Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving and wish for fun holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving to my family, local friends, and travel friends!
Each trip we take, our experiences open new doors! With the challenges of today (economy, war, jobs/no jobs, apartment rent increases in a negative economy, etc) facing us, I am grateful to have and share these memories with everyone.

Travel friends are different than any other type of friend. You meet these people just one time. These new friends which we share ONE moment of our lives and will remember forever! We may never meet our travel friends again, we will always have that one common experience between us. Sometimes we do meet them again.

Enjoy these images from Italia! Peace!
Happy Thanksgiving! The FunTourGuru

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Italian Cars

Dear Detroit car makers,

Please pay attention to this message. Economical cars are not really new and a great source for drivers now. Please contact me for ideas for your 2009 biz plans .... ways to save money, engineer new products and help the environment.

Best Regards,

The Fun Tour Guru

Italian cars in Florence, Italia

Maybe we should take note of these with our latest gas crisis in USA. It really is not new to drive vehicles like these.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Current Events this Week October 2008

Events at the Computer History Museum

This is an event of interest about a significant person from Missouri and who attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College (my Alma Mater) which I will be attending this week. I hope to see local people there!

ABSTRACT OF TALK (copied directly from the Computer History Museum link and belongs to the Computer History Museum).

Born on a farm in Missouri, the sixth of seven children, Jean Jennings Bartik always went in search of adventure. Bartik majored in mathematics at Northwest Missouri State Teachers College (now Northwest Missouri State University). During her college years, WWII broke out, and in 1945, at age 20, Bartik answered the government's call for women math majors to join a project in Philadelphia calculating ballistics firing tables for the new guns developed for the war effort. A new employee of the Army's Ballistics Research Labs, she joined over 80 women calculating ballistics trajectories (differential calculus equations) by hand - her title: “Computer.”

Later in 1945, the Army circulated a call for computers for a new job with a secret machine. Bartik jumped at the chance and was hired as one of the original six programmers of ENIAC, the first all-electronic, programmable computer. She joined Frances “Betty” Snyder Holberton, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence in this unknown journey.

With ENIAC's 40 panels still under construction, and its 18,000 vacuum tube technology uncertain, the engineers had no time for programming manuals or classes. Bartik and the other women taught themselves ENIAC's operation from its logical and electrical block diagrams, and then figured out how to program it. They created their own flow charts, programming sheets, wrote the program and placed it on the ENIAC using a challenging physical interface, which had hundreds of wires and 3,000 switches. It was an unforgettable, wonderful experience.

On February 15, 1946, the Army revealed the existence of ENIAC to the public. In a special ceremony, the Army introduced ENIAC and its hardware inventors Dr. John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert. The presentation featured its trajectory ballistics program, operating at a speed thousands of time faster than any prior calculations. The ENIAC women's program worked perfectly - and conveyed the immense calculating power of ENIAC and its ability to tackle the millennium problems that had previously taken a man 100 years to do. It calculated the trajectory of a shell that took 30 seconds to trace it. But, it took ENIAC only 20 seconds to calculate it - faster than a speeding bullet! Indeed!

The Army never introduced the ENIAC women.

No one gave them any credit or discussed their critical part in the event that day. Their faces, but not their names, became part of the beautiful press pictures of the ENIAC. For forty years, their roles and their pioneering work were forgotten and their story lost to history. The ENIAC Women's story was discovered by Kathy Kleiman in 1985. Bartik will discuss what it means to be overlooked, despite unique and pioneering work, and what it means to be discovered again.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Consumer alert - Alitalia Airlines

Please confirm with your travel agent if you have a ticket issued to travel on Alitalia Airlines

Alitalia (Italy's national airline)European media are reporting this afternoon that Alitalia -- the Italian national airline that has struggled financially for years -- now faces an effective deadline of Monday, Sept. 22, to come up with additional financing to stay afloat. However, the prospects appear grim, as yesterday the last group of Italian investors interested in the carrier withdrew their bid in the face of withering opposition from Alitalia's unions.

Thank you ~

Monday, September 8, 2008

Airline Industry Deregulation

I want to share this article from USA Today, by Bill McGee. Let me know any thoughts?

With industry in crisis, experts question deregulation
Thirty years after the landmark Airline Deregulation Act went into effect, lawmakers and industry experts are no longer unanimous that deregulation was a boon for U.S. fliers. Bankruptcies, higher prices and widespread service cuts have helped spark talk of re-regulating the airline industry. "Three decades of deregulation have demonstrated that airlines have special characteristics incompatible with a completely unregulated environment," says Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines. "To put things bluntly, experience has established that market forces alone cannot and will not produce a satisfactory airline industry, which clearly needs some help to solve its pricing, cost, and operating problems." USA TODAY (9/2)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sightseeing Tourist Attractions Verona ?

Name this city and country ?

Verona - What Country? and name the river?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More from the street dance in the city of Santa Clara

A great 'ol fashion' street dance ... excellent music, great food & drink, good company! At the annual street dance in the city of Santa Clara (CA).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Canals of Venice & Streets of Santa Clara

From the canals of Venice

to the streets of Santa Clara

It is important to find the adventure in what you do. Of course there will be small hiccups along the way as you explore. Focus on the adventure. I am grateful to have such a rewarding, fun, and ADVENTUROUS summer. Tell us your adventure?

If you missed this street dance, the Joe Sharino Band will be playing at Santa Clara's Art & Wine festival in Sept. (again, it will be free) If you missed the canals of Venice .... well, call me and we'll go on this special trip again.

TIP - visit the new tasting room of Beauregard Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, (the old tasting room located on Santa Cruz Wharf has moved). You may visit their new facility at: 10 Pine Flat Road, Bonny Doon, Ca, 95060. Only 9 Miles north of Santa Cruz on scenic HWY1. Picnic facilities available, first come basis. And, I recommend their wine - very tasty! 4 STARS

When you are traveling local or afar, remember to turn the corner, and go down the street that is not on your plan, to discover a new adventure! ~ The Funguru

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Think Green

Are you not sure of what you might be able to do about saving our environment? I found this link to help you.

Go ahead and click on this link and leave my blog, this is great reading. Do something today!

Join others in learning how to change and think differently. Change is uncomfortable, one feels good after they have gone through. Especially if we save the earth.

You may also join me on my Facebook profile and find out what you might start doing today. Take a walk this afternoon .... exercise is good for you, and the earth!

What did you do today to "think green"?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Which cities have you seen from this song?

A quiz for the Huey Lewis and the News fans or any music fan. Remember the song, Heart of Rock & Roll? I copied all the city names mentioned in the lyrics of this song.

New York, LA, Hollywood, DC, San Antonio, Boston, Baton Rouge, Tulsa, Austin, Oklahoma City, Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal

A. What do these cities have in common?
B. How many of these cities have you actually visited for 2 nights or more on a personal vacation?
(List your name, number of cities, and year(s) if possible - any short stories)

Please share and post any interesting stories or information about this song or these cities - the story behind the song? I do not know ... does anyone?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Locally this summer - what to do?

I returned from my own international trip this month which was most agreeable to me. It was a great get away and to explore. Travel is fine, and I (personally) did not experience any irritations or challenges.

I need to update a few items of local interest since I have been away.

I read the latest issue of the Concierge Valley Access e-zine, which highlighted their recent (outstanding) hospitality event in May. This event recognizes the best of the best of the hospitality industry in Silicon Valley. In my opinion, this Hospitality Event is the best of all events – the Concierges really know how to create a fabulous and exquisite evening.

This year, the Best Concierge is Robin Kuborssy, Abbott , Corporate Concierge. Congratulations Robin!

My favorite categories recognized:

Best New Restaurant - San Pedro Square Bistro and Wine Bar
Best Kept Secret - San Jose Jazz Sunday Series
Best Winery - Cinnabar Vineyards and Winery

The remaining list may found at , click on the June Valley Access. Be sure to visit these establishments this summer. What better entertainment is our local jazz music, a new restaurant with great eats downtown San Jose, and good tasting wine ~ and all local in Silicon Valley!

By the way, the new tasting room for Cinnabar Vineyard is located in downtown Saratoga and is delightful. Try their Mercury Rising and 2006 Late Harvest Chadonnay – I enjoyed them. I did learn something about wine after planning numerous events for groups.

Tips for this summer – most wineries are closed on the 4th of July, open again on the 5th July. Summer passport weekend in the Santa Cruz Mountains is July 19 – when you may visit most wineries (even the smaller, boutique wineries) for free with purchase of a passport. Some of the best wineries are located on mountainous, windy roads. Be careful and designate a driver in your group. Buy the driver a delicious dinner at the end of the day!

What is your favorite trip?

When you are traveling local or afar, remember to turn the corner, and go down the street that is not on your plan, to discover a new adventure! ~ The Funguru

Monday, May 26, 2008

More tips for your vacations

Back to my updates ~ of tips from professionals in the Travel/Tour industry. Mariann Millard, Professional Tour Director, offered this tip about the Boston region: "a favorite of mine is exploring Beacon Hill on foot with its narrow streets and ecletic shops."
Do you use a Travel Professional (agent) (TA)? They have the knowledge, will be able to steer you away from the internet deals and inferior internet travel companies, and support you through your travels. A valid TA works with other bonded companies as suppliers. Yes, they do have ways to save dollars if this is what you are searching for. The TA will also give you the value for the dollars you do spend.

Remember with all the mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world, how do you know whether a company is still valid and strong? If you see a great deal on the internet, it is probably too good to be true. Ask questions and call you Travel Agent (TA).

Vacations are a time to get away, relax, and enjoy.

I recommend you connect with a valid Travel Professional to assist you with your plans, before, during and after your trip. A Travel Agent (TA) assists the planning before and after your trip. A (paid) professional Tour Director is with you during a tour – they manage your needs. They are NOT just a leader escorting the trip for free.

When you are traveling local or afar, remember to turn the corner, and go down the street that is not on your plan, to discover a new adventure! ~ The Funguru

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Visiting New York City only for the weekend?

Did you know that through my professional tour network I am able to connect you to hundreds of tour/travel professionals across the USA with in depth knowledge of many regions like I have written about locally in Silicon Valley?

Yes, a small niche of this network is the “professionally paid tour director” which may work with major tour companies that sell fun escorted group tour vacations to the consumer like you to different destinations and/or “local tour guides” specializing in showing people an in depth experience in one region. These colleagues will lead you to the key attractions in their regions; they will also guide you to significant places to visit and people to see off the beaten path for you to enjoy.

Did you know that now New York City is a neighbor to San Francisco where you may want to fly to New York City for the weekend?
I asked a professional tour director, colleague and tour friend of mine what are the top 3 MUST DO’s in NYC on a weekend visit. The first is:

”Go for a walk in a local neighborhood like the Lower East Side, Chinatown, the West Village, etc. Step AWAY from the highlighted areas from tour books and walk the side streets so you may see there is peaceful, everyday living and uniqueness all around you in this vibrant city. Be sure to stop at a local merchant's shop -- a cafe or pastry shop, a bread baker or a traditional Italian market where they still slice the meats and cheeses. Try a small sample, the local shop owners love a visitor to step into their world, even if for only a moment and experience the real NYC,” says Tom Schoenewald, Professional Tour Director and President of USA Tour Pros.

This would be a great experience and fun walk with Tom on a tour to see these places that you might not want to step out on your own to see! And, you will hear the special stories from Tom about the local, unique NYC.

Watch for tips off the beaten path I may connect you to across the USA. Sign up at our website to be a part of this network. We do love to hear your comments here.

"When you are traveling local or afar, remember to turn the corner, and go down the street that is not on your plan, to discover a new adventure!" ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Sunday, March 16, 2008

San Benito Wine Country

Do you enjoy wine tasting? Try the treasures found in San Benito County wine country. Calera and DeRose Wineries! Another favorite is Pietra Santa Winery (viewed above in picture). 

San Benito Wine Trail

This is a trip into Silicon Valley’s Deep South – beyond the most southern region of Santa Clara Valley.

Keep driving south and exit east off of Hwy 101 at San Juan Bautista, to find the fascinating, San Benito County Wine Trail close to Hollister. Tucked away in these foothills, is the great family-run winery of Pietra Santa Winery, surrounded by their own vineyards as far as you can see. The winery dates back to the 1850’s, and resembles that of a Napa Valley Wine Villa as you go down the driveway.

There are fabulous wines and olive oils for tasting, and the wine personnel have great stories to tell. There is a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright residence located on their property, which you may reserve for events. It is a real hidden gem close to home to visit. Be sure to allow time to visit DeRose Vineyard and Calera Winery this same day of your trip. Is this one of the best kept secrets? 

Exploring central coast California ~ The Fun Tour Guru 

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Newest discovery off the beaten path in Silicon Valley

In continuing my off the beaten path of Silicon Valley series, I recently made the trek to Mt. Hamilton and Lick Observatory.  You may get more information in my article written in 2008 on

I have been saying I wanted to make this drive for about 20 years – I decided to go last week. On a February day, clear and sunny, the hillsides a very lush green, this was an excellent day to make this drive. This is a spectacular drive and the finale of seeing Lick Observatory is a first-rate experience. 

While I drove my car, I did pass many bicyclists on the way. I have read that there are 365 curves on the way – this should give you a “sense” of the drive. Elevation of Mt. Hamilton is 4,360 ft (1,330 m) – the tallest peak above Silicon Valley (and in Bay Area). Only 20 miles from San Jose, one would think it is a ½ hour drive. Be sure to allow about an hour and a half one way – remember to take your time and enjoy the drive on the way up/down.

The significant item is Lick Observatory on top of Mt Hamilton. This is where important research is being done by astronomers everyday. Lick Observatory was created by a donation from James Lick, a very prominent gentleman of San Francisco bay area.

Yes, my regular story of this drive will be coming soon – I wanted to share photos and information with everyone now.

The trip was complete when I viewed the dawn of this year's California Poppies on the drive down the other side of the mountain!

Sightseeing tours of Mt. Hamilton? Only with private incentive trips and small groups (10 participants) and in vans.

This is one of those trips that provides us an inspiring experience and, best of all, is local to Silicon Valley residents.

Always, travel that unbeaten path and discover new things!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A morning in Paris - or is it San Francisco?

One of my most enjoyable experiences in San Francisco was the day I went exploring the "French Quarter" in San Francisco with a professional tour director, and a great friend of mine. I am in San Francisco quite a lot, yet I never knew about this area in the heart of downtown.

This is very much an "off the beaten path" experience which kicked off my series of articles I have written for local publications. It has been so much fun for me to go back and retrace these steps that my friend taught me - and experiencing this area of San Francisco that is not on the standard tour. I do reminisce the memories we shared together on our first walk - tasting the French flair throughout our city by the bay.

This week I share with you this experience that began my journey of looking around the corner during my trips. I have made such great connections with Professional Tour Directors located across our nation - each with their own inspiring stories as they continue to lead groups across the world, much in the same this Professional Tour Director led me through the San Francisco streets.

J’ ai mal ici …Ou sont les toilettes? …Oops, forgive me, I am practicing some French!

Bonjour….Voulez vous visiter la France? Are you familiar with the traditions, culture, and language of France? Are you planning a trip to France and want to learn and practice the language first? Or would you just like to explore Paris close to home? Maybe you just came back from France and want to continue your French experience? J’aime la France…Il est beau (umm… he’s handsome?) Or maybe you are looking for a handsome Frenchmen to escape with you in your dream?

Tucked away in the heart of San Francisco is the special area of Little Paris and the French Quarter. Here, you will feel as if you have truly spent a morning in Paris as you discover an area that is rich in history and boasts an exotic present. These paths are difficult to discover on your own. It takes a professional tour guide to create a comfortable surrounding where you may practice French, with new friends, and listen to tales of this unique area. Mathieu has designed this well thought out tour for you to have fun and a memorable experience in these city streets. Is this tour a history lesson, sightseeing, an exploration of the wonderful French restaurants or a lesson in the French language?

It is all of the above in just four to five hours. You will discover the Alliance Francaise and French Library – the largest west of the Mississippi. There is a visit to Notre Dames des Victoires – a French church designed after an actual one in France and its stained glass tales. A stop at Café de la Presse is a charming opportunity where you can read daily international newspapers and magazines while lingering over French espresso and a croissant. You will see and hear the tales of the Grace Cathedral which was designed after prominent churches in France. Which ones? You will find out on the tour. Also, you will rediscover familiar San Francisco landmarks as you are guided through the city streets.

Then it is off to a selection of the most authentic French Restaurants where you will believe you are really in France. Without Mathieu, you might miss the quaint Café Claude, where you will be reminded of Paris. Seating is inside or out and everyone is friendly as they converse in French. Brunch may start either in the outdoor seating area on the sidewalk or inside with the most “délicieuse” French Onion soup and a glass of French merlot. Truly “bon”! Order the Confit de Canard (duck confit with French lentils, onions, celery, carrots, bacon and sauce moutarde), which is “magnifique”! Luckily for you, when you are done you will find out about several other fine French restaurants like this one, just ask your tour guide. Bon appétit!

