First Time Ever Spousetivities at AWS re:Invent!

Are you going to AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas? Well, there is certainly good news for you! This time, instead of leaving just after Thanksgiving and heading to another conference without the family, you can bring them along! That’s right, Spousetivities is coming to re:Invent 2016. What does that mean? Well, check out my about page for a little more information on what this is all about, then check out the activities lined up for anyone joining a conference attendee.

Registration is now open so check out what’s happening! Here’s an overview of the activities being offered:

  • Cooking with Chef Dell (Previous winner of Food Network’s “Chopped”)

  • Hoover Dam/Grand Canyon – because who doesn’t want to see this!?

  • Black Canyon Raft/Hoover Dam Charter

  • Vegas Food Tour hosted by Chef Dell

Wait, did I mention prizes? Oops, I might have forgotten that! Each day you are on a tour, you get a ticket in a drawing for a great prize. Some of the prizes given away at past events—and likely to find their way into this event—include Samsung tablets, Bose headphones, VR Headsets, GoPros, and iPad Minis. These of course, are in addition to the gift bag you receive if you are one of the first 30 to register. The gift bags include great goodies too—battery backups, water bottles, t-shirts, and more!

Sounds like something you’re interested in? You won’t want to delay as these activities often sell out very quickly so register today.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest updates leading up to the event as well as during the event. While you’re following me, go ahead and do the same for the sponsor making all of this possible: VMware NSX (@vmwarensx on Twitter and Facebook). Without their support, these activities would not be so affordable and actually wouldn’t even be possible. See you in Vegas!


OpenStack Summit 2016 Barcelona Wrap Up

Wow! That is really the best way to describe Spousetivities at OpenStack Summit in Barcelona 2016. After getting a start in Tokyo in 2015, Spousetivities also tagged along to the OpenStack Summit in Austin and now in Barcelona as well. Did you join the fun in Spain? If so, you already know the amazing adventures we had. If not, let’s take a look at the week so you can start preparing to join us next time! Of course, none of this would be possible without the media support of the OpenStack Foundation and the financial sponsorship of VMware NSX.

So let’s review:

  • Monday – While I was unfortunately sick, my son Cameron stepped up to the plate to organize people on both of the Monday events. Off to a day of tapas and wine, one group explored the Gothic area and more on a walking tour that was equally pleasing to the palate. Meanwhile, Cameron and the rest of the participants dared to bike Barcelona to explore the rich history of the region. Midway through the tour, the group enjoyed a yummy tapas lunch, then completed the bike tour before returning for the evening.
  • Tuesday – What a great day this was! Back on my feet again, we set out for Montserrat. There is always something new to take in when visiting this breathtaking location. After exploring and listening to the Boys’ Choir, we set out for an organic winery run by a local family. The tasting, conversation, and fun was only surpassed by the incredible lunch we had just prior to this stop. It was a day not soon forgotten.
  • Wednesday – One of my favorite places in Spain was the destination of the day! “Quaint”, “tranquil”, and “breathtaking” are words that come to mind when thinking of Rupit. Guests were able to choose how to spend their time this day—many explored this tiny town while others took a short 7km hike to views that will be remembered for years to come. One can’t leave Rupit without being fed a lunch that was fit for kings and queens, and we certainly felt like royalty when we departed to return to Barcelona.
  • Thursday – So many people were enjoying Spousetivities at OpenStack Summit this week that we launched two tours on Thursday. One group set off for Costa Brava and Girona while the other headed out on another 7km hike along the coastline, ending in Costa Brava. For this day, the best way to describe it is to look through the eyes of those who attended, so check out the photos on Facebook! You’ll be sad you missed it, or you’ll relive the memories if you were one of the lucky ones that attended.
  • Friday – I call this “couples day.” Though some didn’t have a spouse that was able to attend, many had the opportunity to bring a spouse along and let them have some much needed downtime after a crazy yet fulfilling week at the Summit. We explored Tarragona, the Roman Aqueduct, and more. Of course, who can forget the lunch that sent nearly everyone into a food coma!? Not to be forgotten was our visit to the monastery that was yet another reminder of exactly how beautiful this area is and exactly how much history can be remembered.

