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This is it... your last week in Australia (Unless of course we go back this year...and you very well never know). This week we will finish up with Hamilton Island and pay another visit to Sydney. So sit back, relax, and buckle your seat belt, you have two flights this week, one short and one trans pacific because you have to go back to work. (Boooooooooooo! )

It was difficult leaving Hamilton Island, it really was.  I would love to just spend a few months there writing a book or something.  The only thing I could find wrong with the island was that part of the year they have deadly marine stingers which makes you think twice about going for a swim.  The other is something so ridiculous, only I would care. Are you ready... they don't have high-speed Internet access.  I know, boo to me for thinking of that. 

We packed up our luggage and left it outside our door just like you do on a cruise ship.  You have to love not lugging it around.  The airport was quiet and our plane was about 70 percent empty. You have to love that, too.  Taking off we didn't speak to each other, not because we were sick of one another, but we just wanted some quiet time to look out the window and reflect. 

I didn't care too much for my Qantas snack box.  It came with OJ, mixed nuts, and an orange flavored brownie. I hate orange flavored food, so I gave it to Frank who thought it was the best thing ever.  Can you believe we are brothers?   I then fell asleep and when I woke up I saw Amber Airplane reading  this book. I thought I was hallucinating, so I did a double take and said are you finally getting some self-help?  She said, "Are you kidding me?  This book is about all the best places to shop!”  Then I said, "Are you kidding me?" and passed out.

Our somber moods wore off quickly. As we circled  Sydney we got excited to spend a few more days in our new favorite city.  We checked back into our home away from home, the Sheraton on the park.  Got the same rate of $168.00 a night.  For those of you who just signed up to this newsletter, that price is in Australian dollars... so take off about 40%.  Not bad for a 4 star hotel in the heart of the city, huh?

We found out one of our good friends from home was in town, and Frank was pumped.  You have to understand, Rick and their new Australian buddy Blake,  are just like my brother.  Handsome, successful chick magnets who are Tony Robbins fanatics to boot!  They are perfect for each other.  Frank is so generous that he checked us into our hotel then said, “Guess what? I'm out of here” and he spent the last few nights at Blake's house.

Naturally, Frank missed us and called later that night to see if Amber and I wanted to go over to Icebergs.  Remember  icebergs? The cool-hip club located at the top of  Bondi?  He wanted us to stop by and have a drink with the boys.  I knew we were in for a treat when the doorman said, "Johnny Jet and Amber Airplane... Welcome to icebergs!”  Amber and I were like... “What?”  We figured Frank and Rick were already in there and they probably introduced themselves to everyone.  Sure enough they were the life of the place and with in minutes they were on a first name basis with everyone from the bouncer to all the pretty Aussies ladies.    Frank had me rolling when he started imitating the guy who passed out the last time we were there.  Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious.

The next day we went to  Darling Harbour.   Darling Harbour used to be a busy port, but it declined, then the city rebuilt it in the 80’s to what it is now.  It's this huge waterfront tourist park that has shops, restaurants, gardens, museums, an aquarium, a convention center and a casino.  You can easily walk there from downtown, but the best way to get there is to jump on the Metro Monorail.  The monorail is supposedly one of only a few above ground rail systems in the world that operates through the heart of a major city.  In my opinion, it's more of a tourist attraction then mode of transportation, but its still worth taking.
Amber and I walked around and had lunch at an awesome  noodle bar called Wok on Inn.  What a great name.  Here we could choose our type of noodles, vegetables, meat, and what style: Thai, Malay or Chinese.   Wok on Inn Darling Harbour, Level Two, Harbourside Shopping Centre, tel. 9212-6655.  I'll spare you our shopping experience. What's interesting though, we could not find an Australian license plate for my nephew with his name "Johnny" on it?  But they had all kinds of names I’d never heard of like; Rohan and Tayla. What's up with that?

On the way back to our hotel we stopped at the  Sky Tour.  It's located in the Sydney Tower at Centrepoint.  You can't miss it because it's in the tallest building (820 feet). The views from the top are supposedly amazing, but we never made it to the top, even though our ticket included a free trip up there.  We just didn't have enough time.  Instead we stayed on the third floor because Amber really wanted to do the Sky Tour .  The Sky Tour cost $12USD a piece.  It takes about 30 minutes and was just OK.  The highlight is "The Great Australian Expedition Ride" which is similar to Soarin’ Over California ride at Disney's California Adventures, but doesn't even come close.

We rushed back to our hotel to get ready for our last nights hurrah.  A trip to Sydney wouldn't be complete without actually going to the Opera House for a performance. Well, there was no opera going on, and the only event was a  play called the Way Of The World. Unfortunately, it was down stairs in the basement, not in one of the tortoise shape shells. I couldn't really enjoy the play, because my A.D.D. totally kicked in, and it didn't help that the play was written ca. 1800, or some time around there.  Don't listen to me, because almost everyone else loved it.  The good news we bought our heavily discounted tickets at Halftix, which is similar to TKTS in NYC, except no lines.

After the play we were all STARVING, shocker, I know.  But the play started at 6:30pm and ended around 9pm, so we didn't have time to eat before.  Unfortunately, Sydney is not like a lot of major cities where restaurants stay open late.  The majority of restaurants we came across stop serving at 10pm or earlier.  Which is fine, but our problem was none of us could agree on which place to go to.  We trekked from one place to another; looking at the menu, and then someone saying no, let's try the next one.  It was a nightmare. Finally, I said it's 9:55 and we are going to end up eating vegemite in our room.  The idea of eating vegemite will make most American’s scowl.   In the end, we went to our first choice (typical, huh?).  We hopped in a 5-minute cab to Wooloo- what? Woolloomooloo. That’s where you can find the fine Manta Ray bistro.  The food was excellent, the waitress was one of the best ever, and the atmosphere was great.  You won't be disappointed at Manta Ray, The Wharf at Woolloomooloo tel. (02) 93323822.

Our last day Down Under we woke up, packed and took a taxi to beautiful Bronte Beach to have  breakfast at an outdoor cafe with the crew.  Bronte Beach reminds me a lot of Laguna and La Jolla beaches (both in California). It was relaxing just to sit there and feel the warmth of the sun, hear the roar of the ocean, and see the beautiful scenery.   Unfortunately, time went by too fast and we had to say our goodbyes.

As I said before we were using Amber Airplane's air passes this time, so we flew stand by.  There are no sure things with those passes, which is why we rarely use them.  It's always a bit tense.  All you can do is hope and pray. At the  airport :  Frank went to the airline club to eat, Amber went to... that's right, Duty Free, and I just looked out the window and checked out the planes .  We arrived at the gate and saw what looked like about 20 non-revenue passengers hovering around.  That didn't make me feel too good because you never know how many people would upgrade at the last minute.  I knew before we left for the airport there were about 20 open seats between First and Business (and about 30 in coach).  I conceded we weren't getting First again because of all the senior people.   Well, they called everyone's name, and I was just thinking to myself. Please, Please, Please, Please, Pleeeease, Pleeeease, Pleeeeeeeease, Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, be Businees.  I really did not want to sit in coach for 12 hours and 50 minutes (the flight is shorter going home). Our names were the second to last to be called and guess what seat we received?   25CDE which on a 747-400, is bulk- head BUSINESS CLASS! Yeah BABY! I moon walked on to that plane.

We took off right on time at 4pm.  The flight was smooth and I knew one of the flight attendants, so we got some extra good service.  I can't sleep too much on planes so I just watched movies, watched the in-flight map and stared out the window whenever we flew over somewhere cool, like Tahiti.  I couldn't see anything because of the clouds and it was dark out for about 7 hours of the flight.   I bought one of those in-flight adapters for your laptop at a store called Tandy.  It cost $100AUD and with the exchange rate it turns out I saved $40 US by buying it in Australia. How do you like that Amber Airplane? I can shop too!  I now don't have to worry about my battery going dead after two hours.   Of course, you have to be in Business or First Class for the plug and even then there are no guarantees the airline will have a working outlet.

The only other eventful things that took place on the flight were there must've been some kind of Mr. Universe competition going on  down under.  We had about 5 Gym monkeys on the plane.  These guys were huge and the one who sat across from me had a serious sleep disorder.  The dude was tossing and turning. Literally his arm almost came across the aisle and hit me.  Did I mention he made the craziest snores you have ever heard?  I thought he was having a convulsion.  Then when the dude finally woke up, I fell asleep.  I must've been wiggling the same way he was because I dreamt Amber Airplane was buying duty free from the flight attendant.  I woke up only to find the flight attendant standing directly above me exchanging money for goods to Amber.  There is no escape, not even at 35,000 feet…
Other helpful websites for Sydney:

  • If you heard about us somewhere else please reply to this email and let us know where!
  • Dear JOHN, Your article was absolutely excellent. Very long and very informative. You seem to get better each week. This letter is not sent for publication but to congratulate a rising star. Dad
  • Excellent. Right back on track with great writing and pictures. Your Brother
  • Hey Johnny Jet,  I love reading your newsletter and living vicariously through you and your fun loving family. One question though. In your most recent newsletter you have a picture of you, Frank and Amber on top of the summit after hiking and Frank is wearing black shorts but on the way down when he supposedly finds a baby crocodile he is wearing tan shorts. What gives? Does the guy go everywhere with a change of clothes handy? I mean I know he is a rock star, but c'mon.  John T-  Connecticut 
  • Great shots of passage peak trail...quite awsome experience (but trails are my thing so a bit partial) none the less good job as alwayz..and to you as well a peaceful easter and/or passover....stay safe and thanx for letting me trip along with ya!!  later.  ConnieLoved the pics fromOz..brought back great memories. Sue and I just got back from Squaw Creek Resort with the kids and did some skiing..still snowing in April.  John & Sue 
  • As a veteran traveler who is always looking for the next adventure, I am curious how you support what you do. I spent several years at Fielding Travel Guides and enjoyed the business immensely. I just did not work for someone who relished making a profit. I spent my years there in the roles, simultaneously, of Director of Editorial and Director of Publishing, picking up additional responsibilities for Marketing and Sales as I demonstrated my multi-tasking abilities. Is your firm in need of people with such skills? I still would like to know how you do what you do. Regards and happy travels,  Paul - San Clemente, CA  

  • *Please note that we reserve the right to post excerpts, perhaps edited, from your message on the Johnny Jet website and newsletter. We will not use your full name without your express permission. If you'd rather not have your message posted on the website or newsletter, just say so and it won't be.

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Dear Johnny Jet, I need your advise. I was out on a few days ago and I randomly put in a bid for $ 995.00 for a trip for two to Las Vegas in June. The trip includes round trip air for two adults from Chicago (O'Hare) to Las Vegas, and a 6 nights stay at the Venetian Hotel. Could I have done better? My bid was accepted sooo fast from Priceline, that I am now wondering if maybe I spent too much? I have never had a priceline bid accepted before on my first try. What's your opinion? Thanks for your advise! Teresa F -- A long time JJ fan.

Teresa, Thanks for your long time support! $995 sounds like a pretty good deal so don't worry. But next time you place a bid make sure you go to to see what other people are bidding. It's a great site, but please come back to Johnny Jet to go to Priceline (We get credit for bids). Thanks, Johnny

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  • Iraq: The Next Adventure Travel Destination?
  • Food sale : United Airlines will test food sales on selected flights on the Denver-Seattle route through Saturday. Breakfast will cost $7; lunch and dinner, $10. One of the eight meal offerings includes a grilled turkey panini sandwich served on sliced challah bread, with a bowl of fruit and a chocolate chunk cookie.
  • Air New Zealand drops Sydney-Los Angeles service permanently on Sunday, April 27. 
  • San Francisco gets even more connected
  • "British Air's actions rather remind me of the boy who has too many marbles for himself, but refuses to share them with anyone else in the playground.  It does highlight the curious unbalanced equation that BA has to deal with - the Concordes are not the most profitable way for BA to get its passengers across the Atlantic, but although it will save money if it discontinues Concorde, it would lose a great deal of money if another airline took over the Concorde flights, due to the high fare passengers that would then switch loyalties from BA to the other airline". David M Rowell aka The Travel Insider
  • Aeroplan frequent flier program $25 for every reward flight they book, plus a $15-25 fuel surcharge as well, adding $35-50 to the cost of an otherwise 'free' ticket.  Air Canada says that this will bring in tens of millions of dollars of extra profit each year. David M Rowell aka The Travel Insider
  • Will US Airways become a Star Alliance member? Last week, published reports attributed to a Lufthansa executive hinted that both US Airways and Air China might be invited to join the global airline family. The subject is expected to come up at a Star Alliance meeting on May 30. The addition of US Airways would certainly make sense, since the carrier recently entered into a code-sharing and frequent flyer partnership with United, Star Alliance's largest member.   From SkyGuide
  • AA's main opposition came from former TWA attendants
  • Cruise passenger saved after 17 hours in Gulf
  • $3 to the bills of airline passengers leaving Hawaii
  • 2003 SINGLE PARENT TRAVEL SURVEY: The Single Parent Travel Network is hosting a survey on the needs of  traveling single parents.  Their previous survey was instrumental in convincing Beaches Resorts to waive their single supplement and institute single parent programs. Beaches was so impressed with the first survey, that respondents to this years survey will be entered to win a free trip to one of their resorts.  The survey takes approximately five minutes to fill out, and all information will be kept confidential (not to worry, they won't sell your name and e-mail address!).  Fill it out here .
  • THE SINGLE PARENT TRAVEL HANDBOOK:  The Single Parent Travel Handbook is a "must read for anyone who wants to make family memories last a lifetime!….Practical tips that really work and suggestions you know had to come from personal experience. The stories and articles range from entertaining to downright hilarious. Read this book even if you can't afford to travel-it makes you feel as if you are there!"-Kay Brewer, Parents Without Partners.  Buy It Here .

