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Friday, October 02, 2015

Exciting Times at ActiveTravels!

These are busy times for us at ActiveTravels as we listened to our growing membership and have started to design food, art, biking inn-to-inn, family adventure, and yoga trips exclusively for our clientele. We are partnering with some of our favorite people, including food and cocktail writers, restaurateurs, art historians, renowned adventure outfitters, and beloved yoga instructors to help lead these tours. Lisa and I hope to finalize the pricing and dates (starting in the fall of 2016) by the new year, when we also roll out our new website redesign. Yea! Thanks again for your continued support! What a long strange trip it’s been. As my dad used to say, “Enjoy the ride.”

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/02/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Natchez to Celebrate its 300th Birthday in 2016

Head south on Highway 61 through the rolling green farmland of the Delta and you’ll find the zig-zag shaped 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 reach that gem 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 that were largely spared during the Civil War due to its proximity to Vicksburg. The Union soldiers that survived that battle and made it to Natchez burned the cotton fields but left the homes intact. More than 150 of these structures still stand, including many that are still in private hands.

To celebrate its 300th birthday, Natchez is throwing a yearlong party in 2016. One of the best ways to see this queen of antebellum architecture is during the Spring Pilgrimage, held March 5 to April 5. Guides dressed in period costume bring visitors on morning and afternoon tours of these historic homes. Be sure to visit Longwood, a six-story octagonal-shaped house that was never finished due to the Civil War. Many of the original furnishings are on display including crates sent to the owner’s wife, Julia Nutt.  
If you spend the night at the Monmouth Plantation, you won’t have to dress in costume to feel like the regal owner of a southern plantation. Mint juleps are served in a frosty silver cup promptly at 6:30 in the Quitman Study. Then everyone retires to the dining room, an ornate parlor adorned with long chandeliers and portraits of General John Quitman, who called Monmouth home in the 1820s. The distinctly southern menu features crawfish chowder with just a hint of Tabasco, and lump crab cakes, also spiced, this time with a jalapeno hollandaise dip. Entrees include a mustard-crusted rack of lamb in a tangy tomato-based demi glace. The highlight of this sybaritic retreat, however, are the meticulously landscaped grounds, shaded by centuries-old oaks and their thick dress of Spanish moss, and bursting with the colorful azaleas that come to life in the spring. Monmouth is a peaceful oasis to whisk away an afternoon or two in the Old South with a good long book like Gone With the Wind.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/16/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Norwegian Airlines to Offer Low-Cost Flights from Logan

Great news out of Boston where Norwegian Airlines announced this week that they will be offering reasonably priced flights to London’s Gatwick Airport, Oslo, and Copenhagen, starting May 2016. Flights are already up for next summer and costs are as low as $545 round-trip to London, including all taxes. Also under the radar is the fact that they’re offering direct flights from Logan to Martinique and Guadeloupe, starting this winter. I checked this morning and was delighted to find the price to Guadeloupe over popular Christmas Week is $517 per person direct. Flights on JetBlue and other carriers that fly direct to the Caribbean from Boston during that same time period are already well over $1200 per person. So this is great news for travelers. The competition will hopefully result in other carriers lowering their costs. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/19/15 at 06:45 AM
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Marriott Announces Streaming Deal with Netflix

On the road one-third of the year, you can often find me at night watching the latest House of Cards or Boardwalk Empire episodes on my laptop. Rarely do I find something worthwhile to watch on the hotel television. That’s why I was excited to hear last month that Marriott has signed an agreement with Netflix that will allow guests to access their accounts via Internet-connected TVs. Already at a half-dozen Marriott properties, the company hopes to roll out this option at 100 of their American locales by the end of the year. 

I’m off next week, back the week of July 20th when I’ll be blogging and tweeting live from location from the 4 huts in the emerging Maine Huts & Trails System. Please stay tuned for an in-depth look at the only hut-to-hut system in America where you have the rare chance to hike, mountain bike, and paddle between huts. In the meantime, enjoy the warm weather and keep active. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/10/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

San Antonio Missions Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

San Antonio might be best known for its River Walk, but one of my favorite outings in the city is the opportunity to bike to the Spanish colonial Missions. My personal favorite of the five is Concepción, built in 1731.  The crumbling lime stone exterior, which leads to a still operable church, is incredibly photogenic, especially with the early morning sunshine pouring down. Afterwards, I bike down Mission Road 3 miles to reach the largest mission, San José, known for its popular Mariachi Mass each Sunday. At its height, the missions would hold close to 300 people, working as a church, farm, and ranch. Franciscan friars gathered the native population, converted them to Catholicism, and taught them to live like Spaniards. At Mission San José, you can still see the small living quarters that surround the square layout. Inside the stone walls, overlooking the green and the church, the setting is serene. Now the world will get to know these majestic structures, thanks to the news on Sunday that the San Antonio missions were chosen as one of the latest UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s a perfect time to view the largest collection of Spanish colonial architecture in America.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/08/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Travel Writing Workshop on the Vineyard with Acclaimed Travel Writer Perry Garfinkel

In 1990, I left my job as a broker in Manhattan and booked an open-ended ticket to Sydney, stopping at numerous South Pacific isles along the way. The day before I left, I was at the 5th Avenue Book Fair, when I spotted a book titled Travel Writing, For Profit and Pleasure. More than 1500 stories and 9 travel books later, I can honestly say that the author of that book, Perry Garfinkel, changed my life. Now you have the rare chance to have Perry inspire your life. He’s teaching a 5-day workshop in that glorious travel locale, Martha’s Vineyard, from August 30-September 5. 

