Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

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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Just who is Amazing Journeys?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

-by Erin

What is it that makes Amazing Journeys truly amazing?

If you’ve traveled with us before, you already know the answer to this question. But if you’ve never been on a vacation with us, you might just be wondering what is it that makes Amazing Journeys so amazing?

At Amazing Journeys, we believe that traveling is about more than escaping your daily cares – it’s about enhancing your life by viewing it through an always-fresh, often-exotic new lens. Every year is different; each trip is unique. What remains consistent is our unfailing commitment to quality, our unparalleled expertise with the Jewish group travel experience and our genuine passion for discovering new destinations. With over 75 years of combined travel experience, we take the guesswork out of vacation planning, so that all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! Click here for introductions to the Amazing Journeys team.

New to AJ and want more information? Click here so we can answer some of your most commonly asked questions.

Throughout the years, we have sent over 10,000 passengers on their dream vacations! These trips have been incredible – but don’t just take our word for it – click here to see what some of our passengers have had to say.

We are always adding new trips to our upcoming line-up so check back to our trips page often so you don’t miss the opportunity to cross another location off your bucket list. We will be posting new trips soon including a cruise to Spain, Italy and France, a National Parks Adventure in the States, a land tour in Ireland, exploring Morocco and a long weekend getaway to Hawaii. Also on the horizon, a brand new division with trips exclusively for those in their 20s and 30s including adventure travel! Tell your friends, your family members and your co-workers that we may just have the perfect trip for them in 2014.

Join in on the fun and get to know our friends on Facebook. We always have something fun to share! Hope to travel with you soon!

That was close!

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, erupted last weekend sending up a towering plume of ash visible into much of eastern Sicily. Smoke billowing during the eruption of Mount Etna volcano was seen from near the Sicilian towns of Catania and Messina, Italy, on Saturday  Etna’s eruptions aren’t infrequent but this one was unexpected.

Just this past summer Amazing Journeys trekked the base of the then-dormant Mt. Etna volcano while exploring a remnant of the last eruption in 1992 – a lava river that was formed by advancing molten rock that carved its way down the hillsides.  While exploring the area this past July it is interesting to note that not a hint of seismic activiity was present at that time.

Europe’s most active volcano, Mt. Etna erupted throwing ash visible in much of eastern Sicily causing the closure of nearby air space, but authorities lifted the closure after just a few hours.  Evacuations of several inhabited villages weren’t necessary despite the lava flow.

Watch raw footage of the dramatic eruption here:  http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/2013/10/27/13/16/mount-etna-eruption-filmed-over-sicily

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.

Our recent tour to Italy was packed full of pleasures and treasures!

Monday, June 24th, 2013

by Malori

The images of Italy in one’s mind are as different as the individual themselves. One may visualize a Tuscan villa set amongst gently rolling hills covered with vineyards and lavender, some picture the greatest art treasures such as Michelangelo’s “David” and fresco covered cathedrals, others see an outdoor café where locals are sipping cappuccino, and some imagine themselves shopping for some of the world’s best leather shoes, handbags and gloves, or amazing ceramic pottery, high fashion or Murano glass. Italy is all this and more! 

Last week, 21 Amazing Journeyers returned from an experience in the Northern Italian countryside, cities, villages and lake districts. We experienced Italy “off the beaten path” as we visited such amazing places as Stresa on Lago Maggiore; Lucca, Siena, and Florence, all in Tuscany; Bologna and the always fascinating city of Venice.


We began the tour with a tasting event with vintage wines and aged balsamic vinegars from Rosario, a local woman who has experienced life in Italy from the time of WW II to today, as she shares her passion and knowledge of the foods, spices and wines of Italy. That was only the beginning of more surprises we had in store for us on our journey.

One of the highlights for many of the group was our day spent in a Tuscan villa where we had a cooking class and got our hands into the pasta, which we then rolled out like pros and enjoyed at lunch. We watched a demonstration by our personal chef of a fabulous dessert, which we also enjoyed later, along with the wines we saw them make and then tasted.

Tasting the meats of Bologna (I searched for the statue of Oscar Mayer but he was nowhere to be found!) and the cheeses of Parma were unparalleled. Along with wines, our tour of Bologna was nearly complete. We also saw the University of Bologna where the oldest Torah scroll in the history of the world was just found and dated. It had been in the library there for centuries!

Walking tours of Lucca, Siena, Florence and Venice provided us the insight to experience the rich history of the people of Italy and their culture. With lots of free time in each, we filled our days with exploration, shopping and photography, along with enjoyable lunches in some of the best Trattoria’s, where “Mama” still does the cooking.

Portofino and the Cinque Terra were enjoyed by the entire group. Five fishing villages spread out along the Ligurian Coast as they have been for centuries, connected only by train. Some in the group visited two villages, others three and a few saw four villages. This was true and untouched Italy.

