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    Many people search for a good museum while on vacation.  I sure do, especially when it's raining and I'm in some far-off land. Here's a website that will help you find the perfect museum to suit your needs. You can sort by interest, or type in the city name. Results will come back with all the info you need: description, services, collections, activities, hours, address, admission and the museum's website.  Very handy!
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We're back!  What an action-packed travel week this has been. We begin at a Hollywood screening, and end up in one of America's favorite cities: San Francisco. But don't forget our 16-hour trip to Chicago to have dinner with my cousins. Make sure to pack a light carry-on, because on this two-day trip we’re not checking luggage. 
On Monday night Amber Airplane and I headed to Century City for a screening that was directed and produced by one of my old friends. I met my buddy  John Dolan in my home state of Connecticut when I was 18, and have fallen in and out of touch with him over the years. You know how that is, right? John moved out to L.A. a few years after I did. He began as an actor, and eventually worked his way to a successful commercial director. Now he has his first big movie. When we pulled into the Twentieth Century Fox studio to see his film, Amber Airplane and I felt like we were actually in a movie.

Driving through that entrance – the one used in so many movies -- probably has that effect on a lot of people. The entrance has a long row of tall palm trees, and as we drove further along we saw all the stage sets where they film movies and shows. We also saw gigantic movie posters, with the studio's current releases and past blockbusters, along with crew members zipping by in their little golf carts. Amber Airplane and I asked each other, "How cool is this place?!" The lot is massive and we finally found the theatre where John's film "Home James and Don't Spare The Horses" was being shown.  What was neat was that it was the sound department’s theatre (each department must have its own), and they had all their Oscars in the lobby showcases. They also had some sweet pictures on the wall, like this one of Elizabeth Taylor.
The movie was great. It was so amazing to see John's name up on the big screen, and have the packed house (a mixture of his friends, family, and colleagues) clap at the beginning and end. I'm not sure if you will see the movie, because it's only 30 minutes long, and features need to be 90 minutes.  I am sure it will make its way onto cable or into film festivals. If you do see it you will agree that the acting and cinematography are awesome.  Another pleasant surprise was that we ran into one of my old  neighbor's and her date. That is always a relief, especially when at an event where you don't know many people. The four of us ended up hanging out and having a good time at the after-party together.
We didn't stay long, because we had to get up early the next morning. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I always take my friends to the airport, and in return they do the same for us. We were surprised when our good friend Joe Lewis offered to take us to LAX at the early hour of 6:30 a.m. But Joe says, “That's not early for Joe Lewis.” He is a real character (who sometimes speaks in the third person). The only problem was that he has a Jeep with no top or windows, and L.A. was suffering through a cold spell: 49 degrees in the early morning. Brrrr!  

When Joe came to pick us up, I asked if we could drive my car instead. He said, "If you want a ride by Joe Lewis, then it's gonna have to be in Joe Lewis' Jeep.” There was no time to call a taxi and I didn't want to be high maintenance, so I grabbed my winter hat and jumped in the  back seat.  I figured as long as Amber Airplane sat in the front with the heat on, she wouldn't freeze her little tush off. Wrong! Not only did Amber freeze but her hair flew all over the place.  When we got to LAX I noticed the heat was not on. I said, "Damn, Joe Lewis, no wonder it was so cold.” He just laughed, like he did it on purpose. I don't think Amber Airplane thought it was funny, though, because her teeth were chattering.  I had to undo her seat belt and lift her out of the car, that's how cold she was. I joked with Joe Lewis that the only reason he took us was to torture us. He laughed, and I saw a little smile on Amber's face so I knew she wasn't mad. The good news is we saved $20.  

Our first stop was Chicago. Cousin Dennis was kind enough to pick us up, and we drove 40 minutes to the North Shore where he lives. Near his town I noticed this sweet police car.   Dennis said he knew the cop, and I should take a picture. He pulled over, I jumped out and snapped the picture. When I got back in the car I said, “Your friend was looking at me like I had a gun, not a camera.” Dennis said, "Oh, he's not my friend. I just know him because he’s one of the meanest cops around. He's so mean he would give his grandma a ticket for jaywalking." Good ol' cousin Dennis, always messing with me.
We were in Chicago for two reasons. The first was for our monthly dinner with Dennis and his family. The other was to do my monthly segment on "Chicago Tonight.” That's a great gig for me, because the studio is near Dennis' house, and I get so many new subscribers after each show. If you live in the Chicago area it's on PBS TV, and is on channel 11. The show went really well, and they asked me to talk about holiday travel tips and deals. Click this link to read my notes. 

