Author Topic: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)  (Read 12102 times)

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« on: August 24, 2015, 08:32:01 AM »
I started writing mid-trip, on one of the intra-Europe flights, but I haven't finished the TR, even though we have been back stateside now for 3 weeks. I figured I better just start posting what I have.  Here goes Part 1, EI Lounge at BOS.

Itinerary
BOS-DUB-AMS-TLV-LHR-FRA-BOS


Our trip began at Logan Airport Terminal E, the day after Tisha B'Av. The EI lounge in BOS is a quaint -- not plush but very functional. Nice selection of kosher snacks (bags of chips and crackers and granola bars) and drinks. Enjoyed the beer. Every time a guest removed a can or bottle from the fridge, an attendant replaced it with another one from the kitchen, so it was always fully stocked. 






Offline Marco Polo

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 13608
  • Total likes: 36
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 104
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2015, 08:36:03 AM »
I like the start :)
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2015, 08:46:55 AM »
Part 2. BOS-DUB-AMS

BOS-DUB: EI in J, Avios, KSML Weiss chicken dinner and light pareve breakfast before arrival.


Above are the appetizer course for dinner. I think I forgot to photo the main course but you can use your imagination.  Here is the ore arrival breakfast:







Really enjoyed the lie-flat seats but didn't spend much time sleeping, as I watched American Sniper on the beautiful flat screen. Sat in 3K, aka Captain Kirk seat. They had wifi but we didn't bother with it. 

Arrival in DUB for what was supposed to be a 90-minute layover, before flying on to AMS(also on EI):


EI lounge in Dublin (I think it was in T2) was much nicer than the lounge in BOS. Very modern, two levels, found some kosher snacks and enjoyed Baileys in my espresso. Best thing, though, were the showers. Very nicely decorated, clean, well-maintained, and functional. Really appreciated the hygienically wrapped pack of towels and amenities. Felt so refreshed after my shower.



Davened in the upstairs area, which was peaceful and out of the hubbub of people getting their food and drink. 

DUB-AMS: EI revenue fare.(?????). We sort of rushed out of the lounge at 9:05 because boarding was supposed to close at 9:15, but when we got to the gate, only five minutes from the lounge, it was clear that boarding hadn't even begun, and in fact, the aircraft hadn't even yet arrived. I really wish they had updated the monitor so we could have enjoyed more time in the lounge. We waited for about an hour to board, but it only got worse from that point, in terms of delay. The captain and crew indicated that there was a mechanical problem--a faulty valve on the water system that controls the "domestic" water supply or outflow-- and they had to fix it or risk leakage and freezing on the plane. In fact, this was the same problem that delayed the plane's arrival at AMS from Manchester. Captain said it should be a 15-minute repair. Right, and the check is in the mail.... Fifteen minutes turned into three hours on the tarmac. Crew tried to keep us updated but I'm pretty sure they were in the dark as much as we were. Eventually we got airborne, and they promised us complimentary drinks and snacks (they conveniently had no alcohol available), but the flight once airborne was so short that they actually didn't reach all the rows with cart service. I have on my agenda some communication with EI about compensation. (Update: see separate posting under compensation, where I will provide follow up, though as of now I have gotten no response 2weeks after my online submission.)

Despite the delayed flight and losing much of our precious time we had planned for Amsterdam sightseeing, we nevertheless were happy to arrive at Schiphol and moved swiftly to claim our luggage and hop on the train. Unfortunately, we hit another snag, as one of our four hold luggage pieces, all checked from BOS and ostensibly transferred in DUB, did not appear on the carousel. This turn of events was particularly ironic, as this particular bag, which happens to be my suitcase, is one of the most striking-looking pieces of luggage you will ever see. It is a very lightweight material and the pattern is of skulls and similar icons (reminds me a little bit of Munch's The Scream or the "aliens" that were "seen" in Roswell, NM) in a mix of orange, blue and green. You really can't miss this thing. My son urged me not to bring it, because he wanted us to be less conspicuous (typical teenager), but I like(d) it for exactly that reason. Alas, didn't show up after waiting for more than thirty minutes. 
So, we went to the KLM (EI's codeshare partner in AMS) baggage service desk, filed a report, received a complimentary amenity kit, and were told that in this situation, the bag usually appears in the next 24-48h. Meantime, as all of my clothes, along with my DW's cosmetics (not that she needs any, in case she is reading along), not to mention my supply of kosher provisions and -- I know it was stupid -- my Blackberry, were in said suitcase. The agent told me I could our buy whatever I reasonably needed and to keep receipts and file claim with EI. I still feel a little worried that I won't be reimbursed for these expenses, but what choice do I have? In any case, as I write this TR, the luggage still didn't show up. KLM pinged EI to see if the bag actually made the transfer in DUB (they should have scanned it and should have that info, right). So, we are off to TLV, where I will need to buy some more apparel. Still hoping that the bag reappears soon. (Again, I will provide further updates about the compensation question in that thread, but suffice it to say that I did eventually get my bag back, just before Shabbat in Israel. )

