Thursday, June 28, 2012

San Jose CA, Gymnastic City USA, Opening Day Ceremonies

The Road to London goes through downtown San Jose, CA for the USA Gymnasts Team.  The weather is perfect. I hope you enjoy this photo story! 

We celebrate our esteemed athlete visitors to our community this week as they compete at the 2012 Olympic Trials.   Good luck to all athletes!

London Double Decker Bus at San Jose CA City Hall

Approaching City Hall in San Jose CA
San Jose City Hall Ceremony
Mayor Reed, City Council, and Participating Olympic Sponsors and Dignitaries

You never know what will happen when covering a news story.  I ran to my car after this first ceremony photo shoot, and headed down the back streets of San Jose from City Hall to the HP Pavilion hoping to make it to the second ceremony before it started. 

Oops, I was 'conveniently' stopped ~~~ at this intersection by a Police Officer and the London Double Decker Bus.  Perfect. I had my camera ready. 

HP Pavilion - Gymnastic Trials Begin

Let the games begin! Gymnasts will be competing this weekend to participate on Team USA in London.  

Good Luck!! 

The Road to London Olympics 2012, goes through San Jose, CA! 
Gymnastic City, USA 2012 ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

San Jose, CA: "Gymnastics City, USA"

San Francisco Bay Area is making their mark on the map this year with the National spotlight of major events.  When we expect this from the city of San Francisco, San Jose is stepping up too as the:

San Jose, CA ~ "Gymnastics City, USA" 

San Jose, California announced today they will host the Opening Ceremonies for 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials - Gymnastics to celebrate the first day of competition, Thursday, June 28, 2012.

The best gymnasts from around USA will be in town from June 28 - July 1 at the Shark Tank (nickname for HP Pavilion SAP Center)  this weekend as they compete for a spot on Team USA at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  The Olympic Flag has been flying at San Jose City Hall since June 24.  

Starting at 11:45 a.m., participating sponsors and dignitaries will view the lowering of the flag at City Hall and then they will ride on an authentic London Double Decker Bus to Shark Tank HP Pavilion to deliver the Olympic flag for Opening Ceremonies at the Shark Tank HP Pavilion. Following the conclusion of the Opening Ceremonies, the “Road to London” opens on Arena Green.

Tickets may be purchased at Shark Tank (SAP Center San Jose) website to see the Gymnasts compete. Are you going?

WHERE:  HP Pavilion (SAP Center - 2018) at San Jose, 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA 95113  

Information for this article was obtained by Media Advisory, Sharks Entertainment,  Media Contact:  Jim Sparaco (408) 999-5792

Let's get out and support out Gymnastics Team USA! ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Click here to view photos of the opening ceremony in San Jose, CA

Image used from Microsoft Clip Art.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Surf City Classic Woodies & California Rodeo Salinas

Two unusual summer events coming are fun and an easy to drive to in Northern California. These events involve vintage cars and horses.  Everyone seems to enjoy both of these special community event experiences. 

Woodies on the Wharf – June in Santa Cruz

Do you remember my trip last year when I went to Woodies on the Wharf in Santa Cruz?  It is on a Saturday only.   I do recommend this free event – the Woodies are fabulous to see. Please allow time to actually talk with each of the owners of the cars. Their local stories are fun!

If you want to avoid hunting for parking near the wharf, they  have a bike concierge set up for your bicycles, it is easy walking or even catch a shuttle to the wharf from downtown Santa Cruz.

Looking for my other favorite things to do in this immediate area?

Kayaks in Santa Cruz

Insider information - The best buy for inexpensive good eats: 

Save one $5 bill from your shopping and buy one of the best hot dogs in town at Paradise Hot Dogs located right at the beginning of the wharf.  It is a fact, hot dogs are always better at the beach. Please note Vince and Marge sold this business in 2016 - I am sure the new owners will be fun. 

California Rodeo July in Salinas 

When Salinas is mentioned, I immediately think about John Steinbeck and books. Well, there is more in Salinas to do. They have the one of the oldest rodeos and horses too. Don’t forget this fun event, California Rodeo, in July.  Be sure to reserve your tickets now. 

I like to spend the whole weekend in this area and see the old town of San Juan Bautista, National Steinbeck Center, agriculture tours, (of course) many excellent wineries in Monterey, and drive over to Monterey Bay for a couple of hours. Did I forget anything?

Will I see you at one of these events?  Hint, look the person wearing fun colored sunglasses and tap me on the shoulder.

Love wandering around Northern California ~ The Fun Tour Guru 

Woodies on the Wharf 
California Rodeo Salinas CA  

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

How Do You Spend Free Time in Rome, Italia?

Day One of the Trip

When I first get to a new city, I am all eyes and ears as I survey my every bit of surroundings even on the first ride (my transfer) from the airport to my hotel. If the trip is a repeat visit, I still use this ride as I look for any changes to the area.

The shared rides with other visiting tourists on our shuttle driving into the city of Rome give me a chance to see famous sites like the Vatican and the Colosseum as we drive around to 3 or 4 other hotels in Rome to drop off the other visitors. And, I find that drivers and passengers love to share fun, personal stories of their region with visitors.

