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September 17, 2008

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Tribute In Light

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Greetings! This week we're going to take a spin on a new airline that serves New York and Toronto (other U.S. gateways are in the works). And when I say Toronto, I mean downtown, baby! The small airport this airline flies into is actually just on the outskirts of the city on an island, making it a joy to travel to and from -- especially considering the immigration process. Then we'll check into a hotel that's so plush that most Hollywood stars stay there when they're in town. And then there's the border crossing. Do I have some tips for you on driving across the border; I made the jaunt a couple of times. Looking for something a little different? This week, Georgie Jet continues the story of her trip to New Zealand and Mike Manna wraps up his whirlwind tour of northern Italy.

Last week, I left off after attending one of the many shows during New York's Fashion Week. Later that week, my sister and I attended a cancer benefit concert featuring the Dave Matthews Band at Madison Square Garden. The following night, we got a behind-the-scenes look at the Tribute in Light. The Tribute in Light is an art installation of two vertical columns of light that can be seen from up to 60 miles away on a clear night. They first appeared in 2003 in remembrance of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. For the last several years, the lights shine from dusk to dawn each 9/11, a solid reminder of what the victims, heroes and our country went through on that fateful day. (I was in New York City that day and lost a good high school friend.) Thanks to a friend, I was given a tour by one of the masterminds of the Italian lighting firm, which is behind the project. It turns out there are 88 lights in total, 44 for each column. The closer I got, the more it felt like I was in a Batman or Spiderman movie. It became even more surreal when I ducked in between them and went into the center to see all 44 lights shooting up to make one incredible beam. Fortunately, I wasn't stupid enough to look directly into the lights. My friend Dr. Giammaria later told me in his thick Italian accent that if I had, I'd have had serious problems in about two hours (Gulp! That meant permanent blindness.) In my opinion, the best view seemed to be a few miles away where you could really get the whole feeling. Hopefully, the tradition will carry on but I recently read that the funding for future tributes hasn't yet been approved. But I can't imagine it won't go through since the city has already purchased a hundred of these 7,000-volt lights at 18,000 euro a shot.


My flight to Toronto departed from Newark Airport (EWR) and instead of taking an overpriced taxi or car service (approximately $69 to $75), I took the more reasonably priced and eco-friendly train. The mad dash began when I was already running late and my taxi driver dropped me off at the PATH train station instead of at Penn Station. Both trains will take you to the airport but the PATH takes about 45 minutes ... or so I've been told. I took the advice of one of the scarce, not-very-with-it agents. I had just five minutes to catch the NJ Transit train, so I literally ran two blocks down an active bus lane so I could avoid the tourist-filled sidewalk in front of Macy's. Fortunately, I outran the beeping buses and maneuvered deftly in and out of the slow moving lunchtime commuters at Penn Station. The train was now departing in less than a minute and although the trains to Newark run practically every 20 minutes or so, I was so late that if I missed it, I didn't think I was going to make my flight. My last obstacle was the long crowded escalator but fortunately I only had carry-on luggage so I darted down the empty stairwell. I spotted the NJ transit sign and prayed I didn't need to purchase a ticket in advance like the PATH trains and subway require. Lucky for me I didn't; I made it on just as the conductor was shutting the doors.

The train was old with big, brown, comfortable bench seats. It cost an extra $5 to purchase a ticket on-board rather than in advance in the station. The total was $9, which would have made the fare $4 if I'd purchased my ticket in advance, which is quite the deal. The train made a couple of stops and we reached the Newark Airport platform 24 minutes later. I followed all the passengers toting luggage to the AirTrain, which cost an additional $5.50. A ticket from one of the automated machines is required before going through the turnstiles, unless you purchase your ticket in advance. The AirTrain runs frequently. I know this because I'd just missed one and another came along within three minutes. It takes about 10 minutes to get to Terminal B, which was where Porter Airlines was flying out of. FYI: On board AirTrain, they list all the airlines and their terminals. Overall, the trip would have been a piece of cake if I hadn't been pressed for time.

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Pictures From

The Trip


Tory Burch


NYC Fashion Week


My Sister Carol


Dave Matthews Band


New York's Finest


9/11 Tribute In Light


Up Close


Really Close!


Newark Airport


Penn Station





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