Category Archives: Travel

Christmas…already?!?

This year, more so than others, has dashed by so fast. I can’t believe that Friday brings Christmas Eve!! It feels like a minute ago, I was sitting down with friends and family at Christmas dinner in 2009.

So much happened this year, that it is hard to put it all into perspective!! The list is long and varied, but all of it is outstanding. The highlights were:

– Travelling to Cuba for the first time in February
– Discovering this thing called, “Twitter” in late February or early March
– Living through the shining moment that was the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games!! Who wasn’t proud to be a Canadian in February?? What moment does this song, I Believe, by Nikki Yanofsky, bring back for you?? Was it a skier winning Gold?? A speed skater winning Gold?? A figure skater overcoming personal loss and attempting to shine on the world stage in her home country?? A hockey team winning Gold?? A curling team turning the world onto a game that we already knew, “rocked”??
– April and beyond were filled with Tweetups, new friends and a chance to discover the world of food and excitement that is right here in Southern Ontario, Toronto and Hamilton.
– July was the opportunity to go to San Francisco and see the baseball team that would win the World Series (The San Francisco Giants), play on their home turf. Something that I had wanted to do for a long time. Being in San Francisco for a second visit was fantastic and I have to thank the people at Klout and Virgin America, for providing free trips to so many people in Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco this summer (#vxtoronto)
– August took me to Bristol, Tennesse for the NASCAR Night Race, which was another item on the “Bucket List”!! Seeing the 1/2 mile track and “hearing” the noise of the place was something I will never forget!! I also had the opportunity to visit Nashville for the first time and it was AWESOME!! It is my kind of town, at least the downtown area, for sure!!
– October was a family vacation with my mom and sister (and others), to Tennessee (again)!! Takes years to get somewhere and then within 3 months, I am there twice!! A return visit to Nashville was in order, seeing that I was so close!!

All in all, that is just a glimpse of all the things that happened in 2010. The people and the places I visited were all awesome. The conversations at each event were outstanding!! I would not trade any moment of 2010 and I hope that 2011 is even better!! There is so much more of the world to see and so much more to explore!!

I am looking forward to sitting down with my friends and family again at the end of this week and smiling about the year that was 2010 and celebrating the time that we get to share with each other!!

Happy Christmas Everyone!! All the best to you and your friends and family!!

A San Francisco Experience – Day 2

After my first day in San Francisco, I wasn’t sure what Day 2 (Friday July 30) would bring along. I knew that I was staying across the street from one of my favourite places in town, The Ferry Building, and that my stay would not be complete without a stop there each day!

I took the opportunity in the morning to wander over to the building and see what it had to offer. It was just coming to life when I got there and it was 9am! Given the location downtown, I equated it to the food court areas in Toronto which are hopping by 7am due to commuter traffic! There were people sitting on the floor sketching the building interior, there were loads of people stopping at the few places that were open for coffee and the smell of food from all the restaurants and bakeries was starting to fill the air.

After a coffee I headed for a tour at AT&T Park, to learn about the San Francisco Giants, their history and their stadium. We saw a lot of unique views in the ballpark (pressbox, dugout). If you are a fan of baseball or if you are just looking for something to do while in San Francisco, go and visit this ballpark. It is a beautiful location to see a ballgame or simply enjoy the San Francisco atmosphere.

Next up I took the opportunity to stop in at Klout and say “Hello” to some of the people I had met during their event in Toronto. It was a pleasure to talk about the merging of promotions and the people on Twitter (influencers as they are called on Klout).

My next stop was back at the Ferry Building, which was now hopping with activity for lunch! Some form of seafood was in order in my opinion! A delicious Seared Opah sandwich with Chimichuri was my selection, from the San Francisco Fish Market, and it was delicious! More coffee from Peets Coffee and I was set to face the afternoon!

The evening was filled with a baseball game that was certainly entertaining. The LA Dodgers were in town and it was “Beat LA” weekend at the ballpark! The fans were charged up and the stadium was full of electricity. The Giants won (they actually swept the three game series on the weekend) and everyone went home happy!

