Wanderlust Blog

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky to have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock-full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world.

Border

Welcome home from India

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

by Stacey

Wow, what an amazing experience we had in India!  From spectacular sunrises to crazy tuktuk rides through traffic and dining with royalty to a spiritual boatride on the Ganges, I can’t say enough good things about this once in a lifetime trip.  Our group had an insider-look at India – we got to see things that tourists never ever get to see and eat at some very local restaurants and road-side samosa carts.

India saris

Here is the poem I wrote at our Farewell Event highlighting the amazing, silly, memorable, exotic two weeks we spent in India.

Are you ready for an adventure?
It’s off to India we go
for a once in a lifetime journey,
and an escape from the snow.

After a long day of travel,
it’s time for rest and relaxing.
Just kidding – grab your bag and some pani,
it’s time to hit the ground running!

Say “Namaste” to your rickshaw driver
And hang on for your ride.
For once you’re on the road,
There’s nowhere to hide.

Take a look around you and you’ll see14
Lace, rhinestones and saris,
Tobacco, snacks and cloth,
Wires and even monkeys.

Lime soda during lunch/
No, lemons.  Limes.  Oh I don’t know.
Honey balls for dessert
And lunch with spice level zero.

Get ready to shake those hips,
Throw your arms out and strike a post.
Our Bollywood dancing now
Must be finer than the pros.

It’s time for our first flight,
Some of you went to get a snack.
What you learned there was that apparently
You should put your unused ketchup back.

Our approach to the Leela Palace
Was truly one of a kind.
A boat, an escort with a ‘stache,
Musicians and bindis – what a find!

And wait, what is this?
Rose pedals falling from the sky?
Look up, you’ll see a specific
Rose pedal falling guy!

Exploring this stunning city,27
The “city of lakes” as it is known.
But first we must have breakfast,
Don’t eat alone.

Pancakes, French toast, fudge rolls,
Muffins and passion fruit.
Fresh juice, lychees, cheeses,
And amazing dosas to boot.

An early morn at sunrise,
Yoga far from home
At an ashram with our very own guru.
Ommmmmmmmmm…

The Palace tour of Udaipur,
You can see yourself as royal.
Chef Robin making naan
In the kitchen with chefs a-full.

It’s cocktail party time,
Let’s all get up and schmooze!
But wait, it’s formal at the Palace,
We must sit and sip our booze.

Challo everyone,
It’s time to hit the road.
Put on your sports bra and warm up your horn,
It’s off to Pushkar we go!

Went through the town and to the lake,
With chatchkee shops galore.
At our hotel we were greeted by fire breathing,
Balancing acts, spinning skirts and more.

An early rise with camels
To see a meh sunrise.
Jodi left with a gift – on her shoes and jeans.
From the camel.  It was a surprise.

Off to the Pink City.
Jaipur – what a treat.
We toured the City Palace and
Near a snake charmer we took a seat.

The world’s largest sun dial,100
The size it was absurd.
While browsing ‘round our horoscopes,
Ellen got it from a bird.

Back at the hotel,
We blessed the wine, candles and challah
For our first of two very special
Shabbats in India.

After dinner we were taking
A lovely stroll back to the bus.
When – hark!  What is that sound
We hear in front of us?

A wedding!  Through the bright tents
We did advance.  What a bash!
With food and guests and saris,
What a wedding we did crash.

We boarded our next mode of transport –
An elephant to the Amber Fort!
Wobbling back and forth,
We now had pictures to sort.

500 rupees for a picture!
Okay, 200 for one.
300 for the whole album?
Isn’t bargaining oh so fun?

Our next surprise was sure to last
It must be some sort of trick.
We got hennaed by a pro.
It’s beautiful, and boy is she quick!

We had some free time in the market –108
Bracelets, scarves, saris for any weather.
We even saw a goat standing on a tire.
Yes, he was wearing a sweater.

When asked “why, kind sir, is your goat wearing that?”
The man, he didn’t splinter.
He simply looked at us and replied
“It’s because it’s winter”.

It’s time to dine with royalty,
But first another treat.
We’ll don saris as we dine –
This surprise can’t be beat!

In our hotel we primped and prodded
And tucked and folded and pinned.
We’re ready for our special night.
Just top it off with a bind-i.

From dining with the royals,
We’ll head to Ranthambore now.
Weaving and hinking on our drive,
We hit a sacred cow.

Bus games made it better and
Encouraged watching “India TV.
Looking outside the window
And snap, snap, snap your camera with glee.

Stuffed rickshaws, trucks, goats, dogs,
Trash, cow pies and cow butts,
Traffic jams, produce stands,
Bikes, monkeys and men getting haircuts.

We awoke all bright and early110
For our safari drive near the quarry.
We were so lucky, we saw the tiger
In all her stripy glory.

A tour of downtown Ranthambore,
Tasting candy – the chickpea was the best.
passing the train station to see the sight
of two feisty pigs making piglets.

A campfire by the pool with friends,
Bottles of wine and a game.
We learned what cartoon you’d like to be
And in which creative medium you’d have fame.

Back on the bus to Agra,
A pilgrimage on its own
To see the Taj  Mahal in person,
This site is world renown.

The marble glower at sunset,
The perfect Golden Hour.
This monstrous work of architecture
Holds a spiritual power.

Rise and shine, let’s board the bus
It’s off to Delhi we go.
Take a schluff, snap some pics
And look out the window.

Hurry, hurry, don’t be late,
We have to catch our flight!
But first we’ll make a quick pit stop
(despite protesting will all my might).

Robin went to the hospital for some wax
With our Doc, guide and Stace in tow.
The other ladies took a stroll
Right down Embassy Row.

We made it just in time13
For a chai tea at terminal 3
To arrive in Varanasi –
Ravi’s home when he was wee.

Through the Old City of twists and turns
And folks to whom we were so foreign.
This once in a lifetime adventure
Was anything but borin’.

A boat ride down the Ganges,
Past the crematorium and then
Floating even further down
To see bells and candles danced by men.

Just this morning, back on a boat
With music just for us
To experience sunrise in the City of Light
And dipping in for those whom if was a must.

In this peaceful time
As we readied to step off,
We heard “Hi!  Hi!” from a boat
Of people who were from down souff.

We took pics of them and them of us,
Then a surprising round of kisses.
Then hugs, then pleasantries then more kisses,
I think they’ll really miss us.

Our final surprise, a visit to someone
Who Ravi holds so dear.
His brother and his wife welcomed us
As friends from very near.

Double-wide silks, table runners,india flowers
Marble, rugs, paintings and a lovely top.
Boy this group surprised me –
You guys can really shop!

We’ve seen pigs, dogs, goats and elephants,
Camels, cows and monkeys in the streets.
Tigers, peacocks, deer, boars snakes,
Elk, alligators, owls and green parakeets.

We’ve been in busses, tuk tuks, tongas,
Elephants, cruises, and planes.
Rickshaws, boats and camel carts,
Electric vans and even trains.

We’ve covered the north of India
In two weeks, jetting from event to event.
As exhausted as you are,
I’m sure you loved India 200%.

With full hearts and heavy suitcases,
From Ravi, the AJ team and me,
We hope to see you soon
On your next Amazing Journey.

Don’t be that traveler…

Monday, January 5th, 2015

In travel – as in life – things are bound to go differently than planned.  The best course of action is to be flexible, have a back up plan and go with the flow.  Many of the most memorable parts of a vacation happen when you go “off script”, so to say, and you are sent home with stories of “that time” on vacation.  It is our job at Amazing Journeys to make sure that you are well informed and taken care of so that even when plans do change, you don’t need to worry yourself but just keep on going and enjoy your vacation.

With that being said, we would like to share a few funny comments that travelers with other companies have shared about their travel experience.  They made us laugh!

1. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

2. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”

3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”

5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time – this should be banned.”

8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”

10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

14. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

15. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”

16. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”

17. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

18. “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2014

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

With Hanukkah right around the corner, we’re all racking our brains, trying to find that perfect gift for friends, family, or what to tell others we want… Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our Top Ten Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list to hint at what you want!

10. Multiple Device Travel Charger

chargepod_2

This portable charger minimizes cable clutter by placing multiple charging outlets on a single unit. You can refuel up to six devices simultaneously while occupying just a single wall outlet. Available here.

9. Scratch Map

normal_scratch-map-poster

Track your travels with a scratch-off-where-you’ve-been map that charts globetrotting in a fun, colorful and innovative way. Scratch off the areas you’ve visited and show off your travel progress! Available here.

8. Foldable Water Bottle
bubibottle

Another way to save space in your bag!  Roll it up and a metal loop keeps the bottle scrunched up so it fits easily into your bag. Available here.

7. iPhone Life Jacket
ip4_lifejacket

Want to take pictures as you take a dip in the pool?  Throw your iPhone in a waterproof case and life jacket and let it float right alongside you. Available here.

6. Crease Release
crease release

In a world of overpacked schedules (and suitcases!), ironing isn’t always an option. As soon as you make it to your destination, unpack your clothes, give them a quick spray and blast of the blow dryer and start looking fabulous. Available here.

5. GoPro Camera
gopro

This rugged, waterproof, portable camera will take all the action shots you ever need to become the adventurous envy of all your friends back home. Available here.

4. A good travel book

Whether you’re reading up on your next destination, learning about a new culture or just escaping from reality, its always great to travel with a book. And who knows? When you’re done with your book, you can always trade with a friend on your trip and read their new favorite, too! Available here.

3. RFID Blocking Wallet
rfid wallet

This lightweight organizer protects your passport, ID and credit cards from identity theft with advanced RFID-blocking technology. Thieves with scanners can’t get at the radio-frequency tags embedded in your cards and documents because of the secure lining that shields your information. Available here.

2. Global Entry pass
globalentry

Global Entry is a program that allows pre-approved travelers the opportunity travel easier at the airport. Once you have been approved for Global Entry, you can use this for Pre-Check, a special quick security line in most major US airports, allowing you to breeze through while keeping your shoes and belt on, your liquids stored away and your laptop snuggly in your carry-on. How nice is that? There is an application process but we think it’s worth the work upfront, knowing how much time it will save at the airport. Available for US citizens only.

1. Packing cubes
packing cubes

This is the very favorite of our AJ staffers. If you’re looking for an easy way to pack and unpack while on tour, here is your answer! Throw all of your socks into one, your accessories in another and your shirts into the larger one. When its time to unpack in your stateroom or hotel room, you know where everything is and you’re done in 3 minutes. Simply unzip the cube, open the top, and lay right inside of the drawer. When it’s time to pack it up again, zip it all up and throw it in the suitcase. Only staying at the hotel for a day or two? Leave it all in the suitcase and reach right in to easily find what you are seeking! Available here.

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!

50 Shades of Green

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Ireland blog1
by Malori

It’s hard to say which of the many highlights of our recent tour in Ireland was our favorite. Was it the scone making class at the farm and the delicious fruits of our labor we got to enjoy with tea? Was it the 50 shades of green that dotted the rolling hillsides and farmland? To some, it was the endless rainbows we spotted or our never-ending search for the pot of gold and leprechauns. Many said it was it our remarkable pub crawls with the best music in the world. And to most of us, it was the wonderful group that gathered together across the pond to explore and discover the delightful and hospitable people of Ireland who welcomed us to their country.

Ireland is a culture away, yet, just a hop, skip and a jump from America. The six hour flight and the five hour time difference made it easy to travel. The fact that English is the language made it simple, yet, the dialect so different from ours, we couldn’t understand much of what was spoken. That was part of the fun.

Enjoying whiskey tastings and learning about Guinness Beer, straight from the source, were more highlights. Most of us took on the 100-step climb up to the top of Blarney Castle. We braved wind and rain and then lying upside-down on our back, kissed the famous stone to be granted “the gift of eloquence.”

Ireland blog2
We were amazed that the food was actually better than we expected, and we got to sample potatoes of every kind!

Roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, hashed brown potatoes, potato leek soup, scalloped potatoes, garlic potatoes… need I say more? We sampled Guinness stew and savory pies of every kind. Seeing the Dingle Peninsula and the Cliffs of Moher were gorgeous and we were blessed with a sunny day so we could enjoy hiking around the cliffs.

We got to sample ice cream with names like Kerry Cream, Irish Oats and Caramel, Smoked Salmon and Guinness. It was delicious (the Irish Oats and Caramel, that is)!

Ireland blog3
Our scone making class was a memory we could take home and share with others. Barry and I made them today and tweaked the recipe somewhat. Here is our new and improved Irish Scones…straight from the farm!

2 c. self rising flour
¾ stick butter
¼ c. sugar
1 egg
½ c. buttermilk
½ c. dried fruit (raisins or other fruit…we used tart cherries)

• Pre-heat cookie sheet and oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In a large bowl, mix together flour and butter. Use your hands to mix to make sure butter is softened and evenly distributed.
• Add sugar and stir.
• Add dried fruit.
• In a measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and egg.
• Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in half of the buttermilk/egg mixture.
• Mix in part of the flour mixture getting it moist from the liquid in the center of the bowl.
• Add in more of the dry ingredients from the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
• Take the dough and need it on a flat surface, adding in flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky.
• Spread out dough to about 1 inch thick.
• Take a glass or round cookie cutter, dip the rim in flour (so it doesn’t stick to the dough.
• Cut with cookie cutter or glass.
• Place on heated cookie sheet
• Cook for 17 minutes.

It’s a simple recipe and so yummy. Serve with jam and tea. Enjoy!

scones

Winter Whiskey Warmer

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

whisky

With the weather getting colder, it’s nice to have a warm drink to come home to!  Our Amazing Ireland travelers had the opportunity to visit the Kilbeggan Distillery and sample the whisky last week.  Here’s the recipe for our newest drink recommendation:

Winter Whiskey Warmer

1/3 part whiskey
2/3 part hot water
1½ t. brown sugar
1½ t. honey

In a pre-warmed glass, mix the ingredients.
Sip slowly.
Enjoy!