2019 - Amazing Journeys

Archive for 2019

Wanderlust Blog

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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Strike a pose

Thursday, May 9th, 2019
by Erin


If you’re looking for your next amazing social media picture, look no further than South America! Imagine the reactions from your friends and family when they see a picture of you waddling with penguins or hiking through a bog.


The pictures we share on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are indicative of the persona that you choose to portray.  Whether you surround yourself with gorgeous scenery, hop in with a group of locals, strike a silly pose or showcase your meal, everyone takes different pictures.


South America offers such a wide variety of landscapes, animals, architecture and culture that you will be posting your experience and met with awe and jealousy.    

We are so excited to be going back to South America and absolutely love the itinerary that showcases Argentina, Uruguay and Chile as well as destinations like the Chilean Fjords and Strait of Magellan. Celebrating New Year’s at sea is one of our favorite activities and going back to Easter Island to visit the Moai statues is amazing!

So if you’re ready to snap a few selfies, share with your social network and show off your amazing journey, come join us in South America!

South America trip details can be found by clicking here.

 

New York Happy Hour

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Thanks to the over 125 Amazing Journeyers who came out to our Happy Hour event in New York!

 It was so great to see a lot of familiar faces, meet new traveling companions and enjoy a night out together! If you weren’t able to make it to this party, don’t worry, we will be back!

And if you don’t live near New York, we’ve got you covered too!  

Amazing Journeys will be hitting the road this year and coming to a number of cities around the country (some international destinations as well), so stay tuned – we may be coming to your city next!

 

Follow us on Instagram

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

by Erin

If a picture is worth a thousand words, our Instagram feed is worth millions! 

Our Instagram feed not only allows you to follow along with trips as they are happening but is also where we share travel insight, highlight some of the most beautiful places in the world, show behind the scenes at the AJ office and more. Instagram is an amazing place to indulge your wanderlust!

We’re posting all the time, so click here to follow us on Instagram.  That way, you won’t miss any of the amazing posts we have to share.

Want to see something we haven’t yet posted? Send us some suggestions – we’d love to hear from you!

Goodbye WOW

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

by Malori

Ave Shalom WOW.

I really liked WOW.  As an airline, it had a certain ‘joie de vivre’ and a style all its own.  From the magenta colored planes to the smiling but somewhat snarky attitude of the flight attendants, their uniforms and best of all, just the name WOW said it all. 


But airlines come and airlines go.  If you’ve been in the travel industry as long as I have, you understand it’s just part of the natural selection process. At the bottom of the food chain are the “low cost carriers.” They are actually doomed from the start if you ask me. An airline or any other business cannot operate on a shoestring.  While it may be nice for an airline to advertise uber low fares, they still have to maintain their planes, hire qualified pilots and have some savings for a rainy day, when something goes wrong and you need a back-up plan.  Low cost carriers usually have great fares, a few planes and a “fly by the seat of their pants” position. It’s not sustainable. Add to that the large giants of the sky, the competing carriers who are ready to wage an all out war when a low cost carrier comes into the market.  Advertising picks up, fares drop to match the new airline and before you know it, the new carrier can’t compete with the big dogs.

So while I am sad to see another carrier go, it was only a matter of time.  So long WOW. C’est la vie. Or as they say in Icelandic, svo lengi.

 

Calgary Stampede

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

by Erin


We are so excited to have the opportunity to bring another group to the Canadian Rockies this summer!  The scenery is stunning, the pictures you take will make your friends jealous and you get to experience the incredible Calgary Stampede!


What exactly is the Stampede, you may ask?  Well, it’s only the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth! The Calgary Stampede is an annual, 10-day rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta. It attracts over one million visitors per year and features one of the world’s largest rodeos, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions and chuckwagon racing. It is North America’s premier rodeo and western festival and a unique western experience for the world to enjoy. 


The city takes on a party atmosphere during Stampede: office buildings and storefronts are painted in cowboy themes, residents don western wear and events held across the city include hundreds of pancake breakfasts and barbecues.


The Calgary Stampede Rodeo features the world’s best competitors and animals. Every afternoon, cowboys and cowgirls face off in a furious display of skill and grit, with every win building towards Showdown Sunday – the World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo.


One of Canada’s largest music festivals, the Calgary Stampede features numerous musical performances from established and emerging artists in a variety of genres, both at Stampede Park and around the city.  The Calgary Stampede Evening Show is a unique entertainment experience taking place nightly. The evening includes a derby, chuckwagon races and is followed by the Grandstand Show, dazzling audiences with elaborate song and dance numbers and acrobatics, capped off with spectacular fireworks!


So if you’re looking for a truly unique experience this summer, the Calgary Stampede is your ticket!  Grab your boots and your cowboy hat, throw on a big belt buckle and explore this awesome party with us this July!

Canadian Rockies & Calgary Stampede trip info is available by clicking here.

Cooking Class: Irish Scones

Friday, March 15th, 2019

by Erin


One of the favorite experiences that we have offered on past trips to Ireland is a scone making lesson on a local farm.  Our scone making class was a memory we could take home and share with others. So in honor of the upcoming celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we thought we’d share the recipe so you can have a taste of Ireland at home!

Ireland blog3
Irish Scones

2 c. self rising flour
¾ stick butter
¼ c. sugar
1 egg
½ c. buttermilk
½ c. dried fruit (raisins or other fruit…we used tart cherries)

• Pre-heat cookie sheet and oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In a large bowl, mix together flour and butter. Use your hands to mix to make sure butter is softened and evenly distributed.
• Add sugar and stir.
• Add dried fruit.
• In a measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and egg.
• Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in half of the buttermilk/egg mixture.
• Mix in part of the flour mixture getting it moist from the liquid in the center of the bowl.
• Add in more of the dry ingredients from the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
• Take the dough and need it on a flat surface, adding in flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky.
• Spread out dough to about 1 inch thick.
• Take a glass or round cookie cutter, dip the rim in flour (so it doesn’t stick to the dough)
• Cut with cookie cutter or glass.
• Place on heated cookie sheet
• Cook for 17 minutes.

It’s a simple recipe and so yummy. Serve with jam and tea. Enjoy!

scones

So whether you are celebrating with scones, green beer, a parade or chasing leprechauns, we wish you a happy St. Patty’s Day!

Our Bucket List

Monday, March 11th, 2019

We are lucky to have the opportunity to go to amazing destinations as part of our job, but get asked all the time, “where do you want to go next”?  Just like you, we each have our own personal bucket list that we keep adding to.  So what is at the top of each of our lists?

Malori: Antelope Canyon, Arizona. Those who know me know I love to be outdoors and I love to hike.  I get inspired by nature and the visual beauty of Antelope Canyon makes me want to jump right in and explore!

Courtesy of the Arizona Office of Tourism

Erin:  There are so many places I want to go, but I really want to go to Peru.  I would love to push myself to do the Inca Trail, ending the 4 day hike with the incredible views of Machu Picchu!


Michele:
I can’t wait to go to the Canadian Rockies.  I love the majestic beauty and being able to be surrounded by nature. The colors are just amazing and you get different scenery at every turn.

Stacey: I’d love to spend more time in Thailand. I can’t get over all of the gorgeous wats (temples)!  Combine that with green countryside, a plethora of beautiful Buddhas and delicious food, I’d love to immerse myself into the culture and country of Thailand.

We want to know what’s at the top of your bucket list, too!  We may already be planning a trip there for you to get excited about and we are always open to your suggestions to plan upcoming adventures!

The Colors of French Polynesia

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

by Erin

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in some cases, a picture can leave you speechless.  Imagine capturing an image that is so beautiful that people don’t believe it’s real.  But that is exactly what happens as soon as you take out your camera in French Polynesia.  Even the amateur photographer who simply snaps a picture – without care of composition or settings – is able to catch the most beautiful colors that is at every turn in French Polynesia.

