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Here is a small collection of lodging specials you can book. These deals require pre-payment and allow you to save up to 70 percent off rack rate.  Expiration dates are listed in parentheses.  Hundreds of additional specials are posted online.

**Sydney :   Radisson Plaza from $129.95, Best Western Capital Square from $75.95 and Stella Suites from $75.95 (April 3-30)
**Las Vegas :   Las Vegas Hilton from $59.95 (April 3-30),  Lady Luck from $35.95 and Las Vegas Club from $25.95 (April 3-May 31)
**San Francisco :  Hyatt Regency from $119.95, Quality Inn Union from $69.95 and Pan Pacific from $129.95 (April 3-17)
**Boston :   Copley Square Hotel from $99.95,  Days Hotel Boston from $79.95 (April 3-28)
**New York City :   On the Ave from $99.95,  Helmsley Hotel from $119.95 and Stanhope Park Hyatt from $179.95 (April 3-30)
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  • Sale fares to Florida and Mexico from $198 R/T
  • Save on Easter travel with sale fares from three airlines
  • Europe on the Cheap Continues through June, But You Have to Buy Soon
  • Matched: American, Continental, Northwest, United and US Airways have matched a fare sale that Delta began Monday. Tickets must be purchased by April 16 and are good for travel April 14-Oct. 1, except for some holiday dates. The lowest fares require travel Monday through Thursday or Saturday. Other restrictions apply. United Airlines also cut fares to Hawaii. Go to United's Web site,, for details.
  • New California Shuttle Bus Service Between Los Angeles And The San Francisco Bay Area: California Shuttle Bus has a new service for travelers searching for alternatives to driving, air travel and existing bus lines between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. This new service will use luxury buses and offer convenient pick-up and drop-off locations at major hotels, as opposed to traditional bus terminals. Departures are between 2 and 4 p.m. with arrival at 9 to 10 p.m. For $60 per person, one-way, you can reserve your seat and the seat next to you, for added room; for $40 per person, one-way, the seat next to you will not be guaranteed vacant.   For Reservations .
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Frank and I were walking around the Sydney Central Shopping Center trying to find You Know Who.  While we were cruising from one shop to another we passed one of the many Flight Centre's.  These travel agencies are everywhere, similar to the ABC stores in Waikiki.  Frank decides to go in and check out some side trips.  When I walked in, Frank was looking at Brochures for Bali and other Indonesian hot spots.  I said "Frank, we're in Australia, let's stay around here, besides I really think you need to check out the Great Barrier Reef, since you are such an Aqua Dude".  He agreed and so did the agent.  I mentioned Hayman Island because I have been there and I know it's one of the top resorts in the world.  When the lady said it's for honeymooners, Frank said in a Tony Soprano tone "fogetaboutit". She said how about Hamilton Island? It's near there, but with a lot more going on"?  Sounds good to us!  

While sitting there waiting for the tickets to be printed, I spotted Amber Airplane across the way in a beauty salon.  She was getting her hair and nails done (shocker!).   I went over to her and said, "guess what?  We need to go back to the hotel and pack up.  Frank just booked us on a flight to Hamilton Island and it leaves in 2 hours".  "Really? That's so cool", she said.  I went back across the hall and asked the agent what time we need to leave for the airport to make the 1pm flight.  She said "you have to leave the city by noon".  Noon?  That's pretty lax, but hey she should know best.  Right?

As usual, we left about 10 minutes late trying to fit all of Amber Airplane's bags in the taxi.   To make matters worse, our driver dropped us off at the wrong terminal. It's 12:35pm and we have to run across the parking lot to the other Qantas terminal.   It amazed me that the airport was so quiet.  We hardly saw anyone around which was probably why the agent didn't give us any grief  like; "What are you thinking showing up so late?"  Instead he just smiled and told us the way we needed to go.  There was no line at airport security and it is run similarly to the U.S.   Which means we had to take our laptops out of our bags, which really is a nuisance, especially because my bag has a broken zipper.   

