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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

New Flights from Boston

If Vienna, Paris, and the Florida Keys are on your wish list, and you fly in and out of Boston’s Logan Airport, you’re in luck. Beginning in February, American Airlines will launch a direct flight from Boston to Key West. Austria Airlines will begin Boston’s first-ever direct flight to Vienna beginning March 29. And bargain European airline Level, which we flew last April to Barcelona, will add flights between Boston and Paris in May, with fares beginning at $140. Love those direct flights! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/03/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 02, 2019

My Story on Cartagena in Global Traveler Magazine

Travel to Colombia has surged since the historic Peace Agreement was signed in November 2016, ending a half-century long conflict. 2018 saw a record 4.4 million visitors to the country, up a staggering 300 percent from a decade earlier, when reaching 1 million travelers was a lofty goal. This surge in demand has led to better international flight options, which should only continue to increase visitor numbers from abroad as long as the country remains stable. While Bogota remains the business and financial core of Colombia, it’s hard to resist the allure of Cartagena, a Spanish Colonial city that seems to be built with the traveler in mind. Behind the fortress walls are narrow streets, large plazas, 17th-century churches, and row after row of charming restaurants, boutique shops, and salsa dance clubs. Walking the pedestrian-only streets of the Old Walled City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is comparable to strolling the French Quarter of New Orleans. Bougainvillea flows from the terraces of the colorful homes, and under a historic clock tower, local merchants sell candy produced from tropical fruits such as guava, mango, papaya, and coconut. 

 
To read more of my story on Cartagena, please see the latest issue of Global Traveler
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/02/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 29, 2019

Give the Gift of Travel on Small Business Saturday

Thanks to your generosity last year, we were able to donate to World Central Kitchen, which has served over 10 million fresh meals to those in need after disasters. This Holiday Season, we are happy to contribute to Action Against Hunger. They work in over 47 countries around the world to help feed millions of people. If you take the time to look at their website, they list all the countries they help, how many people they've reached, and how big their team is in each region. It's amazing to see and we truly want to support their efforts in their fight against hunger. Join ActiveTravels or purchase an annual membership for a friend or family member and $30 from each subscription will go straight to Action Against Hunger. Annual membership to ActiveTravels is $60 per year, less than dinner for two. Consider the happiness it will bring your friends and loved ones for the coming year!

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/29/19 at 07:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Stocking Stuffer No. 3—The Creative Spark

Meet Michael Shapiro like I first did on a trip to Kenya almost a decade ago and you’re immediately attracted to his zest for life and adventure. Heck, he guides his own raft down the tumultuous Colorado River for three weeks for a heavy dose of adrenalin. Once you get to know Shapiro, you also realize he doesn’t beat around the bush, asking poignant questions about your life, even taking the time to listen. These are the essential qualities of a great interviewer and Shapiro is one of the best as you’ll see in his latest work, The Creative Spark. During the past decade, Shapiro has interviewed some of our brightest luminaries for the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications. They include authors David Sedaris, Barbara Kingsolver, and Pico Iyer; musicians Smokey Robinson, Lyle Lovett, and Jethro Tull lead singer and flutist Ian Anderson. He’s also spoken with director Francis Ford Coppola and comedian Joan Rivers. In these interviews, Shapiro digs deep to find the inspiration that transforms their visions into art. Buy the book directly from the independent bookstore, Book Passage, and Shapiro will include a hand-written note. He’ll also be back on Monday, December 2nd at 7pm as part of Book Passage’s Left Coast Writers Salon and will be happy to sign books at that time. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/27/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Stocking Stuffer No. 2—The Red Bandanna Travel Book, The Medicine of Traveling

I read this slender memoir/self-help travel book on my train ride back from New York to Boston. When I finished, I wish I had taken the book in sections, working on the assignments the author Joanne Socha had created at the end of most chapters. This is a unique book that’s meant to be savored at a slow pace. Socha is a travel advisor that I know through my affiliation with Virtuoso and Largay Travel. She knows firsthand the anxiety most people have before and during a trip. In fact, no one I know is stress-free when it comes to travel. I have bridge phobia and I’m neurotic about getting to the airport early to catch my flight. But that never stopped me nor does it stop Joanne, who follows her dream as she travels the globe, visiting the destinations on her wish list. What I loved about this book is that Socha shares her vulnerability, overcoming adversity, so when she’s finally snorkeling in the Maldives in a sublime blissful state, you realize she earned it. She deserved to be there and so do you. Just remember to do your homework! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/26/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Stocking Stuffer No. 1—100 Things to Do in Boston/Rhode Island Before You Die

