Day #281 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Happy New Year!…Part 1…The “Year in Review!”…11 days and counting…

An impressive fireworks display was orchestrated at Hanwant Mahal located in Umaid Palace in Jodhpur, aka, The Khaas Bagh, during our journey on the Maharajas Express. We were honored and breathless. See the post here.

Today’s photos are a compilation of photos we’d taken in our travels in India, before the lockdown. Included will be the link for each post on which the photo appeared.  Photos will be divided for both February 2020 and March 2020 in today and tomorrow’s, New Year’s Day.

“The Taj Mahal, Crown of the Palace is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenelated wall.” See the post here.

Well, here it is, New Year’s Eve 2020, a challenging year for all of us, to put behind us. Unfortunately, the year’s end doesn’t end the woeful state of the world in light of Covid-19. The fears, the stress, the lockdowns, and the subsequent loss of life and financial security will remain well into 2021.

From this site: “Indian Statesman and Spiritual Leader. Mohandas Gandhi, who came 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. See the post here.

When it will end is beyond the speculation of the medical profession, scientists, or politicians who espouse their personal views on what we can expect in the future. Vaccines aren’t rolling out quickly enough, many are refusing vaccines and stubborn, thoughtless people throughout the world continue to refuse to wear a mask, social distance, and maintain a high degree of personal hygiene.

My spectacular dinner, made by the thoughtful chef at the Amritsar Ramada, where we’ll stay for three nights. See the post here.

Most likely, after the holiday season ends, within a week or two, we’ll see a resurgence of cases, when many have refused to avoid crowded indoor spaces at gatherings. How does this impact us? In many ways, especially in our ability to get out of India.

This giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman was unveiled at Jakhoo Hanuman temple in Shimla on November 4, 2010. See the post here.

Yesterday, India revised its Covid-19 international flight policy as follows in this article here.

“India has extended its ban on international flights to 31 January, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced today. India was set to lift the ban on international flights on 31 December after nine months of restrictions before today’s changes.

International flights will be suspended until February

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, India has suspended international flights to curb the spread of the virus. Restrictions were due to be lifted on 31 December before the DGCA extended the ban by a month. Now international flights will have to wait until at least the beginning of February – India has extended its ban multiple times this year and may do so again.”

Me and our guide. Shoes are not allowed in the area of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Women must wear scarves and men must wear some form of a turban. See the post here.

Of course, I saw this article in the middle of the night when I happened to awaken. First thing this morning, I contacted Emirates Airlines to inquire if this will result in the cancellation of our upcoming flight. They stated that based on the fact we’d booked our new flight before this new lockdown, we should be allowed to leave.” The keyword here is “should.”

Amit helped Tom fashion a turban in order to enter the Golden Temple. I thought he looked good with it! See the post here.

This morning, Tom and I discussed the possibility that if we aren’t allowed to leave, we have to face the reality that we may end up back here at this hotel or another, depending on what we decide to do at the time. We must face this reality, although, believe me, it’s not easy to do.

Aligned and ready to perform at the nightly ceremony at the closing of the border gates between India and Pakistan. See the post here.

I must admit, this uncertainty is causing me to feel a little stressed, although I continue to strive to maintain an even keel day after day. I guess I’m more worried about Tom than myself. But, he assures me, he’ll handle it if we can’t leave. He’s kept his expectations in check, whereby I have embraced the prospect of leaving India with fervor. If we can’t leave a change of hotel (and food) may be helpful, but with this hotel, at least we know how diligent they’ve been maintaining a clean environment. “Love the one you’re with!”

Sunrise over the Ganges River prior to the beginning of the morning ceremonies on the river. See the post here.

In the past few days, we’ve seen more guests wearing face masks than we’d seen in the past many months. This has been comforting to both of us especially during our walks in the corridor. It feels better not to have to tell other guests to wear a mask. I only had to tell one person this morning, as opposed to six or more.

One of several cremation sites along the Ganges in Varanasi. Women prepare the bodies while men attend the cremation for however many hours it takes. Bodies are cremated within six hours of death when possible. The fee for cremation is typically INR 14306.31, US $200, and most families have enough funds to cover the cost. The ashes are pushed into the river. Note the firewood in this scene. See the post here.

As for New Year’s Eve, it holds little interest for either of us at this point. The front desk staff called this morning to inform us it will be noisy tonight, well past midnight. There’s a big party happening tonight. We have no choice but to accept this reality. Also, Vinood, the manager-on-duty, called to tell us that our Covid-19 tests are scheduled for January 9th between 9:00 and 10:00 am. Hopefully, this won’t be in vain.