Offline Marco Polo

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2012
  • Posts: 13608
  • Total likes: 36
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 104
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2015, 08:54:57 AM »
If you enjoyed the shower in the lounge so much, wait till you try it on EK F during the flight.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline Yaalili

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2009
  • Posts: 12383
  • Total likes: 311
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 154
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Crown Heights, NY
  • Programs: Caesars Diamond, F9 100K, Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Globalist, IHG Spire, Marriott Silver, Radisson Gold, Wyndham Diamond, DansDeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite.
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2015, 09:00:09 AM »
Thanks for writing, the attendant in the BOS lounge sounds too attentive to me, if she is refilling after every one bottle is taken.

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2015, 09:08:24 AM »
Part 3: AMS and AMS-TLV

In Amsterdam, we had just about 36 hours.
Amsterdam:
Crowne Plaza City Centre (2 free nights from last summer's challenge promotion...was it called Into the Night?). I have Platinum status from the IHG MC. (Don't we all?!)
I was really glad we stayed here. Location was outstanding. Just 5-minute walk from the Central Train Station, maybe 15-minute walk to Dam Square, 15-20 minutes to Anne Frank House, 45 minutes to the Rikh and Van Gogh museums and Heineken Experience, and about an hour (15 minutes past the Heineken experience) to Sal Meijer sandwich shop.

I originally booked the award room online, but I couldn't get it to acknowledge that my DW and I would be traveling with one child, so I called and spoke with rep, who assured me that the reservation would indicate 2 adults plus one child. The reservation never did update online, so when the hotel sent the pre-stay email, I responded to clarify that we would be three. I received back a very nice reply within hours, indicating that they would update the record, make sure we had a rollaway bed (to go into our room with two single [twin] beds, and looked forward to our arrival. Well, when we got there they did even better. They automatically upgraded us to a room with two queen beds, so no need for a rollaway. They also gave free wifi (maybe free for everyone?) and a welcome gift of 600 points. I asked about free breakfast but was told that it would be 50% off for Platinum members. Okay, no worries. They also provided guaranteed 2pm checkout but unfortunately we would be leaving VERY early in the morning, so late checkout was a nonissue. The room itself was spacious and clean, view of the street, good soundproofing, and Nespresso machine. The staff were very pleasant. I appreciated that I could buy our train passes from the concierge and the manager on duty provided helpful guidance about the train to the airport. There was a very good fitness center (2 treadmills, one elliptical, one bike, two cable type machines (one for push and one for pull), dumbells, exercise ball, and mat for stretching. All equipment was relatively new and in excellent condition. 

Our sightseeing in Amsterdam was pretty extensive given the limited time we had. After settling into our room, we first walked down Damark, following Rick Steve's audio tour. Watched a street performer for a while, then went into the department store and then down an alley to Foot Locker, where I could partially replenish my wardrobe. We then went back to the room, got some snacks, and did Rick Steve's Red Light District audio tour. For the record, very not tznius. 

On our next day (our only full day) we got up early, worked out, stopped at the Albert Hijn (something like that) supermarket for some provisions (not much there...they did have Sabra hummus imported from Israel. I didn't see a hecsher, but that must be kosher, right? Didn't buy, as it was 9am and wasn't in mood for hummus yet!). We walked to the Anne Frank House, and boy were we glad that we had bought our tickets online way in advance. Long line, maybe two hours, to get tickets to get in. But we walked right up and in. Let me just reiterate: BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE WELL IN ADVANCE. I tried 6 m early but they were only available about 3m early, and there was plenty of availability and options at that time.  We enjoyed the museum and tour. Took about two hours. Not nearly as emotionally draining as, say Yad Vashem, but still moving and educational. 

