliable source mentioned to me that they refuse to take on the hechsher of the kehilla. So to each their own, ask your LOR.

Chabad has two very good restaurants that they run. Shelanu pizza & Shelanu grill. I can honestly say I have nothing bad to say about either one & I'm a pretty picky eater, and I am not affiliated with Chabad either so I am really not biased here.

Pancakes, pizza, falafel wrap etc. etc. was really excellent.
Kebab, falafel platter, Shnitzel, chicken soup etc. was tasty & I would go back without any hesitation. Both were regularly priced. Not too expensive & not cheap either.

Took an Uber back to the Hotel that ended up costing $4.62 USD & from there we picked up our packages from the King David hotel & took a van for $55 to the courtyard by Marriott in Prague airport. Being that the airport isn't that close to the city & us having an 8am flight with Swiss into Geneva we decided to stay in the airport so we can roll out of bed & into the check in desk..

Couple of additional important notes about Prague...

1) always keep a few krona change in your pockets for bathroom breaks. It costs about $0.15-$0.25 USD (in Krona) per visit no one will let you in for free.

2) You can rent boats to go on the Vlatlava river, not sure the cost. You can also rent "City Bikes" in the old town square for 300 Czech krona. (About $12) for 2 hours & every additional hour its 50 krona which is about $2 USD.

3) All Jewish attractions close at 6pm.

Checked into Swiss Air economy for a short flight over to Geneva. (Paid $143) The Menzies aviation lounge is basically a living room with some drinks. Nothing interesting at all. However, being that the lounge club membership from Chase Ink is going away I wanted to make the most of it while I still have it. Due to beer being expensive in the French alps I stocked up for whoever drinks. I sure hope they liked Pilsner!

Landed in Geneva & headed to the Hertz counter. From there I needed to take a shuttle as the parking lot with all cars are off site. While being in the parking lot I saw you can rent a Maserati & other luxury cars. A Maserati costs for 2 weeks 1,400 Swiss Franc. This is per a fellow Hertz renter who returned it at the same time that I returned my car.

The drive to Les Menuires, France takes about 2:10, be sure not to speed as there are many speed cameras along the way (I think I got 2 speeding tickets, we'll find out soon enough). I had to pay toll 2 times for 11.50 euro & 5.20 euro along the way. They take credit cards, just FYI.
A note about drinks at resort areas... Always try & buy at a supermarket chain snacks and drinks & bring it up to the mountains as the prices in the resorts will be much more expensive..

The hotel where I stayed has 50 rooms & all were fully booked with heimishe yidden from all over the world, mainly Europe though. The name is Hotel Kaya, its a really pretty hotel (4*) & has the swiss natural wood look to it. The hotel has a pool as well. I can only imagine how amazing it must look winter time when everything is covered in snow.
The hotel program is run by a nice French family who have been doing it for 20 years. It is not your typical 4 star hotel however, as you don't get the service you would get in a non jewish hotel as this hotel gets rented out to this individual who runs the program & he doesn't have the same staff they have all year round. They do come in once a day to make the bed & vacuum.
The cost for an adult per week including Shabbos is 650 euro with food! The food is gourmet & heimish at the same time. I am a picky eater but I really enjoyed literally everything they served. I am not certain how the people who run it make money but its amazing value. Here is a tip for you all, always tip the waiter the first/second day, not the last.. Its too late then ;)

There are lots of activities for all different ages but the core activity is hiking & taking in the scenery, €7 via cable car). The air is amazing & its not humid either. If you prefer ATV'ing, zip lining, alpine sliding (20 rides for 80 euro is the best option), biking (100 euro for 5 adults & 1 child for a half a day) etc... This place has it all.

Shabbos:
Hard to put into words how nice it was but I will try. The best expression I can use is that the wonderful family that runs the hotel program doesn't cut corners. They aim to please their customers & accommodate wonderfully. The food was amazing & with a large variety as well. Shabbos night there was a get together from all different cultures to sing Shabbos songs & to dance together. Sefardi, Ashkenezi etc. all different types of Yidden.
Shabbos day there was a nice big kiddush and the seuda afterwards was very filling as well.
Shalosh Seudas there was a large selection of food as well. One thing they sure seem to put an extra effort in is the desserts. They constantly change the desserts. It was a very peaceful & happening Shabbos at the same time.
Headed out Sunday early AM towards Geneva, Hertz only opens at 7am but someone directed me to the key drop. Slept a little on my suitcase outside Migros supermarket at the airport (downstairs near the railway station) until they opened at 8am. I try & bring back plenty of Thomy mayonnaise anytime I fly to Switzerland. I booked business class with Swiss via Aeroplan for 45,000 miles one way. Checked into the Swiss business lounge which is a simple lounge (no shower) but does have many seating space. Not an impressive lounge at all. For example it doesn't even have its own bathroom. You need to go outside of the lounge to a public bathroom. Boarded Swiss Air on a A330 in business class, I was able to get much needed sleep. Seats are more to the firmer side & the footwell isn't soft either, even with trying to make the seat softer from the control pad it was still too firm but its still comfortable. One thing Swiss stands out to me is the amazing service. For the time I was awake they were attentive & very helpful. KSML main dish was egg covered veal from Schalom catering & it was very good. The appetizers weren't any good though. Before landing they served a KSML snack tray from World & More and it wasn't anything special or even decent. Landed back into the USA, used the global entry lane for quick clearance which otherwise looked like a 2 hour customs line.
Got picked up from JFK & the vacation is complete!
So long until next time!

