Connect with us

Automotive

A more joyful way to tour the Bay, in a vintage VW Bus

Josh Armel and Virgine De Paepe, the married couple behind San Francisco’s Painted Ladies Tour Company, have countless stories about how their tour fleet of brightly hued vintage Volkswagen Buses brings joy to guests and passersby alike. There’s the tough-looking biker who suddenly grinned and flashed the peace sign when he spotted one of the…

Published

on

Josh Armel and Virgine De Paepe, the married couple behind San Francisco’s Painted Ladies Tour Company, have countless stories about how their tour fleet of brightly hued vintage Volkswagen Buses brings joy to guests and passersby alike.

There’s the tough-looking biker who suddenly grinned and flashed the peace sign when he spotted one of the Buses. There’s the Bay Area tech company that rented the Painted Ladies fleet for the Pride Parade, tossing daisies to the crowd from one of the Buses.

Then there’s the group that booked a tour to celebrate a sister’s birthday. The sister “loved Volkswagen Buses so much,” recalls Josh. “She had no idea there was a company that could take you around in one. When she saw it pull up, she almost broke down in tears; she was so excited.”

Moments like these are what make Painted Ladies Tour Company—named after a much-photographed row of colorful Victorian houses in San Francisco’s Alamo Square—so popular with Bay Area visitors.

Intimate, one-of-a-kind journeys

Fully licensed as a charter and sightseeing business, Painted Ladies Tour Company offers a San Francisco city tour exploring key attractions such as Union Square, Chinatown, The Presidio, The Haight, and The Castro, while including photo stops for capturing iconic images like Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alamo Square.

The company also operates a Sonoma Valley wine country tour, visiting smaller, award-winning wineries and tasting rooms. And it hosts private, customizable experiences for everything from weddings to corporate events.

The compact size of the Buses allows them to get close to city sights that larger tour buses can’t, from the vibrant murals in The Mission to the actual “Painted Ladies” houses in Alamo Square. Their smaller capacity—a maximum of six or seven people—also affords a more personalized experience for guests. Josh says that each tour provides “an intimate experience where you’re building personal connections,” while still maintaining careful health and safety protocols.

Virgine De Paepe and Josh Armel, owners of Painted Ladies Tour Company

Eclectic backgrounds, shared values

Virgine, a licensed therapist originally from Belgium, and Josh, a nearly lifelong Bay Area local with a background in music and hospitality, bring the complementary perspectives of visitor and insider to Painted Ladies, as well as a shared passion for facilitating people’s joy and well-being.

These influences help to ensure that Painted Ladies tours capture the genuine spirit of the city that Josh and Virgine love so much. “It was important for us to win our community’s heart,” Virgine says, reflecting on the days when they were first envisioning the company. “We wanted [the tour experience] to be very authentic to what San Francisco is about.”

The company’s tour guides add to that sense of warmth and authenticity. According to Josh, they’re not only able to share local insights, but also express their winning personalities. “We try to have [guides] who are fun and bring the good vibes,” he explains.

Stars of the show: the vintage VW Bus fleet

The tour guides are not the only draw. The company’s fully restored vintage Type 2 Transporter Buses, each with its own charming character, have gained their own diehard fans.

The Buses all have names with California connections. Among them are Pearl, a 1968 model whose moniker comes from an album recorded in California by Janis Joplin; Poppy, a 1975 model named for the Golden Poppy, California’s state flower; Skye, a 1971 model whose name references the Golden State’s ultra-blue skies; and Buttercup, a 1974 model inspired by the California Buttercup flowering plant.

Before joining the active fleet, each Bus gets a makeover typically involving a new engine and transmission, along with upgrades to tires and brakes if needed. To enhance safety, each vehicle gets lap belts for every seat, plus shoulder restraints in front. Add a new sound system and convenient USB charging ports—“which weren’t standard in 1968,” Josh notes with a laugh—and the result is a unique roadgoing experience that blends classic and modern.

It was Virgine’s idea to add whimsical eyelash extensions to the headlights. Josh, meanwhile, transformed some of the vinyl headliners of the Buses by replacing them with birch wood panels, which he then covered with distinctive wallpaper prints to create overhead murals. Hot-pink Buttercup, for example, has a beautiful floral headliner.

A rare opportunity to enjoy the moment

Painted Ladies tours are in high demand, so it’s a good idea to reserve as far in advance as possible. The company’s scores of positive online reviews suggest that the wait is well worth it.

As Virgine says, spending time with Painted Ladies Tour Company is a chance to “just be in the present moment and enjoy it.” The couple’s primary focus, Josh adds, is to “put a big smile on your face.”