I was excited to fly Qantas.  It's always been a goal of mine.  It may be because I love 747's and I always see their cool red and white planes at LAX. It could also be that they have a kangaroo painted on their tail and it looks way cool.  Maybe it's because Australia is so far away and Qantas is the flagship carrier there.   I dunno, all I know is that I was excited.  We boarded a squeaky clean boeing 717 and within minutes we took off.   The seats were comfortable, the flight attendants professional,  and the food... well it was normal airplane food.  We didn't really care what they were serving because we were all STARVING, and I am sure we looked liked a pack of hungry wolves because we grabbed the snack boxes from the flight attendant before she could even put them down. 

The 2 hour flight was smooth up along Australia's east coast.  You can compare it to flying to Florida from the New York City, except down here we are flying North to the warm weather, not South. Warm it was, and everyday it was hot and humid.   What did you expect when Hamilton Island is on the same latitude as Rio De Janeiro?   The average temperature year-round here is 81F degrees.  Not too shabby, eh?

Hamilton Island is situated in the heart of the Whitsunday's.  There are 74 tropical Whitsunday islands that are situated in the Coral Sea between the Queensland Coast and The Great Barrier Reef.  James Cook supposedly discovered this place while traveling through this area on his journey on June 4, 1770.  That day just happened to fall on a Sunday and because it's the seventh Sunday after Easter it's known as White Sunday.  Thus, the name Whitsunday's.  I have never heard of White Sunday either, but that's what the history book said.

Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island out of all the Whitsunday's.  It's also the only one with an airport.  Getting here is easy because it is serviced by at least 48 flights per week by Qantas Airways.   This includes direct flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns.  FYI:  Qantas has a monopoly going on in Australia, especially after Ansett Australia went out of business.  In fact, Qantas now controls 80% of all Australia's flights.  Sounds like a racket to me!  Obviously,  that doesn't give traveler's a lot of options, however they do have a low cost airline called Virgin Blue.

Seven of the islands have resorts on them, another five are habited and the rest including the Great Barrier Reef are protected by the National Parks and Wildlife. What you will like about Hamilton is that over 80 percent of the island has been preserved in its natural state, so visitors can enjoy the beauty of the island including the beaches, nature trails and secluded hideaways.  We took full advantage of all them as you will soon see.

When we landed, we set our watches back one hour's time and walked down the stairs of the jetway where we were greeted by a host.  He asked us which hotel we were going to and he told us which shuttle was for us. You have to love when you hear "don't worry about your bags, we will get them and deliver them for you". Not bad, eh?  As we drove out of the airport, we saw the plush yacht that transports guests forty minutes to ritzy Hayman Island.  Now that is a great place to go on your honeymoon.

Unlike Hayman, Hamilton Island offers a variety of places to sleep.  They have the five-star Beach Club, the four-star Reef View, the three-and-half- star Whitsunday Apartments, the three-star Palm Bungalows and Palm Terrace, and the Island Apartments & Villas which have 1, 2, 3 & 4 bedroom apartments and range from three to five-stars.  We booked at the last minute, so everything was sold out except a 1 room apartment at the Whitsunday Apartments.  It turned out to be perfect and not too expensive.  Our place was huge, it had a kitchen, and would sleep five people comfortably.  Not only that, it had amazing views

Hamilton Island stretches 3.1 miles from north to south, and 2.1 miles from East to West.  It's a perfect size and we took a walk in to town to get ourselves familiar with the island.  We checked out the shops and ate at one of their sixteen restaurants.  The food here is good and they have a wide range of options (seafood, Italian, Thai ...).   The bonus is that the huge breakfast buffets are included at all the resorts on the island.    

