Losinj, Croatia is my Next Destination

Losinj is off the coast of Croatia.

Losinj is off the coast of Croatia.

I am heading out today for a trip that starts in Boston, then NYC, then Venice. And then I will be joining several other US travel writers when we board a King Air private plane to fly from Venice over the Adriatic to the small island of Losinj, Croatia.

We will be staying at the island’s biggest and grandest hotel, the Bellevue, which is shaped in a square with a lovely green courtyard in the inside.

Our itinerary includes some sailing, some hiking, and touring some of the sites in this island, where I was surprised to see that it won’t be tropic temperatures. No, it’s still sweater weather, but it looks beautiful and I’m sure it will be.  Joining me on this trip are Karen Loftus, who I  know from many shows and parties we’ve attended, and Beverly Cohn, who I traveled with a few years back through France.

Not much to share yet but as you’d expect, I”ll post lots of photos and video when we start on the ground on Monday morning. For now, I just hope I’ve packed everything and I look forward to flying tonight. Always excited about that!

Tesla Is a Driving Experience Like No Other

I’m just back from a trip to Silicon Valley. When my friend Iliana picked me up in Mountain View, she was driving her Telsa Model S. I quickly learned that this is truly a car like no other.  Sleek, feature rich, thoughtfully designed, it’s like Apple made this car. And they’re working on their own version, so stay tuned!

The Tesla Model S is so quick it's startling.

The Tesla Model S is so quick it’s startling.

Inside the Tesla Model S there are two seats located in the rear hatchback. And up front there is plenty of room with a full trunk. Kids like sitting in the cute little backwards-facing seats.

Music is provided by Tesla’s own version of Pandora, playing the songs you like and remembering the ones you don’t. The full days calendar appointments are displayed in the 17 inch dashboard screen along with the most detailed GPS map you could imagine.

 If you’re taking a long road trip, you can bring up a map showing all of the Tesla high speed charging stations along the route. The car goes about 240 miles between charges so there aren’t that many places you can’t go.

Well maybe Wyoming might be tough. But the company has mapped out a complete transcontinental route for owners with that in mind.

Getting into the Model S Cockpit and feeling the leather seats and crisp styling, you aren’t always prepared for the acceleration beneath you. If you pull out in front of someone you can bolt ahead like no gas powered car ever has. There’s even an option for insanity mode which will rocket you faster than a Ferrari. Silently of course. My friend said they declined that option.

The downside of riding in the rocket ship is the cost. The car sells for more than $75,000, and if it breaks there is only one place to get it fixed. But they loan you another Model S to use while they fix it. Iliana said that their home electric bill isn’t that much higher even with charging the car every night. And of course she doesn’t pay for oil changes or gas.

If she wants to park her Tesla in the garage, it could do it all by itself- no driver needed. And on the highway the car stays between the lane markers and automatically brakes if it senses a nearby car or other impediment.
electric plug

It doesn’t use that much electricity to fill up the batteries–but it takes all night. You can also charge the car at one of Tesla’s many super charging stations that only takes 30 minutes.

In Amsterdam, the only taxis allowed to service Schiphol airport are Teslas. The drivers there told me they get cold in the European winters despite the floor being lined with lithium ion batteries. They all want their Mercedes S class black cars back but the Netherlands government is hell bent on cutting emissions so the country is Tesla’s second largest market after the US.

In Silicon Valley cold is not an issue, and the cars are everywhere. My friend who just bought a new house in Los Altos was pleased to see that there was already a Tesla home charging unit installed in the big garage. Across from the Googleplex we saw a parking lot with twelve of the company’s super fast chargers waiting for their owners to finish their days work.

It’s become a cliche but this is how cars should be made. Whether you go for the high end Tesla (the company is bringing out a much cheaper version soon) or pick one like the Chevy Bolt which for $30,000 delivers 200+ miles per charge, or Nissan’s Leaf, electric is becoming a truly better way to go.

My Tribe of Travel Professionals Provides Needed Sustenance

After a long day that just ended at 8:45 pm, my head is full to bursting with so many interesting conversations after meetings with 35 tourism board representatives and dozens of fellow travel writers here at Canada Media Market in San Francisco.

Of all the places I learned about today, the one that stuck out and the one I most want to visit is Revelstoke, British Columbia. This small town of 7,500 in the mountains of this beautiful province sounds a bit like Bend Oregon. As Thom Tischik, the town’s marketing manager put it, it’s a town where people are confident, smart and ready to make a go on their own. They open businesses and on “pow days” (days with great snow), they close their businesses to go skiing. The people in Revelstoke, I was told, love living in their somewhat remote paradise, and have their priorities straight. I can’t wait to get out there and see what this town is all about.