If you didn’t get to join us, you certainly missed out. Don’t worry, 2017 promises to bring more once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to explore the world! If you want to be the first to know about upcoming Spousetivities tours and events, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, you can subscribe to my website. See you next time!


VMworld EMEA 2016 Wrap Up

Were you one of the fortunate ones to join us on the incredible tours in beautiful Barcelona during VMworld EMEA? If so, thanks for participating and exploring such a beautiful city with me!

Here’s a quick recap of the week:

  • Monday – We started the week with a bang as we headed out to explore the tastes of the Catalunya region with a walking food and wine tour. This fun experience was sponsored by VMware NSX.
  • Tuesday – It’s hard to visit Barcelona without seeing the majestic Montserrat, which is why we took the trip to this exquisite area. We even got to listen the Boys’ Choir. Thanks to Veeam for making this fantastic day possible.
  • Wednesday – What can be said about a day that takes you to two countries? We began our day in Spain, had lunch in the French Pyrenees, explored more of France, then finished our day back in Spain. What a great day it was, courtesy of the support of VMware NSX.
  • Thursday – The day that wrapped up our week at VMworld allowed us to stroll historic Roman Tarragona. We visited ancient ruins of the stadium, Roman wall, and other sites. We dined on handmade meals made by a local family who still uses wood-fired stoves to prepare some of the best food in the region. Again, an incredible day brought to us thanks to the support of VMware NSX.

    The T-shirts, bags, and other goodies were also made possible by the support of TVP Strategy and VMUG. Without our sponsors—VMware NSX, Veeam, VMUG, and TVP Strategy —these events wouldn’t be possible, so be sure to thank all of them. Also, if you love what Spousetivities is doing and want to see more awareness of the activities in coming years, make sure to share your thoughts with the VMworld Events Team. You can email them using this address for Europe: [email protected] and this address for the US/North America event: [email protected]

    If you didn’t get to join us, you certainly missed out, but don’t worry, 2017 promises to bring more once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to explore the world! If you want to be the first to know about upcoming Spousetivities tours and events, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, you can find the latest information on my website as well. See you next time!


Do Barcelona in a Whole New Way with Spousetivities

Think you’ve already done Barcelona? Think AGAIN! This year at VMworld Europe, Spousetivities is offering some incredible activities that you may never have the opportunity to do again. Wait, why are you still reading? Go register now!

So you weren’t convinced? That’s OK. Let me see if telling you about some of the tours will get you excited about joining your VMworld attendee in Barcelona.

  • Day 1: Monday, October 17 (https://spousetivities.ticketleap.com/vmworld2016emea/dates/Oct-17-2016_at_0800AM)

    • We will set sail on the Mediterranean for a morning of adventure. This tour will allow you to experience Barcelona like no other tour!

    • Not a water person? No worries, how about a walking tour with wine tasting? Even if you choose to sail in the morning, you can join this activity in the afternoon. Either way, this is a great way to learn your way around the city and get to know the locals.

    • If walking isn’t your thing, you can join a biking tour of the city. This excursion will show you all the city highlights! Don’t worry about being an avid cyclist, this tour only requires that you be in reasonable physical health. There are plenty of stopping points and few hills.

  • Day 2: Tuesday, October 18 (https://spousetivities.ticketleap.com/vmworld2016emea/dates/Oct-18-2016_at_0800AM)

    This amazing day takes you to the incredible Montserrat where you will see the Black Madonna and hear the famous Boys’ Choir. There will also be an opportunity for a small hike and a ride up the mountain on the tram. After a morning to remember, we will venture into the city to enjoy lunch at a quaint local restaurant. Don’t worry, the day isn’t over yet, after lunch, our group will venture to a couple of local wineries to taste some of the local wines. If you attended last year, don’t fret, we are going to new wineries and a new restaurant!

  • Day 3: Wednesday, October 19 (https://spousetivities.ticketleap.com/vmworld2016emea/dates/Oct-19-2016_at_0800AM)

    If you can only join one day, this is it! We will be visiting the French Pyrenees on this incredible tour. Yes, it is a long drive, but you’ll soon forget it once you take in these majestic views! Make sure to dress for the weather (in layers), and be ready for a day you won’t soon forget.

