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Last week I wrote about our trip to New York City. We were there for two weeks, and went to Connecticut on weekends to visit my dad, my brother and my sister. Therefore, this week we pack our weekend bag and head out to Connecticut (or “the country,” as New Yorkers call it). 
But before we get to Connecticut, I should mention that last week marked the first time in Amber Airplane’s and my three-year relationship that one of us got sick with a high fever. She caught it first, and the next week I was laid up in bed. The good news is our flu did not last long.  I don't think there is a better place to be sick than New York (besides your own home, with someone to take care of you). But if you are alone, then New York City tops my list. It has everything you can possibly imagine, and almost every store and restaurant delivers -- free. It's so great to call up and say, “I need fresh-squeezed orange juice, Tylenol, vitamins, tissues, fruit, soup and bagels –ASAP.”  Ten minutes later, voila -- it's all at your door! I hope you won't get sick when you travel (or anytime, for that matter), but if you do, make sure you’re in New York.
A train trip to Connecticut begins at Grand Central Terminal. Metro-North is the commuter line that takes tens of thousands of passengers back and forth each day. Tip: Make sure you buy your tickets before you board the train. In Grand Central, the ticket booths are open as long as trains are running. In CT, if the booth isn't open inside the station there are usually easy-to-use ticket machines outside the station or next to the platform.  (Grand Central has these machines too.)  Purchasing your ticket on board raises the price considerably, and conductors take cash only. Here's a breakdown on a one-way off-peak fare from Grand Central to Rowayton, CT. Buying your ticket in the station costs $8.75; on the train it’s $12. Quite a difference. But did you know the cheapest price is on the internet? Yep: $8.31. Click here for more Metro-North fares and train schedules.
For your information Grand Central Station is a great place to hang out and grab some food, so show up early. There are over 25 places to eat: everything from a quick, inexpensive (for NYC) sandwich at Zaro's, to spending a bit more money at the world- famous Oyster Bar. GCT always has something going on too, so be sure to check out their online calendar.  A notable event is the annual Taste of Grand Central, set for Saturday and Sunday, October 25-26. The  “Taste” offers large samples of signature dishes from participating Grand Central Dining Concourse eateries and fine restaurants for only $10.

If you have a lot of time to kill, then take a free tour of the world-famous station. Click here for more tour info.  My last tip for Grand Central is to check out these valuable coupons online. My last tip for Grand Central is to check out these valuable coupons online. They can save you a good amount of money. No matter what just make sure you look up and stare at the amazing ceiling (even though it is backwards). My Mom loved the ceiling and she would always look up at them even if we were running to catch a train.  
Finally we make it to Connecticut, which is a great escape from the heat and madness of the city in the summertime (Memorial Day-Labor Day). Most New Yorkers  try to leave on weekends for either the Jersey Shore, Long Island (Hamptons, Fire Island....), Massachusetts (Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket...) or Connecticut. 
Fifty-five minutes later my sister Georgette picked Amber Airplane and me up at the train station. She took us to the hospital where  my mom used to go every week for chemo. I didn't want to go for the obvious reason: It brings back bad memories.  But Georgette insisted she had a pleasant surprise there. She was right. It turns out that Georgette was asked by her art teacher if she would put her and my mom's artwork on display there for all the cancer patients to enjoy. As you can imagine, it was a very emotional visit.  It was my first time in the cancer ward in almost three years. I remembered how everyone there was always so pleasant to me, and more importantly my mom.  I used to spend a lot of time (I regret not spending more) just hanging out with my mom, talking to her while the chemo was being fed intravenously.  
The most difficult part about seeing the exhibit was walking by the meeting room. I had forgotten about it, but was instantly brought back in time. This was where the doctor told my family and me that my mom had only a couple of days to live.  It was the beginning of (by far) the hardest week of my life (hopefully it stays that way).
I am not writing this so you will feel sad for me or my mom. You shouldn't. First of all, I know my mom is in a better place, and when my time comes I will be with her.  Second, I know I was the luckiest son on earth, to have my mom physically with me for 31 years.   Third: I share these experiences because it's not only therapeutic for me, but a way to keep my mom's legacy alive.
