As we countdown to 2013, Amazing Journeys and 92 Jewish Singles from around the world have been exploring all that Southeast Asia has to offer. We still have over a week to go on our cruise but check out some of the incredible sights we have already seen!
Posts Tagged ‘adventure’
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.
With Hanukkah right around the corner, we are all racking our brains, trying to decide on 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! Click on the pictures for more details or search the web for other similar options.
It’s always a good idea to have an extra layer when you travel – you never know when the temperature might drop or the rain clouds may roll in. Throw a fleece in your suitcase and you will always be prepared for unexpected weather.
9. Neck wallet
When traveling in foreign countries, it’s smart to keep your money, credit cards and passport under your clothes and out of plain sight. This neck wallet is thin and won’t be bulky under your clothes, and allows you to carry everything with you without looking like a tourist.
Avoid paying overage charges at the airport by making sure your suitcase is the right weight. You can even pack it so you know how many souvenirs you can bring back with you!
Plug in your appliances in any country you visit. Pick an adapter set that has many options so you will always be able to charge up those trusty electronics, no matter what part of the world you are in.
As worn by AJ staffers Malori, Erin and Stacey, it is a favorite travel accessory. Black is our “go-to” color, but it comes in many shades as well as sizes. We think the large shoulder tote is the perfect size. Although there are a lot of knock-off’s of these brands, we’ve tried many, so trust us when we say that the one made by Longchamp will hold up where the knock-offs have lasted anywhere from a day to a year.
Great for exploring, this bag can be used across your body, allowing for more security while still providing easy access to everything you need. These bags come in a bunch of fun colors so not only are you traveling safely, but stylishly too!
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!
These cases allow you to be super organized. You will be sure to pack everything you need while making sure you don’t schlep those huge bottles of shampoo for a week long vacation. When you get home from your trip, just refill the used items and put the bag away until your next trip. It will be all packed up and ready to go, saving you hours of prep time for your next journey.
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.
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!
Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!
In the spring in the city of Seville in southern Spain, a week-long celebration takes place that draws over one million people a year – the event is called “La Feria de Sevilla”. Over the years, Feria has become an internationally known celebration of flamenco, bullfighting and fun. Flamenco is an integral part of the tradition because Seville is considered to be the cultural epicenter of flamenco culture and music.
During Feria, a temporary “tent city” is born and the make-shift “tents” (or as they are known in Spanish, “casetas”) divide the land into different dance halls and private areas that are filled each evening with dancing and life lasting from 9 in the evening until 6 or 7 in the morning. Every tent is set up differently with a unique atmosphere and different customs. Visitors roam around the fairgrounds until they find an open tent with a good vibe to have a drink, watch performances and experience the atmosphere.
The women are known to dress in their most spectacular gowns, usually brightly colored flamenco dresses inspired by Gypsy fashion. The most common beverage drunk in during the Seville Fair is Spanish sherry wine, very famous in southern Spain. Often, to battle the heat of April in Seville, the sherry wine is mixed with 7-up or sprite to produce a drink known as “rebujito”.
In addition the the long nights of stomping, clapping and celebrating in the casetas, Feria also offers a wide range of other events during the day. Andalusian horse parades with decorated carriages are daily processions as they make their way through the city and fairground. The equestrian events are usually accompanied by singing groups who serenade crowds with traditional Sevillian ballads and guitar music. Many of the parade participants are members of Seville’s upper class aristocracy and normally dawn exquisite traditional Andalusian outfits with wide-brimmed “bolero” hats and short-cropped jackets. Of course, not to be missed during Feria are the afternoon bullfights. The bullring in Seville is known as one of the most beautiful in Spain and is commonly known by the locals as “the cathedral”.
Our Amazing Journeys travelers had the opportunity to experience the thrill of Feria. They sipped on sherry, explored the casetas and danced until the wee hours of the morning soaking in every bit of the tradition as possible!
