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July 25, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 NY to Nice

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Bonjour from the south of France! I'm here checking out the new Club Med Opio in Provence, which just officially opened last month. If you're looking for a great getaway and want to stay at an all-inclusive resort that offers a cultural element as well, then what you're about to read about, just might convince you to make this your next vacation destination. In short, Club Med Opio is a fun, mid-price, family oriented vacation option that truly encompasses the beauty and sophistication of southern France. What I love about it, is that guests aren't just limited to the Club Med compound. You'll find a variety of excursions from dinners to perfume factory tours in the surrounding charming villages. If you think getting here isn't easy, then think again. Thanks to a nonstop flight from New York to Nice, it just couldn't be any easier. If you want a more detailed account of my experience, then read on. If you don't have time to read the whole story, there's a four-minute Johnny Jet video at the end; check it out and you'll get a real flavor for the French Riviera. And, if you want to stay a bit closer to home, be sure to check out our newest writer’s story; Janice Russillo she shows us around her hometown of Rye Beach, New Hampshire and tells you exactly why you should visit this charming seaside escape.

Last week, we left off in Toronto, Canada. From there, I flew back to New York's La Guardia airport (LGA), hung out with my family and friends for a couple of days in nearby southern Connecticut and took care of some last minute business and errands before departing again from JFK. One of my tasks before I left was to get my new T-Mobile Blackberry Pearl phone (which I love) unlocked. OK, so if you want to save money when you travel then listen up! If you get your GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone unlocked, you can put a local SIM card in from practically any country that you're in. By doing this, you'll get a local number, plus free incoming calls, no matter where they're coming from. In addition, you'll be able to make outgoing calls for less than half the price of most US carriers. Some of my friends, who are using T-Mobile service, were able to get their phones unlocked for free just by calling T-Mobile's 800 number. Unfortunately, T-Mobile wouldn't do this for me, so perhaps my friends received this service because they've been longtime customers. At any rate, there are a number of companies that will unlock your phone. I used Infinity Wireless, a full-service retail cell phone store on Main Street in Santa Monica, CA. Their specialty is unlocking Cingular and T-Mobile GSM phones. Prices vary but it cost me $35 and all I had to do was call the store (310-452-9935) and give them the serial number on my phone. The following day, they called me back with one-minute instructions and a code to unlock my phone. Voila! It worked! Now, I'm enjoying the benefits of email-on-the-go and inexpensive calls. FYI: If you don't have a GSM phone, you can buy one from CellularAbroad, an industry leader and the company behind National Geographic's new Talk Abroad international cell phone. This is where I get my SIM cards before I travel. NOTE: It's a bit cheaper to wait to get to your destination, but it's definitely not as convenient, nor does it instill peace of mind.

My last task on the ol' to-do list was putting the finishing touches on a deal to teach travel seminars. As of this week, I am officially being represented by Wolfman Productions. These guys manage speaking engagements for some pretty big personalities like the cast of Mythbusters and Napoleon Dynamite. If you know anyone who would benefit from my travel knowledge, then please feel free to send them the contact info and link below. I'm going to begin by speaking to college students, offering tips on everything from finding the best destinations in the world for Spring Break to traveling first class for less. BOOKING INFO: John O'Marra, Wolfman Productions,; tel.: 1-800-735-4933.

You might be as surprised as I was to learn that Delta now offers the first nonstop flight from the United States to Nice, France. This service can save travelers a good two to four hours by eliminating a connecting flight in Paris or other major European gateways. From JFK, my flight time was 7 hours and 46 minutes. Unfortunately, door-to-door it might not save time because of the terrible gridlock JFK has been experiencing lately. I have to say, JFK is my least favorite airport. Not only is it a nightmare to get to (I mean, who designed this place?) but it's ridiculously maxed out capacity-wise, especially in the late afternoon and early evening when all the Europe-bound flights are departing. Taxi-time to and from the gate can be as long as four (that's right four!) hours. What a joke!

Checking in for my flight at Delta's international terminal was not a pleasurable experience. The terminal was completely packed, no one knew where to go and the self-check-in machines weren't working. Luckily, I didn't have to wait in the 90-minute economy line because I have elite status on Delta. This means that I could use the business class desk even though I was flying coach; it took 15 minutes for me to get my boarding pass. Our taxi for takeoff wasn't exceptionally long (45 minutes), and I sat in seat 17C, which is supposedly the best economy seat on the 767-300 series plane according to the experts at The good news is that Delta's staff did a great job treating everyone like they were in business class. They came around often with bottled water and even handed out amenity bags with an eye mask, earplugs and socks to help people sleep. On this flight there isn't a lot of nightfall, so the eye mask was key. The food wasn’t too good but at least they served it.

By the way: Is it just me or do you agree that there's something wrong with our federal government ending the airplane ban on cigarette lighters on August 4th but not the liquid ban? I'm sure the only reason they're doing this is because it's costing the government $4 million a year to dispose of them. How it costs $4 million a year to dispose of lighters is beyond me. Regardless, it seems to me, that someone can do a whole lot more damage with a lighter than with a bottle of water. What airports are charging for bottled water on the other side of security is almost a crime. Would you believe that it cost me $3.24 for a bottle of nasty VASA water? Don't get me wrong; I am all for free enterprise but this is ridiculous. Since no one is allowed to go through security with bottled water, it seems like such a blatant abuse to charge these outrageous prices. It's just wrong. Seriously, I wonder how many people are getting dehydrated or even worse, suffering serious medical consequences due to this ban? In my opinion, if the government wants to continue this ban, they should also pass some kind of legislation on fair pricing of water once you've cleared security.

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


New York to Nice


JFK Airport




Eye Mask




Waking Up




About to land




Nice Airport


Welcome to France


Bottled Water




To Opio


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