Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Memories’

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 

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!

Slicha, Bevakasha

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

If you thought New Yorkers were tough, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve been to Israel. One of the first phrases we learned in Hebrew was “slicha, bevakasha”, or “excuse me, please”. So anywhere we went, we were saying “slicha, slicha, slicha”. It’s hard to move around without bumping into people… Israel is a wonderfully crowded place.

 

We squeezed our ways past people, cars, and bikes as we went on our food tasting tour in Tel Aviv. We wiggled our way into the Western Wall, passing all of the orthodox who came from near and far to pray. We even ventured to the shuk (market) in Jerusalem on Shabbat! Yes, on Shabbat. What are we, crazy? All of Jerusalem goes to the shuk to shop for their challah, fish, and vegetables for Shabbat, not to mention their chalvah, wine, dried fruits, and more, oy! I think all of Jerusalem was there at the same time! So we “slicha-ed” our way through the shuk, going from stall to stall for our “Shuk Bites” where we tried everything from cheese and burekas to ice cream and fruity drinks. It was definitely an experience!

Unexpectedly, most of the group decided that our visit up north to the Golan Heights was the favorite part of our trip. Why you ask? It was so relaaaaaxing! We stayed at a wonderful kibbutz. A kibbutz? “So you woke up at 4am and picked oranges?” No no, don’t be silly, it was a beautiful kibbutz with a lot of smaller buildings on their luscious, green property. Meals there were plentiful and delicious, the rooms were lovely and best of all, we had an AJ exclusive party!


The Golan Heights were amazing! We went on a jeep ride through the fields and right next to the Syrian border where we saw IDF Reservists who had just been called into action. We saw the former borders and how the land had been transformed since becoming part of Israel. We went rafting on the River Jordan and enjoyed the beautiful greenery as we floated down. Okay, it’s more like a lazy river with some tree obstacles. One of our highlights? We were lucky enough to have dinner with some current IDF soldiers! These are 18 and 19 year olds who are in Intelligence, protecting the Jewish homeland. That dinner was so special; it brought Israel close to home. We imagined our friends, our nieces, nephews and our children in their shoes and we quickly understood how amazingly brave and mature these teenagers are.

Overall, our Golan Heights experience was life-changing. It’s a different way of life, different from the “slicha, bevakashas” that we did in the big cities. Don’t get me wrong, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are “must-sees” on any trip to Israel and there is so much to do. Part of traveling is getting to know the people and culture through small interactions. But there was just something special about the relaxing nature of the Golan Heights. Being so close to Syria and Lebanon yet feeling safe, peaceful, and relaxed is an amazing feeling. Israel has that effect – you know it’s a political hot-spot, but you feel safe, like you belong.

So “slicha” if I’m coming off too forward, but if you haven’t been to Israel yet, you must go. And while you’re there, “slicha” your way through the cities and then up to the Golan Heights. “Beavkasha”. You’ll be glad you did.

Amazing China at a Glance

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Our Amazing Journeys China tour is off and running. Beijing is the first stop for four nights and here are a few moments of all the memories-in-motion!

Summer Vacations

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Summers and vacations go hand-in-hand.  Growing up, most of us had the good fortune to be taken by our parents on a family vacation.  Whether we went to the beach, a resort, on a European tour, enjoyed a cottage in the mountains, or to visit relatives, these experiences have engrained themselves in our minds as some of the happiest of times in our lives.

Summer is the busiest time of year at Amazing Journeys because people equate summer with travel.  We have more travel opportunities packed into a few short months than at any other time of the year.  Folks always ask us, “Where do you go when you vacation?”  “When do you have time to get away?”  Well, the staff at Amazing Journeys, along with planning your summer vacations, is taking some time off to enjoy some of our favorite destinations.

Malori and Barry are back at Hershey, Pennsylvania for the 25th consecutive year.  Barry has a conference there each year, and Malori uses these three days to enjoy the surroundings of the landscape as well as the features of the resort.  With the exception of the past two years, it was always a family vacation, and all of the kids had been here to share in the experience. Barry sits in a conference room listening to a lecture, while the rest of the family gorged on chocolate and enjoyed Hershey Park, the amusement park across the street from our hotel.

Only a four-hour drive from Pittsburgh (only three from New York City and two from Washington DC), The Hotel Hershey is a gem.  An older hotel, it has the grace and style of a Mediterranean villa, with all of the modern features of a 21st century resort.  Some of the hotel features include Jazz on the Veranda on Friday nights, The Circular Dining Room which is a beautiful restaurant overlooking formal gardens and fountains, The Hershey Spa, complete with “chocolate massages, ” a pool with water slides alongside a quiet, adult section and my favorite, a BBQ picnic dinner on the lawn with s’mores for dessert!  There is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate here.  From the Hershey bar each guest is presented upon check in at the front desk, to lots of Hershey Kisses on the bed each night, to Dove candies for the taking in all of the restaurants and gift shops, chocolate soup, chocolate bread and chocolate butter served in the restaurant, chocolate martinis in the bar and to the smell of chocolate permeating the air from the nearby Hershey’s Chocolate factory.  This is truly the sweetest place on earth!

In addition to the hotel itself, we have visited the surrounding area and always taken one afternoon of our stay to enjoy nearby activities.   Historical Gettysburg is just down the road, 30 miles away.  We have taken the kids to Amish Country in nearby Lancaster and cute little towns along the way such as Intercourse, PA.  Philly is only an hour and a half from here and provided lots of history lessons.  We have been to a pretzel factory and Indian Cavern Caves.   This place offers so many eye-opening opportunities and is so close to home.

Further afield, Bill is spending his summer vacation on a cruise to Alaska, his little slice of heaven and his favorite spot on earth.  This, his 13th visit to this magical land, he is seeing it without a group in tow.  Although we love showing our groups “Our Alaska,” how fun is it to visit a place you love with no schedule?   He has no place to be at any given time, no planned activities to carry out.  Plus, he is able to experience some new and amazing excursions, hoping to discover something that will be a fun and fabulous experience we can share with our Amazing Journeys passengers on future trips to Alaska.



Michele will spend her summer vacation at the beach with her family and some friends.  Who doesn’t love a beach vacation?  A familiar surrounding, her family loves the beach for the relaxed atmosphere it provides.  Sitting in the warm sunshine, listening to the crashing waves on the sand, and playing in the water provides fun for the entire family.  Nights are spent laughing and talking with the people you care most about in your life, while catching up with good friends who you only get to see only once a year.

Sometimes, you don’t have to go far to enjoy a taste of summer.  A vacation can be anywhere you don’t have the day-to-day responsibilities of work, home or taking care of others.  Once you step out of your daily grind, and away from opening mail, emails and taking phone calls,  your vacation has begun.

We look forward to hearing about your summer vacation plans, and hope that whatever you do this summer, that it’s amazing!

Memories of a New Year in Paradise

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

New Year’s in Hawaii; what could be more fun and romantic? 87 folks made up this very special Amazing Journey and after a week of surfing, sunning, hiking, whale watching, biking, “mud bugging”, dancing, beaching and celebrating, we look back on the memories and friendships that are only just beginning.