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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.

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Science Says It’s OK To Spend All Your Money On Travel

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

 

We’ve been telling our parents this for years – now finally there’s some science to back us up.

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Recent psychological research from Cornell University in New York has confirmed that the key to happiness is through experiences rather than things. The two decade study is led by Dr Thomas Gilovich, who says that one of the key underlying differences between our value of experiences and objects is adaptation. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Basically, we get used to the things we own, and over time the happiness we derive from items dwindles. On the flip side, happiness that stems from things we’ve done actually goes up as time passes because those experiences become a part of us and shape our identity. (It’s why the baby pink Nintendo DS you relentlessly requested for your 20th birthday now sits buried and forgotten somewhere in a bag beneath your bed, whereas your four-month jaunt through South America is still recalled often and fondly, years later.)

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Gilovich suggests that instead of saving for that plasma screen TV, a much sounder path to happiness is through spending your money on experiences like travel, or even outdoor activities, new skills or visiting exhibitions.

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you,” says Gilovich. “In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

by Taryn Stenvei, from article in AWOL

Travel Transforms Your Perspective About Everything

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Travel has a profound affect on many people – how they see the world, how they react to others, how they converse or eat or explore. Have you ever sat down to think about how travel has changed you? From meeting new people to having unique experiences, the things we do when we travel have a way of staying with us for years to come.

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To travel is to live your story

You become the central character in the adventures that you once read about only in books. Today you dive into an emerald waterfall, tomorrow you will meet a stranger whose words will change your life and the day after you won’t be the same person who took the first step into this journey. To travel is to tell your story, the one you hear more clearly now, the person you are, without everything you have always been told to be. You aren’t at the same place anymore and you can’t hear the same voices. The one that you do hear is your own.

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To travel is to change the world

When you travel, you realize that reality is subjective. All the ideas you thought as concrete unchangeable reality at home, change so easily at the next border. It forces you to choose from every culture the missing pieces of your own soul. From one land to another, one country to the next, ideas bend backwards and forwards. You can’t help but ask then, what is really important? When you move across a land, you carry thoughts and ideas of other civilizations and times, of people whose perspective is vastly different from yours. You become a carrier, not of things or goods for exchange, but a carrier of new thoughts.

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To travel is to be familiar with the scent of life

It’s the fragrance of sunlight as it plays with the earth in the air of dawn, at the place you just arrived. It’s in the smell of a steaming cup of tea in a little shop in the mountains. It’s the scent of a village when smoke rises from the wood. It’s the forest at dusk and in the rush of the rivers. When the stars awaken at night, you can smell the dark perfumed sky. Every place has its own characteristic fragrance like no other. A fragrance that can’t be captured in a bottle, nor replicated, but one that drifts in memory. When you travel, the scent of life rushes to meet you.

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To travel is to become a part of history

Far too many great souls that existed were travelers – Prophets, kings, wise men, poets, explorers, scholars and sages alike – they knew that in a journey lies transformation. Wherever they went, they left a trace of who they were. When we travel, we merge our own trace with the eternal trace of mankind and his ceaseless journeying through earth.

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Travel is love in movement

Once you know that there is more to the world than you previously imagined, you just cannot go back. You ask yourself, ‘What does it really mean to be alive? What do I love?’ When you’re back to the life you once knew, you no longer wish to talk about the mundane. Travelling sets you free from the things you thought you couldn’t live without, having found new things that are indispensable to you: a passionate spirit with purpose. A new possibility burns within you, one that is just as limitless as the world.

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To travel is to be naked 

You may carry your clothes, but in truth you travel naked, open to surprise, wind, soil and stranger. When you travel, you are forced to leave everything familiar behind. The only thing you take with you is who you really are. Your truth is all you carry and this is what you give, to where you go. Their essence is what you take home.

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To travel is to converse with the world.

Travelers tell each other stories that they wouldn’t speak as easily otherwise, possibly because they may never meet again or because the road opens up their heart wide, enticing them to share all that’s in it. A traveler converses with the world because you put yourself out there where the whole world is conversing. It’s a real conversation with real people. About who you are beneath all the layers. A silent conversation takes place even with just a nod, an acknowledgement. Your eyes meet and suddenly you aren’t strangers anymore. You are old friends meeting once more upon distant lands.

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To travel outside is to travel within

The things you hear on the road are not to be taken lightly. They are powerful. In fact you find new words pouring out of your own lips too. Definite shapes and forms fall apart like a child’s sand castle and take new dimensions. You come to know yourself in the voices of other travelers.

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To travel is to move your mind by a million dimensions

In a journey you confront something that has never before been a part of your existence – faces you’ve never previously envisioned, the textures of a land, a new way of living life, even the way in which you show your affection. Travel is not just about moving your body from one place to another, from one picture frame in front of the Eiffel tower to the next in front of the Statue of Liberty. Travelling moves your mind, irreversibly alters your heart and merges you as one unstoppable human race.

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To travel is to confront the truth

In that moment where two completely different worlds collide, alchemy takes place. Ideas of life which were utterly unfamiliar and foreign are discussed over wine, coffee or a beer and then those thoughts don’t die or remain there. They travel onward with them, scattering to different parts of the world. When you travel, you even surprise yourself. You dance on the streets, climb mountains and swim in glacial river streams. You follow your gut and the things you do and see, change the world irrevocably forever because it changes you irrevocably, forever.

Yes you will have to eventually go back to your ‘real life’ and the real world, but you won’t ever be the same person going back home anymore.

Because Travel transforms you.

Edited from article in MSN Travel

Tips for Better Travel Photos

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

 

It wasn’t that long ago that many travel photos were taken, developed and then dumped into boxes, rarely to be seen again. These days, things aren’t so different except that now the photos get dumped onto external hard drives.

In most collections of vacation and travel photos, a precious few of the very best shots are often spared this fate – those photos that are somehow more enduring or more interesting, or that best capture the spirit and sensation of the trip. What is it that keeps these photos from the dustbin of our traveling history? Often they are simply better photographs. That is, the “keeper” photo isn’t of a favorite person, place or activity – it is better composed, better lit and thus simply more visually interesting than the run-of-the-mill vacation snapshot.

Following is a collection of low- and no-tech tips to help you improve your photography skills for your next trip.

Think “people, places, things.” 3843904037_10b131c0eb_b
This old definition of the use of a noun is a handy guide to a great vacation photo: the best travel photos will often be about all three of these. To illustrate, let’s say you want to take a photo of the Tower of London on a rainy day. If you pull up your photo and snap the Tower in the gray light, you could get a decent photo. But if you put your friends in the photo with the Tower glimpsed over their shoulders (the place of interest), visible just under the rim of an umbrella (a very specific thing that evokes the conditions), you have a great shot.

Get closer. 14279953926_97bcbb87a6_h
As Robert Capa famously said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Taken literally, the closer you get to your subject, the more detail and interest you can capture.

There are a couple of ways to do this, both equally valid and effective. One is to use the telephoto features found on most cameras to zoom in on your subject. Before anyone cries cop-out, this can be a very effective photographic technique, and has resulted in countless compelling images in this age of big lenses.

The other is simply to walk closer to your subject. Not everyone is comfortable doing this, but the person viewing the photo will appreciate it; despite how close a zoom lens makes things appear, when viewing a photo the human eye can still sense the distance, and appreciates when an image has truly been taken up close.

Be in the thick of it.
A less literal read of Capa’s statement, and probably the one closer to his intent, suggests that Capa likes photos in which the photographer him- or herself seems to be part of what is going on, and not standing apart from the action. Capa’s solution to get more intimate, engaged photos is simply to be more intimately involved in the photo yourself.