The water changes from azure to cobalt to cerulean to turquoise as you sail through the lagoon.  As you cruise up to an atoll, the water is so clear you can see the fish swimming around you before you even jump in the water.  The sunsets bring gorgeous amber, tangerine and lavender that slowly fade behind the black silhouette of the island leaving you ready for another day of sheer amazement.

These pictures are not retouched in the slightest – there are no filters to enhance the colors nor are they edited to any degree – they just show the true colors of French Polynesia and you can see why this destination is such a dream to visit.  Take a look at some of the incredible beauty that we saw on our cruise through French Polynesia by clicking on the images and be sure to add this drool-worthy destination to your bucket list!

Find Your Balance

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

by Malori


If travel provides a respite from daily responsibilities, then nature re-balances the soul. Spending time in the outdoors is uplifting and provides an energy seldom found in day-to-day life. Having just returned from a trekking adventure in Argentina, the goal I set was to create a special opportunity where we could explore the beauty of the land as well as some self discovery along the way.

After gathering the group in Buenos Aries and learning a bit about several of the neighborhoods that make up this energetic city, the next morning we got on a plane and headed south – three and a half hours south – to the bottom of the globe. We landed in El Calafate where the sun was bright in the sky for long hours each day and didn’t set until 11:00 pm. After all, it’s summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. Snow covered mountains, glaciers and lakes filled with flamingos were but a few of the many surprises awaiting us.


We spent our time in this amazing region visiting the Estancia Christina, reachable only by a 3 hour boat ride, passing icebergs and glaciers and highlighted by a pristine turquoise blue (we call it “amazing” blue) moraine lake. It truly took our breath away. The next day we were treated to the Pertido Moraino Glacier where we stood under absolute perfectly blue skies (a rarity here) and watched as this spectacular glacier calved, losing large chunks, the size of buildings. I call this “natures fireworks” and as we stood silently waiting, we’d hear a thunderous roar and then gaze giddily as we heard the cracking as we experienced parts of the glacier crashing into the water. We all clapped as if seeing a live theater performance. Although this glacier is neither shrinking nor expanding, this is the normal growth cycle of a glacier. We were happy to know that it was not a shrinking glacier as so many of the earths glaciers are. We hiked the trails from below and above with a picnic lunch along the way, and happily enjoyed the views from each angle.

With a three hour drive across the beautiful and stark Patagonian landscape, seeing little else but guanacos along the way (a cousin of the llama), we arrived in the trekkers town of El Chalten. It was here we experienced the heart and soul of our adventure and our most challenging trekking of our entire journey. Over the next three days, we embarked three different hikes within Los Glaciares National Park. On our arrival day, we set out into a beautiful landscape enveloped by meandering rivers, snow capped mountains and several different rock types including red rocks, granite, sandstone and basalt, a combination generally not found together. The windswept valleys were covered with clouds that have formations unlike those we had ever seen anywhere. Most were long flowing cloud formations in the shape of ribbons across the big sky. Others were wispy yet round taking on the shape of a spaceship. Under these skies, our journey began. We walked six miles through and beside the mountain valley to a waterfall. It was really lovely.


The next day was our most demanding. We set out early in the morning for our 11-13 mile trek. Backpacks filled with water, layers of clothing and snacks, our walking sticks in hand and hiking boots laced, we began our walk on the Fitz Roy Footbath to the Glacier of the Three, one of the most breathtaking hikes in the world.  Those who wanted the longer hike were challenged not only with an additional two miles of trekking, but going nearly straight up the side of the mountain, climbing 1,200 feet in only half of mile.  That means on the way down, heading nearly straight down.  The view from the top was amazing and described by one of our passengers upon reaching the summit, “it was as if a curtain opened and the most incredible scenery on earth stood before us.”


The following day we were supposed to climb another 10 – 12 miles, but the unpredictable Patagonian winds and rain were starting to form so on this day, some of the group walked six miles while others did about eight.

It wouldn’t have been an adventure in Argentina without a visit to the wine growing region of Mendoza where Malbec wines are produced. Winding our way through the vineyards at the base of the Andes Mountain which form the border between Chile and Argentina, we visited three different wineries, tasting 12 different wines.  By the end of the day, we couldn’t tell which wine was which, but then again, it didn’t matter much.  Our wine pairing lunch was an amazing combination of gourmet food, freshly baked breads and desserts that were as tasty as they were spectacular to look at.  This was paired with a late-harvest dessert wine.


