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I am back in Los Angeles.  It feels good to be home, but don't let me kid you, how I day dream of sitting on the beach at Waikiki, trying to decide if I should go surfing or take a nap. I can't wait to go back!  Having my Dad around kept me quite busy and the Hawaii trip set me back a couple of weeks. So here, I'll try and catch up.     

Feb 1st was a big step for my career.  I have been quoted in newspapers, given radio and TV interviews, hosted online chats, but have never been asked to speak about travel in front of 800 (live) people.  When the LA Times called me to ask if I was interested in being one of their panelists for their annual Travel Show, I wasn't going to turn it down.  Heck no!  The last two years that I attended their travel show which is located at the Long Beach Convention Center and it is regarded as one of the best travel shows for consumers.  They have hundreds of booths filled with travel companies, convention and visitor bureaus all passing out neat travel information. The best part is that they always fly in the leading travel experts for their panels.  Last year I took this picture with Rudy Maxa (from National Public Radio’s Savvy Traveler), Don George (Lonely Planet Guide Books), and Peter Greenberg (NBC's Travel Editor).  I remember watching one of the panels last year from the audience thinking "I can do this too, I know all the answers.  I mean, all I do is read about travel and get on a plane every third day".  Well, this year I got my chance and I was fortunate to be on the other side of the table .  
Our panel was titled "Buyer Beware: How the Internet Can Save You Time, Money, and Trouble" My fellow panelists were; Amy Bohutinsky, Hotwire's consumer travel expert and Michael Shapiro , travel journalist and author of the Internet Travel Planner.  Our moderator was Catharine Hamm from the LA Times.   Well, we all got along great and discovered we pretty much book our travels the same way; online and research all the travel sites.  I had my notes typed up so if you want to read my answers click here .  
They had some of the "big guns" from last year fly in and some notable others; Wendy Perin of Conde Nast Magazine and Terry Trippler from  The featured speaker was the all mighty Arthur Frommer.  Arthur Frommer is to travel, like Michael Jackson is to Pop music (maybe I shouldn’t use Michael as an example, but you know what I mean).  Mr. Frommer is a legend.  In case the name for some crazy reason doesn't sound familiar, then does Frommer's Guide Books or Budget Travel Magazine ring a bell?  If not, then you need to get out more.  I have always wanted to meet him for obvious reasons, so I figured this was my big opportunity.  When I walked into the speakers lounge, he was there chatting with someone.  I didn't want to interrupt, so I decided to wait until they were finished.  To my dismay, the stage crew interrupted him and rushed him out to go on stage.  Man, was I bummed.   I blew it!  
Later that evening Amber Airplane, my Dad, Nancy and Michael Shapiro walked across the street from the convention center to Shoreline Village for a quick bite at Tequila Jack's.  It's a good indoor-outdoor Mexican place with a great salsa bar .  (Tequila Jack's is located at 407 Shoreline Village Drive in Long Beach tel. 562.628.0454.  While we were waiting for our drinks I saw a camera flash, and saw Paparazzi taking pictures of the one and only Arthur Frommer walking by.  Well, besides the Paparazzi chasing him, he now had Michael Shapiro and yours truly. I quickly talked Michael into introducing me since he knew him. When we caught up with him he was excited to see Michael and then Arthur glanced at my Johnny Jet polo shirt and asked “Are you Johnny Jet?".  I said "You know who I am?"  He then told his wife, "You have to see Johnny's travel website, it's... (I can't even remember what exactly he said, because I was a bit nervous.  But all I know is he knew of and he loves it)! Yeah, baby, I felt like doing a Michael Jackson Moonwalk, “Yeeeouw”! But I kept my composure.
Well, Arthur eased my nerves quickly because he is such a nice and down to earth man.  I invited him to eat with us so he could meet Amber Airplane, my Dad and Nancy, but he had already been to dinner.  Instead they did sit down and had a drink (Sprite) with us.  What a treat it was to sit down and chat with this man.  Since I had met with his publishing company a few weeks’ back in NYC; I knew what questions to ask him.  For example, instead of asking him how many countries he's been to, I asked him how many he hasn't been to.  The answer:  An incredible four (4) out of the 191 sovereign nations.  In case you didn't know, this is my goal.  To one day visit every state (only have a few states left) and countries in the world.   I know you are dying to know which four he hasn't been to, so I will tell you now.  I guessed one of them; Mongolia. (I know that's pretty much of a lay up because who the heck wants to go there?  Just the name alone scares people).  I know he said Tibet and Myramar but I can't remember the last.  Sorry.
One thing I do remember he said was that his hotel room was the worst he has seen in a long time.  He said it had stains, cigarette holes... I was thinking to myself "Are you kidding me?  The hotel clerk gave ARTHUR FROMMER a bad room?  I don't care what price he paid.  If Arthur Frommer was staying in the hotel I worked in, he would get a free pass right to the presidential suite every time".  I realize he probably wouldn't want this type of treatment, but if this man was staying in my hotel, he would have no choice. He has the power to make or break a hotel.  If that wasn't surprising enough, the night before he ate on the Queen Mary and got food poisoning from the pate.  Come on people? Get a clue.  I have a feeling the city of Long Beach won’t be getting that good of a write up this time, do you?
Speaking of the Queen Mary(file picture), that's where we went after saying good night to our guests. It's only about a mile from Shoreline Village so we figured it was a good time to go.   Obviously, we didn't go to have their about to be world famous pate. We went because my Dad had never been and he wanted to check it out.  In case you don't know, the Queen Mary is docked for good.  It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and remains one of the most famous ships in history .  They have turned the ship into a hotel that has 365 hotel staterooms, six restaurants, a wedding chapel and 16 Art Deco reception salons for private celebrations.  Not to mention: tours.  The main attraction is the Ghosts and Legend Tour .   The tour costs $24.95 and runs daily between 11 am - 6 pm.

