Archives

Wanderlust Blog

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky 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. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

Border

SWIMMING AT THE POLES

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Granted, this is not a common thought to those of us living in a civilized modern world, but if one were to think on such a plane, one would consider the secret of survival in the Arctic Ocean to be to stay in the boat and not go in the water.  Right?

Well…given a challenge and the opportunity (and being just a li’l ol’ visitor from the aformentioned civilized world), I decided TO go in the water;  to plunge into the 38 degree Arctic Ocean from the northernmost point in the United States, Point Barrow, Alaska.  Barrow is the nearest bit of American mainland to the North Pole and when Amazing Journeys took our Jewish singles group there in 2007 after our annual Alaska cruise, we had the opportunity to join the real and official Polar Bear Club. Membership into The Polar Bear Club in Barrow is authenticated by Club member witnesses from a nearby host restaurant who accept a $15 fee for the right to freeze your butt off.  The do provide the towel, however.  They also provide authentication of such prowlness. The feat must include full submersion into the water and all successful plungers receive a certificate of authenticity and a Polar Bear Club Patch. 


For Barrow visitors, going in the water is something of a tradition, a ritual for the young at heart and the easily bored. But swimming is not Barrow’s sole attraction. There is the novelty of 24-hour light in summer and 24-hour darkness in winter. There are traditional Iñupiat Eskimo festivals—Piuraagiaqta to celebrate spring and Nalukataq for the whale harvest. There is the land itself, flat ground and subtle hills rendered treeless by the permanently frozen soil. There are Iñupiat carvings and handmade fur gloves. There are polar bears.

But we were there to see a land rarely seen by most people from the lower 48.  We were there to meet the people who are mostly isolated from the rest of the US. We were there to taste a remote culture where entertainment includes blanket tossing and whale meat festivals.  We were there to swim (well, I was)….because I could.  Although it stung like a thousand needles, inside, I felt exhilaration as I reveled in the idiocy of my actions.

Cold water swimming is not new for me.  Not anymore anyway.   It was a rare feat to submerge in the Arctic Ocean, but less than three years later, in February of 2010 I had the chance to say that I could be in rare company.  First to swim in the Arctic Ocean and now, the even colder (35 degrees) Southern Antarctic Ocean. I had two friends join me in the Barrow swim, but this time I also had two friends…who didn’t really take the word “submerge” so seriously.  Antarctica doesnt’ offer an authentication, so they got certificates too – but your’s truly took the plunge yet again. 

Sure there is no way to jump into this icy water and be manly about it (yes, we all came out screaming like little girls) – another thousand needles poking my skin….but I am now a swimmer of both poles.!

How utterly cool…in so many senses of that word!

Random Fun Facts About the World

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Alaska – More than half the coastline of the entire US is in Alaska

The Amazon – The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that hundreds of miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean.  The volume of water in the Amazon River is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined.

Antarctica – 90% of the world’s ice covers Antarctica, despite the fact that the continent is a desert receiving an average of just 2″ of precipitation a year.  Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with absolute humidity lower than the Gobi Desert.

Brazil – The country of Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around

Canada – Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.

Detroit – Woodward Avenue in Detroit, MI carries the designation M-1, so named because it was the first paved road anywhere.

Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey is the only city in the world located on two continents.

Kansas City – The city of Kansas City is the only city in America to be divided by two states.  You could be a resident of Kansas City, Kansas and your neighbor across the street could have a different area code, different laws and a different speed limit driving up the other side of the road to their home, living in Kansas City, Missouri.

Pitcairn Island – The smallest island with country status is Pitcairn Island in Polynesia; just 1.75 sq. miles.

Sahara Desert – There is a town in the Sahara Desert named Tidikelt,  Algeria where nary a drop of rain fell for more than 10 years.

Pittsburgh, PA – Known as the “city of bridges”, Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city in the world other than Venice, Italy.

Adventure Cruising; Antarctica! Like No Adventure on Earth

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Cruising isn’t always about sunning the afternoon away or taking first prize in the belly-flop contest. There’s another side of cruising that’s less about indulgences and more about self-fulfillment. This is the crux of “Adventure Cruising”, where the ship isn’t as much the destination as the destination is the destination. This is where you cruise to not necessarily “do”, but to “be”.


When most think of adventure cruising, Antarctica is coming to mind more and more. While only about 100,000 tourists have experienced Antarctica, the need to explore our planet has no boundries for some. Bragging rights is only the beginning of reasons to take on the tundra; the sights and sounds of the bottom of the world come with experiences that few can imagine and even fewer will explore (not many can say they’ve frolicked with Chinstrap Penguins).


Hurtigruten (pronounced: Hurt eh grew ton) is a leading operator of specialized Antarctica cruising, pushing the limits of adventure. The line’s flagship, MS Fram, was custom-designed to cruise the frozen waters of Antractica. Her interior will make you feel like you stepped into a Nordic wonderland (think generous use of wool, leather and oak…very cozy). Even though the vessel is an expedition-designed ship, accommodations are stylish and comfortable. There’s even a sauna and outdoor heated jacuzzis.


Sound amazing? Like the photo? Well….you can be a part of it. Come February 2010 as part of Amazing Journeys’ 10th Anniversary Seven-Continent Tour, we’ll be offering the most Amazing Journey ever. Check out our cruise ship, the MS Flam at http://www.hurtigruten.com/. We’ll be taking just 35 people on this excursion and what a journey it will be.
As the space is so limited we are currently building an interest list and will provide a private preview of our tour to those on the list before making it available to the public. If you’d like to be on the interest list, please provide your email address as a comment to this post.


Antarctica! Wow….