The evening did end with a display of some of the “underbelly” of San Francisco showing its ugly head. One of the people I met at the game actually stayed past the unpublished departure time at their parking lot and had to pay a cash “overtime” charge to the owner of the parking lot to get their keys back. They had no choice. As the note on their car said, “If you want your car back, call XXX-XXX-XXXX”. Lesson learned – Don’t park where you need to leave keys.

I met some fantastic people in all of my travels on Saturday. It was a fantastic day and it made the trip worth it. The lucky thing for me was that I still had 2 more days to go!

A San Francisco Experience – Day 1

I was lucky enough to receive a free trip to San Francisco from Klout and Virgin America, due to my influence on Twitter. This in and of itself was flattering, because for me it meant that there was some value to what I was contributing to the conversation on Twitter.

I was on the fence about taking the trip, for a number of reasons. I had to rearrange my work schedule; Lots of others were coming at other times; I already had my vacation for the summer planned and paid for later in August. I decided in-spite of all of that to still jump at the opportunity and claim my ticket.

From the moment I arrived at Pearson Airport (YYZ) in Toronto, I encountered nothing but friendly people.  The check-in staff for Virgin America was busy, but they were friendly and doing what they could to keep the lines moving.  I met a fellow “Klouter” in the departure area and had a great chat about food and San Francisco.  Erin (who is apparently getting engaged – congrats!!) and Deb on the flight crew were friendly and cheerful during our flight.  They took the time to talk about air travel and how much they like working for Virgin while I was stretching my legs and having a coffee!! They did everything they could to make sure that our flight was great!!

When I arrived in San Francisco, getting to my hotel was easy and efficient thanks to BART (their rapid transit system).  I dashed off to AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants and got into line for  a ticket the ballgame. Two scalpers were doing their best high pressure sales tactic on me when a fan walked up to the line, right beside me and said, “Who needs a single ticket for free”? After a quick, “I’ll take it for free”, I was on my way to a Club level seat in the ballpark, still not believing how my day was going!! The fan that gave me a ticket wouldn’t even let me buy them a beer!! I am forever thankful to them and their co-workers for their generosity!!

When I got back to my hotel, I got checked in and discovered that I had a fantastic room at the Harbor Court Hotel, that is right on the bay in San Francisco.  The view from my room is fantastic and I couldn’t ask for more. For being part of their “member” program I was given a mini-bar credit and for mentioning a “codeword” promo that they had mentioned on Twitter, I received a secondary credit!!

My day didn’t end there, but what more could you ask for in less that 24 hours!?!  This trip has restored my belief that all people at their core are willing to help their neighbours.  Sometimes you encounter so many angry and frustrated people, you begin to wonder why everyone is so angry.  I can’t tell you how happy I am now that I took this trip!!

The world is a much better place when the attitude you are shining out gets shone back at you.  I am not sure if it was the positive attitude of those I encountered that caused me to smile back at others.  I hope that it was my smile and “Hello” that maybe changed their attitude towards me. I don’t know and I guess it dosen’t matter.  What does matter is that there were people on the planet  all working at being kind to each other on July 29 in Canada and the United States.  My hope is that my story was repeated in other ways in other cities around the planet as well!! What more can you ask for??

Travel, Twitter and the Internet

I spent today doing nothing that I planned to do!

Instead I spent the day looking at things to do, places to visit and planning my upcoming trip to San Francisco.  I was lucky enough to be included in the promotion that @virginamerica is running through @klout and I am getting to live out one of the things I have wanted to do for a few years; See a San Francisco Giants home game! I booked my tickets today to at least one of the 3-4 games I hope to take in while I am there!

In doing this, I discovered that if you put a baseball team in a tech savy city, the way they use technology changes. I sent tweets to @SFGiants and received timely responses. I learned about cool promos that they have held supporting social media (bit.ly/dnnTkG) and eco-friendly options that they have for fans like mobile tickets (bit.ly/9yPUUG)!

I am looking forward to being part of the crowd at the Giants games I am going to and visiting San Francisco again! There is a lot to see and do, which I will talk about as the trip grows closer! I will definitely be writing about it during and after my trip!

Stay tuned!