Many in the group vowed to taste the flavors of Italy on a daily basis: some swore to have a gelato every day, others began each day with a cappuccino, some decided to have a pizza-a-day, while others honed in on wine each and every day. Whether your passion was tasting the unusual or comparing the typical, none of us went home disappointed. The foods and wines of Italy are always amazing! 

For those who just returned from our Italy’s Treasures tour, your experiences will provide memories you will never forget. If you are heading to Italy with us on our Cruise the Med trip next month, get ready for an opportunity to fill your senses with amazement! Our advise to you—leave room in your suitcase…you’ll be coming home with lots of new-found delights!

Raising the Costa Concordia

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

An ingenious $400 Million Plan is underway to deal with the wrecked Costa Concordia.  In January 2012, the cruise ship struck a rock off the shore of Isola del Giglio, in the Mediterranean. Thirty people on board the largest passenger wreck of all time lost their lives and two are still missing and over a year later, the wreck is still sitting off the Italian coast, mostly submerged. 

Because the Costa Concordia is in a nationally protected marine park and coral reef, it must be removed from the area before it can be dismantled, posing countless difficulties.  Not only is it the riskiest, most complicated, and most expensive salvage plan ever undertaken, but no one is sure if it will work. The ship weighs 60,000 tons and is filled with seawater. It is sitting on two underwater mountain peaks and 65 % of it is below the surface.  The wreck is an official crime scene. 

The operation, which will cost about $400 million, is being paid for by insurance companies and the plan is to rotate the ship upright, and onto an underwater platform. Then it will float up, leaving more of its structure above the surface and hopefully it can be towed away.  Interestingly before getting on the inclined ship, workers must take a 4-day mountain climbing course.

 The underwater platform is being built in northern Italy and the steel must be transported through the Adriatic Sea, around the boot of Italy, and up to the wreck. The steel weighs three times as much as the Eiffel Tower and will be embedded in the seafloor.  A drill bit will be enclosed in a large tube, to keep debris from contaminating the protected area.  

For now, the ship is held in place by steel cables,  but strong storms could dislodge it causing it at some point to possibly sink to the seafloor, which would make the salvage operation near impossible.  Over one hundred salvage divers are currently working on the salvage operation around the clock, in 45-minute shifts. They all live in floating barracks, next to the wreck site.

How exactly will workers rotate Costa Concordia onto the platform?  The plan essentially involves welding a new ship onto the shipwreck.  That new “ship” will consist of huge, hollow steel boxes called sponsons – the biggest being 11 stories tall. Nine of the sponsons will be welded onto the exposed side of the ship, with just 2 inches between them. Then steel cables will connect the sponsons to the steel platform and hydraulic pulleys will pull the Costa Concordia upright.

 More sponsons will be welded onto the other side of the ship and once the ship is upright, the extra buoyancy should make it float. The ship is scheduled to be floated next summer and once the process begins, there is no way to stop it, even if something goes wrong.  The backup plan is to break it up where it lies, at a huge cost to the local environment. If all goes well, the Costa Concordia will be cut up for scrap, far from Giglio.

 Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/plan-to-salvage-costa-concordia-wreck-2012-12?op=1#ixzz2HqHC3sdw

 

Wanna Get Away? A Sneak Preview for 2013

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Boy, does Amazing Journeys have a lineup for the ages!  If you are starting to think about traveling in the next year, just you wait and see what we are going to be offering!   We are aware that the information that follows will fill your plates with so many exciting possibilities that you’ll be asking your boss for extra vacation time.  This is why we are letting you know NOW what’s in store for the coming year.  Get those vacation request days in before your co-workers and lock in what we proudly proclaim will be one of the best–if not THE BEST–vacations of your life! 

You may have traveled with us in 2012 or maybe in 2011…..or maybe not for a few years. Or, dare we say….not yet at all?  In any case, you’ll need to hold on tight as we tempt, tantalize and treat you to a lineup of Jewish singles trips for 2013 that you will want to start planning for now.  We are in the throes of putting the final touches on many journeys that are amazing throughout next year, but its not too early to start planning for them. 

Firstly, check out our website (www.amazingjourneys.net) for details on Jewish singles trips that are currently available and sizzling hot:

-Northern California (August 26-Sept 3, 2012); Just ONE spot left!

-New Mexico and the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (October 12-17, 2012); Only 7 spaces left!

-New Year’s Southeast Asia Cruise (December 23 – January 6, 2013); Over 70 people booked!

-Brazil including Rio, The Amazon and Iguazu Falls (February 21-March 2, 2013)

Now that’s what we’re selling today.  In the days and weeks ahead, stay tuned for this AMAZING array of 2013 AMAZING JOURNEYS….and start making plans to join us!

