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

Close to Home Summer Getaways

Monday, July 24th, 2017

There’s nothing like a weekend spent in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  For our family, it had always meant the beginning of summer.  A few happy June days were spent at the hotel pool, HersheyPark amusement park and gorging on chocolate.  In Hershey, chocolate is available everywhere.  Upon arrival at the Mediterranean style 1930’s designed Hotel Hershey, you are checked in and greeted with one large chocolate bar for each member of your family.  Being handed five chocolate bars upon check in is a kid’s dream come true.  OK, I confess, it was a dream come true for me as well.

IMG_20140621_194232

The stunning pink resort sits proudly upon the highest hill in the otherwise mostly flat farmland surrounding this city.  It can be seen from nearly everywhere in the city.  It boasts one of the finest restaurant in the state, the Circular Dining Room, which serves an amazing Sunday Brunch with all of the yummy items that make up for best brunches, but what’s different here is that the waffles have chocolate chips, the pancakes are served with chocolate syrup, pancakes topped with chocolate shavings and there are chocolate desserts galore!

IMG_20140622_134001

Did I mention the spa at the resort?  Have you ever had a chocolate facial?  What about an almond scrub?  They’re not only delicious but so relaxing as well.

The town of Hershey is adorable with “kisses” for street lamps and wonderful little cafes and restaurants lining the main street.

The town of Hershey is about four hours from New York City, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.  It’s only 1.5 hours from Philadelphia and Washington, DC making it an ideal location for weekend travel.  If you’re looking for something to do this summer (or any weekend year round), this should be on your short list.  It’s one of my top picks for quick summer getaways!

A Weekend Trip to Pittsburgh

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to be on vacation.  It could be as close as your own backyard.  That’s literally what we did when we brought 40 past, present and future travelers together for our Pittsburgh Summer Weekend.  Our travelers came in from near and far – from Denver and Reno, Houston and Toronto, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Yes, many who joined us live right here!  They all came together to enjoy our fun city.  Pittsburgh is a city to be seen and experienced and has recently enjoyed many accolades including one of the “Best Places to Travel in 2016” by Travel + Leisure, the nation’s “No. 1 Food City” by Zagat and named among the “Top Destinations on the Rise” by TripAdvisor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pittsburgh shows itself off right from the ride from the airport when you exit the tunnel and you see the city in full view including the skyline, The Golden Triangle, the stadiums and the fountain marking the confluence of the three rivers that run through Pittsburgh.

Our boutique hotel was a fan favorite.  Kimpton Hotels has always been a favorite of our Amazing Journeys staff and the Hotel Monaco of Pittsburgh was a big hit.  From the stylish yet quirky interior design to the rooftop bar and amply sized and decorative rooms, our group loved this hotel and its location in the city center. A hotel highlight, and were we got our weekend started was at the nightly Wine Hour in the Living Room of the hotel.

20170708_173908-1

We highlighted Pittsburgh beginning with a sumptuous dinner at Nine On Nine.  With the help of Joe, its manager, we crafted the perfect menu for our group. Friday night ended with drinks and “large games” such as Jenja and Connect Four up at the rooftop bar at the Hotel Monaco.  If you get up there, Jason will take good care of you.  He was always ready with drink in hand and a smile on his face.

14953 (1)

Saturday was filled with lots to see and do in the city.  Beginning with a walk to Pittsburgh’s Strip District, what began as the produce market of the city years ago has become a showcase of restaurants, local food stores including fish, cheeses, olive oils and sports paraphernalia from award winning teams who make Pittsburgh “The City of Champions”. One new restaurant concept housed in one of the old warehouses is Smallman Galley, a “restaurant incubator” where each year, four brand new restaurant concepts are selected from hundreds of entries as a “start up” and given an opportunity to try out their concept in this space.

20170708_141619-1

Our next stop was an area called Lawrenceville, a recently regentrified area which housed a munitions factory during the Civil War, and now filled with funky shops, craft beer bars, a retro bowling alley and 1950’s movie theater.  There, we enjoyed a Foodie Tour where we sampled ‘Burgh Bits and Bites.  Owner Sylvia and her guides took us to a series of restaurants and stores that offered up a collection of the foods that make up the eclectic population living in “The Burgh”.  From pierogies to spanakopita and from pasta to french dip sandwiches, we sampled our way through the area.

20170708_192451-1

A walk to Market Square where a band was playing and the Summer Saturday Night Market was in full swing rounded out our day.  In the evening, we enjoyed a taste of local theater and saw Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage a fun look at ourselves and others that had us all laughing. A walk down to the river by night highlighted our colorful city.

20170708_214112 (1)

Our weekend came to a close with a local favorite past time in the Squirrel Hill section of the city called Bach, Beethoven and Brunch.  Amazing Journeys provided the picnic while the orchestra provided the lovely background music.  Our AJ participants enjoyed a relaxing morning of coffee, bagels, music and conversation.  All too soon, our amazing weekend in Pittsburgh came to an end.  Soon it was time to say good-bye.  We hope to have you back in Pittsburgh soon so you can see more of our incredible city!

20170709_114357-1

 

Reading the fine print

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

14612291282_19c4f15feb_k (1)

When purchasing a vacation, it’s not just about glancing at the advertised price.  It’s knowing what costs are included, and what are considered “extras” that you may have to pay for above and beyond the posted rate.  Most tours don’t include the taxes.  Amazing Journeys does.  Most tours don’t include the gratuities as part of the advertised costs.  Amazing Journeys has it included.  How many meals are included on your tour?  It’s important to know because if there are few included, you will be paying additionally while on tour.  Is your hotel a quality property?  Is it located in the city center or does it require a taxi ride or train to get to the sights you want to see?  Are the sightseeing tours included, or are you going to have to pay additionally for each sight you want to see?  While the vast majority of cruise don’t include optional excursions, land tours that you have to pay additionally for tours will soon add up, often times above and beyond the original cost of the tour price!  Most tours don’t include an onboard group travel coordinator who is traveling with you to insure your vacation is going according to plan and organizing the social aspect of the tour as well, so that you see all the sights you have come to see as well as make many friends along the way.

5397334320_9a563a9f70_b

Here at Amazing Journeys, we try to make your vacation as hassle-free and amazing as possible.  You want to go into a trip knowing that everything is taken care of, you don’t have to worry about the little things and that you are in the right hands. For those of you who have traveled with us before, you know that great care and planning goes into each trip and that we have considered each delightful detail in order to present you the perfect vacation.

16044991139_9f23b93cb7_o

When looking for a vacation package we encourage you to keep in mind that not all travel companies are created equal and that there are not always apple-to-apple comparisons.  Keep a careful eye on what is actually included in the price and what you will be paying extra for. The last thing you want is to be surprised with the final cost of your vacation.

Looking forward to traveling with you soon!

Americans Won’t Need a Visa to Visit Europe After All

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Posted from Conde Nast Traveler

Tips for Sleeping Well on a Plane

Friday, April 28th, 2017

So now that you have one less thing to worry about, let’s just be excited!

 

Edited from Conde Nast Traveler