It’s hard to believe that our India 1 group recently returned from their Journey to India, and our India 2 group begins their long journey home in just a few short hours. What an amazing journey we all had! From the beautiful palaces in Rajasthan, to one of the world’s most loved landmark, the Taj Mahal ….to the Kama Sutra temples of Khajuraho to some of us spotting a tiger in Rathambore….from seeing cows in the street, dancing at a wedding procession, and our visit to Varanasi and the River Ganges, where the heart of India beats and where it all came together for us…the cities we visited, the culture we embraced, the history we learned will not soon be forgotten. Our two groups of travelers experienced so much in just two short weeks.
Our Top Ten list of things we learned while in India:
10. Any country with 1.2 billion people can have its own way of doing things. Some things we’ll never understand, and that’s OK
9. Traffic in India is crazy! The lines on the roads in India are merely for decoration, and the “rules of the road” are simply suggestions. Honking one’s horn as one moves through traffic is expected.
8. Organized chaos is a way of life. To the outsider it may look wild, but that’s just how it is.
7. We’ll miss livestock wandering through city streets.
6. There is a lot of curry used in Indian cooking.
5. Sunrise is a beautiful time of the day. Things look so much clearer at sunrise. The world is at peace.
4. A wedding celebration lasts 5 – 7 days and includes a parade. Being one that loves a great party, I think this is a fantastic way to celebrate wedded bliss.
3. The Taj Mahal is everything it’s cracked up to be. One cannot appreciate its beauty in a photo. You have to see it to believe it.
2. Strong family ties and traditions that are centuries old make for a people who have a value system that is unwavering.
Well, its already been a week since our first group arrived in India and they have been having an amazing time! Check out some of the pictures below or follow us on Facebook to see a lot more pictures of our adventures!
I came to the Canadian Rockies with high expectations. For over 30 years, I have wanted to travel here…ever since I saw my first brochure of the area, filled with photos of majestic snow-capped mountains towering over lakes with the bluest water you can imagine. The Canadian Rockies as a destination was at the top of my “bucket list”. Those who had traveled with me on Amazing Journeys always asked, “if you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?” My answer, for the past 30 years has been, “the Canadian Rockies”.
This past week, 40 travelers and I ventured into Alberta, Canada, the Wild West. We arrived in Calgary and headed north to Banff. Our castle- like hotel was situated right in Banff National Park, on a hilltop overlooking a river and a waterfall, and sat below high granite mountains. We were nestled in between natures beautiful landscape – just as those travel brochures had portrayed it, all those years ago. We explored the area from horseback below and from a gondola high above. It was beautiful from every angle.
We left Banff and headed west to the Columbia Icefiends Parkway where we discovered a glacier that we could walk on! Our “glacier busses” put us right on top of an actual glacier, where we could walk around, and drink glacier water from a river that ran through the face of the glacier. It was amazing!
We arrived in Jasper National Park and stayed at the historical Jasper Park Lodge. It felt just like summer camp. Our “cabins” were scattered all around a lake. The lake was crystal clear, and some of us walked around the 2.5 mile circumference. Standing at the pier, you could see all the way down to the bottom. It was like glass, with a reflection of the mountains every where you looked. Geese and ducks enjoyed the calm surroundings, as did we! Some hiked, some went on a float trip down the river and some enjoyed a peaceful cruise to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake. In the evening, we enjoyed a wildlife specialist who taught us about bears, moose and elk and brought us antlers to hold and replicas of actual bear feet that were so huge, we decided that we never want to be up close and personal with a grizzly!
Driving back across the Columbia Icefields Parkway, we stopped first at a lake with green water, then one with turquoise water. Amazing and unbelievable. I had always thought that the photos in the brochure must have been touched up and that they were a little over zealous in their coloration process. These lakes are real and have so much color you can hardly imagine!
We arrived at Lake Louise and were overwhelmed at the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel which was constructed at the turn of the last century and is so palatial! We dined at the Fairview Restaurant, where Prince William and Kate dined together just one night before. The scene over the lake from the restaurant was magical. We were looking out over a glacier, right in front of us. Most of us took a two mile hike around the lake and were closer to the face of the glacier. It was a scene out of a fairy tale and took our collective breath away.
