31st NATJA Awards – Bronze Winner!

For 31 years, the North American Travel Journalists Association has held an awards competition for excellence in travel journalism. A wide range of categories include Best Travel Magazine, Luxury and Resort Travel, Cruises, Historical Travel, Culinary Travel, Cultural Travel, Sustainable Travel, Wellness Travel and Diversity in Travel. Photography categories include Landscape and Nature Photography, Portrait Photography, Outdoor Adventure Photography and Photo Essay. Congratulations to all the winners in the 31st NATJA awards competition!

comorade birds on a tree during a golden sunset along Lake Kerkini, Greece.
“Golden Birdwatching Sunset on Lake Kerkini, Greece” – Bronze award winning photo in the 31st Annual NATJA awards for Alex Kallimanis at Wanderlust Marriage Travel.

Landscape and Nature Photography – Bronze Award

My photo, “Golden Birdwatching Sunset on Lake Kerkini, Greece” received the Bronze award in the Landscape and Nature photography category in the 31st annual North American Travel Journalists Association awards competition. The photo was taken during a press trip covering historic European thermal spa towns, and published in my article covering Greek spa towns.

The article was a collaboration with European Historic Thermal Travels Association (EHTTA), Visit Europe and municipalities throughout Greece. Special thanks to several fantastic people involved in organizing the trip, including the wonderful Catherine Lloyd, Simone Zagrodnik and Markos Danas of EHTTA and Miguel Gallego of the European Travel Commission, without whom the photo would not be possible!

Wellness and Nature Travel in Europe

Wellness travels have also covered Austria’s Great Spa Town of Europe, Baden bei Wien (which translates to “Bathing near Vienna”), as well as tips for visiting Budapest spas.

Lake Kerkini National Park protects Greece’s second largest lake and is one of Europe’s most impressive wetlands. Located in northern Greece near the border with Bulgaria, it’s a breathtaking setting for bird watching. Thousands of birds like flamingos, pelicans, cormorants and ibis congregate along Lake Kerkini during their migrations. It’s the bird watching equivalent of viewing diverse wildlife on a Tanzanian safari.

Visitors can take a small boat birdwatching and photography trip along Lake Kerkini with Nikolaos Gallios at Itavros Tours. Combine it with Agistro Hamman, a beautiful thermal day spa in Agistro, Greece. Northern Greece is a wonderful destination, with a great culinary scene focusing on fresh vegetables, meat, river fish like trout, small batch wine and spirits, like traditional raki (distilled from grapes). I’ve never eaten more deliciously prepared fresh trout than at the Agistro Trout Farm – offering true farm to table dining!

I stayed at the lovely Wooden Village (To Xilono Chorio) in Agistro. Spacious and modern wooden and stone cabins feature great amenities like comfortable beds, air conditioning, refrigerator, flat screen TV, fireplace and large patios & balconies.

31st NATJA Awards Competition Winners for 2023

Below is a complete list of the 31st NATJA awards competition winners for 2023. Congratulations again to all the winners!

And if you have questions about thermal travels for wellness in Europe, feel free to leave a comment below or email me at [email protected]. Happy travels and photo taking!


Category 300: Travel Magazine

Gold Award: Condé Nast Traveler, March 2022 Issue

Silver Award: Travel + Leisure, August 2022 Issue

Bronze Award: AAA Traveler Worldwise

Honorable Mention: Robb Report, The Travel Issue (May 2022)

Category 301: Independent Travel Blog

Gold Award: Brad A. Johnson, Brad A. Johnson, Food & Travel

Silver Award: Carolyn Scott, The Healthy Voyager

Bronze Award: Arial Evans, America From The Road

Honorable Mention: KyAnn Lewis, KidTripster

Honorable Mention: Lina Stock, DivergentTravelers.com


Category 100: Destination Travel

Gold Award: Heide Brandes, “Sleeping in the morgue of Eureka Springs’ Crescent Hotel, one of the most haunted places”, Roadtrippers

Silver Award: Terri Colby, “Sky high, stargazing in the Midwest”, Chicago Tribune

Bronze Award: Rob Goss, “The Michinoku Coastal Trail: Japan’s new 1,000km path”, BBC Travel

Honorable Mention: Tarajia Morrell, “Soul Of New York – A Guide to 30 Exceptional Experiences”, Jonglez Publishing

Category 101: Illustrated Story

Gold Award: Brandon Cole, “Into the Black, and Blue”, Scuba Diving magazine

Silver Award: Amy Berenbeim, “Time Travel”, National Parks

Bronze Award: Brad A. Johnson, “Hotel Review: San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito”, Brad A. Johnson, Food & Travel

Honorable Mention: Douglas Peebles, “Fun, Frigid Fairbanks”, Star Advertiser Sunday Travel

Category 102: Long-Form Narrative/Personal Essay

Gold Award: Mattathias Schwartz, “The Ayahuasca Diaries”, Insider

Silver Award: Anne Sigmon, “In the Garden of the Fox”, Wandering in Japan: The Spirit of Tokyo, Kyoto and Beyond

Bronze Award: Kelsey Vlamis, “Disaster at 18,200 feet”, Insider

Category 120: Personality and Profiles

Gold Award: Katherine DeGroff, “Park Ink”, National Parks

Silver Award: Daliah Singer, “Behind One Chef’s Mission to Create a Diverse and Stable Restaurant Industry”, 5280

Bronze Award: Rachel Ng, “Hawaiian Foodways Are Vanishing. Chef Brian Hirata Won’t Let That Happen”, Bonappetit.com

Honorable Mention: Heide Brandes, “The Angel of Ash Forke”, Route Magazine

Honorable Mention: Keri Bridgwater, “This Fearless Female Wrangler Runs One of California’s Most Historic Dude Ranches”, Fodor’s

Category 121: Luxury and Resort Travel

Gold Award: Timothy Scott Leffel, “Casa de La Playa Hotel Review — Riviera Maya”, Luxury Latin America

Silver Award: Brooke Morton, “An Island of One’s Own”, Scuba Diving magazine

Bronze Award: Jordi Lippe-McGraw, “Vacation Like a Billionaire on Richard Branson’s New Private Island”, Conde Nast Traveler

Honorable Mention: Jenn Smith Nelson, “The Low Down: Klahoose Wilderness Resort”, Explore Magazine

Category 122: Sports, Recreation and Adventure

Gold Award: Jennifer Flowers, “One Thing Most People Don’t Know About Birding, the Hot Travel Trend”, Bloomberg Pursuits

Silver Award: Jen Murphy, “Montana’s Big Sky Ski Resort Finally Gets Its Moment in the Sun”, Bloomberg Businessweek

Bronze Award: Dan Schlossberg, “Legendary Ballparks”, TravelWorld International

Honorable Mention: Gillian Kendall, “This Country Has So Many Hot Springs (a.k.a. “Hot Spring Hopping in New Zealand”)”, Fodor’s

Honorable Mention: Christopher Solomon, “Rolling on the River”, Travel + Leisure

Category 123: Cruises

Gold Award: Fran Golden, “Branson’s Virgin Voyages Courts First- Time Cruisers, Cures Inhibition”, Bloomberg Pursuits

Silver Award: Don George, “Cruising to the Galápagos Islands”, AAA Explorer Magazine

Bronze Award: Mark Orwoll, “Forward with Onward”, Porthole Cruise & Travel

Honorable Mention: Jesse Ashlock, “Origin Story”, Condé Nast Traveler

Honorable Mention: Fran Golden, “Crystal Cruises’s Epic Demise Leaves Customers Out $100 Million – or More”, Bloomberg Pursuits

Category 124: Historical Travel

Gold Award: Sojourner White, “How Traveling by Train Led Me to Learn About My Family’s Black History”, Travel + Leisure

Silver Award: Rose Palmer, “How to Visit Mt. Athos, Greece – Even If You Are Female”, Quiltripping.com

Bronze Award: Starlight Williams, “Secrets of Harriet Tubman’s life are being revealed 100 years later”, National Geographic Travel

Honorable Mention: Janisse Ray, “‘First, Tell the Truth’”, National Parks

Honorable Mention: Stanley Stewart, “A Sicilian Story”, Travel + Leisure

Category 125: Family or 60+ Travel

Gold Award: Andrew Sessa, “Cancún with Kids”, The Houston Chronicle’s HC Magazine

Silver Award: Jon Gorey, “Winter Playground: When temperatures drop, head to Quebec City for European vibes and its fairy-tale winter carnival”, Boston Globe Magazine

Bronze Award: Flora Stubbs, “Once Upon A Time In Italy”, Travel + Leisure

Honorable Mention: Tykesha Burton, “Zion’s Tiny Oasis”, Travel World International Magazine

Honorable Mention: Stacy Tillilie, “Continental Drift”, AAA Traveler Worldwise

Category 126: Culinary Travel

Gold Award: Adam Erace, “Salt Of The Earth”, Travel + Leisure

Silver Award: Anne Sigmon, “Bowing to Washoku”, Wandering in Japan:The Spirit of Tokyo, Kyoto and Beyond

Bronze Award: Ray Isle, “French Pastoral”, Travel + Leisure

Honorable Mention: Stacey Leasca, “I Visited Panama to Try the World’s Most Expensive Coffee — and Now You Can, Too”, Travel + Leisure

Honorable Mention: Vivian Song, “Soufflé, Chateaubriand, Escargots…Mafé?”, Robb Report

Category 127: Cultural Travel

Gold Award: Rob Goss, “Follow in the Footsteps of Samurai on this Ancient Trail”, Nationalgeographic.com

Silver Award: Janet Gyenes, “Earth Tones (print); Earth, Straw, and Cultural Revival in America’s Oldest Capital City (digital)”, Montecristo magazine

Bronze Award: Rachna Sachasinh, “Mexico’s ‘pottery of the night’ is perfect for Day of the Dead”, National Geographic Travel

Honorable Mention: Morgan Tilton, “Running to Heal”, Trail Runner Magazine

Honorable Mention: Jacqueline Swartz, “Immersive spectaculars take art outside museums for public enjoyment”, East West News Service

Category 128: Sustainable Travel

Gold Award: Gina DeCaprio Vercesi, “This Side of Paradise”, Travel + Leisure

Silver Award: Vivian Song, “Admiring the trees of Paris”, The New York Times

Bronze Award: Jackie Caradonio, “The Hotel Industry’s Big Carbon Lie”, Bloomberg Pursuits

Honorable Mention: Jennifer Bain, “Protecting P.E.I.’s Sand Dunes From Footsteps”, National Parks Traveler

Honorable Mention: Jen Murphy, “Hawaii Is Rethinking Tourism. Here’s What That Means for You”, Bloomberg Pursuits

Category 129: Lifestyle, Health, and Wellness Travel

Gold Award: Anne Sigmon, “In the Garden of the Fox”, Wandering in Japan: The Spirit of Tokyo, Kyoto and Beyond

Silver Award: Hillary Richard, “Why Do Travel Tales Put People to Sleep?”, National Geographic Travel

Bronze Award: Sandy Bornstein, “The Benefits of Traveling While Coping with Glioblastoma, an Incurable Brain Cancer”, Wander Magazine

Honorable Mention: Terri Colby, “Sky high, stargazing in the Midwest”, Chicago Tribune

Honorable Mention: Nina Karnikowski, “Reigniting a Sense of Earth Stewardship — and Discovering Soliphilia — Hiking Australia’s Granite Belt”, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler

Category 130: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibilty in Travel

Gold Award: RJ Young, “This Is Tulsa”, Travel + Leisure

Silver Award: Mark Ellwood, “Untold America: A hidden refuge for LGBTQ+ nature lovers”, BBC

Bronze Award: Heide Brandes, “Remember the Removal Bike Ride”, Cowboys & Indians

Honorable Mention: Dorian Fox, “Creative Access”, National Parks

Honorable Mention: Heather Greenwood Davis, “For Muslim hikers, an empowering community makes all the difference”, National Geographic Travel

Category 140: Travel Video – Independent

Gold Award: Karen LeBlanc, “The Design Tourist Meets the Christmas Artisans of The Thuringian Forest”, The Design Tourist Travel Show

Category 141: Travel Video – Commercial

Gold Award: Juliana Broste, “Cruising to Mexico with Princess Cruises”, Princess Cruises YouTube Channel + TravelingJules YouTube Channel

Silver Award: Earl Bridges, “THE GOOD ROAD: Charleston, SC”, PBS/American Public Television

Category 142: Travel Vlog

Gold Award: Juliana Broste, “Valley of Fire Hike in Las Vegas”, TravelingJules YouTube Channel

Category 143: Travel Podcast

Gold Award: Jennifer Errick, “Telling the Truth”, The Secret Lives of Parks

Silver Award: Jennifer Errick, “An American Hero Turns 200”, The Secret Lives of Parks

Bronze Award: Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick, “Walking through the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience”, World Footprints

Category 150: Photography – Cover or Feature Photo/Illustration

Gold Award: Michael Hodgson, “Running with the wind”, HITravelTales.com

Silver Award: Rose Palmer, “One Day in Cartagena, Columbia – A Colorful, Independent Cruise Excursion”, Quiltripping.com

Bronze Award: Marco Arguello, “October 2021 cover”, Travel + Leisure

Honorable Mention: Heather Trimm, “A Perfectly Magical Reflection”, Trimm Travels

Category 151: Landscape and Nature Photography

Gold Award: Therese Iknoian, “Milky Way over Bodie Island Lighthouse”, HITravelTales.com

Silver Award: Cindy Baker, “Smoke & Thunder – Bow Lake Alberta”, Travel Bliss Now

Bronze Award: Alexander Kallimanis, “Golden Birdwatching Sunset on Lake Kerkini, Greece”, Wanderlust Marriage Travel

Honorable Mention: Heather Trimm, “Fall-ow the Path to Hallgrímskirkja”, Trimm Travels

Category 152: Portrait Photography

Gold Award: Therese Iknoian, “Contemplative Maasai Warrior in Kenya”, HITravelTales.com

Silver Award: Rose Palmer, “Waiting to Make a Dollar in Cartagena”, Quiltripping.com

Bronze Award: Marco Arguello, “Days of Wine and Roses”, Travel + Leisure

Category 153: Outdoor and Adventure Photography

Gold Award: Leslie Oh, “Lost and Found”, Alpinist Magazine

Silver Award: Arial Evans, “Fly Fishing On Avalanche Lake”, America From The Road

Bronze (tie) Award: Lauren Monitz, “Ascend the Sea Stacks at Cruit Island”, TheDownLo.com

Bronze (tie) Award: Tom Fowlks, “Rolling on the River”, Travel + Leisure

Category 154: Photo Essay

Gold Award: Michael Hodgson, “Death of a wildebeest: Great Migration crocodile attack”, HITravelTales.com

Silver Award: Frederic Lagrange, “Fire & Ice”, Travel + Leisure

Bronze Award: Therese Iknoian, “Explore five lighthouses of the Outer Banks in photos”, HITravelTales.com

Honorable Mention: Pallavi Kumar, “A Guide to Barbecue Around the World—in All Its Tangy, Spicy, and Charred Glory”, Condé Nast Traveler

Category 160: Travel Book or Guide

Gold Award: Moon Travel Guides, “Moon USA State by State: The Best Things to Do in Every State for Your Travel Bucket List”, Moon Travel

Silver Award: Laurie McAndish King and Linda Watanabe McFerrin, Wandering in Japan: The Spirit of Tokyo, Kyoto and Beyond

Bronze Award: Claudia Laroye, A Gelato a Day

Honorable Mention: Sandy Bornstein, “100 Things to Do in Boulder Before You Die”, Reedy Press

Honorable Mention: Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, “Moon 52 Things to Do in Chicago”, Moon Travel

Honorable Mention: Steve Rosenberg, “Dive and Travel Turks and Caicos”

Category 161: Trade Travel Article

Gold Award: Betsy Blumenthal, “Bright Ideas in Travel 2022”, Condé Nast Traveler

Silver Award: Nikki Ekstein, James Ellis, and Chris Rovzar, “Travel Trouble”, Bloomberg Businessweek

Bronze Award: Jayme Moye, “Tenureland: Why Adventure Tourism Tenure in the Kootenays is So Divisive”, Kootenay Mountain Culture

Honorable Mention: Dori Saltzman, “How to Build Business and Trust with Expert Cruise Reviews”, TravelMarketReport.com

Category 162: Travel Tips & Advice

Gold Award: Nikki Ekstein, “How to Plan a Last-Minute Summer Getaway Without Breaking the Bank”, Bloomberg Pursuits

Silver Award: Kathleen Mangan, “Best Under-the-Radar Places in Ireland 2022”, Insider.com

Bronze Award: Jen Ruiz, “15 Tricks to Travel for Less–With or Without Credit Cards”, Fodor’s Travel

Honorable Mention: Stacy Tillilie, “Where to Get the Best Cheesesteaks in Philly”, The Extra Mile, the blog of AAA Club Alliance


Category 200: Visitors’ Guide

Gold Award:  Southern Luxury Publishing, “Explore the Northshore”

Silver Award:  Arkansas Tourism, “2022 Travel Guide”

Bronze Award:  Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, “Official Destination Guide to Huntsville/Madison County”

Category 201: Destination Video

Gold Award:  Visit Buffalo Niagara, “The Colors of Buffalo

Silver Award:  Kansas Tourism, “Spring 2022 Commercials

Bronze Award:  The San Francisco Peninsula, “The San Francisco Peninsula: South of San Francisco, North of Expectations

Category 202: Creative Marketing Campaign

Gold Award:  Visit Topeka, “Topeka Dino Days

Silver Award:  Visit Indiana/Indiana Destination Development Corporation, “Pie Day-to-Pi Day

Bronze Award:  Kansas Tourism, “To the Stories Series”


  • Alex Kallimanis

    Alex Kallimanis is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner who has visited 67+ different countries, including all 27 European Union countries across all continents except Antarctica. He has resided around the world, living in countries like Australia, the Netherlands and Ireland for over 7 years combined. Currently residing in the Tampa, Florida, area with his wife Bell, he still spends much of his time in Europe as a dual Greek citizen. Alex is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor of arts degree in history, and was the president of Phi Alpha Theta (Honors History Society) during his senior year there. Alex is an avid enthusiast of sports, spas, delicious food, the outdoors, craft beverages, history and culture.

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