Our 2016 travels: All Over the World!
GoNOMAD’s editor and our intrepid travel writers are known for getting out and traveling the world. We pride ourselves in getting out into the world as much as possible, and being able to share our many travels with you, our readers. The year 2016 was no exception, here is where our writer’s all went in 2016.
Max Hartshorne, Editor
My travel year began up in Montreal Canada where I spent a few days touring the city and feasting on the great food. Then we drove two hours north to Mount Tremblant where we skied the big mountain and got to see the beautiful Laurentians up close.
A highlight was a nighttime snowshoe hike where we tromped around up at the summit with headlamps and then walked to a cozy cabin for fondue. Then we took the steep route down the mountain following each other on snowshoes.
In February, we took our annual California road trip to visit three new cities–Long Beach, Palm Springs and Laguna Beach. Each of these cities has their own unique personality, we were especially impressed with how little-known Long Beach is, with its affordable rents and sparkling waterfront.
We drove up to Palm Springs in time for their annual Midcentury Modernism Week, when the wonderful 1950s and ’60s houses there are all on display, and seeing these, including Frank Sinatra’s house, was a hoot!
Laguna is the ultimate beach town and some time on the warm sand warmed us up enough to return to frigid February in Massachusetts.
My travels took me to downtown Las Vegas in April, and it was great seeing how much of Vegas there is beyond the Strip. A music festival happening at the same time gave me a chance to wander many venues around downtown and see different bands, and a dinner at a classic mobster restaurant was also a treat.
In May I was happy to accept an invitation to a small island off the coast of Croatia called Losinj, and be there for the opening of a new museum, celebrating a newly restored statue, a treasure once lost in the ocean, called Apoxymenos. Flying in a small plane above Venice to this sparkling oceanside island was a travel highlight of the year.
I joined many friends in PR at the annual Public Relations Society of America travel conference in Houston, where I discovered a lot to love about this the most diverse city in the USA, where more than 90 anguages are spoken, by riding my bike around the city’s river and park.
The following month, it was off to New Orleans to join hundreds of overseas travel writers for the annual IPW meeting with a party in the Super Dome.
Wonderful New Brunswick
One of the year’s biggest and best surprises awaited us up in New Brunswick, Canada when we drove to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea. This wonderful seaside village has excellent whale watching and a bike trail that winds around next the ocean, plus a golf course with dazzling ocean views.
Our excursion for a few days to Grand Manan Island, a 90-minute ferry ride away, opened our eyes to how fun it is to visit a seaside island with virtually no tourists, and no crowds. In our own car. We came back gushing about what a marvelous and undiscovered place it is!
I finished the year by returning to a favorite place, Japan, for a weeklong trip that included many trips on the famous Shinkensen bullet train, and we visited some less-traveled parts of the country in the Japanese Alps. Tokyo’s Edo-Tokyo museum was especially notable, such a long history and fascinating culture.
My last trip was to London, where I spent time visiting tourism folks at the World Travel Market and spent a few days in lovely Sussex, in the far southwest.
Sonja “PilotGirl” Stark, Videographer
January kicked off in “Peanuts Country” documenting the beguiling bronze sculptures of Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy of Santa Rosa, California. I was hired to shoot a historical documentary with the former Modern Marvels producer from Sebastopol. Sonoma County proved pure bohemian bliss. I loved the vibe and eccentricity.
Also in January, I continued to hike my remaining 3500 Catskills. One weekend was spent at a Japanese-style camp called the Friendship House, part of the Frost Valley YMCA. We hiked up Giant Ledge, Panther, Southwest Hunter and Hunter with companions from a Winter Weekend outing with the Club. A massive blizzard avoided the lower Hudson Valley and all but buried NYC.
In February, I returned to the rugged west coast for more filming. The movie did allow scene shooting throughout Vancouver and a wildlife reserve called Boundary Bay.
In May, I returned to Florida with a brief assignment on the panhandle. In the tiny town of Marianna, 60-miles west of Tallahassee, I wasted no time exploring a hidden gem called Florida Caverns State Park. Dazzling rock formations millions of years old fan out in several underground passages. Families would find this prehistoric world of wonder much more interesting than a day trip to Disney.
