The first day of our 55-day tour itinerary…Delhi and New Delhi…The burial site of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes…

From this site: “Indian Statesman and Spiritual Leader. Mohandas Gandhi, who come to be popularly known as “Mahatma” (Great Soul), was born a colonial subject of the British Empire. He studied law at University College in London and was admitted to the bar in 1891. In 1893, Gandhi took a position as a legal advisor for an Indian law firm in Durban, South Africa (then also a British colony). Appalled at the racism against South Asians there, Gandhi became an activist for equal rights. Gandhi disdained the violent tactics often employed by socialist and anarchist activists, however, and advocated new forms of nonviolent resistance, collectively known as “Satyagraha” (truth and firmness). Influenced by traditional Hinduism as well as the works of Jesus, Leo Tolstoy, and Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi’s methods stressed change by noncooperation with the colonial authorities, including disruptive (though nonviolent) demonstrations and general strikes and boycotts.

Yesterday morning, our Delhi tour guide, Subi, appeared in the hotel lobby a half-hour earlier than anticipated. Since we were ready for the day, we joined him to begin the first day of the 55-day.

Crowds of tourists and local visitors filled the walkways.

The same driver from the prior day would be responsible for transporting us from place to place and Subi would be our personal tour guide. The concept of not having other tourists with us proved to be a good decision.

“Raj Ghat is a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi, India. Originally it was the name of a historic ghat of Old Delhi. Close to it, and east of Daryaganj was Raj Ghat Gate of the walled city, opening at Raj Ghat to the west bank of the Yamuna River. Later the memorial area was also called Raj ghat.”

At no point were we subject to the pace, shopping, dining, and restroom breaks of others. We could go at our own pace which is particularly of importance to me when at times, I may walk a little slower than others.

The grounds of the burial site of Gandhi are meticulously manicured with exquisite flowers and gardens.

With this pressure non-existence for our 55-day private tour, we can decide exactly which venues appeal to us and which do not. For example, after visiting no less than six forts during the tours during the Maharajas Express train, we’re somewhat “forted out.

“Though his position on nonviolence was not absolute (he would later be a British Army recruiter during World War I), Gandhi would willingly take beatings from British police throughout his career and would require his supporters to do the same. In 1914, the newly-autonomous South African government recognized Indian marriages and abolished the Indian poll tax, and Gandhi returned to India. After World War I, Gandhi became a major advocate for Indian home rule, again applying the methods of Satyagraha. In 1919, the British Army opened fire on demonstrators in Amritsar, killing nearly 400 people including several children. In response, Gandhi stepped up his campaign of noncooperation. Indian officeholders resigned, British courts and schools were boycotted, and demonstrators blocked streets all over the country. When this movement escalated to violent extremes, however, Gandhi called the demonstrations off. Gandhi also advocated the revival of Indian cottage industry for economic independence from Britain, especially in the field of textiles; he would wear only simple homespun clothes to illustrate this point. He was jailed from 1922 to 1924, but would return to his position in the Indian National Congress and call for a tax revolt in 1930.”

We informed our guide on what appeals to us and proceeded accordingly. Keeping in mind we’ve seen an endless array of churches, mosques and historical buildings, at this point, after over seven years of world travel, we’re relatively picky about the buildings we see as we continue on.

The words of the great leader.

He seemed disappointed when we explained we weren’t interested in buying jewelry and other goods. Most certainly he’d receive a commission from any purchases we made or expensive items. We weren’t about to make such purchases for that purpose. We tipped him well at the end of the tour.

Gandhi was revered from his depth and his great wisdom.

With a little research, we’re able to pin down what appeals to us most. How do we explain this to a tour guide? We did as follows:

1. No jewelry stores
2. No shopping for souvenirs or trinkets
3. No shopping in general, except for showing us spectacular open/local markets with local foods and handmade crafts, in essence, cultural markets.
4. No need to eat during the tours
5. No typical overly crowded tourist venues

Flowers are a big part of Indian culture.

Where does that leave us? The unique, the unusual, the quirky, the nuances of a culture far removed from our own reality. The guide suggested we visit a local shopping mall with well-known designer stores. No thanks. That’s not for us.

“Several other samādhis or cremation spots of other famous leaders can be found in the vicinity of Raj Ghat.” Click here for more details.

The end result, although many venues during this 55-day tour are pre-set at this point, we’ll always have the option to request changes in the itinerary, although we will honor any venues whereby fees have been paid in advance for our attendance. We’re not foolhardy.

The flowers are breathtaking.
One of the reasons we generally don’t care for big cities is the repetitious nature of seeing similar buildings over and over again. In remote areas, we have a more comprehensive opportunity to see what we’d like to see, the local culture, scenery and nature along with a smidgen of wildlife and farm animals here and there… Ultimately the more simple life which appeals to us the most.
The symmetry of design is imperative in India’s structures.


India may not appear to be the ideal country for our usual vision, but we’ve decided to temper our motives and embrace as much of this country as we possibly can.

Nothing was spared in the meticulous detail in the memorial.


In the interim, amid our preferences, we’re thoroughly enjoying what we’ve seen thus far and have no doubt these next many days and nights will be satisfying, educational and fulfilling.

Street food in Delhi. 

You’ll be able to “travel along with us” if you so chose, on this extensive journey through India. Tomorrow, beginning at 6:30 am, we’re beginning a long travel day, which includes journeys on two trains with only a 25-minute layover in between. During this short layover, we’ll have to arrange to move our luggage from the first to the second train.

