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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy 100th, JFK

May 29th marks the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy. To commemorate the occasion, The National Portrait Gallery is displaying photographs from his life in a gem of show simply titled, “Celebrate: John F. Kennedy.” 72 portraits from the museum’s collection are on view through July 9 including a wonderful pastel by Shirley Seltzer Cooper. You’ll see well-known images of JFK holding John John’s hand in the White House along with rarely seen early shots of Jackie and JFK dating. 
 
As if you needed another reason to visit the National Portrait Gallery, one of my requisite stops every time I visit DC. Home to the official portrait of every president, Nixon never looked so good in a painting by Norman Rockwell and Bill Clinton never looked so bad in a painting by Chuck Close. The building also houses the Smithsonian Collection of American Art, which includes epic-sized works by Albert Bierstadt, Frederick Church (a marvelous depiction of the Northern Lights) and Thomas Hart Benton. Afterwards, grab a latte and rest your weary feet in the courtyard. 
 
John F. Kennedy (1961), by Shirley Seltzer Cooper

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/25/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Greece, Mountain Resorts, and Traveling Luggage Free in May ActiveTravels Newsletter

This month marks the 5th anniversary of ActiveTravels. As I write this, we are busy planning trips for clients to all corners of the globe, including the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, Patagonia, Botswana, India, and Bali. Not to mention last-minute summer travels all over Europe, including Spain, Italy, France, Greece, the UK, Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Then there are all the national park trips and New England fall foliage trips to design. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d be this busy. In fact, most family and friends thought we were crazy opening up a travel agency in this age of do-it-yourself bookings. But it’s wonderful to see that people still value expertise and customer service. We can’t thank you enough! 

Our May newsletter features insights from our trip to Greece last month with Heritage Travels. We also select our favorite mountain resorts in North America, serene getaways for active families, and a way to travel luggage free. Please have a look. 
 
Our family is off to University of Maryland to celebrate the graduation of our niece, Ami. During her 4 years in college, she did internships with senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Ed Markey, and congresswoman Niki Tsongas; helmed Terps for Hillary in the last presidential election; and now works passionately to get women elected in the 2018 mid-term elections at EMILY’s List. As you can see, we’re all very proud of her and can’t wait to celebrate! I’ll be back next Thursday. In the meantime, enjoy the warm weather and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/18/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Driving from Clarksdale to Natchez, Mississippi

Since I already wrote about Asheville and Charleston this week, let’s continue south to Mississippi and a memorable drive my brother Jim and I once took. In the small Delta town of Clarksdale, learn about the birthplace of the Blues at the Delta Blues Museum, and then spend the night at one of the most intriguing properties in America, the Shack Up Inn. Set on the Hopson Plantation, where the mechanical cotton picker made its debut in 1941, owner Bill Talbot has converted six former sharecropper shacks into his own version of a B&B (bed and beer). The next morning head south on Highway 61 through the rolling green farmland that makes up the heart of the Delta. Eventually you’ll reach the trenches Union and Confederate troops dug during the Civil War’s bloody Siege of Vicksburg, now a National Military Park. Another hour of driving and you’ll find that gem of a town on the Mississippi River, Natchez. During its heyday prior to the Civil War, when cotton was king, Natchez had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country. They built palatial estates, like Monmouth Plantation, your final stop. Monmouth’s meticulously landscaped grounds, shaded by centuries-old oaks and their thick dress of Spanish moss, is bursting with colorful azaleas come spring. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/17/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Spoleto Turns 40

Since its inception 40 years ago, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, has proven itself to be one of the premier arts festivals in the world. Over the years, they have previewed over 100 productions including plays by Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Laurie Anderson. The 17-day event, held May 26-June 11, 2017, features theater, jazz, classical music, opera, and dance at historic venues across town. Spend the night at one of our favorite addresses in town, the circa-1886 Wentworth Mansion. Based in Charleston's historic center, this 21-room boutique hotel was once a four-story manor home owned by a wealthy cotton merchant. Included in their rates are complimentary continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and cocktails in the evening. Don't forget to check out the formal gardens and rooftop terrace where you can see a panorama of the city. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/16/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 15, 2017

May is the Ideal Time of Year to Visit Asheville, North Carolina

It certainly was a privilege to be born a Vanderbilt in the latter part of the 19th century. While Cornelius Vanderbilt II erected his mega-mansion, the Italian-style villa The Breakers, in Newport, brother William and his wife Alva were designing the nearby Marble House. Then there was the youngest of Cornelius’s siblings, George Washington Vanderbilt II, who decided to shun the Atlantic coast and build his estate in the therapeutic mountain air of North Carolina. Built in the French chateau style by renowned Manhattan architect, Robert Morris Hunt, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville is still one of the largest private homes in America, close to 180,000 square feet. Each spring, Biltmore celebrates the legacy of American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the mastermind behind the Biltmore gardens. Olmsted’s influence is obvious throughout year, but especially in spring when a progression of blooms spreads like a flowery blanket across the estate. The gardens come to life with the tulip bloom followed by multi-colored azaleas, rhododendrons, and roses in the resplendent rose garden.

 
If you’re feeling active, horseback ride or bike the grounds of the Biltmore. The Biltmore Outdoor Adventure Center also features Segway tours, stand-up paddleboarding, rafting, and sea kayaking. Another joy in the spring is the 80-mile stretch of roadway between Asheville and Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are numerous opportunities to stretch your legs and stroll to lonely mountain streams and waterfalls. Back in town, check out the Asheville Art Museum and visit one of the many galleries like Woolworth Walk, a gallery in an old Woolworth’s department store. 
 
