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Greetings! Things have really started hopping after our return from the far reaches of the Pacific. First we had nonstop house guests – and now I’ve just learned that two of my family members have moved to L.A. One was my cousin Dennis. He is now working (temporarily) out here. Instead of staying with us or at a hotel he got his own place -- right across the street from our house. Another surprise came from my cousin A.J. After he and his wife Jamie promised me forever that they would move to L.A., they finally pulled the trigger. But they’re a little farther away than Dennis: 20 miles, not 20 yards.

I have always been close to both A.J. and Dennis, so naturally I’m spending a lot of time with them. I’m sure our other halves are delighted about that (is my sarcasm coming through?). Luckily, having A.J. and Jamie in town means Amber Airplane and I get invited to all kinds of swanky Hollywood parties and events. These guys are so dialed in. In fact, the first week alone we went to two movie premieres.

The first was at one of L.A.’s coolest theaters, the ArcLight. This place not only has 14 screens, but a café bar in the lobby (for a nice meal or drink before or after a flick), and a café balcony with a killer view of the lobby below. We saw "Games People Play", a crazy reality movie with lots of nudity. It was at times hilarious, shocking and bizarre. Check it out for yourself. The ArcLight, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd. (between Vine and Ivar, with DeLongpre to the south), Los Angeles; tel.: 323-464-1478.

After the screening there was a Q&A with the director and cast. That was followed by a cocktail reception in the balcony bar. What was pretty funny was that they served white wine in pee cups (I guess you’ve got to see the movie to understand). The cups reminded me of a story from when I worked in the Marymount College admissions office. Everyone there was really cool, and we always played practical jokes on each other. One day the school brought in a speaker to talk about drugs and drug testing. Afterwards they had a little reception, and they too used those specimen cups for the drinks (with apple juice, not wine).

One of the more memorable jokes we played used those cups. I filled one up one with apple juice, put it in a brown bag and had my colleague Kevin privately ask our assistant Cecilia to watch it for him while he went to lunch. He said it was his urine sample for a very important doctor’s appointment after work. He emphasized that it was a very important sample, so she needed to keep a close eye on it.

She took the bait. Half an hour later I came running into the office, pretending my mouth was burning from spicy beef jerky. I said I needed something quick to drink. Everyone except Cecilia was in on the joke, so they pretended to look at me blankly. I rummaged through the refrigerator, said "What’s this?" and opened up the brown bag. Then I said, "Cool -- apple juice!" When I popped the lid open and started to drink it Cecilia freaked, yelling "NO! NO! DON’T!" You should’ve seen the look on her face while I was drinking -- it was classic. The other workers were literally rolling on the ground in laughter. But what’s really crazy is that I actually was hesitant about chugging it. Knowing those jokesters, they could’ve played the joke on me by switching the apple juice for, you know -- the real stuff.

Back to the party. Besides the cast, there were other familiar faces. One was Mr. Blackwell, who is famous for his "Best and Worst Dressed" lists. Of course I didn’t ask him what he thought of the way we dressed. I’m sure he would have said, "Well, Amber Airplane has plenty of style, but you boy need some help." Mr. Blackwell was very nice, but I should point out that Mr. Suave himself did have a stain on his shirt. We also ran into Sarah, who was a semifinalist from the first "Joe Millionaire."

After the party we were all starving since they didn’t serve food so we went to one of AJ’s friend’s restaurants. Dolce serves up some pretty tasty Italian food, but it’s not cheap. I like going to hole-in-the-wall Italian places -- not because of the lack of atmosphere, but because the food is usually better, you get bigger portions and it’s cheaper. However, with high prices you at least get a swanky interior and great atmosphere. Dolce: 8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; tel.: 323-852-7174.

The following night we were off to another premiere. This one was for Jamie. She recently played the lead in the USA Network’s "Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss". I thought the movie was entertaining, and Jamie did an incredible job portraying her. But that’s not just family pride: All the other guests said the same. I must admit, it was tough to see her do the bedroom scenes (I just closed my eyes).

The premiere was at the Pacific Design Center on Melrose. After the screening there was a cocktail party in the lobby. It was filled with lots of our friends and family. We also rubbed elbows with film stars like Robert Davi and Corbin Bernsen. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA; tel.: 310-657-0800.

For Easter (I know, I’m a week behind on my stories), I went to sunrise service at Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes. It’s not a Catholic service, but the incredible views were just too good to pass up. Amber Airplane thought it started at 6 a.m., but it was really 6:30, so we hung out in the pitch dark. Wayfarers Chapel 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA; tel.: (310) 377-7919.

