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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review of the Scot's Hotel Tiberias, Israel Sea of Galiliee

We checked in without difficulty and was met by the hotel manager. Immediately we received a welcome drink which consisted of apple cider and we were asked if we wanted to add a shot of whiskey to that. It was a nice Scottish touch!






























The manager welcome to stay at a hotel they gave us information regarding breakfast, the bar, pool, and workout room.

Our room was located in the Herbert building. Each building has a plaque outside discussing how it was used when the location was a hospital. For example the breakfast area was located in the previous surgical theater!

The grounds of the Scott’s hotel are magnificent! The landscaping is beautiful and well-maintained. The view from the hotel over the sea of Galilee is unmatched.



There are ancient ruins located on the site next to a koi pond.

The Lakeview double room we had at the Scot's hotel was good. The hotel is in the European style with European shower, European wall dryer, and comforter only on the bed. The pillows were down and on the firmer side. They have an espresso maker in room which is a nice touch. The view from my room was perfect. We were able to see the Sunrising over the sea of Galilee every morning.

RxFitness: Glenn swam in the pool, training for a swimming event, and the lap pool was a welcome excited for him. The problem with visiting here this time of year is that the sunsets around 6 o’clock and the pools and beaches frequently close prior to sunset. Glenn could swim in the sea of Galilee however with traffic and without light that wasn’t safe. Swimming in the Sea might be something good to do during the middle of the day for exercise. The gym at the Scott’s hotel was small and warm.  It had an adequate number of treadmills and other equipment and water and towels available. There are not many locations to run around the Scot’s hotel except on the sidewalk.

If you decide to run at a hotel, bring a GPS watch.  With the Fenix 5 you can plan your route online or on the watch itself ahead for safety and distance. Here are some cool bands to look good while abroad!


Fenix 5 watch bands



We enjoyed the wine tasting in one of the old storage rooms of the hospital which has been converted into a wine cellar. This was conducted by a local sommelier who was very Enthusiastic about the Israeli wine “scene”. We tasted approximately eight wines, Since I’ve been here I have been very impressed with the quality of his really wine. In the past I have only experienced their wine at Passover and it is always a “Kosher” wine. From the first night in Tel Aviv when I had a glass of Cabernet at the restaurant, to our wine tasting, I was extremely impressed. My favorite that we tasted was a white wine called Tulip that is made by handicapped individuals. This is a very interesting white wine that was a mixture of Cabernet Franc without significant maceration to add a pink color and Sauvignon Blanc. It was very dry. It cost approximately US$30.  My favorite was the Zinfandel. It was very smooth and cost US$40. These wines were not kosher. We learned about kosher wines. With kosher wines, everybody who touches the wine during manufacturing or even the grapes have to be kosher. That has not been the nature of most of the new wineries in Israel, however some of them are growing sections of kosher vineyards. You can ship the wind home at the cost of US$20 per bottle which I thought a little bit excessive. We bought four bottles and we will carry them home in our suitcase. The gentleman wrapped the bottles in bubble wrap and paper and I feel they were very secure. I also travel with large Ziploc bags which is helpful for purchases like wine. I highly recommend drinking wine in Israel which is not something I would’ve anticipated!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

American Airlines Premium Economy

Look for new premium economy routes on American Airlines to get your elite status sooner. 


At 1.5 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) per mile flown, you get just as many EQM buying a premium economy seat on American than you do buying a business class seat on most partner airlines, for less than half the price.  Since Premium Economy is new to American Airlines, expect many reduced fares.  Here are the planes being fitted for Premium Economy:

A Premium Economy ticket includes special amenities with seats behind Flagship®, Business or First. You can buy a ticket on these aircraft with more coming soon:

777-300s
787-9s
A330-200s
Select 777-200s flying internationally and to Hawaii.

The markets targeted for these flight right now are US to Europe, Hawaii, Asia and South America.

Recently I looked at a flight from Charlotte to Rome in premium economy using Google Flights.  The cost for a trip in March 2018 is about $1500 for around 15000 EQM.



Not a great deal, but better than the cost of a business class ticket if you are only looking for miles.  Plus you get to go to Rome! Look for our review of American Airlines premium economy soon!

American Express Offers Can Pay for the Cost of Your American Express Platinum Gold Card

American Express has offers that change throughout the year on things that you are already buying.  The travel ones are especially helpful and can pay for the steep cost of this travel card.


Here's how to find your offers:


Sign in to you American Express page.  Look at the bottom and peruse the offers.  Make sure you click “add to card”.  It doesn’t cost anything to add to your card, so add as many as you may possibly use!



It can be searched easily on the Amex app also.  We check these about once a week and before every trip.  Offers are added at varying intervals and the timing cannot be predicted.  Most of the offers are simply refunds when you charge with the primary holders’ card.  We saved over $700 last year which paid for the three cards we have.


When you carry your American Express Platinum card, your passport or other important cards, remember you could be a victim of identity theft without even knowing it.  LTD recommends RFID blocking sleeves to stop scanners that are used frequently in crowded places, such as an airport or convention!  Click the photo below to learn more about our favorite or purchase at Amazon!




Tip:


Create an online account for every card holder, because some offers may be awarded to more than one cardholder.  For example The offer gives $50 back on spending $200 at Hilton,


  1. Each of you add the offer to your credit card as described above.  
  2. If half of your hotel bill meets the offer -- it's over $400 -- split the payment between two credit cards.  
  3. Usually you will get two refunds - or $100 back.  


When your card is cost effective, you can have the benefits of an Amex Platinum card:



  • 5x on Airfare and Hotels. Get a great return on airfare purchases when you pay with the Amex Platinum. ...
  • Fine Hotels and Resort benefits...
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. ...
  • $200 in Uber Credits. ...
  • Centurion Lounge Access, domestic airlines lounge access and Priority Pass...
  • Elite Status with Hilton and Starwood...
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit...
  • Airport and In-Flight Internet...
  • American Express Concierge...
  • the expanded International Airline Program...
  • and more...

Your road to American Airlines Aadvantage Executive Platinum status or elite status on any Airline

 How do you find new unpublished fair specials when booking flights. This is very important when you were trying to continue your status with an airline. There are couple of websites where you can search for loaf price airfare for those long-haul flights.

One website that I use is fairdealalert.com.

Faredealalert.com

This is nice to see what sort of fares are available and how to book them  with particular fare codes. It is very good at telling you how to find the fair that you want online or when you’re speaking to a representative at the particular airline.

Another good website to use to look for low price airfares is  airfarewatchdog.com.

Airfarewatchdog.com

It has a very good search engine that allows you to specify what do you want nonstop, international, domestic, and even the airlines that you wish to travel on. This allows you to look for the particular airline alliance such as one world, star alliance, etc.

 For example, recently I searched for inexpensive airfare from Charlotte on airfare watchdog.com. I found a trip to Dublin Ireland for $548. This results in Nearly 8000 elite qualifying miles for relatively inexpensive.  In Dublin is a great city to visit!

Let’s say you decide to travel to Europe 12-15 times in a year using fares like this, you would be at executive platinum status And only spend around $7500. That is certainly worth it and I am sure with other fares that you could find to places like South America, Central America, Alaska, or the Middle East, you could do this with even fewer trips.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A New American Airlines Systemwide Upgrade Policy You Will Like

I bet you didn't know that your American Airlines systemwide upgrades don't really "expire" at the end of January!  Even the ticket agents don't know this secret!

Yes, your systemwide upgrades are removed from your account at the end of January, but you can book a trip using them up until 3 months after they expire IF:

1.  You book the trip before January 31
2.  You take the trip before April 30
3.  You are immediately confirmed for the upgrade

Recently I realized I had two expiring systemwide upgrades for my Executive Platinum status.  A very helpful agent told me that there was a new policy (which I cannot find anywhere online) for using your systemwide upgrades.  I looked using this method for trips to London and found a perfect flight for me with upgrades available for two persons.