The best part of the day was seeing my mom's art work exhibited and appreciated. The first framed pieces were an introduction written by Georgette and a picture of my Mom painting in the field, with Georgette behind her. The introduction alone made my throat swell up, and the picture opened up a flood of tears. I won't show you all the pictures, but this was one of my favorite pieces of my mom's. Here's one of my favorites of Georgette's .  I hope you enjoy them too!  
I go to Connecticut so much that it's probably boring for you to see pictures or read the stories, so I will try to add something new. If you are in Connecticut in the summer, if it's sunny (unfortunately, it rained half of this summer) you should head  down to the beach or go for a cruise on Long Island Sound. I was lucky enough to do both. First we went right to my old summer hangout, Bayley Beach.  Bayley is in Rowayton, and I used to know three-quarters of the people there. Now I just run into a few childhood friends.  

You should know that most beaches in CT are private. You either have to belong to their association, or live in the town to use it. However, due to a recent lawsuit visitors can pay a daily fee, which is usually expensive (Bayley costs $25). This must be difficult for vacationers to comprehend, especially a Californian or Aussie, who comes from a place where the beaches are mostly public and are a thousand times nicer. These days one of my favorite activities at Bayley is have a sunset barbecue with friends and family. Speaking of BBQs, we went to a couple. One was at my brother’s, and the others at my friend TG's. They both live on the water so we tried to catch some snappers (baby bluefish) but didn't even get a nibble. Well, that's not completely true: We got a lot of bites, but they were from mosquitoes, not fish.
The next day my brother-in-law Cam took us on a  boat ride on Long Island Sound. This is the ultimate way to cool off in the summertime. We went out to Sheffield Island, for a swim and guess who surprised us? My brother, Frank cruised by and joined us for a swim. The water temp was a refreshing 70 degrees. Did you know that if you are in this neck of the woods (I mean, “the country”) you can see the New York City skyline on a clear day? Click here for more info on Sheffield Lighthouse.
That night after our BBQ we went bowling at Rip Van Winkle with my dad, his girlfriend Nancy and my cousins Nicky D, AJ and Jamie. My family competes for everything –even bowling.  So we split the teams up, and the losers had to buy late-night snacks at the Post Road Diner.  I won't tell you who lost, but I will say I didn't have to pay :-)   
AMF Rip Van Winkle Lanes, 701 Connecticut Ave, Norwalk, CT, tel.: (203) 838-7501.
Post Road Diner, 312 Connecticut Ave, Norwalk, CT, tel.: (203) 866-9777   
When it was time to go back home to L.A. we left from NYC. We called Tel Aviv car service (212-777-7777); there's also Carmel Car service (212-666-6666). I think the management at Tel Aviv must've been reading my emails, because ever since I said they are unreliable, they have been very reliable. They are a great, inexpensive alternative to waiting for a taxi. First of all, both of those car services are the same price as a taxi.  Second, you can pay by credit card, and lastly, there cars are usually much more comfortable. The only reason I put “usually” in there is because one time they picked us up in a broken-down station wagon. Do you remember? I thought we were on Candid Camera. It was pretty funny. This time they picked  us up in a brand spanking new Town Car. The ride was smooth, except we ran into nasty traffic at 2 p.m.  Folks, this is why I said on national TV I hate going to JFK airport. There is always traffic!.  
Luckily, we left with plenty of time to spare and made our 4 p.m. flight to Los Angeles.  The five-hour, 38-minute flight couldn't have been smoother. 
Happy Travels,
Johnny Jet
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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!
  • Hey Johnny,  I like to read all the personal info and I am sure a lot of other people do too and your right in telling the gentleman on the subway that is just one of the things that makes it different and so enjoyable to read. You and Amber are a beautiful couple, keep it coming!  Royce
  • Johnny -  Just wanted to start by thanking you for always being the highlight of my email each week.  I look forward to your stories and all of the misc. things you pick up on!  Just a quick question.  Last time I was in NYC we got a great deal on a Howard Johnson in Times Sq. for $89 (the week before Christmas I might add!).  We want to go back pretty soon, but I haven't been able to find a deal quite as good.  In your latest email (9/10/03) you mentioned you were in an apartment.  Did you stay in a rented apartment?  If so, do you have any websites that you would recommend in lieu of staying in a hotel?  Thanks, Steven G.  REPLY: Wow!  $89 is a great deal especially that time of year.  Best advice is to shop around all the places to stay.  We have links to everything.  Also you might want to check out last week's sponsor .   Good Luck!
  • Hey Johnny,  I particularly enjoyed reading about your NYC trip as it brought back memories of my and my husband's week long trip there this past June.  We also went to a Yankee's Game and Peanut Butter & Company among many other places in our "John & Deb explore the 5 borroughs of NYC".     John & Deb  Claremont, CA
  • Great stuff, as usual.  Your TV experience was a riot -- reminded me of my Donahue and Daily Show gigs last year.  It's truly an out-of-body experience -- you just get carried along, and don't even have time to think.  You captured it well.   Dan - Connecticut
  • As today is September 11th I was very pleased to read about your latest trip to New York and how you received tickets to the Yankees game.  On September 22, 2001 my oldest daughter and I landed at La Guardia.  She’s an attorney who passed the NY State Bar Exam and was required to visit Albany to be sworn in as a NY attorney.  It was always her dream to live in Manhattan and work in the WTC.  We planned the trip months in advance and against our better judgment went anyway.  Turns out we had tickets to the very first home game for the Yankees after 911.  Your account brought back the vivid memories of the game, and our trip.  New Yorkers are the best.  We too were fearful of taking the subway, but it was so crowded and so much fun.  Thanks for bring back the memories.  Geoffrey O - San Diego, CA
  • "Oh well, I’d rather see the Yankees lose now than in October." Funny, I'd rather see the Yankees lose now and not play in October.  :)   Steve - Boston
  • So close and yet so far. I'm sorry to say that I missed you on Fox TV but reading all about it from you and your faithful followers it sounds like you were a big hit. The next time you appear you should attempt to convince the TV bigs that Amber should be with you as well; did the Lone Ranger ever go anywhere without his faithful companion Tonto?  The "almost" in my subject refers to my being in Times Square yesterday and the day before; almost made it to the web cam. It was beautiful weather in the city and the streets were crowded, but not annoyingly, with New Yawkers and many tourists. I have a license to make fun of NY Cityites since I was born and raised there - in Brooklyn and Queens. By the way, my business in NY was strictly legit, going for a visa at the Brazilian Consulate. They really don't make it easy to get one as it requires two days of trips and $100 each, but my understanding is that Brazil is just reciprocating for what the USA does to Brazilians. That's a "shame on you" for both countries! Looks like Johnny Jet is getting to be a family affair. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter Kori wrote to you. Guess there are somethings a daughter doesn't divulge to her parents. :~) She's all over the globe and a terrific writer - really! If you get an article from her you'll be pleasantly surprised as she also has a wry sense of humor. Stay well and keep the beat of travel. Burt from NJ
  • Your site is very good! Meriel
  • Love your weekly newsletter!  I also just utilized your website to do some research on travel insurance for my upcoming trip to Africa.  Made my life easier!  Thanks!  You seem to be in the city on a fairly frequent basis, you have to check this book out.  Invaluable resource!  Especially if your a cheapsk...  er, I mean as frugal as I am! Keep up the good work! :-) Nicole S. - New York, NY

    *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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Hi Johnny, Well, at least I agree with Richard R. about Rome.  I could easily live there too.  However, his complaint about Siena is not really valid.  Everybody except the residents themselves has to park where he did and travel as he did to get into town.  Tour buses might be able to drop people off closer, but we still had to walk a ways when I was there last fall. I believe the train gets one closer into the town itself, but it's still a walk to many of the sights.  Walking is the only way to see Siena.  The "streets" are way to narrow for anything else.  Yes, there are lots of tourists in Venice and Florence.  In Venice the daytrippers abound, but evening is much nicer.  So is traveling outside of the main tourist season, which I can now do.  In trips at the height of the season, I tend to be able to overlook the dirt or not let it bother me because there are so many wonderful things to see. Also I have had no trouble finding real Italian food.  Get off the main streets/calle and find places where people who seem to be local are eating.  I have a couple of favorites in both Venice and Florence with excellent real Italian food!  Ciao, Joan Schmelzle

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  • Metal knives reappear in the U.S. skies: Northwest Airlines begins using a recently approved stainless steel knife in business class on most of its international flights.  Joe Brancatelli
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