Movie Nights on the Beach
Bike riding, dairy farms and ferris wheels rounded out June. One memorable gig took me to the banks of the Potomac to stay, work and play at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Convention Center. Scenic boat tours offered to take us to Mount Vernon but we stuck around the Founding Fathers playground for movie nights on the beach. After the credits, in the dark, I jogged the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail to D.C. and back again.
A tour of the country’s largest oceanographic facility topped off the month of August. The venerable Wood Hole Oceanographic Institute is a leading marine research, engineering and educational facility near Falmouth, Cape Cod. I took Mutti and sis on a walking tour of the facility followed by a lobster roll feast at a popular seafood shack called Shuckers.
Courtesy of the best bike shop in town, Corner Cycle Rental, we pedaled the Shining Sea Bikeway regardless of the blistering heat, cooling off at vernal ponds and salt marshes. Sargassum seaweed did little to deter Mutti from venturing into the deep zone at the beach along Shoreline drive. In the evening, we relaxed at a cozy Victorian Inn called Shoreway Acres. Later in the summer I returned to the cape for Wellfleet’s famous Oyster Festival.
Pinch me! September culminated into a spiritual adventure to the Sacred Valley! It doesn’t get much better than Peru. Vantage Adventures guide Enrique helped secure safe passage to the celestial fortress of Machu Picchu in Peruvian highlands. The trip offered a level of personal connection with the culture and natural ecosystem rarely provided by other tour companies.
We shared a delicacy called Cuy (cooked guinea pig) at a homestay in Cusco and clapped in appreciation for the school children who sang and danced for our entertainment. Stay at any Casa Andina suite in Inca heartland and you’ll remain inspired, rested and comfortable.
Paul Shoul, Photographer
This years first travel was a trip back to one of my favorite spots on the planet, Nevis. This little island in the Caribbean is a gem. Beautiful tropical beaches, A cloud topped volcano in the middle and fantastic food. It is sparsely populated compared to many caribbean islands and has a deep history stretching back to being the birthplace of the great Alexander Hamilton.
From the Four Seasons Nevis, to the historic Montpelier , Hermitage, Golden rock and Nisbet Plantation Inn, you can live the laid back Caribbean lifestyle in luxury. A totally cool place I will keep going back to.
Prince Edward Island
My next trip and my third journey Atlantic Canada took me to Prince Edward Island to the PEI International Shellfish Festival. My assignment? To cover the Garland international Chef Challenge and judge the chowder championship. Not too shabby a job. This is a serious competition with a grand prize of $10,000.
It is hard to describe just how good a time this was. PEI is one the world’s premier producers of Mussels , oysters and lobsters. For the opening dinner, an army of chefs served all you can eat fresh shucked oysters, piles of steaming mussels, Over 550 lobsters, fabulous PEI potatoes, quahogs and snow crabs.
After the chef challenge and tasting 15 bowls of chowder to crown a winner in the International chowder championship I was ready to collapse, but there was one last task to complete. Break the Guinness World Record for the longest lobster roll.
Over 180 volunteers slathered 120 lbs of lobster meat and mayo, celery, onions and red peppers onto a gargantuan bun that had been escorted by the police into the arena earlier that day. It measured an astounding 120 feet long, crushing the title held by New Brunswick by over 14 feet.
My third Island for the year, I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to finally make it to Japan. I explored the Kanto region including Chiba and Saitama Prefectures and Tokyo metropolis. These areas , all boarding each other offer different experiences of Japanese culture. And of course, the food was fantastic.
Tokyo is bigger than life, 13 million people negotiate their lives traversing this gigantic city. It is a traveler’s dream with incredible diversity to explore. From my first bowl of real ramen, to the maze of the Tsukiji Fish Market , to shabu- shabu at Hassan and a Amitatsu dining cruise on tokyo bay, I was in foodie ecstasy the entire time.