Find upgrade availability:

1. Log in to aa.com.
2. When booking your flight on aa.com, look for the Systemwide upgrades link to find flights with upgrade seats available.  Make sure if you want travel and upgrades for more than one person, that you indicate that in the number of persons traveling.  There are many flights with only one upgrade available and this may not work for your plans.
3. “Systemwide upgrades” will be displayed if there are enough upgrades available on the flight for the number of passengers you are requesting, and you have the appropriate number of upgrades in your account.



I called the Executive Platinum line to book the flights.  I had to tell the agent that day about the new policy. She read the "fine print" and said that I was right.  Of course I had to pay for an economy ticket, but I will have a business class flat seat and intercontinental amount of miles added to my Aadvantage account.

RxTip: Consider looking at Faredealalert.com to find an inexpensive flight option if you are not sure where you want to go, then begin looking for upgrade availability.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Your Cruise Fitness Challenge

A good challenge for yourself on a cruise is 10,000 steps per day and 10 flights per day.  


It is easy to track this in an activity app on your cell phone or Apple watch (make sure you keep your phone in Airplane mode to prevent roaming or international charges!).  On most cruise lines there is a fitness track, or a promenade deck for long walks outside.


Treadmills are available on all major cruise lines if the outside weather is not favorable.  If you are not a treadmill aficionado, how about walking the inside hallways and stairs?  I did this recently and it is interesting how many persons you see, how many cruise doorways are decorated (recently with Holiday decorations!), country flags, balloons and more!

Nike Fitness App

Many of us hate the elevators on cruises because they get crowded, take a long time and stop at every floor!  Why not take the stairs to stay healthy and save time?

How many calories does 10,000 steps and 10 flights per day burn?  Well, it depends on your weight, but count on around 500-600 calories.  Over the course of a week this is around 4000 calories.  This will put a dent in those extra pounds you always put on while cruising.

What is 500 calories?

A bagel with cream cheese
A large Belgian waffle with maple syrup
Two glasses of wine
Four slices of bacon

A Pina Colada is almost 700 Calories per 6 ounces!
A margarita is over 700 calories for 8 ounces!

This challenge will help with the guilt!

Remember to keep your cellphone in airplane mode.  Don't forget our post on using your cellphone for free overseas or on a cruise!

How to use your cellphone overseas or on a cruise for FREE!

For your cruise LTD recommends luggage tags and lanyards to keep your stuff safe while exercising!


Make Meaningful and Healthy Travel Happen!



Thursday, December 14, 2017

What I packed for Jordan and Israel in November

There is very little on packing for a desert climate like in Jordan and Israel, so we decided to give some options.  



Major goals:  Keep Covered from the Strong Sun and be respectful of Religious Sites.  


I am not a "dress" person and really like to stay covered in the sun.  It is hot one way or the other in whatever you wear, but to not be reapplying sunscreen every hour is important to me.  I wear it and apply first thing in the morning, but with covering well with clothing and wide hat, I find I am good for the day.


1.  Long sleeve sun shirts

I packed multiple because I planned to sweat daily and our tour was two weeks with laundry provided halfway through trip.  One with a high neck from Patagonia. One from Royal Robbins. One from REI. One from Columbia. And one long sleeve race T-shirt. One long sleeve Talbots shirt for evenings.One white Royal Robbins shirt, tunic.  Variable coverage is recommended to cover décolletage or neck.

Example basic sun shirt





Example tunic for more versatility and sun protection

2. Two pairs of Lucy get going pants


I love these paints due to the drawstring internal belt, pockets and cinch tie at bottom to convert to capris.  One pair capris. Two pairs of shorts (not used because I decided on better sun coveragem). One pair of skinny jeans. One pair of REI hiking pants. Two pairs of casual black pants for evening. Two blouses, polyester, for evening to reduce the risk of wrinkling. One cardigan sweater from Zara. One windbreaker. I WISH I PACKED A HEAVIER JACKET OR FLEECE FOR JERUSALEM WHICH WAS COLD.

Click here to see Columbia Outdoor Travel Pants!

3. Hats


One packable fedora. One baseball cap with adjustable strap. One floppy packable hat.

Packable wide brim hat

4. Scarves


Two scarves to utilized to block sun on my neck, cover my head, or dress up an outfit. I bought one additional traditional Jordanian scarf at Petra.



5. Shoes

 One pair of lightweight hiking sneakers which I did not worry about getting dirty or dusty. One pair of running shoes. One pair of dressy flats. One pair of low heels. One pair of rubber flip-flops.

Lightweight trail running shoes

6. Shirts for evening


Everywhere is casual and with a scarf you can dress up simple things.  Two short sleeve light colored T-shirts. 1/2 zip shirt. One zip up hoodie.




7.  Dress that covers shoulders and knees

You may want a dress that covers you for visits as well or to wear in the evenings.  Toad&Co has good travel dresses at a good price.  This is the one I brought.  But note that Jerusalem gets cold compared to Tel Aviv at times due to the elevation.  I couldn't wear this dress in Jerusalem because it was too cold in November.  I was able to wear it in Jordan and Tel Aviv. 



Make Meaningful and Healthy Travel Happen! 

David Intercontinental Tel Aviv Review

Get a refurbished room. The bathroom despite being smal was well configured.  I particularly liked the push button shower.  



And the executive lounge is adequate enough.  We used American Express platinum find hotels to book a room at the Intercontinental. This afforded us an upgrade to the club level with access to the executive lounge.  Even though we were upgraded to the club level, we were not granted access to the club lounge.  I am sure if I fussed they would have let us in.  The club lounge is a little more convenient to the rooms but the executive lounge is more convenient to meet people staying at other hotels.  There are generous snacks, meals and deserts available so if you want something easy and light with a glass of wine or a beer, then plan on the executive lounge.  You are allowed two guests.  




We had breakfast included and a $100 room credit. Not every room has breakfast included according to the maître d’ day hotel. The executive lounge is sufficient for your needs at this hotel. It has sodas beer and coffee with light snacks available during the day. At night after 5 PM, there is more than adequate food to provide an entire meal. Also at night red and white wine is available with desserts being available after 8 PM.

The Intercontinental is across the street from a cycling and walking path that runs along the ocean. Running between all Jaffa and the northern part of Tel Aviv beach is approximately 3 miles and along the score if you can easily meet your needs for running. The course does go farther and may be adequate for somebody who is running more than 6 miles. There is a good lap pool available if you prefer to swim. The gym is also more than adequate. 



There is a spa available in the menu for the spa is included here.





YOUR Restaurant Recommendations for Tel Aviv

Plan for an excellent meal when visiting Tel Aviv!  There are many places to enjoy all kinds of fare!  


The first recommendation for a restaurant is Selva Vida which is about a 1 mile walk North of the Intercontinental.


The owner met us at the door and was very welcoming to our party of six. He said us by the entrance outside. Service was very swift and welcoming. We ordered a very nice is really bottle of wine that was about $100 in price. This was an outstanding Cabernet. Please see my post about is really winetasting from earlier in this trip. Following this the owner brought us out shots of tequila with lime, reflecting a margarita. We made a toast to our health and the mail began. First we ordered and I only ordered an appetizer is Ivan eating such a large quantity all week I did not want to have a large meal. Everybody else in my party ordered a main entrée. When my appetizer was brought out which was a roast beef, carpaccio appetizer, the owner sent over to additional appetizers, sashimi and shrimp. These were outstanding. Next, the main courses arrive which were generous portions to say the least. I shared Glenn‘s entrée with him and there were very few at our table they’re finished theIR Entrées. Also be owner sent out freshly made bread with the appetizers came out. This was served with homemade hummus. For dessert we ordered a crème brûlée dessert and the owner sent out a similar dessert banana bread made in the French toast tradition. It was delicious. We were more than satisfied with this meal.  

The next recommend a restaurant is Hamitbahon.  This is a little more difficult to find but was recommended by a family member who lives nearby.


Here we also enjoyed a very nice bottle of Cabernet. This was followed by an appetizer that consisted of four choices. We chose sweet potato, grape leaves, hummus, and eggplant. These were outstanding. Glenn and I split a dish of beef with vegetables and couscous. I think it is safe to say that this tasted like a beef stew with couscous surrounding it and was a generous portion. We decided to skip dessert and went to a local hang out to have a traditional Arab a dessert of mulhalbiyah with rose water.  

We toured a family members’ Bauhaus neighborhood, near the Rubin museum.  This was very peaceful and a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the area.

Other suggestions:

Falafels at falafel hakosem tripadvisor review
123 London tripadvisor review



It is a long flight to Israel!  Make sure you have compression socks so you feel good when you arrive!  These have the recommended 20-30 mm Hg compression at a great price! Many patterns and colors are available! Click Photo below to learn more and support our blog... 




Tel Aviv to Chicago on Royal Jordanian Crown Class lounges and security advice.

After a lovely stay at the Intercontinental, LTD had an early morning flight to the USA from Tel Aviv to Chicago, via Amman.


RX Tip for Check in at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion:  


Know your terminal! There is a set fee to airport from hotel via taxi.  Even though I requested a credit card taxi, he was unable to take a credit card.

Our driver did not speak English, and we are used to using the American Airlines App for our OneWorld Travel -- but guess what?  We didn't have Verizon service in Israel!  Fortunately we were at terminal 3 which after much difficulty communicating with the driver, was a relief that he suggested it.  It is miles between terminals at Ben Gurion.  We expected there was one terminal for Royal Jordanian, but that was not the case.  It was not easy to find Royal Jordanian even though we knew we were at the right terminal.  There is security prior to check in and the security agent did not know where Royal Jordanian counter was located.  Finally we found it around the corner. 

See what I packed for Jordan and Israel!  LTD recommends being respectful and protected from the sun at all times!  

This was a very stressful event.  As I always say try to travel business class overseas because the experience is generally better.  But from the airport to security all of this was disorienting and anxiety-provoking at Ben Gurion.

My suggestion for Ben Gurion: VIP SERVICE.  Bronze is probably sufficient, unless you are not flying business class then you may wish a higher level of service.  


Security was easy.  Look for the business class line.  I did not need to remove my three in one bag, my iPad or Apple Watch.  Computers did need to be removed.

Next passport control was fast.

On to the gate.

We had entry to the Dan business class lounge.  The one by our gate closed at 7am so we had to go to the next concourse.  It was very crowded with scant food offerings.  The bathroom was unisex with only 4 stalls and no hand cream.  






Boarding Royal Jordanian was easy and on time.  The a319 had more legroom than domestic us flights.  There was a footrest.  2x2 configurations are the norm on Royal Jordanian.  Arab Coffee offered upon seating.



Security in Amman is difficult.  There is a mandatory document check at which there is no expedited or preferred line.  Large families will slow you down but a close connection here can be done because the airport is small.  

The business class lounge in Amman is decent but beware of the smoking area near the bathrooms!  It is like walking through a fog to go to the bathroom! 




At the boarding area there is another document and security check.  The security check is THOROUGH.  Every item in your carry on will be examined.  Allow 15 minutes before boarding time for this.  

Return on the A380 was similar to Chicago to Amman.  We chose  window seats for this, and if you are solo, we do not recommend this location on the Royal Jordanian Dreamliner.  It is very hard to get to the aisle to go to the bathroom unless you are ready to climb over someone or have them sit up completely.  Again, the movie collection was abysmal compared to American flights.  See our recent post for a thorough review of the Royal Jordanian Dreamliner.  



Arrival in Chicago was as expected.  There is no additional security for the Jordanian arrival. Please visit the American Airlines Flagship Lounge in Chicago if you can!   See our review of this.


Make Meaningful and Healthy Travel Happen!