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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Biking Puglia, Resort Picks on Amalfi Coast in November Newsletter

Spend 18 nights in Italy and you learn a wealth of travel info on the country. You can read about our bike trip with DuVine Cycling and the resorts we liked on the Amalfi Coast in the latest ActiveTravels newsletter. We also introduce you to the valuable flight and soon to be hotel app, Hopper, and talk about the debut of The Glen Hotel at the base of mighty Mount Washington in New Hampshire. 

 
Have a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. I'll be back on Monday to discuss the highlights of my recent trip to Kentucky Bourbon country. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Best Cyber Monday Deals in New England

I’m always a little wary of promoting Cyber Monday deals, because often they’re non-refundable and usually trying to sell products at low season, like heading to Vermont during the mud season in April/May. But now and then I find something that looks enticing. On November 26, Hotel Vermont in Burlington is offering one of its lowest rates of the year, $139 per night for stays from January 2–April 30, 2019. *Advance Purchase, must be paid at the time of booking. Non-cancellable, non-refundable, non-transferable. Not available 1/18 - 1/20; 2/15-17 and 2/22-23 ;+$40 for 2/8 & 9. Limited number of rooms at this rate, limit of 2 rooms per person per date. Also on Cyber Monday, you can save up to 40 percent off bookings at the Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires. Rates for winter and spring travel start at $99 per night; summer dates start at $179 per night. At the Woodstock Inn, guestrooms start at $179, with a Bed & Breakfast package starting at $199, 50% off standard rates. Rates are valid for stays from November 27, 2018 through June 27, 2019, not including holidays, holiday weeks, and weekends. Other blackout dates will apply. All rates are subject to the applicable 10% rooms tax and a $33 per day resort fee. 

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/20/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 19, 2018

Purchase Membership to ActiveTravels and Proceeds Will Go to World Central Kitchen

Since we started ActiveTravels in 2012, we've always had a Holiday push in November and December to help spread the word and to share the yearly membership fee with a worthy cause. In the past, we have donated to Heifer International and Ryan's Well Foundation. This Holiday Season, if you purchase a membership to ActiveTravels for you, a friend or family member, we will donate half of the proceeds to World Central Kitchen. Founded by renowned Chef José Andrés, the World Central Kitchen team arrived in Puerto Rico September 2017 just a few days after Hurricane Maria wiped out the entire power grid. After cooking a few thousand meals at his friend's restaurant, Andrés began receiving calls for aid from all over the island. He quickly expanded operations, mobilizing a network of emergency kitchens, food trucks, and partner organizations to make sure that communities in need received quality meals. They want on to serve over 150,000 meals in a single day, becoming the largest fresh meal operation following the hurricane. They have since served a mind-boggling 3.6 million meals in Puerto Rico and have moved on to help other regions hit by hurricanes and earthquakes, like Florida, North Carolina, and Indonesia. With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all coming up this week, consider purchasing the gift of travel and all the memorable experiences associated with your vacations. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/19/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 16, 2018

Learn Italian in Italy with Italianme

Guest Post and Photo by Dana Volman

Have you ever wanted to study abroad in college and never had the chance?  Or maybe you had this opportunity of a lifetime and you want to do it again? Well it's never too late and you don't have to be a junior in college to do so. I had the good fortune to enroll in an adult immersion program in Florence, Italy this Fall. I have been studying Italian at a slow pace, first at a Continuing Ed class that met weekly and eventually graduated to hiring a private teacher with 4 of my classmates that continued to meet on a weekly basis. We were ready for the next step to help accelerate our mastery of Italian - enroll in a language school in the heart of Florence geared for adults. This gem of a school is called Italianme. Their name stems from their belief in fostering a new you, a different you, an Italian you. Italianme is located in Via Tornabuoni, the high-end shopping district of Florence. The school is literally across the street from Ferragamo and only yards from the Gucci and Prada flagship stores.
 
The facility and staff at Italianme are some of the most dedicated teachers I have ever met.  My teacher was Francesca, one of the founders. Learning from her was so enjoyable, she is a true professional and passionate about her work. These same attributes can be used to describe the other teachers at the school. My friends were in Eduardo and Marina's classes. In fact, one of my friends was a returning student to Eduardo's class (she specifically requested him again, and boy has her proficiency in Italian improved).  Then there is Karina, the office manager. She was warm and friendly and extremely helpful when it came to restaurant recommendations. At Italianme there are quite a few classes offered based on your level and availability. Whether you enroll in an immersion class that is half day (9:30 am-1:00 pm) or full day or evening, there are plenty of options. In fact, I was fortunate enough to have a semi private class for the week since there was only 1 other student enrolled at my level. It had been many years since I've sat in a classroom for such a long period of time and not once did I look at my watch. The time flew.
 
