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Greetings! We left off last week in NYC. I was headed to Midtown to meet some old friends for lunch, but was 30 minutes early. Instead of waiting out in the cold or being tempted to spend money in the shops, I went to St. Patrick's Cathedral. Since my mom passed away, it's become a tradition of mine whenever I walk by St. Patrick's to go in and light a candle for her. When I walked in I was quickly reminded that St Patrick's has weekday masses (7, 8, 9, and 10:15 a.m.; noon, 1, and 5:30 p.m.). Mass was just beginning, so I sat in a pew for part of it. Gazing at the high, ornate ceilings reminded me of the time my mom and I attended a Latin mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Although I didn't understand one word the priest said, it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. It's amazing how a routine event in a foreign place can have such a lasting memory. That’s a great tip for travelers: Instead of running into a place of worship to admire the structure, go on a tour or snap pictures, why not attend the local mass or ceremony (no matter what religion it is, or you follow)? I’m sure you will get a much better feel for the place and the people. Cathedral of St. Patrick's, 460 Madison Avenue, New York, NY; tel.: 212-753-2261.

After sneaking out before mass ended (sorry, God -- I had people to meet), I had an incredible lunch at Fresco by Scotto. I went with old friends, Peggy and John. We sat upstairs in the Tuscan Room, enjoying our $23 bowl of pasta. I know, that price for pasta is a rip any time of day, but for lunch it's ridiculous. I have to admit, though, it was so good that my Grandmother DiScala would have said, "Molto bene!" Fresco by Scotto Restaurant, 34 E. 52nd St. (between Madison and Park), NY; tel.: (212) 935-3434.

At lunch my friends were talking about how fabulous the new Time Warner Building over in Columbus Circle is. I had never been, so of course after filling my belly I headed right over. I found that the 750-foot, twin-towered multi-use complex that opened in 2004 has more than just offices (only one of which is the headquarters of Time Warner). There are also 225 condominium apartments, a 250-room Mandarin Oriental hotel, a jazz facility, and some of the best retail stores and restaurants around. Talk about expensive food, though -- there is a restaurant there that sells a $90 burger! That $23 bowl of pasta suddenly looks cheap, huh? Time Warner Building, 10 Columbus Cir., NY.

The new Time Warner Building also has a Whole Foods Market on the bottom floor (a great place to get food for a Central Park picnic). Even if you don't like to shop or eat you should stop by this magnificent complex, simply to people-watch or stare through the humongous glass windows overlooking Central Park. I did both, and also took a tour of CNN on the third floor. Tours depart every 20 minutes; they take 45 minutes, and cost $15 for adults. Children ages 4 to 12 are $11; children under 3 go free, while visitors over 65 pay $13. Lucky me, I had my own private tour (I happened to be the only person to show up at that time). Like all visitors I got a behind-the-scenes look at CNN production. I learned all about the network’s history and technology, and took a peek at their working newsroom. I even got to play anchorman reading off the teleprompter, and tried being a weatherman in front of a green screen. What a nightmare! I have new respect for those guys, because trying to point at the blank screen while looking through a monitor is not easy. I discovered that's why weathermen never actually point; instead they use a sweeping motion around the general area. The "Inside CNN" tour takes place Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For reservations, call 866-4CN-NNYC (1-866-426-6692), or visit www.cnn.com/insidecnn.

I walked back to my apartment through snow-filled Central Park. It was absolutely beautiful.

The next morning I met my brother Frank and his fiancee Cricket at one of my favorite breakfast places in the city: Norma's. It's in Le Parker Meridien Hotel, there is usually a long wait on weekends. Their tasty gourmet breakfast dishes (link is in PDF) are worth the wait (and the high prices). For starters, everyone gets a shot glass of the fresh smoothie of the day (ours was strawberry and raspberry – ummmm!). Frank and I couldn't decide what to order, so we split banana pancakes with macadamia nuts ($17) and apple pear crepes ($17). Don't be shy about asking for another glass of their $7 fresh squeezed O.J. -- refills are free. Norma's, 118 W. 57th St., NY; tel.: 212-245-5000. It's open Monday-Friday (6:30 a.m.-3 p.m.), Saturday-Sunday (7 a.m.-3 p.m.).

Frank and Cricket were kind enough to drive me back to Connecticut. The temperature rose considerably, into the mid-50s, and it felt like a gorgeous spring day. Would you believe people were at the beach with their shirts off? At that temperature in California, people would bundle up in winter jackets and ski hats! It was so nice out that Frank fired up the hot tub, then tried to convince me that lying face down in the snow in between dips was rejuvenating. I told him he was crazy. I think it he was his way of shocking his body, because Cricket was off looking at wedding dresses.

I flew back to L.A. on Delta. When I called to change to an earlier flight I learned that Delta does not allow passengers on deep- discounted tickets to fly standby for free on the same day of departure (some other major carriers do). However, Delta has a policy called "same day confirmed" that allows passengers to call three hours before the flight they want to get on. If there are seats available there is a $25 fee. Tip: If the flight you want to take is later than your scheduled one, be sure to call the night before and again the morning of just to make sure there will be space available. If there is no room, and your scheduled flight has already departed you forfeit your ticket. Ouch!

I didn't get upgraded this time, but I got something almost as good: a whole row to myself. That allowed me to sleep, work and watch one of the two movies (“Friday Night Lights" and “Sideways") on the 6-hour flight. They showed two movies since the flight was a little longer than normal due to strong head winds. Because the flight was so long, I tried their buy-onboard food. Although it's not as good as their sister airline, Song, my ham and cheddar on ciabatta ($8 cash or credit) blew away United's BYOB food.

I made it back home just in time to go out to Distant Lands in Pasadena. This is one of the country's best travel bookstores, and I was excited when they asked if I would sign copies of my book, You Are Here Traveling With JohnnyJet.com. I figured I would sit at a table while a few stragglers strolled by. You should have seen my face when I walked in and saw theatre-style seating, with all 40 chairs filled. As I was being introduced I thought, Oh boy, what am I going to say to these people? (I hadn't prepared a thing.) Luckily, I decided to tell my story about how I got started, then gave a bunch of tips for using the internet to travel. The hour went by so fast, and everyone loved my talk. Still, I was relieved when it was over – and happy that every one of the books in stock was sold. One guy bought three! Crazy, huh? Distant Lands, 56 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA; tel.: 800-310-3220; 626-449-3220.

Afterwards I walked a few blocks around Old Town Pasadena, then had dinner with my cousin Dennis and his girlfriend Joelle. We went to Mi Piace, a great find for us. The Italian food is not only tasty, but inexpensive. Nine dollars for a bowl of pasta -- that's more like it! Mi Piace, 25 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA; tel.: (626) 795-3131.

Before I go, I’d like to introduce you to my new girlfriend. I know all you guys are giving me a virtual high five, and all the ladies are shaking their heads in disgust. Paris is a great girl, and we will be moving in together soon (probably to her pad, because it's a little nicer than mine). Unfortunately I haven't yet informed her of the move (I’m still trying to get her phone number.) Okay: That picture was taken Sunday night at Usher and Entertainment Weekly's party in Hollywood. What a crazy weekend! I not only got to hang out at some amazing parties, but ran into friends I hadn't seen in a long time. Geisha House, 6633 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, CA; tel.: 323-460-6300.

Saturday night I was at the House of Blues (that pic is from my camera phone - no real camera's were allowed in) to see John Legend and the Black Eyed Peas. What better way to kick off Grammy's weekend? The Black Eyed can really get the party started. House of Blues, 8430 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA; tel.: 323-848-5100.

Finally, this advice: If you haven't seen the movie “Sideways," go watch it. Next week we take a "Sideways Tour" through wine country.

Happy Travels,

Johnny Jet

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


  • Cathedral of St. Patrick's
  • Fresco by Scotto Restaurant
  • Norma's
  • Delta
  • Time Warner Building
  • Inside CNN Tour
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • Mi Piace
  • Distant Lands
  • House of Blues
  • Geisha House

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    • *If you heard about us somewhere else or have the link to the story please email Johnny Jet media and let us know where!
    • Love your web site Johnny Jet and love your sense of humor more!! The NYC t-shirt was a great end to your newsletter. Belinda - Polo, IL
    • WOW the first time I ever got this .... I just love getting Johnny Jet information and the deals he found. VL Swanson - Toledo, Ohio
    • I just upgraded my laptop and have been doing the internet thief thing myself. The best thing about living in downtown Baltimore is that the whole downtown are is wired for free wireless. You know if these people were really concerned they would password protect their system. Great story and did you get the cute women's number? George S - Baltimore
    • I saw Johnny in Chicago being interviewed by Bob Sirott - fun show - WANT TO HOP ON A PLAN AND GO. WHAT A GREAT JOB HE HAS!! Gloria V- Chicago
    • Johnny, I love your newsletter keep it coming. When you write about places I’ve been it’s like going back, and when you write about places I haven’t been, I feel like I have. Blair G. Irwin - San Diego, CA
    • Thanks for making me laugh. This was the funniest newletter you've written in a long time. Tschuss, Joe from Alaska
    • I hope you got the phone number of the "very pretty" woman you sat next to in first from O'Hare to LaGuardia. Gregg Wiggins - Arlington, Virginia
    • Love to see a picture of that hat from the Utah 02 Olympics. Pete H - Irvine, CA. REPLY: Here it is
    • I’m going to NY for the first time ever for the 4th of July. Thanks for the tip on the T-shirt to scare away the crazy New Yorkers. I’m sure it will look great on me! Your newsletters are always helpful. J Crystal I- Tennessee
    • Hey! We're not weird! One could easily say that about Southern Californians! :-) Nicole S - New York, NY
    • You've truly disappointed me. I always look forward to the witty commentary and informative details of your travel logs. This time, when I read your log it just left me feeling ill. As a native New Yorker who is damn proud of it, you have basically slandered the city using half of your commentary and disseminated it to a wide audience! It's comments like yours "If youre not from New York you might not understand, but although my family has had this apartment for 18 years, in New York people are weird. In fact, every time I see my neighbors in the elevator they act like they have never seen me before. They either stare at the floor, or their dog." and "nerve-racking, especially in paranoid New York." which leave people with a sour taste in their mouths about NYC. First of all, why should your family's neighbors (which family - parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents????) recognize you or bother to say hello to you in the elevator when I'm sure they barely recognize you considering you globe-trot most of the year? You admit you haven't been there in a year in a half, so what do you expect a royal welcome? Your depiction of a "paranoid NY" leads people who have never been here and who may rely on your column to offer a refreshing view to merely read one more awful crazy New York, let's all be afraid of them story. You should be ashamed of yourself. Never have I read anything quite so deleterious in any of your other articles. I truly believe you should apologize to the good people of New York for your portrayal of a prevalent attitude which simply does not exist. In fact Johnny, the only ones in NY who are "paranoid" are the people who are not from here. Anyone who is originally from here is possibly nicer, more friendly, more intelligent and more helpful than any incompetent I've met from any other location in the country. And why? Because we don't need to be afraid of anyone. If anything, you were the paranoid in the story, not the other way around. Lastly, I found it utterly disturbing that you chose not to use one single photo link during your ranting about your internet fraud. You photograph everything else you touch in the world, why not the apartment, your laptop, the elevator? Something of a more personal nature? Are you paranoid that your story would so upset other New Yorkers that the apartment would be ransacked and you or the next relative who inhabits the apartment would be strung up? I can only promise I will read your log one more time - and that's to see the continuation of your New York Tale. I hope this time you do us one better, otherwise you will have lost a loyal reader who once referred other travelers to your site. Good luck with the next installment, Lori Hoepner. REPLY: Wow! You just cut me up and threw me out to the dogs. Just so you know I value all our readers opinions (good or bad) so please let me reply to some of your questions. First of all, even my New York friends will admit New Yorkers are a different breed. Out of the 100 or so people who live in our apartment building I know one person, besides the doormen who are like family to me. When I used the word paranoid I wasn't meaning they are about to pull a gun out on me, I meant New Yorkers like to stay in their own little world and they don't trust many people. That's the way life is in NYC. I know, I lived in that apartment from 2000 to 2001 and have spent countless amount of nights there (I usually spend at least one weekend, if not two a month -- except this time of year when it's cold). When it comes to my true feeling for New York, I can't think of a better tag line than what the New York Tourism board uses "I LOVE NY". I always have and always will. When ever someone asks me what my favorite city in the world is NY is always at the top. P.S. I didn't take any pictures of the elevator or our apartment because my family members would string me up faster than any New Yorker could. Again, I didn't mean any disrespect but the way I described it, is the way it is in our building.

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