Johnny Jet's Travel Blog

Travel blog featuring best travel sites, travel deals, travel guides, effective travel tips, daily stories with up-to-date travel information, travel pictures, travel webcams. For more, visit my travel portal, www.johnnyjet.com.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WEBSITE OF THE DAY - StrandedPassengers.blogspot.com

StrandedPassengers.blogspot.com
After jetBlue’s debacle last week, an new passenger rights movement sprang up. The Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights has become a popular blog, with their online petition receiving over 12,000 signatures already.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

WEBSITE OF THE DAY - GasPrices.mapquest.com

GasPrices.mapquest.com
Looking for the cheapest gas prices? MapQuest’s has a new, easy-to-use page. Just put in your city and state (or zip), and a good-looking map appears with the lowest gas prices closest to where you live or are traveling to (domestic only).

Monday, February 26, 2007

WEBSITE OF THE DAY - Petflight.com

Petflight.com Airlines are now responsible for reporting pet deaths. PetFlight.com helps consumers track this data, organizing it by date and airline. The site also offers pet travel tips, so check it out before flying with your animal.

The Oscars

Congratulations to my boy Al Gore for winning best documentary last night at the Oscars!

Friday, February 23, 2007

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: SiteAdvisor.com

SiteAdvisor.com
Ever wonder if a website is safe to use? SiteAdvisor.com, which is run by McAfee -- the popular antivirus software company -- now tests the web, and lets you know which sites are safe from spyware, spam, viruses and online scams. Safety ratings are based on automated tests of web sites, and are enhanced by user feedback and their own analysis. If you want a site report from JohnnyJet.com, you'll see we've earned a green check mark -- their highest rating. Be wary of sites that score a yellow exclamation mark, or (even worse) a red X.

NYC: The Met Museum FEBRUARY FREE FAMILY PASS

I know the month is almost over but for those traveling to NYC this week be sure to take advantage of one of New York’s best museum. The Met Museum is offering a February-only special free family admission! Print the FEBRUARY FAMILY PASS (PDF; 601 KB) to receive one-time complimentary admission for you and your family (maximum 6 people) at the Museum’s main building and The Cloisters anytime during the month of February. The pass also includes a coupon for $5.00 off any purchase of $50.00 or more in the Met Children’s Shop.
http://www.metmuseum.org/now_at_the_met.htm#two

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nantucket spring fares on JetBlue from $49 O/W*

Nantucket spring fares on JetBlue from $49 O/W*
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.

I NEED YOUR VOTE!

WEBSITE OF THE DAY!
Check it out! "Where's JohnnyJet" made it to the finals of the 2007 Travvies Travel Blog Awards! How cool is that? Please take 30 seconds to check out all the well-deserving nominees and cast your vote!

PICTURE OF THE DAY!

My friend Andre took this picture of me jumping off a cliff in Curacao a few days ago. How good does that water look? Wow!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

WEBSITE OF THE DAY -- SpeedTrap.org


SpeedTrap.org
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.

Curacao ATV Adventure

It was pouring rain today here on the island of Curacao and I just had my first real ATV tour. The 3.5 hour tour cost $90 for a single ($140 double) from Eric's ATV Adventures (http://www.curacao-atv.com/) and Holy cow was it fun! I can’t wait to do it again.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Website of the Day

Cruise Tip Calculator
Because we’re in South Florida this week, and a bunch of passengers on my flight here were about to get on a Caribbean cruise, I thought this would be a perfect Website of the Week. It’s a cruise tip calculator that can eliminate any surprise bills at the end of your trip. Just select your cruise ship, input the number of nights and how many people you're responsible for in your party, and presto! It shows who should get what, and the total amount your tips will come to. Depending on which ship you're on, you could be tipping the waiter, assistant waiter, maitre d', housekeepers, etc., etc., etc. P.S.: Don’t forget to check out our CruiselineNumbers.com site, which has every major cruise website and phone number. Happy cruising!

Curacao!

I’m still in Curacao and I just arrived back to my hotel from a great day of touring the west side of the island. The highlight was jumping off the limestone cliffs into the warm, clear blue water.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

WEBSITE OF THE DAY

Airport Security Game
After playing this “Airport Security Screener” game, in which my job was to remove constantly changing carry-on items – ranging from shoes and water bottles to snakes, even tubes of Preparation H -- while watching the line back up and the rude, impatient passengers yelling at me -- I realized I could never work for the TSA. Could you?

Carnival in Curacao

Just got in the door from Karnival (That's how they spell it). Oh my -- was it fun! I have never danced so much in my life and I can’t wait to tell you all about it in detail when the time comes.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

DonsPlace.AdventureCollection.com

DonsPlace.AdventureCollection.com
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

PeterGreenberg.com


I arrived last night in Curacao. And after reading this story (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-02-15-stranded-airport_x.htm) in USAToday my 7 hour flight was a piece of cake. Can you believe that some of those jetBlue passengers were trapped on the plane for OVER 10 hours and that was after they landed! What’s up with that? Kudos to jetBlue’s CEO for apologizing right away but come on people get with the program!

Continuing my “new” blog theme – below is our website of the day.

www.PeterGreenberg.com
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…



TravBuddy.com


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

This Week's Newsletter

We just sent out this week’s newsletter which is about my recent trip to Morocco. Here’s the link to it
http://www.johnnyjet.com/folder/archive/WheresJohnny02142007.html

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Los Angeles Times travel show


Today, I was on a panel at the Los Angeles Times travel show (http://www.latimes.com/extras/travelshow/panel.html) in Long Beach called "Online Travel: Your Ticket to Cyberspace." I think it went really well and my fellow panelist, James Gilden (http://www.theinternettraveler.com/) and Vani Rangachar were great! See http://www.johnnyjet.com/latimes.html for a copy of my handout.

