Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

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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Rollin on the River

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

- by Malori

Ever hear of a river cruise? Are you wondering what all the buzz is about? It’s the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry and 24 new ships are being built by six different companies, all debuting in 2014.

River Cruising opens up a world of possibilities of intriguing destinations. Pulling up right alongside a local dock, the river cruise experience lets you enjoy scenery along the way, and then coming directly in to the city center to explore on foot, by bike or on an array of complimentary guided excursions. According to AMA Waterways, in business since 2002, “there is no better way to experience the soul of a destination than on a leisurely river cruise, immersed in history, culture and breathtaking natural beauty.”

Traveling along rivers, these smaller ships are built with shallow drafts and can navigate smaller waterways, unlike their oceangoing cousins who cruise the high seas. During your journey along the rivers, you can look out from your balcony, window or one of the public spaces and see the ever-changing landscape of the destination you came to see. Many of the “Next-Gen” river cruises use a “long-ship” design that allows more interior space for guest rooms, bars and restaurants, spa and workout facilities, and even a pool with a swim up bar.

Onboard, the experience is more like a small boutique than a large hotel. The staff is dedicated to treating their guests like members of their own families, and several offer a premium experience. With local musicians to entertain, cocktails and dancing, lectures on local history and culture, time on board the ship is spent feeling like you are on vacation, whether it’s relaxing, socializing with other passengers, sunning by the pool, working out or getting a massage.

On most river cruise, complimentary wines are offered with meals, further enhancing your local cultural experience. You get to try wines from the local regions you are visiting, along with regional specialties the chef prepares each night.

River Cruises offer many themed cruises as well. From Chocolate Cruises to Wine Tasting Cruises to Jewish Heritage Cruises, there is a theme that fits nearly every taste and taste bud!

Amazing Journeys is joining in on the River Cruise fun on our Jewish Heritage River Cruise next summer. Sailing from Vilshofen, Germany on August 6 and ending in Budapest, Hungary on August 13, we will transport you along the Danube River through the magnificent landscapes of the Sound of Music Country and along the shores of our Jewish culture and our legacy. From synagogues to Jewish districts, modern museums and historical monuments, this cruise will be one you will surely remember. For more information on our Jewish Heritage cruise, click here or call us for information on any other river boat cruise at 412.571.0220.

What Exactly Is The Spice Route?

Friday, April 12th, 2013

“He who controls the spice, controls the universe.”

Such were the words uttered by the main character of the movie Dune.In the story, the spice was the lifeblood of a vast empire. For the leaders of this empire, it was essential that at all times ‘the spice must flow.’ The spice trade of the Dune movie was inspired by the historical trade in aromatics from ancient times to the present. At various periods in history, spices have been as valuable as gold and silver. According to a 15th century saying: “No man should die who can afford cinnamon.”

The spice trade was a commercial activity of ancient origin which involved the merchandising of spices, incense, herbs, and other drugs between historic civilizations in Asia, Africa and Europe. These aromatic substances became even more mysterious over time as they were connected in many cultures with the idea of a faraway paradise — Eden

In a few short days, Amazing Journeys will be sailing along the same waters as the traders from the Roman Empire, Medieval Europe, ancient Egyptians and even Colonial Spain. We will be traveling a bit differently, though, as we embark upon a luxury cruise ship for 14 days of ultimate relaxation and unique exploration.  Beginning in Singapore, we’ll make stops in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and various ports throughout southern India before heading home.  A few lucky souls have also taken advantage of an added 4 night tour into Northern India to see the Taj Mahal.

What oil, agriculture, stocks and free markets are today….is what spices, medicine, herbs and other aromatic pleasures were of yesterday.  The next time you sprinkle a little cinnamon on your oatmeal or spice up your kung pao chicken, take pause for a moment to realize that these everyday enhancements were once a means of livlihood and survival for many civilizations.

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.

Tour Of A Money Belt – peace of mind when traveling

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

As Amazing Journeys gets set to embark on a journey throughout Europe next week we strike a pose like we always do for our clients to provide some important travel tips.  One in particular pertains to keeping your use of valuables (cash, passports, credit cards, etc) handy…but safe.  Money belts are your key to peace of mind. A money belt is a small, zippered fabric pouch that fastens around the waist under your pants or skirt. You wear it completely hidden from sight, tucked in like a shirttail — over your shirt and under your pants. (If you find it uncomfortable to wear a money belt in front you can slide it around and wear it in the small of your back.)

With a money belt, all your essential documents are on you as securely and thoughtlessly as your underpants. Have you ever thought about that? Every morning you put on your underpants. You don’t even think about them all day long, but every night when you undress, sure enough, there they are, exactly where you put them. 

Packing light applies to your money belt as well as your luggage. Here’s what to pack in your money belt:

  • Passport: Carry with you when necessary, but best to keep in your hotel safe when settled in one locale.
  • Railpass: This is as valuable as cash.
  • Driver’s license: This works just about anywhere in Europe and is necessary if you want to rent a car on the spur of the moment.
  • Credit card: It’s required for car rental and handy to have if your cash runs low.
  • Debit card: A Visa debit card is the most versatile for ATM withdrawals. (Traveler’s checks are no longer useful travel tools.)
  • Cash: Keep a combination of large and small bills in your money belt. You never know when you’ll want a postcard from a street vendor and need just a few pence, shekels or pesos. No need to carry a large amount of cash, especially if you are carrying the aformentioned debit or credit card.
  • Plastic sheath: Money belts easily get sweaty and slimy. Damp plane tickets and railpasses can be disgusting and sometimes worthless. Even a plain old baggie helps keep things dry.
  • Contact list: Print small, and include every phone number or email address of importance in your life.
  • Trip calendar page: Include your hotel list and all necessary details from your itinerary