Saitama is more rural. I picked strawberries in Chichibu, visited a Bonsai village , Rafted on the Nagatoto river and toured the 2000 year old Hodosan shrine. We ate a meal just made of sweet potatoes at, Imozen.
In Chiba I stayed at the traditional Japanese inn and spa UMI to Mori. A beautiful place, with hot spring tubs in every room, right on the coast. We visited the Yamasa Soy sauce factory, a truly enlightening experience to see how this sauce I have eaten all my life was actually made.
I boated through the ancient streets of Sawara city on the Onogawa river and discovered the best eel I have ever had in Narita city at Surugaya restaurant.
I took a break from the New England winter to spend a week in Huntington Beach, California, where we took some friends for a romp on the dogs-run-free beach and tried my first In-N-Out burger. I also visited Catalina Island, home to buffalo and giant skeletons.
In October, I traveled to Syracuse, New York, where I visited the Erie Canal Museum and sampled the fruits of local vineyards and orchards. I stayed at the majestic Hotel Syracuse, now the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, which was recently rescued from the wrecking ball.
My 2016 travel writing began with my story on Montserrat, a trip I did in late 2015. The people on this island absolutely love their home and have fought to rebuild after the devastating volcano buried their capital city; read my story here
2016 was a busy year in all senses and the travel opportunities abounded! Easter found me in Washington DC visiting friends.
College memories came rushing back and a visit to Georgetown’s campus reminded me that Washington is a great place for college and beyond. We made the rounds of museums and tourist sites….something all Americans should do!
Assorted weekends in Vermont included a cross-country ski weekend in January in the far north and Thanksgiving at Okemo where not too many trails were open but the conditions for downhill skiing were excellent! Labor Day was spent hiking and relaxing on a secluded pond in VT where the sole cabin is owned by a close friend. It was us and the loons and a sky of shooting stars.
I can’t stay away from Italy; in May I spent two weeks touring Puglia’s old, characteristic towns. It’s delightful to get lost on dirt roads, eat seafood on the beach (literally), and wander along centuries-old cobblestone alleyways in this rural, lesser-known Italian region known for its ancient olive trees. I highly recommend it!
A few months later I spent a week in Rome, revisiting the neighborhoods, monuments, and museums I love so much. I highly recommend the Museo di Roma in Trastevere. It’s small and constantly outdoes itself with each exhibit showing us Rome’s neighborhoods for those who have called this place home through the ages.
Migrating south for a long weekend in January, my husband and I went to Hollywood, Florida. Hollywood sits on a big stretch of sand with high-rise condos and hotels between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. We stayed at a Hilton Curio property with enough good restaurants, lounge chairs and views to feel sedated by Sunday.
March had me spring skiing at the tony resort of Deer Valley, Utah. Here, you’re pampered; ski check slope-side, Cadillac car service from condo to hill. And you can eat like an alpine sheepherder of the Middle Ages–check out Fireside Dining at the Empire Canyon Lodge.
A quick road trip to Lancaster PA, brought fellow GoNOMAD writer Cindy Bigras and me a much-needed weekend of gabbing. We discovered some great food places including Hammond’s pretzel factory and enjoyed a Poor Richards a cappella concert at Franklin and Marshall College. The Cork Factory Hotel provided us with a boutique hotel experience in this getting-rather-groovy “founding fathers” town.
Always up for a press trip to unexpected places, especially for this website, southeastern Nebraska was my May destination. I learned and wrote about homesteading in America. A stay at the Lied Lodge gave me some background on Arbor Day. We even planted a tree!
A western Mediterranean cruise aboard the Royal Princess with my octogenarian mother and two sisters was a special blessing in early June. Standout places I’d love to learn more about include, Marseille and Genoa.
I wrote about the Chef’s Table Lumiere for Travelgirl magazine’s summer print issue. Always take advantage of these special experiences aboard Princess and probably other cruises as well. It is a much better value than the cost of the surcharge and it gives you access and VIP treatment.
Family time visiting my daughter during her semester abroad in Barcelona was surprisingly relaxing. With seven days we only did one sightseeing activity per day!
