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.
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!
– 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
When one thinks of a vacation paradise, the mind tends to conjure up images of a beach in Aruba or a sunset in Hawaii. A real paradise is something that doesn’t exist in the tangible world; rather it is a meaning that humans give to something that brings peace, tranquility, serenity and beauty to their lives. Alaska is, by that definition, the quintessential paradise of the highest extremes. By winter, the cold and ice and landscape combine to create images that can’t be described in words alone. By summer, the adventures, wildlife and seasonal brevity lure people in for 3 months to catch a glimpse of its majesty.
Alaska as a destination is an adventure of the mind, body and soul. Each season in Alaska is an unusual, profound, memorable and unpredictable experience in its own right. There is no wrong time to visit Alaska. Just ask a native. Just ask yours truly who has been there in the summer, spring and yes, even the winter. Just ask anyone with a true sense of adventure who has chosen to go where so few have gone…when so few have gone.
Alaska is a blessed place and one where you need go…..and go again, if you’ve already been. If you haven’t been, go. Go this summer! (Come with Amazing Journeys!! http://amazingjourneys.net/trip/cruise-alaska-2013) If you have been, you really do need to go again; you’ve only seen “the tip of the iceberg” and there’s SO much more to see and do. There are many many bucket list experiences that you can indulge in – white water rafting down a glacial river, bear watching along a fishing stream, hiking on a glacier via helicopter, biking an a national forest….and so much more. And that’s in the summer! In the winter you can go snowshoeing in a national park, dogsledding in the wilderness, Auroroa Borealis (Northern Lights) gazing in all its glory, party with the locals during the Iditarod festivities….and you get to meet some of the most interesting people in all the world.
Above all else, the experiences and memories that an Alaskan journey leaves behind is a place on the planet that touches your soul. Between the bucket list checklist and the unpredictable wildlife and deeply rooted culture and the vast uncharted landscape…..you know that you have been in a paradise of unparallelled proportions. Alaska is Mother Nature’s Showcase. Come! or…Come back again!
Amazing Journeys is coming to New York for a party!
Join us in the City for a night of “reunionizing” with old and new friends alike. For those who have never traveled with us before and are eager to see what we’re all about, this is your night to meet the staff of AJ as well as scores of New Yorkers (and New Jersey-ers and Connecticut-ers….and out-of-town-ers who are coming in just for the fun of it) for a fun midweek gathering. We’ll begin the evening with a short presentation on our 2013 lineup of trips, along with some incentives, specials and prizes. Following the show, we open the bar and restaurant for 2 hours of what Amazing Journeys does best; fun and friends! This is what we are all about and if you haven’t yet caught the buzz, come along and catch it. You’ll be glad you did!
If you have traveled with us before, come by to say hello and visit with old and new friends alike. We look forward to seeing you again!
We’ve rented out one of the Upper West Side’s hottest establishment for 3 hours in total – a private event just for Amazing Journeys friends; past present and future. We hope to see you there!
Tuesday, February 19 at Prohibition – 503 Columbus Avenue
6 – 7 pm Presentation:
7 – 9 pm Happy Hour with staff and friends of Amazing Journeys. Join us for drinks and party food!
$18 per person if you register by February 15 ($25 after, and at the door)
*Includes exclusive private use of Prohibition, one drink and a variety of party food! Additional drinks are available for purchase.
For Jewish Singles of all ages.
For more information and a registration form, click here: http://amazingjourneys.net/trip/party-in-new-york
Our New Mexico tour has come to an end but not after an avalanche of “oooh”s and “aaaah”s and “wooooah”s as 40 Amazing Journeyers took in all the beauty and pagentry that our 48th state has to offer this time of year. Some of the highlights of this magnificent tour:
On our first full day we wasted no time as an early morning wakeup call provided us with one of the most photographed events in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Viewing the Dawn Patrol and the Mass Ascension, over 100 colorful balloons from around the world made the sky become a pallet of multicolored orbs dancing in the cool morning light. Following the morning festivities, we enjoyed an Albuquerque City Tour featuring the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center depicting the history and culture of New Mexico’s 19 Native American pueblos, and historic Old Town. That evening we returned to the Balloon Fiesta where just before dusk, burners from hundreds of balloons light up the evening sky with the amazing Balloon Glow. What a sight!
On our 2nd day in New Mexico we headed to Bandelier National Monument, best known for its mesas, sheer-walled canyons, rock art and ancestral Pueblo dwellings. We also visited the Los Alamos Bradbury Science Museum to learn about the Manhattan Project and the creation of the world’s first atomic bomb.
We discovered Santa Fe, the upscale resort and artist community with Spanish-Pueblo roots. On our City Tour we visited the Plaza, Loretto Chapel and the Palace of the Governor’s, a Santa Fe landmark built in 1610 as well as an array of art galleries, museums, restaurants and craft shops.
We traveled north via the “High Road to Taos,” passing through ancient villages founded in the 1700’s and stopped in the Spanish village of Chimayo to visit El Santuario, revered by pilgrims for the healing power of dirt found inside the chapel. Taos is the historic home of the Pueblo Indians. Located atop a plateau between the Rio Grande and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos has lured artists and writers since the 19th century. We visited Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America.
Thanks to all 40 passenger (half them first time AJers!) for entrusting us with their vacation plans and for being part of such an Amazing Journey.