LA Times Travel Show in Long Beach

I just returned from a great dinner with some of the world's top travel gurus! Pictured right to left are Pauline Frommer, Rick Steves and Don George. Come see these guys (and yours truly) tomorrow at the LA Times Travel Show in Long Beach. Here’s the link http://www.latimes.com/extras/travelshow/speakers.html

Friday, February 09, 2007

MIAMI AIRPORT

My taxi driver dropped me off at Concourse C, underneath the American Airlines sign for passengers bound for Canada, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. TIP: Miami International Airport is huge. If you’re flying American Airlines – the primary carrier -- be sure to tell your driver where you’re flying to, so he can drop you off at the right spot. American’s check-in line for economy class moved much faster than the first class/elite AAdvantage members’ line. I moved over as soon as I realized this. It should be the other way around, but I’m just giving all you elite flyers the heads-up. At security, the TSA here makes most passengers step into new puffer machines. They’re really loud, as they quickly blow air on you to check for explosives. Once I cleared, it was time to get food. I was starving, and knew I would not get a meal on the plane. There were only a few choices, so I settled for a $5.85 hot Cuban sandwich (roast pork, ham, cheese and pickles) for breakfast.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

DELRAY TO MIAMI ON TRI-RAIL

DELRAY TO MIAMI ON TRI-RAIL
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.

USING HOTWIRE
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).

VIDEO
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 BEACH

The Super Bowl is over – almost everyone has cleared out of Miami but before going back to the freezing cold – check out Delray Beach. It’s an hours drive north and is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of South Beach. Here’s a list of some things to do (besides going to the beach and dining at the tasty restaurants).

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.

SANDOWAY HOUSE
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

Super Bowl Champs

Congrats to the Indianapolis Colts!

DELRAY RESTAURANTS

One thing is sure: Delray visitors won’t have any problem finding good food. Most people stroll along Atlantic Avenue, which is filled with nice restaurants and outdoor cafés. One of my favorites, Cabana El Rey (105 E. Atlantic Ave.; tel.: 561-274-9090), serves tasty Nuevo Latino food (their plantains are sooo good). They also boast they have the best mojitos in town. Seafood lovers will want to dine at City Oyster (213 E. Atlantic Ave.; tel.: 561-272-0220) for the fresh catch of the day. Closer to the hotel, just across the street Caffé Luna Rosa (34 S. Ocean Blvd.; tel.: 561-274-9404) has delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. The same goes for Boston’s on the Beach (40 S. Ocean Blvd.; tel.: 561-278-3364) which is next door and has been in business for 28 years. Downstairs is a loud sports bar, but upstairs there’s a quiet balcony with a wide range of dishes, including coconut lobster and stone crabs (in season). A funky place to enjoy local artists and American food is DaDa (52 N. Swinton Ave.; tel.: 561-330-3232). I went to their patio to listen to a local band, and ended up having incredible desserts. I better stop here about the food, because I’m getting hungry. I could go on and on, but let me leave you with this little fact: Stone Crabs are in season from October 15 to May 15, which is just about the opposite of hurricanes (June to November).

THE BEACH


Let’s face it, the main reasons people come to Florida – and the reason I did before my family moved there -- are the weather and the beach. As you can see from this 10-day forecast on Weather.com, it’s nice to be enjoy 70- and 80-degree temperatures in the middle of winter without leaving the U.S. Warm weather motivates me, so every morning I got up and took a run (okay, a walk, but don’t tell anyone) on the beach where I admired the sunbathers (I mean, seashells). When it gets hot, a swim in the refreshing 77-degree water is sure to cool anyone off. FYI: The Delray Marriott does not operate the beach chair/umbrella rentals you see in front of their hotel. Oceanside Beach Service rentals range from $3 per hour for a single chair to $25 a day for two.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

DELRAY BEACH MARRIOTT

DELRAY BEACH MARRIOTT
The Delray Beach Marriott is without a doubt the best hotel in Delray. Location, location, location: It’s right on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and A1A, with the beach a quick 50-yard walk away. That’s the same distance to the closest of Delray’s many delicious restaurants. But as with most chain hotels, it’s not about the building but the destination. The Delray Beach Marriott is very nice. It’s rated 4 stars, and with its tile roof and marble floors has a Mediterranean feel. It is probably the nicest Marriott I have ever been in in the U.S. This hotel is designed for both business and leisure travelers. The former will love it for the conference space, free internet and lobby computer whose sole purpose is for airline check-in and printing boarding cards – gotta love that! Leisure travelers will adore the facilities, two pools (one is adults only), and of course the location. The food at the hotel is good – and the Asian Steak Salad out by the pool for lunch is unreal. The full American breakfast buffet in the Sea Crest Restaurant is a reasonable $13.
MY ROOM
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.

N. REAGAN SPA
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!
WASSAGE
I had a Wassage ($125 for 60 minutes). It’s called that because the massage table is on a heated waterbed. This new concept combines the benefits of hydrotherapy with traditional massage. It was very nice, but a little awkward getting on and off. I almost bit it both times. The masseuse uses individually packaged massage lotion for each massage; when it’s over, you get the leftovers. After my massage I had a "body scrub of the future." Maybe women like this treatment of four different applications, which feels like lotion is being applied to your body. Then a steaming hot tent is put over you, and you roast for 10 minutes. My skin did feel smoother, but I’m a man. I prefer to be rubbed and scrubbed down with something gritty, so I can feel it. This wimpy stuff isn’t for me. N. Reagan Spa; tel.: 866-278-8111.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Delray Beach, FL


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.





WHY 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.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Azul Blue's Ceviche Cooking Class

Azul Blue offered a ceviche cooking class which I took. I made ceviche with shrimp, octopus, and chicken!