Mathieu, our French Tour Guide, grew up in the heart of Paris where he walked to work everyday to his father’s place of business. He has lived the stories he shares with us. He relocated to the United States where he has followed his own dream and works as a professional tour director. He has been nominated by the Silicon Valley Concierge Association (SVCA) for Best Tour Guide, is a certified San Francisco Tour Director through San Francisco Tour Guide Guild, and is an ITMI certified Tour Director.

Mathieu is a patient instructor and says, "he believes that it is easier and fun to learn another language by using and sharing with friends in actual everyday life.” And this is what you will do, as you wander the streets of the French Quarter in San Francisco. You may even ask for the tour to be given entirely in French!

You learn key facts from Mathieu such as the differences between the eating establishments in France, bistro’s and brasserie’s, which to have a drink in and which are the finest dining. Do you know why women always go ahead of men in most scenarios except when entering restaurants in France? Is this a tradition? This is an interesting and fun way to learn about France.

The special stories told by Mathieu make this adventure come alive. Are you concerned with walking the San Francisco hills? This tour has been well thought through and uses a quick hop on one of the historical San Francisco cable cars to go up hills. Truly wonderful and easy to follow. Exciting and fun also! Merci!

If you are interested in learning and exploring the French culture and history and want to practice the language with someone who will give you personalized assistance – or just want a new adventure in this area, this walking tour is recommended – 5 stars! It is educational and also fun! The location is a surprise as you discover with this professional tour guide. Au revoir … a morning in Paris so close to home.

Note: Information about this walking tour and professional tour director; or other Professional Tour Directors across USA may be obtained by e-mail. Advanced reservations are best, as these professionals are active with groups.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Other famous travel guru's spotted today in Santa Clara CA

How cool is it to be able to see and visit with other famous travel guru's up close and in person. Today it happened at the Bay Area Travel Show in Santa Clara. I was able to see Doug McConnell of Bay Area Backroads, and Rick Steves, the well known Tour Guide of the Back Roads in Europe.

Great inspiration - the only thing better, is to be on the road traveling!

Remember, always turn and go down the "other way". You just never know what experience lies beyond!

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy."
Anne Frank,German-Jewish diarist, Holocaust victim

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

El Palo Alto

Why is Palo Alto called the “birthplace of Silicon Valley”? Yes, we all have our own opinions; I took a step further and “googled” the Spanish definition of Palo Alto which means
“ stick” and “high”. Where is this high stick?

Easy walking distance north of downtown Palo Alto and east of the railroad tracks (and not very far east), El Camino (the King’s Highway), and Stanford Shopping Center, sits the famous, El Palo Alto Redwood, located in El Palo Alto Park, corner of Alma and Palo Alto Way, on the banks of San Francisquito Creek. The tree is California Historical Landmark #2. It is recognized as the campsite of the Portola expedition in 1769 and used as a sighting tree when plotting out the El Camino.

This Sequoia sempervirens, Coastal Redwood is 90 inches in diameter, 110 feet in height (compared to 134.6 feet in 1951) and has a crown spread of 40 feet. Yes, this tree as of 2002 is 1,061 years old and considered healthier today than 100 years ago!

Our oldest citizen, imagine the stories it may be able to tell through these years? This was a magical, fairy tale walk that I actually took on this easy walking trail to visit our oldest citizen. It is so close to the newest valley innovations and a definite item to add to your list to discover – right in our own backyard!

Remember, El Palo Alto, is over-seeing our activities while we dine, shop and live in the downtown Palo Alto; and, at this height, it might even see us all the way to the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose. Pay a visit soon!

2008 Airline news for the traveler

"Keeping the traveler abreast of what is new for 2008"

Note: This info from Budget Travel has been posted as FYI since it’s a change in Southwest’s policy; however, note comment below that the majority of travelers will not be affected.

9:58 AM, 01/ 4/2008 What’s new in travel this week

—Beginning Jan. 29, Southwest is reducing free checked bags to two. But this news probably will not bother you because only 2 percent of passengers in 2007 checked a third bag on Southwest.

Full rules here: