Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Antarctica’

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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Wandering Jews

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

– by Malori

We are a community of nomads; the moniker “Wandering Jews” is part of who we are. Whether celebrating Purim on the banks of the Amazon River or Shabbat in the African Savannah; participating in a local service in a Cuban Synagogue in Miami or visiting a shul from the 3rd century in Barcelona, and yes, on the continent of Antarctica where we planted an Israeli flag and said a shehechianu; our Jewishness travels with us and we celebrate it where we can. You truly can take Judaism with you wherever you travel!

Here’s how an ordinary plastic Israeli flag made it from Mobile, Alabama – to Antarctica – and back:

This little plastic Israeli flag adorning my bookshelf does not appear to be unusual. They are a dime a dozen. Its pole is about 12” in length and the flag itself is about 6” by 8”. But it is quite remark- able.

Two years ago Malori Asman (a cousin of Jeff Redisch) and I happened to be in conversation. Malori mentioned that she was leading a tour to Antarctica. A travel agent, Malori is often at the fore – leading tours to familiar and also more exotic locations. This specific tour was geared primarily towards Jews. I suggested that she take an Israeli flag along with her and place it in Antarctica. She agreed. Months passed and I had forgotten our conversation. About a year ago, Malori came back to Mobile for a visit. She came by the shul and brought me this small Israeli flag.

And then she told me the following story: We arrived in Antarctica. We stepped foot onto the shores of this unique landscape, placed the flad on this southernmost point of the world’s surface, held hands around the Israeli flag and sang the Hatikvah.

I asked if she had thought about leaving the flag there as a permanent market. She retiieved it and handed it to me and explained that people are very devoted to removal of all items so that Antarctica could remain as pristine as possible. Plus, she thought that I would enjoy having an israeli flag that had visited Antarctica.

It’s a remarkable little flag: just a small piece of plastic with the design that you and I know so well, yet it gives voice to the indomitable Jewish spirit. This extraordinary little flag, that looks fairly typical, escorted a group of Jews to one of the most remote locations on the earth’s surface and assisted that group (and all of us) in proudly demonstrating our presence and our identity. Truly remarkable! Every one of us has an opportunity to make his or her journeys remarkable. Each of us has the power to mark the world in which we live. How will you make your mark as a Jew on our world? Travel in peace. Travel with pride.

L’Shalom,
Rabbi Steven Silberman
Congregation Ahavas Chesed
Mobile, Alabama 

Traveling Single; A Fast & Furious Growth in the Travel Industry

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

After a long and committed relationship with couples and families, the travel industry is hitting the singles scene full force. There is a growing number of companies exclusively catering to unattached travelers organizing journeys that mix high-end vacationing with coed bonding. Many of these outfits are going beyond the old lonely hearts Carnival booze cruise, rolling out extended excursions to both nearby US National Parks and far-flung locales like Asia, Australia, South America and even Spitsbergen, Norway. 

According to the latest census, nearly half of all adult Americans are unmarried. With young people waiting till later in life to settle down and with more boomers retiring and getting their second wind, the travel industry has a lot of potential single clients. Research has found that 26 percent of leisure travelers took at least one trip by themselves last year. So while many others in the business are just starting to recover from the recession, solo-specific tour operators are reporting two or three times as many 2011 bookings as the industry overall.

Of course, going solo isn’t without its quirks. To begin with, singles-only companies sometimes avoid the single supplement by matching travelers with roommates, a delicate procedure. Then there’s the age factor: Since these trips draw nearly all ages, age-specific trips can lend itself to some people who miss the spectrum to feel left out….yet if a trip is open to too wide an age range it can tend to be too diverse for an interest group.

And women hoping to be surrounded by travel-loving men may be disappointed to discover that the clientele skews so heavily female that a few companies even reserve “emergency” spots for men. 

If you’re already humming the theme to The Love Boat, you’re not far off; while Julie and Gopher may not have been aboard, most early singles tours were cruises. Singles cruises today are no longer limited to just romantic Caribbean getaways.  Quite the contrary as experienced cruisers “outgrow” the fun in the sun idea in lieu of more destination-oriented endeavors.  Indeed, ocean-faring trips are still popular and becoming even more broad with cruising opportunties that not only include Europe, Alaska and Southeast Asia, but unique cruising experiences to far away places like Antarctica, Galapagos Islands and The Amazon.

Still, the singles-travel market now looks much like the general travel industry, with its constant stream of new and more unusual trips designed to appeal to experienced travelers. But no matter how much these companies tout their travel bona fides and stress that they’re not dating services, they say vacationers only care about one thing: more than where they are going, a recent survey showed that they want to know who else is going.

Despite even exotic destinations, it’s really the social side of the trips that has prompts many to sign up again and again.The preponderance of repeat bookers, though, can be intimidating to travelers who show up without knowing a soul. Travelers also report that the trips sometimes develop their own cliques, and even the companies admit that there are often one or two people who need a lot of help being eased into the group. Amazing Journeys, for example works diligently to “cater to the solo traveler”- expressing to first time travelers that everyone traveled with us for the first time once.  By nourishing the lasting value of repeat business while cultivating and catering to first time travelers, Amazing Journeys has had exceptional results in blending the two sources into each and every successful trip.

An Unofficial List of Amazing Journeys’ Top 10 Lifetime Experiences

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Having traveled to all 7 continents with thousands of travelers over the course of 20 years in the biz, we have been privy to so many amazing life experiences for so many amazing people. While some prefer adventure to fulfill their bucket lists (jumping off the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand), other prefer seeing famous landmarks (The Sydney Opera House). While some are in search of elusive wildlife (spotting a cheetah in Tanzania) others are thrilled to simply experience a paradise (snorkeling in French Polynesia).
Whatever the destination, we live in a world chock full of so many incredible, sometimes life-changing places to see, do and experience. Its why we do what we do–giving folks an opportunity to experience places once only read about in books or seen on television is something we are passionate about.
As a group of “wandering” Jews, we not only crave the next adventurous pursuit…we have strong opinions about how we do it. Feedback is an important component for Amazing Journeys in meeting the needs and understanding the interests of our clients. Through this feedback, we not only learn how to better meet these needs, we learn just how our jobs change lives of people. As our tagline says “Vacations That Change Your Life”.
In light of this premise, check out our Top Ten List of Lifetime Experiences that so many our passengers have shared with us; that have changed their lives. And ours too!
10. Zip Lining above the treetops in a cloud forest…in Costa Rica!
9. Witnessing the birth of a baby buffalo on safari…in Botswana!
8. After a day of waddling with thousands of penguins, having a whale swim so close to our ship that we could almost reach out and pet her…in Antarctica!
7. Cuddling a koala in our arms the same day we snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef…in Australia!
6. Traveling about as far from home as humanly possible and finally arriving at the Taj Mahal….in India!
5. Actually standing on and seeing the endless structure (over 4000 miles long) of The Great Wall….in China!
4. Watching all the pageantry culminated by seating at the famous Samba Parade during Carnaval….in Rio de Janeiro!
3. Physically exploring the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels – a labyrinth of underground survival strategies used by the Viet Cong during the war….in Vietnam!
2. Arriving atop the ancient, hard-to-truly-grasp preserved landscape of Machu Piccu….in Peru!
1. Mushing on a dog sled atop a glacier after the most scenic helicopter ride imaginable….in Alaska!
Now this is by no means a complete and final list. Some honorable AJ-Mentions include visiting The Hermitage in St. Petersburg Russia, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia, cruising around Cape Horn-the southern tip of South America, living in scenery that looks like a painted picture in the Canadian Rockies, and hiking in the US national parks. There are so many other life experiences shared by our passengers and you too can experience a few yourself. Check out what AJ has in store for 2012 by visiting our website www.amazingjourneys.net or calling us at 412-571-0220.

Vacations That Change Your Life

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Over the past 20 years, (the last 11 years under the name Amazing Journeys) we have taken over 6000 passengers across seven continents to places once only dreamed of .   We tag our Amazing Journeys with “vacations that change your life” and there’s a reason we do so.

Together we’ve gone jetboating in New Zealand, hot-air ballooning in Australia, dog sledding in Alaska, snorkeling in the Caribbean, zip lining in Costa Rica, parading at Carnaval in Rio, biking in Europe, off-roading in Iceland and even swimming in Antarctica! 

We’ve seen the Statue of David, the Sydney Opera House, the massive Alaskan glaciers, the Aurora Borealis, the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, The Grand Canal in Venice and The Grand Canyon itself. 

We’ve been kissed by dolphins, cuddled by koalas, snorkeled with sea lions, swam with the stingrays, witnessed the birth of a buffalo and waddled with penguins. And….we’ve been the venue for the introduction of over 100 “happily ever after” individuals who, for obvious reasons, won’t be seen on an upcoming Jewish singles Amazing Journey.

Check out some of these life changing experiences we have provided and shared with our Amazing travelers. If you are one of the lucky one’s who have ‘been there, done that’ then you can attest to the life changing experiences we offer to our travelers and we invite you to come back for more. If you are one of our readers and followers and facebook friends who have yet to travel with us…what are you waiting for?  Life is too short to stay home. Get out there with us and experience what it’s like to have, by true definition, an Amazing Journey.

A vacation that will change your life.

SWIMMING AT THE POLES

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Granted, this is not a common thought to those of us living in a civilized modern world, but if one were to think on such a plane, one would consider the secret of survival in the Arctic Ocean to be to stay in the boat and not go in the water.  Right?

Well…given a challenge and the opportunity (and being just a li’l ol’ visitor from the aformentioned civilized world), I decided TO go in the water;  to plunge into the 38 degree Arctic Ocean from the northernmost point in the United States, Point Barrow, Alaska.  Barrow is the nearest bit of American mainland to the North Pole and when Amazing Journeys took our Jewish singles group there in 2007 after our annual Alaska cruise, we had the opportunity to join the real and official Polar Bear Club. Membership into The Polar Bear Club in Barrow is authenticated by Club member witnesses from a nearby host restaurant who accept a $15 fee for the right to freeze your butt off.  The do provide the towel, however.  They also provide authentication of such prowlness. The feat must include full submersion into the water and all successful plungers receive a certificate of authenticity and a Polar Bear Club Patch. 


For Barrow visitors, going in the water is something of a tradition, a ritual for the young at heart and the easily bored. But swimming is not Barrow’s sole attraction. There is the novelty of 24-hour light in summer and 24-hour darkness in winter. There are traditional Iñupiat Eskimo festivals—Piuraagiaqta to celebrate spring and Nalukataq for the whale harvest. There is the land itself, flat ground and subtle hills rendered treeless by the permanently frozen soil. There are Iñupiat carvings and handmade fur gloves. There are polar bears.

But we were there to see a land rarely seen by most people from the lower 48.  We were there to meet the people who are mostly isolated from the rest of the US. We were there to taste a remote culture where entertainment includes blanket tossing and whale meat festivals.  We were there to swim (well, I was)….because I could.  Although it stung like a thousand needles, inside, I felt exhilaration as I reveled in the idiocy of my actions.

Cold water swimming is not new for me.  Not anymore anyway.   It was a rare feat to submerge in the Arctic Ocean, but less than three years later, in February of 2010 I had the chance to say that I could be in rare company.  First to swim in the Arctic Ocean and now, the even colder (35 degrees) Southern Antarctic Ocean. I had two friends join me in the Barrow swim, but this time I also had two friends…who didn’t really take the word “submerge” so seriously.  Antarctica doesnt’ offer an authentication, so they got certificates too – but your’s truly took the plunge yet again. 

Sure there is no way to jump into this icy water and be manly about it (yes, we all came out screaming like little girls) – another thousand needles poking my skin….but I am now a swimmer of both poles.!

How utterly cool…in so many senses of that word!