5728297735_327ffa8345_b (1)Know where the sun is.
The easiest way to flatter your subject is to put it in the best light. If you want your subjects’ faces to shine, turn them so the sun is shining on their faces. If you want your photo of your cruise ship to look like the brochures, take the photo on the sunny side of the ship. Alternately, if you want to catch the glistening of light on the ocean, take the photo when the sun is low enough to bounce off the waves.

Consider the time of day.15635520540_e3ceb753aa_k
This is a fairly simple story – there’s no time like sunrise or sunset to take compelling, interesting and even stunning travel photos. Sunrise in particular can produce very striking images, in part because most people are not awake at the crack of dawn, and so can still be surprised by a sunrise photo.

Turn the camera on its side.
In some situations, turning the camera on its side to take a vertical shot is just not good composition, it is almost essential. But taking vertical shots also has an added benefit: it will enhance the interest of your overall photo collection considerably, adding geometrical variety as folks flip through your vacation slideshow.

5728340461_b4ae53db20_bFill the frame.
The interesting parts of the scene should start at the left edge of the viewfinder and end at the right edge. That is, the subject should absolutely fill the frame such that the edges of the photo will include as little superfluous imagery and information as possible.

I find this tactic offers a couple of distinct advantages. First, the intended subject of your photo is absolutely clear to anyone who sees the photo. And second, the photo becomes a thing apart from how we usually see the world, which is more or less in 180-degree panorama thanks to our peripheral vision. A photograph can isolate and amplify our experience, which turns out to be one of the attractions of travel itself, as well.

9127445666_7df279c0a8_bDivide the scene into threes.
If you put something right in the middle of the frame, the photo is about that thing. Another great tactic for creating visual interest in a somewhat routine shot is to frame the shot such that your subject is not in the dead middle of the photo, but is placed off-center in the frame. An easy way to think about this is mentally to divide the frame into three sections (left, center and right), and put the main subject of the photo either entirely within the left or right section, or perhaps right on the line dividing two sections.

How to choose on which side to put the subject? This is easy – put it on the side that has the least background interest in the overall frame. This way, the viewer can be tricked into thinking you took a photo of both the subject and the background activities, with equal emphasis on both.

You can also divide the photo vertically into threes as well so that you have a grid of nine squares total to work with.

When taking photos of traveling companions, it is easy to prop them up in front of something interesting and then take the picture. If you go to some effort to get the attraction behind them, but cut off the top of someone’s head, or include a sloppy untucked shirt, or cut the photo off at someone’s socks, you have a good photo of the sight and a terrible photo of your friends. In this case, frame them first and then worry about the background.

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I find that very often a decent photo could have been a great photo if I had just moved a little bit, whether to reframe the photo slightly, or to put something interesting into the background. This can involve moving a few steps forward or back, shifting to one side or the other, or crouching down. As a photographer, you have much more control over what you are doing and where you are standing than you do over the subject matter; if you just stand lead-footed in one spot, your photos will reflect this.

Zoom in and out until you like what you see.
If your camera has a zoom feature, and most do these days, you can help yourself to “move” by zooming in and out on your subject. I find that when you do this, at the point the scene becomes most interesting, your eye will notice it – that is, you’ll just like it more intuitively. That’s when you take the shot.

4588278443_6a3ee4f058_bPay the most attention to the edges and corners.
A great photo is as often defined by what is left in as by what is left out. You have considerable control here, and while it is normal human behavior to look directly and in a concentrated way at the things that interest us most, the camera behaves otherwise.

Very often you can take a photo that seems like it might turn out extremely well, but when you see the print of a photo, your friend is a speck in the middle of a nondescript background. Take all that stuff out, and you have a great photo.

In the same way, if you zoom in very closely on someone’s face, and cut out the monkey standing on her head, you missed the shot.

4508752325_da920c1ddf_bAt familiar sites, emphasize something other than the subject.
If you are photographing the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Mount Rushmore or any other frequently photographed site, you would often do better to buy a nice calendar than take yet another point-and-shoot photo that will just take up space on your hard drive until it crashes.