Finally, our last stop brought us back to nature where we visited one of my favorite spots on earth, Iguaçu Falls.  Imagine you’re at the center of an IMAX movie, and you are surrounded by water on all sides – and above you, and below you, and you hear the sound of the rushing water all around you – that’s the feeling you get in Iguaçu Falls. Visiting both the Brazilian and the Argentinean side of the falls, you get the full scope of just how massive these 275 waterfalls are, and how in touch with nature you are at that moment in time.  The feeling stays with you for a lifetime and the memories never fade.  Iguaçu Falls touches you in a way few places can.

I recommend treating yourself to a getaway in nature.  Reset your mind. Invigorate your body. Balance your soul.  And then be thankful for all the treasures we have on this earth.

Surprises at Every Turn

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

by Malori

Turning travel logistics into dreams: that’s what I do. Thousands of moving parts turn into a vacation of a lifetime through creativity, attention to detail plus a bit of magic.

Recently, I had the opportunity to create and lead a group to the exotic destinations of India and the United Arab Emirates.  These two countries offered unique experiences for the traveler and are, in fact, polar opposites. They are diametrically opposed in so many ways and the differences are apparent.

I love India! Its a feeling you walk away with. And it’s not just me. I’ve planned 7 trips to India for our Amazing Journeys groups. I’ve seen the faces and gleaned the reactions of over 130 travelers who came away from the experience with the same feelings. It’s just amazing! Even if you’re super well-traveled, until you’ve seen India, in my opinion, you have not checked off the world. You can’t complete your “world jigsaw puzzle” without having experienced India.


India has an ancient history. The architecture and history date back thousands of years. Palaces, ancient forts, art and treasures plus stories of the Raj and the Taj bring to light the history lessons learned. The collective favorite day of all of our groups is a visit to the incomprable Taj Mahal – it never disappoints! The culture is one of the oldest, the religion, too. Locals think a lot more deeply, bringing a religious base of Hinduism and rebirth to the surface. Every action has a reaction. Karma is a top of mind thought.

The population is one of the largest in the world at 1.3 billion. It’s one of only two countries who have populations over a billion. There is poverty.


India appears to be in a state of organized chaos. I didn’t make that up, many feel the same. Cars are driving on the opposite side of the street, elephants and camels may be next to you at a stoplight, babies and chickens and dogs may be sauntering across the road as your bus is about to meet them head on. And then there are the cows… you see livestock everywhere, including a goat wearing a sweater! In India, there is an explosion of colors in the beautiful traditional sarees.

Not so in the UAE.  The UAE was established as a country in 1971. Sure, the culture and civilization are old, but being there you see that it’s as if there isn’t a building older than that, with most being built in the last few years. Do you know that 25% of the worlds active cranes are currently working in Dubai?

The population is small, with only about 1.4 million Emirati citizens. The rest of the population is made up by foreigners who come over as workers.  This is an very organized country with lots of rules. The traffic is organized. There is a calm in the streets. The traditional clothing is very monochromatic with crisp white for the men and stark black for the women. The Sheiks Palace in Abu Dhabi sits in the center of the city and is quite impressive in its size and architecture, including its gold-leaf domes and private airport.

The opulence is inexplicable. You just have to experience it. And that we did. You can get a cappuccino with gold-leaf.  They boast the worlds largest mosque housing the worlds largest chandelier (12 tons) and largest area rug (over 60,000 square feet), the worlds tallest building, worlds fastest accelerating roller coaster, an indoor ski resort , a mall with a separate gold mall and shoe mall attached. Dubai hosts one of the largest New Years Eve gatherings.


Two countries, dissimilar yet each amazing in their own ways. And isn’t that what travel is all about? World travel allows you to see for yourself the beautiful differences each country offers and to embrace a world of memories long after the journey has ended. That’s why I travel.