Just another sunset in Rome
Hotel Arrival

One of my favorite times on each trip is right after I check into the hotel and get settled into my room, I have some free time. This is my time when I can explore my surroundings at my own pace.  

My advice is to match your own special personal hobby or interest to explore these immediate surroundings on trips.    Perhaps you like going for a short run, jog, or power walk; use this time spotting stores, restaurants, and attractions to return to later.

Can you see the Colosseum?
In Rome, I made it to our hotel near the Rome Rail Station just as the rest of my group was heading out for their afternoon excursion. 

Even though I was tired from the long flight, I wasn't ready to retire for evening yet and because my room did not have a view, I grabbed my day pack and set off on my journey. 

Inside the Hotel

This time I did not have to go too far.  We were staying at a fun, older European hotel property with smaller size elevators and many crooks and crannies for me to wander around the halls. It reminded me of a mini palace. A word of caution, sometimes you might get some odd stares from the hotel employees, or they may even ask you if you need help. Just smile back and tell them you are on a scavenger hunt.  

My Prize in Rome

I found their small rooftop terrace restaurant and bar where I spent the rest of the evening.  It was a great place to relax and I talked with other travelers about where they were headed to. I enjoyed a tasty bite and refreshing drink sitting out in the fresh air on their intimate patio. 

The best prize was the wonderful view overlooking Rome and watching the sunset.  This view also helped me get acquainted of where I was in the city to line up activity highlights later.   

How do you combine your personal interests to get acquainted with new regions on day one of your trip?  Talk to us below in the comments!

~ The Fun Tour Guru

This story is to encourage and help travelers to try unusual ideas in their travels. Details of actual accommodations were left out on purpose.  Sign up for our newsletter with your contact information for specific accommodation details.

For additional hotel and travel information please check our new website, Lighthouse Travel & Tours

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Vacations to Amalfi Coast, Italia

As summer approaches, we take vacations that create memories.  While I watched a chef make mozzarella cheese on a food show recently, I immediately surrendered to my memories when I first learned to make mozzarella cheese on my June Italia trip a few years ago.

I had the chance to go with a group on a tour through Italy.  Although I don’t recommend the short 2 week notice of pre-planning before departing like I did, I am glad I went. I am grateful to have many sources available to help me organize my own trip quickly and safely.

Amalfi Coast, Positano, Italia
Before the Trip

With two weeks of planning, do we really have the time to read and learn everything about our chosen destination?  No worries, it is fun to absorb in-the-moment sights too.  I am lucky to know so many people globally who want to help me on my trips.  Thank you to these traveling friends.

Two travel tips before my trip departure:
  • One, I keep my passport current.  
  • Two, I learned to pack light with one small suitcase and personal bag. I take old things of which I don’t care if they should disappear and shop in the $1 aisle of stores for items I don’t have before the trip.   

Repeat this:  Passport, tickets, and one bag.  This is what you really need on your trip.

One example of a challenge that I found before this trip was knowing which online airfare specials to steer clear of and how, where, and when to change international air itineraries during the trip. Yes, we do need to be careful.  Timing is essential and reduces our anxiety.

Italia Trip Memories
One of my favorite memories is when we were invited to make our own Italian dinner somewhere in the Sorrento countryside after our early evening drive along the Amalfi coast of southern Italy.  Yes, I fell in love with this other coast of steep, jagged cliffs!

"Is it the other half to our Highway 1 south of Big Sur?"

I was lucky to be sitting in a motor coach to gaze at the scenery – something I am not able to do on my own self-drive trips. 

Host on the left in the pink t-shirt

It is time for our Mozzarella party and dinner. We had a guided visit of an Olive Oil mill and a fun cheese demonstration under the direction of our hosts - we saw up-close how to make mozzarella.


We rolled out the dough, and layered it with fresh local ingredients of tomato sauce, cheese, salamis and marinated vegetables and slid the pizzas into the oven to bake. Now off to the large patio area to start drinking Italia wine!

We finished our evening eating our own pizzas that we prepared and with this local regional wine.

Host on the right

What really made this a fabulous fun evening for us?

- walking downhill on windy, dark path through the forest to where our hosts were located in this country area in the early evening,
- the up-close demonstration of making cheese while chatting with our hosts, making our own pizzas,
- or perhaps our family-style dinner, with our giggling and laughing sitting around large round wooden tables on a large covered patio where we ate the pizza and drank more Italian red wine

all items listed above ensured a constant laughter throughout the evening.

I met people who came from Australia, Canada, and USA on this trip.  Many came on this trip simply to get away for a nice summer vacation while some had plans to meet up with their own Italian family discovering their family roots after our tour.

Each person has their own identity - story. We all had one thing in common, this one Italia trip.

We finished the evening with a shot of homemade limoncello before we returned to our hotel near Sorrento.

Dare I say this was a typical, fun Italian dinner for my new travel family of 30 people creating one of my best memories of Italia culture?

What is your favorite Italia memory? Share with us below...

“They say that there was no train between Venice and Austria. They built the tracks anyway. They built the tracks knowing that the train would come.” (From Under the Tuscan Sun)

Let’s keep building these tracks across the world, to bring the train to all of us to get acquainted locally!

~ The Fun Tour Guru

All images are mine or from another tour participant who forwarded to me - They not to be reproduced without permission.   

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