Our last stop on the tour was Calgary, and we were treated to the famous Calgary Stampede, a once-a-year event where Calgary becomes a town filled with cowboys, rodeo and country music. Upon our arrival at the Stampede Grounds, we were each given a cowboy hat and went to the rodeo! Bucking broncos, bull riding, rope tying…we all got a good cowboy education. We rode amusement rides, listened to music at the Nashville North Tent, and visited an Indian Village. We saw baby pigs, giant Clydesdale horses and learned about agriculture. That night we switched gears and went to Temple Tikva where we enjoyed Shabbat services with the local community. It was a real treat to be invited to this warm and welcoming synagogue. The next day we went back to the Stampede grounds where we saw Chuckwagon Races and the grand finale, the famous Grandstand Show. This was one of the best shows anywhere, ever! A combination of Circ du Soliel, the Muppets and Hollywood, combined with a horse or two, a marching band and a comedian. And fireworks!
Another Amazing Journey embarks on Thursday with our 3rd Jewish singles trip to Costa Rica. This remarkable destination is chock full of deliciously warm weather, lush green massive rainforests, extraordinary adventure and an undeveloped landscape that makes coming here a true natural wonder. No tall buildings, no massive crowds, never a feeling of “touristy” and no lack of surprises. Among other things, we’ll be hiking an active volcano, canyoning down a waterfall, horseback riding through the rainforest, and zip lining ABOVE the treetops at over 7000 feet…just to name a few. We’ll also spend three nights at the amazing Tabacon Resort at the base of the Arenal Volcano where we’ll indulge in the beauty, landscape and surroundings of the natural hotsprings, mineral pools and waterfalls created by this volatile and spectacular phenomenon.
Follow our exploration and experience of our eight night tour in Costa Rica by visiting our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/amazingjourneys where we’ll post some moments-in-time from this awesome tour.
If your idea of an ideal vacation is to enjoy a pairing of lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, the wonders of nature, and a scintillating culture, Costa Rica is a place where dreams can be made. No wonder, then, that thousands of tourists have made Costa Rica their top travel choice.
Costa Rica occupies a privileged spot in the heart of Central America. While its territory of 19,652 square miles touches both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the country is surprisingly accessible – just a 3 hour flight from Atlanta. Its borders are protected by the US military and its inland protective services are protected by a respected and reputable police force. Costa is not only beautiful, its smart.
Just what the every Jewish single is looking for!
A little bit of knowledge about this country is interesting…however a personal experience of this country will drop your jaw with anticipation, excitement, adventure and relaxation. All rolled into one!
Intersecting beaches and forests
Costa Rica’s beaches are surrounded by forests, and have great natural diversity and a variety of aquatic ecosystems with beautiful white and black sand beaches, ideal for sport fishing, snorkeling, and sun bathing. In this small area of firm land, there are 762 miles of coastlines, distributed on the Pacific and the Caribbean. Costa Rican beaches allow you to sun-tan while having the additional bonus of being part of a complex pro-nature system known as the Ecological Blue Flag Award recognizing Costa Rica’s commitment with sustainability and environmental protection.
Plants and animals everywhere
Costa Rica´s territory is so small that it encompasses only 0.03% of the planet´s surface but is within the top 20 richest countries in biodiversity on Earth in terms of species density. It is possible to find more species in 1,000 sq.miles in Costa Rica that in the same area in countries like Brazil or Colombia. Costa Rica has nearly half a million species, representing 4% of the planet´s expected biodiversity. Are you ready to discover it?
Costa Rica´s Marvels of Fire
As part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Costa Rica´s volcanoes are among the most mesmerizing in the world. In fact, the present-day landmass known as Costa Rica is the result of complex volcanic activity that took place some 75 million years ago and still continues today.
Counting every location or crater where an eruption has occurred within its borders, Costa Rica volcanoes boast a stunning 112 sites throughout the country. Most Costa Rica volcanoes and their surrounding areas have been made into national parks.