The only cars you will see are shuttle busses and work vehicles and there aren't too many of those.  But you will see plenty of " buggy's"  (they are just modified golf carts that go up to 20 mph).  The locals who have their own carts, rig them so they go even faster.  We didn't rent one because Frank said we needed exercise (Shocker!).  Obviously, the island is so small you can walk all around, and if you get lazy you can call one of their two taxi's.  Oh yeah, they also have a free shuttle in the evening.  After a few days, I said forget this walking stuff, and I rented one of the buggy's.  I did it only because it's a great way to see the whole island and fast!  I highly recommend paying the high rental fee because cruising around the island is phenomenal!  There is so much more to see than the street going from the hotel to town.  If you want to save money then rent it after 5pm for 13 hours, it's only AU$35.00.

Another plus for the island is you can charge everything to your room, except purchases from the Post Office and the bank.  This means you do not need to worry about carrying your wallet around, which is always good news.

Aside from the amazing scenery, have I mentioned the wild birds?  The place is full of wild Cockatoo's and Lorikeets and chances are they will be sitting on your balcony when you wake up.  These birds are so beautiful, it's hard to believe they are wild, especially when they land on you.  Besides the birds, guess what you will see flying around?  That's right, our friends from the Sydney Botanical Gardens; the BATS!  Although, I only saw a few of them.

There are a ton of things you can do and see on the island.  Obviously, you can go out to the Great Barrier Reef  (more on that next week),  water skiing, windsurfing, catamaran & yacht sailing, tennis and squash, work out,  miniature golf, game fishing, nature walks, whale watching (mid-July to September), scenic flights, parasailing, speedboat rides, sunset cruises, go-karts, sea kayaking, 4WD safari tours...

The only bummer about this place is there are deadly marine stingers especially this time of year (October-May).  These pink jelly fish are the size of fingernails and  usually can't be seen with the naked eye.  Taking a dip in the sea may not be such a good idea.  Most people I spoke to recommended using a thin lycra stinger suit to swim or snorkel, but even then you are not totally covered (feet, hands, face).  You do not need to bring this suit with you as most companies either give them or rent them for $5 a day. One worker told me it's the same risk as getting struck by lighting, so he goes "no worries", but I didn't see him swim at all and when I asked him why he doesn't go for a swim now, he said he didn't feel like it. Okay there, mate!  They said they haven't had that many people stung this year and when I asked when the last one was, they said  "three weeks ago".   They also said most people don't die.  They just have a really bad fever for one to five days.  They weren't convincing enough and it made Amber Airplane and I opt not to take a chance in the water.  The good news is they are not found out by the Great Barrier Reef,

We heard that nearby WhiteHaven Beach is one of the nicest beaches in the world. We knew the resort offered a few different options and we went for "more is better".  That deal was for the same cost as the others, but this one included a stop at a secluded island on the way so people could snorkel.  Well, we forgot to ask one important question...  What are the size of the boats?  Ugghhh.  Turns out we were on a twenty-five foot rubber raft, instead of the deluxe 300 seater catamaran that just cuts through the waves like a knife.  The boat we went on would be great when the water's calm, but it's a BIG MISTAKE on stormy days and today was  ... you guessed it.  

Sitting on our "dinghy" with a dozen other mates from around the world, I could only think of the worst while we were going out to the middle of nowhere with no sign of life.  "This thing is definitely going to sink and then we are going to have to try and swim to shore before the sharks or the marine stingers get can feast on us, and if by chance they don't get us then surely, the wild animals on the inhabited island will".  I was just shaking my head side-to-side while I put a fake smile on pretending everything was great.  But deep down inside I was praying, because I thought for sure we were all done.  

Good thing I couldn't have been any more wrong!  The ride was adventurous, the snorkeling was great (according to Frank, I wasn't going out there and having my butt laid up in a hospital bed for a week), and WhiteHaven Beach really was unreal.  I'm telling you the sand was like talcum powder, by far the softest sand ever! I am not lying when I say it squeaked when you walked on it. Yes it SQUEAKED.  The beach should be at the top in every survey, and if it's not, they haven't been to WhiteHaven.  We walked, played cricket,  and made sand angels.  What an amazing place.  

