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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spring Comes to Narragansett Bay

The parking lot at the Blithewold estate in Bristol is overflowing on this chilly day in late April. I walk around the pink blooms of the Japanese star-magnolia tree and under the signature Japanese cedar that stands guard in front of the massive stone mansion. That's when I get my first glimpse of the soft yellow hues glowing from a vast garden, stemming from row after row of daffodils. Young girls dressed as fairies run down the aisles, butterfly wings attached to their backs and colorful ribbons in their hair flowing in the wind. I follow their cue and enter a pasture coated with morning dew to find countless families happily ensconced within the centuries-old stone walls. A harpist plays as kids create papier-mâché flowers, blow bubbles, and dance around a Maypole. I half-expect to see nymphs lounging in a nearby pond of water lilies.

This is exactly the vision of spring awakening I've been yearning for after our polar-vortex winter. I need to stir my soul with spring blooms, buds, and community spirit as we all collectively end our days of hibernation. I've come to where spring arrives first in New England, the temperate zone along the shores of Narragansett Bay.
To read the rest of my story for Yankee Magazine on Spring Comes to Narragansett Bay, please click here

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/26/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Debut of the Setai Tel Aviv

Monday was the official opening of The Setai Tel Aviv, the first property in the city to be designated a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Located at the entrance to Jaffa, overlooking the Mediterranean, the property was initially constructed as a fortress in the 12th-century. The five-building complex was conquered and then inhabited by the Crusaders, Turkish-Ottoman Empire, and the British, until being used as a police station until 2005. The original buildings and stone corridors that wrap around an inner courtyard have been meticulously restored over an extensive preservation process that was spearheaded by the Israel Antiquities Authority and preservation architect Eyal Ziv, who is responsible for the design of several iconic Tel Aviv structures, including the Alhambra Theater. The property features 120 guest rooms, rooftop infinity pool, spa and gym, and JAYA, a restaurant that celebrates the best of Israeli food while also honoring the culinary heritage of Jaffa and the property's Turkish roots.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/25/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

San Diego Adventure

You can lounge on Pacific Beach, visit the sea lions in La Jolla, and bike Coronado when visiting San Diego. Or you can paraglide, surf, or go on California's longest zipline. With nearly 100 years of flying history, Torrey Pines Gliderport, located north of La Jolla, is America's most popular coastal soaring site. Adventure seekers can take a tandem paragliding or hanggliding flight with professional, experienced instructors and enjoy a n exhilarating ride as you soar off dramatic 300-foot cliffs above the Pacific Ocean and San Diego's scenic coastline. Made famous by the Beach Boys' hit song "Surfin' USA," Swami's Beach in Encinitas is one of San Diego's prime surf spots, where big waves break off a narrow beach and challenge experienced surfers. For novice surfers, La Jolla Shores is a family friendly strip of beach with a sandy bottom and gentle waves. San Diego is also home to the longest zip line in California. Set in the La Jolla Indian Campground, within the foothills of Palomar Mountain, the La Jolla Zip Zoom provides riders with 6,273 feet of excitement coupled with spectacular views of mountain peaks, and lush green canyons. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/24/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring Specials on Maine Inns

After a brutally cold and wet spring, we finally had our first sunny weekend in Boston. Fall foliage might get all the hype, but spring is my favorite time of year to travel around New England, when the flowers are blooming and trees are budding. Since it's the shoulder season, it's also a great time to find deals. Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit is offering a 35% savings plus a gourmet dinner from now until June 21st. Or head down to York, Maine and save 30% on all June reservations at the York Harbor Inn. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/23/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Dreaming of the Tbilisi/Baku/Samarkand Combo

I had the good fortune to sit next to Natalia Odinochkina, General Manager of Abercrombie & Kent's Russian office, at dinner in Boston Tuesday night. She was a wealth of information. First of all, contrary to what you might think, the numbers of Americans traveling to Russia are way up. Not only are they visiting the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, but they're taking the 4-hour bullet train to Moscow to see the Red Square. Many want to stay at the Metropol, due to the popularity of the best-selling novel, A Gentleman in Moscow. Then we got to talking about the nearby countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan, which she says is a must for any travel lover. Start in Tbilisi to hike in the 16,000-foot Caucasus Mountains and drink the exceptional local wine, then then take an hour flight or 7-hour drive to Baku to see the spectacular Zaha Hadid building and other architectural gems. From Baku, it's about a 2 ½-hour flight to Tashkent and another 2-hour train ride to the ancient Silk Road gem of Samarkand, the entire city a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another 2-hour train ride and you're in the exemplary Medieval city of Bukhara. Give me two weeks of your time and ActiveTravels will be happy to design the entire trip. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/20/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Malawi or Bust

Overshadowed by many of the other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, that sliver of land nestled between Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania called Malawi has seen a big surge in travelers this past year. They not only come for the wildlife-rich safari experience, far from the crowds of Maasai Mara, the Serengeti, and Kruger, but for the sublime post-safari beaches of Lake Malawi, the ninth largest lake in the world. Renowned African safari outfitters like Robin Pope are busy building new lodges such as Kuthengo Camp in Liwonde National Park. Likoma Island on Lake Malawi was just called one of the best beaches in the world by The Independent. "Stay at Kaya Mawa Resort, where each room was individually designed in partnership with a local workshop set up to empower single mothers, and the whole staff comes from neighboring villages," says the London newspaper. Lake of the Stars Festival is returning to the shores of Lake Malawi September 28-30, 2018 for its 15th anniversary. Book a room at the newly built Kabumba Hotel and listen to the sounds of Scotland's Frightened Rabbit and Malawi's Kim of Diamonds. If you need help with a Malawi route, guides, lodging, and flights, look no further than ActiveTravels