One of the earliest blogs I wrote, almost a decade ago, was on how to find the best travel guidebook. One of the points I touched on was who is the author and where does he live? If the guy lives in Texas and writes about South Africa, I’ll put that book down in favor of a local writer in Cape Town who knows his country far better than any foreigner. Which brings me to my first Stocking Stuffer of 2019, 100 Things to Do in Boston Before You Die and 100 Things to Do in Rhode Island Before You Die. Not only do I know the authors of these books, Kim Foley MacKinnon and Bob Curley, respectively, but I have no qualms saying that they are the best qualified people to pen these titles. Both MacKinnon and Curley have written countless articles and books on their hometown destinations, so if anyone would know the hidden nooks and crannies of Boston and the state of Rhode Island, it would be these two. This is one of those rare travel guidebooks that’s best suited for locals to know their city and region better. I can’t wait to dig into Curley’s book to savor sunset on the deck of the Coast Guard House in Narragansett and check out Charlestown’s River and Roots Festival over Labor Day Weekend

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/25/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, November 15, 2019

Africa Week—A Romantic Escape Near Vic Falls

It’s hard to forget our last stop on Abercrombie and Kent’s trip to Botswana and Victoria Falls, the Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma on the banks of the Zambezi River. On the outskirts of Livingstone, Zambia, we spent the days touring Vic Falls, tracking rhinos in a nearby reserve, and paddling on the Zambezi River past hippos and crocs. If the hippo attacks the canoe, said our guide, swim as fast as you can to the shore. Yeah, thanks for that advice, buddy. Fortunately, the hippos were pretty mellow that day. If we were advising honeymooners or couples who want a romantic interlude on the Zambezi River, not too far from Vic Falls, we would recommend the Relais and Chateaux property, Royal Chundu. Stay at one of their four villas on a private island in the Zambezi. They not only will pick you up from the Livingstone Airport, but they’ll provide a guided tour of Vic Falls and all the adventure you desire on the Zambezi, including rafting, paddling, or flying high above the river and the falls. It’s ideal for a 3-day add-on to any safari in Botswana or Kruger. 

 
I’m off to New York next week to celebrate my niece, Sarah, who will be showing her amazing art at the gallery Shrine. If you happen to be in Manhattan on Tuesday night, the 19th, for the opening, head on over to 179 East Broadway between 6 to 8 pm and say hello. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/15/19 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Africa Week—Malaria-Free Safari in South Africa

A mere 3 to 4-hour drive north of Jo’Burg, you reach the game reserves on the outskirts of Kruger National Park. Here, you not only have the chance to spot the Big Five, but you can do so without the hassle of taking any anti-malaria medication since it’s in a Malaria-Free Zone. Lisa met with owners of two lodges in this region that she really liked. The first is Camp Ndlovu, located in the 35,000-hectacre Welgevonden Game Reserve. Part of the upscale Residence Collection, the ultra-sybaritic suites come with private plunge pools, outdoor showers, A/C, and WiFi. The second property is Madikwe, located in the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa at 75,000 hectares. Depending on whether you bring the entire family or just your loved one, you can stay at either the River House, Farm House, or Owner’s House. In addition to game drives, you’ll be going on bush walks, fishing, bird watching, and dancing with the locals. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/14/19 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Africa Week—CroisiEurope Cruise in Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe

Not surprisingly, Lisa met many travel advisors at the We Are Africa conference in Utah who specialize only in African travel. Several of those advisors mentioned to Lisa that the best trip they ever took in Africa was aboard a unique river cruise with the European river cruise company, CroisiEurope. You start in Jo’Burg before flying to Chobe National Park in Botswana, where you’ll board small boats to cruise the elephant-rich waters of the Chobe River. Then you’ll fly to Kariba in northern Zimbabwe and board the African Queen for a 3-day cruise across Lake Kariba to see the lions, giraffes, rhinos, and leopards of Matusadona National Park. The icing on the cake is one last flight to see Victoria Falls and cruise the Zambezi River to say hi to the hippos. Pricing of this 9-day itinerary starts at $6528 per person and includes all lodging, meals, and the Jo’Burg to Kasane, Botswana flight (gateway to Chobe National Park). Let ActiveTravels know your dates and we’ll check availability and pricing. We’ll also help with international flights and design an itinerary for Cape Town and Jo’Burg before or after your trip. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/13/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Africa Week—Cruising Namibia

Namibia is best known for its stunning coastal and desert landscapes. Wildlife seems to be an afterthought, though it boasts a wonderful list of safari sites. On a 10-day itinerary, you can track black rhinos, giraffes, leopards, lions, cheetahs, and spotted hyena on walking and jeep safaris in the Palmwag Reserve; marvel at Etosha National Park’s massive lunar-like mineral plane while on the lookout for impala, springboks, elephants, and zebra; step into a sea of red, mountain-high sand dunes in Sossusvlei; lunch at Walvis Bay alongside a flock of flamingos; and see Namibia’s Atlantic coast, getting up close with Cape fur seals and dolphins. The best part about Namibia is the infrastructure and great network of roadways, not unlike South Africa. It’s one of the most affordable ways to be on safari. Working with Namibia Tours and Safaris, ActiveTravels will help design a route based on your budget and amount of time. This includes car rental, lodging, a scenic route, safari viewing with naturalists, and some meals. Cost is as low as $1962 per person for an 11-day Namibia Safari Highlights trip. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/12/19 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.

ActiveTravels.com is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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