The nightly ceremonies on the Ganges River we easily observed from our reserved balcony seating. What a great way to celebrate my birthday!  The nine umbrellas represent the nine planets. Hindus value every aspect of the planet and the universe. See the post here.

So there it is folks, today’s status and concerns. We wrap this up wishing each and every one of our family/readers/friends a safe and happy New Year. May we all come out of 2020 with hope, and optimism for the new year to come.

Stay safe!

Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2019:

We’ve shared this freaky photo from a sighting in our bush house on New Year’s Eve, 2013 several times. This foot-long insect, a Giant Africa Millipede, (it was as long as my forearm) was on the wall by the bathroom door in the master bedroom which made us cringe. Tom as always, disposed of it outdoors, but of course, didn’t kill it. Sleep didn’t come easy the remainder of that night, fearing that the rains of the prior few days may have brought more of these ugly things indoors. For more photos from the year-ago post please click here.

Our final day aboard the Maharajas Express….Yes, we visited the Taj Mahal…

We never imagined we’d see the Taj Mahal. And yet, this morning in the morning haze and pollution, it lay before our eyes in its full splendor.

It’s Saturday, February 8, 2020. We just disembarked the fast-moving train, The world-renowned Maharajas Express, heading to Delhi after a blissful morning visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra.


Pinch me. Is this really happening? As the train rocked and lurched through the countryside, we faced the reality that this magnificent journey came to an end only two hours ago, after yet one more delicious lunch so carefully prepared by Chef John Stone and his staff. We’ve loved every moment.
The Great Gate, one of the several buildings built on the 42-acre grounds at the time The Taj Mahal was built in 1642.

Are we sad to see it end? Not at all. We’ve cherished the memories we’ve accumulated during this short seven-day excursion and take with us the treasures we’ve gleaned and what we’ve learned along the way.


India has captured our hearts in a way similar to Africa with its cultural differences, its scenery and its endless points of interest. The only difference we’ve experienced this far in India is its less abundant wildlife.

“The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself.”

Yesterday, we visited a national park on a safari. Tomorrow we’ll share those photos. But today, our early morning tour of the Taj Mahal was unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.


After our two-hour tour of the Taj Mahal, we walked for approximately 10 minutes to a lovely upscale restaurant where we were treated to a champagne breakfast buffet consisting of many traditional eggs-and-bacon type offerings along with many Indian favorites.

We left for the Taj Mahal at 6:30 this morning in hopes of avoiding crowds, but the crowds had already gathered by the time we arrived.

We sat with friends we had made during the seven-day journey to enjoy a delightful outdoor meal with white linen tablecloths and napkins and formal dining settings.


While we dined, we merely had to lift our heads to see the Taj Mahal over the treetops. It was a fabulous sight to see. After breakfast and a relatively short ride through the city of Agra, our bus proceeded back to the train.
“The Taj Mahal, Crown of the Palace is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenelated wall.”

It was then time to pack our bags while the train headed to Delhi. It was challenging to pack in the small space of the  train stateroom so I went first and Tom followed behind while I stayed out of the way. 


Within 40 minutes we were completely packed and ready for our fabulous steward, Surender, to move our bags to the de-boarding area. We provided him with a generous tip, which he graciously accepted while genuinely explaining how much he enjoyed working with us.

Tom took this shot of me with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop. 

We left an envelope with tips for all the other staff who so graciously served us, although we also tipped (separately) John Stone, our thoughtful chef along with the lovely staff member, Himanshi, who proficiently orchestrated all the tours for our utmost convenience.


We waited along with the other passengers in the Safari Bar for the final call to disembark. As always, a red carpet awaited us as we stepped off the train to receive warm goodbye greetings from all the staff. They truly were amazing.

Tom couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, grateful for the experience we never dreamed possible.

No doubt, we had a spectacular experience during our first foray into Indian culture and history and yet, the bulk of our Indian adventures are awaiting us in the 55-days yet to come.


As I complete this post, we’ve been transferred to the Metropolitan Hotel in New Delhi where we’ll stay for the next three nights with half-day tours each day until we depart by train on Tuesday for our next destination.

Our tour guide instructed us where to stand as he talked describing the details of the Taj Mahal We could hardly wait to be better-positioned for taking photos.

We’re content, if not a little tired. Neither of us slept well on the train and we hope to “catch up” over the next few nights. Our next tour is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 11:00 am after we’ve had our included breakfast in the hotel.


Tomorrow, we’ll be back with the final expenses from the six-night, seven-day expedition on the Maharajas Express. Please stop by!

The view of the Taj Mahal from the restaurant at this morning’s breakfast venue.

