Spousetivities Returns to Barcelona for VMworld 2017!

Registration for Spousetivities at VMworld EMEA in Barcelona has been open for a few weeks now, and events are really starting to fill up. If you’re interested in joining us for some great activities while VMworld EMEA is running, time is running out! I encourage you to book early—it’s quite likely the events will sell out.

Here’s a quick overview of the events planned:

  • On Monday, September 11, we’ll leave the conference center at 8:30 am. Our first stop is the famous La Sagrada Familia, after which we’ll meet up with a local chef and do some shopping at the marketplace. Once we’ve gotten what we need, the chef lead a short cooking class, and then we’ll enjoy the delicious food we’ve prepared. Important note: Monday 9/11 is Catalunya Day, a holiday. The metro will be closed, so plan accordingly!

  • On Tuesday, September 12, We have a day of hiking beautiful coastlines, cliffs, and coves! We’ll leave the conference center at 8:30 am and travel north to Costa Brava. Costa Brava boasts some amazing panoramic views of the Mediterranean via winding cliff-top trails and hidden coves. Lunch will be provided in a charming coastal village.

  • On Wednesday, September 13, our day again starts with an 8:30 am departure from the conference center (just look for the Spousetivities sign outside the conference center). We’ll head south of Barcelona to the world-renowned El Penedès wine country. There, we’ll sample a variety of high-quality organic wines, including cavas, reds, and whites. Lunch is included (food is always included when joining Spousetivities in Barcelona!).

  • Wrapping up the week, we’ll start Thursday, September 14 by leaving the conference center at 8:30 am to head for some medieval villages in the Empordà region. Inland from Costa Brava (where we’ll hike on Tuesday), this region has a number of wonderfully preserved medieval villages that are not to be missed. You’ll get the opportunity to explore Peratallada (meaning “carved/cut stone”), with its labyrinthine streets surrounding a fairy tale-like castle. Lunch is provided, and we’ll also have a small wine tasting before heading back to the conference center.

All in all, I think we have a great line-up of activities, even for those of you that have been to Barcelona multiple times. However, don’t wait too long to register—tickets are already on sale and many events are already at 50% capacity (or higher, in some cases).

Here’s hoping I’ll see you in Barcelona!


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!


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!


Let’s go to Barcelona!

After wrapping up the 8th annual Spousetivities at VMworld US in San Francisco, it is full steam ahead to VMworld EMEA 2015, once again in beautiful Barcelona, Spain! Let’s face it, leaving your partner behind while you head to another weeklong conference doesn’t gain you many points in the relationship. This year, why not bring him or her with you? He or she can check out what Spousetivities has planned for them while you are busy networking and soaking up knowledge at the conference.

Like the US event, Spousetivities will have some goodies to give away for participants. The first 25 to register will get a backpack with great gifts from our sponsors. Who are these sponsors, you ask? This year we can thank VMware NSX for their Gold Sponsorship. Spousetivities is also pleased to thank Brocade, Cisco, VMUG, The Virtualization Practice, EMC Elect, and Thinware for their support of these events.

If that isn’t enough to get you or your sweetie excited, how about one of the following tours available at 40% off the public tour pricing (again, thanks to our amazing sponsors):

  • Montserrat and Wine Country – The group will head for a visit at the impressive Monastery of Montserrat. Most visitors will have the opportunity to hear the famous Boys’ Choir perform (not guaranteed). You will also visit the “Moreneta de Montserrat”, one of the black Madonnas of Europe, and enjoy a light walk to Santa Cova, where the black Madonna is said to have originally been found and rescued. The tour will then depart Montserrat and the group will enjoy a fantastic lunch of local Catalan country cuisine in a traditional restaurant at the base of Montserrat. Lunch will be followed by a private field tour, guided visit and three-product wine and cava tasting at one of the premier, small, boutique wineries of the region.

  • Costa Brava & Medieval Girona – Guests will visit charming fishing villages, local markets, city gardens, and enjoy short walks to secluded beaches and great panoramic lookout points over this Mediterranean paradise. The Girona city tour takes you through the rich history of one of Spain’s most charming, medieval walled cities that has been very well preserved since it was founded by the Romans in the 1st century. On this journey through time, guests will also enjoy a four-course lunch, in a traditional local restaurant, that includes wine, salads, olives, grilled meats and fish dishes.
  • Wines of Catalunya – One cannot visit Spain without getting some insight into their distinctive wine making. Guests will head out for a truly unique and personalized opportunity to enjoy authentic local flavors via food and wine tasting in private, boutique cellars of the Penedès. We will have wine and food all day in a casual and relaxed pace and manner. Guests visit charming, small, boutique wineries where the local, resident wine makers host Spousetivities participants personally and exclusively. A traditional meal of Catalan fare will be served at one of the venues while you enjoy extensive and varied pours of whites, rosés and reserve reds and cavas.
  • Medieval Mountain Village & Panoramic Trails – Guests begin the day of adventure by exploring a village’s winding cobblestone streets and stone houses dating back more than 500 years. With photo opportunities galore, time will still be made for a quaint break for coffee (or tea) and a pastry before more exploring the streets of this medieval town. This is a day of great mountains, excellent views, amazing history and a superb four-course restaurant lunch in a traditional Catalan country restaurant. For those who wish, we will duck out of the village for a great light hike through wooded trails and cliff-top look outs, streams, rivers, waterfalls and spectacular views of deep river canyons and the forested valleys. Non-hikers can relax on a river-view terrace and enjoy the sun, beverages and a book until the others return.