Here are my updated rankings on premium cabins I have flown/tested:

1) Singapore First A380
2) Cathay First 777
3) Emirates First A380
4) Singapore Business Class A380
5) United First 767
6) Emirates Business A380
7) Cathay Business 777
8.) Swiss Business A330
9) United Business 777-200
10) United Business 767-400
11) Austrian Business 767
12) Lufthansa Business A380 (old angle flat version)
13) Lufthansa Business A340-600
14) United Business 757-200
15) Emirates Business A330
« Last Edit: August 09, 2015, 05:59:57 PM by Chapshnell »

Offline Chapshnell

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Pictures to be posted later...

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Offline Yehoshua

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Offline benjie1305

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Happy you had a good time. Sounds like you got what you were looking for out of Prague. Also agree with the Alps Hotel being amazing in the Winter. That picture TR is something I'd love to read/see.
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How much was the Prague tour?

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Thanks for posting, any other airlines serve Weiss?

Offline Chapshnell

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How much was the Prague tour?

$50 an hour. We were 4 adults & 2 kids

Offline Chapshnell

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Happy you had a good time. Sounds like you got what you were looking for out of Prague. Also agree with the Alps Hotel being amazing in the Winter. That picture TR is something I'd love to read/see.

Prague was better than expected actually. I still think though I would stay in Switzerland winter time as I need to be able to get to my destination by train. By car is a big shlep & expensive

Offline Chapshnell

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Thanks for posting, any other airlines serve Weiss?

Never seen them before anywhere. Hope their sales team get through to the other airlines

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Prague-France Trip Report, July-August 2015

Being that we have lots of family in the U.K. we decided to make one big family trip in the French Alps. We would all fly/drive in to Geneva from the USA, London & Israel. However, I have always wanted to be Shabbos in Prague & this years Shabbos nachmi aligned perfectly.

Booked Austrian Air in business class with 70,000 United points per passenger EWR-VIE-PRG first leg is on a 767-300 & the 2nd leg is on a propeller plane with an empty seat next to us as "business class". I have flown numerous airlines in business & first & I must say I am quite disappointed. I know some of you will call me spoiled but being that I did experience better, this trip was a subpar flying experience. For example, I'm 5' 9" & I found the pitch to be very short, as well as the width of the seat to be very narrow. In addition, when I was laying flat I felt shackled as the box where the footwell is located is really small. In addition, the service was subpar as requests needed to be asked twice numerous times & the time it took to arrive was just too slow. However there is one bright spot which I am hopeful other airlines will follow. The KSML from Weiss catering in Brooklyn, NY was absolutely delicious & did not taste like airplane food. The grilled chicken was very good & the beef with pasta was absolutely delicious & soft. Go figure!

The Lufthansa lounge in EWR terminal B isn't anything special but its definitely a better place to wait out to board the plane than the madhouse that was happening at the gate, it was a packed flight. Aside from some snacks, drinks & some alcohol if that makes you happy before flying there isn't anything that stands out.

After arrival into Prague we had the option of taking the bus into the city for approximately $2.50 PP (its like a 45 minute-1 hour ride). However, being that we had kids coming along on this trip & we were very tired we just took a minibus for $50 USD to the King David hotel.

The King David hotel isn't a points bookable hotel I would usually stay in. Its a glatt kosher hotel that is boutique style & I must say is very pretty. I had quite a few free nights from hotels.com which I ended up burning (6 free nights) between Shabbos & Sunday PM at the courtyard by Marriott which is right across from the Prague airport entrance.

Meals at the King David cost 40 euro an adult for the night seuda & 30 euro for the day seuda & it covers Shalosh Seudos as well. Meals for kids are 10% cheaper. Everything is buffet style & I really enjoyed the different style of food, its more Israeli style & it seems that they cater to the crowd as its 90% (or more) Israeli.

