Author Topic: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip  (Read 12197 times)

Offline BarryLincoln

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Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« on: August 07, 2016, 09:27:04 PM »
First off, I'd like to extend my hakaras hatov to the many dedicated DDFers who contributed valuable insights to the planning of this trip.  The purpose of the trip was to celebrate a milestone anniversary and it certainly did not disappoint.  Planning for the tip started in earnest in January 2016 when we conceived the idea to visit the Maldives as a once in a lifetime experience and plan a short stopover in Venice on the way out there.  While MLE was our destination, my wife had always wanted to visit Venice and if there was a way to make it all work, we would try.  Travel is generally a bit easier for us in the summer as our kids are spoken for between sleepaway camp and in-laws.

Flights
With that said, in mid-February I was able to secure EY-F (pre-devaluation) using 90k AA miles per ticket for our return trip MLE - AUH - JFK.  With EY-F serving as my anchor, in March I used some leftover Delta Skymiles (that I really had no intention of using) to book DL-Y from JFK to VCE for 30k per ticket (was upgraded at the gate to exit row seats so had sufficient room to stretch out).  Booked in April, our VCE-MLE flight took us through Istanbul on TK-J booked using 45k UA miles per ticket.  Our trip took us through IST about two weeks after the attempted coup in Turkey and needless to say, that made us somewhat nervous. 

Hotels
Our first night (Sunday night) was spent on a DL 764 putting us in Venice the following morning (Monday).  Booked using 20k SPG points per night, our home for the next two nights was the Westin Europa and Regina in Venice.  We were booked into a Deluxe Double room which was sufficient for our needs.  More on the room later.  Wednesday night would be spent on-board a combination of TK flights (A321 and A333) on the way to MLE, arriving on Thursday midday.  The combination of TK's lounge in IST and business class accommodations on-board made the long trip bearable.  Beginning Thursday night, the next five nights would be spent at the Conrad, booked into their basic Beach Villa using a combination of 3 weekend night certificates and 190k HHonors points.  I accumulated the certificates and points over a 3 month period and was anxiously awaiting for everything to post.  Six weeks out and I was still waiting for my certs to hit.  They eventually hit my HHonors account and I quickly turned around and made the reservations.  [Sidenote: I had 4 of my 5 nights booked while waiting for a weekend certificate to hit my account.  When it finally hit, the last night was no longer available.  After several repeated attempts, Hilton still refused to help me, even though the night had been available.  I then called the Conrad Rangali directly and they were able to open a revenue room for me for that day which I immediately booked.  Over the following week, award availability opened up so I snagged the room for my last night and cancelled the revenue reservation so it all worked out in the end.]  Immediately after making my reservations with Conrad Rangali, I reached out to their reservations team to ask about paid upgrades to an OWV and was advised that there weren't any paid upgrades available for my stay. They would keep an eye out for me but couldn't guarantee anything.  Needless to say, I was somewhat disappointed but what more could I really do.  I wasn't about to postpone the trip although I did consider it at one point. 

Food
In addition to our canvas cooler (more on that shortly), we brought a separate suit case for non-perishable foods.  Yes, maybe we went a bit overboard, but better safe than sorry.  In the suitcase, we had our non-perishable items (breakfast bars, protein bars, Trader Joe snacks, chips, Horizon shelf-stable milk, packages of tuna, mayo, challah rolls for Shabbos, box of matzos, grape juice, Pam spray olive oil, plastic silverware, paper plates, etc.).  Our plan in Venice was to make sure of places like Gam Gam, Gam Gam Goodies and Ghimmel Garden.  We are generally OK with a coffee/protein bar for breakfast, small snacks and either a late lunch or early dinner.  We also ordered 12 Pom meals mostly for dinner in MLE.  We transported the Pom meals in our 48-pack AO Canvas Cooler (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002YKQC56/ref=twister_B01HG5KTAC?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1) and three Cooler Shock freeze packs (https://www.amazon.com/Lg-Cooler-Freeze-Packs-x14/dp/B00V9ITMYC/ref=pd_sim_468_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=51srLPizjgL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&psc=1&refRID=SN9B9YPDYRB8GX1Q7FNS).  In Venice, the folks at the Westin were happy to store our Pom meals in their freezer.  Upon our arrival at the Conrad, our meals were still frozen nearly 24 hours after leaving Venice.  We also brought a couple of packages of vacuum-packed deli and cheese.  I had connected with the Conrad in advance and they were happy to store and reheat our Pom meals.  They also provided, at our request, a brand new frying pan, chef’s knife, spatula and cutting board, primarily so that we could take advantage of the Conrad’s “free” breakfast.

