Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What to do? What to do?

So, I'm coming to the United States for Pesach. [Note to potential burglars: A wonderful young couple studying here for the year will be living in my apartment during that time - their landlord is kicking them out for the holiday. I can only assume that his right to do this is in their lease. I sure hope so.]

Anyhow, I called my travel agent, Efrat at World Class Travel, who got me a price quote on a ticket that would give me a day in New York (friends), a week in California (sister), Pesach in Cleveland (parents), and a couple days in Boston (grandmother). Total cost: around $1750, plus of course all the other costs of the trip (taxis, etc). OUCHORAMA.

Then Yael told me she'd gotten a great deal for a similar itinerary (ie East Coast, California) through Rivki at Big Ben Tours. So I called Rivki and got another possible itinerary -- this one several hundred dollars cheaper. So I called Efrat again to see if she could beat Rivki's offer. I increased my flexibility, and she found better options.

With all the other hidden costs (such as cab fares, car rentals, etc) added in for each option, here are my two choices:

Rivki's offer: For a total of $1625 (again, including taxes, cab fares, etc), I can take American Airlines from
  • Tel Aviv to California via Paris (5 hour stopover) and Dallas (3 hour stopover). Stay in California for a week.
  • Then fly to Cleveland via Miami (total travel time from California to Cleveland: 12 hours, the same as the flight from Tel Aviv to New York. Ridiculous! But actually shorter than going through Dallas, which involves a very long stopover. Sucks!). Spend Pesach in Cleveland.
  • Then fly to LaGuardia and have 1 evening with my friends in New York, where I'd stay overnight.
  • Then take a bus to Boston and see my grandmother, and spend the night there.
  • Then, fly to Tel Aviv via Paris, where I would have an entire day (7 am to 10:30 pm minus a few hours to get back to the airport) to go into the city and see some sites (I've never been to Paris). I allowed $100 for having a fun "Springtime in Paris" day. You think that's enough? I don't know how much things cost over there. You think I'd meet a gorgeous Jewish guy named Pierre who would fall madly in love with me and follow me to Jerusalem, where he would whisper sweet nothings to me in a French accent and ply me with excellent wine, crusty breads, and steaks in yummy sauces? OK, fine, whatever.
Summary: Sucky, counterintuitive connections adding an entire day and a lot of exhaustion to the trip, and I have to spend 4 hours in a smelly Greyhound bus, but the price is better by around $250 (which is a lot for me) and I'd get to see Paris.

Efrat's offer: For a total of around $1880 I can take Continental from . . .
  • Tel Aviv to California via Newark. I would be stopped in Newark from 5 in the morning until 5:45 in the evening (minus a few hours to get back to the airport), so I could, theoretically, go into New York and have a lunch date with some friends. But basically my friends work during the day so I'm not sure who I'd get to see. Then, spend a week in California.
  • Fly to Cleveland via Washington (weird and counterintuitive, but less time consuming, by a few hours, than going through Miami as Rivki's offer has me doing. 1-hour stopover.). Spend a week in Cleveland.
  • Then from Cleveland to Boston, where I'd see my grandmother and spend a night.
  • Then fly from Boston to Newark, and have 1 evening with my friends. Spend the night in New York.
  • Direct flight from Newark to Tel Aviv.
Summary: Costs an extra $250 or so (which I can't afford), but the connections are nicer: my flight to California is broken up by a day in New York (though I'm not sure who I'd get to see during the day), I don't fly through Miami to get to Cleveland, and I totally avoid Greyhound. I also avoid encountering anti-Semitic French people, but miss the chance to get some culture and meet Pierre.

Decisions, decisions . . .

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