Drinking Water by The Independent Traveler

Contaminated drinking water is the most common source of health problems while traveling. Gastrointestinal distress is the most common symptom. Unfortunately, the mere inconvenience of multiple trips to the bathroom isn't the only thing to worry about. Contaminated water can also cause bacterial diseases.

Bottled or Boiled Water
You're up against a varied army of potentially injurious contaminants while traveling. Luckily, there is something you can do about it: avoid the local tap water. Most microorganisms are killed when boiled sufficiently, and bottled water is generally available.

Bugs, Parasites, and Other Contaminants
Some common bacteria found in drinking water include E.coli, cholera and salmonella. These can be killed be filtering and with chemical treatments. Protozoa include giardia and cryptosporidium, and respond well to filtering due to their relatively large size. Viruses include hepatitis A, polio, and rotavirus, and are very difficult to filter due to their very small size; chemical treatment works best for viruses.

Additionally, chemical pollutants, particles and debris, and other contaminants can cause problems. These are less likely to respond to boiling, and may require a combination of treatments.

These conditions are not limited to developing countries. Cryptosporidium outbreaks have appeared in the U.S Midwest and Northwest, and even Scranton, Pennsylvania, as well as in highly populated cities in Australia. Giardia is found in the water supply in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Some cities may advertise their drinking water as being chlorinated; this doesn't necessarily mean that the water is contaminant-free. Your best approach when faced with potentially unsafe drinking water is avoidance.

What You Can Drink
In addition to bottled and boiled water, tea, coffee, canned soda and juice, beer and wine are generally safe.

Brush your teeth with safe water
Brushing your teeth with contaminated water will have the same effect as drinking it outright. Don't brush your teeth in the shower. Use bottled water.

Avoid Ice
Freezing water does not kill bacteria. A margarita on the rocks may sound appealing, but ice cubes present the same problem that tap water does. You can make your own ice if you boil the water first.

Contact Lenses and Dentures
You don't need to drink contaminated water to be exposed; always consider alternate sources of exposure. Wash contact lenses and dentures in water you trust.

Water Purification Tactics
Boiling water is an effective tactic for removing all parasite contamination. Water should be boiled for at least 10 minutes or longer, especially at high altitudes, where the boiling point will be lower, and some parasites might not be killed as quickly. Allow any sediments and particles to settle before drinking, and then decant the water from the top into another container.

Immersion coils are cheap and the work well. Magellan's sells these and most of the other products mentioned below.

Commercially available iodine or chlorine tables work well. However, long-term use can cause these compounds to build to unhealthy levels. Additionally, iodine and chlorine do not remove particulate contaminants, are unhealthy for pregnant women and thyroid patients, and do not kill some parasites, such cryptosporidium.

Iodine is the more effective of the two solutions. Potable Aqua, composed of the iodine compound tetraglycine hydroperiodide, is the most popular brand of water purification tablet. Read directions on all tablets systems for tablet-water ratios and dissolving times; 20 minutes or more may be required for the tablets to dissolve completely, especially in colder water.

Chlorine Bleach
If you do not have tablets, two drops of common chlorine bleach in a quart of water will help as a last resort.

Water Filters and Purification Pumps

Outdoor stores like REI carry water filters and purification systems. It is essential that the filter system you choose is suited to your needs. A filter with an insufficiently small pore size, or one that is not designed to filter viruses, may permit some contaminants to get through.

Filter/Chemical Combination
Bacteria are more easily filtered than viruses, but are resistant to chemical treatment. The opposite is true for viruses. Many filtering/purification systems combine the two methods. You can combine the two on your own by using a filter and chemical (iodine) treatment.

The Steri-Pen
A new product is on the market which will enable you to disinfect water quickly and discreetly in any restaurant or hotel while traveling. It uses ultraviolet light to disinfect, and is portable, so you can take it anywhere. We highly recommend this to anyone who frequents areas where the water is suspect, particularly if you plan an extended stay.

Hot Water Bottles
Prolonged exposure to higher temperatures will kill many parasites. Drinking from a hot water bottle is slightly safer than drinking untreated, cold water.

When to Damn the Torpedoes
If locals are drinking the tap water without ill effect, there is no known occurrence of giardiasis, and you are going to be staying in one location for four weeks or more, you may want to drink the water to allow your body to acquire some of the local microbes. Start slowly and allow your body time to adapt.

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