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Briefs: Discounted wine tours offered to France, Italy

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A man who says he's afraid to fly is spending the month of June living on a plane. Mark Malkoff, 33, a comedian and filmmaker, boarded his first flight June 1 from LaGuardia in New York, where he lives, heading to Atlanta. He plans to stay on AirTran flights until June 30. The airline offers wireless Internet service, so Malkoff is posting updates about his trip on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace and on his blog, Videos on his blog show him playing a cramped game of Twister with other passengers in the aisle, his crazy dances when the plane is parked for the night, and a wacky experiment to see if the airplane bathroom will suck an entire roll of toilet paper down in one flush. Malkoff takes five to a dozen flights a day and tries to exercise between flights when the plane is empty by jogging in the aisles and doing push-ups on the seats. When the plane is parked for the night, he sleeps onboard, alone. As for his fear, "the flying has definitely gotten easier. The biggest thing that's helped has been the pilots explaining the specifics I have a hard time with in detail, such as turbulence."

Discounted wine tours offered in France, Italy

Two small companies that specialize in wine tours have reduced their prices on several escorted trips to Europe. La Dolce Vita Wine Tours (toll-free 1-888-746-0022, is offering discounts of $400 per person on two tours in Italy. The five-night Discover Sicily trip, which begins Sept. 7, is $2,595 per person double, and the four-night Venice to Amarone trip, departing Sept. 21, is $2,345. Both include lodging, many meals, sightseeing and taxes. Select Wine Journeys ((604) 882-9649, has $600 discounts on two tours to France's Loire Valley. Regional Cuisine & Wine Week, Sept. 20-26, is now $2,395 per person double, and History & Wine in the Loire Valley, Oct. 4-10, is $2,295. Both include lodging, most meals, sightseeing and taxes. Air fare is extra on all tours.

Soon you can cruise on Cumberland Island

National Park Service administrators have signed off on allowing motorized tours of Cumberland Island, a protected area 15 miles off Georgia's coast. Previously, visitors were limited to hiking or biking on the island and only the hardiest hikers got to see much of the island's mix of untamed maritime forest and luxurious 19th century getaway homes built by wealthy industrialists. The tours will begin once funding is secured and likely will be conducted in trolley trailers towed by Jeeps.

A celebration each day with SpongeBob

If your child can't live without a daily dose of SpongeBob SquarePants, Orlando's Nickelodeon Family Suites has a perfect birthday present in store. SpongeBob and Team Nick now get together for a "Daily Birthday Celebration" at 5 p.m. each day for resort guests, with Nick-style entertainment, birthday cupcakes and pictures with SpongeBob SquarePants, all free of charge. Other packages include the "Best Birthday Present Ever" (NickHotel offers guests a free stay on their birthday with the purchase of two nights) and the "Nick Birthday Blowout" (an unbelievable party including meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters, messy interactive games, bottles of slime for birthday guests and more, starting at $39.95 per guest, with a 20-guest minimum). For details, go to or call toll-free 1-877-642-5543.

Compiled from Times wires

Briefs: Discounted wine tours offered to France, Italy 06/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 18, 2009 5:36pm]
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