One of them is Arenal Volcano, listed among the 10 most active volcanoes in the world and for a good reason: It regularly puts on a spectacle, showing off with strong rumbling sounds and occasional rock avalanches, as well as smoke, ash and lava eruptions that descend its slope at speeds reaching 70 kilometers per hour and temperatures reaching 1,000 degrees Celsius.
The mountain and surrounding area were declared a national park in 1994. Thermal hot springs are now the area’s main attraction, most of which boast nearby trails and numerous lookout points. And yes, one of the highlights of the upcoming Amazing Journey for Jewish singles in their 30s, 40s & 50s is a three night stay at the Tabacon Resort at the base of the Arenal Volcano. To say it’s a highlight, is an understatement
The Biggest Rainforest in Costa Rica
La Amistad International Park (PILA) is the biggest natural park in Costa Rica covering a great variety of humid, rain and cloud forests in the Pacific and Atlantic sides, as well as indigenous reserves.
The Talamanca region, a big portion of the park, was a refuge in colonial times for indigenous people who were resilient from the Spanish colonizers’ repression.
The enormous cultural richness and extraordinary natural habitats, result of different altitudes, soil and microclimates, was the reason why the park was also designed Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.
Species in great danger of extinction such as the jaguar, the largest feline in the Americas and third largest world-wide, live in the park as well as a great variety of wildlife, which includes 400 species of birds, 263 species of amphibians and reptiles and 213 of mammals. Many other species are found only in this giant rainforest.
The Canopy Tour, Originally from Costa Rica
Born in Costa Rica in the 90s, the canopy tour is the closest experience to enable one to feel like a monkey travelling in the tree tops. It is also one of the best ways to explore the richness of the canopy, where the biggest amount of the forest’s biodiversity is found, and to raise awareness about the rainforest’s fragile ecosystem.
It consists of a series of suspended cables attached from tree to tree on which you can glide along using a pulley that is secured to the harness. Cables vary in length (they can measure even 700 meters long!) and end in small wooden platforms built in the tops of trees, which are located up to 100 feet above the jungle floor. The impact to the forest is minimal.
The canopy tour has been adapted to a great variety of environments and landscapes within the country, including mountains, canyons, rivers, waterfalls and cloud, dry and tropical forests. The tour has also been exported to other Latin American countries such as Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize.
Nature on the skin
Imagine if the delicious cup of coffee, the freshly made piña colada, the aromatic essences that give flavor to your salad or even the fragrance of the wild flowers which you breathe, could be part of your skin. Mixing these ingredients within various health, relaxation and beauty treatments is possible in Costa Rica.
Situated throughout the territory are locations that are also home to many diverse spas that strive to offer a holistic service of international quality and to do it with the warmth and personalized attention of the Costa Rican people.
If you add a never-ending source of certified natural produce, creativity and knowledge, you will end up with an array of benefits to replenish your skin. These products can improve health, calm emotions and truly work their magic while used for massages at the able hands of local therapists.
These healing ingredients include coffee, brown sugar and even coconut. They may be used to exfoliate your skin and help it eliminate dead cells and toxins, or they may improve blood circulation and allow positive energy to flow throughout your body. One way to do it is by enjoying the ever-popular body wraps, in which volcanic mud, jasmine, mint or tropical fruits are used to hydrate and replenish the skin while also nurturing it with vitamins and minerals.
Specially designed healing rooms provide an ideal climate – one enriched by stimulating decorations, soothing music and ambient sounds from nature, sea or forest animals – in which one may enjoy a therapeutic experience to be shared even with couple, friends and family.
Birds that cannot go unnoticed
Its plumage is mostly scarlet but its tail-covered feathers are light blue, making the Scarlet Macaw one of the most beautiful birds of the American tropics. In fact, with almost 1 meter in length, more than half constituted by its pointed striking tail, this bird cannot go unnoticed, especially because they are often seen in pairs. A number of couples may even congregate with others to form a flock of several hundred individuals: a spectacle that is impossible to forget when they fly above the forest canopy.