But if you make it a photo about something else – your companion’s goofy hat with the Eiffel Tower in the background, or a bobby in front of the Houses of Parliament, or a motorcycle gang parked in front of Mount Rushmore – then you have a great photo.

Look, then think, before you shoot.
Before taking a photo, if you just take a quick look at your surroundings, and give yourself a second to think about anything interesting that might be happening, you will get a much higher percentage of interesting photos than if you simply pull your camera to your eye and snap without planning what you want to capture.

14609595601_94969e17a1_kTry to take photos where you didn’t “have to be there.”
If you want to take a great photo and not merely a snapshot of your traveling companions in a certain location, think about how a complete stranger would react to seeing your picture. Photos that are thereby intrinsically interesting will enhance and retain their interest to you as well.

Use your sense of humor.
Do not underestimate the value of capturing or expressing a little humor when taking travel photos. Travel is usually as much about how we felt and thought while traveling, not just where we went, and photos that capture some humor often bring back the strongest memories and sensations as time goes by.

 

Edited from article in Independent Traveler

Southernisms

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

by Michele

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We just got home from our incredible Southern Charm tour where we spent time in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and it was fabulous!  We learned so much about the history and culture of the South and had the perfect weather for exploring new cities. From a plantation tour to a horse drawn carriage to rocking chairs on the front porch, this trip was simply charming.

We learned some new phrases along the way – Southernism, if you will – and we thought that they were too fun to keep to ourselves.  I dare you to use these in your every day conversations!

“I’m finer than frog hair split four ways.”
Southerners mostly use this phrase to answer, “How are you?” Even those below the Mason-Dixon know frogs don’t have hair, and the irony means to highlight just how dandy you feel.

“He could eat corn through a picket fence.”
This describes someone with an unfortunate set of buck teeth. They tend to stick up and outward, like a horse’s teeth. Imagine a horse eating a carrot, and you’ll get the picture.

“It came a Gully Washer”
Translation: A short, heavy rain, also known as a turtle floater, a duck drowner or a toad strangler or a downpour.

“He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.”
On farms (not just in the South) roosters usually crow when the sun rises. Their vociferous habit wakes up the house, signaling time to work.
An extremely cocky rooster might think the sun rises simply because he crows. Similarly, an extremely cocky man might think the same when he speaks — and also that everyone should listen to him.

 “Bless Your Heart”
Translation: If you’ve heard this, especially from a Southern woman, she doesn’t mean it.  In reality, the phrase has little to do with religion and more to do with a passive-aggressive way to call you an idiot. Depending on your inflection, saying “bless your heart” can sting worse than any insult.

“Now don’t come to me and be dumber than a box of rocks.”
Translation: This is self-explanatory.  And if you don’t get it, you might just be dumber than a box of rocks.

“If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”
Translation: “You’d better do what I want or I won’t be happy and if I’m not happy then you’re not gonna be happy either.  I’ll make sure of it.

“Gracious plenty”
Translation: More than enough.  As in “we’ve got gracious plenty of it”

“Forty-leven”
Translation: Innumerable.  As in “She had forty-leven children”

Introducing Noah

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Noah
Noah has not seen all of the world, but definitely plans to try!

At the ripe old age of 6, Noah’s love for travel was noticed when his grandmother took him on a trip from his hometown of Detroit to Los Angeles. “I love meeting new people. With each new person I get to hear a story about a different part of the world”.

Graduating from Baldwin-Wallace College with a degree in Exercise Physiology and Biology and a minor in enjoying life to the fullest, Noah quickly realized that he could use his education anywhere in the world. So after a surprise phone call with an offer to play semi professional soccer in Germany, he decided without hesitation that he couldn’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Now living in Berlin, he is closer to some of the most amazing things in the world; the history and architecture of Warsaw, the beer in the south of Germany, the pasta of Italy and the nude beaches in France!

