I N T E R N AT I O N A L M A G A Z I N E
Antarctica - A Crazy Adventure With Kayakers & Seal Pups
Classic Cuba Norwich, England Wild, Untamed Baja Traveling with Generations Walking Japan - "The Road" Maramures, The Simple Life Boston to Quebec Road Trip Things to Love About Luberon A Lemon Festival on the French Riviera
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travel world APRIL/MAY 2017
F E A T U R E S
& S T O R I E S
I N T E R N AT I O N A L M A G A Z I N E
6 Antarctica - A Crazy Adventure Story & Photos by Jeana Shandraw
10 A Lemon Festival on the French Riviera
Story & Photos by Daniele Auvray
14 Classic Cuba
Story & Photos by Steve MacNaull
18 Maramures, Romania: The Beauty of a Simple Life
Story & Photos by Anda Galffy
Story by Julie Hatfield
24 Boston to Quebec Road Trip
travel world APRIL/MAY 2017
F E A T U R E S
& S T O R I E S
I N T E R N AT I O N A L M A G A Z I N E
32 Wild, Untamed Baja
Story & Photos by Deborah Stone
37 Traveling with Generations
Story & Photos by Cindy Ladage
40 Walking Japan
Story & Photos by Peter Mandel
45 Norwich, England: The Historic and the Hip
Story & Photos by Melanie Votaw
Story & Photos by Jacqueline Swartz
48 Things to Love About the Luberon: Provence, France
Antarctic mountains and glaciers
ANTARCTICA A CRAZY ADVENTURE Story & Photos by Jeana Shandraw
King penguins at Gold Harbour
Curious Southern Fur Seal pups gather around sea kayakers
hen most travelers think of adventure travel, destinations like New Zealand and activities like bungee jumping or skydiving are often the first to come to mind. However, the ultimate adventure travel destination is one that many may not ever consider – Antarctica.
With activities like sea kayaking, polar plunges, and skiing, Antarctica offers adrenaline pumping activities that cannot be had anywhere else in the world, many of which are not for the faint of heart. Visiting Antarctica is an adventure itself, but here are a few of the best (craziest) adventures offered by the unique region seen by only 30,000 people a year.
Sea kayaking. Sea kayaking offers one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the animals and breathtaking views in Antarctica as you paddle between icebergs and narrow fjords where no ship can go. Seal pups may try to climb aboard and penguins will leap out of the water next to you as they race you to your next stop. Many cruise operators offer sea kayaking tours and they can be set up through your booking agent or on board, however this popular experience often sells out months in advance so early booking is highly recommended. While all equipment needed is provided, they usually require previous kayaking experience. The Antarctic Ocean and its freezing
water is no place to learn to kayak, but it does give an unforgettable experience you’ll be bragging about for years to come.
Antarctica has some of the most stunning alpine terrain in all of the world. The most popular area to ski is the Heritage Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, including Enterprise Hills, Pioneer Heights and Soholt Peaks. Many tours are available to this area, some that are only day trips from the nearby Union Glacier and others that require more serious trekking and basic camping conditions. Rest assured that either option won’t include a long wait in a queue, or dodging fallen rookies on your way down the most epic ride of your life.
Camping at the bottom of the world is probably the biggest camping adventure anyone could have, as only a few handfuls of people opt to do it each year. However, take all ordinary camping images out of your mind – with most Antarctica camping expeditions, there are no fancy tents to sleep in but rather special, extra insulated sleeping bags. While there may be plenty of laughing before bed, there will be no campfire and snacks, as snacks and all liquids except a bottle of water are strictly prohibited. It’s not a camping adventure for the faint of heart but it’s one you’ll never forget, with unabashedly clear views of more stars than you thought existed (on a clear night) intermingled with the constant chattering of penguins.
One of the best ways to get up close and personal with nature in Antarctica is to take a zodiac tour, which are often offered as cruise ship excursions or independent Antarctica travel. Zodiacs are strong, buoyant inflatable boats that, when manned by an experienced guide, can get you closer to nature and Antarctic wildlife than anything other than a kayak. Popular destinations for zodiac tours include Paradise Harbor where whales are frequently sighted, South Georgia, home to the elusive Macaroni penguin, and Enterprise Island where you can cruise around a wrecked whaling vessel. Since there are no docks in Antarctica, the only way to get ashore is via zodiac. Most ships offer up to three daily excursions, dependent on location and weather.
A word of advice, take every opportunity you are offered to go ashore, every single one, as no two landings are ever the same and the one you decline will inevitably be the one a grey whale came up alongside and spouted on a group. From the adventurous to the borderline insane adventurous, Antarctica is surely one of the best, and most unique, adventure travel destinations in the world. How to Book Chimu Adventures www.chimuadventures.com email@example.com www.SurfandSunshinecom
Glacier hikes are probably the most popular form of adventure travel in Antarctica as they are included, in some form, on most cruise trips that actually land on the continent. The hikes can range from basic, beginner level hikes that stay close to the shore and more intense, trail-free glacier hikes that can take several hours to complete. Be sure to sign up for the on-board educational seminars featuring crevasse rescue to get your blood pumping before venturing out.
Kayakers explore a wrecked whaling vessel near Enterprise Island
Pristine Arctic slopes
Though many places, specifically in the northern United States, offer a version of the “polar plunge” in the winter, nothing quite compares to the original Polar Plunge of Antarctica - a jump into below freezing water from your cruise ship or a run in alongside penguins on a beach. It’s as crazy, cold, and potentially dangerous as it sounds, but a few seconds of freezing water brings a lifetime of bragging rights... and is usually followed-up with dibs on the first zodiac back to the ship along with a victory soak in the hot tub to balance it all out.
Exploring icebergs on a zodiac
B r e a t h e 4S a v o r 4R e p e a t
the outer banks
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The Outer Banks
OF NORTH CAROLINA
Am eri ca ’s F i rs t B ea ch
A Lemon Festival on the French Riviera
"FĂŞte du Citron"
Story & Photos by Daniele Auvray
Revellers young and old enjoy the parade amidst confetti and serpentine while a gorgeous leopard inspired by the eponymous Visconti film passes by
Gondola structure made with citrus by the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore a copy of the Bioves Garden scene in Visconti's Death in Venice
On the Promenade du Soleil, a citrus-decorated float depicting a Venetian carnival mask pays homage to Visconti's film Death in Venice.
here is a sweet smell in the air, pervaded by blossoming mimosa and orange trees in the hillsides, right above the Bioves Garden.
It is the death of winter, soon to be followed by the glory of natureâ€™s rebirth giving the locals plenty of reasons to celebrate.
And celebrate they do. Each February the city of Menton, on the French Riviera, rejoices with festivities that can baffle even the most consummate of travelers as well as its own inhabitants.
Derived from a scene in Fellini's Casanova, this citrus sculpture features the Venus goddess emerging from the water during Carnevale in Venice
For nearly three weeks, the town is perfumed with hundreds of tons of citrus, displayed on floats paraded through the streets as well as at the Jardins Bioves (Bioves Garden). Nearly a quarter million visitors fill the city, already a magnet for winter escapees who come to enjoy the nearly 300 days of sunshine each year.
As night comes, viewers are mesmerized by glowing citrus sculptures such as this scene from Fellini's La Dolce Vita reproduced in the Bioves Garden
Replica of Venice's San Giorgio Maggiore Church as seen in Visconti's Death in Venice shown here in the Bioves Garden
In the Bioves Garden, this scene, reproduced from Dino Risi's film Poor but Beautiful, even includes a real car
Citrus fruit sculpture of Venice's San Giorgio Maggiore Church in the Bioves Garden shows craft mastery in its details
Dubbed the Dream Factory, Cinecitta was where simple ideas could be turned into reality. Shown here is Fellini's E La Nave Va in the Bioves Garden
y the late 19th century, the Russian aristocracy and wealthy English tourists flocked to what was then a health resort. Palaces and elaborate villas soon followed, many becoming the sites of spectacular gardens, as English botanists took advantage of the sub-tropical micro climate and introduced rare tropical plant species that still flourish in the city’s numerous gardens. As for the lemons, which have grown in the area for at least 300 years, no one is sure where they came from, but some believe that they hopped directly across the Mediterranean to Menton from Egypt. Years ago, 100,000 lemon trees grew in the region, but disease and frost killed off many groves. Today, there are about 3,000 trees in Menton. A simple visit to the local fruit market and you’ll most certainly hear the proud fruit vendor proclaim to the rather incredulous passer-by that: “It is the only lemon that you can eat like an apple!”
Dancer in full regalia Cleopatra's style during the seaside day parade on Promenade du Soleil in Menton.
Menton's gorgeously clad Cleopatra's style lady is seen graciously dancing during the parade on the seaside avenue known as Promenade du Soleil.