Later that afternoon AJ, Jamie, Dennis, Amber Airplane and I were back in that area for Easter dinner. We dropped by my Aunt Gloria’s to say hi, then we ate at Aunt Kay's... It was nice to reunite the East and West Coast cousins for something other than a wedding or funeral.

The next day I went running, to work off all the chocolate bunnies I ate over the weekend. As I cruised down the Strand in Manhattan Beach I spotted some shiny change on the ground. I stopped to grab it, and ended up having one of my most embarrassing moments (maybe it was payback for all the practical jokes I’ve played). I squatted down to scoop up the coins, but they didn’t budge. It took me about a second to realize what was going on, but it felt like three minutes. It turned out some jackasses crazy-glued the penny, dime and quarter to the cement. I was probably being filmed with all the rest of the suckers for some candid camera show. When I stood up and started running (much faster of course), I could just feel a bunch of kids laughing their butts off at me. Payback’s a bitch.

Next week I am back in New York for a travel conference. I also take a side trip to…?

Happy Travels,

Johnny Jet

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  • That was a great one!!!!!!!! So nice to see your Dad, Frank, Georgette, AJ, and Mike Manna all at once!!!!!!!! Looked like fun. Matt W. - Seattle
  • If your travels ever land you in Austin, Texas, our headquarters, gimme a ring or email, we’d love to treat you to airport transportation to your hotel in one of our fine towncars. We love your site and haven’t seen ya’ come down to ol’ Texas, so let us know! Much props to you & Amber Airplane! Thanks for having such a fun site! Beth A – Austin ~ TX
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  • Loved your stories about your Dad and his wonderful reunion honoring him at the Waldorf Astoria. Inez - Idaho
  • I recently ran across an article in Entrepreneur magazine that referenced your web site. I do a fair amount of travel in my current position and I was intrigued. I was surprised and shocked to see that it was someone that I remembered from high school. I want to congratulate you on a fantastic site. I like the ease of navigation, I like the availability of information, and I like the overall concept. Being in business myself, I can fully appreciate how difficult it is to create a "sticky" web site. The picture galleries are great. It appears as though you have been one very busy person!!! I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that you have included your friends and family throughout the site. It is a nice personal touch and it shows that not only are you in business, but that you are having fun doing what you do! David K - Boston

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Rome- Must see when visiting Italy. Rome offer antiquity, Renaisance and Baroque periods of existie architecture. Best time to vistit is September when the tourist crowds are depleted. August is a popular time to visit but it also coincides when Italians go on vacation. Many stores and restaurants are closed for vacation during the month of August. Italy provides a good value for the dollar if compared to other European countries such as France and England. Must sees in Rome are the Vatican, Colosseum, Piazza Navona, Piazza Espana, Trevi Fountains, Catacombs, Villa Borghese, Via Veneto and much more. Wear comfortable shoe for there is a lot of walking to be done. I don't recommend driving in Rome. Many of the tourist sites are accessible by metro, bus, taxi and just simply walking. Renting mopeds can be fun, but be carefully because Rome can be confusing with its one-way streets and pedestrian only sections. The food is great and the people are friendly and hospitable. Accommodations range from less expensive to very expensive. Some of the most expensive hotel suites can be found in Rome. A suite can reach up to $14,000 a night. Don't be alarm there are rooms for every budget. Italian hotels are based on a Star System 5 stars meaning th highest of standards. 3 star hotel usually provides great accommodations at reasonable prices. A popular destination within 3 hours from Rome is the Amalfi Coast and the surrounding islands of Capri and Ischia. The history is rich and illustrious and the beaches are small but charming. Daily trains, buses and hydrofoils depart from Rome. Renting a car is also an option but gasoline is very expensive costing on average $5 a gallon. Accommodations are available through out the coast. Some of the more popular destinations on the cost are Positano and Amalfi. Sorrento is also popular amongst tourist. Daily departures from the Amalfi and Sorrento to the Islands of Capri and Ischia exist by either boat or Hydrofoil. During peak season, hotel accommodations can be rather expensive. The premier Hotels in the region are the San Pietro Santa Caterina, and the Grand Hotel Quisisana. No need to bring cash. Many ATM are located and provide good exchange rates.

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Five tips to finding the best cruise deal online (or off)
Travelers can feel confident about booking their cruise online, but still not know where to go to find the best deal. If you're wondering whether travel consolidators (such as Orbitz or Travelocity), online agencies (such as Cruise411 or icruise), or the cruise lines' websites have the lowest prices, let us give you the scoop on where the deals lurk. Click Here To Read Article

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