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Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Zealand In Depth To Debut New Conservation-Focused Trip

New Zealanders are serious about protecting their country and its native birds from introduced predators, with a goal to be predator-free by 2050. New Zealand In Depth, a team of trusted local travel experts, is doing their part. November 2017 through April 2018, they will debut a 25-day itinerary with many of the trip’s proceeds contributing to the purchase and placement of new traps and creation of local initiatives. View New Zealand’s rarest birds and experience the country’s conservation efforts while enjoying “natural” luxury accommodations in B&Bs, hotels and lodges; some meals; rental car use; and domestic flight from Dunedin to Auckland. Cost starts at $8,800 per person and highlights include a full-day guided trip with Elm Wildlife on the Otago Peninsula to see albatross and yellow-eyed penguins, and a night walk on Stewart Island in search of the brown kiwi. 

I'm off to the Adirondacks to see my high school buddies. Back on Monday. Enjoy the weekend and keep active! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/13/17 at 09:30 AM
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

New Guided Tour To New England’s Islands

If you want to visit New England this summer but prefer to leave the driving to someone else, consider the latest offering from Northeast Unlimited Tours, a highly recommended tour operator in the region. The weeklong tour starts Saturday, August 26 from Boston before making stops in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Block Island, and Newport. Don’t worry. This is not one of those bus tours where each night is at a different lodging. You’ll spend three nights at the Red Jacket Beach Resort on the Cape, taking ferries daily to the Vineyard and Nantucket. In Rhode Island, you’ll stay in Newport at the Newport Harbor Hotel, taking the ferry over to Block Island for the day. Cost is $1,999 per person, double occupancy, including all lodging, transport, guides, ferries, dinners, and breakfasts. If interested, please contact ActiveTravels
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/12/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor Expands

Yes, the chance to kiss a giraffe as he sticks his head through the window of the estate should not be overlooked. Take it from someone who has done this personally, a giraffe’s tongue is almost as long as his neck. No, the reason we like to book Giraffe Manor in Nairobi for our clients before or after a safari is its great location in the city, close to Karen Blixen’s former home and near the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Unfortunately, the 10-room boutique property is often sold out. Thankfully, they just added two superior double rooms. Called Edd and Selma, they’re named after two of the Manor’s beloved giraffes. Go have a look and a lick! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/11/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, July 10, 2017

Skywalk Saint John Set to Open This Month

While in New Brunswick several weeks back, I was fortunate to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the new skywalk set to make its debut this summer. Saint John will now be the third spot in North America to open a skywalk, in addition to the Grand Canyon and Jasper National Park. Unlike those two skywalks, which are designed as semi-circles, the Skywalk Saint John is more like a long plank extending more than 25 feet out from the building. Look down through the glass flooring and you get an exhilarating view of the cliffs, bridge, and a unique tidal shift called a reversing falls. A series of rapids in the Saint John River can be seen switching direction in the churning whirlpool below. A 10-minute film will explain this unique phenomenon caused by the tidal shifts on the nearby Bay of Fundy. Below the skywalk, the Reversing Falls restaurant offers those same glorious vistas thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. Expect freshly caught yellowfin tuna, halibut, lobster, oysters, and provisions from local farms once it opens. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/10/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, July 07, 2017

Best Summer Drives in New England

Yesterday, as I was taking a spin to the local coffee shop on a Vespa, I was thinking how great it is to cruise on any form of transport in weather this sublime, be it a moped, bike, skateboard, or car. On Sunday, I plan to bike along the Charles River to grab my chicken shawarma sandwich at Inna’s Kitchen at the Boston Public Market. This is the time of year to truly see the authentic seaside villages and rolling rural mountain roads of New England. If you need ideas on routes, be sure to check out my recent story for Yankee Magazine on 8 Great Summer Drives, including maps. Have a great weekend! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/07/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, July 06, 2017