The Fête du Citron (Lemon festival) started casually at the turn of the 20th century as a mere form of entertainment for the gentry during the winter but has evolved into a full-blown spectacle. Originally part of Italy, Menton became the property of Charles Grimaldi, Lord of Monaco in 1346. In 1848, it broke away from Monaco, becoming a free city, and in 1860 became part of France. Intertwined as it is with bordering Italy and Monaco’s history, Menton still retains much of its earlier atmosphere, both in its colorful buildings façades, narrow lanes and streets in the old part of town. The 83rd Lemon Festival took Italian cinema of the 50’s and 70’s as its theme. The Bioves Garden was dressed up for the part to reproduce several scenes from movies made entirely of citrus. At its entrance was a citrus sculpture of the head of Venus inspired by the opening scene of Fellini’s film “Casanova.” There was also a rendition of Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain and scenes from many other popular Italian films. Enchanting by day these huge structures are mesmerizingly beautiful when night comes and the parades begin. As the colorful crowds moves through the narrow streets they finally come together along the seafront on Promenade du Soleil, to be entertained by brass bands, acrobats, folk groups, costumed entertainers who wheel, spin and dance between the magnificent citrus fruit floats.
Fellini's fantastic characters from his Casanova reproduced here during the day parade
Dancer in full regalia during the day parade on seafront Promenade du Soleil.
As night falls, the Bioves Garden lights up, transforming citrus floats into an oneiric vision. Here, Fellini's La Strada
1951 Chevrolet Deluxe in Havana, Cuba
Classic Cuba Mojitos, Cuba's national drink
"Rafael" our handsome driver
Blue Classic on San Jose St.
Story & Photos by Steve MacNaull Yellow Classic on San Jose St.
s soon as we spy her there at the curb, cherryred and classically beautiful, we have to have her.
taken, other classic cars with happy tourists are waved at and we learn a little bit about the ‘51 Chevy. The car is a multi-generational property, first purchased by Rafael’s grandfather, used as a family and tourist car by his father and now passed onto him to thrill more tourists.
Before we know it, we’re dropped off back on Tejadillo, shaking hands with Rafael, handing him 20 Cuban pesos (about $23) and admiring his car one last time.
We celebrate our tourist predictability by finding Bar San Carlos and ordering mojitos, Cuba’s national drink She is a 1951 Chevrolet Deluxe Cuba, and particularly the streets of of crushed mint, rum, sugar syrup, convertible and this is Havana, lime and club soda. We squeezed Havana, are a rolling car museum. the motherlode of pristine vintage this delightful diversion into the After Fidel Castro took over in the American automobiles. Colonial Havana excursion we’ve 1959 revolution, the U.S. declared done from our resort in Varadero. a trade and tourism embargo on So, my wife and I and our 13-year Cuba and the flow of U.S. cars and old daughter approach the goodLike many Canadian tourists to looking Cuban guy lounging coolly parts and tourists to the island Cuba, we’re holed up at an behind the wheel and ask if we can ceased. Out of necessity and beauty, the pre-1960 cars have lived all-inclusive luxury resort, have a ride. Grand Memories, in the tourist zone on, often with new Russian diesel motors and improvised body work hanging out at the beach, basking Of course. by the pools and eating and and parts. drinking at 16 restaurants and bars. So, we hire Rafael and his classic So how am I enjoying this wheels for an hour. But a trip to Cuba isn’t complete quintessentially Cuban scene? without the two-hour trip to the I’m Canadian and along with We know it’s completely cliché to Europeans, we’ve been flooding to capital of Havana for some culture play tourist in a pre-1960 car in and colonial eye candy. Cuba since it opened to non-U.S. Havana, but that’s the point. We want to pose, see and be seen, international tourism in the early We’ll also pull ourselves away 1990s. Americans are next. have the wind blow through our from the resort to do the Yumari hair and ultimately say we did what Jeep Safari through ramshackle The U.S. and Cuba restored we were expected to do in Cuba. villages, into the rainforest diplomatic relations last year and and along the beach before the embargo could end soon. And From the tiny Old Havana side snorkeling at Coral Beach, street of Tejadillo, we head straight in February the two countries swimming in a cave, racing signed a commercial air traffic for the 12-kilometre malecon powerboats up Río Canímar deal to allow passenger tourist fronting the Caribbean Sea and and having lunch and a flights from U.S. hubs to Cuba. unabashedly cruise. Rafael puts horseback ride at Rancho Gaviota. on his mirrored aviator sunglasses Over the last year, Americans had to book through a third-party to and black cowboy hat to amp up Another highlight is a day on take a charter flight and it wasn’t the hip factor and we smile in the a catamaran that pulls up to for tourists, only for those doing sunshine as we pass monument humanitarian work or taking part in Cayo Blanco to play on the after monument. white-sand beach and splash a sporting event. in the translucent ocean before With me in the passenger seat and frolicking with dolphins. the girls in the backseat, photos are But back to that crimson Chevy.
Photo credit: Robert Demar / aerial view, Mark Gardner / bikes, Mike Bertrand / Friday Harbor, Jim Maya / whales
Lopez Island • Orcas Island • San Juan Island / Friday Harbor
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MaramureČ™ ~ Romania
The Beauty of a Simple Life Story & Photos by Anda Galffy
A Village in Maramures, Romania
Typical wooden church in Maramures
The Merry Cemetery of Sapinta
or me it’s hard to imagine living outside the conveniences of modern civilization, in a world without technology, or public transportation, without art or entertainment. I’ve got too accustomed to the ways of our western society, so geared towards opulence and consumerism. And yet, there are times when I feel trapped between computer monitors and concrete walls. And then I find myself yearning for a more peaceful place, where things can be simpler. A place with no Wi-Fi and no smart phones, no traffic jams and no big malls, where I could live the simple life that my grandparents used to live. There are still a few corners of rural areas like this left in the world, but they are not easy to find. One of them is the county of Maramureș, located in the northern part of Romania. The region of Maramureș is a vast, untamed territory, filled with local traditions and a very rich history. This small enclave is one of the most isolated regions in Europe. Considered the heart and soul of rural Romania, Maramureș is famous for its traditional way of life that remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Its picturesque villages, rolling hills and meadows dotted with wildflowers are the epitome of the rural lifestyle. The region’s isolation saved Maramures from the mass collectivization that took place in Romania during the communist era. The villages in Maramures were so hard to reach that collective farms didn’t seem to make sense there. So the farmers were allowed to keep their own land and cultivate it, in exchange for turning over a large part of their harvest to the government authorities.
The Narrow Gauge Railway Train, Mocanita
A typical house in Maramures
Daily life in Maramures
isiting Maramureș is like stepping back in time at least several decades, if not more. The countryside is dotted with old timber houses and farmsteads fronted by big ornamental wooden gates, often with their own water wells because they have no running water. You can still see farmers mowing the grass with a scythe and stacking it on haystacks, horse-drawn carts, wrinkled old women wrapped in colorful headscarves sitting on their front porches, or young women washing their laundry in the river. Many women still make clothes for their families and many older villagers still wear the traditional shoes made of pig leather, the socalled ‘opinci.’ These people’s life may seem hard and simple –and it is– a constant fight to grow the crops and raise the animals, working from dawn till dusk, sometimes with very
Daily life in Maramures
primitive tools. But the people of Maramureș don’t feel sorry for themselves. Their dignity is quite impressive. Their self-sufficient way of life may be simple, but it has its own rewards and reasons for celebration. They live with pride and raise their families according to rites that have been handed down from generation to generation. Maramureș is famous for its beautiful wooden architecture and wooden craftwork, especially the wooden churches –some of which have been declared UNESCO heritage sites. Elaborate woodcarvings decorate the eaves, gates and windows of many houses, but what defines the region are beautiful wooden gates that can be seen in all the villages. Besides traditions and history, in Maramures you can find some very unusual places, like the interesting Merry Cemetery of Sãpânta –unique in the world– with its gravestones painted in bright colors, depicting comic epitaphs. But if you want to
experience something quite special, you must go to Vișeul de Sus to ride the Mocanița, a steam powered locomotive. Mocanița is the only narrow gauge lumber train left in Europe of the many that were constructed in 1932 to transport timber from the remote forests of the Carpathian Mountains. And almost 90 years later, the train still crosses the bridges and tunnels that take it into the gorges of the Vaser Valley to haul wood. There are many regions in this world that are worth seeing but rarely will you encounter a place like Maramures, evoking a time when life was hard but also calmer, simpler, richer. However, these are scenes that may disappear in a not-so-distant future. Considering the rapid changes that take place in the post-communist Romania, Maramureș may undergo the same transformation that other regions of the country did, making room for progress and a more advanced technology. Even so, the old traditions will always be part of the culture of this region. Daily life in Maramures
Daily life in Maramures
A typical wooden house in Maramures
Daily life in Maramures
"Wentworth By The Sea " New Castle, New Hampshire Photo Courtesy of Wentworth by the Sea
Road Trip Boston to Quebec; From Casinos to Monasteries and Much In Between Story by Julie Hatfield
FIRST STOP: PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE
he perfect stopover to break up the long (6 to 8 hours) drive from Boston to Quebec is the majestic Wentworth By the Sea in New Castle, New Hampshire, just outside Portsmouth (www. wentworth.com) and one hour north from Boston. This 142-year-old Grande Dame, the only giant seaside resort left standing on the New Hampshire coast, where the well-off first used the word “summer” as a verb and settled in for the whole season, survived a fire in the 1980’s and abandonment in 1982. Raccoons lived inside the building, children broke in to scare each other on Halloween, and a murder mystery film, “In Dreams” was filmed here before the old gal was left to die.
