Saturday, October 10, 2009

Photo essay of my day in San Jose, Costa Rica, exploring downtown!

This afternoon I set out from Green House Hostel and walked many blocks. My goal was to reach the Mercado Central (Central Market). But as it so often happens, getting there was more fun than reaching the destination. I was disappointed the market was inside so only stayed a little while.

One of several cut-out carvings up the street from my youth hostel. 

 I enjoyed people-watching, admired the sculpture and plazas and especially liked seeing the lovely Teatro Nacional. Another highlight was returning to the hostel and playing with adorable 4-year-old Loana. We used my Apple laptop's Photobooth to take our picture, the final photo.

Friday, October 09, 2009

My First Trip to Costa Rica - where to stay in San Jose, the country's capital?

Three Cheers for Spontaneity
How I "downgraded" from Spa to Hotel to Hostel and am Very Happy!

Map courtesy of Lonely Planet

It was a little nerve-wracking not to know where I was staying my first night here in San Jose,
the capital of Costa Rica. After 14 hours of travel on Thursday, Oct. 8, from Santa Cruz, California, I was tired and regretted I had not made any lodging reservations.

My last-minute attempt to book online at Tabacon Grand Spa (three hours' drive from the airport) had fallen through. Bye, bye pampering and luxury.  I had three nights - Thursday, Friday and Saturday to rest and relax before starting my active vacation, which includes running every day! My next blog post will be all about this trip: The Coastal Experience.

At customs, I told them I was staying at Best Western Irazu, though I had no reservations there. That's where I will meet my group on Sunday.

"Aburrido," proclaimed the official. ("Boring.")

I agreed - Best Western was boring. Why would I stay in a chain hotel? Mostly, because I was so tired and had not researched other options since I was working up until the last minute.

Fortunately, outside the airport, Ines found me waiting for the Best Western hotel shuttle. She talked  me into staying at the Green House Hostel,  30km from the airport.  After 20 minutes talking to Ines and determining that she was not a psycho killer and her establishment was legit. I climbed into her taxi and we drove half an hour to the Green House Hostel. She gave me a great tour along the way, told me about her three kids and growing up at the base of the mountains outside the city.

I checked into the hostel  last night and met the owner Orietta and her son Marco, who run the place. They have been so warm and welcoming. I am thrilled I landed here and will stay three nights. It's humble for sure, but for $20 a night for a private room with bathroom, including wireless internet and egg breakfast, I couldn't be happier.

 The breakfast room. There are 53 beds here at the hostel, but it's nearly empty now - it's off season.

Today was cloudy and overcast, the perfect excuse to stay close to the hostel and adjust to Costa Rica. A few things I noticed wandering around the neighborhood:

- Colones - the name of the currency here. Converting has been tough - 600 colones equal about one dollar.

- "Sobrepesado"  means "overweight." From scanning headlines of the daily paper, La Nacion,  I  learned 60 percent of adults are overweight here! American influence, no doubt.

- Casados - the common dish that is a mix of white rice, beans and meat - chicken, pork or fish.

Tips from my Apple Store Los Gatos Talk: "Using your Mac and Social Media to Build your Brand"

As a big fan of all things Apple, it was a thrill for me to present my talk on social media at the Apple Store in Los Gatos on Wednesday, October 7. The focus of my talk, titled "Using your Mac and Social Media to Build Your Brand," was how to set up an account on Twitter and how to use it effectively. I have posted "The Golden Rule of Twitter" and some tips, below, on what to tweet about for your business.

 I felt like a superstar with this promo made by Apple.

COMING UP in November at the Capitola Book Cafe in Capitola, California!
My next two talks on social media are set for Wednesday, Nov. 11 (evening) and Saturday, Nov. 14 (morning). Please check the with store for details on class topics and times. Call to register: 831-462-4415.  Prepay is required to reserve a spot.  I hope also to have dates soon for my next Apple Store talks!

Golden Rule of Twitter
Don’t use Twitter to talk about yourself and your services constantly.
Your Tweets should be:
• 80% about others
• 20% about yourself and business

Keep reading to find out what you can tweet about!

Special thanks to Apple's Mari Anderson, Mark Macsurak, and Andrew Kaiser for making my first talk at the Apple Store Los Gatos so much fun and run so smoothly!

 What to Tweet about In Your Own Business:
• New product release
• Significant changes to existing product
• Changes in corporate name or logo
• New website
• Events, e.g. open house, awards, presentations
• New funding
• Major personnel changes
• Increase in market share
• Corporate philanthropy, e.g. volunteer work, donations
• Hiring of agencies, e.g. PR, accounting, law
• New partner or significant new customer
• Milestones, e.g. customers served, anniversary

What to Tweet About Otherwise:
Think about topics that are related to your business and/or area of interest that your customers/clients/friends on Twitter will find of interest. The majority of these Twitter posts, called "tweets," will contain links to articles. To find articles of interest you can:

• Read your local news online
• Monitor websites and newsletters of groups and professional associations you belong to
• Keep an eye out for breaking news in your industry online (i.e. New York Times tech section)
• See what your colleagues are tweeting about and "retweet" them
• Look out for general business advice and tips that others will find useful

To Shorten the URLs that you Tweet:
• Use

Still confused by Twitter? 
One of the best resources to learn about Twitter is right on its website: