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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Where do you go to let go?

Monday, January 9th, 2017

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

Balloon Fiesta Recap

Monday, October 26th, 2015

by Michele

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An amazing morning and an amazing sight, one to embrace and remember for years to come.  Truly an opportunity everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime… the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  Tens of thousands come from all over the world for this annual event and I had the privilege and honor to take our amazing group of 25.  We boarded our bus by 5:00 am and everyone, albeit a bit tired, was filled with anticipation to see hundreds of balloons take flight during mass ascension.  The weather was perfect, we could not have asked for a better day.  The sun began to rise above the spectacular scenery that surrounded us, it was a breathtaking moment.  Balloons of all shapes and sizes filled the clear blue sky as though it was a canvas and painted an awesome picture that will not be soon forgotten.  The field was filled with smiles on faces young and old alike, that too was a pleasure to see and embrace… there is something to be said about a festival that can bring together so many people all to enjoy one of life’s amazing moments!

Greetings from the National Parks

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

– by Malori

Greetings from Colorado and Utah where we are visiting some of our country’s greatest treasures, it’s natural beauty. Our National Parks were created to preserve some of the most awe inspiring scenery anywhere. Our group of 18 Amazing Journeyers are hitting the open roads in search of America’s inspirational landscapes. Today we are in Moab, Utah where we visited our collective favorite, Arches National Park. We visited by day and hiked up to and climbed through several of the actual arches here. The red colored sandstone was nature at it’s finest! In the evening, we went back to an area called “Balanced Rock” to watch the sunset, and with the sun setting against the rocks, we observed the natural colors of the rocks changing from orange to “burnt orange” to red. The colors of the mountains in the background were purple and the clouds in the sky turned pink. It was so beautiful, we broke out singing, “America the Beautiful” together.

This morning, some of the group participated in an exhilarating Hummer Safari tour up and over the red rocks and to the face of the cliffs, overlooking the Colorado River below. The rest of the group choose a white water rafting adventure in the Colorado River, and most of the group escaped the 106 degree heat and jumped right in the water, swimming alongside of the raft.

Later, we visited Canyonlands National Park, another beauty in our four-National Parks Tour. The views and vistas were amazing, and the hiking at both of the National Parks in Utah were incredible.

Earlier in the week, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Denver and tomorrow we will be visiting Mesa Verde National Park.

The Amazing Journeyers who choose to come with us on this tour love seeing the majestic landscapes we have had the opportunity to visit.

The perfect day in Hawaii

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

-by Erin

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Imagine this…

You wake up to the sounds of waves crashing outside your window and you walk bleary eyed down to the lobby where you grab a fresh cup of local Hawaiian coffee which instantly wakes you up and energizes you for the incredible day ahead.  With your sunglasses on your head and your camera on your shoulder, you walk down to the beach where the warm sand tickles your toes and you lay out your blanket and watch one of the most impressive sunrises that you will ever see in your life.  You see locals showing off their surfing skills and smell authentic Hawaiian cuisine as you walk down the long stretches of sandy beaches.

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After a delicious breakfast of fresh local fruit and homemade pastries, you pack your day bag and make your way down the beach to Diamond Head.  As you hike to the top of the dormant volcono, the warm sun makes you smile while the cool sea breeze reminds you where you are.  At the overlook, you gather with your friends and take pictures of the island with breathtaking 360-degree views.

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After an active morning, it’s time to relax so with a strawberry daiquiri in one hand and a good magazine in the other, you head down to the pool.  With the sounds of the ukulele strumming and waves lulling you to sleep, you take a nap soaking in the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle and dreaming of tomorrow’s adventure.  After a relaxing hour or two poolside, you head back to your room and don your most festive and colorful outfit because tonight, you are going to a luau!  You are taught to dance the hula, learn about the Hawaiian culture and watch an impressive show of dancers and fire breathers.

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As the sun sets and the sky becomes a wash of indigo’s and violet’s, you think of all the fabulous experiences that you will get to share with your family, the friends that you have made and the warm Hawaiian rays of sun that will keep you warm when you are back home and digging your car out of a pile of snow.

Sound like something you’d want to experience?  Join us in Hawaii this November and learn the true meaning of Aloha!  Click here for a preview video of Aloha Hawaii.

Home Home on the Range

Monday, July 15th, 2013

…where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day!

Herein describes our just completed Amazing Journeys tour of the National Parks of Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons. Nary a white puffy cloud in the sky….an abundance wildlife grazing on the open range….a landscape to make you want to just sit and stare….adventures in hiking and river rafting that exceeded all expecations…and a terrific group of travelers who all made this trip an everlasting memory.