Thankfully, Ocean Properties took over the once beloved building in 1997 and spent $30 million “refreshing” it. When it reopened in 2003, it was better than ever, with fewer rooms - 161 of them but the original smaller ones had been opened up to make larger ones, beautifully furnished. Its bathrooms are now sized for the 21st Century, a new wing and ballroom has been added along with a stunning indoor pool to join the outdoor one, an award-winning spa with signature treatments using ingredients from the ocean nearby, and a fine restaurant – “Salt” – in which the creative menu (“Aquacotta” soup, “Sizzling Olives” appetizers, “Bee Hives” truffle honey dessert,) lives up to each clever menu listing for a gourmand’s delight.
Salt’s Chef Bar is a thoughtful arrangement of seats surrounding an open kitchen serving small plates, pizza and the like. It’s especially good for business travelers who, rather than having to eat alone, now sit together in a comfortable familytype setting while watching the chef at work. A lot of history has been part of Wentworth. In 1905, for just one example, delegates from Japan and Russia were invited to the hotel after the Russo-Japanese War, to sign the peace treaty. To this day, the Japanese people consider the Wentworth a shrine. A member of Historic Hotels of America, and now also part of the Marriott chain, the hotel was named to the National Trust’s 2008 list of Dozen Distinctive Destinations.
Wentworth By The Sea's Salt Restaurant-communal Chef's Table
Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland Wentworth by the Sea - new indoor pool
Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
The restored Wentworth By the Sea Hotel, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
A gazebo in front of Wentworth By the Sea, Portsmouth, New Hampshire Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
It’s also a good family place now, with guest privileges at the nearby golf club and marina, its own beach, and a group of bi-level suites on the waterfront, from the balconies of which players from the Boston Symphony Orchestra used to come and play impromptu concerts for guests. It has even had a “major refreshing” in the last six months, with soft, calming decorative colors of gray in the lobby and guest rooms. While it used to open only in summer, the Wentworth is now a warm and cozy yearround resort at the edge of the Atlantic.
Monarch butterfly on Wentworth Hotel's garden flowers. Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
SECOND STOP: QUEBEC CITY AND THE FRONTENAC
ote to those driving from Boston to Quebec: If you use a GPS, be sure you program it to drive into a foreign country. When we got to the border of Canada, our GPS had, for some reason, capability only for Ontario. Quebec City is not in Ontario, so we had to use old-fashioned paper maps, which are a little disconcerting when you’re facing a myriad of highways heading into the city. As nerve-wracking as that experience was, it was just as comforting to arrive in the middle of Old Quebec in busy high tourist season, pull up at the stone entrance gate, and find the valets of Fairmont’s Le Chalet Frontenac eager to whisk the car off to their garage so that we could thoroughly enjoy one of the best walking cities in the world.
rooms sitting high on Quebec City’s highest promontory, Cap Diamont, from which you can gaze out on all of Quebec and beyond. A gorgeous copy of the chateaux of France, it boasts so much history within its walls (it was named after Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac who guided the destiny of New France from 1672 to 1698) that it offers a 1½hour guided tour that barely begins to touch on its story.
If you’ve ever played King of the Castle as a kid, here’s your chance to do it as an adult. Called a reallife castle, Le Chalet Frontenac (Fairmont.com/Frontenac) rules Old Quebec with its imposing 611
She’s not a stuffy dowager, though, and has continuously uplifted and renovated with the times; in 2014 the hotel invested $75 million in revitalizing and modernizing her. There’s a contemporary spa and
The majestic structure is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world and now, since the 2008 celebration of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, when more lights than ever before were trained on the Frontenac so successfully that residents decided to keep them on permanently, visitors can take more dramatic nighttime shots.
health club, the Fairmont Gold floors up to the 17th floor, a sort of luxury boutique VIP hotel-withina-hotel, with nearly 360-degree views from the windows. The Frontenac is also as green as the newest eco hotels, with its unique program whereby if a guest of 2 or more nights foregoes maid service for one day, the Frontenac plants one tree in his/her name in Montmorency, the research and teaching forest of Laval University, 45 minutes north of the hotel. The executive chef’s private garden atop the roof contains not only herbs, but four bee hives as well, that produce about 650 pounds of honey annually. You can walk to everything in Old Quebec from your Frontenac castle, including taking the 174 steps down (and maybe the funicular back up) to streets filled with bistros, cafes, shops and art galleries. Everything feels, looks, smells and sounds like Paris.
Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu Photos Courtesy of Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu
Chateau-like Casino in Charlevoix, Quebec Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
Golf course at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, Photo Courtesy of Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu
THIRD STOP: GAMBLING, GOLF, AND ANOTHER CASTLE
roller-coaster ride into the Laurentian Mountains for three hours through deep dark forests touched lightly at the top with preautumn red and gold, in the manner of a slight hint of naturally light color showing through on a head of dark dyed hair, takes us in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, sometimes called the Newport of Canada. There, perched on a cliff overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River, is another Fairmont, Le Manoir Richelieu, (www.fairmontlemanoirrichelieuCharlevoix) chosen as, among other awards, the 7th best golf resort in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. Summer and winter play land of the well-off, the stunning Norman-style
stone and marble structure features 405 newly renovated guest rooms and spa, an awesome golf course, and across the driveway, a stateof-the-art casino with, among other games, “Volcan,” one of the hottest slots on the planet, all bells and lights in the center of the largest of the gaming rooms. The 27-hole golf course, a beautiful 10-minute ride through the forest on a golf cart, also overlooks the St. Lawrence, and it has more short parthree holes than many other courses. Picturesque holes begin at the tops of massive hills, so that with the blue water on one side and the hole ‘way down below, your drives feel and look longer than you have ever hit, true or not.
The Richelieu also offers every kind of winter sport nearby, from bobsledding to curling to dog sledding, ski jumping and luge. U.S. President William Howard Taft knew a good thing when he discovered Charlevoix for his family. From the time he first visited the region in 1895, before the Richelieu was built, and for the next 40 years, he spent all of his summers in this region of Quebec. From Sunday gambling to Monday vespers, our last stop in Old Quebec City took us into a real, working monastery which a little over a year ago built a contemporary hotel/ wellness center nestled within its walls.
Le Monastere des Augustines hotel entrance, Quebec City Photo Courtesy Le Monastere des Augustines
Hallway in Le Monasteredes Augustines. Photo Courtesy Le Monastere des Augustines
FOURTH STOP: THE MONASTERY OF THE AUGUSTINE NUNS
otel-Dieu de Quebec is a teaching hospital and was the first hospital in North America outside of Mexico. Augustine nuns are traditionally trained nurses, and in 1639 the King of France sent three of them to Quebec to set up a hospital here. Le Monastere des Augustines (www.monastere.ca.en) was built at the hospital in 1695 and by the 1950’s there were more than 200 nuns here, all working with either cancer or kidney disease patients. Nine sisters are left, most in their 80’s, but when we heard them sing vespers in the 17th Century cloister, which they do every evening, their soprano voices sounded childlike and clear. In keeping with the nuns’ purpose at the hospital, the hotel is a wellness center, offering daily activities such as yoga and qigong, body treatments, holistic health discussion groups, even group needlework sessions. You can book a contemporary bedroom with an enormous bed and bath with WiFi capability but no television; most
guests are looking to unplug, digitally speaking. You can also choose to book a historic room, with a shared bathroom and single bed that resembles those of the nuns, including handmade quilts and three wood hooks for hanging one’s veil, part of their white habits. A contemporary restaurant offers healthful foods but includes meats and wine – breakfast is taken silently. Surrounding the exercise and activity rooms is a museum of the monastery containing some of the 40,000 artifacts from their rich history. Men are just as welcome as women in this unique monastery/ hotel, which costs $110 per day for the basic package or $250 for a contemporary room, full board, and treatments. Anyone in the caregiving business can book a room at much lower cost than the general public, and all profits from the hotel are reinvested into people working as healthcare givers.
In between our exercise sessions and meals at the monastery, we slipped out to attend a few movies of the annual Quebec Film Festival just a few blocks away. The beauty of the monastery for out-of-town guests is that Old Quebec is right outside the door, so you will not feel cloistered in this lovely place of calm, unless you choose to remain inside for the duration.
Pedestrian walk and entrance to Augustine monastery-hotel. Photo Courtesy Le Monastere des Augustines
LAST STOP: MAINE, AND ART AT THE EDGE OF THE SEA
ur final stopover, breaking up the long drive from Quebec to Boston, was Rockland, Maine, where we almost passed by the “HOTEL” sign that looked like what you might find outside an oldfashioned Western saloon/boarding house. While that sign might not entice a traveler to enter the building, you should; what you’ll find, instead of the expected little dank dark front lobby, is a huge, open, light-filled ground floor of the brand new boutique hotel 250 Main (www.250Mainhotel.com) overlooking Rockland Harbor and filled with fine art by Mainers.
instead of the elevators at some point during your stay. One of the quotes, “A wise man. Once said. A smooth sea. Never made a skilled sailor,” reflects on the mariner background, but the steel/oak/tile/glass building never recedes into cutesy Maine seaside touches such as fishnet and lobster buoys. However, you can see the ocean from every guest room by means of either floor to ceiling glass windows or private open decks big enough to fit in them couches and real trees.