To be continued with more details and pictures (hopefully sooner than later...)

Offline ual902

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2016, 09:47:21 PM »
sounds good so far.. keep going..

Offline ar

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2016, 10:05:04 PM »
Looks great! Looking forward for the rest....

Offline Denverite

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2016, 11:00:48 PM »
Awesome start and looking forward to the rest since we're heading out in less than a month!

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2016, 12:41:40 AM »
looking forward to the rest! never too many MLE tr's!
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2016, 07:28:19 PM »
Venice
We landed in Venice around 11:30am, went through passport control and then to baggage claim.  We had checked a suitcase and our cooler, and took two carry-ons onboard, computer bag and another bag for my wife’s chatchkes.  It was a lot of luggage.  We ended up buying RT Alilaguna tickets from the airport to San Marcos for 54 euros (had some issues with my credit card and the ticket machine – ultimately changed some dollars to euros and used cash for two RT tickets).  After the 10+ minute walk from the terminal to the waterfront, we waited a few minutes and then boarded the boat for the trip to San Marcos.  Now, I’m all for saving money (water taxi was 100+ euros) but taking the Alilaguna was a mistake.  It was the hottest part of the day, there was little to no ventilation on the boat (read no A/C) and it was a 90+ minute ride.  It must’ve been 90+ degrees outside and probably 20+ degrees warmer in the boat.  They would only store our two largest bags, forcing us to find space for our carry-ons etc. on the seats next to us.  It was a rough 90 minutes, particularly after DL-Y.  If you’re traveling with few bags and its 60-70 degrees outside, the Alilaguna isn’t a bad option – would not recommend otherwise.




[Little side note here – had some issues with my memory card and lost several pictures from the flight and first few hours in Venice so no picture of the room or airplane]

Getting from the Alilaguna stop in San Marcos to the Westin was a royal pain but we made it (barely).  We checked into the Westin and it appeared that it was at or near capacity.  I asked about a Gold upgrade and the check-in agent made it sound as if we had already been upgraded to the Double Deluxe room.  The concierge put our cooler into the freezer (he kept on saying refrigerator and I kept on saying freezer - had to confirm with three people that it was in fact destined for the freezer and not refrigerator).  Up to our room we went.  There was no real circulation in the hallways which made the hallway stink.  The A/C in our room was weak but we weren’t about to let than derail the trip.  After chilling in the room and checking our email over the hotel’s wifi, we got directions from the concierge and made our way to the Ghetto for some dinner.  The walk was about 30 minutes and took us through San Marcos square and the streets of Venice.











Needless to say, it was mega-HOT outside.  I stoped at a TIM mobile store to pickup a SIM card which for 35 euros you really can’t go wrong.  (35 euros gets you 100 minutes of talk time and 4GB of data which can be used over 30 days – you’ll need your passport to get the sim card)  It was worth it just for Google Maps – super easy to get lost in Venice.  Once at Gam Gam, we ordered some Israeli salads, schnitzel, grilled chicken, etc.  We sat inside thinking it would be cooler than outside – the difference was barely noticeable.  But it was nice to have fresh food.  It was a bit cooler on the way back to the hotel. Ad kan day 1.