Source

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Automotive

ROOKIE Racing and TOM’S SPIRIT Announce Team Setups for Super Taikyu Series Fuji 24 Hours Race | Corporate | Global Newsroom

Toyota Motor Corporation works to develop and manufacture innovative, safe and high-quality products and services that create happiness by providing mobility for all. We believe that true achievement comes from supporting our customers, partners, employees, and the communities in which we operate. Since our founding over 80 years ago in 1937, we have applied our…

Published

on

By

Toyota Motor Corporation works to develop and manufacture innovative, safe and high-quality products and services that create happiness by providing mobility for all. We believe that true achievement comes from supporting our customers, partners, employees, and the communities in which we operate. Since our founding over 80 years ago in 1937, we have applied our Guiding Principles in pursuit of a safer, greener and more inclusive society. Today, as we transform into a mobility company developing connected, automated, shared and electrified technologies, we also remain true to our Guiding Principles and many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to help realize an ever-better world, where everyone is free to move.

SDGs Initiatives https://global.toyota/en/sustainability/sdgs/

Source

Continue Reading

Automotive

Orchard business blossoms with Hilux help

It’s late Sunday afternoon on one of the warmest spring days of the year. The ground looks dry and is already beginning to crack. Songbirds and bees compete for attention as the low sun gently warms thousands of blossoming apple trees on a south-facing hillside in the heart of Kent.But with unseasonably low temperatures in…

Published

on

By

It’s late Sunday afternoon on one of the warmest spring days of the year. The ground looks dry and is already beginning to crack. Songbirds and bees compete for attention as the low sun gently warms thousands of blossoming apple trees on a south-facing hillside in the heart of Kent.

But with unseasonably low temperatures in the overnight weather forecast, the race is on to protect a 75-acre orchard from frost damage. One way to do this is to make sure the grass between each row of trees is kept short. This helps to increase airflow and reduces the chance of cold air settling. 

Claire Seymour, 43, gently edges her Toyota Hilux between a row of trees at Tubslake Farm, near Hawkhurst in Kent. Her pick-up’s white paintwork and red signwriting match the flowering pink and white Braeburn apple blossom. Her husband, Steve Bowles, also 43, then sets about unloading a large green Fendt 209V tractor from an enormous six-wheeled flat-bed trailer behind the Toyota. He starts up the brand new tractor and then begins to set up and test the Fisher variable-width mower before handing it over to its new owner for an evening of urgent grass cutting.

Claire is managing director of NP Seymour Ltd, an engineering and agricultural machinery dealer set up by her family in 1974. Based in nearby Cranbrook, the company supplies and makes equipment for orchards, vineyards and fruit growers across the UK. 

“We’ve had other pick-ups in the past but I was impressed with the comfort of the Hilux. We bought it from Beadles Toyota, Medway, in the spring of 2019.

“It’s the Invincible model and is fitted with off-road tyres and a Truckman top on the back. We use it all the time for customer deliveries all over the UK, visiting growers and going to shows. The 3.5-tonne towing capacity is really important to us as lots of our kit is very heavy,” explained Claire.

Surrounded by apple blossom, NP Seymour’s Toyota Hilux delivers a tractor to an orchard at Tubslake Farm, Hawkhurst, Kent.

“We’ve been really busy since we’ve owned it. Covid didn’t really slow us down at all. We just had a few difficulties with staff numbers. But the demand for our machinery hasn’t stopped.

“The Hilux has already done 50,000 miles, and absolutely nothing has gone wrong with it. We’ll definitely buy another Toyota when it’s time to replace this one,” she said, just before hurrying off, leaving the orchard in a cloud of dust to go and enjoy the rest of her Sunday evening with Steve.

Source

Continue Reading

Automotive

Lexus to Unveil All-New RX on June 1st, 2022 | Lexus | Global Newsroom

Toyota Motor Corporation works to develop and manufacture innovative, safe and high-quality products and services that create happiness by providing mobility for all. We believe that true achievement comes from supporting our customers, partners, employees, and the communities in which we operate. Since our founding over 80 years ago in 1937, we have applied our…

Published

on

By

Toyota Motor Corporation works to develop and manufacture innovative, safe and high-quality products and services that create happiness by providing mobility for all. We believe that true achievement comes from supporting our customers, partners, employees, and the communities in which we operate. Since our founding over 80 years ago in 1937, we have applied our Guiding Principles in pursuit of a safer, greener and more inclusive society. Today, as we transform into a mobility company developing connected, automated, shared and electrified technologies, we also remain true to our Guiding Principles and many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to help realize an ever-better world, where everyone is free to move.

SDGs Initiatives https://global.toyota/en/sustainability/sdgs/

Source

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Today's Digital.