Category Archives: Travel

Boston hotel spotlight: Four Seasons One Dalton

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses at these properties. The Four Seasons One Dalton in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

The 61-story five star hotel and residence, which opened in May 2019, is Boston’s third tallest building. This is the second Four Season’s hotel in Boston and the glass and steel elliptical design hints at a more modern property than its sister property, the Four Seasons Boston located across from the Public Garden. While the 160 private residences located on the uppermost floors have the best views, the 215 room hotel offers a great vantage point with views of the Charles River, Back Bay and points south and west.

All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and come with iPads, premium bedding, 65″ plasma televisions and complimentary Internet access to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The muted colors in the guest rooms are intentional and designed to help guests relax, and the rooms’ furnishings have clean and simple lines consistent with the building’s modern design.

Four Seasons restaurants and more

Some of the amenities available to guests who stay at this sleek property include The Wellness Floor (on the 7th floor), which includes a worldclass spa, fitness center and salon facilities along with a stunning indoor pool that has great views of the city below. However, you don’t need to be a guest to make an appointment which is now open Friday through Sunday. Call and make a reservation.

If a stay at this new hotel is unlikely, it is still worth coming to see the property. Located off of the hotel lobby is a vibrant installation of the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s Great American Library. The captivating bookshelf installation brings a smile to my face when I walk through the room to take the stairs up one flight to the contemporary Japanese restaurant, Zuma. However, if contemporary Japanese cuisine isn’t your thing visit Trifecta, the Four Seasons cocktail lounge serves light bites. It is also here that weekend tea service is offered from 11:00am – 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re looking for something to do during the day and you’re not tempted to make use of the 7th floor pool, gym or spa, head out to Newbury Street for some retail therapy. The hotel is just a few blocks from Boston’s shopping district. Just a few blocks beyond Newbury Street is my favorite park in Boston, The Esplanade. Here you can go for a walk, run or bike ride.

If the dining options at the Four Seasons One Dalton are not of interest, read my post about the Back Bay and South End, which have more LGBTQ+ tips and places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails. The closest gay bar, Club Cafe, is a 10 minute walk. There you can have a meal, check out a cabaret show or go dancing.

Four Seasons
One Dalton Street, Boston 02115
617.377.4888
fourseasons.com/onedalton

Boston hotel spotlight: XV Beacon Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The XV Beacon in Boston’s Beacon Hill is one such property worth checking out.

Although it is not part of the definition, exculsivity is often associated with luxury. For that reason, XV Beacon stands out as the only boutique property in this series.

XV Beacon first opened on Beacon Hill in 2000 and is consistently noted as one of Boston’s preeminent places to stay. It has earned the admiration and respect of Bostonians, guests and the travel industry. It was named by Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Best Hotel or Resort in every state and has many rave reviews on Trip Advisor.

This 63-room boutique property is in a beautiful ten story Beaux Arts building of iron, limestone and brick. It is capped with a copper cornice exterior and exudes great curb appeal. The hotel rooms were individually designed and have four-poster queen bed classic rooms or queen and king-size bed studio rooms that include whirlpool baths, heated towels, in-room fireplaces, complimentary high-speed Internet access, 400-thread-count linen sheets, and museum-quality artwork throughout. 

XV Beacon goes the extra mile by providing helpful guest services like their fleet of chauffeured Lexuses for complimentary trips around Boston. Their superb conceirge services can arrange for on-site massages in your rooms, private tours to places of interest and of historical significance, tickets to shows as well as airport transfers. Tempted? Check out one of XV Beacon Hotel Packages & Promotions and treat yourself.

XV Beacon Hotel restaurant and more

However, if a stay at this beautiful property is unlikely, one can appreciate this unique property’s excellent restaurant (also part of the Columbus Hospitality Group), MOOO. The modern steakhouse is perhaps best known for their private dining room ‘The Wine Cellar’, with double vaulted ceilings and 4,000 bottles of fine and rare wine dating from the 1700s to present day. For an additional private dining option, XV Beacon’s Parlor Suites can be booked, but a more realistic option for those seeking luxury on a budget is to visit MOOO for a cocktail at their bar with a few apps. The staff is superb and the cocktails delicious. Also be on the lookout for MOOO to (hopefully) bring back their acoustic jazz brunch this fall.

The central location of XV Beacon makes it easy for visitors to enjoy some of Boston’s most popular attractions. From the historic Freedom Trail to biking and walking paths by the Esplanade to Fanueuil Hall and shopping in the Back Bay there are plenty of ways to spend your time. If you have limited time and unsure what to do, speak to the concierge team at XV Beacon who have an impeccable reputation and can tailor suggestions to your interests.

After you are done sight seeing, perusing the unique shops on Beacon Hill’s Charles Street or strolling down Newbury Street, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the back. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

XV Beacon Hotel
15 Beacon Street, Boston 02108
1.877.XVBEACON
xvbeacon.com

Boston hotel spotlight: The Newbury Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The Newbury Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

When I think of luxury, The Newbury Hotel, (formerly the home to the Ritz Carlton for 75+ years) comes to mind. In 2019 the luxury hotel chain Taj Hotels closed the property and extensive renovations have recently finished. The elegant building that first opened in 1927 has been lovingly updated and reopened to the public as The Newbury Hotel in late May.

For those familiar with the property, the most notable change from the exterior is the hotel’s main entrance which moved from Arlington Street to Newbury Street. The Newbury Street entrance provides greater curb appeal and is easier for those arriving or leaving by car. The other significant change to the building are the enhancements made to the guest rooms. When the building first opened in the 1920s, many guests traveled with large steamer trunks and the hallways were much wider to accommodate them. By modernizing the width of the hotel hallways the Newbury was able to give more space to the guest rooms.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Newbury Hotel restaurants and more

If a stay at The Newbury is not in the cards, you can still admire and enjoy this beautiful place and the excellent service from the staff by visiting The Street Bar (see below). The street-level bar looks out across Arlington Street and has nice views of the Public Garden. If you’re familiar with the previous bar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the redesign which is filled with rich jewel-tone colors, comfortable club chairs and plush banquettes.

At the time of their opening, the bar was serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, but I think it makes for a great jumping off point for a fun night out in Boston or for a nightcap before heading home. I love restaurants and bars with a fire place and this cozy new bar is a welcome addition to the Back Bay.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Above The Street Bar, tea service shall begin in July on the second floor. The views overlooking Arlington Street and the Public Garden are difficult to beat and provide plenty to see while indulging in the finger sandwiches, treats and tea. At some point I plan on bringing my niece to enjoy what she will likely refer to as a “fancy” day out with her uncle. Unfortunately the tea service menu is not currently available.

Ken Fulk Interiors [Official Rendering]

If you want to spend more time on the property, make reservations at the newly renovated glass rooftop restaurant called Contessa, that is expected to open before the end of June 2021. The rooftop restaurant with sweeping views of the Public Garden and Boston Common is unique and will be a place to add to your list of restaurants to try. Contessa’s menu will be Italian. The executive chef Mario Carbone is known for 1950s-style red-sauce dishes, according to this article in The Boston Globe.

If you’re idea of a luxury comes in the form of retail therapy, The Newbury Hotel sits at the top of Newbury Street, which offers some of Boston’s most exclusive brands and designers. However, you don’t even have to set foot outside the hotel. You can shop at the Tiffany’s store in the hotel, which means you can shop for some bling then wear it at the roofdeck restaurant over brunch as you live your best life and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn.

After you are done sight seeing, shopping or however you choose to spend your time while staying at the Newbury Hotel, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the backroom. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

The Newbury Boston
One Newbury Street, Boston 02116
617.536.5700
thenewburyboston.com

Boston Freedom Trail according to BosGuy

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile path that winds through several downtown neighborhoods in Boston, identifying 16 historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution.

The Freedom trail meanders through Beacon Hill, the North End and Charlestown but it can be a bit repetitive with multiple cemeteries and churches each with a slightly different historic significance. To liven things up, over the years, I’ve provided friends a modified version of the Freedom Trail. All that walking and learning works up a thirst so I “enhance” the walk by strategically selecting hydration stops and pointing out unique (but historically irrelevant) sites. Below is the Boston Freedom Trail according to BosGuy, which uses the city’s official Freedom Trail map.

One can start the Freedom Trail from either the Boston Common or Bunker Hill Monument. I suggest starting from Bunker Hill so you are back in the center of Boston when done. Grab a ride to Bunker Hill in Charlestown (pronounced, CHARLES-TOWN, unlike the city in SC) or hop on the Orange Line to the Bunker Hill Community College station and walk there. Feel free to walk up the 221 foot obelisk designed to commemorate the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. I’m slightly claustrophobic so I prefer to sit on the hill and look out at the harbor.

After, walk down to the U.S.S. Constitution (commissioned in 1797). I enjoy going aboard but you can get a better selfie from the dock so if boats aren’t your thing, snap a photo then walk over the N. Washington Bridge to the North End. The next stop on the trail is Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, but I skip this site since there are other burying grounds on the tour, and walk friends down Hull Street to show the “House of Spite” a.k.a. Skinny House on the way to the Old North Church.

The Old North Church is probably best known for alerting Paul Revere on how the English would attack, hanging lanterns in their steeple, “one if by land and two if by sea”. From the church, walk down the Paul Revere Mall on your way to Paul Revere’s House. Dating back to 1680, it is one of the oldest buildings in Boston. This home is interesting because of its history but if you’re getting hungry skip the inside and go to The Modern Pastry on Hanover Street. Buy a cannoli or some other sweet (this is a cash-only establishment) and enjoy it on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. It makes for an ideal resting place. From that vantage point, I like to show friends the Union Oyster House, which has been operating since 1826 and has a booth on the second floor where President Kennedy liked to dine.

Faneuil Hall, the next stop on the tour is a tourist trap but deserving of a visit. Despite having just finished a cannoli (I strongly recommend eating desserts first when on vacation), if hungry the neighboring Quincy market and (the slightly less busy) Boston Public Market offer many options for lunch. If you’re not hungry but all that walking has made you thirsty take a photo by the Sam Adams statue and pop into the Sam Adams Boston Tap Room.

The next two stops are close to the Sam Adams Tap Room and essentially one in the same. The Old State House and Boston Massacre Site are photo worthy but require nothing more. The ground floor of the Old State House is now a MBTA T stop for Boston’s Orange and Blue Lines. About two blocks away are the Old South Meeting House and the Old Corner Bookstore both of which I routinely skip and walk up School Street to Boston Latin School Site & Ben Franklin Statue. This also happens to be Boston’s Old City Hall, and it is a gorgeous example of French Second Empire architecture. Back in the day I’d bring friends to The Littlest Bar (which sadly closed). Walk up School Street to King’s Chapel and Burying Ground. It’s interesting to see the cemetery and the chapel that dates back to 1686, although this is a newer building that opened in 1754.

The Parker House Hotel is next to King’s Chapel and has the distinction of being the longest continuously operating hotel in the US. It happens to be where the Boston Creme Pie was invented in 1856 and where both Ho Chi Minh (from 1912-1913) and Malcolm X in the 1940s worked briefly. The first a Vietnamese revolutionary and politician and the other, a prominent African American muslim minister and activist.

The next stop, Granary Burying Ground, is one block down on Tremont Street. This cemetery has many famous graves including the Franklin (as in Ben’s parents) family grave, an ostentatious tomb for John Hancock and a grave for Samuel Adams but my favorite is the tiny grave for Elizabeth “Mother” Goose (1665 – 1758). Next to the cemetery is the next stop on the Freedom Trail, Park Street Church, which I typically skip. Perhaps it’s my Catholic roots, but I find old Protestant churches stark and uninteresting on the inside.

The second to last stop on the Freedom Trail is one worth entering, The Massachusetts State House. While this isn’t the largest State House it is architecturally beautiful and has many historical points of interest. You can sign up for a building tour, here. The top of the state house dome is capped with a pine cone. For those who enjoy trivia, the reason for that is explained here. After finishing the tour, go next door to the 21st Amendment Pub. Toast the repeal of prohibition and for completing the Boston Freedom Trail. The final stop, The Boston Common, established in 1634, is one block away.

JetBlue Mint Suites for Boston and NYC flights to London look ahhhmazing

JetBlue is expected to begin nonstop service between Boston and New York City to London in their third quarter between July 1 and September 30, 2021. When those flights begin, JetBlue’s Mint Service (the airline’s business class service) will take to the air featuring one of the largest beds available to customers.

The airline’s A321neos new “Mint Studio” (shown below) will consist of two mini-rooms at the front of its newest planes, each with a comfortable seat that turns into its own fully flat bed behind a privacy door with an adjoining sofa that, with the seat, converts to one of the largest beds in the air. Behind those come 22 “Mint Suites”, minus the adjoining sofa.

Reviews of the new Mint Studio are enough to make anyone who has taken long night flights drool with envy. The company put a lot of thought behind the comfort and design with details like wireless charging, multiple power points, space to work while eating, a tuft & needle mattress, and other thoughtful touches that other U.S. airlines don’t come close to offering.

For those of you patiently (or not so patiently) waiting until it is safe to travel again, this may be a tempting treat for your next flight to London. While the seats will certainly be costly (I couldn’t find any information on pricing), JetBlue traditionally offers more competitive pricing than traditional carriers. Check out the Mint Service and as JetBlue calls it the “Suite Life” video below.

Cape Air approved for seaplane service between Boston and New York City harbor

Many of us have not been to an airport in more than a year, but the coronavirus lockdown will eventually come to an end, and I look forward to being able to travel again in the not too distant future (hopefully). Cape Air is anticipating an increase in air travel as well. Earlier this month the airline best known for shuttling passengers to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket may soon offer flights between Boston and New York City waterfronts.

The airline received a trial approval for four daily seaplane flights between Boston Harbor and New York City’s East River. Service in Boston would operate from the Boston Waterboat Marina (near the BHC Provincetown Ferry) and from the Skyport in the East River at 23rd Street. Seaplane service will take approximately one hour and cost $400. If approved this will be the fastest and most convenient service between the two cities.

No start date was shared, but I hope this service takes off (pun intended). The travel time would be almost four times faster than the Boston-New York Amtrak Acela, which I only jokingly refer to as highspeed train service. While flight times will be comparable to the Business Shuttles operated by American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue, there is no comparison in terms of convenience. Landing in downtown and not having to navigate airport security or deal with NYC traffic makes this service far more desireable.

Where will you travel in 2021

Sergio and Rob, gay travel, flying, travel

At last we can talk about 2020 in the past tense! Sadly, more infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are certain, but in the coming months I cannot help but feel that real progress will be made in combatting this virus. With a new administration in the US and broader distribution of the coronavirus vaccine globally, I have a sense of hope and optimism that I haven’t felt in a long time. Which makes me start to think about…

Where will you travel this year?

…how much I am looking forward to returning to life as we knew it pre-COVID. Part of that includes entertaining thoughts about places Sergio and I might be able to go and explore later in 2021. Prior to our lockdown in 2020, work had sent me to Florida and Arizona, and Sergio and I were lucky enough to spend the end of 2019 in South America, but that seems like a lifetime ago now.

Destinations on my radar include potentially returning to Cayman, Puerto Rico, Puerto Vallarta, Punta del Este, or Lisbon. I assume that we will go back to Brazil for the Christmas holiday as well, but we will see. Will you travel once it is safe? If so, where are you planning to visit this year?

Jet Blue announces nonstop service from Boston to Miami and Key West, FL

Airline passenger traffic has dropped significantly due to the pandemic, but Jet Blue is betting that many of us in Boston will be looking to get away from the cold and will be adding new nonstop flights between Boston and Florida starting February 11, 2021.

Starting February 11th, Jet Blue will have up to four daily nonstop flights between Boston and Miami.

BOS – MIA Flight #1519MIA – BOS Flight #1520
8:30 a.m. – 12:04 p.m.7:20 a.m. – 10:28 a.m.
BOS – MIA Flight #1219MIA – BOS Flight #1220
12:05 p.m. – 3:37 p.m.12:00 p.m. – 3:08 p.m.
BOS – MIA Flight #1319MIA – BOS Flight #1320
3:35 p.m. – 7:07 p.m.4:25 p.m. – 7:35 p.m.
BOS – MIA Flight #1619MIA – BOS Flight #1620
7:00 p.m. – 10:34 p.m.7:55 p.m. – 11:03 p.m.

Starting February 11th, Jet Blue will have up to four weekly nonstop flights between Boston and Key West, flying on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday. The flight times appear to be very convenient, allowing you to arrive early enough to enjoy a late lunch and getting you home to Boston at a decent hour.

JB Flight #2063 departs Boston at 8:27 a.m. and arrive in Key West at 12:14 p.m.
JB Flight #2064 departs Key West at 1:02 p.m. and arrive in Boston at 4:26 p.m.

You can read the full media release issued last week here.

Eastern Air returns to Boston

Once upon a time Eastern Air Lines was a major carrier. At its height, all of Terminal A at Boston’s Logan Airport was dedicated to Eastern Air Lines, but that all stopped when it went bankrupt in 1991. The airline had a brief and unsuccessful relaunch in 2017 but the failed brand didn’t dissuade Dynamic Airways from purchasing the rights to the brand in 2019 and flying again under the name in early 2020.

The fledgling airline has a total of 13 planes (Boeing 767s and 777s) at the moment and is based out of both JFK (NYC) and Miami International Airport. Earlier this year, the airline started flying from Boston to Miami and recently the airline which currently flies from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Miami to 8 cities in the Caribbean, Latin and South America announced that it will be expanding service in 2021.

Nonstop service between New York, Miami and Boston to Belo Horizonte, Brazil will start in March 2021

Starting in late March Eastern Air will begin flying from Boston, Miami and New York to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In Boston, the airline will cut into LATAM Airlines monopoly on nonstop flights to Brazil and with most Brazilians in metro Boston hailing from Minas Gerais, flying to Belo Horizonte, could be quite profitable.

travel, handsome, hunk

Eastern’s service from Boston will operate on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays. Miami service will operate on Mondays and Fridays and New York service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Roundtrip tickets are currently available online for approximately $600.00 with taxes.

For more information, check them out online at goeasternair.com.

Summer in South America: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay

One year ago, Sergio and I were starting the second week of a five week adventure, traveling through Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. We flew out of Boston the Saturday after Thanksgiving and in retrospect, I’m so thankful that we took this amazing trip last year and didn’t defer it.

Initially, we flew to Brazil to drop off holiday gifts at Sergio’s Mom’s home then hopped on a plane the next day to fly to Mendoza, Argentina to explore wine country. I’ve only visited wine country in Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California and Hepburn Springs and Daylesford just outside of Melbourne, Australia. Mendoza struck me as more refined than Australia but less busy than Napa and Sonoma. The city of Mendoza is the jumping off point for wine enthusiasts and it is where we stayed, making daytrips to Ucco Valley and Lujan de Cuyo. It’s a cute and clean town but it isn’t until you get out of Mendoza that you can really appreciate the natural beauty of the Andes Mountain range and wine country.

After a decadent few days in Mendoza, we flew to Córdoba, Argentina which has the distinction of being Argentina’s second largest city and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jesuit Block. We stayed at the Azure Hotel near the Plaza de San Martin and explored the city as well as the surrounding area, making a day trip to La Cumbrecita and Belgrano. For those unfamiliar with Córdoba, it is depicted in the 2019 film, The Two Popes when they flash back to Pope Francis’ life as a Bishop in Argentina during the anti-Communist military dictatorship from 1976-1983 that cozied up with the Roman Catholic Church.

From there we flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina. This beautiful city is filled with great restaurants, beautiful architecture, gorgeous parks and a pulse that makes going out always fun. Sergio and I had visitied B.A. previously but not for many years so we used the week here to explore. For those unfamiliar with the city, it is the largest city in Argentina and of huge political, historical and cultural importance. A third of the entire country’s population lives in the metropolitan area. If you plan to travel to Buenos Aires and need tips, feel free to reach out. I can share what we did, where we stayed and places we enjoyed visiting.

After spending more than two weeks in Argentina, Sergio and I hopped a ferry to Uruguay, staying one night in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. The following day we rented a car and drove out to Undarius. Owned by Fran and Mario, this small property caters to gay travelers and is a 5 minute walk to the gay beach and a 15 minute drive to Punta del Este.

I had never heard of Punta del Este prior to planning this trip and think it caters more to affluent South Americans than Americans and Europeans, but this is a place you’ll hear of more in the future – mark my words. Despite my lack of familiarity, I did recognize the city’s most famous and photographed statue, “La Mano” or in English “The Hand”, which shows a large human hand emerging from the sand on Brava Beach.

Our final leg of this amazing adventure brought us back to Sergio’s hometown in Brazil, Belo Horizonte, spending 10 days with his Mom to celebrate the Christmas holiday. We spent our final three nights in to Sao Paulo, celebrating New Years Eve and starting 2020 poolside at the Renaissance Sao Paulo enjoying one last day of summer in South America before flying back to Boston.

This was an amazing trip, and I can’t help but reminisce. Thinking about what we were doing a year ago has been a healthy and happy distraction and is just one more reason I love to travel. Even if the trips must come to an end, the memories can last a lifetime.

Our final day of vacation at the Renaissance Hotel Sao Paulo, Brazil – January 1, 2020

Backpacking through Europe

September 1992 – Boston, MA

One of my fondest and most memorable trips was backpacking through Europe after I graduated from college in the early 1990s. The trip was my first time traveling abroad, and I remember thinking of it as a grand adventure. I had no idea what to expect but the trip exceeded my wildest dreams and gave me the travel bug.

My parents took this photo of me at Boston’s Logan Airport just before I boarded my flight. When I look at this photo of 22 year old me, I can’t help but smile and think about how amazing that trip was and how much I learned. Although I absolutely fell in love with Europe and traveling, I wouldn’t travel abroad again until I met Sergio in my late 20s. Sergio’s love of travel was one of the reasons we initially connected. When I met him he worked for United Airlines which allowed us to travel frequently.

Sadly, we’ve not been back to Europe since 2016 when we visited Portugal but hopefully we can rectify that soon after this pandemic.

Boston ranked one of the best US cities by Conde Nast readers

Boston Public Garden

Earlier this week, Boston was named among the three best large cities in America by Conde Nast Traveler readers. The publication’s 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards ranked Boston No. 3 with Washington, D.C. taking second and Chicago ranked as the best.

More than 750,000 of their readers participated in the online survey between April 1 and June 30, 2020. The publication was very complimentary about my hometown writing, “For one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston sure has aged with style. To get a quick refresher on our nation’s history, walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile route along a string of historic sites that takes you through the country’s founding. Other activities worth adding to your itinerary include slurping up oysters at Neptune, visiting the eclectic salon-style art display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and catching a ball game at Fenway Park. Just be sure to learn the words to ‘Sweet Caroline’ before you go.