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/19/18 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dining at the Source: New Culinary Experiences to Discover on PEI This Summer

One of the most memorable meals I've ever had as a travel writer was at the Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island's western shores. I arrived via kayak, courtesy of a four-day inn-to-inn sea kayaking jaunt; paddled onto the grassy shores and walked across the sloping manicured lawn. After washing the salt and rust colored sand from my body, I arrived for dinner expecting the usual PEI meal of lobster and mussels. Little did I realize that I was in for a culinary epiphany. The first course was pan roasted oysters in a soothing soup, creamy but not overwhelmingly rich like chowder. Then came a splendid salad of mixed greens where the waiter announced matter-of-factly that "everything is grown on the property, including the edible daisy." A seared rainbow trout topped with tomato risotto and black olives was followed by the meat course, a roasted leg of lamb, butchered by the farmer down the road. Dessert was a peach, strawberry, and mint compote, made on premises, of course. 

Before calling for a wheelbarrow to be escorted out of the restaurant (after all, I spent the day paddling 8 miles along the island's fabled red clay cliffs and the night feasting), I had to first meet the talented chef who shrewdly took advantage of all his homegrown goodies. Standing tall in the kitchen was Michael Smith, who at that time was a recent transplant from Manhattan, once sous chef at Bouley and awarded four stars (extraordinary) by the New York Times.  Of course, he would soon move on to his successful television show "The Inn Chef," and release his best-selling cookbook, "Open Kitchen-A Chef's Day at the The Inn at Bay Fortune." 
PEI is still home to a bounty of chefs, farmers, and fishermen who make the destination a foodie paradise. This summer, Experience PEI and Culinary Adventure Co. have teamed up to create an Island-focused collection of four culinary adventures. The Bar Clamming Adventure lets guests slip into a wetsuit and snorkeling gear, and wade into the water in search of bar clams, the biggest clams on Prince Edward Island. The Floating Lobster Boil features a sunset cruise around the Charlottetown Harbour, freshly cooked lobster, and stories from a third-generation lobster fisherman.  

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/18/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Volvo Ocean Sailing Race Returns to Newport in May

The Volvo Ocean Race, the world's premiere ocean sailing race that began back in 1973 as the Whitbread Round-the-World Race, returns to Newport May 8-20. The 2014-15 edition of the race attracted over 125,000 fans during the 12-day stopover in Newport and quickly became one of the biggest sporting events of the year in New England. This year's Race Village opens on May 8th and is a free, family-friendly event that features music, interactive displays, food and, of course, viewing the state-of-the-art racing yachts. The in-port race takes place May 19th before the competitors sail off on their next leg to Cardiff, Wales. Come join the festivities in Newport, a town known for welcoming sailors, having hosted the America's Cup for over 50 years. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/17/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 13, 2018

Swiss Bliss

Grindelwald is one of those fairy-tale Swiss mountain villages that serve as a gateway to the heart of the Alps. Wander from your hotel to the gondola, ride it to the last stop, and soon you'll be staring at a crown of majestic 13,000-foot peaks. While it's the Jungfrau region's largest ski resort, in summer Grindelwald offers scenic walks, bike rides, and hikes past lakes and waterfalls and through flower-bedecked alpine meadows.
A fresh dusting of snow atop the jagged ridges this July morning only adds to the luster as my family and I set out on a six-mile hike along the Bachalpsee route to a remote lake deep in an emerald valley. To make our descent back to town, we hop aboard scooter-bicycle hybrids called Trottibikes. I point mine downhill on a paved path and pray. Directly across from me lies the mighty Eiger peak, its massive girth only adding to my anxiety. I decide to step off to gather my nerves and pretend to take photos.
That's when my daughter, Melanie, whizzes by me at breakneck speed and screams, "Yeah, Trottibikes!" (Translation: You're getting old, Dad).
To read more about my travels with the family to Switzerland last summer, please check out my latest story for Virtuoso Traveler

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/13/18 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Three Mainers Complete the 100-Mile Wilderness Trail in Winter

April is usually the month when Appalachian Trail thru-hikers give themselves a nickname and start the 2,190-mile five to seven-month trek from the southern terminus, Springer Mountain, Georgia. For many, the most grueling 100 miles will be the last, on the notorious 100-Mile Wilderness Trail in Maine. This is an arduous up and down grind where the occasional logging road is the only sign of civilization. That's why I love this story out of the Bangor Daily News, which reports that 3 Maine hikers completed the 100-Mile Wilderness Trail the beginning of March. Using snowshoes and backcountry skis, and carrying hefty backpacks, they trekked in hip-deep snow, summited 4,000-foot peaks in howling winds, and often had to clamber over downed trees. A remarkable inspiration, which I hope to remember when I next climb a mountain in summer. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/12/18 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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