  • Day 4: Thursday, October 20 (https://spousetivities.ticketleap.com/vmworld2016emea/dates/Oct-20-2016_at_0800AM)

    For our final day of activities, we will visit Roman Tarragona & Cistercian Monastery. This is a day rich in history and culture and will not only be a day of exciting photo opportunities, but will include a fantastic lunch and plenty of sights that you can only appreciate in person.

Did I mention that the first 30 guests to register will get a special prize? I forgot? Oh…well, in that case, the first 30 guests to register will receive a swag bag with great items courtesy of our sponsors. Who are the sponsors? Glad you asked! This year, we have VMware NSX, Veeam, TVP Strategy, and VMUG. In addition to the gift bags, the cost of all these tours is reduced by 40% because of their support. Make sure to thank them at their booth, on Twitter, and/or on Facebook. For a final surprise, there will be a major giveaway item for each day of activities. You can win more than once. Each day that you arrive for your tour, you’ll be given a ticket for that day’s prize. During the tour, I’ll draw the winning ticket. If it’s yours, so is the prize! Prizes include but aren’t limited to iPad mini, Kindle Fire, gift cards, and more.

Now, really, what are you waiting for? Register now as space on these incredible adventures is limited and only available on a first come first serve basis. Don’t delay, register today.


OpenStack, Barcelona, and Spousetivities

The OpenStack Summits in Tokyo and Austin were fabulous, so now we are venturing into Barcelona! I’ve already started planning activities for the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona this October, and registration for the activities will open soon.

Barcelona is a spectacular city, and I’ve partnered with a great local company that works hard to customize tours for Spousetivities participants. You are sure to have a great time in this beautiful city, and it won’t be your standard run-of-the-mill tourist stuff, either!

Stay tuned for details about tours, but here’s what I’m currently targeting:

  • A biking wine tour
  • Montserrat (of course!)
  • Some coastal hiking
  • Touring Tarragona
  • And even a Cistercian monastery!

You also won’t want to miss the beautiful town of Rupit! So check back often and watch social media (follow @Spousetivities on Twitter and friend Spousetivities on Facebook) to get notified when registration opens.

These great activities are brought to you by VMware NSX!


Welcome to the 9th Anniversary of Spousetivities at VMworld!

It all began in 2008 with a bored girl wanting someone to hang out and have lunch. As it turned out, there were about 20 others just like me looking for something to do in Las Vegas while our sweethearts attended VMworld 2008. Fast-forward 9 years, and we are back in Vegas for VMworld and what is now known as Spousetivities with a line-up of activities that is sure to please!

This year, all of the tours will depart from and return to Mandalay Bay. Whether this is your first trip to Las Vegas or you’ve been there a dozen times, there’s sure to be an activity or two you haven’t tried. So what activities are planned, you ask?

We’ll start the week with a new twist on a old favorite. The Spousetivities “Getting to Know You” breakfast is well-known, but this year we’re doing it in a whole new way. We’ll still have the fun and excitement of prizes, recognition of sponsors, and the opportunity to meet others participating in the activities. What you’ll also get a cooking demo from Food Network’s “Chopped” Season 9 winner, Chef Phillip Dell. Come for the prizes, but you’ll definitely want to stay for the food!

In addition to the breakfast, we’ve got a great collection of other activities to fill your week:

  • Walking Tour – This is a simple walking tour along the famed Las Vegas Strip. Don’t worry, we’ll move at a relaxing pace so you can take in the uniqueness of the hotels and their gardens, art, and even aquariums.
  • Grand Canyon Tour – This is for both the newbies and the seasoned Vegas attendees. The Grand Canyon is a sight to behold more than once so join this incredible day of adventure to see one of the most beautiful natural features in the world.
  • Hoover Dam Tour – While those going to the Grand Canyon will get a glimpse of the Dam, this tour is a longer trip focused mostly on visiting the Dam and seeing this amazing feat of engineering. The new overpass is a sight to be seen, and you’ll get to take some incredible photos from there as well. If time permits, a gentle cruise along Lake Mead will complete this fantastic day.
  • Fletcher Canyon Hike – With so much of Vegas focused on being indoors in smoky casinos, here’s another opportunity to get outside and breathe some fresh air. This tour takes you out of the heat as well! Up over 7000 feet (or 2100 meters for our metric friends), the temperatures are much cooler than the city. This hike is between 2 and 4 miles and is rated an “easy” hike. The hike length varies because we are free to turn back at any point depending on the group’s needs. After this day on beautiful Mt. Charleston, lunch will be served at The Lodge.
  • Death Valley/Valley of Fire – This one was planned and listed on the registration page; however, the castle we were scheduled to tour is currently undergoing renovations. Don’t worry, though! There will be a trip to this area, but the details are still being worked out. Rest assured, it will be incredible!
  • More Cooking with Chef Dell – In case you didn’t get enough, or you are just looking for a great way to hone your cooking skills, there will be an actual cooking class with Phillip (see link above) later in the week. Chef will guide you through the process of making an incredible menu. This is a must for anyone looking for a fun way to spend the day out of the Vegas heat!

As always, these events could happen without the support of great sponsors. Please make sure to Tweet, tag on Facebook, and visit the booths of these incredible supporters of Spousetivities:

OK, there’s the scoop. Now that you’re excited, head on over to the registration page and get signed up. Seating is limited and the cooking class and Grand Canyon are already filling up. Don’t forget to register for the breakfast to get your free goodie bag, Spousetivities vShirt, and your ticket to be entered to win some cool prizes!


You Can’t Contain the Fun!

seattle-blogSorry for the pun in the title, but we are really excited to announce that Spousetivities will be available at DockerCon 2016 (June 20–21) in Seattle, WA! Registration is open right now.

Here’s a bit more information about what we have planned for activities at DockerCon:

  • Morning yoga: On both Monday, June 20, and Tuesday, June 21, Docker staff member Adam will be leading a morning yoga session on the lawn at the Sheraton (the conference hotel). The cost is $10 each day, and don’t worry about bringing your own yoga mat—a yoga mat is included with your ticket! This will be a great way to keep up with your fitness goals while traveling.
  • Food, Fun, and the Zoo: On Monday, we’ve arranged a set of activities intended to be “family friendly” and suitable for people traveling with or without children. This tour will start with a set of tastings from around Seattle (chocolate, anyone?) and finish out with plenty of time at the Woodland Park Zoo. Reduced pricing for children under 12 is available.
  • Experience Seattle (Option 1): The first of the two Seattle-area tours is on Monday. Monday’s tour is a bit more geared towards adults and/or adults with older children. Stops on this tour include the Space Needle, Pike Place Market (and the original Starbucks location!), Pioneer Square, and the Kerry Park scenic overlook. Lunch is included.
  • Waterfall, Chocolate and Wine: This is a more adult-focused tour on Tuesday, June 21. Two wineries with tastings, lunch, and a visit to the Squonalmie Falls are included. Because of the wine tastings, we don’t recommend taking children on this event.
  • Seattle City and Aquarium: On Tuesday, June 21, is the second of two Seattle-area tours. This is a tour that you can do with or without kids, but is tailored a bit more for people with kids. This tour includes the Space Needle, Pioneer Square (with additional possible stops), and the aquarium. Lunch is included with your ticket, and reduced pricing for children under 12 is available.

Here’s a quick “TL;DR” on the events:

  • If you’re traveling with kids, we recommend Monday’s food/fun/zoo tour and the Seattle-area tour on Tuesday.
  • If you’d prefer a trip without as many kids or with older kids, then go for Monday’s Seattle-area tour and the wine tastings on Tuesday.

All tours will depart from the Sheraton (the conference hotel), and times are posted on the registration page in the description for each activity. (Don’t worry, we’ll remind you via e-mail. Just be sure to use a valid e-mail address when registering!)

Seating is limited on all events, so register now to save your spot. See you in Seattle!


Austin, BBQ, OpenStack, and…Spousetivities!

Another year, another OpenStack Summit, and another round of Spousetivities®! This time, the Spousetivities crew (read: me and possibly some wonderful volunteer helpers) will be joining the OpenStack community in beautiful Austin, TX, to provide activities for those traveling with Summit attendees. Registration is now open, so hop on over and sign yourself or your special someone up right away.