AMC’s New Medawisla Lodge and Cabins Open This Week

If you’re yearning for a genuine wilderness experience in the northeast, one where you can breathe in the pine-scented air and stare in awe at a moose while throwing out your fly for brookies and landlocked salmon, then it’s hard to top the locale of the Medawisla Lodge. Located on the shores of Second Roach Pond in Maine’s legendary 100-Mile Wilderness Region, Medawisla has been attracting outdoor lovers to this pristine spot since 1953. But never has it looked so good. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) just reopened Medawisla Lodge and Cabins following a multi-year, multi-million dollar construction project. Medawisla offers a range of overnight options, including deluxe cabins with private bath, traditional cabins with shared bath, and bunkhouses. Dinner, breakfast, and trail lunches are included in most cabin rates, and linens and hot showers are available. The site features a waterfront pavilion, a new central lodge with water views, and nine new private cabins in waterfront and hilltop locations. Cabins feature Maine-made woodstoves, screened porches, and gas lamps. Meals are served in the central lodge. You’ll need your energy to paddle Second Roach Pond, hike and mountain bike on the trails as you peer up at mighty Mount Katahdin, and simply take time to savor the serenity.  

 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/06/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—A Bounty of Seafood Leads to Exceptional Dining

I won’t soon forget dining on halibut so tender and sweet at Alma's Parkland Village Inn that, of course, it was just caught that day by the father of the girl working the front desk. It was remarkable to look out over the Bay of Fundy at low tide and see that the entirety of the water from our 2-hour paddle that afternoon was gone, replaced by the ocean floor that reached over a kilometer long. New Brunswick is blessed with some of the finest restaurants in the country thanks to the bevy of seafood caught nearby. St. Andrews Rossmount Inn was once again at the top of its game, serving oysters on the half shell, poached lobster, and halibut ceviche, all more sublime than the last. We ended the trip at another one of my favorite restaurant in the Maritimes, East Coast Bistro in Saint John. Chef Kim was hosting one of her signature cocktail and themed dinners, this time focused on the cuisine of Japan. I was the lucky recipient of just-caught yellowfin tuna, encrusted with black sesame seeds on a bed of soba noodles, and paired with tender asparagus and snap peas. It could easily rival any dish in my hometown of Boston. Other highlights included the wonderful smoked salmon jerky at Oven Head Salmon Smokers and the fish and chips nearby at Ossie’s Lunch in Bethel, the mussels at Saint John Ale House, the Rye IPA on tap and pickled eggs (apparently good for hangovers) at Holy Whale Brewery in Alma, and the tasty strawberry rhubarb cobbler at Calactus in Moncton. It’s the adventure that keeps me coming back to New Brunswick, but once here, it’s hard not to rave about the freshly caught seafood and the talented chefs creating memorable meals. 

I want to thank Heather MacDonald-Bossé of Tourism New Brunswick for designing another fantastic itinerary to the province. I also want to wish all my friends in Canada a Happy 150th birthday! Enjoy the festivities. To my American readers, have a Happy 4th and keep active. I’ll be back on July 6th. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/30/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—Hiking Matthews Head/Sea Kayaking the Saint John River

We woke up early today to hike a 90-minute loop in Fundy National Park to Matthews Head. Breakfast could wait! Except for a handful of bunnies and noisy chipmunks, we had the trail to ourselves. We hop-stepped it through the web of roots through a forest of tall timbers, the reward soon appearing as one stupendous vista of the coast. High atop the hills of Fundy National Park, we looked down on the jagged shoreline, rocky beaches, and boulder-strewn coves. The Bay of Fundy waters were still this early in the day. All you could hear was the lapping of the water and see the sunlight shimmering on the bay to create a magical light show. 