    Don’t wait–register today!


Celebrating Our Global Gold Sponsors

Spousetivities would not be where and what it is today without the generous support of sponsors, including this year’s Global Gold sponsors (in alphabetical order): Brocade, Cisco, VMware NSX, and VMUG. But why does Spousetivities have sponsors? To understand the answer to that question, you need to look at this history of Spousetivities.

Spousetivities originated in 2008, at VMworld in Las Vegas. I decided that I was tired of the typical business trip with my husband, Scott Lowe. He loved having me travel with him, and I loved going. Being there alone, though, was not my favorite thing. Long story short, Spousetivities was born! (The name came from the community and is a shortened version of “spouse activities”.)

As the idea grew, it became apparent that I could no longer keep offering public tours having everyone buy tickets separately. What if someone missed a bus? Or accidentally purchased the wrong tour? There were too many potential issues. Once again, the community supported me and gave me the idea that I find companies (sponsors) willing to not only “talk the talk” but actually “walk the walk” when it comes to creating a family friendly environment and supporting work-life balance.

Because of these incredible companies, Spousetivities has been able to offer activities to the friends, family, and loved ones of those attending VMworld for 8 years. To thank a few of them, this is a spotlight post on our Global Gold sponsors for 2015. Here they are, again in alphabetical order:

  • Please welcome Brocade this year as a fantastic new sponsor of the Spousetivities community. Brocade’s support means that you get to enjoy time out in the wonderful city of San Francisco without breaking the bank.
  • Also welcome Cisco Systems to the family of supporters that faithfully support Spousetivities each year. Cisco’s support has allowed these activities to be offered at reduced cost, while still allowing them to be both exclusive and private (like our wine tour outings this year!).
  • For the second year in a row, VMware NSX is supporting Spousetivities in a big way. As the sponsor of the ever popular “Get to Know You” breakfast, VMware NSX continues to promote a healthy perspective on work/life balance to families.
  • Finally, for the 5th year in a row, the folks at VMUG are continuing their support of Spousetivities. Their support is not only via funding to keep your costs low, but also by providing “behind the scenes” support as well to help enhance the experience of Spousetivities each year. Being community-minded themselves, VMUG understands the need to support the IT community as a whole.

In short, Spousetivities can only do what it does (offer fantastic activities at reasonable prices) thanks to the support of some great sponsors. If you’re traveling to VMworld this year, either as a spouse or as a conference attendee who is bringing your spouse, please take the time to thank Spousetivities sponsors for their commitment and dedication to community, family, and a healthy work-life balance.

Finally, don’t forget to register for Spousetivities before the events sell out!


Spousetivities at VMworld Barcelona

Now that VMworld US 2012 is in the books, it is time to start planning your trip to VMworld EMEA 2012, in beautiful Barcelona, Spain! You know you don’t want to be in the doghouse for heading to Spain without your partner, so check out what Spousetivities has planned for the ones you care about while you are busy soaking up knowledge at the conference.

Like the US event, Spousetivities will have some goodies to give away for participants. In the past, that’s included things like iPads, iPods, Kindles, and other nifty electronic gadgets. If that isn’t enough to get you or your sweetie excited, how about one of the following tours:

  • Barcelona City Tour – Participants of Spousetivities will enjoy a full day of touring the city by private motor coach. This tour boasts panoramic views of Montjuïc Hill, a drive through the posh Eixample community, and a visit to Santa Maria del Mar. This is only a glimpse of the sights this tour will expose our group to on this amazing tour. There will be a stop for lunch during this beautiful tour as well. Lunch, of course, is included in the price.
  • Dali Tour – This is a long tour but well worth the time. After we depart from Marriott, we will enjoy a full day of sightseeing and amazing history. We will see the coastal village of Cadaqués then on to Dali’s chosen place of peace and quiet, Port Lligat. This tour will also take us to Cap de Creus on the eatern point of the mainland Spain. The tour includes tickets to 2 museums we will visit as well as a private guide and private motor coach. Once again, lunch is included so pack your camera and let’s go.
  • Montserrat and Cava Trail – One cannot visit Spain without getting some insight into their distinctive wine making. We will tour Codorniu and their magnificent underground cellars. We will also visit a must see destination of Montserrat Shrine as well as enjoy a fantastic lunch and a stroll at Cava Trail. This is a full day!

These tours are an amazing opportunity that you won’t want to miss. However, there is not a lot of room and the spaces will fill quickly. Don’t wait–register today!