Welcome to my Wikivoyage page. Peter Chastain is my real name.
My favorite forms of getting around, at home in San Jose or at distant destinations, are walking and riding on public transit. And when I drive somewhere, I sometimes enjoy stopping along the way. My biggest Wikivoyage contributions so far have been the Bay Area public transit article, and lists of small things that I see on walks. I like to see that same kind of information in guides for places where I travel.
I have been a Wikipedia editor since 2006 and am comfortable with wiki markup and using templates. I am very much a novice at writing templates and some of the technical aspects of MediaWiki software, but I want to improve my skills in those areas and to use those skills to help improve Wikivoyage.
I sometimes hang out on the Freenode server of IRC, in the #wikivoyage, #wikipedia-en, and #wikipedia-en-help channels, where my IRC nickname is PeterSJC.
My travel adventures
I was born in California and have lived in San Jose (California) since 1977. Most of my travel to countries other than the US or Mexico was in the nineteen eighties and nineties. Some of my fondest memories are of really dumb/ignorant/embarrassing things I did, like not knowing what country Pula was in (I thought it was Serbia), much less having a visa when we tried to go there. We had to get off the bus in Ljubljana but were fortunately able to get the visa in one afternoon. We arrived in Pula late and had to find the youth hostel in the dark. I think the lady who ran the hostel was a bit mystified but probably glad to have two paying customers, since all the other people were refugees. She gave me a her version of the differences between Croats and Serbs ("they are war-like; we are peaceful") and told me that Yugo sent only their better cars to the U.S. and kept the others for Serbia and Croatia. The accommodations at the hostel were great, right on the beach. There was a storm that was so strong that my partner was afraid the Adriatic Sea was going to break through the window and flood our room, but the view from the window the next morning was worth it. By the way, if you visit Pula, you cannot miss the Roman colosseum—it's better than the one in Rome.
Then there was the time we walked into Moscow's Cosmo Hotel late in the evening, decided we didn't like their attitude or prices, and ended up sleeping in the park across the street. In the morning we saw a bunch of guys who my partner thought looked unsavory, but they didn't bother us.
Or when we my partner, my mother, and I were riding a local bus in a Mexican town (I forget which) and the driver decided to park in front of a house (probably his, but we didn't know that), and take what was probably his dinner break. We started imagining scenarios where he was telling his buddies that the bus with passengers ready to be robbed was parked out front.
Most of our adventures were less harrowing. In Paris, on Bastille Day, 1989, I had a great view of a parade that included François Mitterrand and Jessye Norman (she was, of course, singing "La Marseillaise"), and I will never forget our ride across the Sierra Madre on the Chepe (with none of the silly safety rules that Amtrak has, e.g., the one against climbing up and leaning out the side of the space between cars). And I will always remember the first time I saw Bruges. The town center was magnificent, even more so because I had not yet seen the magnificent centers of very many other European towns. In Prague we bought some Bohemian glass chandeliers and took them apart to put in our luggage. Then we had to stuff them into overhead compartments on trains and cringe when other passengers shoved their stuff up there. I wasn't able to put everything back together when we got home, but I assembled a very cool chandelier with extra hanging baubles, two different colors. By the way, I highly recommend train travel: we had some great conversations with people whom we never would have met with a car.
I am glad Wikivoyage now exists. I might still make as many dumb mistakes, but at least I'll be better informed.
I have dabbled in a lot of languages; those shown here are the ones I know well enough to be of use in a travel article. My Spanish tends to be of the Mexican variety. Despite giving myself a 3 rating in it, I make a lot of mistakes, especially in choosing the correct preposition, so I would appreciate any corrections and advice on my usage. ¡Gracias!
I am a close personal friend of the owner of the Los Gatos Garden Inn and received complimentary accommodations there, around 2010. I do not believe that she is aware of my Wikivoyage activities (as of February 2016). nor have I been employed by the hotel.
As the owner of a few units of residential real estate in Lakeview (Oregon), I have an interest in the general economic well-being of the area. I am not connected to any of the businesses mentioned in that or any other Wikivoyage article.
I have been a life member of Hosteling International USA since the 1980s. I am not active in the organization (except to vote for local and national leaders), nor have I ever been an HI employee or office-holder.