Israel: May 2 – 13

Irresistible Italy by Land:  June  6-16
 

Italy/Croatia Cruise: July 19 – 31

Alaska: August 16 – 23

Heli-hiking in the Canadian Rockies: Summer

Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons: Summer

Baseball Lover’s Dream Weekend: Summer

African Safari to South Africa and Botswana:  Fall

Australia and New Zealand:  Fall

Granted that some of these trips are well over a year away, but there are benefits to starting the planning process now.  Send us a note that you are interested in any of our destinations and we’ll place your name and email address on an “interest list”.  Interest Lists receive advanced and priority notice of all trips when they become available, and allow those individuals to capture what is sometimes very limited space or, as in the case of our cruises,  the very best stateroom location.

Amazing Journeys; going strong for over 22 years and heading towards even more amazing destinations.  We hope you’ll join us!

The New York Times Top 10 Places To Go This Year

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Wanna get away?  Whether you’re a world adventurer or feel safer and more content staying closer to home, the world–or the United States–is your oyster.  The New York Times recently issued their Top places to see and you might be surprised that while several are exotic and requiring great traveling distance (as they say, ‘the greatest treasures are the one’s longest sought’), some are closer than you think.  I’ve added an eleventh – my personal favorite and always a Top Place to visit….even more than once.  (I’m actually headed there for the 14th time later this week…)

#1  Santiago, Chile:   Less than a year after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc in Chile, its capital, Santiago, has largely recovered, the economy continues to grow, and tourism is in an upswing.

#2   San Juan Islands, Washington State:  what brings tourists out are the landscapes. On islands from Shaw to Decatur, pastoral hills give way to broody forests and scrappy escarpments that overlook fjordlike inlets. Areas are protected from logging or unruly development, and in turn provide fresh terrain for the public to explore.

#3   Koh Samui, Thailand:  A toned-down version of Phuket, heavy on wellness and food Koh Samui is Thailand’s third-largest island. But the 95-square-mile tropical gem in the southern Gulf of Thailand, whose white sand beaches, abundant coral reefs and seas of palm trees were once a backpackers’ secret, has emerged as the stylish luxury alternative to crowded Phuket.

#4  Iceland:  Where a country’s hardships are a visitor’s gain, Iceland’s economic crash has had an upside, at least for tourists. After the devaluation of the krona that followed the country’s 2008 financial crisis, the breathtakingly beautiful island is a lot more affordable. While traditionally a must-see for nature tourists — who come for thermal springs, glaciers, volcanic landscapes and the Northern Lights — Iceland is now emerging as a cultural phenom.

#5  Milan, Italy: A reborn cathedral joins fashion-forward galleries and hotels. Compared with the Italian troika of tourism — Florence, Venice and Rome — Milan is often an afterthought. But with novel, eye-catching design emerging around the city, that should soon change as the city’s collection of 20th-century art is now showcased at the Museo del Novecento, which opened in December in the restored Palazzo dell’Arengario…plus, outside the historic center former factories have been transformed into design studios, old warehouses have been repurposed as unconventional art venues, and galleries are packed with avant-garde works.

#6 Republic of Georgia:  Ski buffs don’t usually think of Soviet Georgia when planning their next backcountry outing. But ambitious plans in the Caucasus are trying to change that fast. Tucked between the Black and Caspian seas and smattered with mountains, Georgia has the kind of terrain adventurous skiers yearn for: peaks reaching 16,000 feet, deep valleys and largely untouched slopes.

#7  London:  There is never a bad time to go to London, but this year may be better than most: the 2012 Summer Olympic Games has prompted the construction of 12,000 hotel rooms, and several hotels that have been around for a while are burnishing their appeal with notable new restaurants. (NOTE: Join Amazing Journeys in August for our Jewish Singles Cruise from London through the British Isles)

#8:  Loreto, Mexico:  Long known for sport fishing, Loreto, on Baja California Sur’s eastern coast, is poised to become one of Mexico’s next luxury destinations.  Recently, Villa Group Resorts, one of Mexico’s largest privately owned hotel groups, opened a $60 million Villa del Palmar resort with three restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot turtle-shaped pool and 150 suites from $250 to $1,500 a night. The resort is the first phase of an 1,800-acre development, Danzante Ba. It will add seven resort hotels, restaurants and a Rees Jones golf course.

#9  Park City, Utah:  Many film aficionados have been lured to Park City for the annual Sundance festival, missing the slopes entirely, which is a shame. This year, new hotels, expanded terrain and events at area ski resorts make on-mountain exploration imperative.

#10  Cali, Colombia: Cafe culture is on the rise while salsa fuels the night life; Cali has always felt like the grittier stepsister of Medellín, but tucked amid the colonial homes of the barrios of San Antonio or Granada are a number of new jewelry boutiques, low-key cafes and salsotecas teeming with crowds as sexy as any in South America.

#11: Alaska:  Few places on earth conjure up a better collection of natural beauty, peace on earth, adventure for any level, unpredictable arrays of wildlife, majestic mountains, uncharted territory, imposing glaciers and a culture that reigns more with the land it inhabits, than the people who govern. Its a place you have to see to believe…but where you have to experience again and again to quench your yearning for more.