We walked from Anne Frank House to Sal Meijer, under an hour, where we had an excellent lunch. Hamburger, meatball sandwich, hot corned beef sandwich, croquettes (these are amazingly delicious, sort of like a fried mozzarella stick, but obviously with meat and some kind if potato sauce, not cheese). We had a beer and three soft drinks. Total bill was 36. Pretty darn good, I thought. 


After lunch we walked to the Van Gogh museum. Here we hit another snag. I hadn't bought tickets in advance, so while we were at Anne Frank House (on their free wifi) I went online to buy tickets. The Van Gogh site itself was not selling tickets for same day, and I should have realized that was an indicator of how busy the place would be, but I saw that a ticket broker Tiqets.co.nl, IIRC, was selling priority tickets. Well, this was a mistake (maybe I'm just not savvy, or maybe the advertising was misleading, or maybe both), but these priority tickets did not let us walk right into the museum as we had done at Anne Frank. Rather, they only enabled us to stand in a separate line, along with a few hundred other "priority" guests who had also bought online, or maybe had the MuseumCardt or something. Well, suffice it to say, I was not going to wait in line for upwards of two hours, not in the light rain, and not even if the weather had been pleasant and sunny. So, I now need to fight the ticket broker to get my money back! (Update: email requesting a refund to Tiqets was responded to immediately with a "no-- we told you it might not be guaranteed no queue" and no refund, only ability to use the tickets until 12/31. I subsequently disputed the charge with the CC, which happened to be Citi, and they fully credited me -- nice outcome!)



AMS-TLV: Transavia, revenue ticket. About $250 pp. I didn't realize it when I bought the tix but I think I saw in the flight magazine that Transavia is a partner of Delta (which would make sense, as Transavia is, AFAIK, a low-cost version of KLM), so I will need to remember to try to claim SkyPesos ex post facto. (Does anyone know if this is correct, that I should be able to get Delta credit?) Well, our flight departure time was 0600. We left our hotel in Amsterdam (Crowne Plaza City Centre, more on it below) at 0325, walked to the train station (5 minutes) and seamlessly boarded the intercity train that took all of 18 minutes to get to Schiphol. Only 5 pp (taxi would have been ~ 50). Glad we got to the airport early, as there was a lot of walking, but we got to the gate in amply time (more than an hour before our flight), and passed the secondary screening (El Al style) at the gate. We even had time before that to pick up a snow globe for one of my daughters and also stopped in the mini grocery store, where I was pleasantly surprised to find Snyder's of Hanover pretzel pieces. (If you have ever experienced these, you may agree that they should bear the Surgeon General's warning label as an addictive substance.)



In any case, in the gate area, I ascertained that we would not be boarding for at least 30 minutes, so I proceeded to daven. Davening completed, I was standing in the queue to board, just barely digging in to my pretzel pieces, when an elderly woman in a wheelchair just a few feet behind me proceeds to faint, or at least almost lose consciousness. Having been a physician for more than 20 years, this is not the first time I have been traveling and encountered a medical situation. So, I introduced myself to the worried daughter of the ill woman, engaged the assistance of the security team to transfer the woman from wheelchair to the floor, and was gratified that she remained arousable and oriented, that she had no other symptoms other than exhaustion, that she had no medical problems and took no medications (a sign either of someone very healthy, which I think is the case here, or someone who neglects health and avoids health care, thankfully not seemingly at play in this situation). After determining that she did not have a stroke or seizure, and reassuring myself that it was very unlikely that she had or was having a cardiac event, and confirming that she had a strong regular pulse, and in consultation with the flight's purser, who clearly had some experience in this kind of situation, it was obvious that this woman needed to drink some fluids, eat something, and most importantly, get some sleep. So, after that excitement, the boarding process continued and eventually we were on our way to Israel, not really too long past our scheduled departure time. 

To be continued, which will include:

The WA Jerusalem.
TLV-LHR: BA, Avios
The Hyatt regency London
London

LHR-FRA, BA, Avios
An unexpected night in FRA

FRA-BOS, UA/LH, Mileage Plus rewards.
#

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2015, 09:09:40 AM »

Thanks for writing, the attendant in the BOS lounge sounds too attentive to me, if she is refilling after every one bottle is taken.
It was a little weird. Maybe she was bored or suffered from OCD or had an overbearing supervisor.

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2015, 09:10:57 AM »

If you enjoyed the shower in the lounge so much, wait till you try it on EK F during the flight.
Definitely high on our bucket list.

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2015, 09:12:26 AM »

I like the start :)
Thanks. I am inspired by you and others who take the time to write and post. I fee like I have benefited so much from you all that I want to try to give something back that provides at least a modicum of value.

Offline Yaalili

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2009
  • Posts: 12383
  • Total likes: 311
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 154
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Crown Heights, NY
  • Programs: Caesars Diamond, F9 100K, Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Globalist, IHG Spire, Marriott Silver, Radisson Gold, Wyndham Diamond, DansDeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite.
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2015, 09:20:49 AM »
Good job on the Amsterdam installment, doesn't seem half expensive as other nearby European cities.

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2015, 09:31:53 AM »
Good job on the Amsterdam installment, doesn't seem half expensive as other nearby European cities.
That's a good observation.  I think the strong dollar helped a lot, but I'm no expert.  It did seem less expensive than London, but even London didn't seem as expensive this trip as it did two years ago.

Offline Proisrael

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jun 2012
  • Posts: 1417
  • Total likes: 222
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Krayot,Israel
  • Programs: SPG,Hilton,Club Carlson
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2015, 12:41:56 PM »
Part 3: AMS and AMS-TLV
We then went back to the room, got some snacks, and did Rick Steve's Red Light District audio tour. For the record, very not tznius.

#

 :o :o

Offline moish

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 9837
  • Total likes: 167
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Programs: AA LT Plat, Avis, SPG Plat
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2015, 01:00:51 PM »
did you do the red light tour with your teenage son? (not judging, merely curious)

Offline sruly101

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Mar 2012
  • Posts: 2353
  • Total likes: 3
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: NY
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2015, 01:20:05 PM »

Our sightseeing in Amsterdam was pretty extensive given the limited time we had. After settling into our room, we first walked down Damark, following Rick Steve's audio tour. Watched a street performer for a while, then went into the department store and then down an alley to Foot Locker, where I could partially replenish my wardrobe. We then went back to the room, got some snacks, and did Rick Steve's Red Light District audio tour. For the record, very VERY not tznius.

FTFY

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2015, 04:55:31 PM »

did you do the red light tour with your teenage son? (not judging, merely curious)
Yes. He is 17.5 yo.  Our attitude is that within months, or perhaps already, given the Internet, he has access to essentially everything everywhere.  He was pretty shocked and disgusted by it all, but I don't think it had any adverse impact on his psyche.

Offline Emkay

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 14400
  • Total likes: 368
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 35
    • View Profile
  • Location: Where I ought to be
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2015, 05:13:04 PM »
Yes. He is 17.5 yo.  Our attitude is that within months, or perhaps already, given the Internet, he has access to essentially everything everywhere.  He was pretty shocked and disgusted by it all, but I don't think it had any adverse impact on his psyche.
Stupid attitude.

Offline moish

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 9837
  • Total likes: 167
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Programs: AA LT Plat, Avis, SPG Plat
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2015, 05:20:29 PM »

Offline E-MAN

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 1515
  • Total likes: 3
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2015, 05:42:19 PM »
Nice TR. Have any pics of the hotel in AMS?

Offline MosheD

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 2326
  • Total likes: 40
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2015, 08:31:28 PM »


did you do the red light tour with your teenage son? ( not judging, merely curious )


Stupid attitude.
Lol

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2927
  • Total likes: 120
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: LAX
Re: zow's 2015 Europe and Israel TR (my first TR!)
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2015, 09:03:46 PM »
Nice TR. Have any pics of the hotel in AMS?
Sorry, no pics of Crowne Plaza. But I guess I would say the room was more spacious than I would have predicted. The decor was modern and clean. I wouldn't call it an elegant hotel, but very functional, and as I said, perfect (for us) location.