We arrived around 7pm and the ship was hopping.  There must've been a couple of weddings, a prom, and who knows how many private parties.  We wanted to go on the tour but as you read it closed at 6pm.  So instead we blended in with the crowd and had our own private and not to mention "free tour " (those are the best ones in my book).  I am not sure if this is allowed, but I wasn't going to ask in fear of being kicked off or having to anti up $25.  The ship is long; in fact it's 1,019.5 feet.  It takes a while to walk the decks, but the views and the ambience are amazing.  It's worth visiting just for a night time stroll.  Inside the tour area we watched a quick History Channel film and checked out all the replica rooms .  Many of them were redesigned to show when the ship was used for World War II.  The others just showed the facilities the passengers had.

Some more interesting tidbits on the Queen Mary:  It was launched September 26, 1934 and made 1,001 Transatlantic Crossings.  She departed on its "Last Great Cruise" on October 31, 1967, and she arrived in Long Beach on December 9, 1967.   Two days later she was removed from British registry (still has her English phone booths ) and officially turned over ownership to the City of Long Beach.  Queen Mary : 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA (562) 435-3511

Since my Dad was visiting me here in LA we were eating like Tim Zagat (Zagat Survey's and BTW is pronounced “za-GAT” as in rhymes with “the cat”).   We decided to try some out-of-the-ordinary restaurant and that’s just what we did.  My dad read the rave reviews Zagat gave Taverna Tony in Malibu.  "Be prepared to dance with waiters, members of the band", a belly dancer, "undulating female" patrons on the patio of Tony ("the party king of Malibu") Koursaris' "boisterous", "festive" Greek; "hospitality is always on the menu" here, as are "great starters" and "lamb like butta", but as it's "a hangout for celebs", you might also find yourself saying "hello Helen Hunt!" or "if it's good enough for Kid Rock, it's good enough for me."  F: 21, D: 20, S: 20 C: $33.  With that review, how could we not go and check it out ?  We'll, Amber Airplane and I aren't big on Greek food, but this place was "fantastic"! No pun intended. The food, service, and belly dancers were awesome.  Oh, by the way: Zagat was right on:  People were dancing on tables and with the belly dancers, and there were also a bunch of celebrities, including the guy sitting right next to us. Taverna Tony, is located at the Malibu Country Mart, 23410 Civic Center Way (Cross Creek Rd) 310-317-9667.

Have a great week and try not to break your back from shoveling all that snow! Thanks for all your emails, of which I posted a lot of examples this week below. Some are pretty funny, especially the last one.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! was founded as a labor of love.  To keep supporting this valuable information please send your friends, colleagues, and anyone else you have in your address book an email encouraging them to log on.   Make sure you ask them to sign up for our weekly newsletter, and to book their travel from our site!  Thanks for all your support!  Johnny

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  • Did you notice that part of Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" was filmed at Hanauma Bay?  It is the place where his little beach shack was... Amanda
  • My mom and I were discussing last night how impressed we were how  you turned your site, newsletter, self and consulting into a real sustaining business. I am sure running a business like this doesn't give  you time to pat yourself on the back, so consider this a virtual one!  Monique -NY
  • So very nice to read your report the last two weeks on Hawaii.  We were there for the 4th time the end of Sept. 2001.  We agree with all of your feelings regarding the Arizona Memorial.  It was especially moving considering that we were there only about 2 1/2 weeks after 9/11.  It was exteremely emotional.  Next time you are in Hawaii be sure to check out the "Blow Hole" on Kauai it is certainly spectular, much more impressive than the one on Oahu. Pat- Chicago
  • Why have you changed the way you post pictures?  It worked better before when one could use the back button.  Now I've almost lost interest in opening the pics because I then have to go back through the whole process to get to where I was.   I really want to see the pics, but it takes too much time. Your biggest fan reporting from Vermont. A> I had complaints from people before saying it took too long to download.  It's hard to please everyone.  Let me ask the readers what they like and we will choose the majority or come up with another plan.  
  • I'm a new subscriber to your newsletter and a past frequent traveler to Hawaii.  Waikiki is our favorite Hawaiian destination.  We have stayed at the Princess Kaiulani and have been most of the places you mentioned.  With your pictures, it was like having a mini-trip and I guess I'm ready to book again soon.  We live in Seattle, so it's a pretty reasonable trip for us.  We have often found that those little books in the street kiosks are worth picking up for a few bucks off on the included coupons and they also give us some ideas for what we want to do.  We prefer not to drive a car as it's so easy to get around by bus and so many things in Waikiki proper are easy to walk to.  We love to have breakfast in the Pacific Beach Hotel and watch the fish in the huge Oceanarium-much more reasonable than dinner.  Also, you can watch for free without going into the restaurant.  We've never been disappointed in our trips to Hawaii, even when the weather hasn't been the greatest. Willa  Seattle
  • Q> A friend sent me the link to your website - what a great idea - I haven't had time to look at it carefully, but I did see your statement about Fear of Flying. I recently booked a cruise on Celebrity to the Mediterranean - a dream cruise.  Sadly, I had to cancel it the other day as the cancellation penalty was going to kick in - reason:  My husband is scared to death to get on an airplane.  We did go to the British Isles a couple of years ago but he refuses, flat out, to ever fly again.  We have had to drive to Vancouver to board a ship from the San Francisco bay area, we have had to drive to Vegas and to Scottsdale for vacations.   This year we are going to cruise to Mexico, only because we can drive to L.A. to get on the shp.  So - how do you overcome the fear of flying???  I would love to be able to have him overcome this fear so we could travel to exotic places.  I would love to hear back from you.  Thanks,  Carol D
