Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pops' Travel Guide, Father/Son Eurotrip


Next week Pops leaves for 2 weeks in Europe. My son Kevin and I will be starting at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and ending in Munich. In between we will be visiting our relatives in Italy (mom's side), a day in Monaco, visiting our relatives in Denmark (dad's side) and a short trip to Prague. If you want to follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/michael.johnsen.568 , I'll try and post a lot of pictures whenever I have WiFi.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pops' California Travel Guide, Silverado Country Club



In June we did a 3 day weekend trip to the wine country in Napa and Sonoma. For those of you that have been there during the summer you know that it can get pretty crowded and traffic is congested. We planned this trip where we could get to the wineries in Napa and Sonoma but afterward get away from the crowds and traffic to relax.  




The Silverado Country Club is located off the Silverado Trail on the eastern side of Napa. They offer accommodations ranging from rooms to condominiums with both offering packages that include the spa, golf or tennis. What I like about staying there is you have the benefits of staying in a hotel (restaurants, lounge, pool, etc) but with the feel of staying in a resort. The property is spread out and not centrally located in one building with long hallways. There are a lot of open areas with a nice peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. If you just want to relax you can spend the entire stay there playing golf or tennis, having a spa treatment or sitting by the pool. If you are going with another couple I would also suggest staying in one of their condominiums. We had separate rooms this time and at night would sit outside and drink wine we purchased during wine tasting that day.





If you want to get out, Napa is right there. We went to dinner one night at a wonderful restaurant, Pear, along the Napa River. The downtown area of Napa is along the Napa River and offers many eating options as well as shopping. For wine tasting there is the Silverado Trail which offers many wineries prominent in California wine history. You can also cut across Napa and head north up the Napa Valley or drive over to Sonoma. On Sunday we had a great lunch at Chandon. Chandon is still one of my favorite places to eat in Napa Valley. We also took a drive to Sonoma for a day of shopping and wine tasting. Sonoma is less than an hour away.

Napa along the Napa River
Etoile Restaurant at Chandon

    

Staying in Yountville, St. Helena or Calistoga is nice but can get pretty crowded during the summer. This offers you a relaxing option. The Silverado Trail doesn’t get the traffic that you get on the other side of the valley. However, you are close to Napa and Sonoma.  

Pops' Travel Guide, Airport Parking Options

I have a trip to Europe booked in September where I will be flying out of San Francisco (SFO). When I travel I like to do my research and pick options that are not only cheaper but also convenient. I won’t sacrifice comfort for cost. However, doing your research on the little things can save you money that you can use on the trip.

Here is an example where doing a little research saved me some money. I live in Sacramento and will be flying out of San Francisco. The drive is about 1.5 to 2 hours. I picked San Francisco because it offered me more options on flights. One thing you might overlook is parking options. During my research I had these options.
·         Long term parking at SFO                     14 days @ $18/day                          $252
·         Off airport parking                                 14 days @ $11/day                          $154
·         Park/Sleep/Fly                                       14 days                                            $189
·         Rental car there and rental car back                                                                $129

I choose the rental car option. I will pick up the car the night before and drive it to the airport where I will drop it off and catch the shuttle to my terminal. To get back home I have another car rented to drive home and drop it off the next morning.

I save $123 over SFO long term parking, $25 over off airport parking and $60 over the park/sleep/fly option. I will also save the wear and tear on my car by not driving it to San Francisco and back. This research took me less than an hour and ended up saving me some money.

The length of your trip makes a big difference. For a trip of 1 week the off airport parking would have been the cheapest.

So next time you are planning a vacation don’t forget to look at every aspect. You could end up saving a lot of money.


(Park/Sleep/Fly is an option where you stay one night at a hotel by the airport and then leave your car there. They have different packages designed for the length of your trip. In some cases this could be a cheaper option. Also, if you have an early morning flight staying the night before at the airport means you don’t have to get up as early.)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pops' California Travel Guide, So Lake Tahoe Hiking



If you like the outdoors then Lake Tahoe is the place for you. Boating, skiing, biking, golf and hiking is all there and most are free. There is the Tahoe Rim Trail and The Desolation Wilderness area. Trails abound around the lake. I would like to tell you about a hike I went on last week. Lake Tahoe is a huge lake but there are also many smaller lakes around the lake. On this hike we started on the back side of Fallen Leaf Lake. To get to Fallen Leaf Lake take the directions I gave to The Beacon and continue past Camp Richardson. Just past the riding stables is the turn for Fallen Leaf Campground. Continue past the campground until you get to the lake and continue to the back side of the lake. When you get to the fire station turn left and park in the parking lots that are just up the road. You will see a beautiful waterfall and the trail head is just up ahead. Before you enter the Desolation Wilderness Area you will have to fill out a permit. Start there and you will see some incredible back country. This hike was about 2 hours. How long you walk is up to you and you can spend many days in the Desolation Wilderness Area. Most trails are marked by difficulty.