So we also napped, enjoyed the exemplary Hotel Villa Emilia’s coffee hours, drank cava, ate tapas, and generally soaked up the ambiance of Catalonia and all that is Gaudi!
Skiing the Alps
December I was hosted to The Best of The Alps press trip and I am looking forward to “spilling” all about it for GoNOMAD. Germany, Austria and Switzerland were on the itinerary and they were all Alpine magic, holiday merry, stübe dining, glüwein drinking, Heidi wearing, fondue eating, pretzel noshing, beer sloshing, and OH and the skiing! So much to write about!!
Happy New Year GoNOMAD readers thanks for traveling with us.
My year of travel went faster than a Global Entry line at JFK. Springtime was spent seeing the beauty of Scandinavia by rail, with a Eurail pass in hand and a ride on the Flam Railway through the fiords of Norway, with exciting stops in cities in Denmark and Sweden, as well. I enjoyed all four seasons on that trip—I even saw snow—and I was spoiled by my stay at the Hotel Anglaterre in Copenhagen.
Then I was off on another adventure writing about the centennial anniversary of the USA’s most stunning national parks while visiting Maui and the island of Hawaii to see their glorious parks there. My next trip was Portland, Oregon, where I learned all about the coffee, doughnuts and great dining and shopping options there while staying at the Nines Hotel downtown.
By summer, I was off to Europe with my family for a 3-week adventure in France, England, and Scotland. The highlights there?
Staying in Downton-Abbey-style splendor at Cliveden Manor, a sprawling estate that is set in gardens and woodlands that are part of the National Trust. I also was treated like royalty on my anniversary at The Goring Hotel in London, where Dan and I celebrated our 21st anniversary.
During that trip we were able to visit my childhood friend Julian Ide and his lovely wife, Kate, friends whom I’ve written about for GoNomad in my piece on the “In search of Moushill Mead.” France was spectacular, and we found the perfect Latin Quarter/Left Bank Airbnb apartment as well as the best restaurants and cafes in town.
In Edinburgh we stayed with former MP and Minister of Justice Kenny MacAskill and his partner Susan T. Keenan in their flat nor tar from the Parliament building where brother-in-law, famed photojournalist Harry Benson, was being honored.
There the Scots hosted an exhibition of his photography, and the documentary about his life (“Harry Benson: Shoot First”) debuted at the Edinburgh film festival. We also saw the film at a big premier weekend in Dallas, where we stayed at the iconic Adolphus Hotel.
The fall brought more great adventures, including a snowy Churchill Nature Tours polar bear expedition in Churchill, Manitoba, with a day in Winnipeg on the side.
Then I was off to sunny Croatia, where I enjoyed the Hotel Bellevue and its marvelous spa before spending an Airbnb weekend in Venice on the way home. From there, I went to Doha, Qatar and Phuket, Thailand. (Look for stories on Churchill, Losinj, Doha and Phuket in the coming months!)
During the year I also spent time in New Orleans, and I ended 2016 in Texas ,where I am putting the finishing touches on my Frommer’s Texas travel book, which has taken me to wonderful places around the Lone Star State, including the new Hotel South Congress in Austin and the Hotel Emma at Pearl in San Antonio.
May your new year be as full of fun as mine was in 2016!
The year brought with it adventures in Nordic nations. When the year started, I didn’t think I’d travel much. However, when an opportunity to experience West Sweden for the second time arose (I also traveled through Sweden in 2015), I just couldnt pass it up.
West Sweden has become, in many respects, a second home for me. Its rugged coastline and quant villages have become familiar — a welcome respite from the busyness of life. My second trip through Sweden was sponsored by the West Sweden tourist board and the Volvo Overseas Delivery Program — this time also, my girlfriend, Brianna, was able to come with me.
Toward the end of the year, the first week of December, I took a spontaneous trip through Iceland over a December weekend. That experience was absolutely incredible — I think because of its random nature.
In addition to overseas travel, i also ventured through a few states. Of note, Jekyll Island in Georgia.