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

Experience Adventure at Every Turn

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

 

Getting Back to Nature

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Do you ever feel the need to get back to nature?  Leaving the city behind and heading to the Canadian Rockies is a destination filled with more scenic beauty than most people see in a lifetime.  The majestic grandeur of the granite mountains on view before us had our group of 40 travelers in constant wonderment, enjoying one amazing view followed by another.

We began in Calgary, a metropolitan “cowboy town” that has flourished into a laid back city of about a million residents. What our group loved about being in Calgary was shimmery glass towers defining unique architecture with lots and lots of sculpture everywhere.  The rivers surrounded the town dotting it with lots of parks, gardens and green space, balancing out the cityscape.

Our next stop was to Montana and Glacier National Park.  On the way, we visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, once belonging to the Blackfeet Indian Tribe.  A fascinating look at how this society once survived using buffalo for food, clothing, housing and a variety of other uses, we gained insight into how these first inhabitants to the area lived.

20414098_1462212477150061_3891954521567388798_o

Soon the mountains and lakes started appearing and the scenery became vastly enhanced.  Looking out of the window of our coach, we gazed upon what we had come to see… snow covered mountains, set in the background of farmland and fields of green.  Once inside Glacier National Park, our full day tour in “red touring cars”, once known as Jammer Cars took us around the amazing sights inside of the parklands.  Waterfalls, long-horned sheep, the bluest lakes and streams and glaciers were what we had come to see and no one in our group was disappointed!  If you go, there are some cool places to stay within the park, and a few cute nearby towns such as Whitefish, or Columbia Falls (which has no waterfall, they just liked the name when the town was built!). A cowboy style barbecue (with real cowboys) on a lakeside setting was one of the highlights of our stay in Montana.  We loved taking photos of one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever seen.

20414309_1462212323816743_8375727044002689831_o

Traveling back up north to Canada through BC and Kootenay National Park, crossing over into the province of Alberta and Banff National Park, the scenery was amazing!  We “ohhhh-ed” and “ahhhh-ed” our way through the drive until we reached Banff and our famous hotel, the incomparable Banff Springs Hotel, also known as the “Castle on the Hill.”  Built in 1907 by the Canadian Pacific Railroad, hoping to get more people to take the train by building magnificent hotels in scenic destinations along the train route, this hotel is the original and has lived up to the high standards it was built for all these years later.  We all gasped when we saw the magnificent hotel waiting for us to explore for the next three days.  Evening entertainment, sitting on the patio with drinks in hand watching a late night sunset over the granite Rockies, walking to Bow Falls and the Bow River, and dining on yummy treats for dinner and breakfast were just a few of the things we loved about the property.  We all agreed it would be wonderful to stay longer.

20507511_1464129200291722_8286619862671206813_o

With Banff as a base, we spent the next two days discovering what we had come to see.  We took the Sulphur Springs Gondola high up into the mountains and had 360 degree views of the Rockies, Banff and the surrounds.  With breakfast at the top of the hill to start, we then climbed our way up and down platforms to see all that we could see, taking pictures all along the way,  Next, we were off to Lake Louise with the beautiful Victoria Glacier as the backdrop to this famous turquoise lake.  With the Chateau Lake Louise at one end, and the glacier at the other, there were miles and miles of hiking paths and trails in-between.  We hiked, we walked, we sat in the garden and drank beer or ate ice cream… everyone had an amazing day.

20369631_1463164120388230_5295062033640193402_o

On our last day together, we set out on the Icefields Parkway to take in what Mother Nature was offering up.  We stopped at Mirror Lake which was so serene and reflective, our photos are just spectacular!  Continuing down that road, we stopped for a visit to Maligne Lake where you will find the bluest waters in the world.  Imagine the blue on our Amazing Journeys logo.  That is the blue of the lake we saw!  Continuing into Jasper National Park, the piece de resistance was the Columbia Icefields and Athabasca Glacier, where some rode on an Ice Explorer and played on the face of the glacier, while others walked on the Skywalk and walked out over the ice fields.  We all sipped on glacial waters.

A visit to the Canadian Rockies is always very special.  To experience such scenic beauty is something that sets you straight and lets you know that all is right in the world.

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

 

Where do you go to let go?

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Please share with us – where do you go to let go?

India Recap

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Let me just take a minute to tell you about my favorite day of the trip.  We hopped on the bus in the morning to make the drive from Udaipur to Jaipur.  Along the way, we were looking out the window and all of a sudden, we came along a parade on the side of the road.  Turns out, a baby was born in the village and they were having a parade (complete with a DJ bus) and were dancing from one village to another.  So what did we do?  We jumped out of the bus and joined the party!20161208_104859

Once we made new friends and danced beside the blaring music truck, we hopped back onboard and made the rest of our ride, still dancing in our seats.  That night, we dressed up in sari’s and had henna done so we really looked local and were ready for dinner.  Back on the bus and on our way, we came upon a wedding procession, complete with a band, lights and the groom riding an elephant.  And who are we to miss a party, so we hopped out and joined the next parade!  The groom’s family invited us into the procession so we danced and jumped around, looking flashy and wearing our sari’s well.

DSC_71682

With the dancing of the day complete, we arrived at our home hosted dinner at the home of the descendants of royalty.  We were given the opportunity to ask questions of their life, have a tour of their gorgeous multi-generational family home and then have a homemade dinner with the family members themselves.  It was a truly unique experience, not to mention a delicious meal!

20161208_195609

This trip was amazing and with a great group, every day was one to remember.

 

Wildlife Encounters and Sensitivity to Animal Exploitation

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

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.

P1010801

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

8

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

P1010625

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

P1010632

9.  Never get between a mama and her baby.

28

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

31

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

21

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

27

3.  It’s good to be the king.

17

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

22

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!

P1010735

A Taste of Cuba

Monday, March 16th, 2015

by Malori

P1010560

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.

P1010504

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.

P1010393

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.

P1010192

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