Have a pleasant evening! 

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Photo from one year ago today, February 8*, 2019:

*This photo is from February 9, 2019 when we hadn’t posted on the 8th. Ms. Bushbuck always appears to have a smile on her face.  Love her and her offspring! For more photos, please click here.

Forts, palaces and excellent dining experiences…Last full day on the train…

Today’s photos are a compilation of those we’d taken on day 2 in the following palaces: City Palace, the largest in the state of Rajasthan; Chimi Mahal; Mori Mahal and the spectacular Zenana Mahal; The Crystal Gallery at Darbar Hall and more.

Each
day of the Maharajas Express train journey has consisted of excursions to
historic sites revered by the Indian people who take special pride in their
rich heritage.

A swinging chair built by a Maharaja with 12 wives.


Subsequently,
tours have included visits to no less than a half dozen tours of forts and their
adjoining palaces. We were given headsets to enable us to listen to our tour
guides explain the historical significance in fine detail at each location. 

Generations of maharajas occupied the magnificent palaces.


In
an ideal world we would recall the details of each visit, but unfortunately, there was simply too much information for us to retain. Nor do we have time at this point to do all the research to share those details within our posts.

The exteriors of the various palaces were elaborate and imposing.

Instead, we’ll continue to post photos of these experiences and share them over many days to come, as we mentioned in an earlier post. 

The workmanship of true artists remains today with some restoration.

Today is our last full day on the Maharajas Express. At the moment as I write here, we are headed to Ranthambore – Fatehpur Sikri for yet another tour, in this case of a deserted red sandstone city. Photos of this excursion (and others) will follow in the days to come.


As for the ending of this exceptional journey, we’re able to depart the train in Delhi knowing full well we embraced every aspect of life on a luxury train and its many interesting tours and excursions. 

The peacock is the state bird of Rajasthan.

We’ve met wonderful travelers as well as the conscientious staff who never faltered for a moment in providing the utmost quality service with attention to every detail.


At 3:30 pm we head out for the above-mentioned tour and then return to the train for lobster dinner. But, tonight is special in that the women will be dressed and saris for this special occasion and the men?  We’re not quite sure yet what the men will wear, but most certainly we’ll take plenty of photos.
The peacock is represented in many works of art.

Tomorrow, we’ll head to Agra where we’ll visit the Taj Mahal in the early morning, which we expect will be one of the highlights of this extraordinary adventure.


Today, we embarked on a tiger safari to the Ranthambore National Park in search of the elusive Bengal Tiger. Unfortunately, we did not see a tiger, although we encountered a number of animals. Here again, we’ll post these photos soon.

Jewels and precious stones line the walls in many areas.


We intend to post our final expenses for this exciting train journey in the next several days. With so much on the agenda for the balance of today, tonight and tomorrow, we may have to wait a day or two for the time necessary to put this all together.


Starting tomorrow around 4:00 pm we’ll arrive at our hotel in Delhi where we’ll spend three nights amid more sightseeing. We’re hoping during this period, we can get a little more caught up.

Nothing was spared in the elaborate design of the palaces.


Wow! What an adventure! In many ways, India is exactly what we expected, rich in culture, history, vibrant colors, and kind and generous people. We continue on with enthusiasm for the present moment and for what is yet to come.


Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 7, 2019: 
There was no post one year ago today, as we continue to figure out my health condition.

We’re on the Maharajas Express train speeding through the countryside of India…

One of the two dining cars.

Note: We had many more photos we’d intended to post today, but the WiFi signal is too weak to upload more today. We’ll save all of our photos and upload them at a later date when hopefully, the connection improves.


The magic of our non-stop global travels that sustains us through all the challenges, that never cease to amaze us as we traverse the world.



Here we are, today, on February 2, 2020, the whimsical day when reversing the date is 2020,02,02, and we’re traversing the countryside in India on a fast-moving luxury train.
An interesting vegetarian dish served at lunch.


Comparable to the Orient Express, the Maharajas Express has every imaginable amenity and is known throughout the world as one of the finest coach experiences available to the most discriminating travelers.


Pinch me. Is this real? How many times have I said this in this past over seven years of world travel? More than I can count. But this experience along with others, leaves us breathless, grateful and in awe.

Our cabin isn’t much larger than the queen-sized bed, but we’re totally fine, especially having our own en suite bathroom.


There are approximately 70 passengers on board with a crew close to 100 with each cabin assigned a butler who’s available 24 hours a day to fulfill each passenger’s every need and whim. Nothing is spared. Service is impeccable. Design is tasteful and commensurate with Indian culture and customs. 