The 5-day workshop is for everyone from beginners to published writers in all literary niches who want to add travel writing to their portfolio. The workshop will cover: the nuts and bolts of writing style, developing personal voice and self editing; how and where to research story ideas that will sell; the art of the pitch; in-the-field do’s and don’ts; the essentials of interviewing; follow-up after publication; the finances, and more. It will include in-class writing drills, off-site “assignments,” mock editorial pitch sessions, and a chance for the Perry to review submissions individually. There’s also a good chance that I’ll be making a cameo to talk about one of the topics I always bring up when speaking at colleges: dealing with rejection. So come join us! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/07/15 at 05:50 AM
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hot Off the Press: ActiveTravel’s June/July Newsletter

This is our combined June/July issue. Like many of you, we’ll be traveling with the kids once school ends in late June. This summer, we’re off to Istanbul and Cappadocia. We’ll report back on our adventures in the August issue. As many of you know, I just returned from a memorable week of travel in Nova Scotia. To give you a little taste of what I experienced in this Atlantic Maritimes province, our “News from the Road” feature is devoted to Nova Scotia. In mid-July, Lisa and I will be hiking, biking, and paddling our way to the four huts of the Maine Huts & Trails system, as discussed in our Quick Escape. Also in this issue, Lisa talks about her favorite hotels in Hong Kong, an outfitter we use in Asia to book trips to Bali, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and luggage that has its own GPS system, so you know exactly where it is at all times. 

Next week I’ll be partnering with The Trustees of Reservations, the Massachusetts-based nonprofit conservation organization, to design Dream Day Itineraries for families based on their 112 locales in the state. So please stay tuned and also follow me on Twitter @ActiveTravels. Enjoy the weekend and stay active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/18/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Croatia, Western Dude Ranches, Pack for a Purpose, and More in Our May Newsletter

In the May ActiveTravels newsletter, Lisa reports on her latest trip to Croatia and delves into why the country has become such a European hot spot. We also list some of our clients’ favorite dude ranches, promote Pack with a Purpose, and talk about an outfitter who designs custom-made trips to America’s National Parks. With the National Park System turning 100 in 2016, this is a good time to think about a trip to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, or Acadia National Park. 
I’ll be in Ithaca, New York, next Monday and Tuesday, back Wednesday. Enjoy the weekend and keep active!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/15/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 13, 2015

ActiveTravels March Newsletter Now Available

Tuscany is a destination often found on people’s bucket lists. Dreams of the unspoiled, authentic Italy where medieval hill towns, vineyards, olive oil and truffles abound. We’ve paired up with a wonderful Italian tour operator who can offer accommodations in farm houses, villas, apartments, or B&Bs in the region with activities that range from taking cooking classes to guided bike rides on the rolling hills past vineyards, Medieval homesteads, and Etruscan tombs. Also in this month’s newsletter, we disclose our 5 favorite off-the-beaten-path National Parks, lodging clients have enjoyed in Jackson Hole, why you should download the app, Yonder, and a gem of a renovated inn that we came across on a recent trip to Stowe. Enjoy!

I’m off to Tanzania tonight for an epic trip with Epic Private Journeys to check out Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. We’ll also be visiting more remote parts of the country like the Grumeti Reserves, home to two lavish lodges, a tented camp, and a mobile camp under the design and management of South Africa’s pioneering Singita tourism group. Another private wildlife reserve, Mwiba, is where you’ll find the latest upscale lodging in the country, the Mwiba Lodge, which opened last June and is already gaining acclaim for its 8 canvas-sided suites. I’ll be checking it all out and sending photos on my Twitter account @ActiveTravels. When I’ll return on March 23rd, you’ll be hearing all about it on this page. So stay tuned and stay active! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/13/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

AMC Buys Baker Mountain in Landmark Conservation Deal

If you’ve ever had the chance to stay at the circa-1873 Little Lyford Lodge in Maine’s North Woods, a gem of a property now run by the Appalachian Mountain Club, you’ve no doubt walked to the shores of Little Lyford Pond to paddle, fish, and spot moose slurping the water. Then you peer back and spot one of the 100-Mile Wilderness Trail’s signature peaks, 3,521-foot Baker Mountain. In a wonderful conservation deal announced last week, the AMC has acquired Baker Mountain and an additional 4,311 acres abutting the Katahdin Iron Works property.

“Baker Mountain was surrounded by conservation lands, but the Baker Mountain tract itself was not protected. It was ‘the hole in the doughnut,’ and with this purchase, AMC and its conservation partner, The Nature Conservancy, have ensured that this ecologically significant land will be protected,” said AMC Senior Vice President Walter Graff. The AMC will be providing pedestrian access to the Baker Mountain tract and will also be involved in habitat protection and sustainable forestry. The transactions now bring AMC’s land holdings in the 100-Mile Wilderness region to some 70,000 acres. To read about AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative, please see my story in The Boston Globe. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/10/15 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

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