Throughout the building are more than 60 pieces of art for sale, from $400 woodcuts to a $22,000 mixed media piece. The public comes gallery hopping on certain nights. The new contemporary The rhomboidal footprint of the 26-room hotel, built by luxury yacht gallery/hotel is owned by the Migis Hotel Group taking the Abenaki builders Lyman-Morse, is as quirky and whimsical as the sayings written American word “migis,” which means “a place to steal away to on each of the stair lifts on the four rest,” as its theme. stairways which you should take
Another misconception we had, when it was suggested that we have dinner at Natalie’s, a nearby restaurant in the Camden Harbor Inn, was that it would probably serve a good lobster roll, Camden being lobster central here in Midcoast Maine. Turns out that the inn is one of only two Relais & Chateaux properties in the state, and as such, its restaurant lives up to the rigorous standards of that prestigious international label. Yes, we had lobster, but it came in the form of 10 different courses, beginning with two amuse bouches, an intensely delicious lobster bisque made with coconut milk and Japanese mint, butter for our breads that came with six different choices of salt to top the butter including porcini mushroom, garlic and smoked mesquite, a pre-dessert dessert (tarragon ice cream with blackberry preserve, crumbled ginger snap and lemon puree); and for the road, cardamom lollipops. It was a meal that will be remembered forever for its taste, its beauty and its presentation.
Guest room at 205 Main, Rockland Maine Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
Guest deck atop the hotel 250 Main, Rockland, Maine Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
Private ocean view deck outside a guest room at 250 Main Hotel Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
You can pack an enormous variety of accommodation, activity, spectacular scenery, art, film, cuisine and history into one week and 558 miles of late summer driving, if you head straight north from Boston and don’t stop at the border of the USA. Stair lifts at 250 Main Hotel are like the old Burma Shave road sayings. Photo Courtesy of Timothy Leland
Cacti reign supreme on Catalina Island
Bird life abounds in the Sea of Cortez
Is an Earthly Paradise
Story & Photos by Debbie Stone
've seen many Oscar-worthy productions in my life, but perhaps the most memorable was performed by a pod of gray whales at Lopez Mateos in the Sea of Cortez. Our panga, or small boat, was surrounded by these magnificent creatures as they spy-hopped, spouted, rolled over and displayed their distinctive flutes to an audience of star struck onlookers. The dramatic show reached its climax when several of the moms proudly brought their seven week-old calves to the side of our craft and we reached out to touch them. It was pure magic and I like to believe that both whales and humans shared in the joy of this incredibly special moment together. While whale watching is definitely one of the highlights of a trip to Baja California, there are so many other noteworthy experiences to be had in this unique region of Mexico. Located in the northwest section of the country, Baja California is an 800-mile narrow peninsula that separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. Despite proximity to the U.S. and rapid growth in tourism, the vast majority of the area has remained a wild and untamed paradise with an air of isolation that sets it apart from the rest of Mexico. Graced with mesmerizing desert landscapes, lush oases and rich marine life, Baja is an enticing destination that begs to be explored in a myriad of ways.
The Westward preserves the style and décor of its bygone roots
The most optimum scenario is to ply the waters in a boat, allowing you to appreciate the beauty of the sea and its vibrant life, while also offering opportunities to enjoy adventures on shore. Aboard Pacific Catalyst II’s M/V Westward, passengers spend time discovering both milieus from the comfort of a treasured wooden vessel. The company’s 11-day “Baja and the Sea of Cortez” trip gives travelers the best of both worlds. And with only eight passengers and a crew of four, you are guaranteed to have an intimate experience with like-minded companions.
Designed by Northwest Naval architect, L.E. “Ted” Geary, the Westward is modeled after a salmon cannery tender and constructed around a 1923 Atlas engine. It was launched in 1924 as the flagship of the Alaska Hunting and Cruising Company and pioneered hunting, fishing and adventure travel in remote regions of Washington, Alaska and British Columbia. Over the years, the Westward served an esteemed clientele including such well-known personalities as Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, John Wayne, E.F. Hutton, George Eastman and Marjorie Merriweather Post.
n the mid-70s, the boat was purchased by Donald and Anna Louise Gumpertz and moved to L.A. where it cruised the world, doing a 47,000 mile circumnavigation of the globe. Later, Hugh Reilly bought the Westward and returned it to the Pacific Northwest to resume her career as a charter and expedition vessel in Southeast Alaska. Today, the boat is owned by Bill and Shannon Bailey, who run Pacific Catalyst II, an adventure travel business that operates small ship cruises in the Pacific Northwest, Southeast Alaska and Baja. The couple also own the M/V Catalyst, another historical craft that had its beginnings as the University of Washington’s first oceanographic research vessel back in 1932. Captain
Bill views himself as a “steward” of an important piece of history and believes he has a responsibility to preserve a legacy of the past. He says, “I want to keep the old boats going. Besides, I can’t think of another job I’d rather be doing. I have the best cubicle on the planet.” The Westward is still powered by her original Atlas engine and is listed with the U.S. National Register of Historic Places for her contributions to maritime history. It has recently been completely upgraded and renovated with an eye to preserving the style and décor of its bygone roots. The vessel is very comfortable, with four staterooms, each containing a double and a single bunk, settee, sink, toilet, shower and closet. Though small, the cabins are cozy and contain the basic necessities. The rest of the boat consists of a salon,
dining area, kitchen, outside deck, engine room, wheelhouse and crew quarters, which are located down below. Trips either begin in La Paz and end in Loreto or go in the reverse direction, but the exact itinerary of specific stops along the way can fluctuate, depending on weather conditions, interests of the passengers, wildlife observation opportunities and other factors. The crew’s mantra regarding this aspect of flexibility is simply, “It’s the plan until it changes.” With that attitude, it’s easy to adapt to whatever situation arises. And with its small capacity, the boat can enter areas that larger crafts cannot, allowing passengers to explore hidden locales in great depth.
The M/V Westward is a treasured wooden vessel with a colorful history
uring the day, you’ll spend time viewing the many species of birds and sea creatures from the boat’s deck. It’s very common to see a pod of bottlenose dolphins racing alongside the vessel or soaring mobula rays jumping out of the water and putting on an astonishing aerobatic display, only to land with a loud bang as they belly-flop back into the sea. Frigatebirds, Great Blue Herons, Heermman’s Gulls, Grebes, Petrels, Hawks, and countless number of birds grace the skies and the water. My head was spinning from looking in every direction at the magnificent array of wildlife. It’s no wonder this region is known as the “aquarium of the world” and has often been compared to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll also visit pristine beaches on deserted islands, hike in the otherworldly landscape, kayak along picturesque shorelines and snorkel in the crystal clear waters amid schools of multi-colored fish. Activities are led by onboard naturalist Carlos Gajon, a personable La Paz native whose grasp of the regions, people history and ecosystem is encyclopedic. Carlos was key to our group’s understanding of the region and its unique ecosystems, and he never ceased to amaze us with his wealth of knowledge and fascinating stories. In addition, he is an accomplished kayaker and diver, often supplying the boat with fresh fish, clams and scallops, which later found their way to our plates at mealtime, courtesy of the superb talents of Chef Tracie Triolo. Each evening or late afternoon, the boat would anchor at a different locale, typically in a secluded and protected bay. The idea is not to travel during the night, but rather the day, allowing passengers to fully experience the journey. And, in case you’re wondering about noise at night, rest assured the boat is quiet, as it has an electrical system that allows the captain to go twelve hours at anchor without running a generator. Under the starlit skies, it’s often so quiet that you’re able to hear the humpbacks thumping or “pec slapping,” along with the panting breaths of the sea turtles. I found myself fixated on the color of the water, which ranged in hues from azure and aquamarine to emerald and turquoise, depending on time of day, vantage point and the winds. Everyone onboard had different descriptions for the sea, but we all agreed it was a constantly changing beast that could be calm and inviting one minute, then choppy and inhospitable, the next. We were fortunate during our cruise that the weather gods were in a good mood.