  • Response: Thanks for the email. I was afraid of not being in control. The trick for me was to take my mind off of flying. It was easier for me to go on a flight at the very last minute, then to plan weeks ahead. Once I got to the airport and on the plane I would take my mind off by reading my favorite newspaper, magazine and listen to my Walkman. Once the plane took off I was fine. For your husband, I recommend he gets some professional help, as I did. We have a list of websites who offer help. Click here then click the category AFRAID TO FLY . I hear there is a class offered in the bay area, so look into that. Hope this helps. Please let me know how it goes.
  •  Well, Johnny, your website of the week didn't keep me from being a guilt-ridden Catholic because I probably wouldn't have felt too guilty.  However, I do like to go to Mass if at all possible when I am traveling.  I tried your website for fun and ended up finding a church only 3 miles from where I was staying traveling between judging two cheerleading competitions.  And it also had a 5:30 Mass which turned out to be the time I needed.  I have learned interesting items from JJ once again.  Thanks, Joan S
  • Johnny:  Great newsletter as always, I enjoyed reading it since it's going to be 20F here in Nebraska today, those Hawaii shots looked wonderful! I need to get there someday, now I have some ideas.  Ken.. 
  • Dear JohnnyJet: Count me as another of your fans who looks forward each week with great anticipation to where you are at. Your column is so well organized and informative and omniscient. Wow.  Just look at those last two words. Omniscient. That's you, Johnny. And, wow. A palindrome. Imagine those two words sitting together side by side. Incredible. Words are so much fun. But I am getting carried away here. Let me get back to the point. Your magnificent weekly column. No wonder your comprehensive travel site has been praised in over one hundred and fifty leading newspapers and magazines including USA Today, NYTimes, LATimes and so many more calling your site a gem, an encyclopedia of travel and too many other superlatives that space does not permit me to quote ., I  refer you to the movie Analyze This where  Robert DeNiro playing  a mob boss says  to Billy Crystal playing a psychiatrist in the movie "You're good" .... I didn't mean to get carried away again, sorry. I enjoy the photos too, especially the ones of your father; you really make mince meat out of him each week, don't you" Lucky that he's not in the mob. But don't you think the Manatees may be insulted by  comparing a picture of that overweight gentleman to them? I wonder. Also, the pictures of your father with his beautiful companion Nancy are always too dark. Could you make them sharper and clearer?  I had the pleasure of seeing you at the Travel Show in Long Beach recently where you were on the panel of distinguished travel experts and you were very funny and hilarious. Why the audience (the auditorium was packed) thought you were a paid professional comedian besides a person infused with so much knowledge about traveling. I had the pleasure  of being introduced by you to Arthur Frommer and his lovely wife Roberta as well as Michael Shapiro at Tequila Jack's after the show. Lovely people. They all spoke highly of you. You kind of wonder about their judgment. Anyway, please make lots of money as  this is payback time! Your father.  And stop with the jokes about dear old dad.
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Aloha from Maui Johnny,  Please note that travellers are not permitted to bring any fresh fruit on flights to or from the Hawaiian Islands. This is to protect the fruit and vegetables grown in the islands from mainland insects. Therefore, I suggest carrying individually packaged Chamomile tea bags instead.  The airline staff are always happy to provide a cup of hot water and you can brew your own soothing brew. I find that is tastes best with a bit of sugar or honey and lemon, if you can get some from the airline staff.

From: Lynn Erfer, Resort Representative, Kaanapali Beach Resort Association

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Renting a Summer House On Beautiful Cape Cod From Rudy Maxa
Beaches, lobster rolls, ice cream, and other simple pleasures.
One of my favorite childhood memories revolves around the summer my parents rented a vacation home with another family on Cape Cod. I'll never forget shopping for my first live lobsters and romping on perfect beaches. Newsletter Editor Heidi Daniel and her family vacation there regularly, and I asked her to tell the rest of us how we might best find a summer home to make new memories. Read Full Story

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