Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
JetBlue has announced its latest destination: Nantucket. Introductory prices start at $49 one-way for travel in late spring. As a result of a new marketing agreement with Cape Air, JetBlue will also offer service to Hyannis, Provincetown, and Martha's Vineyard via Boston beginning March 19. For more info click this link.
PICTURE OF THE DAY!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
SpeedTrap.org teaches motorists everything there is to know about (duh) speed traps. It lists articles, laws, even ways to fight your speed trap ticket. But the most impressive feature is its directory -- from all 50 states, and some cities in Canada and Mexico -- of where cops tend to clock motorists. It's user friendly, so if you know a place where the five-oh are usually found you can add it to the list. The website is sponsored by the National Motorists Association (NMA), which was founded in 1982 to represent and protect the interests of North American motorists. Before I get any nasty emails, let me state that I myself do not drive fast. I have received only one speeding ticket in my life. I was going 8 miles over the limit. Of course I felt like the $250 ticket was a joke, and that the motorcycle cop hiding behind a truck with his speed gun trapped me.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
WEBSITE OF THE DAY
Carnival in Curacao
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Don George, my friend and former global travel editor at Lonely Planet, has just created his own website: Don's Place. This is a great site is for adventure travelers who want to read about some of the most fascinating destinations on earth -- and some of the most exhilarating ways to reach those places, while also getting to know the people who live there.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Continuing my “new” blog theme – below is our website of the day.
My good friend Peter Greenberg -- the travel editor for NBC, MSNBC and CNBC, a best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated and XM Satellite radio program (which I am a regular guest on!) -- has just unveiled his new (and free) website. His goal is to provide independent, unbiased and professional travel advice, as well as breaking news and information for today’s travelers.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
New Blog Format!
I just landed in Miami and I’m on my way to ? While sitting on the airplane I realized my blog totally sucks and I need to do something with it. I had an Epiphany —I should start doing a daily blog on cool and new travel websites. So let’s start off with the one featured in this week’s Johnny Jet’s Travel Newsletter…
Here’s a great website! With just a few clicks -- and no registration required -- visitors can create a map of the world that includes the countries (and states) they have visited. There's even a URL and simple html code, so visitors show their map off on their website or blog to friends and readers. TravBuddy also offers networking features with other members, but those require a 1-minute registration. Here’s a map of the countries I've been to.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I had to be at Miami International Airport for a 9 a.m. flight. Instead of getting up very early, I went down the afternoon before. I took Tri-Rail. It costs just $5 (be sure to buy a ticket from the vending machine before getting on, or you'll pay a fine – tickets can’t be purchased on board), is fast and environmentally friendly. The train runs almost every hour. Mine was packed with a rush hour crowd. There were a few tourists, but mostly blue-collar workers commuting to or from work. The conductor/security guard packs a gun, but he was very friendly. Travel time between Delray and Miami was just 1 hour and 30minutes. The furthest north the train goes is Mangonia Park (just north of Palm Beach); the furthest south is Miami.
Fortunately I was the first person off the train. I boogied to the taxi stand, where just one cab was waiting. There’s a free 5-minute shuttle to the airport, but I took a $20 taxi ride to Coconut Grove. I had booked a 3.5-star hotel there a few days earlier on Hotwire.com (link), for $105. It’s a little nerve-racking using an opaque website like Hotwire or Priceline, because you never really know what you’ll get. However, there are websites like BetterBidding.com and BiddingForTravel.com that have message boards showing what other users have paid, the dates they traveled, and most importantly the hotels they received.
WYNDHAM GRAND BAY HOTEL – COCONUT GROVE
I ended up getting the Wyndham Grand Bay Hotel-Coconut Grove. Parts of the 12-story hotel were really nice. I liked the exterior design, the fact that it was within walking distance to shops and restaurants, the swanky Bice restaurant located in the hotel, and that my large room had Aveda toiletries, Starbucks coffee, two balconies and a great view. What I did not like was that the bed and bathroom needed serious fixing up. I should also note that I am a Wyndham ByRequest member (free to join), which entitles members to perks like free internet -- but because I booked through a third party website I could not get either free internet or miles. I thought that was totally bogus -- but at least they only charge $9.95 a day for high-speed. The Wyndham Grand Bay Hotel-Coconut Grove, 2669 South Bayshore Dr., Miami, Florida; tel.: 305-858-9600.
LOCAL COCONUT GROVE RESTAURANT
I met some friends who live nearby for dinner. We went to Scotty's Landing (tel.: 305-854-2626), just a short walk away through a lonely marina. The open-air restaurant filled with locals was on the water, dark, and inexpensive ($6.95 for a cheeseburger).
Here’s a 2-minute Johnny Jet Video of my trip to Delray Beach. It's also on YouTube, so it takes only a few seconds to load (though the quality is not as crisp). We also have all the JohnnyJet Videos ever made on their servers.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
WHAT TO DO IN DELRAY
There’s a lot more to do in Delray Beach then going to the beach and dining out. I won’t even mention the art galleries and night clubs on Atlantic Avenue, because most people know about them. Instead, here are some little-known places to find some culture.
Just a few blocks from the Marriott along Ocean Boulevard is the Sandoway. It’s a historic 1936 beachfront home – and in South Florida, 1936 is old! (European readers, try not to laugh). This nature center provides a living history lesson through its exhibits and activities. Kids love this place (my nephew had his birthday party here two years ago and still talks about it) because they can view nature up close. The main attraction is the pool out back, with daily feedings to the nurse sharks. On my short visit I learned that lobsters shed their shell -- as do cockroaches. Who knew? Cost: $3. The Sandoway House, 142 S. Ocean Blvd.; tel.: 561-274-7263.