There are numerous trails around the lake both on the California and Nevada side. I would do some research before you go and one of the many trails.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pops' California Travel Guide, The Beacon, So Lake Tahoe



My favorite place to eat in So Lake Tahoe whether it is summer or winter is The Beacon at Camp Richardson. The Beacon is on the beach at Lake Tahoe with indoor or outdoor dining. The food is incredible and my favorite are the marinated steak (ribeye) tacos (3). There are live bands outside in the summer with great music. However, you can't beat sitting outside listening to music by the beach eating steak tacos and drinking their famous Rum Runners. The Rum Runners are a blended fruit drink made with rum and then they float dark rum on top. The Rum Runners are great on a hot summer day but I have also enjoyed them after a long day of snow skiing.




If you are in South Lake Tahoe make the drive to Camp Richardson. Driving west on HWY 50 take a right at the "Y" and drive about 5 miles to Camp Richardson. They charge $8 to park during the summer but when you place your order in the restaurant you get the $8 back. Check them out online to see what bands are playing. I have talked about the steak tacos but the rest of the menu is awesome. Try the chipote shrimp nachos also.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pops' California Travel Guide, So. Lake Tahoe



Pops just got back from a week in So. Lake Tahoe. I have a lot to write about and I'll start with the lake itself. With summer starting Lake Tahoe is a perfect vacation spot in California. It is only about ninety miles east of Sacramento and is split between California and Nevada. The summer weather is great with the temps in the seventies and eighties. There may be an occasional thunder storm but don't let that stop you. For activities you name it and they most likely will have it. Of course there is the gambling on the Nevada side, fine dining, golfing, hiking, biking, swimming, water crafts, art galleries and even wine tasting. I'm writing about our summer trip but in the winter you have many ski areas.


Emerald Bay




Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the US at an elevation of 6200 feet. It is also the second deepest lake at 1645 feet behind Crater Lake in Oregon. It is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide with a shoreline of 72 miles.



For this trip we camped in So. Lake Tahoe at The Campground by the Lake. It is in the center of the city and right across the street from the lake and one of it's beaches. Our campsite had views of the lake and we could see the paddle wheel boat going back and forth to Emerald Bay, hot air balloons, parasailing, and boaters from the RV. The campground also has a recreation center with a swimming pool and an indoor ice skating rink.





I have been going to Lake Tahoe since I was four years old so I have a special place in my heart for this place. In the next few posts I'll write about some of the specifics of our trip.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Summer is Coming and This is the Best Time to Visit Denmark


I wish I was there!

In fact, I will be there in September to visit the relatives. But you can go earlier!

Summer is coming up quickly and I would highly recommend visiting Denmark as this is the best time of the year. Whether you are sitting in a square drinking Carlsberg, riding a bike in one of the most bike friendly cites in the world, having a sausage from one of the many stands, enjoying the incredible food, visiting the many beaches, touring the many castles, or just sitting on the edge of the canal at Nyhavn with friends and familiy Denmark is ready to show you the most amazing time. I can't list all the activities here but here are a few

  • Visit Hans Christian Andersen's home and make sure you stay for the outdoor play.
  • LEGOLAND
  • Tivoli
  • Copenhagen has a lot of beautiful beaches but don't stop there. Denmark is a cluster of islands with many beaches. One of my favorites is in Lolland.
  • Denmark has some of the most interesting castles. Do your research and visit a few.
  • Copenhagen is a city you can see on foot. Visit the many neighborhoods.
  • Take a canal tour.
  • Enjoy a beer outside and while you're at it a sausage also.
  • See one of the oldest monarchies in the world.
  • Take in the history.
  • Meet some of the friendliest and happy people in the world. 
One other thing to consider. The summer days are very long. In late June it will be twilight until almost midnight. You can really pack in some full days. Denmark is more than you can imagine.