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August 22, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Rome to JFK

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Greetings from Otsego County, New York! This is my first trip to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the moment I arrived, I had the same feeling I'm sure other virgins have had: "Why the heck did I wait so long?!" I grew up just hours from this village of 2,300 and I'm a huge baseball fan to boot ... Go Yanks! Cooperstown is so amazing that even if you're not a fan of America's favorite pastime, you'll adore it, too. Join me this week as I travel from Italy to New York, then on to this family favorite vacation spot. Then, grab your favorite ball cap, because we're going to the Baseball Hall of Fame, baby! If you don't have time to sit back, relax and read the story, don't worry! There's a two-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week's story. And, if baseball isn't your thing, you can spend your down time exploring the Pacific Palms Resort in southern California.

Last week, we left off in Rome. My trip back to the United States was a whirlwind. My buddy Mike and I were both booked on Delta's 11:45 am nonstop flight into JFK. Mike wanted to leave our hotel at 7am; I thought he was crazy. I insisted that leaving at 8am would give us plenty of time – and the hotel concierge concurred. He also said that there was no need to book a cab in advance, as it wouldn't be a problem getting a taxi in the morning. Well, sure enough ... he was wrong. As the morning concierge said with a slightly panicked look, as he scrambled to call every taxi company in the phone book, "there must've been an accident or something." Some 25 minutes later, following death stares from Mike and a few drops of sweat from me, a cab finally showed up. Mike was fuming in the taxi; even more so when I said, "it's your fault for listening to me!" He didn't find that very funny, as he pondered the consequences he was going to suffer from his wife back home if he missed his flight. After the silent, 11-euro taxi ride (yes, this driver did charge us extra for our bags), we ran into the station only to learn that we had missed our backup train to the airport. Ouch! That hurt.

At the time, we didn't know the train schedule. There was a 20-minute wait until the next train departed and Mike wanted to jump in a taxi. I said, "Mike, first of all, the train is quicker. Secondly, why would you (meaning, of course, why would I?) want to spend an extra 50 euro, when there's no guarantee that we'll get there any quicker?" Mike barked at me about how long the check-in and security lines are in Rome. Forever optimistic, I said, "Don't worry! We won't miss our plane." But when I glanced at my watch, I gulped quietly, though outwardly, I was still smiling. I realized that by the time we got to the airport, we were going to have less than 90 minutes before departure. We were definitely cutting it close. Yikes!

If you time it right, the quickest and cheapest way to get to Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport from central Rome is to take the train. The Leonardo Express takes 31 minutes and departures from Rome Termini are 22 and 52 minutes after the hour. The first train of the day is at 5:52am and the last is at 10:52pm. Tip: Be sure to buy your ticket in advance and validate it using the yellow machines before getting on. A one-way ticket costs 12 euro (about $16USD). If you have a Eurail pass, there's no need to purchase a ticket. You can buy Eurail passes from

While riding the train, I finally broke the silence between Mike and me. I told Mike to follow me when we arrived, because I was planning some tricky maneuvering which included sprinting through the airport. He agreed and we made great time until we were rudely greeted by a Delta economy check-in line that was so long, it must have had at least 400 people in it. Fortunately, just to the right was Delta's business class line, only 10 passengers deep. Huffing and puffing from our sprint, I asked the man in front of me what flight he was on. When he said that he was headed to JFK, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and dropped my bags. But when I clarified, just to be on the safe side, and asked if he was on the 11:45am flight, he said, "Heck, no!" so powerfully that his teeth almost fell out of his mouth. Mine, too. Turns out, he was on the 1:50pm flight. When I explained our situation and asked politely if he could let us cut into the line, he, and those in line behind him, agreeably obliged.

To make a long story short, checking in and clearing customs and security, took us a total of 25 minutes. We even had enough time to shop duty free, grab a slice of pizza (3.30 euro) and a bottle of Panna water (1.80 euro) for the flight home. Mike was amazed and I was just thankful that I had Gold status. Otherwise, our sorry asses definitely would've been either spending another night in Rome or scrunched up in separate middle seats on one of Delta's later flights. Moral of the story? One: If you're running late, be proactive. Do whatever you can within reason to get to the front of the line. Two: Things don't always go according to plan and leaving no room for error is really dumb.

Would you believe that once we finally boarded, our flight had a bunch of empty seats? Mike and I were each able to score center rows to lie down in. When does this ever happen on a summer flight from Rome? I'm going to venture a guess and say never! I would have felt even luckier if it weren't for the most annoying Italian girl sitting across from us. Honestly, if it weren't for her, the eight and a half hour flight would have been a dream. But this obnoxious, mid-30s, non-English-speaking woman, whose belly, incidentally, was hanging out of her too-short shirt, prevented everyone in a 12 row radius from sleeping. Heck, I even wore earplugs and it still sounded like she was talking and laughing in my ear. To solidify her win of the award for Rudest Passenger Ever, she began kicking the seatback in front of her, like a spoiled little brat, when the passenger in front tried to recline her seat. Let me point out that this beast had her seat reclined herself! When the two women almost got into a catfight, you know who I was rooting for. FYI: Two meals were served on this flight: a hot lunch, which I think was chicken teriyaki and then pizza 90 minutes prior to landing. The mid-flight snack was Häagen-Dazs ice cream — just what my belly (and that rude woman’s!) needed.

We landed at JFK at 4pm. The flight attendant I was chatting up in the galley warned me that there might be a huge bottleneck, both on the runway and at customs. But to everyone's surprise, there wasn't. That might, quite possibly, have been the first international flight to land at JFK this summer that's not had to wait hours for a gate or passport control. I was seriously contemplating changing my ticket to head home to Los Angeles that same night instead of waiting two days as I had originally planned. But, I stuck to my original plan, jumped in Mike's car and visited my family in southern Connecticut. It's only an hour drive and it turned out to be a good move on my part. First of all, I later learned that the 6:30pm flight I was going to take was stuck in JFK gridlock for three and a half hours prior to takeoff! Secondly, I was able to spend a couple of relaxing, fun-filled days with my friends and family. And then ... there was the unexpected icing on the cake. Drum roll, please. I got a last-minute invitation to go on an exclusive tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame!

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All information presented here is accurate at the time of publication but prices, dates and other details are all subject to change. Please confirm all information before making any travel arrangements.

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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


Rome Taxi


Drive to Train Station


Yellow Ticket Machines


Leonardo Express


Train Station At Airport


Duty Free at FCO


Pizza at Airport


Boarding Our Flight


Back of the Bus


Whole Row Baby!


Chicken Teriyaki


The mid-flight snack


Welcome Home




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