Nature lovers were in their Garden of Eden on this tour.  There are few places on earth that conjure up the bountiful beauty of the open ranges in Wyoming and Montana.  Life in these parts are quite different than the concrete jungles of the highly populated, fast-paced deadline-oriented Big City USA, and an experience that gives one thought for a different way of spending their days.  One cannot help but to stop and watch a grazing bison or take a photo of a snow capped mountain in July.  To hike along The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is not too unlike that of the more familiar natural wonder in Arizona. For some, a bucket list experienced was checked off when Old Faithful erupted “right on time”.  To all, the compilation of a great group, fun times and a majestic landscape provided a week’s getaway that calls for more. (Can you say “Alaska”????)

But no rest for the weary as Amazing Journeys heads off for Italy and Croatia in just a day.  Sixty-four strong, we are soon to embark on a journey through Venice, Rome, Sicily and Naples as well as Dubrovnik, Split and even Montenegro.  Not quite the open ranges of Yellowstone but a treat of culture, history and culinary indulgences that will capture everyone’s sense of travel.  If, however, you covet a gem of Mother Nature, the aformentioned Alaska calls.   Amazing Journeys heads to Alaska in August and yes, you can too.  Give us a call and we’ll tell you more.

The Baseball Game of Life

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

“And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Mudville-mighty Casey has struck out.”

Those lines have echoed through the decades, the final stanza of a poem published in the June 3, 1888, issue of the San Francisco Examiner. Its author, Ernest Thayer’s poem has taken a well-deserved place as an enduring icon of Americana. Christopher Bing’s magnificent version of this immortal ballad of the flailing 19th-century baseball star is rendered as though it had been newly discovered in a hundred-year-old scrapbook.

And what does this have to do with Amazing Journeys?  Last week a bunch of baseball enthusiasts – aficionados, if you will – went on a road trip of their own, to visit some of the most iconic baseball venues in the history of the game. It was a smorgasboard of baseball; an endless horizon of becoming one with the diamonds of yesteryear as well as today.  We met Dwight (Doc) Gooden of the Mets and Yankees….we ate peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Yankee Stadium…we swung (and hit very well) a few fastballs at the batting cages…we remembered the past in Cooperstown…and we became part of the past with a Fenway experience in Boston that words alone cannot describe.

Baseball teaches us so much about ourselves.  It is a game of life; a game with so many metaphorically similar lessons to learn that it’s a wonder we all don’t fall in love with the game.

Just think about it.

A player is surrounded by teammates, coaches, fans as well as opposing players, and their advocates. A person in life is surrounded by siblings, parents, cousins, co-workers, acquaintances and friends, as well as those who compete against them for jobs, parking spots, short lines and other competitive routines of daily living. Like the pitcher who just gave up a grand slam and needs to be replaced, he still gets a pat on the tush from his coach and the support of his teammates.  In life, our inner circle of family and friends – real friends – support us even when we fail.   Together, the team and family learn about the joys of succeeding, the trials of failing, the challenges of improving and the results of their efforts.

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball – an illness, a bad evaluation at work, a car accident or perhaps Mother Nature reaps havoc.    This is where life can be like the impossible baseball game; sometimes the game seems like it can’t be won, but miraculously it often can.  In 2004 the perennial losers of baseball, the Boston Red Sox were about to embarrassingly bow out yet again to the mighty Yankees having lost the first 3 games of the best of 7 in the American League Championship Series.  Down by one run in the bottom of the 9th in Game 4, and only moments before their curse would continue….history changed forever.  The Sox tied it, went on to win the game in extra innings and then all the rest of the games in the series.  They then went on to blow out the St. Louis Cardinals for their first World Series win in 86 years.

Hope!  Never give up. 

If not today, there’s another game tomorrow where you get to start all over again.   Perseverance can pay off in big ways if one can get up, dust themself off and figure out a new way.  Just like the player getting thrown out trying to steal 2nd base. He’ll get another chance. Skills such as determination, focus, ambition, patience, practice,  sportsmanship, and respect enhance the meaning of the word “hope”.  To sit at home and hope that the love of your life will knock on your door is futile.  But by getting out and doing things, you put yourself in position (notice the baseball lingo here) to make a catch.

As they say “even the longest journey begins with just one step”.  Think of career minor leaguer John Lindsey.  He spent 16 years in the minor leagues before getting his break in September of 2010 when he was called up to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers; his first stint ever in the Majors.  He played in 11 games that season and is now still a prospect with Major League credentials with the Detroit Tigers organization.

Hope springs eternal.  One never knows what can happen….if they continue to hope.

Such as in life, a player will only succeed over a period of time if he wants to; if he truly desires to.  As Babe Ruth once said – “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”