Thursday, April 20, 2017
Thursday, April 20, 2017
April is always one of the busiest months of the year for us as members book upcoming summer and winter travel. We try to get back to all requests as quick as possible but we appreciate your patience. We’ve also been traveling quite a bit to see firsthand the destinations, resorts, and tour operators we like to recommend. Lisa just returned from Queensland and Melbourne, Australia, which she reports on in our main feature in the April newsletter. On our last trip to Australia, we were stuck inside a small hotel in Cairns for 3 days as a cyclone barreled down the coastline. So, of course, the worst cyclone to hit Australia in 6 years happened in Queensland while Lisa was there again. Fortunately, the eye of the storm was an 8-hour drive to the south so it didn’t alter her itinerary. We also leave today for a weeklong trip to another popular destination, Greece, with a highly reputable tour operator from New York, Heritage Tours. We’ll describe our findings in the May newsletter.
In our Travel Tip column this month, we want to remind members to please think of us for all your travels, including cruises and guided trips with the likes of Backroads, Abercrombie & Kent, and Lindblad. We’re a full-service Virtuoso-aligned travel agency that can often get amenities like shore excursions and spa treatments thrown in at no additional cost. Also in this issue, we list our favorite properties in Maui, discuss deals in St. Barts in the shoulder season, and talk about the art scene in Houston for our Quick Escape column.
Be on the lookout for a hotel giveaway in next month’s issue. May marks the 5th anniversary of ActiveTravels so we thought a free hotel giveaway was a good way to start the celebration. Thanks to all of you for helping to make ActiveTravels a success!
See you again on May 1st when we return from our trip to Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. Happy Travels!
Steve and Lisa
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
One doesn’t drive in New England simply to get from Point A to Point B at the fastest possible time. No, we like to linger, savor the beauty, cherish the history. We’re fortunate to be blessed with a diverse landscape full of majestic sights like the jagged shoreline of Maine, the granite notches of New Hampshire, the verdant farmland of Vermont, and the long stretch of white beach found in Rhode Island. We stop not only to post photos to our Instagram and Facebook accounts, but to dine on lobster rolls and fried clams at renowned seafood shacks, hike on the same shoreline and forest paths that inspired Winslow Homer and Robert Frost, and stop to stay at legendary inns or a new cabin built into the vast Maine wilderness.
To read my latest story for Yankee Magazine on 8 great summer drives, including maps, please click here.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Vertical gardens barricade the Perez Art Museum, providing much needed shade and heat absorption during Miami’s sweltering summers. The massive windows that line the exterior of the building are the largest hurricane resistant windows in the world. It’s as if current-day architects took a good look at the storied Vizcaya estate that edges the water in the southern part of the city and learned how a century of wear-and-tear transformed Tuscan idealism into tropical overgrowth.
The arrival of the Perez Art Museum not only signals a shift in sustainability but also has put downtown Miami back on the map. Three decades after Miami Vice turned this city core into a bloody graveyard at night, museums, hotels, high-rise condominiums, and James Beard-nominated restaurants have arrived on the scene to lure the Miami Beach and Coral Gables crowd back to urbanity. Miami’s Design District and the surprising success of developer Tony Goldman’s vision of a graffiti-saturated Wynwood Walls helped build the foundation for a Miami resurrection. The Perez Art Museum pays homage to the local contemporary art scene by offering exhibitions on design, minimalist art, geometric abstraction, and works by artists of Latin descent. Yet, this is merely the forefront of the recent surge of development. In fact, everywhere you look along the shores of Biscayne Bay are tall cranes and construction.
My entire story on the gentrification of downtown Miami can be found in the latest issue of Everett Potter’s Travel Report.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Take a chunk of Vermont and plop it down in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and voila, you have Prince Edward Island. This sylvan setting lends itself well to road biking, especially in the spring when the summer crowds have yet to arrive. The Canadian Pacific railroad that once connected Prince Edward Island’s small villages last roared through the interior in 1989, leaving in its wake hundreds of kilometers of track. By 2000, the tracks were pulled and the line replaced with a surface of finely crushed gravel, creating a biking and walking thoroughfare called the Confederation Trail. Crossing the entire island, the trail starts in Tignish in the west and rolls 279 kilometers to the eastern terminus in Elmira. One of the most scenic stretches starts in Mt. Stewart in King’s County along the sinuous Hillsborough River. You’ll soon reach St. Peter’s Bay, a large inlet dotted with mussel farms and lobster traps. After crossing a bridge that rewards you with glimpses of the island’s fabled red cliffs, you’ll arrive at the rolling Greenwich Dunes, a perfect place to bring that picnic lunch. Stay at the Inn at St. Peters, a favorite stopover in PEI for our clients.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Enter Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario and you can’t help be mesmerized by Canada’s source of artistic pride, the Group of Seven. These renowned landscape painters first exhibited together in 1920 at this same museum. Peering at the impressive mountains, lakes, and sky, I’ve often thought to myself that I’d love be at these exact spots in person. Over the years, some of my favorite stories have been following in the footsteps of artists, like visiting Winslow Homer’s Prouts Neck, Maine, or Georgia O’Keeffe’s Lake George. Now I’m hoping to get the chance to visit the landscape that inspired several of these Canadian greats, specifically A. Y. Jackson and Franklin Carmichael who used northeastern Ontario as their backdrop. First stop is Sudbury, where I’ll see many more works by these artists at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, and my first scenic overlook, the A. Y. Jackson Lookout outside of town. The highlight is Killarney Provincial Park where I’ll be hiking and paddling smack dab in the middle of a Carmichael canvas, ringed by the La Cloche Mountains. I’ll continue along the Georgian Bay coastal route, with a must-stop at Manitoulin Island before returning to Sudbury.