From Alma, we drove 90 minutes to Dominion Park in Saint John to paddle on the mouth of the Saint John River with Go Fundy Events. Our guide, Dan, escorted us past the limestone cliffs to see the earliest fossils recorded by scientists, curly-cues and concentric circles on the cliff face. As we made our way around the bend, Dan pointed out a massive eagle’s nest in a tall pine but we couldn’t find any birds. We did however, spot a large sturgeon jumping out of the water. We paddled onward to find the remains of a lime quarry dating from the 19th century, red bricks that were imported from Scotland. Then we turned the kayaks around and peered up to see the wingspan of an eagle and that distinctive white head. Soon another eagle joined him, his talons holding on to a fish, possibly a sturgeon. They flew above us for a good 10 minutes, stopping only to find a perfect perch, as we continued to paddle back into a strong headwind. It was remarkable end to a memorable day of play on the waterways of New Brunswick. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/29/17 at 05:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—Sea Kayaking the Bay of Fundy

We started the day at low tide at the iconic Hopewall Rocks, sunlight splintering through the sea stacks or flowerpots rocks as the locals call them (many of the formations have trees sprouting out of the top, thus resembling flowerpots). Walking along the beach snapping photo after photo at the picturesque blend of towering rocks, cliffs, and sea, we walked on the rocky beach and clay-like mud that lined the Bay of Fundy floor. Soon we heard squawking of birds only to peer up at one of the rocks and see a majestic peregrine falcon perched high above. We continued south on Route 114 to reach Cape Enrage at the height of high tide, water and wind whipping around us atop a cliff and lighthouse that juts out onto the sea vulnerable to the elements. 

After lunch of fresh pan-fried haddock cakes and a tangy tomato soup, we were energized and ready to go sea kayaking with Fresh Air Adventure on the outskirts of Fundy National Park. Owner Gina was excited to have us try out her new toys, surf skis, slender and speedy 17-foot ocean Epic V7 kayaks that she uses to race in Hong Kong, where she spends half the year. We got acclimated to the kayaks as we made our way down the Upper Salmon River, an estuary, slicing through the water with a paddle so light the stroke felt almost effortless. Then we turned around and went past the handful of fishing boats before making our way out to the Bay of Fundy. We had to paddle against the winds on the way out to open water, looking at Nova Scotia across the bay. The tide was still coming in with a moderate chop as waves spilled into the kayak. I peered at the tall spruce and firs that stood tall atop the craggy rock of the Fundy National Park bluffs before a larger wave swept me up and I found myself swimming in the salty drink. Gina guided me back into the kayak and we turned around to feel the ebb and flow of the highest tides in the world. I quickly understood why they call these kayaks surf skis. You paddle hard atop the crest of the wave and you feel the sudden rush of water surge you forward, like surfing. It was an exciting way to end an exhilarating day. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/28/17 at 04:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—Biking to Kellys Beach

Every town we pass in New Brunswick seems to be getting ready for the big 150th birthday party of Canada on July 1st, Canada Day, including the park across the street from we’re I’m currently staying in Moncton. Parks Canada is also getting in on the celebration, offering free admission to all national parks in 2017. I took full advantage of this offer to drive an hour north of Moncton today to Kouchibouguac National Park. Not nearly as well known as Fundy National Park, Kouchibouguac (pronounced Koo-she-boo-gwac) is always a highlight on my trips to New Brunswick. We rented fat-tire bikes at Ryan’s and headed out on some of the 60 km of hard-packed gravel trails, not unlike the carriage path trails in Maine’s Acadia National Park. This includes a sweet 6 km singletrack mountain biking route along Major Kollock Creek. We biked in the Acadian forest of birches, pines, and spruce trees, soon reaching the most exquisite beach in the entire province, Kellys, a six-kilometer stretch of white sand that dips down into the Gulf of St. Lawrence waters. Even on this perfect summer day, there were not more than 30 people on the entire beach! You can walk for miles on the firm sand, therapeutic to the bare foot touch, and be on the lookout for the remains of crabs chomped on by seagulls. Leaving the park and heading north to the French-speaking villages of the Acadian coast for a lunch of lobster rolls in Baie-Sainte-Anne, we were stunned to spot a porcupine ambling across the road. We stopped and waved the car behind us around as we stared at this prehistoric looking critter. That was the icing on the cake. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/27/17 at 04:00 AM
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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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