Got a bit of a late start on Day 2.  Made our way back to the Ghetto for a tour of the Jewish community.  We toured several shuls that each date back several hundred years.  The level of detail in the shuls is truly exquisite. 













A tzedakah box in the wall…



We did a quick tour of the museum which was cool and then went to Ghimel Garden for lunch.  Sitting outside in the shade at Ghimel Garden was a pleasure.  Nice breeze and menu looked delicious.  My wife ordered eggplant parm (6/10) and I had a Mari Mote pizza (lox, mushrooms, etc.) (10/10).



We then chilled around the new section of the Ghetto for a while.  This year is the 500th anniversary of the Ghetto and there was a production of The Merchant in Venice taking place that evening so there was a rather large police presence in the area.













We went on a beautiful Gondola ride in the late afternoon taking us through some of the smaller canals and the finally onto the Grand Canal.











Back to Gam Gam for dinner.  Not sure what the consensus is, but in our view the food at Gam Gam was mediocre (maybe we are just used to tri-state cuisine…)

Walking back after Gam Gam, we stopped at Dr. Kiss Fish for a very unusual experience.  Had read about DKF on a TR Yehoshua DDF and sounded intriguing.  It's a foot spa with unique fish that eat the dead skin from your feet.  Tickles a bit but you get used to it pretty quick.  After reading online about it, this type of foot spa is banned in 15 states because of hygienic reasons - the water isn't cleaned between customers... I feel bad for whoever dunked their feet after me...



More on our last day in Venice to come...  then onto MLE...

Offline ar

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2016, 09:56:16 PM »
Nice - but I cannot see any pics... Is it just my browser??

Offline AROCKS1

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2016, 09:59:55 PM »
I cant see them either  :(

Online moisheyb

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2016, 10:00:19 PM »
Wow sounds really nice, I'm doing your trip in 2 weeks in the reverse order

Offline Denverite

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2016, 10:06:01 PM »
I cant see them either  :(

Well I can see the one pic of the feet and the fish!  ;D

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2016, 09:54:44 AM »
I want to see your picssssss.

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2016, 10:13:28 AM »
I'll relink the pics tonight b"n...

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2016, 12:15:26 PM »
nice! i saw the fish pedi at the dead sea but was afraid to try. did u enjoy it?
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2016, 12:49:14 PM »
nice! i saw the fish pedi at the dead sea but was afraid to try. did u enjoy it?
I thought it was fun.  Tingly at first but very quick to get used to it.  My feet "felt" cleaner.  It was definitely something we would not have done at home... glad we tried it out...

Offline BarryLincoln

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Re: Barry Lincoln's Summer 2016 Venice and Maldives Trip
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2016, 04:02:52 PM »
Reposted using Flickr... hopefully it works this time...

Venice
We landed in Venice around 11:30am, went through passport control and then to baggage claim.  We had checked a suitcase and our cooler, and took two carry-ons onboard, computer bag and another bag for my wife’s chatchkes.  It was a lot of luggage.  We ended up buying RT Alilaguna tickets from the airport to San Marcos for 54 euros (had some issues with my credit card and the ticket machine – ultimately changed some dollars to euros and used cash for two RT tickets).  After the 10+ minute walk from the terminal to the waterfront, we waited a few minutes and then boarded the boat for the trip to San Marcos.  Now, I’m all for saving money (water taxi was 100+ euros) but taking the Alilaguna was a mistake.  It was the hottest part of the day, there was little to no ventilation on the boat (read no A/C) and it was a 90+ minute ride.  It must’ve been 90+ degrees outside and probably 20+ degrees warmer in the boat.  They would only store our two largest bags, forcing us to find space for our carry-ons etc. on the seats next to us.  It was a rough 90 minutes, particularly after DL-Y.  If you’re traveling with few bags and its 60-70 degrees outside, the Alilaguna isn’t a bad option – would not recommend otherwise.