What’s that? You want some details on the activities before you sign up? OK, fair enough. Here’s what I’ve got planned:

  • On Monday, April 25, we’ll kick the week off with a “Welcome Scavenger Hunt.” This unique activity will give you the opportunity to get to know Austin as well as get to know some of the folks who will be hanging out with you over the course of the week. There will be fun, prizes, giveaways, and—perhaps most importantly?—food! Breakfast is included in the activity.
  • Following the Welcome Scavenger Hunt, you have the opportunity to join us for a “Taste of Austin.” This tour will allow you to sample some of the city’s best boutique eateries and food trucks.
  • On Tuesday, April 26, I’ve lined up a tour that will take you to some of the best places around Austin and the Hill Country, including a stop (with food!) at the world-famous Salt Lick. You don’t even have to wait in line at this renowned BBQ stop—that makes this tour worth it even without all the landmarks and hidden gemes.
  • If you like BBQ, then Wednesday, April 27, the “BBQ Crawl of Central Texas” is just the activity for you. We’ve packed three iconic venues in a single day, making sure you get your fill of delicious central Texas BBQ.
  • Texas plus German heritage equals Thursday, April 28’s tour of Fredericksburg. Enjoy a relaxing road trip through small towns over to Fredericksburg, where they’ll be time to explore, shop, and sightsee, plus lunch is included!
  • Friday, April 29, we’ll wrap up the week with a private boat cruise aboard the Lone Star, a luxurious double-decker paddle wheel riverboat. Lunch is, naturally, included.

The registration page has all the details, including specific times for each event throughout the week. All events, unless otherwise noted, will depart from the JW Marriott hotel, which is a short walk from the Austin Convention Center (the venue for the Summit). Please note that I have limited seats for these activities, so sign up early before the seats are all gone!

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to thank VMware NSX for sponsoring the events in Austin. Thanks to their support, the cost of these exclusive activities is often less than comparable public activities—and that doesn’t even count the extras you get with Spousetivities-prizes, private tours with local guides, and so much more!

Heard enough? Head on over to the registration page to sign up! I look forward to seeing you in Austin.


OpenStack Summit Austin

After a wonderful OpenStack Summit in Tokyo in October 2015, Spousetivities® is kicking off 2016 in Austin, Texas at the OpenStack Summit in April! If you’re attending, don’t leave that loved one behind. Bring your friend, family member, sibling, partner, spouse, or fiancé with you and let them join in some great activities in and around the Austin area. It is the best of both worlds because you get to soak up all the information coming from the conference, while spending the evenings with those close to you. This is the secret for getting your family to encourage you to attend conferences instead of grumbling about you being gone again.

Registration isn’t quite open yet, but some of the plans for the event include a scavenger hunt with prizes, a rocket bike tour, wine tour, and a trip to Fredericksburg. Of course there will be food, fun, and fantastic prizes along the way! These events are made possible thanks to the support of VMware NSX.

There will be an announcement here, on Twitter, and on Facebook when the registration goes live so check back so you can secure your activities before they sell out!


So Much “New” in this New Year!

Spousetivities has a lot of “new” in this new year! If you are reading this, you can already see the new look for the website, courtesy of my wonderful husband, Scott Lowe. You can now search the site for information about events that interest you most. More updates and improvements are being added so check back to see the latest as we continue to improve the site. I hope you enjoy the fresh, new look as much as I do!

Spousetivities is now known as Spousetivities®! So excited to announce that Spousetivities is now a registered trademark as is the phrase “spouse activities”. After 8 years, it really feels official now. Thank you to Jeremy Brown for helping with the trademark process.

Spousetivities is pleased to announce new events this year. The first of these is coming up in April. That’s right, you can join in the Spousetivities fun at OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas. The event runs April 25 – 29th. More information about this event coming in another post. Other new events you should plan to attend include DockerCon in Seattle, and AWS re:Invent in Vegas.

Don’t worry, Spousetivities events will still be at your old favorites, too. Plans are underway for VMworld US, VMworld EMEA, and OpenStack Summit in Barcelona as well.

Be sure to watch for more information here, on Twitter, and Facebook as more information for all of these events will be flowing in soon!