It was also nice to be in Chicago this time of year because we could see the foliage and get a good feel for fall. Not only that, but Dennis' wife Sheridan made an awesome dinner as always. This month it was penne a la vodka. For dessert we ate Halloween candy that their kids collected. You always have to make sure it's not poison, right? That's what my dad always told me. Dennis and Sheridan have two kids, Willem and Bea, and both went trick-or-treating in different neighborhoods. Willem stayed close to home, while Bea went with a friend to a really rich neighborhood. After seeing what was in Bea's bag, I might go trick-or-treating with her next year. The neighbors must compete for who gives the best candy, because they handed out full-size bars and even designer chocolates. You gotta love competition! It was kind of like last week's airfare sale to London: British Airways offered $100 each- way tickets, then Virgin one-upped them with $90 tickets.
Our time in Chicago was short because Amber Airplane had to be in San Francisco for a spa appointment (I’m sure she will write about it for her new website, (sign up for her newsletter!) .  She got a facial from Oil and Water Skin Care .  She is still working diligently on her website and newsletter, which she hopes to officially launch in a couple of weeks.  

The next morning we were on a flight to Oakland. Silly me, I scheduled the flight at the same time I was supposed to call in to a radio station in Sarasota, Florida, where I give the hosts (Marcus and Roy) a travel website of the week and weekend specials.  I had to call from the plane. Luckily we were still boarding, so I didn't have to use the expensive AirFone. It was my first time giving a radio interview while a pilot was talking over the PA in the background. It was pretty funny.
Our flight to Oakland was 4 hours and 26 minutes, which is longer than normal due to headwind. We were starving (as always), and were excited to try United's new pay food.  They offered a free snack pack of chips, salsa, crackers, cheese and a cookie to all passengers, but we opted for the real stuff. We had a choice of breakfast (a bagel with cream cheese for $3, or a breakfast croissant with fruit and yogurt for $7), or lunch (chef Salad for $7, or a Thai chicken sandwich with chips and a cookie for $10). The prices weren't bad, and you can pay with a credit card. We both had the chicken sandwich -- it was tasty!).   
When we arrived at the Oakland airport we headed to the ground transportation door.  We bought a $2 AirBart ticket for the shuttle bus that takes you from the airport to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit ) station across the street from the Oakland Coliseum.  You have to buy a ticket before you get on the bus, but you can do it inside the airport (by the exit) or next to the bus stop.  The ride takes 15 minutes, and is just like taking a car rental shuttle bus. However, the route does not give a very favorable impression of Oakland. I don't think I would take it at night.
When you arrive at the BART station you need to buy another ticket for the train ride. I think you need to have a Ph.D to work these  machines, because they’re so confusing. I know we’re not idiots, because everyone else around us had a hard time too. Seriously, it's much easier to use transportation machines like these in foreign countries. The good news is it costs only $4.70 to go from Oakland to San Francisco. A taxi would be at least $55, and a shuttle bus $18. The bad news is the train goes underwater for a bit, and it makes loud awful noises similar to the sounds in the movie Ghost (you know, when the demons from hell get the bad guy). However, even the sounds and ear pressure (chew gum or swallow often) going underwater aren't enough to make me not take this great and affordable transportation.  