Dolphins love to race the boats a nd show off their incredible speed
Whale watching at Lopez Mateos is a highlight of a trip to Baja
Kayaking is one of the many activities available during the trip
Sea lions like to play “King of the Mountain” at Los Islotes
ne of the most memorable activities you’ll have the chance to participate in is snorkeling with the sea lions at Los Islotes, two guano covered rock islets, one with a large sea lion colony. More than 400 California Brown sea lions make their home here. You’ll find these sleek and intelligent creatures lolling on rocks catching the rays, barking to one another, asserting dominance in “king of the hill” fashion and frolicking in the water. If you’re lucky, the young’uns will come right up to you, wanting to play. They’ll do flips, spin around and try to get you to mimic their antics. These consummate comedians are guaranteed to make you laugh. Another island of note is Isla Pardito, a tiny fishing village with only twenty residents. Located about fifty miles north of La Paz, this community has been the home of five generations. Years ago, the first inhabitants came to the island, searching for a peaceful place away
from the negative influences of town, where they could make just enough money to live simply. They chose the spot because it lacked no-see-ums, the pesky, almost invisible mosquitos that can drive a person crazy, as well as the fact that it had ideal access to prime fishing waters. On our visit to Pardito, we met Sylvestre, one of the few residents remaining on the island, who greeted us and showed us how to fillet the trigger fish he caught the previous night. This mellow and tasty fish subsequently turned up on our plates at dinner that evening. Isla San Francisco proved to be one of the best snorkeling spots for our group, as we saw schools of colorful king angelfish, spotted grunts, gold and blue snapper, trumpeters and even a boldly striped zebra moray eel. For kayaking, San Jose Island provided a picture-perfect setting to paddle around, followed by a walk on Oyster Beach to a lighthouse and saltwater lagoon. The latter was particularly interesting as it had huge amounts of foam lapping at the edges of its body of water, as well as in the crevices of the surrounding vegetation, making the plants look
like they were decorated with cotton balls. The lagoon also appeared to have a copper bottom, which we were told was due to the rust affect from the algae in the saltwater. A walk through the arroyo and down into the canyon at Punta Ballena provided good examples of some of the many types of cacti that are found in Baja, such as cardon, choya, barrel, agave, organ pipe and tiny mammillaria. The variety is extensive with a multitude of shapes and sizes. Some of the cacti looked distressed due to lack of water or because animals had gotten to them. One or two were in early bloom, presenting colorful flowers to enliven the environment. It’s interesting to note that the more arms a cactus has, the older it is. We saw plenty of “senior citizens” in residence! On our trip, we were fortunate to be able to visit Santa Catalina Island in Loreto Bay National Park. Due to its remote location and often prevailing strong winds, this island can be a challenge for boats to reach. Catalina is known as the land of the giant barrel cacti and walking among these behemoths made me feel very small and insignificant. The plants grow in larger proportions because the island has its own microclimate. They stand as grand sentries in this unique landscape, where the endemic rattleless rattlesnake roams. Another dominant feature of the island is Elephant Rock, aptly named for its likeness to an elephant whose trunk is hanging down into the sea. On the beach was a dead sea turtle that had most likely been washed ashore many months ago. Joining it was a dead sting ray with its stinger still intact. Seeing this sharp, serrated “knife” up close gave me a newfound respect for the ray’s lethal weapon. The pièce de résistance, however, was when we were heading back to the Westward and spied a hammerhead shark leisurely cruising through the water.
xploring the islands is also akin to taking a walk back in history, as many of them contain prehistoric middens associated with past human occupation. On Puerto Gato, for example, you can find shards of rocks that were most likely used to sharpen tools. Other islands are known to have bones that possibly belong to the mysterious Pericú, a fierce, independent tribe that disappeared over a century ago after being exposed to European disease.
Sylvestre fillets trigger fish on Isla Pardito
Mealtimes are a delight on the Westward, with the crew joining passengers at the table to see what delectable culinary surprises the chef has whipped up. Chef Tracie is a magician in the kitchen. She utilizes ingredients from local providers whenever possible to create wholesome, yet tasty dishes, making use of spices and herbs she grows in pots onboard the boat. Know that you will eat well and that the food is a definite highlight of the trip. One night you might have broiled clams as an appetizer, followed by turkey enchiladas with mole sauce. Another night it could be prosciutto-wrapped chicken or pork loin with sweet potato and Brussel sprout hash. Seafood reigns supreme, as fresh fish and shellfish are conveniently available. Lunches are equally as varied, from homemade pizza to lobster rolls and ceviche. Tracie even makes her own sushi! And the desserts are heavenly, especially if you’re a chocoholic. The fourth member of the crew, Randy Good, serves as the ship’s carpenter and engineer. He was equally instrumental as the other three crew members in creating a warm and hospitable environment on the boat. On our trip, Randy was mainly occupied with putting on some finishing touches to the Westward, though he was never too busy to stop and chat or lend a hand helping with a variety of duties. And come mealtime, he was always ready with a witty remark or humorous tale to recount, often sharing the floor with the ever-entertaining Captain Bill. During the journey, I saw the ease in which passengers and crew formed bonds and became a close knit family. There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie that exists on this type of trip, as those who choose such an experience are generally open and friendly individuals, curious about their surroundings, while possessing a deep and abiding respect for nature. And because there are no T.V.s or computers, or cell phone service that works while you’re cruising the Sea of Cortez, you will be totally unplugged, leaving more time to cultivate friendships and become connected to this remarkable and idyllic region.
FOR MORE INFORMATION contact AdventureSmith Explorations at: www.adventuresmithexplorations.com
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Passengers and crew enjoy meals together Food takes center stage on the Westward
Traveling with Generations A Different Type of Travel Story & Photos Every summer one of my best friends travels to a resort in Wisconsin where her family fishes and they kick back. They all go. First her parents went and now she and her brothers and often many of their children. I always thought this was so wonderful that they all traveled together, and now that we had two family trips this past year I realize I was right, generational travel is the best.
By Cindy Ladage A generational trip takes on a different meaning than traveling with your children when they are young. A recent trip with my son and his wife and another this past summer with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren offered insights into their lives. We saw the humor and the way they handle one another and how kind they were to us. This was just a few of the benefits of generational travel.
Tybee Island Lighthouse
he trip in May was to Tybee Island Georgia. We stayed in a condominium near the beach. We spent some days together and at other times my husband and I set off by ourselves, including touring around Savannah. We took a hop-on hop-off trolley tour, dined at Paula Dean’s and visited the amazing Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House.
Beautiful Savannah! A ride on Incline Railthe way
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We spent most of our time on Tybee Island. While we often ate in the condo, we also had some fun meals out. Breakfast at the aptly named Breakfast Club was amazing and my son-in-law loved that they were diehard Chicago Cub fans. We toured the Tybee Island lighthouse, which was built in 1773. Many different flags have flown there when the island was under the rule of Spanish, French, and amazingly enough pirates, as well as the Confederate government and then finally the United States of America. Privacy is also a must on a generational vacation, especially when the spouses of our children are on the trip. It’s great to be all together but time apart is crucial. On these family trips, the south and the beach are our favorite destinations as we leave the snow-covered fields of Illinois behind. On the way south, we stopped at Lookout Mountain and rode what is called the steepest passenger rail line in the country. Besides offering amazing scenery, it is an engineering wonder. The train car takes you for a mile ride offering a view of Chattanooga and the surrounding countryside. The cars are trolley like and at one point I held my breath as it went up a steep 72.7% grade. We also checked out Robert Craven’s site, which is part of the famous Battle Above the Clouds. His home was used by both the Confederate and Union armies. The history of this place with is both somber and fascinating.
he next day we spotted the Crime and Punishment Museum in Ashburn, Georgia, and we had to stop and see just what had happened over the years at this former Turner County jail. Then it was on to the Jefferson Davis Capture site and then full tilt off to Jacksonville Beach.
Brent C a Lilly and rrie, Cade o n Tybee Is the la lighthou nd se.
Once we arrived, the ocean and the quiet dignity of the Casa Marina did its job of turning my families focus on the ocean, the sun and the amazing view this historic hotel has to offer. At the Casa Marina we had beachside views, plus the magic of being in a historic hotel that opened their doors in 1925. In 1895, W.E. Scull, a railroad surveyor arrived at the beach and named it Ruby Beach after his daughter. Over time many mostly wooden hotels were built along boardwalks and most were destroyed by fire. The Casa Marina got it right, utilizing a Spanish Mediterranean design that was composed of stucco, concrete, tile and had a sprinkler system to protect its 200 guests. The hotel has hosted political greats like Harry Truman and, FDR, but also the famous and infamous like Mary Pickford and Al Capone. During World War II, the hotel was used by the military. Over the years it was used in a variety of way and eventually closed. In 1991 it reopened with a new veranda and the Penthouse Lounge, where we enjoyed cocktails while soaking in the unrivaled views. Generational travel offered us the chance to do and see things we may not have stopped to see on our own. We climbed the steps to the Tybee Island lighthouse; we went on a dolphin cruise and a boat ride off Amelia Island where hammerhead sharks breed. We saw an island with wild horses, tried a martini and talked, laughed and loved. Now, I have set sights on a trip to Louisville with my mom and my youngest daughter Allie soon. This past year I lost my father and a friend who was like a second mother to us. More and more I realize the importance of taking the time for an afternoon walk or a short weekend trip or the adventure of a weeklong getaway with the entire family.
Beautiful Tybee Island Beach
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Walking Japan "THE ROAD"
Story & Photos by Peter Mandel Temples, traditional inns—and the occasional vending machine—greet walkers on an ancient Japanese highway connecting Kyoto and Tokyo.
he moon in Japan is not like our moon. There is no man in there, for one thing. No man, no horn, no cow.