Rounding out the Top 10 list of best large cities are:

4. New Orleans, LA

5. San Antonio, TX

6. New York, NY

7. San Diego, CA

8. Nashville, TN

9. Tucson, AZ

10. St. Petersburg, FL

While I can understand how a few of these cities made the list, I’m left wondering how is New Orleans still considered a large city with a population of less than 400,000 people, and how could cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle be omitted?

Conde Nast Traveler readers also ranked their favorite small cities (places with populations less than 250,000), which you can check out here.

Plan a New England foliage daytrip this fall

New England foliageThe summer may officially be over but the weather in New England will remain beautiful for several more weeks but even as the days get shorter and the temperatures cool, there is plenty to do in the fall. With many of us not traveling, day trips may prove to be a boon for local tourism.

According to USA Today readers two New England locations were included in their Reader’s Choice list of 10 best destinations for fall foliage. New Hampshire’s White Mountains ranked No. 4 and Stowe, Vermont, ranked No. 6. If getting out of the house for a weekend roadtrip sounds appealing, check out the NH scenic foliage drives or VT scenic foliage drives websites. Although it failed to make the Reader’s Choice top 10 list, I also want to give a shout out for Berkshire Scenic Drives which typically sees peak foliate a week or two after Vermont and New Hampshire.

The best part about these drives is they are easy day trips so make plans to get out and enjoy the fall weather when it arrives next month.

White Mountain National Forest ranked most beautiful in US

Fodor’s Travel gave New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest the top spot in the publication’s list of the 10 most beautiful forests in the U.S. Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest also did well coming in at No. 8.

Considering how the coronavirus has forced many to rethink travel plans, taking a closer look at these beautiful forests which one can easily explore from Boston may be worth thinking about as a way to beat the heat, get out of the city and socially distance while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Fodor’s Travel writes:  “White Mountain National Forest is located in eastern New Hampshire (and western Maine) and throughout it you will find alpine peaks, hardwood forests, lakes, streams, and a vast variety of wildlife. It’s known for being some of the most untamed country of the Northeast. It’s also known for having some of the world’s worst weather conditions, with excessive wind speeds and snowfall–this forest certainly has a personality, and sometimes that personality is “frightening.” It’s gorgeous though, too, with maple, oak, and birch trees scattered about at low elevations, spruces and firs in the higher elevations.”

plan a daytrip to the white mountains

For more information about hiking paths and places to explore, get something to eat and hiking paths, check out: visitwhitemountains.com.

European Union bans travelers from US, Russia, India, China and Brazil

travelAs expected, The European Union (EU), which represents 14 countries, voted to restrict visitors from countries that have failed to take steps to curtail their rapidly rising caseloads of the coronavirus.  I cannot blame the EU for taking these precautionary measures but it still stings. Everyone is painfully aware of the impact the coronavirus has had here and around the world. Who could forget the New York Times front page in May when they published some of the 100,000 names of Americans who had died from the coronavirus?

Even those who ignore the science and disregard the safety precautions laid out by the CDC admit that the economic toll the virus has had is unprecedented. While most of the impact was initially felt in the Northeast, in recent weeks rising numbers in states like Arizona, Florida and Texas have forced many Republican Governors who were eager to reopen to rethink their policies. It is precisely these rising numbers that led the EU to include the US in its travel ban.

This decision could not have been easy for the EU to make. Like the US, their economy is teetering on the brink of recession. I would imagine the money US business travelers and tourists spend is significant. Barring visitors from the US will likely impact many small businesses and in particular the hospitality and service industries. It is (however) a testament to how serious the EU is when it comes to protecting their people. I hope the actions of the EU serves as a wake-up call for the White House and those in power in Congress who (to date) have preferred to politicize public health and the guidance from our medical leaders rather than show leadership and take public health more seriously.