I am thinking back on some of the people I just hung out with at the after party: An actress named Juliana Dever who has had a regular role on the ABC TV show, Castle who studied travel writing in Paris;  a travel writing teacher and book editor named Lavinia Spalding who is moving to New Orleans and spending her summers on Cape Cod, my travel and business buddy Tim Leffel, and the SF Chronicle Travel Editor Spud Hilton. I also met a PBS TV show host named Colleen Kelly and an interesting guy who used to work for Apple whose company wrote a messaging cellphone app called Cola. And old pal Johnny Jet with his wife (and new green card holder) Natalie.

Each of these people shared their stories with me and had much to teach me…another reason why getting out into the world and mixing with my tribe of travel professionals never gets old and each time, rejuvenates and brings me back to full steam. I needed this!

Canada Media Market 2016: Flying West

Tomorrow I’m flying west, to San Francisco, where I’ll meet with my good friends who together run the publicity and press relations for all of the Canadian provinces. It’s all hands on deck at Canada Media Market, where each year it alternates between New York or San Francisco.  Anyway, it’s always a fun event because so many of our Canadian provinces tourism boards are run by really great people who always are fun to hang out with and who innovate and work hard and bring in many many tourists by dint of their abilities!.

It’s two days of schmoozing and meetings, and then I am going to visit with Iliana from Stiya, the new app that collects your photos and knits them together with local information gained via GPS. I”ll have a chance to find out more about Stiya and what might just be the next big thing! That’s what’s fun about visiting Silicon Valley, you know, well, you never know what might happen.   More to come!

George Jones Never Knew What He Was Really Worth

George Jones and the woman who saved him, wife Nancy Sepulveda.

George Jones and the woman who saved him, wife Nancy Sepulveda.

There’s a new book out about singer George Jones, and the story in the WSJ had an audacious headline: ‘George Jones Was as Good as Sinatra.’  WOW!  But in Ryan Cole’s review of the new Jones biography, “The Grand Tour” by Rich Kienzle, he makes a claim, and I’d have to agree, after I listened to original recordings of “The Window Up Above,” and “She Thinks I Still Care.”  This guy was a fantastic voice and deserves this high accolade.

What I love about biographies is the same thing I like about obituaries: You can follow the arc of someone’s life and find those key things in childhood that made the person what they became as an adult.  Though I wish more obits were as clear and provided as many nuggets as biographies do.

George Jones was born in 1931 in the southeast corner of Texas, a place known as “The Big Thicket.”  He father was a drunk and used to demand that young George sing on command.  No wonder he decided to leave home at age 16, and eventually served in the Marines.  “He was the son of an abusive father and “a loving and devoutly Christian mother. This combination, in Mr Kienzle’s telling, created the singer’s Jekyll and Hyde character, at times sweet and humble, at others selfish and violent.”

Kienzle’s knowledge of his subject gets kudos in the review, as the book reveals the blur of Jone’s life as a top country star: It’s booze, bar fights, missed gigs, mismanaged finances and four marriages.  One story shared is about how Jones was always  jealous of another singer, California country pioneer Buck Owens.  “The two, who often shared billings, bickered over who would open. One night Owens prevailed and Jones took the stage first, played every hit from his rival’s repertoire, and then strutted backstage and told the furious Owens, “You’re on!”

It took a good woman to rein in Jones, who had cocaine habit that almost killed him.  That was Nancy Sepulvado, who cleaned up Jones and helped him back on track. In his later years, “he never felt worthy of his success.” He even recorded a song titled “What Am I Worth?”   After he married Nancy, he continued to tour and make records, but as the book reveals, Nashville was already moving on to younger stars, despite how much respect he had from top artists like Alan Jackson and Randy Travis.

Going on Google Plus to Share Ideas

I about to jump into a Google Plus hangout with a friend, Deb Thompson, a fellow website publisher who lives in Cadillac Michigan.  Working at home makes me enjoy setting up these ‘visits’ where we can both see each other on screen, and we can share ideas and complaints about our work lives. I often have meetings with two colleagues, one in Florida and the other in Connecticut, in this same way. It makes working at home and enduring the endless solitude a bit more manageable.

I am often struck by how different website publishing is from other businesses. It’s different because traditional notions of competition, and not sharing secrets is really not the same.  I can provide Deb with ideas about advertising and other plans that worked for me, and it doesn’t mean I’ll have to lose business to her. There is just a lot to go around, more than anyone can get.  I would never had compared notes with fellow t-shirt salesmen, because back in those days we were all gunning for the same bunch of buyers.

But with the web, with its global reach, and our particular type of marketing, I don’t think we’ll exhaust anybody’s budgets even if we did share the same customers. I am always surprised at the ideas that people come up with, and I never run out of questions I need to ask my colleagues.