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June 30, 2010

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    TBEX 2010 NYC

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Greetings from hot New York City! I was here for this past weekend's second annual TBEX conference, so I have plenty of pictures and stories to show and share with you-not only from the conference but also my visits in the city. I was also going to tell you about my recent trip to London, but that will have to wait until next week, since all I did was network this weekend rather than write, and I'm now getting ready for my national ABC News Now interview, which will be live tomorrow (Thursday) at 10:06 a.m.

If you are following me on Twitter or Facebook, then you know that I flew from Erie, PA, to LGA via DTW (Detroit). I caught some flak because I posted a Twitpic (a photo posted to Twitter) from my phone of one of the flight attendants on the flight, who was seriously the largest one I've ever seen. I wasn't trying to be mean-I was just stating a fact. I didn't show her face, give her name, or even list the flight number, so it wasn't a privacy issue. I didn't get into it, but the truth is that I was on a former Northwest Airlines plane (Delta and Northwest have merged), which are known for having the widest aisles of any U.S. carrier's planes, and the woman still barely fit through-she bumped into me each time she passed by. I highly doubt she will be able to continue flying, because I have no idea how she will fit down the aisles once the Northwest and Delta flight attendants merge (they haven't yet because of a union vote) and she has to work on Delta planes, which have much narrower aisles. Am I being out of line?

From LaGuardia, I took the M60 bus to 125th Street, which cost $2.25 (get a Metro card before getting on). From 125th I used my free transfer to jump on the 6 train (you have up to two hours to transfer from one bus to another bus or the subway, or vice versa) down the east side. The whole trip took less than 40 minutes and saved me close to $30 compared to taking a taxi. TIP: Pack light so you can carry your bags up and down the subway stairs. Here's the bus schedule.

Hooray! New York City is starting to act like a world-class city, as they begin to install signs in the subway that show when the next train is arriving. It was one of my biggest peeves that they didn't have this; now they just need to make it available at all stations and add them to bus stops as well. MTA Link.

A great website to help plan your route and mode of transportation in New York and other cities is

I took a behind-the-scenes after-hours tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) with some travel bloggers, thanks to Context Travel. Context Travel specializes in scholar-led walks all around the world, and the tour guide was impressive. FYI: Although the MET's admission sign reads like admission costs $20 per adult, that's only the recommended fee. Technically, you don't have to pay anything, but that probably wouldn't be right, as it is one of the world's best museums. MET Website.

The nonprofit organization Sing For Hope has placed 60 pianos at 50 famous landmarks in New York City, from Coney Island to Manhattan. They can be played for free until 10 p.m. each night through July 5. I've spotted two so far: one in Central Park and the other near the Flatiron building. It's a great idea.

When in New York City, I always buy my fruit at the stands that are on practically every other corner around the city. To give you an idea of prices this week, I bought a pint of blueberries for $2, two pounds of cherries for $3, and a pound of lychees for $4. I hope they weren't riddled with pesticides, but they sure tasted good.

As I mentioned earlier, the reason I'm in New York is because of the second annual TBEX conference. TBEX is short for Travel Bloggers Exchange, and was created by Kim Mance of I didn't attend the first conference, which was held in Chicago last year, but I wasn't going to miss this year's after hearing rave reviews from industry tops like Wendy Perrin from Condé Nast Traveler. TBEX '10 had over 300 travel bloggers and public relation officials in attendance, and those numbers easily could've doubled or tripled if they hadn't put a cap on registration-the conference sold out within two months. What was so impressive is that bloggers literally flew in from around the world: I met people from Australia, New Zealand, England, Thailand, and all over the United States and Canada.

It was great to meet so many people face to face that I have been following on Twitter or elsewhere on the Web. It almost felt like a twenty-year high school reunion, with everyone trying to recognize one another from our Twitter avatars.

These were the highlights for me, in order of appearance, besides meeting new and old colleagues.

Attending the speakers' dinner at Virgil's BBQ restaurant (hosted by Vail Resorts). FYI: For a list of the TBEX speakers, see this link

Attending the TBEX '10 Kickoff Party at the Omni Berkshire Place. It was open to all registered attendees and was hosted by Weber Shandwick Travel & Lifestyle.

One of the after parties was held at a pub called, appropriately, The Irish Pub.

Saturday was a hot day in NYC-90 degrees-but the Cantor Film Center, which had seating for 300 people, was well air-conditioned. I sat in on a couple of panels before we broke for a networking lunch at Astor Center hosted by Australia's Outback Northern Territory. Gadling's Mike Barish gave an impressive speech.