Noah’s love for the world, passion for bringing people together, positive attitude and fun demeanor make him the perfect addition to the Amazing Journeys family and we are excited to have him as part of our crew. Noah will be staffing this summer’s Mediterranean cruise and looks forward to meeting the group in Europe!

For more information on our cruise to the Mediterranean this summer, click here!

 

 

15 Life Lessons I Learned While on Safari in Africa

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Lessons by Malori – Photos by Barry

15.  No swimming in the pool after dark.  That’s when the hippos swim.

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14.  Never jump in the water with two feet.  You never know what may be lurking underneath.

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13.  You don’t have to run fast.  Just faster than the slowest one in the herd.

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12.  Don’t walk around with a target on your ass.

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11.  It’s nice to see the world from a giraffe’s perspective…unless you are in a lightning storm and you become the lightening rod.

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10.  Sometimes a little rain must fall to make tomorrow that much more beautiful.

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9.  Never get between a mama and her baby.

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8.  The male lion will depend on the female to get him food, unless she is not around to get it for him…then he will do it himself.

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7.  Just as every zebra has its own unique stripes, we are all beautiful in our own way.

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6.  Some of us do our best work at night.

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5.  It’s never a good idea to stray from the pack.

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4.  Hakuna Matata – it means no worries (for the rest of your days).

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3.  It’s good to be the king.

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2.  Sometimes you’re the diner, sometimes you’re the dinner.

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1.  When the Zulu Tribal Chief puts his arms tightly around you and whispers in your ear, “I want to take you as my own,” it’s time to leave the country!

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A Taste of Cuba

Monday, March 16th, 2015

by Malori

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It’s been a week since returning from our Amazing Journeys people-to-people mission to Cuba.  We saw and did so much in just a weeks time, it’s hard to put it all down in words.  Traveling to Cuba is like heading back to the late 1950’s or earlier.  The cars, the hotels, the ideas, billboards of Castro with anti-American posts, it’s hard to believe only 90 miles away is the US where we are free to believe what we want and free to do just about anything we want.  We can get our hands on any kind of goods and services.  The people of Cuba cannot.  For example, for the average citizen, it is illegal for them to have an email address.  Think about that for a moment.  Our guide had only been on the internet four times in his life!  Imagine!  He has seen only four movies, and up until very recently, was not able to step foot into a hotel where foreigners stay. For a country with 11 million people, there are only 750,000 cars and half of those belong to the government.  To purchase a car can cost from $100,000 to $250,000 USD.  The things we take for granted, like a refrigerator, can cost upwards of $5,000 and it is the type and style we used in the 60’s.

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Rationing is still the method used for food distribution.  Eggs are limited to 10 per month.  After that, you need to find it on the black market.  Milk is cut off after a child turns seven years old.  Flour, butter, bread… it’s all rationed.

We got to visit with the Jewish Community and were happy to see that with the help of the JDC and those who contribute to it, the Jewish community, while shrinking to a fraction of the size it was, is a robust community.  Those from the “outside” world have seen to it that there are clothes to wear, medicine to be had and Judaica to hold services for Shabbat and holidays.  The teens are even given the opportunity to go on a Birthright trip to see Israel and develop a strong connection to the country and her people.

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Visiting Cuba is like peeling back the layers of an onion.  We believed it to be a certain way, because that’s what we were taught.  Fidel Castro, Bay of Pigs, Communism.  But what we found is a people who cannot wait to get out and get with modern society.  It’s going to take a lot of time and money to bring Cuba back to her glory days of the 1950’s when time stood still.  Now that the US has lightened restrictions, more people are able to visit (currently there are 500,000 US citizens per year visiting Cuba, with 80% of those being Cuban born American’s, coming back to visit with family).  Next month, the American Embassy will re-open when John Kerry brings the American flag back to Cuba.

The people of Cuba are excited to see what will come of this new beginning.  It brings hope to a country that had, for so many years, none.

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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!