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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thanks for Your Patience!

I know my blogs have been sporadic at best these past weeks and I apologize. I want to get you updated on a lot of items happening in the travel world but first and foremost, I need to make sure the transition from ActiveTravels.com to ActiveTravels.com/blog goes as smoothly as possible. Lucky I’m in the good hands of Portland, Maine’s iBec Creative so there’s only been a few bumps in the road. I’m off to Manhattan, but I’ll be back next Tuesday with a full slate of blogs. The week after that, I’ll be blogging live from San Antonio during their 11-day Fiesta, featuring parades, festivals, concerts, coronations, athletic events, art exhibits and more. As always, thanks for sticking with me and I look forward to an exciting spring and summer. Have a great weekend and keep active!

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/12/12 at 05:50 PM
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Changes Are A Comin’

By now, you should have noticed the new logo and blue background for ActiveTravels.com. It’s part of a major redesign of the website my wife and I plan to launch in the next week. In fact, this blog will be moved to ActiveTravels.com/blog. Hopefully, for all you subscribers, the transition to the new web page will be smooth. Otherwise, you might have to subscribe once again. Sorry for the inconvenience. I really appreciate every one of you who have stuck with me over these past two years of blogging! I'll fill you in on more of the changes happening at ActiveTravels when I return from Louisville on Tuesday. In the meantime, have a great weekend and keep active!

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/23/12 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, March 05, 2012

KLM’s New Meet and Seat

Forget about Match.com. With KLM’s new Seat and Meet Program, you could have a marriage proposal by the end of that 11-hour flight from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo. Or a very uncomfortable situation where you want to be seated far away from that creepy guy immediately after takeoff. Here’s how it works. Go to KLM.com and log in to Manage my Booking. Go to the ‘Seating’ tab and click ‘Meet & Seat’ on the right. Log in to your Facebook or LinkedIn account and select the profile details you want to share. The seating map will show you other passengers’ details and which seat they have chosen. You can then select your seat next to someone with similar interests. Or you can simply remain anonymous and strike up a conversation the old fashioned way. Remember how to do that? 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/05/12 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Travel with Richard Bangs and Mountain Travel Sobek to North Korea

It doesn’t surprise me that Richard Bangs is leading the first adventure tour of North Korea, September 21-29, 2012. After all, it was Bangs who led the first tour to the People’s Republic of China back in 1977. He was also the man behind the first American tour to Libya in 2004. Best known as co-founder of Sobek Expeditions, Bangs almost single handedly put the sport of white water rafting on the map. Sobek was the first outfitter to descend Chile’s Bio Bio River and Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River, now considered classics. In 1991, Sobek merged with Mountain Travel to form one of the premier adventure travel companies in the world. 
 
Bangs will co-lead the upcoming trip with his long-time friend, C. J. Wheeler, one of the very few people who have traveled in North Korea before. With a special permit, MTS has been awarded exclusive space for 24 travelers to participate in this intriguing jaunt.  Once in Pyongyang, you’ll travel by private charter to Mount Baekdu, a stunning volcano near the Chinese border that few westerners have seen. Then it’s on to Mount Chilbo, one of North Korea’s most remote and scenic areas, and Kaesim Buddhist Temple, built in 826. For a finale, you’ll witness the Arirang Mass Games at May Day Stadium. The London Guardian calls the Mass Games “the greatest, strangest, most awe-inspiring political spectacle on earth.” 100,000 performers in every color of the rainbow move in perfectly choreographed unison.
 
While we’re on the subject of Richard Bangs, you should check out his five-part series on western Ireland, complete with video, at Huffington Post. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/09/12 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Congratulations to Felicity Aston

In early December I wrote about the 33 year-old British adventurer Felicity Aston and her attempt to become the first woman to ski alone across Antarctica. Well, she not only completed the 1,084-mile trek from Leverett Glacier to Hercules Inlet, she finished three days earlier than planned. “When I saw the coastal mountains that marked my end point, I literally just stopped in my tracks and bawled my eyes out,” Aston tweeted. Hauling two sleds in often fierce headwinds, Aston pushed on in solitude for 59 days. Well done! You’ve earned a steady diet of Yorkshire pudding upon your return home. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/26/12 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishing You a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2012!

