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    Panama City Beach, Florida
    My girlfriend Natalie and I both got invited to speak on a panel in Panama City Beach, Florida, this past weekend. The topic was travel trends and how publicists/marketers can get the attention of a travel writer/editor. The hour-long presentation went really well, and instead of just flying in and out we decided to spend the weekend there--and we sure were happy that we did. Here's how our trip went.

    LAX to Atlanta
    I began by flying Thursday morning from Los Angeles to Atlanta on one of Delta's 777-200LRs that had just come in from Sydney. This is definitely the most comfortable Delta plane I've ever been on, and I wasn't even in one of their phat herringbone business-class seats. However, I was in row 31, which is the first row in coach--a bulkhead--and had a crazy amount of legroom. Like on most Delta planes, there were individual entertainment systems, but this one had free movies and TV shows--I'm not sure if it was because I was in the Economy Comfort section or if it was because it's an international aircraft that is strictly used on the Atlanta-LAX-Sydney route so their entertainment is free. The only thing it didn't have that some of Delta's other planes do was live satellite TV and Wi-Fi. Instead of working I ended up watching five travel shows (Globe Trekker, Samantha Brown's Great Weekends, Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods, and Dhani Tackles the Globe) on the four-hour flight, and none had annoying advertisements like many airlines show before their shows.

    When I landed, Natalie was waiting for me at my gate, since she had come in earlier from Toronto. We had a 90-minute layover in ATL, so we went straight to Paschal's to grab some southern grub for lunch before getting on our 45-minute flight to Florida on a Delta regional jet operated by ASA. ASA flies one of those uncomfortable CRJ200s, but luckily the flight was short so it wasn't bad at all--though nothing like the 777.

    When we arrived we switched our clocks back an hour (Panama City is on Central time) and marveled at how nice the Panama City Airport (ECP) airport is--it's just a couple years old. Even though it's up in the boondocks of northwest Florida, they have great signage, so it makes the 17-mile drive to Panama City Beach easy as can be. Plus it's just a few turns. FYI: We rented a car from Hertz and passed on paying $14 a day for a Hertz Neverlost GPS system, which was a wise choice because the area is really easy to get around.

    Sterling Reef
    We were excited that they put us up in a really comfortable two-bedroom, two-bath apartment at Sterling Reef (12011 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, Florida; Tel.: 850-230-6110). It came complete with a fully equipped kitchen, a living room and even a washing machine and dryer. The best part was the view from our balcony, which was on the 14th floor (it was really more like the 17th floor because the first few stories are dedicated to parking).


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