And Indiathe country where so many warned us about the water, the food, the pollution and, the crime ratewe see beyond all of this. We embrace its culture, it’s people and its colorful existence entrenched in the Hindu beliefs of peacefulness, calm and harmony.

We saved these two chairs at our table for a lovely couple from Scotland we’d met earlier in the day. The four of us had a delightful lunch together.


The sacred cows, the exquisite temples, the powerful beliefs of its people, leave us hungering for knowledge and experience which surely over these next two months we’ll capture each and every day in photos, stories and rich experiences we can’t wait to share with all of you.


Leave your preconceived notions at the door and enter this magical world with us as we scour the country, hungry to learn, anxious to grow and eager to embrace this heart-pounding adventure, like none other in our recent past.


As we’re situated in our tiny cabin with en suite bathroom, with a surprisingly decent Wi-Fi signal, while jiggling from the harmonic role of the cars meandering over the tracks, I’m practically lulled to sleep by the sensations.

Locals on a passing train.

Tom, having worked on the railroad for over 42 years, only knows this sensation too well, hardly giving it a thought. For me, the novice, I’m enraptured by it all. But the opportunity to share this adventure together is indescribable and undoubtedly awe-inspiring.


After a fabulous lunch in one of the two dining cars, with a visit from the head chef, named John Stone, an Indian man of great knowledge of food and catering, we’re confident he will compose meals for me befitting my strict dietary guidelines. 
As we passed a local train…

He didn’t waste a moment appearing at our table with a fervent goal to provide attention and enthusiastic support in preparing delicious and suitable meals for me. We were both impressed as my first meal proved to be exactly as prescribed. I’m content and at ease.


Over these next six nights and seven days, we’ll continue to post, as long as WiFi remains consistent enough to do so, sharing every last detail of this special time in our world travels.

Please check back. There’s so much more to come.
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Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2019:

Many refer to impalas as “McDonald’s “due to the big “M” on their backside andhow they provide ample meals for the big cats. For more photos, please click here.

The cost of our upcoming 55 day private tour in India…

A dazzle of zebras in an open field, from one year ago post. For more, please click here.
Yesterday, we paid the balance of the upcoming 55-night private tour of India, which begins in Delhi immediately after the six-night tour on the Maharajas Express, a luxury train that travels from Mumbai to Dehli.

Of course, the cost of this tour is daunting, along with the cost of the train excursion. We thought long and hard deciding if these decisions made sense considering our budget.

But, one thing we knew for sure. We had 55 days to spend in India until the cruise from Mumbai to London on April 3, 2020. There was no way it made sense to attempt to book this extended period when we knew nothing about the country.

Having a professional, highly experienced company making arrangements for all the hotel reservations, flights and tour guide, made all the sense in the world. 

We specified what we wanted to see and do and the tour was arranged including all those requests, such a staying in the beautiful lake town of Udaipur and embarking on a few tiger safaris in different national parks. 

We realize the possibility of actually seeing a tiger is relatively slim when there are only 3000 tigers in the entire country. But, we were willing to take that chance. Perhaps safari luck will prevail. Besides, there is other wildlife we’ll see in the national parks such as:

“Indian safaris are anything but tame. Elephants, rhinos, reptiles, bears, and wild dogs roam the lush rainforests, while snow leopards make lonely footprints in the Himalayan snow. Of course, the holy grail of any safari is in seeing the big cats, and in India, that means the elusive wild tiger.”



No doubt, we’ll be posting many photos along the way, not only of wildlife, but also the sites we tour; the culture; the architecture; historic and significant buildings; exquisite scenery; local food and of course, its people.

The magnitude of this tour is daunting. We never imagined being on a private tour for so many days and nights, staying in many hotels, flying on many flights to get from place to place. We’ll certainly be busy and hopefully treasuring every moment.

Subsequently, the cost of the 55-nights tour is as follows:
US Dollars $9,765 Per Person US Dollars $19,530
Total US Dollars $19,530
Amount Paid US Dollars $9,765
Balance due 10 January 2020 US Dollars $9,765 (we paid this balance yesterday)



When all is said and done the average daily cost $355.09, which is $121.75 more per day than what we usually spend to travel each month, not including cruises. Keep in mind, this also included being picked up at the Mumbai Airport, when we arrive, a hotel for two nights before the train and all transportation.


Most dinners, cocktails, and tips are not included. Breakfasts are included at all of the hotels. At this point, we don’t know what the cost of dinners will be and the tips will be paid based on performance.

In all, these expenses could result in an additional $4,000 to $5,000 for the entire period, which we’ll pay as we go. We have already paid in full for the train


and will only incur additional charges for tips and drinks.