Asheville is gaining a reputation as a foodie destination. The tapas at Curate, especially the squid ink paella is worth the wait. Luella’s Bar-B-Que (just north of downtown) serves ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken wings, even barbecued tempeh. White Duck Taco in the River Arts District is known for their innovative tacos featuring jerk chicken and banh mi fillings. End with an artisanal hot chocolate at French Broad Chocolate or one of the Flemish beers at Thirsty Monk. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/15/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Wish You Were Here

Having spent half my childhood listening to Pink Floyd on my headphones, I’m incredibly excited by the following news. Starting tomorrow at London’s V&A Museum is a blockbuster exhibition on the band titled “Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains.” The show traces Pink Floyd’s origins from the 60s London psychedelic scene, when they were house band at the UFO nightclub, through landmark albums like “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall.” On display are scores of instruments, letters, items of clothing and other artifacts, as well as some impressively large installations, like a replica of London’s Battersea Power Station, the structure that appears with the flying pig on the cover of the band’s 1977 album “Animals.” Yes, the pig is also on display. There’s a hint of nostalgia to the show, which comes 50 years after the release of Pink Floyd’s first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” recorded at Abbey Road Studios the same time The Beatles were creating “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” in the next room. The exhibition will be at the V&A through October 1st. 

 
'Animals', album cover art, Roger Waters, 1977. © Pink Floyd Music Ltd

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/12/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

This is the Summer to Finally Raft the Chilko River in BC

It was 20 years ago when I first met Brian McCutcheon, owner of Rivers, Oceans, and Mountains, or simply ROAM. I had been hired by Men’s Journal magazine to write about the first descent of the Klinaklini River in British Columbia. It was a spectacular journey down a rip-roaring river dwarfed by snowcapped peaks and glaciers. I was accompanying Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops, who came to the Northwest with his entourage to hook salmon on the fly. The fish weren’t biting but the scenery and excitement of riding the Klinaklini more than made up for the lack of salmon. 

 
Like the rest of the West Coast, British Columbia got slammed with snow and rain this past winter. So the rivers are bulging at the seams, ideal for a memorable multi-day paddle. One of the most exciting whitewater rafting runs in North America and a personal favorite of McCutcheon is the weeklong jaunt down the Chilko River in southwestern BC. Take an hour seaplane flight from Vancouver to 4,000-foot high Chilko Lake where a $10 million lodge now stands. Then let the rollercoaster ride begin. You’ll cruise 130 miles, dropping 3,000 feet through a tumultuous blur of lava gorges and narrow chutes. Looming overhead are sloping carpets of forest and jagged peaks. And, on those rare moments when you slow down, you might find yourself staring at an eagle or grizzly. BC also stands for serious Bear Country, home to 12,000-plus grizzlies.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/11/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Time for that Iowa Road Trip

2017 marks the 150th birthday of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. There’s no better way to celebrate his life than to head to Iowa, home to the only remaining hotel designed by the famed architect, Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City, along with two other Wright-designed homes, the Stockman House in Mason City and Cedar Rock in Independence. The ultimate summer road trip through America’s heartland begins in the Hawkeye State. The Iowa Department of Transportation recently announced the designation of three new scenic byways to join Iowa’s growing list of iconic byways and historic trails. From standing atop a Mississippi River bluff to stepping into the world of American Gothic painter Grant Wood or retracing the footsteps of Lewis & Clark, each of Iowa’s byways highlights a unique feature of the state. Along the way, road trippers will not want to miss the state’s wacky roadside attractions, like the world’s largest bull, tallest corn stalk, and largest strawberry

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/10/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Norwegian Air Expands East Coast Markets

If you want to book a last-minute flight to the UK, Ireland, and Norway this summer, consider Norwegian Air. The low-cost carrier recently announced that they will offer new flights from Providence’s T. F. Green Airport to Belfast, Cork, Shannon, and Dublin, Edinburgh, and Bergen, Norway. Direct flights from Hartford’s Bradley Airport will head to Edinburgh. Norwegian will also be offering flights from Stewart Airport in New Windsor, New York, about 60 miles north of Manhattan to Belfast, Dublin, Shannon, Edinburgh, and Bergen. Service will begin in June or early July. The best part is the price. I just went on Norwegian Air’s website and looked at pricing for a Providence to Dublin round-trip flight, leaving July 4th and returning July 10th. Cost was only $315 round-trip including taxes! Don’t hesitate to book now because pricing will increase once word quickly spreads. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/09/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 08, 2017

New Beer Garden to Open on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway

Excited to hear that the Greenway Conservancy is opening a Beer Garden this summer on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. They chose a perfect spot, right in front of the Rowes Wharf Arch at the Boston Harbor Hotel. They also chose my favorite Massachusetts-made beer, Trillium, which has breweries in Fort Point and Canton. Expect Fort Point Pale Ale, dry double-hopped Melcher Street, and six other beers on tap. Don’t just take my word that Trillium is one of the best brews in the region. Earlier this year, the website RateBeer ranked Trillium as the third best brewery in the world! The Beer Garden is slated to debut in late June. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/08/17 at 06:00 AM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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