We got off at the first   stop in the city, which is Embarcadero (it took only 15 minutes). We stayed at my buddy Rick's phat pad in the Marina district. You might recognize Rick: We ran into him several months ago in Australia.  From our bedroom window we could see all the mansions in Pacific Heights.  Amber Airplane and I got ourselves acquainted with the area by taking leisurely walk around the Palace of Fine Arts , Exploratorium and the Marina to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.  This place sure is peaceful.  Unfortunately on this trip we didn't have time to explore the sites, but hopefully we will soon.
San Francisco has so many good places to eat that it's always tough choosing where to go. We decided to stay in Rick's neighborhood, because they have so many good restaurants and we could walk. Amber Airplane loves sushi, so I suggested Ace Wasabi's. This is one of the best places to begin a fun evening.  First of all, if you get there early (6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday) you can play a free game of bingo. The winner gets $20 off their meal! We came up short again, but it was fun. The owner Ken and his staff are really friendly, and the food is awesome. I don't eat sushi, so I had the spicy green beans and chicken strips. Ummm Ummm!   Ace Wasabi's:  3339 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA 94123, tel.: 415.567.4903.
What I like about this area is that everyone is so friendly and fun. It's a great place to network too. If you want an action-packed evening, follow this game plan. After eating dinner at Ace Wasabi's, follow the crowd to other local bars. Most people wander down (take a right on) Chestnut Street around 9:30, and head to Cosmo's Corner Grill. After a drink or two there the crowd bounces back and forth between two bars two blocks away (up Fillmore at Greenwich): Balboa Cafe and the Matrix. This is where all the Beautiful People hang out, especially on Thursdays. If you want to go dancing, then head up the street to the Comet Club. Unfortunately, there are no pictures from these places because we didn't go. I had to do some homework for my big interview the following morning.

The next morning we went to breakfast at another restaurant around the corner from Rick's house: the famous  Bechelli's diner.  This place has been around since 1977, and serves a killer breakfast. The only bad thing is its prices: French toast cost $8.50!  We sat at the counter, across from some funny girls that Rick and his buddy Dr. Rick had fun chatting with. FYI:  Dr. Rick won the America's Cup in San Diego in 1992, and still sails today. I also hear he is a fine chiropractor, so if you find yourself in SF and throw your back out climbing the hills, call Dr Rick  at 415-826-1000.  He said he would be happy to accommodate JohnnyJet readers. Bechelli's: 2346 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA, tel.: (415) 346-1801.
After breakfast we said goodbye to  Rick in front of the Tech TV studio. In case you missed it, you can watch my segment from your computer: just click here.  I love doing the "Call For Help" show, because everyone is so cool and laid back. We have so much fun on the set with Leo the host and his crew. In between commercials Leo chats with everyone just seconds before they go back live. What's really cool is that Leo called me “Tech TV's travel expert” on the air, and invited me to come back once a month. Even cooler is that they asked Amber Airplane to be a guest on the show to talk about her new website once it's up and rolling. Hopefully, you’ll see us both on December 26, for their 12-hour "Call For Help" special.

Next week we’re off to the desert -- you don't want to miss that! Also, tomorrow (Thursday) Amber Airplane and I will be live in the studio on The Travel Hub. It's on the  World Talk Radio Network and SignOnSanDiego radio from 6-8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. You can call in at 888-514-2100, or internationally at 001-858-268-3068.

Happy Travels!

Johnny Jet

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Dear Johnny:  My family, 2 adults, 2 kids (15 and 21) are planning to go to Italy next June. Any suggestions on reasonably priced escorted tour groups, I have no idea what I am doing, so I am a little nervous.  I was thinking we could go for 10 days. HELP JOHNNY! Thanks a bunch, love your stories  A Jersey Girl!!Mom and Wife!! 

REPLY: I asked my good friend Richard Roe to answer this question.  He is one of our Italy experts and offers tours there.  You probably recognize Richard from his popular movie "Pop and Me ".  From Richard: Hi, First, you have chosen what I and many people believe to be the number one travel destination in the world-Italy. Good idea!! I do run escorted tours actually anywhere in the world, and just finished an 18 day tour of Italy, but my tours are geared more to 4 and 5 star hotels versus "family travel." (Incidentally I am a big believer in family travel and the way I am going to suggest you go is how I went with my family)so I will offer you my best suggestion. Rent a van for the 4 of you. Go to and check out the rates. Try to be in Italy a minimum of 10 days, preferably more, and if you rent the vehicle for more than 21 days you get an excellent rate. If you want to do this as inexpensively as possible, and you have experience camping, bring your camping gear and go that route. There are many books which will give you names of the campgrounds. Next best is to go to small hotels, or "agrotourismos" which are kind of like farmhouse style bed and breakfast. But be cautious here as many are very expensive or they could be more rustic than you want. I suggest an itinerary of Rome, Florence, Venice, the Lake district, The Cinque Terre area (about 60 miles south of Portofino) and the Amalfi Coast. I highly recommend using The Lonely Planet version of Italy as I believe they have the best travel information. Some of the highlights of your trip will occur as you are driving from place to place in little out of the way villages. I hope this was helpful. Good luck and ciao, Richard Roe

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