After lunch we headed back to the Cantor Film Center to listen to some more panels, but a dozen or so of us decided to skip out to watch team USA play Ghana in the World Cup. When I walked out the door, I felt like I was skipping class with the bad kids. Our leader was @MikeBarish, who hosted us at his apartment to see the disappointing game. FYI: Mike later won best dressed when he donned his 1990s prom tuxedo.

We caught the tail end of Trip Advisor's happy hour at Bar 13. The place was packed and loud and I didn't win one of the two iPads they were giving away. But they did have a spunky photographer.

Right outside the party, I was interviewed by Valerie D'Elia, who does travel segments for NY1 and MSNBC.

From there we moseyed around the corner to the BootsnAll & Eurocheapo after party that was hosted at The Professor's Loft.

I was starving and tagged along with the crew from DiamondPR to eat some delicious and inexpensive Thai food at Klong. Yum! I love their atmosphere and their street on a hot summer night.

On Sunday the conference started late (10 a.m.) so everyone could nurse their hangovers. Lunch wasn't sponsored but everyone seemed to end up at Patsy's Italian Restaurant since it was around the corner and they have family-style meals. Six of us in my group sat at one table and we ordered one large pizza and a bowl of spaghetti pomodoro, which was the perfect amount of food and cost less than $10 per person.

After lunch we walked a block to catch a bit of the NYC Gay Pride parade. It was the first time I had ever witnessed it, but I was really impressed to see the costumes and most of all the NYPD marching in it. I posted a Twitpic of it, and one of my followers (@aknightowl) responded with a poignant tweet: “41 years after the event that triggered Pride, the batons are now twirling rather than hurling.” FYI: I'm not gay, but I have a bunch of really good friends who are, and I'm all for equal rights. If you want to catch next year's parade, here is their website.

I spoke on a panel on Sunday about monetizing your blog. My sister Georgette came in to support me, which was very nice. Afterwards she joined our group as we hit Patty's Taco Truck, which was parked right outside and sponsored by our friends at DiamondPR.

The conference flew by way too fast, and I wish it had started a day or two earlier so I could have had a chance to meet everyone. Hopefully, that will be the case next year, when it's hosted in Vancouver.

A new cruise ship and London (hopefully).

*PLEASE tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

Note: This trip was sponsored in part by OpenSkies

Copyright 2010 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Delta FA


M60 Bus


Inside Bus


NYC Subway


New Subway Signs


Central Park


More Central Park


iPhone Line


NYC Fruit Stand


MET Museum


MET Tour


MET Tour Guide


Part of Our Group


Helping Out


Kim Mance & Maren


Lost Girls


Nomadic Matt & Co


TBEX Crowd


TBEX Writing Panel




Video Panel




NYPD in Gay Parade


Diamond PR Crew


At Klong


TBEX Taco Truck


Travel Bloggers


Next Week


  • Love the Father’s Day photo! Happy belated Father’s Day to you and your dad from the birthplace of Father’s Day … Spokane, Washington! Pam S- Spokane, WA

  • Absolute best newsletter yet! Thanks for the info! I usually forward your column to my friends who travel. Keep up the good work!! Roberta R - Chicago

  • Site of the great jazz/blues fest. Saw BB King there in 1984 with other blues legends, a night I'll always remember. "Michael S – San Francisco

  • How long are you there for? Did u visit le Chateau de Chillon? Will you visit Zermatt or Ticino? How about relaxing at a Swiss spa and eat fondue! Can you tell I wish I was there! Melissa L – Miami, FL

  • Good Shot but as any foreign traveler will tell you there is no where to change money so you can get a cart until you are out of Baggage claim and customs. US still needs to understand we have visitors from other countries that need to change money before they can spend it. How many more years does it take? I thought overall your shots were excellent and an excellent ad for Swiss. I will try routing through Swiss on my next trip based on what appeared to be a very good experience compared to US Carriers. All the Best. Colin - Madison,ct

  • I am loving each & every pic! Keep them coming, ur bringing back many wonderful memories of my living there Did you cross over to Evian? Melissa L – Miami, FL

  • Ooo JJ! That's where I used to live. Don't miss the old town, Olympic museum and Ouchy of course. Wish I was there. Enjoy xoxo cookie"

  • LOVE reading your piece! Maja G – Switzerland

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