It is nighttime in Kyoto and Shima Enomoto, one of my guides, is pointing up. “Can you see it?” she asks. “Rabbit making a rice cake.” She laughs. “Almost a cartoon.” “Maybe it will take some time,” I say, looking above rows of buildings, trees with buds about to unwrap, and signs that flash their avenue colors into fire. “Tomorrow we will be on the road,” I say. “I’ll look again.”
Two walkers check out a photo next to one of the stone signs marking the route of the Nakasendo Way. The three Japanese characters can be translated to "meadow, mountain, road."
A group of hikers on Japan’s Nakasendo Way pass one of the many wooden signs designating the route of the ancient and largely forgotten highway from Kyoto to Tokyo.
t is only day one of my trip, and already life feels strange. It could be jet lag, but the idea of walking fields and mountains and ending up in Tokyo, doesn’t strike me as realistic. But this is the plan.
Walk Japan’s 11-day Nakasendo Way tour will guide my group along the route of an ancient and largely forgotten highway. Dating back to the 7th century, Japan’s Nakasendo was a path for shoguns, pilgrims, and samurai—not to mention average travellers like we are—who wore out pair after pair of straw sandals on the rolling terrain. Studded with Shinto shrines, and statues of deities charged with watching over those on the road, the Nakasendo reached the peak of its usefulness and romance during Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868) before steam trains and paved roads changed the pace of travel. This was a stable time for Japan, under Tokugawa rule. Arts like Haiku, woodblock printing, bonsai, and Kabuki theatre flourished in the larger cities. Since the Nakasendo linked two of the biggest, speeding commerce and messages, it was at the heart of this Japanese golden age.
A traditional hat and straw sandals are displayed on the wall of one of the wayside inns known as minshuku along Japan’s Nakasendo Way.
One of the most exciting parts of the walk for me is the chance to spend some nights at wayside inns known as ryokan or, when simpler, as minshuku. I once helped to compile a book about the world’s oldest family firms and these traditional hostels popped up in the research again and again. Sure enough, after trudging through bamboo forests during our first day on the road, we turn in at Masuya Inn in the village of Sekigahara—a minshuku which, we’re told, has been in business for more than eight centuries. Guest rooms at the inn are carved out by sliding panels made of wood and rice paper, and under our not-very-cushiony futons are floors that have been spread with tatami matting. No shoes are allowed inside and there are special plastic slippers for use only in the bathrooms.
Two little girls walk uphill on the stone-paved main street of one of the small villages along Japan's Nakasendo Way.
Staying here helps us to immerse ourselves in being part of a group. As will be the case on other nights, we dine at the inn, slipping on robes called yukata and curling up tired legs under the knee-high communal table. One by one, we take turns in the Japanese-style bath, lowering ourselves into a cedar-edged tureen of steaming water and wallowing there until road-tight muscles uncoil. There are nine of us in the tour group, including Naomi Addyman , a British guide who grew up in Japan; Enomoto, a guide-in-training; and Logan Wong, one of four walkers from Singapore, who informs us that he owns the Yankee Candle distributorship there.
Three walkers on the Nakasendo Way are silhouetted in a small shelter as they study a range of snow-capped mountains near Nagano, Japan.
ankee Candles?” I ask. “In Singapore?”
“Yes, of course,” says Wong, who is dressed for hanging out in a food court, not for hiking. “Extremely popular there. Especially the Lemon Verbena.” We’re off on the road right after breakfast the next day, taking advantage of a hazy early spring sun. Plum blossoms are just starting to come out (no cherry yet) and there are puffs of mistletoe in some of the trees. The path is grassy and mostly level this close to Kyoto, winding through rice paddies and around modest farms. Carol Behm, a professor from Canberra, Australia, points out a patch of violets and yellow kumquat flowers, and someone thinks they see a snake. “It’s a stick,” I say. “No, it’s not,” says Addyman. “It’s a snake. But it’s not a dangerous one.” Every now and then the road leads us into tunnels of shade created by cedar and cypress, and at one point, we stop at a sign with a picture of an angry-looking predator. Next to it is a small steel cup. “Ring Bell Against Bear,” translates Enomoto with a nervous laugh. Logan Wong gives it a pull and the sound reverberates around—bouncing back from hills up ahead. “Not to worry,” says Addyman. “These are Japanese bears. They’re very shy.” According to Addyman, the signmakers should be more worried about the wild boar out here.
Mitsuko Ando plays the harmonica for guests at Kaida-no Poppo-ya, a tiny Italian-Japanese restaurant in Nagano, Japan, that she owns along with her husband.
But as we begin to climb, no one seems concerned about becoming a snack for animals. Our focus is on learning to pick out the three Japanese characters carved into stone and wooden road signs that designate our route. The first symbol looks like a bird built out of bamboo; the second like the prongs of a pitchfork; and the third like Noah’s Ark. Or more like half an ark. “Middle. Mountain. Way,” deciphers Addyman. “That’s the Nakasendo—literally translated.” Each day of the walk the road seems slightly steeper and mountains wearing caps of white step up to dominate the view. It may be because we’re working harder, but eating is on everyone’s mind. Meals at our inns have been like edible galleries, with a main exhibit (usually a hot pot) and interesting mini-plates presenting forest mushrooms, squares of tofu, or sashimi, on the side. “Wish there was a convenience store near here,” someone complains as we are picking our way around paving stones that were laid to make the path more predictable for tired feet and hooves.
With her walking poles propped against a mileage marker, Carol Behm of Canberra, Australia, stops along the Nakasendo to snap a picture.
o hope, no hope,” says Wong. “But Naomi says there’s a Boss Coffee machine in the next village. Or it might be the one after.”
Those that care to, regard us from their pedestals and temples—maybe approving, maybe grieving just a bit—as we begin to descend. Our tour, and the Nakasendo itself, end in Tokyo.
“Only in Japan,” adds Tracey Yeh, a banker from Singapore. “It’s vending and more vending. You don’t want to run out of change even deep in the woods.” Yeh pulls out a bag of Calbee potato chips: ‘Soy Sauce and Mayo’ flavor. “Want some?” she asks. We pool what we’ve got.
From the outskirts, we board a train and tick off some miles sitting down. There is a sense of throwing off a load. And, maybe a little, of guilt. Once in the glass-box city center, we exchange our path for crosswalks. We trace the last few miles on foot.
Wong breaks open a box of Pocky-brand snack sticks. “Rum and Raisin,” he grins. No one has any rice cakes but one of the guides offers around some deep fried eel bones in a cellophane pack. To clean our palates there are Kit-Kats. Kit-Kats laced with Wasabi. We march on.
Our goal, as modern pilgrims, is Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Bridge. And almost without realizing it, we are there.
We reach the top of a pass where everyone takes a break and where our guides point out a poem, a sad one, that’s been inscribed in stone. The author was a princess, we’re told. Princess Kazunomiya, who traveled the Nakasendo in the mid-1800s when she was forced to leave Kyoto for Edo to become the Shogun’s wife. “Why compose it here?” asks Wong. “Well,” says Enomoto, “this is abo ut the point where views back to Kyoto are lost.” From now on, travelers would have turned their thoughts to Edo (now Tokyo). I try this, too. It works until we make it to a town called Okute. Here, there is a kind of shrine. It’s not like those we’ve passed so far: Most have been small and tidy, with well-made torii gates and statues, sometimes, of Jizo Bodhisattva, guardian of travelers. This one is massive. Most have had a sacred rope, a shimenawa, strung across the entrance. This one is hung with twisted branches and with leaves. It is a tree: a giant cedar. So old, at 1,300 years, that it is thought of as a Shinto deity. The tree is watching, we are sure, as daypacks slide back on shoulders and we return to the path. Other roadside gods observe our progress in the days to follow. They inspect us as we trudge up even steeper slopes. They know what will happen: Since it is only April, we will walk in snow.
It doesn’t look like a woodblock print. It looks like a bridge. Above it is a highway humming with cars. But the cherries are out here. Blossoms spin and fly like confetti when the wind kicks up. Sidewalks, even gutters, look celebratory. Corners of buildings collect drifts of petals. Cars are dusted white, or pink. Out come cameras and, from the bottom of someone’s pack, a single package of Pocky that we somehow missed. “Have we done it?” asks Tracey Yeh. “We have,” confirms Addyman.
Later that evening, to try and remember it, I make it back to the bridge. I find myself standing underneath a cherry that’s only footsteps from where the Nakasendo ends. Its canopy is not like the cedar’s. Much more delicate. More frail. Like straw for sandals. Through branches, I see a streetlight. No, it’s rounder, whiter than that: It is the moon. I think of Shima Enomoto. But she has gone. “Can you see it?” she would ask. I would not want to tell her. Eleven days from Kyoto, I have looked again. And what I find in the downtown Tokyo moon is not a rabbit. It is not a ricecake. It is a line through lunar plains and mountains. A path that may have snow, or paving stones, or shrines, for all I know.
The moon of Japan shows a road.