VCE-alilaguna
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

[Little side note here – had some issues with my memory card and lost several pictures from the flight and first few hours in Venice so no picture of the room or airplane]

Getting from the Alilaguna stop in San Marcos to the Westin was a royal pain but we made it (barely).  We checked into the Westin and it appeared that it was at or near capacity.  I asked about a Gold upgrade and the check-in agent made it sound as if we had already been upgraded to the Double Deluxe room.  Up to our room we went.  There was no real circulation in the hallways which made the hallway stink.  The A/C in our room was weak but we weren’t about to let than derail the trip.  After chilling in the room and checking our email over the hotel’s wifi, we got directions from the concierge and made our way to the Ghetto for some dinner.  The walk was about 30 minutes and took us through San Marcos square and the streets of Venice.


Venice: San Marcos Sq
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: San Marcos Sq
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: San Marcos Sq
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Canals
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Canals
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Poor guy carrying a ridiculous load of water
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Needless to say, it was mega-HOT outside.  I stoped at a TIM mobile store to pickup a SIM card which for 35 euros you really can’t go wrong.  (35 euros gets you 100 minutes of talk time and 4GB of data which can be used over 30 days – you’ll need your passport to get the sim card)  It was worth it just for Google Maps – super easy to get lost in Venice.  Once at Gam Gam, we ordered some Israeli salads, schnitzel, grilled chicken, etc.  We sat inside thinking it would be cooler than outside – the difference was barely noticeable.  But it was nice to have fresh food.  It was a bit cooler on the way back to the hotel. Ad kan day 1.

Got a bit of a late start on Day 2.  Made our way back to the Ghetto for a tour of the Jewish community.  We toured several shuls that each date back several hundred years.  The level of detail in the shuls is truly exquisite.


Venice: The Ashkenazi Shul
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: The Canton Shul
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Canton Shul
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Canton Shul
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Levantine Shul
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Levantine Shul
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Levantine Shul
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

A tzedakah box in the wall…


Venice: Tzedakah box in the wall
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

We did a quick tour of the museum which was cool and then went to Ghimel Garden for lunch.  Sitting outside in the shade at Ghimel Garden was a pleasure.  Nice breeze and menu looked delicious.  My wife ordered eggplant parm (6/10) and I had a Mari Mote pizza (lox, mushrooms, etc.) (10/10).


Venice: Ghimel Garden Mari Mote Pizza
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

We then chilled around the new section of the Ghetto for a while.  This year is the 500th anniversary of the Ghetto and there was a production of The Merchant in Venice taking place that evening so there was a rather large police presence in the area.


Venice: Ghetto
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Ghetto
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Ghetto
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Ghetto
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Ghetto
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Ghetto
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

We went on a beautiful Gondola ride in the late afternoon taking us through some of the smaller canals and the finally onto the Grand Canal.


Venice: Gondola Ride (canals)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (canals)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (canals)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (canals)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (canals)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (canals)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (Grand Canal)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (Grand Canal)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (Grand Canal)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Gondola Ride (Grand Canal)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Grand Canal
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Back to Gam Gam for dinner.  Not sure what the consensus is, but in our view the food at Gam Gam was mediocre (maybe we are just used to tri-state cuisine…)

Walking back after Gam Gam, we stopped at Dr. Kiss Fish for a very unusual experience.  Had read about DKF on a TR Yehoshua DDF and sounded intriguing.  It's a foot spa with unique fish that eat the dead skin from your feet.  Tickles a bit but you get used to it pretty quick.  After reading online about it, this type of foot spa is banned in 15 states because of hygienic reasons - the water isn't cleaned between customers... I feel bad for whoever dunked their feet after me...


Venice: Dr. Kiss Fish
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: Dr. Kiss Fish
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

Return to the Westin via San Marcos.  Sqaure was full of street vendors selling the light up mini-helicopters (may be hard to see in the pictures)


Venice: San Marcos Sq (night)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr


Venice: San Marcos Sq (night)
by Barry Lincoln, on Flickr

More on our last day in Venice to come...  then onto MLE...