HISTORIC TROLLEY TOUR
Once a month the Delray Beach Historical Society offers a Historic Trolley Tour. I was on the very first group to take this 90-minute tour, which focuses on five historic districts. Narration is done by locals who grew up in Delray. Stops include the Spady Cultural Heritage Center (which highlights the city's early black history and culture), Cason Cottage (a house museum established to depict Florida lifestyle circa 1915 to 1935), the Marine Villas and the Colony Hotel (it’s very colorful, and would be a great place to stay if it was near the beach). This year’s remaining Historic Trolley Tour dates are February 10, March 10, April 14 and May 12. Tickets cost $15; the trolley departs at 10 a.m. from the Bungalow, 3 NE 1st Street. My tour was filled with senior citizen women. They really got into it. I’m glad I did it once, but it was a little too slow for my ADD mind so I won’t be doing it again anytime soon. Information and reservations are available at 561-243-2577, or through the DBHS website at DelrayBeachHistoricalSociety.org.
MORIKAMI MUSEUM AND JAPANESE GARDENS
Here’s a place I recommend to everyone. The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is incredible. If someone hit me on the head and I woke up in the middle of this place, I’d swear I was in Japan. Who knew that South Florida had such a hidden gem? Walking around this 200-acre sanctuary is very peaceful. It’s a perfect place to go on a lazy afternoon, or the beach is too windy. The Museum houses 5,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts, including a 500-piece collection of tea ceremony items, and more than 200 textile pieces. There are rotating exhibitions in its galleries, monthly tea ceremonies performed in the Seishin-an tea house, and Japanese traditional festivals celebrated for the public several times a year. Don’t miss it or the inexpensive delicious lunch out back! The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach, FL; tel.: 561-495-0233. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: $10 adults; $9 seniors; $6 children.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Sunday, February 04, 2007
All Marriotts now have "Revive" beds that compete with the Westin’s "Heavenly Bed." The Revives have 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, white downy duvets and seven feathery pillows, all of which definitely make guests want to sleep in. My room looked over the Atlantic Ocean, and had both a desk to work on and a clean bathroom. My biggest complaint is that the balcony’s sliding doors are very heavy. They have to be (to meet hurricane-proof standards), but it’s annoying to hear your neighbors open and shut theirs. Room rates range from $99 in the off season (summer) to $350 in season. Delray Beach Marriott, 10 North Ocean Boulevard, Delray Beach, FL; tel.: 561-274-3200; toll-free: 877-389-0169.
I happened to be in town when the hotel was celebrating the opening of its new N. Reagan Spa. It’s named after Nancy Reagan -- the owner, not the former first lady (though she is a distant relative). This Nancy has done an incredible job designing the two-level spa. It’s elegant, with sophisticated modern English interiors. Downstairs is a state-of-the-art gym, open 24 hours and free for all guests. Upstairs is where the magic takes place, beginning with an army of staff members, all of them very friendly. As soon as I reached the top of the stairs I was shown to the men’s locker room. Then it was off to the bright, cheerful, fresh flower-filled coed lounge. Here customers are offered fresh fruit, tea, water, and best of all a shot of thick warm chocolate that tastes like pudding. Oooh, is it good! As I sat there admiring the women’s robes, I couldn’t help but think that the men’s were cut a tad too short. My little guy downstairs was yelling for me to cover up – he was hanging out!
Saturday, February 03, 2007
I’m back home in Southern California. It’s been really cold here but the good news is… it’s supposed to warm up this weekend to 80! I’m actually just about to go play beach volleyball but before I go I thought I would share part of my Delray Beach, Florida story which I was in this week’s newsletter.
Greetings from Delray Beach! Last week we left off just after touching down at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (here’s the link to the archives). This week we travel 30 minutes north to check out one of South Florida’s up-and-coming hot destinations. If you live in the U.S. and are not into long flights, or haven’t gotten around to getting a passport, this might be the place for your next vacation. Of course, you have to be into beautiful beaches, tasty food and fun in the sun. If you are, then dive in -- we’re in Delray Beach, Florida! Don’t worry if you’re in a hurry or have ADD; there’s a 2-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week’s story.
GETTING TO DELRAY BEACH
Delray Beach is located about halfway between Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The closest airport, West Palm Beach (PBI), is 19 miles away, while Fort Lauderdale (FLL) is 32 miles, and Miami International (MIA) 54 miles. I almost always fly into FLL, because they usually have the lowest prices and – more importantly -- the closest nonstop flights from California. Once you land at FLL, it’s a $60 taxi ride to Delray Beach. (From PBI the cost is $35; from MIA, $150). Most visitors rent a car (click on CarRentalNumbers.com). I sometimes take the Tri-Rail, a free shuttle from the airports that costs only $5. The problem is that it does not run frequently (more on Tri-Rail below). On this trip I drove the 35 minutes to Delray.
I started coming to Delray Beach on a regular basis in 2004, when my sister moved here with her family. In just three years I’ve seen Delray grow from a sleepy quiet beach village to a happening town. The main street -- Atlantic Avenue -- has more than 100 boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants. The place is beginning to turn into a mini-South Beach, without the sex appeal, crazy night life and celebrity mob scene. But it has equally good food, fun (not out-of-control) nightlife, and basically the same shoreline (the only difference is women can’t go topless here). And all this at a fraction of Miami Beach prices.