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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Top Dream Days of 2019, Biking Acadia National Park

I loved getting the chance to show my Laguna Beach buddies Holly and Tim my favorite playground in New England, Acadia National Park, in early July. We did all my top picks from climbing Acadia Mountain to strolling the rugged shoreline from Thunder Hole to Otter Point, but I really savor the serenity of biking the car-free Carriage Path Tails, that glorious 45-mile network John D. Rockefeller created in the first half of the 20th century. We were happy to hear about a free bike shuttle in operation from late June through Columbus Day that runs from the village green to the parking lot at Eagle Lake. We waited less than 10 minutes before being brought over to the lake and biking the circumference, up and down the hard-packed roads always with water and mountains in sight. We biked under one of the many stone bridges to see an often-overlooked gem, Bubble Pond, nestled peacefully between the gently sloping mountains. Then we headed north to bike around Witch Hole Pond and to stop and see the stone steps that form gently flowing Duck Brook. We crossed the bridge here, took a left on the bike trail, and soon caught up with West Street, which led right back to the Acadia Bike Rentals store on Cottage Street. A perfect way to spend the morning. 

We grabbed lunch and then strolled back to Saltair Inn, our lodging for the trip, located within easy walking distance of the restaurants and shops of Bar Harbor, but far away from the crowds. Owners Matt and Kristi are the perfect team. Kristi serves up yummy breakfasts each morning like blueberry pancakes and stuffed french toast, while Matt divulges the insider information on Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park that only a local would know. He designed the bike loop above and told us about a small trail near the restrooms at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse that led down the freshly cut stairs to a bed of rocks, where we not only had great views of the lighthouse, but spotted dolphins and seals in the sea. Matt also made Tim very happy by sending us over to McKay’s Public House for a cask ale pour of Maine brewed Sebago Ale, which we downed each night. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/15/20 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top Dream Days of 2019, A Madrid Tapas Crawl

We loved our Madrid tapas crawl so much in early April that we did it twice. We met Marcy Forman, co-owner of Valesa Cultural Services, one of our preferred tour operators for clients headed to Spain, at the lobby of our hotel, Gran Hotel Inglés. Marcy has lived in Madrid for over 20 years and one of her favorite things to do is bring friends on an authentic Madrid tapas crawl. We started at Casa Toni, known for its crispy lamb tripe, an older specialty that’s hard to find in town these days. After downing the tender meat, we strolled around the corner to my favorite stop of the night, Casa del Abuelo, known for their tasty garlic shrimp. The dish comes out sizzling with a hefty chunk of bread, and is best paired with a short glass of sweet wine. Then it was off to La Campana, known for its fried calamari served in a large bun, bocadillo style. Next stop, the splashy Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid’s main public market, serving everything your heart desires, from acorn-fed Iberian ham to razor clams to fried croquettes, all washed down with sangria or cerveza. Our final stop was Chocolateria San Gines, in operation since 1894 and known for only one item, fresh out of the oven churros. Order a half-dozen, thin or fat, and it’s served with a steaming hot coffee cup of chocolate that many customers drink after dipping the churros. Sublime! We had so much fun with Marcy that we took our daughter, Melanie, on the exact same tour the next night. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/14/20 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, January 13, 2020

Top Dream Days of 2019, Seeing Big Buddha in Hong Kong

I loved our entire week in Hong Kong last January, including two great hikes climbing up Victoria Peal and atop the Dragon’s Tail, but our day with Big Buddha is perhaps the most memorable. It’s hard to grasp the immensity of Big Buddha until you’re high in the sky on a cable car looking down at this massive sculpture perched atop the hillside on Lantau Island. The sitting Buddha is one of the largest in the world at 112-feet high. We jumped on the excellent subway system to the Tung Chung station and then walked over to the Npong Ping Cable Car. We waited in line with our timed ticket and soon we were on a 25-minute cable car ride past the international airport to the mountainous silhouette that houses Big Buddha. Once the ride ended, we walked past the shops and climbed the 268 steps to go face-to-face with the statue, which made its debut in 1993. Amazing! Then we strolled over to the large Po Lin Monastery, where people were lighting incense and saying prayers for good fortune at the start of the Chinese New Year. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/13/20 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 20, 2019

See You Again in 2020!

It seems like yesterday that I was writing a story for Men’s Journal on the best trips to take over the new millennium. Now it’s 20 years later! This year has been a banner year for ActiveTravels, reaching long-term goals on both sales and membership. It’s a privilege to write about my journeys all these years and to send clients to the countries and states that excite me the most. 2020 marks the 30th year of being in the travel industry and there’s no way I’d still be here without your support, especially post-2008 recession, when publications folded and half my editors found other lines of work. I’ve been blogging ever since and I’m excited to report that next year, this blog will finally be updated as we make important changes to the ActiveTravels website. Thank you for your support and please stay tuned. 