Jama Masjid Mosque in Delhi. “The Masjid e Jahan Numa, commonly known as the Jama Masjid of Delhi, is one of the largest mosques in India. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1650 and 1656 at a cost of one million rupees and was inaugurated by Imam Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari from Bukhara, present-day Uzbekistan. The mosque was completed in 1656 AD with three great gates and two 40 meters high minarets constructed with strips of red sandstone and white marble. The courtyard can accommodate more than 25,000 people. There are three domes on the terrace which are surrounded by the two minarets. On the floor, a total of 899 black borders is marked for worshippers. The architectural plan of Badshahi Masjid, built by Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb in Lahore, Pakistan, is similar to the Jama Masjid.”

Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a porter to assist us. The hotel is packing a breakfast for us since we won’t arrive at our next hotel in Shimla until around 6:00 pm tomorrow evening.

Us, with the Jama Masjid Mosque in Delhi in the background. It was horrible pollution that impeded a clear photo.

Most likely, I’ll be preparing tomorrow’s post while on the train and hopefully, wrap up the visit to Delhi to be able to continue posting in the sequence of our experiences.


Be well. Be happy.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 10, 2019:
No photos were posted one year ago today as we were wrapping up our entries for a week or more as I prepared for open heart surgery on February 12, 2019.
For the second to last post before the surgery, please click here.

Istanbul, Turkey…Story and photos…

Mosques and churches are abundant in Istanbul.
What a view of Istanbul!
The contrast between old and new is breathtaking in Istanbul.

It was not an easy decision, deciding not to visit Istanbul, Turkey today. Tomorrow, while our ship will have docked in Izmir, Turkey we are going on an excursion to Ephesus, not returning until late in the day, posting the story and photos on Thursday. 

As our ship overlooks this magnificent city, it is quite tempting, to simply walk off the ship and venture out on our own.  From the information provided to us by the excursion desk, it’s about a 30 minutes vigorous walk through the city to arrive at the mosques, the Grand Bazaar, the Underground Cistern, and many other renowned historical sites of interest.
We were able to zoom in on many historic sites from the deck of the ship.
Google Maps
Taksim Square wherein lies the political unrest in Istanbul, Turkey, is across the bridge from the Blue Mosque.  The far-left point of the blue line is the Port of Istanbul.  The end point of the blue line toward the right is the Blue Mosque and an area of most of the tourist attractions, a little too close for comfort by our commitment to safety.

Staying behind is not based on fear as much as on practicality and logical thinking. Most likely, if we did go out, we’d be safe. The odds are in our favor.
Honestly, it’s more my being cautious than Tom. 

Looming in my mind is all the bus bombings and terrorist attacks that have occurred whereby tourists have been killed, injured, and captured. In many ways, Turkey is safer than in many other countries.  But, in our own US, who would have thought the Boston Marathon would be a high-risk area, on that particular horrifying day?

When we planned this year’s long adventure, we made a commitment to each other: we will protect ourselves from the “things we do know” since we have no control over “the things we don’t know.”

Today, Istanbul falls into the category of “things we do know.” Thus, we stay behind, perhaps viewed as overly cautious and “chicken” by some and sensible by others.  Whichever the case, we’ve made peace with our decision.

Here again, old and new intertwined in Istanbul, Turkey.

We reminded ourselves that only four weeks ago, we traveled the Middle East, visiting many high-risk areas, reveling in the adventure of it all, grateful for the experience.  We’re not pushing our luck to see yet more mosques, shopping areas and historical buildings, however magnificent they may be.

We find this French style of architecture not only in parts of the US, but in other cities throughout the world.

We remind ourselves of our personal travel objectives: to focus our time, money, and energy experiencing amazing wildlife, vegetation, natural wonders. And most of all, living in and learning the culture of people all over the world.  This makes us happy.  Historical buildings?  Nice to see, but not as life-changing for us as it may be for others.

This simple church spire adds to the Istanbul skyline.

The Panama Canal, Petra, and Mykonos tell us a story that fills our hearts and minds with awe and joy.  Wearing the burka and thobe in Abu Dhabi visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque gave us a gift of cultural differences that will remain with us forever. 

Mingling with the Mayan people, eating their food from their shops and markets in Belize was so meaningful to us.  Tom getting a haircut from a Creole barber while sitting under a tree on a plastic chair atop cement blocks was a delightful experience for us both. 
Also, on our trip to the Monkey River in Belize, seeing the howler monkeys, the manatees, crocodiles, dolphins, the unusual birds and vegetation, the likes of which we’d never seen before, left us reeling with pure pleasure.  And, the lunch at Alice’s Restaurant will be etched in our minds forever, as Alice and her family ran circles around us to serve us their perfect version of local lunch.

Who’s to say what “trips one’s trigger?”  Luckily, both of us have similar expectations.  Five days from today, we’ll plant our feet in Italy for the summer, living for two and half months in a non-English speaking area, learning their ways of daily life, eating their locally grown foods, attending their summer festivities, enjoying their rolling hillside all the while and making friends along the way.

The Port of Istanbul, where we sit today, a 20-minute walk from the unrest in Taksim Square.

Yes, we are doing what we want, when we want, what feels safe to us while enriching our lives daily to the world around us. It’s not perfect.  It never will be.  But for us, this, our friends, is as good as it gets.