IF YOU GO: JAPAN
Walk Japan’s 11-day Nakasendo Way walking tour begins in Kyoto and finishes in Tokyo. The nearest major airport to Kyoto for international travelers is Osaka’s Kansai International. From here you can take Japan Rail’s (JR’s) Haruka Express to Kyoto Station, where the train terminates. The express runs every half hour and takes an hour and a quarter. Tickets cost about 3,290 Japanese Yen (about $32) per person and can be bought before boarding at the station adjacent to the terminal building. For more info: http://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/en/access/train/index.html If you’re flying into Tokyo’s Narita International, take Japan Rail's Narita Express to Tokyo Station. At Tokyo Station, transfer to the Tokaido Shinkansen “Bullet” train to Kyoto which takes about two and a half hours. Tickets for the trip from Narita to Kyoto cost about 17,000 Yen per person (about $166).
WHAT TO DO Walk Japan, Ltd. www.walkjapan.com The guided Nakasendo Way walking tour that I took explores one of Japan’s ancient highways, the Nakasendo, by following the more scenic, better-preserved parts of the path through Hikone, Sekigahara, Magome, Tsumago, and Narai before ending in downtown Tokyo. The average daily walking distance is 10-26 kilometers (or about 6–16 miles) and, while the route tends to be an undulating one, it involves some steeper climbs. The terrain is varied and includes lanes, gravel tracks, forest paths, and segments covered with paving stones. Nightly accommodations are in traditional Japanese wayside inns known as ryokan. Most meals are taken in the inns along the route and are Japanese in style, offering a variety of small dishes. Baggage is forwarded to the next inn by taxi, except during legs when the group travels by train. Maximum group size is 13 people. Pack some decent trail shoes that are water-resistant and plenty of cushiony socks. A daypack, hat, waterproof jacket or rain poncho, and clothing you can layer are also a good idea to have along on the walk. Japanese law requires that that you carry your passport with you at all times. Cost for the Nakasendo Way tour is 418,000 Japanese Yen (about $4,085) per person. Local travel from the tour meeting point to ending point is included, along with accommodation for 10 nights, breakfasts and dinners, baggage transfers, and entrance fees. Flights, lunches and alcoholic drinks are not included.
PETER MANDEL email@example.com Peter Mandel is an author of books for kids including : Jackhammer Sam (Macmillan) Zoo Ah-Choooo (Holiday House) He lives in Providence, RI A rickshaw operator trolls for tourists by striking a pose in the Japanese castle town of Hikone.
As if Norwich weren't beautiful enough, it also has canals
The Historic and the Hip Story and Photos by Melanie Votaw
hen my friend told me he was leaving New York City for the much smaller city of Norwich, England to take over his dad’s fish & chips shop, I couldn’t imagine why. Wouldn’t he get bored? Then, I visited him in his idyllic town with a population of just over 200,000 and an excellent location near the central eastern coast of the country. As he opened up his shop in the morning, locals passed by and waved. There were friendly faces everywhere, as people sat
across the cobblestone street in nice weather. They played with their kids, listened to buskers, read, or simply enjoyed a chat. It was all so gentile and civilized. “Is there much crime here?” I asked my friend. “No, the crime rate is fairly low,” he told me. “OK,” I said. “Now, I get it.” Besides the friendly people, what I love most about Norwich is the
historic architecture. When I use the word “idyllic,” I don’t use it frivolously. In the 11th century, the city was England’s second largest. You can still see that legacy in its winding streets, some narrow and cobblestone, that mix contemporary buildings with the medieval. You’ll see markers on buildings that date back to that time in the 11th century, including Norwich Castle, which was built by the Normans. Displays inside include animations that give you a taste of life during Henry I’s time period.
Tudor architecture in Norwich, England
nother 900-year-old building is the Romanesque Norwich Cathedral with the second tallest spire in the country, as well as the largest monastic cloisters. There are beautiful grounds and gates surrounding the Cathedral, and a canal runs through one of the gates. While at the cathedral, look for Nosey Parker’s coat of arms, which are on the wall of the northwest corner of the cloisters. He’s one of Norwich’s most famous residents. Appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1559, his real name was Matthew, but he got his nickname because he did such a careful job of cleaning up the Church of England, making sure he knew everyone’s business.
The Great Hospital is an example of a 13th century medical facility, with 250 black eagles painted on the chancel ceiling of the cloisters. Meanwhile, the 14th century Halls, which consist of St. Andrew’s Hall and Blackfriars Hall, are the most complete medieval friary complex in England. Strangers’ Hall is a 14th century building that’s now a museum. There is a Tudor great hall, a Georgian dining room, a room with dollhouses, and a 17th century garden. Norwich is also known for its rich literary history, as one of only six UNESCO Cities of Literature in the world. Besides literary events held annually, the city has England’s most popular library, the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library.
Also a college town, there are lots of young people in Norwich, who keep the city hip at the same time that it’s steeped in tradition. New restaurants open regularly, and there are a variety of cuisines available. Among my favorites are The Belgian Monk with its three-page beer menu and Benedicts, helmed by Chef Richard Bainbridge, a winner of the BBC’s competition TV show, “Great British Menu.” My friend’s fish & chips shop, Grosvenor Fish Bar, is considered the city’s favorite. Located at Pottergate and Lower Goat Lane on the famed cobblestone Norwich Lanes, the shop serves more than just fish. It also serves patrons at The Birdcage pub across the street when they want to have a pint with their food.
One of Norwich's narrow, winding streets
Norwich Castle was built in the 11th century
Norwich Cathedral watches over a statue of the Duke of Wellington
on’t leave town without having a pint at Adam and Eve, though – the oldest pub in Norwich, purportedly dating back to the 13th century. The current building is not the original, however, but was built in the 17th century. If you’re into shopping, check out the many shops on The Lanes, where you’ll find a subsidiary of London’s Irregular Choice shoe store, where the shoes are works of art. I love the ones that have swans for heels. Then, there’s the largest permanent open-air market in England with stands that have multicolored roofs. To reach Norwich, it takes about two hours by train from London’s Liverpool Street station. It’s the perfect jumping off point for visiting the coast and other sites in Norfolk, such as Great Yarmouth and The Broads, which consist of more than 125 miles of man-made, lock-free waterways.
Grosvenor Fish Bar on Norwich, England's famous Lanes
Strolling the narrow streets of Roussillon.
View from the ochre-colored village of Roussillon.
Things to love about the Luberon Provence, France
Story & Photo by Jacqueline Swartz
he Luberon area of Provence is known for its hilltop towns, lavender fields and its colorful bounty--purple aubergine, scarlet tomatoes, and the orangefleshed Cavaillon melon that is famous all over France. Sunshine and olive groves, almond trees and historic villages, preserved by the designation of the Luberon as a “regional natural park.” How could people not be influenced by this place? My first encounter with a Luberon local is in downtown Cavaillon, the town that serves as the hub of the Luberon. Settling in with my coffee in
bakery café called Maison Auzet, I am introduced to a robust, whitehaired man. Gerard Auzet is a retired master baker, whose family owned the place for generations and who helped Peter Mayle (Toujours Provence) with his book called Confessions of a French Baker. I ask him about the state of bread in France today. He’s happy to expound on the subject, starting from after the war, when, spongy loaves were the norm, to today, when people want artisanal products. “We like the bread to be crusty and full of holes”, he explains. It’s always a thrill to me when language - French - opens the door to conversation.
I feel the same when I approach the formidable Madame Frederique Duran, who is seated at a table in the garden in front of her country home in the lowlands of Gordes. Now nearing her mid-90’s, she is known for a lifetime of art - sculpture, painting and stained glass. This year, 2016, there will be exhibits of her work in the nearby Chateau of Lourmarin and elsewhere. But many of her pieces reside permanently in the museum she built, devoted to stained glass art. It’s a lovely museum, and the Provencal sunlight only intensifies the blue and red colors of the glass. www.musee-verre-vitrail.fr.
Hilltop lunch at the House of Truffles and wine
Gerard Auzet, Master Baker
Chef Theirry Provara, of Les Mas de Gres, sniffing tomatoes at the famers' market
"Tian" of vegetables and herbs from Chev Provara's kitchen at Les Mas des Gres
Mushrooms of Provence. Every season has its bounty.
