Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Taj Mahal’

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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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.

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.

“Amazing Journeys”….or “Azamara’s Journey”; no matter how you slice it, its a match made in the ocean.

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The new buzz word in the world of cruising is “Azamara”.  A two-ship cruise line and part of the Royal/Celebrity family of ships these vessels are  a special brand unto itself.

Azamara states that they are “out to change the world…or at least how you get there”…and Amazing Journeys is becoming a regular partner.  Over the past two years, we have taken about 100 passengers on Azamara, much to their exceptional delight.  This year, you too can partake in the experience. 

What makes Azamara different? 

  • A smaller ship experience. 
  • Upscale attentiveness and service.
  • More inclusions including all non-alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees, bottled water and even wine with meals
  • An almost 1:1 ratio of guest and staff
  • Late night and overnight ports of call in unique out-of-the-ordinary locales
  • Half price shore excursion and substantial air fare specials
  • And much much more!

 

In the news, Journey emerged last week from an eight-day makeover in dry dock.  The 694-passenger cruise ship has been spruced up with new carpets and upholstery in public spaces; new mattresses and upgraded balcony furniture for cabins; a resurfaced pool; and new sun loungers and pool towels on the outer decks. Among areas getting the most significant upgrades was the Journey’s Casino Bar, which was expanded and enhanced with new furniture. Also getting a notable overhaul was the ship’s spa and fitness center, which received a new steam room, showers and Life Fitness cardio equipment.

On the culinary front, a new caviar and champagne bar was added to Aqualina, one of the ships’ two specialty dining venues. The makeover also brings a new Chef’s Table concept that will feature three wine degustation menus serving Italian, French and California cuisine, respectively.

Amazing Journeys clients demand excellence and Azamara is the one to provide it. The Journey  is currently sailing on a 13-night Indonesia voyage round-trip from Singapore….but come April 17th she will begin a journey of stellar proportions. First and foremost, the Journey will become “Amazing” in more ways than one.  AMAZING JOURNEYS will join the Azmara Journey in Singapore for a unique one-time-only voyage through the jewels of the Indian Ocean.  After an overnight in Singapore, we’ll be sailing to Malaysia, Sri Lanka and 3 cities in southern India before disembarking for an optional 3 night extension into India’s northern geography for a chance to visit Delhi, Agra and The Taj Mahal.

This 14-night cruise will be one for the ages.  We still have limited space available; if you’d like to learn more call Amazing Journeys at 412-571-0220, email us info@amazingjourneys.net or visit https://amazingjourneys.net/trip/spice-route-cruise.  See more about this awesome ship: http://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/plan-your-voyage/booking/explore-our-ships/azamara-journey

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.

Landmarks of the World

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Are you ready for a trip around the world?  Are you?  Really??

Sadly, the majority of Americans will rarely see any geography beyond their own borders.  The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries published a finding that only about 10% of of US residents have ever traveled to overseas destinations (Canada and Mexico excluded – they’re not overseas. )  Leisure travel is more than a vacation. Its an activity that makes you more worldly, knowledgeable and tolerant of the differences in cultures that make our planet so special.  Its an adventure.  Its a means to experience “Life” with a capital “L” – a chance to break from the routine…the norm…the grind…the familiararity…the common.  Its a purpose, not just an experience.  Humans are born to travel; we’ve been given the mobility and dexterity to do so and as Americans we’ve also been given the “land of opportunity’; a means to earn, spend and have plentiful of what most other nations around the world don’t.

Get Out There, America! Whether you’re single or married…Jewish or Christian….in your 30s or in your 60s; don’t do what the regretful elderly do when they say for decades “I’ll travel when I retire” or “I’ll get there someday”.  Go now, while you’re able-bodied, healthy and capable! You never know when you might not be, and denying yourself the greatest of life’s givings is a regret of unfathomable proportions.  Trust me, the world is an incredible place.  America is wonderful…but the world is, well, an Amazing Journey for all to see.

IF NOT NOW….WHEN?

India, Part 4 – Agra

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Taj Mahal

We arrived in Agra yesterday, home of the Taj Mahal.  We woke up just before sunrise this morning, and left our hotel in the dark, headed for what was to be the highlight of the trip, the Taj Mahal.  I was particularly excited about seeing this great work of art, from the architectural detail I had studied so many years ago while in college.  And, in addition, knowing it was one of the 7 New Wonders of the World, and has graced the front covers of so many travel magazines and brochures throughout my career. With each step we took closer to the main gates, I was hoping it wouldn’t be disappointing, after the years of build up.  It did not disappoint.  After getting a brief history of the love story between a king who created it for his queen after her death, our guide prepared us for what we were about to see.  As we walked forward through the main gates, the Taj Mahal at first appeared to be shrinking.  It was an optical illusion, made to look that way so that it fit visually inside of the arch of the gateway to the structure.  Once through the gate, it was perfectly symmetrical in every way.  Aside from the amazingly balanced façade, the inlay of fine pieces of lapis, onyx, jasper and other stones and semi precious materials was absolutely breathtaking.  I had heard it said that seeing the Taj Mahal in a book or magazine or photograph didn’t do it justice, and now I know why.  You have to see it to believe it.  20,000 laborers worked for 22 years ’round the clock until the project was finished.  I’m looking forward to seeing it again in February!

We also went to Mother Teresa’s Charity that the Collette Foundation supports.  It was so sad to see all the disparity and sadness of the orphans and the special needs kids and adults that this charity supports.  The babies and toddlers were so happy to have us there to smile at them, to touch them and to hold them.  I brought lots of school supplies and others brought medical supplies.  Next time I come, I want to bring some children’s clothing and books as I think they could really use it.

Driving through the streets of Agra you realize this is a country with  it’s own way of life.  To best sum it up, as we were driving through  town today, I saw two goats standing on a bed (the bed was outside in the  open) with a hula hoop on the bed and one of the goats standing in the  middle of the hula hoop.  Yup, that just about says it all…livestock  walking everywhere, goats, roosters, monkeys, cows, dogs, donkeys, camels.  This was all on just one city block!  Add to it men getting haircuts and shaves right out on the city streets, men using a wall as a public  toilet, baby’s without any pants playing out near the street, cars and  moterbikes racing everywhere, on the wrong side of the street, through red lights and stop signs, in front of pedestrians, all the while, horns  honking.  We are certainly not in Kansas anymore! 

I hope you’ve been enjoying the wonderful photos that Barry has been taking.  He is amazed that each time he holds up the camera, he sees a unique opportunity for a photograph, as you can see by the looks on the faces of the people, as well as the scenery.