In addition to a superb education, the school also runs some afternoon and evening activities. Whether it's a tour of Florence or a private cooking class, the staff is always at your disposal to give you the ultimate "local" experience. I know I will return to Italianme. It's just a matter of time before I book my next trip.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/16/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Great Deal on Captiva Island Condo in December

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 

Since I was a teenager, I've been spending a week every December on Captiva Island, Florida, at South Seas Island Resort. It all started when my parents made a sailing stop for the night at the South Seas Marina, thereupon setting into motion an annual multi-generational week. This year, 15 family members (ranging in age from my 20-year-old daughter to my 90-year-old mother) will gather.  
 
Captiva and nearby Sanibel Islands have a lot to offer. They are easy to get to (from Fort Myers / RSW airport), and from the Islands' website: "Enjoy 15 miles of unspoiled beaches, 25 miles of bike paths, 50 types of fish, 230 types of birds, 250 kinds of shells and 0 stop lights." It's true. The miles of white sand beaches, and activities like beach yoga, biking, kayaking, water sports, and shelling lead to activity-filled days, gorgeous sunsets, and starry nights. 
 
South Seas features regular hotel rooms and condos with kitchens to stock with groceries from nearby Bailey's. Off property, you can venture to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to see the alligators and egrets, visit a farmers' markets, buy lots of fresh seafood, and head to the Bubble Room or Sunshine Seafood Cafe for dinner. 
 
ActiveTravels has a lead on a low-cost condo rental at South Seas for December 7-14 (Friday morning-Friday morning). That's coming right up! Enjoy breathtaking views of Pine Island Sound in a remodeled 2 bedroom/2 bath unit (King bed, 2 twin beds, sofa bed in LR). There is a full kitchen and a screened porch, overlooking the pool and waterfront. If interested, let us know soon ($1600 for the week). As I write this, it's 42 degrees and overcast in Toronto. On Captiva, it's 81 degrees and sunny. Need I say more?
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/15/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Grandfather’s Sketchbooks Still Inspire Me to Travel

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

My grandparents were inveterate world travelers -- and Grandpa, an architect, was always sketching and painting wherever they went. Framed examples of his watercolors have graced every place I've lived. In Boston, our home displayed Pisa (1955), Nara (1959), Crete (1960), and Florida (1977). Now, in Toronto, Josh and I have Venice's Rialto Bridge on the wall (1954). It was not only the sketchbooks, but gifts from afar that entertained me as a child. With Grandma and Grandpa's help, I gathered a large collection of dolls from other countries, learning early on that the world was a big, diverse place that I wanted to understand more. I suppose you could say my love of travel and exploration was instilled by them. 
 
Recently, in September, I was looking through a pile of Grandpa's sketchbooks which I hold for all relatives as part of the family archives. Believe it or not, I found pencil drawings and watercolors of places to which I would travel a month later: Grandpa's "Newfoundland, 1977." Indeed, in early October, I saw the Bonavista Lighthouse he depicted. Further, I found a notebook entitled "Japan, 1959," and, after pausing to wonder what led my grandparents to Japan at that particular time, I decided to ask my niece whether she had been to any of the named sites. She and her partner were on a 2-week trip to Japan last summer when they became engaged. All seven of the great-grandchildren should have Grandpa's artwork on their walls, I thought, to inspire even more generations to experience the larger world.
 
Grandma and Grandpa were first generation Americans (born to immigrants from Russia and Lithuania as the 1800s turned to the 1900s), and raised in New York City. Grandpa was the youngest of eight. Amazingly, both went on to college and graduate school. 100 years later, their curiosity, pluck, and sense of adventure still motivates me, and lives on through Grandpa's sketches and watercolors. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/14/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Astrotourism, Anyone?

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

Shortly before I left for Newfoundland in October, my 90-year old mother, an avidly curious New York Times reader, mailed me a clipping (as she has been doing for decades). She noted, "This is a trip I could take!" Given that she doesn't travel that much anymore, I was intrigued. What the heck is astrotourism? I learned that the term astrotourism has evolved to describe intentional travel to places with dark skies and more visible stars. Sounds great! 
 
ActiveTravels sends many members each year to Hawaii, Mexico, and Grand Cayman; nicely, these locations have developed avenues for visitors to explore the night sky. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa has three high-powered telescopes on its roof capable of spotting 80 constellations, and there's also an observatory atop Mauna Kea (a dormant volcano on the Big Island), 13,796 feet above sea level. In Mexico, the Four Seasons Punta Mita has begun offering guided stargazing on its driving range and beach. At the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort, oceanfront beach cabanas with private fire pits, dinners, and s'more fixings, come with telescopes and night sky maps.
 