Rolled chicken with truffles on poloenta, part of the truffle lunch at the House of Truffles and Wine
adame Duran bought the large property in the l950’s, and it includes her home and a museum housing an ancient olive oil mill. Built by the Romans, it is reputed to be the best preserved olive oil mill in the world. Around the mill are large amphorae for containing the oil; in another room are oil lamps that Duran collected in the Middle East as far back as the l950’s. “People used to throw them into the garbage”, she notes. Madame Duran is proud of her museum and her art, but reluctant to talk about her past: she is a decorated Resistance fighter who walked out of a Gestapo jail when Paris was liberated. (“I was just lucky”, she says). Cavaillon’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Prevot, is where I’m having dinner, and I have arranged to meet the owner, local celebrity chef, JeanJacques Prevot, in his kitchen. Fully in charge, he seems to dance around his busy staff, delighted; at the same time, he shows me what he is doing with smoked salmon, sautéing it with cepes (mushrooms), endive, garlic, and local paprika. I can see why people are drawn to his cooking classes. It’s more fun to learn when a Michelin-starred chef is smiling. In the dining room, he comes by my table sporting his signature Panama hat. Pointing to a long table on the other side
of the room, where a group of doctors are dining, he says: “Years ago I would be trembling in my toque; now I am enjoying myself.” In the town of Cavaillon, rising up in back of the tourist office, is the impressive St. Jacques Hill, which is on the pilgrim’s walk to St. Jacques de Compostelle. Conveniently, the tourist office will book dozens of tours - hikes, mountain biking, even a via ferrate (Iron handles, ropes and other aids used in climbing mountains). There are guides for every taste, from painting to bird watching and flora spotting. My own climb is up the stone steps of the hilltop of village of Roussillon, known for its exquisite ochre-colored buildings. Ochre? I thought it referred to a mustard yellow color. But the buildings in Roussillon, set in the largest ochre quarry in the world, display colors of rose and red, highlighted by the intense sunlight. To learn about the pigment, I visit the Conservatoire des Ocres de la Colour. Formerly a factory, the building is now dedicated to preserving the region’s ochre heritage. My tour could have gone on for hours, so fervent was the guide about his subject. I learn that ochre comes from sand and clay, and ranges in color from burnt sienna to deep red to mustard yellow. The oldest cave painters used ochre, and fine
arts painters used it before synthetics were invented. Outside, I follow paths past streams and the sand that yields the pigment. Inside there’s a shop selling ochre paints and books ranging from fine arts to home decor. Really serious ochre students can take classes on the art and science of color ranging from three hours to three days. For serious immersion (and cheap lodgings), some stay in simple rooms at the Conservatoire. www.okhra Lavender is not only a defining color of Provence but a signature scent. The season of dreamy fields is short: mid-June to mid-August. Yet September is such a great month for a visit to Provence - there’s a drop in both the number of tourists and the temperature. My solution: visit the Lavender Museum. (www. museedelalavande.com). It is run by the Lincele family, which has been growing lavender in Provence for five generations and has collected items like copper sills dating from the 17th century. I learn that lavender has been used in medicine and cosmetics for over 400 years. The best plants, Fine Lavender, have an Appellation d’Origine Protegee (AOC). You can actually ingest it. The other kinds are spike lavender and a hybrid of these called lavendine. The boutique, of course, has every kind of lavender potion anyone could want. Another thing to love about the Luberon.
Artist Jean-Claude Lorber in his atelier. The lessons begin here and then move outdoors.
Roussillon buildings in pink and salmon-colored ochre.
Stone walkway in Gordes, named one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Stone arch in the "perched" village of Gordes.
St. Jacques hill above the city of Cavaillon. This is the starting place for hikes. Directly below is the tourism office.
A giant amphora outside the olive oil museum in lower Gordes.
DESTINATION INFORMATION EXPLORE BRANSON, MO
Branson, Missouri, nestled in the lakeside beauty of the Ozark Mountains, is America’s affordable, wholesome family entertainment capital that emphasizes fun, comfort and the feeling of being right at home. Featuring an array of live theaters and attraction venues and active recreational pursuits, the community embodies essential American values such as patriotism, faith, courage and generosity of spirit in a warm inviting atmosphere that is truly genuine and heartfelt.
UNITED STATES ALABAMA
Greater Birmingham Conv. & Visitors Bureau (205) 458-8000
Hunstville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (256) 551-2235
Desert character. It can’t be conjured, landscaped or kindled with twinkling bulbs. Projected against this rugged backdrop is a panorama of charm: Resorts and spas infused with Native American tradition. Golf courses that stay emerald green in the middle of winter. Mountain parks crisscrossed with trails. Sports arenas worthy of the Super Bowl. Restaurants that invite you to dine beneath sunshine or stars.This is the desert you never knew. Discover it.
North Little Rock Visitors Bureau 501-758-1424
Catalina Island Chamber & Visitors Bureau Phone: 310.510.1520
http://www.catalinachamber.com Palm SpringsBureau of Tourism (760) 778-8415
Visit South Bend Mishawaka (574) 400-4025
Visit Buena Park (714) 562-3560
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Assoc. (970) 945-5002
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau Phone: 501-370-3224
Nestled along the Pacific Coast between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Oxnard, California offers everything you need for a great vacation. Catch a boat out of our scenic marina for a whale watching cruise or to explore the Channel Islands National Park, “America’s Galapagos.” Enjoy miles of uncrowded beaches and oceanfront bike trails. Grab a kayak, ride the ocean on a paddle board, soak up Southern California’s beautiful-year-round weather. Play at our world-class golf courses and taste local wines along the Ventura County Wine Trail. Celebrate the sunset. It’s time to discover Oxnard!
Stay In Simi (805) 526-3900
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism (501) 682-7602
DISCOVER OXNARD, CA
Explore Fairbanks (907) 459-3770
VISIT PHOENIX, AZ
Franklin County Tourist Development Council (850) 653-8678
Santa Rosa Tourist Development Office (850) 939-2691
St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau (904) 209-4425
Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks & Tourism (785) 296-4922
Jefferson County CVB (504) 731-7083
Greater Lansing CVB (517) 377-1423
Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB (417) 243-2137
The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel (239) 338-3500
http://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/ Visit Central Florida (863) 551-4707
Finn Partners (212) 715-1600
Turning Stone Resort Casino (315) 361-7955
DESTINATION INFORMATION (Cont’d.) VISIT PALM SPRINGS
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO
Palm Springs, California is known for its storied Hollywood legacy, Native American heritage and stellar collection of mid-century modern architecture. Palm Springs is California’s ultimate desert playground. It truly is like no place else. Lounging by the pool and soaking up the sun is always a favorite pastime. If you want to explore the outdoors and enjoy the beautiful climate, there are plenty of activities. Soar to the top of Mount San Jacinto on the world famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, hike scenic trails and stroll through the ancient palm groves in the Indian Canyons, or take an off-road excursion of Joshua Tree National Park or the San Andreas Fault.
Take a ticket to your next Colorado Rocky Mountain adventure by exploring “America’s Most Fun Town,” Glenwood Springs, Colorado! For over a century, visitors from around the globe have added Glenwood Springs to their travel itineraries. Our destination is family friendly, affordable, and blessed with a remarkable mix of geological wonders including hot springs, vapor caves, two rivers and a canyon, surrounded by the glorious Rocky Mountains. Whether you crave hiking, biking, fishing, outdoor activities or relaxing spa time, you’ll find it all in Glenwood Springs.
Burlington/Alamance County CVB (336) 570-1444
Discover Newport (401) 845-9117
Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau (919) 245-4323
South County Tourism Council (401) 489-4422
Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (919) 680-8326
Fayetteville Area CVB (910) 483-5311
http://www.southcountyRI.com Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway (423) 442-9147
Greensboro Area CVB (336) 335-1578
http://www.VisitGreensboroNC.com Johnston County Visitors Bureau (919) 989-8687
http://www.johnstoncountync.org/ Outer Banks Visitors Bureau (252) 473-2138
Wilson County Tourism Authority (800) 497-7398
Baker County Tourism (541) 523-1589
http://www.basecampbaker.com Washington County Visitors Association (503) 644-5555
VISIT SALTY, FLORIDA
We’re Salty! If you’re looking for the old Florida experience you’ll find it in Franklin County. Tucked along Florida’s Panhandle, the coastal communities of Alligator Point, Apalachicola, Carrabelle, Eastpoint, and St. George Island offer beaches, history, adventure and fresh Apalachicola Bay seafood served up in an authentic “salty” setting. Relax on award-winning, pet-friendly beaches, climb historic lighthouses, charter eco-tours and fishing trips or bring your own gear and enjoy camping, paddling and hiking on acres of wooded trails and miles of quiet streams. Tee up on a championship golf course, enjoy live theatre performances in an historic venue and browse local galleries, museums and shops. Fresh local seafood is served at more than 30 area restaurants and local seafood markets.
TRAVEL SERVICES City Pass
Toll Free (888) 330-5008 Direct: (208) 787-4300
http://www.citypass.com Development Counselors International (212) 725-0707
http://www.aboutdci.com Exodus Travel (647) 880-1581
Galveston Island CVB (405) 797-5152 Visit Big Bend (432) 837-3915
http://www.visitbigbend.com Visit Houston (713) 437-5275
Quebec City Tourism (418) 641-6654, 5421
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism (360) 671-3990
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau (360) 378-6822
MEXICO PUERTO VALLARTA Visit Puerto Vallarta (212) 633-2047
Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism (360) 629-7136
IT HAS THE POWER TO RECONNECT A FAMILY, REKINDLE A ROMANCE, REJUVENATE A SOUL.
We’re not sure exactly what it is around here, but something magical happens when you just add water to your vacation. From the natural healing powers of our mineral hot springs to the beauty of Hanging Lake. From the fun of the world’s largest hot springs pool, to the recreational paradise supplied by our two rivers. Dads act younger. Moms laugh more. Brothers actually don’t mind sisters as much. Couples rediscover each other. And somewhere along the way, everyone remembers the feeling of unabashed joy. That’s the power of our water.
Plan your Glenwood Springs getaway at VisitGlenwood.com.