Coming home... don't ask.  It started to pour and I just kept telling Amber Airplane as well as other passengers to look at the horizon so they didn't get sick, especially on me!

Next week come with us to the Great Barrier Reef!


Johnny Jet

  • Hello Johnny.  A friend sent me your "Where's Johnny" newsletter from last week.  It was great, with lots of good Sydney information.  I'm going to take a vacation there in 2 months and liked what you wrote.  The guy "Phil from Glendale" that you put in there had some good leads on places to visit.  I'm going to subscribe to the letter. Les
  • I enjoy hearing about your trip down under - perhaps someday... Bob - Pittsburgh
  • I love your newsletter and site, particularly the index of recent travel articles from the major publications.  By having them all collected like that, it's such a breeze to just go down the line and click on the appealing articles.  Your work has enabled me to add tremendously to my knowledge about travel.  I've been using the link on your newsletter for Price line, I want to support your site.  Mike M - Washington DC.
  • loved the rocky thing...too wish i was going back instead of scotland perhaps next year anyway so glad your website exists!!! it rocks....peace....and thanx again....Connie
  • First, please let me say that I absolutely LOVE your website.  I found it while on  My passion is traveling.  I could, and have, spent hours online researching upcoming trips.  Your website will certainly save me time.  Second, I must tell you that I was very moved by the lovely dedication to your mother.   She must have been a remarkably special woman.  I, too, lost my mother to cancer almost eight years ago.  I must also add, if you are not currently attached, I think you would make a great *Bachelor* for the TV show!  BonVoyage!  Donna
  • Thanks so much for getting my first newsletter! Really love it!   Sandy Dhuyvetter Travel Talk Radio
  • I have been a Johnny Jet subscriber since 2000 and love it!   Chris Daigle-  New Orleans, LA
  • I've seen quite a difference in attitude here [London] since my last [Dec. 2002] trip over things related to the war in Iraq.  There is a lot of support here for Britain's efforts there, especially with reports here about mistreatment of British soldiers.  I want to avoid politics, but I will say that Americans are as welcome here as ever...  maybe more so!  You said it best on your great "Where's Johnny" Newsletter last time when you said that you might as well travel to where your friends are!  I will add that when I was with my family in Sydney in January, when some Rugby fans in a pizza restaurant discovered we were visiting from the USA, they "shouted" us drinks and toasted the USA when we got up to leave!  Phil - California
  • LOVE your website. Louise
  • Your pic's from australia are amazing. Darcy -Washington D.C.
  • Try Johonnos, its a bar in caines.  US 2.00 for a picture of beer during happy hour and live music. Eric
  • I'm loving your Australia journal and congratulate you on your wonderful writing style-next best thing to being there, which I was February/March 2002.  Thought you might like these jokes from an Australia tourist website: Willa Mathison.