Back to my mother. The closest "Dark Sky" site to where she lives in New York would be on Long Island, in Southold at the Custer Institute. Open to the public every Saturday evening from dusk until midnight, volunteers assist with the powerful telescopes. For more information on sites around the country, please visit the International Dark Sky Association website.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/13/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 12, 2018

A Stop at Saint-Pierre with Adventure Canada

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

Six thousand French citizens on an island 2,600 miles from the coast of France? And only 12 miles from the coast of Canada? Yes, that's right. I was recently in Saint-Pierre (often discussed with its less-populated neighbor, Miquelon), all that still belongs to France from "New France," the colonies in North America starting with Jacques Cartier in 1536. The French have retained Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, and associated fishing rights, since 1816. 

When travelling to Saint-Pierre, you'll go through customs (don't forget your passport), you'll use the Euro, and you'll experience French food, wine, and, of course, the language. It was a fun stop on my Adventure Canada expedition. I opted for a hike in the morning on the Anse à Henry trail, then a short bus tour to make sure I could see as much as possible. This put my time in the charming town center right around midday, exactly the time of day when all the shops close (between 12 and 2 pm). Les Delices de Josephine cafe opened for us and the quiche was great, which I washed down with one of the only products made in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, beer from the new micro-brewery Miqu'ale (Brasserie Artisanale de l'Anse). 

If I ever get there again, I'd make sure to walk around town more in the morning or late afternoon, exploring the windy roads and small shops, and then spend the time in between hiking or exploring the now uninhabited L'Île-aux-Marins, just a stone's throw from Saint-Pierre (several unique buildings still stand even though no one lives there year-round). Au revoir!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/12/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Highlights of My Trip to Newfoundland with Adventure Canada

Guest Post and Photos by Amy Perry Basseches

I'm almost done regaling you with tales from my 11 days with Adventure Canada, a trip I truly loved. I will never forget:
 
Jumping into freezing cold water in La Poile Bay, off the south coast of Newfoundland, after a day spent hiking high above the cove, and walking on a deserted beach there.
 
Tasting fresh partridgeberries and partridgeberry jam in the Community Hall in Elliston, on the east coast of Newfoundland, while studying the town's Dart League team standings (15% of the local population plays). 
 
Watching divers on board jump into Francois Bay (south coast) and emerge again and again with 300+ scallop shells, which were then shucked and cooked, and eaten by anyone lucky enough to get in line early. 
 
Sharing many a beer and song with Newfoundland natives Alan Doyle, Tony Oxford, Gerry Strong, Paul Dean, Jeff Anderson, Latonia Hartery, Barbara Doran, Steve Evans, Dennis Minty, and others, most notably in our Nautilus Lounge (and in some local cafes on shore as well).
 
Putting my feet up and reading a book, while sipping coffee on deck during the sunny mornings, before getting into a Zodiac for another expedition (kayaking, hiking, a small town, a UNESCO site, you name it).
 
Adventure Canada says their trips bring a destination to life. I can assure you that this was done in a top-notch way. Consider joining me aboard the same vessel, the comfortable Ocean Endeavour, for the "Heart of the Arctic" Expedition Cruise in the summer of 2020. We'll see the province of Nunavut, Baffin Island (Cape Dorset is very important to the Inuit art market), Nunavik (the Inuit homeland in Northern Quebec), Ungava Bay, and Greenland (including Nuuk, the capital). Let ActiveTravels know if you are interested. 
 
Steve's off to Kentucky to tour the Bourbon Trail with a friend, before visiting his daughter at Indiana University for another fun Dad's Sorority Weekend. We'll be back next Monday with my description of the French islands off on Newfoundland, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. To all my American friends, please remember to vote today! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/06/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 05, 2018

A Pleasure to Meet Chief Mi’Sel Joe on the Way to Miawpukek

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches

Early on in the Adventure Canada circumnavigation of Newfoundland, I found myself sitting next to Chief Mi'Sel Joe, the Saquamaw and Administrative Chief of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council, First Nations community of Miawpukek (Conne River). In preparation for our visit to Miawpukek along the southern coast of Newfoundland, he was spending a few days on board, consistent with his public role in presenting a better understanding of the Mi'kmaq people.

Mi'Sel Joe was born in Miawpukek into a strong Mi'kmaq family; both his grandfather and uncle held the office of hereditary Saqamaw. Since 1973, he has been involved in First Nation Politics, first as a Councilor, and, after the death of his uncle, Chief William Joe, in 1982, he became Traditional Saqamaw and the Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi'kmaq Grand Council. Mi'Sel Joe is committed to preserving the language, culture and traditions of his people, and also to Miawpukek's economically self-sufficient mandate. Around 800 people live on the reserve, with over 2,000 people living away, and businesses (together with a commercial fishery) lead to zero unemployment. A brand-new school for grades K4-12 opened in September 2017.
 
Last year, Mi'Sel Joe was appointed a member of the Order of Canada "for his leadership in developing and enhancing the well-being and financial vitality of the Miawpukek First Nation." It was an honor to meet him, to visit Miawpukek, and to learn more about how this vibrant First Nations community can be a model. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/05/18 at 06:00 AM
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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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