Light and Shadow, 1937
Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Some of us chase after the morning train to get to work. The more indulgent will chase down that shot of bourbon with a pint of Guinness. And the truly intrepid? They follow Ed English as he chases icebergs. Come June, it’s not unusual for villages on the east coast of Newfoundland to wake up to a mountain of electric blue ice the size of a 15-story building. The icebergs calve from the glaciers of western Greenland and begin a slow 1900-mile journey south with the Labrador Current on a route dubbed Iceberg Alley. English, owner of Linkum Tours, takes sea kayakers up to his lighthouse inn on Quirpoon Island, the northernmost point of Newfoundland, to get as close as possible to the huge crystalline structures before they float away. An added bonus are the pods of humpbacks, minkes, and the occasional beluga whales who feed in Iceberg Alley as they make their way north.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Family owned and operated for over 30 years, Manitoba-based Frontiers North is best known for their polar bear explorations in Churchill. Come to northern Manitoba in October and November and you’re almost guaranteed to view polar bears in the day, the Northern Lights at night. Now the company has their sights set on summer. On their weeklong Big Five Safari in early August, you’ll still stop in Churchill to find polar bears and pods of beluga whales swimming in Hudson Bay. You’ll also visit the thick forests, mountains, meadows, and gorges of Riding Mountain National Park to view the herd of bison, moose, and black bear. Dates are August 2-9, 2017, and cost is $5,999 CAN including round-trip airfare from Winnipeg to Churchill, all lodging, meals, and activities like a zodiac ride on Hudson Bay. If you’re interested or have any questions, please contact ActiveTravels.
Monday, April 10, 2017
I spent the early part of last week in Manhattan for Canada Media Marketplace, where I met with media reps from all over Canada to hear about the latest travel developments. In a chat with Amber Sessions from Tourism Vancouver, I learned that Vancouver would finally be launching a direct ferry to Victoria. This saves the 40-minute drive to the ferry terminal in Tswwassen from Vancouver and another 30-minute drive from Swartz Bay Terminal on Vancouver Island to Victoria. Frankly, it also eliminates the need to rent a car in either destination. You also have the option to continue on by ferry from Victoria to Seattle to complete a great 8 to 10-day triangle. The Vancouver to Victoria ferry debuts in May. Cost starts at $120 Canadian for the 3 hour cruise. If you’re heading to Vancouver later in the year, be on the lookout for the unveiling of the $600 million Parq Vancouver complex next to BC Place Stadium. The new waterfront development will feature the first JW Marriott in Western Canada, The Douglas, a boutique Autograph Collection property, and eight restaurants and lounges designed by James Beard Award nominated restaurateur Elizabeth Blau.
Friday, March 31, 2017
The favorable exchange rate for the American dollar not only extends to Europe. If you haven’t looked lately, $1 US will now fetch $1.33 in Canada. I haven’t seen an exchange rate like that since I was at an Expos game. If the exorbitant flights to Europe limit your options to the continent, especially if you want to travel as a family, head north. I’m already planning to go to New Brunswick in mid-June for more adventures on the Bay and Fundy and possibly a trip to Churchill, Manitoba in winter to spot polar bears.
I’m also heading to the Canada Media Marketplace next week in New York, something I’ve done every other year for at least the past 15 years. I’ll be with old friends in the travel world hearing new and noteworthy story angles about the country as they celebrate their 150th anniversary of the Confederation in 2017. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively around Canada, biking around the wine country at Niagara-on-the-Lake, sea kayaking inn-to-inn around Prince Edward Island, hiking with moose in Cape Breton and atop fjords in the striking Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, savoring the charming town of St. Andrews in New Brunswick and the farming community of Salt Spring Island in BC, going on such memorable adventures as whitewater rafting down the Klinaklini River in BC, a multi-sport vacation with the family in the Canadian Rockies, or canoeing through Ontario’s remote Wabakimi Wilderness, and loving my time in the cities while vintage shopping in Toronto and eating my way though Vancouver. If you need me to point you in the right direction, I’m happy to help!
I’ll be back on Monday, April 10th, with my 5 favorite travel ideas in Canada from the conference. Have a great week and stay active!
Thursday, March 30, 2017
When former professional cyclist Tyler Wren wanted to create an event that combines his love of biking with farming and exquisite scenery, he was inspired by the Italian “fondos,” celebratory rides where locals and farmers bike first, feast afterwards. He pulled it off last year in Vermont to great success. In the summer of 2017, Wren is offering a full slate of Farm to Fork Fondos, including stops in the Hudson River Valley, Vermont, Finger Lakes, the Berkshires, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the Maine coast. These one-day rambles are geared to the public, not professional bikers. Wren creates loops of 8-10, 25-35, 45-50, and 75-100 miles based on your abilities, escorted and with police presence to cut off road traffic. Simply choose your ride and get ready to stop at local farms along the way for a feast of fresh produce. Most of the proceeds go to local charities. You can even sign up for dinners the night before where farmers talk about the satisfaction and challenges of their livelihood. But you better sign up soon because Outside Magazine just wrote about the Farm to Fork Fondo in the April issue. So I expect these rides to sell out quickly.