2012 proves to be an exciting year for ActiveTravels. My wife, Lisa, is now an accredited travel agent aligned with two pillars of the travel world, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and The Virtuoso Network. As of March 1st, if not earlier, we plan to launch a new version of the website that will feature travel consulting from me and reservations with Lisa. Though you don’t have to wait until that time to book a trip with us. Lisa is already busy helping couples and families plan their next dream trip. So if you need any help with travel plans in 2012, please keep us in mind!

Of course, I’ll continue to do what I do best, write. I’ll be back on January 9th with my favorite trips from 2011. Have a Happy New Year!

Steve 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/23/11 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Northern Iraq, Anyone?

If your list of must-see locales in 2012 includes the archaeological sites and exquisite scenery of northern Iraq, you’re in luck. 5 new properties are set to open in Erbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan in the next year, including two Marriott lodgings and a Hilton. Having broken ties with Saddam Hussein after the first Persian Gulf War in 1991, Erbil was spared the fighting of 2003 onward. Visit the Museum of Civilization to understand the city’s ancient past, then take a short taxi ride over to Shaklawa Road to see a recreation of Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque. Nearby is Bakery and More, a Lebanese-owned bakery known for their Arabic sweets. Any of the shwarma joints in town is a good place to meet the locals, which now total over a million. 

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/20/11 at 03:00 PM
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

33-Year Old British Woman Tries to Cross Antarctica

As you snuggle with your loved one near the fireplace this holiday season, think of Felicity Aston. The 33-year old British adventurer left last week on a 1,000-mile trek across Antarctica. Pulling a sled with supplies, she hopes to reach the Leverett Glacier first before completing the entire journey in 70 days. If Aston were successful, she’d set the longest solo polar expedition for a woman and also be the first person to cross Antarctica alone using her four limbs. You can follow her travels on Twitter @felicity_aston. Good luck, Felicity!


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/06/11 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quebec’s Winter Carnival

Just up the road from Montreal, 30 minutes outside of Quebec City, is North America’s first ice hotel, Hotel de Glace. 32 new rooms are created each year out of 12,000 tons of snow and 400 tons of ice, along with an Absolut ice bar, Jacuzzis, and a dance club. Bring those long johns. Temperature inside is a mere 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Quebec City is also home to one of the finest winter carnivals. For 16 days, January 27-February 12, the party never stops. More than one million people descend upon the fortified city to cheer on the competition in Le Grande Virée, a dogsled race that cruises through the heart of the historic Old City, or watch paddlers sprint across the turgid waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The French-flavored festivities continue with tours of the Ice Palace, a giant medieval castle constructed of pure crystalline water, parades, snow sculpture contests, inner tube sled rides, dancing to live music, and late night jaunts to heated tents to sample the potent drink called Caribou, made of whiskey, red wine, and maple syrup. One swig of this and you might be running naked through the snowfields.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/22/11 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Snow Village To Open In Montreal

It’s hard to think about snow right now, especially when I was walking barefoot through a bog yesterday in mid-60s Boston temperature. Yet, when I picture Quebec in January, how can I not think of snow? Once the temperature turns a wee bit frosty, Montreal will be home to a very special event this winter. On January 6, 2012, the city plans to unveil the continent’s first Snow Village at Parc Jean-Drapeau. This is no miniature dollhouse or a series of ice sculptures. No. Montreal’s Snow Village will include a 30-room ice hotel, an outdoor spa, ice bar, ice restaurant, ice chapel for marriages, a maze, slides, and much more. Indeed, you’ll find a replica of Montreal made entirely out of ice. The show’s promoters first encountered the Snow Village concept in Finland and wanted to recreate the idea in North America. The village will be open through March and rates at the hotel start at $175 per person for a limited time. While in the city, check out Le Bremner, the hot new restaurant from Iron Chef winner Chuck Hughes, owner of one of my favorite restaurants in town, Garde-Manger.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/21/11 at 04:00 PM
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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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