Here is a lesson though for all of you where you can learn from my mistake. At check in you are required to sign some guest paper & give your passport for them to swipe into their computer. THEY LOST MY PASSPORT while I wasn't looking. After 4 hours & looking at the cameras they found it. Supposedly they had a fire alarm & the check in agent mistakenly put it down in a cabinet only not to remember where it was. In either case, please keep an eye open at all times where your passport is. To make the story even more weird... My father found a Swedish passport from a previous guest in his room after looking high & low if he left anything behind before checking out. I must say though that they went out of their way to send up platters of fruit, cake & wine to make up for the situation. In addition he gave us a few dollars off our bill from the Shabbos seudas, bar tab.. Etc.. I don't ask for compensation in yiddishe hotels but i'm not going to say no either :)

We didn't do much touring on Friday as we were so exhausted from the trip even if we flew business class we just did some walking around, nothing major.

For Mincha & kabulis Shabbos we walked with our Shabbosdiga clothing through the old town square to the Alt/Neu shul of the Maharal. People sure found our dress amusing as we had pictures taken of us like we were from a different planet, I cant really blame them :)
To get into the shul you need to answer a few interesting questions which I wont post here for future security reasons but some questions are funny. I guess they try & trip you up if your looking to come in & make trouble.. It was a very inspiring davening. Especially being that I am descendant of the Maharal.

Shabbos AM we davened in the hotel, found a few people & we made our own 10:30am minyan. Sorry to the King David management but I cant wake up 7am to daven Shachris Shabbos AM. The Israelis have it easier, as for them the clock is 1 hour behind their usual timezone.

Sunday we walked up the Victov hill. On the top you have nice views of Prague where most if not all of the roofs are in red. They have a small museum on the top, nothing really that interesting but down the hill they have an amazing & free army museum. We rushed through it as we had a tour guide to meet up 2pm but I would love to one day go back & revisit that museum. They have WWI & WWII exhibits. We were only able to cover the WWI exhibit albeit rushed.

Thanks to DDF user Chaim'l, he introduced me to a really wonderful tour guide by the name of Michael "dushi" Dushinski. He lives locally in Prague & has unbelievable knowledge of the old cemetery & Prague in general. I was a little concerned being that we are touring with kids & after a few minutes/hour they will get bored & cranky. However, he is AMAZING with kids & has interesting ways to keep them entertained. I wont give it away :) hire him & he wont disappoint. We wanted to take a 2 hour tour, ended up touring for 4 hours & in truth we rushed through the tour as well & could've gone another 2 hours easy. Theres always next time.. If anyone wants to hire him (I don't get commission, just sharing honestly that he is an amazing guide Michael Dushinski, midushy@gmail.com, +420606498214

Heres a brief recap of the food options I tried...

King David:
Milichiga Restaurant, Fleishiga Restaurant & Bar sandwiches..
I only tried the bar sandwiches as it was Shabbos most of the time while I was there. The avocado & tomato sandwich was excellent. You know its good when your thinking of the next time when you can order it.

King Solomon:
Shnitzel was great, dessert of sorbet was good too. However I heard only later that the hechsher is iffy. I may have some repenting to do this Yom Kippur. They offer Shabbos meals & cater to the orthodox crowd but a reliable source mentioned to me that they refuse to take on the hechsher of the kehilla. So to each their own, ask your LOR.

Chabad has two very good restaurants that they run. Shelanu pizza & Shelanu grill. I can honestly say I have nothing bad to say about either one & I'm a pretty picky eater, and I am not affiliated with Chabad either so I am really not biased here.

Pancakes, pizza, falafel wrap etc. etc. was really excellent.
Kebab, falafel platter, Shnitzel, chicken soup etc. was tasty & I would go back without any hesitation. Both were regularly priced. Not too expensive & not cheap either.

Took an Uber back to the Hotel that ended up costing $4.62 USD & from there we picked up our packages from the King David hotel & took a van for $55 to the courtyard by Marriott in Prague airport. Being that the airport isn't that close to the city & us having an 8am flight with Swiss into Geneva we decided to stay in the airport so we can roll out of bed & into the check in desk..

Couple of additional important notes about Prague...

1) always keep a few krona change in your pockets for bathroom breaks. It costs about $0.15-$0.25 USD (in Krona) per visit no one will let you in for free.

2) You can rent boats to go on the Vlatlava river, not sure the cost. You can also rent "City Bikes" in the old town square for 300 Czech krona. (About $12) for 2 hours & every additional hour its 50 krona which is about $2 USD.

3) All Jewish attractions close at 6pm.

Checked into Swiss Air economy for a short flight over to Geneva. (Paid $143) The Menzies aviation lounge is basically a living room with some drinks. Nothing interesting at all. However, being that the lounge club membership from Chase Ink is going away I wanted to make the most of it while I still have it. Due to beer being expensive in the French alps I stocked up for whoever drinks. I sure hope they liked Pilsner!