We’re off to the outskirts of Playa del Carmen to get some much-needed R&R with the family. Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year! We’ll be returning the week of January 6th with our Top Dream Days of Travel in 2019. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/20/19 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Austin Adventures Offers Mother/Daughter Hiking Trip to Zion and Bryce

Austin Adventures recently announced the wise decision of making Kasey Austin president of the company. I had the pleasure of traveling with Kasey and her dad, Dan, founder of Austin Adventures on a fantastic trip to the peaks surrounding Colorado Springs in 2015. I’m happy to announce that one of Kasey’s first moves as president is creating more multisport trips for women, including a 6-day mother/daughter group trip to Zion and Bryce August 23-28, 2020. Cost is $2898 per person, double occupancy. Other women-only trips include hiking in the Canadian Rockies September 6-11 and a multisport adventure to Peru and Machu Picchu September 12-20. ActiveTravels is happy to check availability and help with airfare and lodging/route before or after your adventure. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/19/19 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Camp Sarika to Debut at Amangiri Spring 2020

Those of you who like your adventure lathered in luxury most likely know about Amangiri, the 34-suite lodge unveiled by exclusive Singapore-based hotelier Amanresorts. Amangiri is located near Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument in Utah’s canyon country, surrounded by stunning mesas and remote desert. Now you can get a little closer to nature thanks to ten luxury all-weather tents that are set to debut next spring. Evenly divided between one and two-bedrooms, the 10 units are equipped with a living area, dining area, as well as private bathrooms with a bathtub, and indoor and outdoor showers. The one-bedroom tents are approximately 1,900 square feet, while the two-bedroom tents offer over 2,800 square feet of canvas-covered comfort. Wake up with morning yoga, then spend the day hiking in the canyons with a naturalist, boating on Lake Powell, or staring in awe at the Vermillion Cliffs. Afterwards, reward yourself with an outdoor spa treatment. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/18/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

ActiveTravels, Home to the New England Dream Day Itinerary

Travel and Leisure just came out with their 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020, and much to our delight, Boston popped up at Number 10 and Maine at Number 29. If you’re thinking of a Boston and New England trip in 2020, we’ll happily design a route and point you in the right direction. Since ActiveTravels made its debut in 2012, we have designed more than 100 itineraries for clients headed to New England from all over America and the world (including New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland, and Israel). We send clients all over the globe, but New England is our area of expertise. I wrote more than 400 travel stories on New England for The Boston Globe and Yankee Magazine, and authored Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England. Depending on your passions, we can customize our Dream Day Itineraries for wildlife lovers (moose, whales, seals, beavers, and loons), active travelers (biking past 5 lighthouses in Portland, hiking to waterfalls in the White Mountains, paddling the Allagash River), foodies (James Beard award winning restaurants and favorite lobster-in-the-rough joints in Boston, Portsmouth, Portland, and the Maine coast), or art lovers (MFA, the Clark, Mass MoCA, the Farnsworth). We’ll divulge all of our secrets, especially the most scenic off-the-beaten-path driving routes. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/17/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 16, 2019

New Holland America Cruise from Boston to Greenland in 2021

Holland America just announced a new cruise departing from Boston to Greenland the summer of 2021. Three 17-day Greenland, Newfoundland & New England Discovery cruises aboard the Rotterdam will depart in July and August and sail roundtrip from Boston to the remote shoreline of Greenland and Newfoundland. Ports include Paamuit, Qaqortoq and Nanortalik, Greenland; St. John’s, Red Bay, St. Anthony and Corner Brook, Newfoundland; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Bar Harbor, Maine. If you book a suite on any of the 2021 Canada and New England itineraries by February 28, 2020, they’ll throw in free drinks, free dining package, and free gratuities. Please let ActiveTravels know and we’ll check availability and pricing. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/16/19 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 13, 2019

5 Wellness Retreats, Vermont’s Woodstock Inn in ActiveTravels December Newsletter

In our November newsletter, we noted that our colleague, Rachel, has now become certified as a Wellness Travel Advisor. She can discuss with expertise a curated list of wellness properties that would be best suited for what you’re yearning for, from yoga to nature to nutrition to health to personal growth. Rachel can not only find the exact lodging that suits your needs, but can get complimentary amenities like room upgrades, free breakfasts, and $100 off spa treatments. In this month’s issue, we feature the resorts she likes best. Also in the December issue is a great package deal at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont and our favorite brews to try in the state, when savoring that apres-ski pint. Please have a look!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/13/19 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Maine Winter Carnival Debuts in January

Based on the highly successful Carnaval de Quebec in Quebec City, Portland, Maine will be unveiling Carnaval Maine January 30-February 1. Most of the events will be taking place on the Eastern Promenade, including the requisite ice sculptures, light shows, and bonfires. There will also be a rail jam created by Sunday River resort. This being Portland, expect a fantastic selection of local food and brew, including beer by Bissell Brothers, Maine Beer Co., Rising Tide, and Allagash, and dining provided by Central Provisions and Scales, among others. ActiveTravels clients have been praising the Francis Hotel and Press Hotel in Portland. We’re happy to check availability and pricing. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/12/19 at 06:00 AM
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about us
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. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association