Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vintage Cars in Santa Cruz, June 2011

"Hey, those are neat cars!" 

As I promised, more pictures of a few of the "stars" at Woodies on the Wharf.  I don't think I have to include too much commentary.  A challenge to pick which pictures to share with everyone.  Enjoy, as I did!

Woodies on the Wharf June 2011 'Queen of the Beaches'

Woodies on the Wharf June 2011

Woodies on the Wharf June 2011

Woodies on the Wharf 2011

Woodies on the Wharf June 2011

Woodies on the Wharf June 2011

Woodies on the Wharf June 2011

Off the beaten path, always ~~~The Fun Tour Guru
(Images by DW)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Woodies are Stars along with Classic Car Collectors in Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz Annual Event

It is the car season 2011!  This weekend I heard about 4 car events: Cars2 movie, Greenwood Car Show in Seattle, WA, NASCAR race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA, and Woodies on the Wharf in Santa Cruz, CA. (There were many more I am sure)

Woodies on the Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 2011
I made a last minute decision to get out of the big city and drive over to Santa Cruz yesterday (Saturday) and see what Woodies on the Wharf was all about.  I have heard many people talk about this event since 1995.  I am so glad I went! 

This vintage car event has these items to enhance one’s experience:
  • Classic Woodie Cars and their friendly, passionate surfing owners as hosts
  • The perfect stage on Santa Cruz Wharf, against the exquisite background setting of Monterey Bay, is the most amazing venue
  • The small hometown feeling of the classic surfing beach community of Santa Cruz, CA
I arrived early while the fog still hung over the bay and it was a bit chilly before the afternoon crowds gathered.  It is always fun to watch the surfing and kayak classes as I walk to the Wharf.

The first Surfboard which I first saw.


Next, as the sun came out in the afternoon, I saw (up close) Woodies Club President Loren Steck (black shirt, straw hat) give out awards and prizes to Santa Cruz community leaders like 2011 Mayor Ryan Coonerty and Chief of Police Kevin Vogel.  

And many, many raffle prizes all day long. 

Of course the real stars of the show were the vintage collection of Woodies while chatting one on one with all of the owners.

A really, really fun day! 

I will be sharing more insider secrets and photos this week of these Santa Cruz Boardwalk findings.  

More pictures added to see. 

Insider Secret:
Do hot dogs taste better at the beach or baseball game? 

I recommend this best food $5 value of the day – Paradise Hot Dogs. Three choices of hot dogs, with the popular “big dog” which is a quarter pound hot dog on a steam bun along with soft drinks, Gatorade, chips, cookies, and even water for $1. They also have t-shirts and tote bags available to sell. Plus, you receive the friendly enthusiasm of these owners who live in this Paradise beach town. 5 Stars! What a simple, yet great business idea!  

 You never know what you will find until you go! ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Do you like this story?  Tell us in the comments below and share with your friends!  Do you want to go? Contact us. 

Santa Clara, CA award winning Travel Consultants at Lighthouse Travel & Tours

Thursday, June 23, 2011

San Francisco Cable Cars Update

Are you visiting San Francisco during Fourth of July?  Things do change. Don't forget to verify details - before your trips.  

Remember, there will be a price increase on July 1, 2011.  Cable Car tickets are increasing by $1.
A Quick Update About the Cable Cars in San Francisco

Effective July 1, 2011, one-way fares on the cars are increasing to $6 (currently $5).  I am surprised that people don't realize these tickets are one-way only. You are not able to get off and get back on the Cable Cars.

If you will be out and about the city during the day, I recommend purchasing an all-day pass (which is $14 on July 1) which allows you to ride more than one cable car vehicle, transferring between a Powell line and the California Line, as well as riding other Muni vehicles. 

This price increase information is a bit of challenge to find as it takes several clicks once you find the website.  Thank you to connections from the professional tour guides from San Francisco Tour Guide Guild for communicating this.

Did you know that an estimated 8 million people ride the historic Cable Cars each year, per MUNI, San Francisco's transist operator?

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency - Price increase  

Insider Tips

And, don't forget my article about visiting the Cable Car Museum this year. Best way to get there?  Of course, you gotta ride the cable cars! Because parking is non-existent in this area.  

Insider Favorite Tip: Adults only, should there be a long line at the Cable Car turnaround, cross the street and order one world famous Irish Coffee at Buena Vista! (orange letters of sign in image) Nice to keep warm on the cool, foggy summer days.

Cable Cars and the Buena Vista - 2 more of my San Francisco favorites! Image by DW

Have a fun and safe journey!  The Fun Tour Guru


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Complain on Trips?

I have been thinking about this story for several days now.  The “art of complaining”  in a positive way. We have so many ways of connecting to people today. Do we really connect? And, how do we connect to others? Are we focused on our own needs?  Do we listen? Technology has made it so easy to write a few sentences and post over the internet in a matter of minutes. Do people really know how to complain effectively on their leisure and business trips? 

The definition of "complain" from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is to express grief, pain, or discontent or to make a formal accusation.

I never seem to have complaints when I go on my trips.  Oh sure, I may talk about challenges with the airlines or services which may happen along with my discoveries on trips – I really don’t have complaints.  Why is it that I don’t have complaints? I have learned to listen, talk to people of authority as incidents occur, and make the necessary changes as they happen. These are things to consider in your travels this year.

"Talk to locals" Milan, Italia 2008 Image by DW (Fun Tour Guru)
 Think of a few plans on your own, before trips. This helps me prepare for my own expectations. Yes, I have had a couple of horrifying trips. I realize they happened because I had not prepared correctly or relied on someone else to plan 100% of time. I now recognize that we all need some down time or personal time.  I like to stay in separate rooms and be able to do a few activities on my own.  It helps to be able to escape and have your independence on trips.

Try to understand challenging situations out of your control. I do my best to get the facts and understand the other side of the story.  An example is when I was returning to San Francisco from London.  Minutes after our flight departed London, the pilot announced that we were returning back to London because of damage to the wings of the plane. When we were getting off, we could see a hole in one of the wings. We were escorted to a secured room and not permitted to leave (because we had cleared customs) while we waited for the change of planes. The positive news – we were safe and comfortable. We did get snacks, drinks (thank you to the airport and airline employees), and able to notify families/friends of the delay.  And we returned home safely.  (This story was 20 years ago, no complaints, a great trip.)

Don’t criticize, remember to compliment others.  It is okay if you don’t speak the same language – be prepared and have the tools necessary to help out. And, don’t criticize other people. Listen.
  • Reserve a familiar hotel or car brand which may have concierges or workers to assist you.
  • Keep an important words at a glance booklet (easy to assemble yourself) to help you speak with people.
  • Carry a paper map with you – people will see you may need help with directions. I find people enjoy helping.
  • Listen, don’t get angry. Talk slowly. You will find a way to communicate, perhaps with your hands or through pictures.
Isle of Capri, Italia 2008 Image by DW (Fun Tour Guru) & This is not the Funicular...

Yes, sometimes you may receive bad service or be in an undeniably negative situation. I do remember trying to board the Funicular (tram) on the Isle of Capri (Italy) with a group of extremely stubborn mob of people. It was a hot Italian holiday weekend and many of the local people had the day off.  We were swallowed up into this wall to wall group of people who were pushing and shoving to get on board the tramway. No way out. My group did our best to stay together. It wasn’t fun however we managed to board and ride the tram. You just have to muscle your way through situations like this together. Try to smile even though you may have other thoughts. It was great to have my own smaller group with me.  During this there was no one available to complain to. (Remember, I do have several excellent memories of the entire trip.)

What would you have done in this situation?

This may be the time for you to give a kind gesture in return. Understand what people may do in other regions.  Don’t make demands. Whether you are traveling within USA or in other countries – remember each person may have their own procedure with a good reason that works for them. Do not yell -- 

Try giving compliments. Ask questions. Listen carefully. Talk slowly. Have people explain their needs in their own words.  And LAUGH together.

Don't worry, smile on trips!  ~~ The Fun Tour Guru  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Most Common Question of a Silicon Valley Tour

The most frequent asked question we (Hospitality & Tourism) get when people pass through Silicon Valley (south of San Francisco) region is: “Will we be able to go inside Google, Apple, Facebook, Cisco, HP, or any other of the companies?” 

I get asked this question all of the time and have even had San Francisco tour companies relay this question to me from their prospective clients because I live in this area.  
Adobe Systems Headquarters, downtown San Jose, CA  Photo by DW
     Now think about this question carefully. These are profit based businesses.  Security is already very high. Why is it that someone might think they may go inside a Google building if they are not a prospective client, a regular client, employee, or qualified vendor doing business?  And, knowing there is not even that much technology manufacturing in this valley anymore, what do they want to see?  Many of these buildings have acres of cubicle farms (employee work areas) for employees and computer servers behind the walls of these famous signs. And, the new trend is that many buildings only house computer equipment with employees working virtually from home around the world.

It is not like visiting a brewery to see how beer is made or garment manufacturers where you see clothes being assembled. Plus, the chance is very minimal to meet up with a famous CEO you may have read about. The best places for sightings of these well known investors, executives, and business people are popular restaurants, hotels, and bar hangouts – or even on the streets of San Francisco.

Don't get me wrong, this south bay area does have great museums, historic areas, and universities which are all included on tours – as well as many other famous attractions, theme parks, and such in the area people may see (please see my blog archives).  We may arrange events, conferences, and team building exercises for interested corporate groups. 
Plaza de Cesar Chavez, Tech Museum in San Jose, CA  Phote by DW
San Francisco tour companies have available Silicon Valley designed tours to sell much like I once designed several years ago.  However, these designed tours consist of only driving by the famous campuses. (I may even dust off my old tour notes and take you for the correct price.) And, I recommend taking these – as the distance between companies is quite far and is easy to get lost if you are not familiar with the area.  There are photo opportunities behind the signs and in front of buildings. Does this sound the proverbial Hollywood tour of movie stars homes? Do you go inside the stars homes and have tea with them? I did not.

Why is it that people ask this question, if they may go inside the famous technology companies?  What are expectations?  I welcome thoughts, comments of this. Why?  Please share with me.

Sharing my insights (and common question) in Silicon Valley ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Geek Silicon Valley: The Inside Guide to Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose, San Francisco 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

TOGO's Eatery, Another Start Up Business in San Jose, CA

One Reason to Start a Business

"Find a need and fill it. "  Jack Nadel, Use What You Have to Get What You Want.  Sometimes the simplest idea will make millions of dollars. 

All of us look for great quality food and a low price these days.  This statement was true 40 years ago. I remember this story of a college student who built a sandwich empire on these words.  Mike Cobler was the college student who bought a local sandwich shop in downtown San Jose close to SJSU. The shop, TOGO’s, is still a success story. 

TOGO's Eatery, Campbell, CA

TOGO’s as a Start Up

In 1971, a struggling college student stepped outside the box and purchased a sandwich shop on campus with his life savings, $19,000.  Cobler’s focus was to offer good quality and low prices. People could buy his sandwiches for 75 cents, roast beef sandwiches were 85 cents.

It was and still is the art of making the sandwiches which captivates people.  First, they order their sandwiches from a numbered list. Next, sandwich makers pile fresh items on the customer choice of bread.  They excel at the one thing they do.

Togo’s second sandwich shop opened nearby in Campbell, CA three years later when Cobler realized many of his customers had graduated and started working. These customers were searching for a place to go like where they used to go as students. 

Cobler was able to expand through the franchise method and still control the same value, ingredients, and service created.  He did agree to sell in 1997, remaining on as Consultant and owned 12 Bay Area shops.

TOGO’s Today

The headquarters has returned to San Jose, CA when acquired by Mainsail Partners, a San Francisco−based private equity firm in 2007. These sandwich shops are found throughout USA.  And of course, with great sandwiches at low cost. 

Yes, there are many entrepreneur stories like this in Silicon Valley.  I enjoy researching some of these stories outside the technology industry.  Togo's!

I'm hungry, it is time to go buy Togo's sandwich #17 for lunch!
What is your favorite sandwich?

Original sandwich shop in San Jose, CA

Second store in Campbell, CA

TOGO's Eatery

Uncovering stories off the beaten path ~ The Fun Tour Guru

*Stories are found through research and not sponsored by companies.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Favorite Walking Tour on Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA

Columbus Ave, San Francisco

It is fun to walk along Columbus Avenue in San Francisco. Columbus Avenue is a very familiar and well known street to most people. It runs diagonal across San Francisco from the Fisherman’s Wharf to the Financial District ending at Montgomery. 

With little written about this street, I did find information on Wikipedia and a Via (CSAA) article written by Camille Cusumano, June 2004

I use Columbus Avenue as a major street artery that connects to many diverse points of interest crossing from Market to Fisherman's Wharf.  Columbus goes through the North Beach neighborhood (although there is not a beach here today) where there is an Italian influence by Washington Square.  It is situated between Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill (near Coit tower).

You may view one of the crookedest streets, Lombard Street, and easily wander into Chinatown and the Financial District by the Pyramid Building. This area is packed with lots of history – from the old Barbary Coast (1800’s) to the Beat Generation (1950s) and writers like Jack Kerouac.  

Be careful when driving, you will find some confusing five and six way intersections.  This street is an original part of Montgomery Ave, the street was changed to Columbus in honor of the Italian population.

Walking Tour Starts at Fisherman's Wharf

The best way to experience Columbia Avenue is by walking.  Start at Fisherman’s Wharf (at the sign in my picture) and I predict you will not be able to go the full length without stopping at cafes, restaurants, book stores, bakeries, and even nightclubs. I really don’t want to recommend one over the other as you discover each one on your own. I found a fabulous little neighborhood restaurant with great pizza after watching Beach Blanket Babylon.

My Insider Secrets
  • City Lights Bookstore
  • Francis of Assisi – The city’s namesake which also contains a small reproduction of Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi
  • St. Peter and Paul Church (Washington Square) – This is where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe came for photos after they were married at City Hall.
  • Stinking Rose Restaurant, 325 Columbus Ave, (415) 781-767 (Delicious! if you like garlic)
  • Beach Blanket Babylon – One of a kind San Francisco theater, never boring (415) 421-4222 Open Wednesday - Sunday
Disappointed:  I am sad to report the Joe DiMaggio’s Restaurant, a icon within North Beach, is now closed (October 2010). There were very elegant leather booths and interesting DiMaggio artifacts. I will miss their delicious food! 

Experience the different flavors on this walking tour down Columbus Ave. in San Francisco! 

Off the beaten path in local communities ~ The Fun Tour Guru 

Please share with us your favorites in this neighborhood!

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(Before I head into my next story, I am excited to announced my new home - internet address of which will be available across the internet in 2-3 days. No worries, you will be redirected from the old address. It is official, as the Fun Tour Guru, you may wander with me off the beaten path. I look forward to my goal of writing about many local communities – if you are a member of Tourism or Marketing agencies, please contact me to line up opportunities.)