Landed in Geneva & headed to the Hertz counter. From there I needed to take a shuttle as the parking lot with all cars are off site. While being in the parking lot I saw you can rent a Maserati & other luxury cars. A Maserati costs for 2 weeks 1,400 Swiss Franc. This is per a fellow Hertz renter who returned it at the same time that I returned my car.

The drive to Les Menuires, France takes about 2:10, be sure not to speed as there are many speed cameras along the way (I think I got 2 speeding tickets, we'll find out soon enough). I had to pay toll 2 times for 11.50 euro & 5.20 euro along the way. They take credit cards, just FYI.
A note about drinks at resort areas... Always try & buy at a supermarket chain snacks and drinks & bring it up to the mountains as the prices in the resorts will be much more expensive..

The hotel where I stayed has 50 rooms & all were fully booked with heimishe yidden from all over the world, mainly Europe though. The name is Hotel Kaya, its a really pretty hotel (4*) & has the swiss natural wood look to it. The hotel has a pool as well. I can only imagine how amazing it must look winter time when everything is covered in snow.
The hotel program is run by a nice French family who have been doing it for 20 years. It is not your typical 4 star hotel however, as you don't get the service you would get in a non jewish hotel as this hotel gets rented out to this individual who runs the program & he doesn't have the same staff they have all year round. They do come in once a day to make the bed & vacuum.
The cost for an adult per week including Shabbos is 650 euro with food! The food is gourmet & heimish at the same time. I am a picky eater but I really enjoyed literally everything they served. I am not certain how the people who run it make money but its amazing value. Here is a tip for you all, always tip the waiter the first/second day, not the last.. Its too late then ;)

There are lots of activities for all different ages but the core activity is hiking & taking in the scenery, €7 via cable car). The air is amazing & its not humid either. If you prefer ATV'ing, zip lining, alpine sliding (20 rides for 80 euro is the best option), biking (100 euro for 5 adults & 1 child for a half a day) etc... This place has it all.

Shabbos:
Hard to put into words how nice it was but I will try. The best expression I can use is that the wonderful family that runs the hotel program doesn't cut corners. They aim to please their customers & accommodate wonderfully. The food was amazing & with a large variety as well. Shabbos night there was a get together from all different cultures to sing Shabbos songs & to dance together. Sefardi, Ashkenezi etc. all different types of Yidden.
Shabbos day there was a nice big kiddush and the seuda afterwards was very filling as well.
Shalosh Seudas there was a large selection of food as well. One thing they sure seem to put an extra effort in is the desserts. They constantly change the desserts. It was a very peaceful & happening Shabbos at the same time.
Headed out Sunday early AM towards Geneva, Hertz only opens at 7am but someone directed me to the key drop. Slept a little on my suitcase outside Migros supermarket at the airport (downstairs near the railway station) until they opened at 8am. I try & bring back plenty of Thomy mayonnaise anytime I fly to Switzerland. I booked business class with Swiss via Aeroplan for 45,000 miles one way. Checked into the Swiss business lounge which is a simple lounge (no shower) but does have many seating space. Not an impressive lounge at all. For example it doesn't even have its own bathroom. You need to go outside of the lounge to a public bathroom. Boarded Swiss Air on a A330 in business class, I was able to get much needed sleep. Seats are more to the firmer side & the footwell isn't soft either, even with trying to make the seat softer from the control pad it was still too firm but its still comfortable. One thing Swiss stands out to me is the amazing service. For the time I was awake they were attentive & very helpful. KSML main dish was egg covered veal from Schalom catering & it was very good. The appetizers weren't any good though. Before landing they served a KSML snack tray from World & More and it wasn't anything special or even decent. Landed back into the USA, used the global entry lane for quick clearance which otherwise looked like a 2 hour customs line.
Got picked up from JFK & the vacation is complete!
So long until next time!

Here are my updated rankings on premium cabins I have flown/tested:

1) Singapore First A380
2) Cathay First 777
3) Emirates First A380
4) Singapore Business Class A380
5) United First 767
6) Emirates Business A380
7) Cathay Business 777
8.) Swiss Business A330
9) United Business 777-200
10) United Business 767-400
11) Austrian Business 767
12) Lufthansa Business A380 (old angle flat version)
13) Lufthansa Business A340-600
14) United Business 757-200
15) Emirates Business A330
recap?
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Offline Lou Bob

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That's the recap
some people like to just see pictures and don't wanna read a whole megilla
Always use an Amex, you'll thank me one day.

Offline Chapshnell

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Pictures coming soon. Have some nice ones

Offline DMYD

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some people like to just see pictures and don't wanna read a whole megilla
Hey you have to get ready for a party tomorrow!

So wait for the pictures.