One interesting thing about Macaws is the use of beaks as an aid in both eating and as a “third foot” when climbing. The beak is strong to crush seeds and nuts, while the thick fleshy tongue is used to move the food around.
Another bird worth keeping your eyes peeled in the trees for is the Toucan. The colorful, giant bill, which in some large species measure more than half the length of the body, is the hallmark of toucans and to see this swift flyer swoop among trees is a sight to behold only in Costa Rica.
The most amazing journey across the Americas
Every year, millions of migratory species, whether by water, land or air, travel enormous distances over the American continent, some of them arrive in Costa Rica, in search of better climatic conditions, more abundant food or a suitable site for reproduction, which generally coincides with the warmer season. These odysseys are not exempt from great challenges; some species travel up to 20,000 miles round-trip.
This happens with species of whales, bats, birds, fish, sea turtles and even insects like the monarch butterfly. Most flee the North American winter to seek food in the southern part of the continent, and then return to their feeding grounds in the north when their favorite foods sprout anew in the spring.
Very small species like ruby-throated hummingbirds which measure only 10 cm, fly non-stop for 26 hours from Canada and the United States to Central America at a velocity of 28 mph for a voyage of 652 miles that even includes crossing the Gulf of Mexico. And if the blackpoll warbler only 13 cm long, were to burn gasoline instead of body fat, it would get 715,852 miles per gallon.
But the most extensive individual migration known for a mammal was that of a humpback whale initially spotted off the Antarctic Peninsula and then seen off the Santa Elena Peninsula of Costa Rica, for a total trip of 7,130 miles
Want to see it for yourself?
Join other Jewish singles from across the US (and beyond!) for a thrilling Amazing Journey to rainforests, cloudforests, jungles, beaches, and active volcanoes. We’ll take you on the path less followed to view strange and magnificent wildlife in their natural habitats, to swim in protected pristine waters, to delve into adventures you’ve never imagined, and to “chill” in nature’s wonderland of hot springs and mineral pools created by the biodiversities surrounding the country. All this plus a group of Jewish Singles from all over North America and beyond, who await you in magnificent Costa Rica. Contact Amazing Journeys for details: www.amazingjourneys.net
It’s hard to believe tomorrow we arrive home after a fabulous and amazing week in New Zealand. The week really flew by as we enjoyed nature and excitement daily! The journey began in Christchurch where visited the Antarctic Centre and experienced a real earthquake! We were a little shaky but anxious to see what this breathtakingly beautiful country had to offer.
Still on the South Island, we traveled to Mt. Hood, before arriving in Queenstown, which has to be one of the most magnificent spots on earth! Surrounded by snow covered mountains on all sides, and overlooking a reflecting lake, this “Lord of the Rings” backdrop was heaven on earth. Our days were filled jetboating and sailing along the deep fjords and narrow passages of Milford Sound.
Heading onto the North Island, we were entertained by Maori’s in a cultural show that including native dancing and dinner. We visited Rotorua, with it’s geo-thermal pools and geysers…the entire town smelled like sulphur! Actually, this city is where the earth’s crust is the thinnest, and mud pools bubble and spew and churn as we observe nature. It’s really fascinating.
Continuing north to Auckland, we enjoyed the “City of Sails” before it was time to head home. It’s hard to believe our tour to New Zealand is over, but with it come fabulous memories of one of the most beautiful spots on earth!
AJ heads off to the land of OZ. With koalas, kangaroos, boomerangs and a few ”G’day Mate”s leading the way, our group departs this weekend for 2 weeks to Australia. And then, for many, another week follows to the land of kiwis, adventure and spectacular landscapes throughout New Zealand.
Soon, we’ll be snorkeling at The Great Barrier Reef, climbing The Sydney Harbour Bridge, tour The Sydney Opera House, safari-ing in the saavannah with ‘roos, emus and koalas, and exploring Ayres Rock in the true Outback.
Its trips like this that give true meaning to the words “amazing journey”.
Stay tuned for highlights…