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i think you already know you're in the best part of the world, namely oz. i also probably dont have to tell you about the amazing beauty of the area of fnq-that's far north queensland-around cairns.  the drive between cns and port douglas along the coast ranks up there w/the world's best scenic drives. further on through the fields of tall sugar cane to the mossman gorge where a swim in clear cold spring water and a slide down the smooth rock slides is always the best way to cool off in the antipodean tropics.  if that werent enough, then you come to 'the daintree' where the rainforest reaches right to the coast and the reef is closest to the eastern shore providing for a much quicker trip for snorkeling or diving adventure.  book out of port douglas marina for the closeness advantage and the smaller groups to the reef.   the daintree is world heritage rainforest and also a river which requires crossing via a kind of cable/pulley ferry barge-y thing.  there are short excursions up and down the river for lazy croc viewing etc.  along the road through the rainforest there are places to stop for a foray into the woods or onto the beach at cape tribulation-where capt. cook had his fill of the aforemention-named cape.  couple a eco-resorts where you can have a feed and the bat husbandry project's home, which is trying to protect the native 'flying foxes' who are somewhat in peril due to the modern world encroaching.  you get to see and hold a live bat - or have it dig its claw into your shoulder while trying to get its' bearings upon being palced there.  they take the little orphaned babies in also and nurse them till theyre old enough to survive. they have pics of little furry faces with beady eyes and rubbery noses swaddled up in white blankies laid end to end in the bassinet.  too cute. lest i forget, in mossman , the grandaddy of all eco-resorts, silky oaks, is a must stop for meal, drink or walk around the along the river.  only thing better is to spend the night!!  port douglas makes a smaller, friendlier base than cairns, has gorgeous 4 mile beach which is completely netted for the summer box-jellyfish season.  great restaurants- atlantis is most memorable and bananas is pretty wild where everybody ends up eventually for drinks or a meal and the owner alex's highjinks.  oh, and an excellent weekend market, amber.  this is very much one of those 'places at the end of the road' towns, like key west 20 years ago. if you are in cairns, check out red ochre for aussie bush tucker-witchetty grubs, wattle-flour breads-yum-and all manner of native edible flora and fauna.
i am thirty shades of green------with envy.  you look like you're having a great time.   if you head inland while up there you will undoubtedly hear about kuranda.  there is now a cable car/tram thing that takes you up to the'tableland' and the village of kuranda and an authentic old steam train back down through astonishing gorge countryside.  kuranda has great markets-amber-the tjabukai dance theater of aboriginal heritage  is good and worthwhile. this area begins the atherton tablelands, an other-worldly kind of place with barren stretches punctuated by enormous termite mounds and various tropical oases complete with waterfalls and swimming holes, towering palms and gum trees and willows and alternatively, secluded pine-shrouded lakes teeming with wildlife and old lakeside resorts with corny-good corny- boat trips around the lake, tea rooms, ice cream parlors, i could go on but will stop now.  theres only so much vicarious living a person can do.  one more thing--the 2 places i seem to return to again and again are byron bay, easternmost point of aussie mainland up the coast at the nsw/qld border and noosa heads on the sunshine coast north of the brisbane and the gold coast sprawl.  both are surrounded by areas of great preserved natural beauty,  kings beach s. of byron and mount warning and the old hippie,now drug-addled, town of nimbin-very freaky-inland to the west.,  byron itself with the lighthouse jutting out  the cape on craggy cliffs where wild goats graze and hang gliders take off.  this area is one of great connectiveness to the universe a la harmonic convergence-wise.   at noosa,  noosa natl park is right in town with a good hike through koala habitat to alexandria bay beach and to the north is the jumping off point to fraser island, the worlds largest sand island with enormous multi-colored dunes and perch  lakes-volcanic canyons full of water 'perched' on top of dunes when the oceans receded ages ago- of soft spring water thats been filtered through all that sand and that feels like you're swimming in evian water.  you'll be gob struck dumb at the beauty.  plenty of great spots to stay and play in those places.  let me know if you need some recommendations. enough already!!  you too are all too cute !!  keep the pics/reports coming. sm

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Your Money and Travel - The New Rules
By Rudy Maxa

Once, financial planning for an overseas trip was easy. The US dollar was strong, and all you had to do was buy a wad of travelers' checks at a bank to pay for expenses on the road. Today, the advent of the ATM has made obtaining local currency easier than ever while abroad, but there are other pitfalls. First, the dollar is sliding fast against the euro and other currencies. (Exceptions: the Canadian dollar and Mexican peso.) If you're planning an overseas vacation this summer, you have several choices to combat a slumping currency. You can pay ahead for a package holiday or even for a week in a hotel. That insulates you from paying more if the dollar continues to fall. (Of course, you lose if the dollar turns around before you take your trip.) Or you can buy a lot of euros or whatever foreign currency you'll need on the road. Both tactics put you in the position of a currency speculator, a role not everyone might be willing or ready to play.

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