We realize this is expensive but, in essence, it’s no more costly than a typical cruise and in many cases less. It’s all relative. After the trials of this past year, we decided to take advantage of as many opportunities that appeal to us that we can possibly afford. This is a once in a lifetime experience.


Yes, we’ve said this before, the “once in a lifetime” thing. But, then again, our entire lives, is a “once in a lifetime experience.” We are grateful, more than words can express and humbled by the world and its people, places, and wildlife.

In a mere 20 days, the journey continues. Stay with us as you have during this quiet time. The adventure is soon to begin again.


May your day be purposeful and fulfilling!

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Photo from one year ago today, January 9, 2019:

A hippo on a little island in the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

 
India is a huge landmass proving us with endless opportunities to explore.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland’s
flag has three colors for a reason. The green represents the Gaelic tradition
of Ireland, the orange is meant to represent those who followed William of
Orange and the white stripe in the middle represents peace between both.”

____________________________________________


This morning we took off early and headed to Clifden to grocery shop.  We’re having company for dinner tomorrow night and although we promised to make an easy meal, we still had to pick up a number of items at the market.

After my quick stop at the pharmacy for more bandages for my leg, while Tom went to the ATM for cash, we met at the market and breezed through our shopping list which I keep on an app on my phone. 

I’ve been using a grocery shopping app for at least the past 12 years, finding it so much easier than a handwritten list, especially since I can’t read my own scratchy handwriting.

In no time at all, we were back on the road for the 40-minute drive back to Glinsce and our holiday home.  We quickly put everything away while Tom worked on removing the ice from the tiny freezer.  We needed all the room we could get in the small space.

After the big chest freezer in Marloth Park, it’s quite a difference only having a freezer the size of a small chill box.  With the trays of ice and a bag of ice, there’s little room for food.  When he was done removing the ice, I got to work organizing the items and somehow managed to get everything inside including the ice.

In my life, before heart surgery, putting away groceries wasn’t a task.  But now, any activity that requires standing for long periods, bending down to put food into the below-counter refrigerator becomes a major undertaking.  But, I push myself to accomplish every task before me, knowing in time, all of these activities will only add to the rebuilding of my strength.

Today is our 28th anniversary from the night we met. We’re making a special dinner and will enjoy some quality time together reminiscing and thinking toward the future. 

Most prevalent in our minds are the bookings we made in the past several days; the luxury train in India, the Maharajas Express, the “Heritage of India” and a cruise, a fantastic 29-night cruise we can’t wait to share in tomorrow’s post.


In yesterday’s first post about the train, we promised to share more details of our upcoming train expedition beginning on February 2, 2020, a mere seven months from now.  It’s not that we’re wishing time to go by quickly.  Instead, its fun for both of us to plan into the future, knowing we have so much to anticipate.


We selected the deluxe cabin in order to keep the price down.  Sure, we’d love to have chosen a suite but the added cost is just not worth it to us.  
The main differential in cost is the size of the cabin and we’re fine in tiny spaces when we spend so little time in our cabin.


So here are the pricing details for the Maharajas Express, the “Heritage of India“:  

Prices Valid From 01 October 2019 Until April 2021

 Price in Sterling Pounds Per Person

Price Per Person Per Journey Deluxe Cabin Junior Suite Suite Presidential Suite
Twin/Double Cabin £ 5072 £ 7915 £ 11040 £ 18960
Single Cabin £ 8944 £ 15040 £ 22080 £ 37920

 Price in US Dollars Per Person

Price Per Person Per Journey Deluxe Cabin Junior Suite Suite Presidential Suite
Twin/Double Cabin $ 6340 $ 9890 $ 13800 $ 23700
Single Cabin $ 11180 $ 18800 $ 27600 $ 47400

  
Included in the above pricing is the following:

Price / Cost Includes

*** Accommodation in Air Conditioned Deluxe Cabin or Junior Suite or Suite or Presidential Suite with attached Bathroom on board The Maharaja Express
*** All meals including tea, coffee, and mineral water and house brands of Indian wines, beer, and spirits during The Maharaja Express
*** Transport for sightseeing with Deluxe Coaches during The Maharaja Express for Deluxe Cabin and Junior Suite Clients
*** Transport for sightseeing with Private Vehicle & Private Guide during The Maharaja Express for Suite and Presidential Suite Clients
*** Entrance fee to palaces, museums & parks during The Maharaja Express
*** English speaking guide during The Maharaja Express
*** Bulter Service for Suite and Presidential Suite Clients
*** Service of the Tour Manager on Board
*** One Transfer in Mumbai and One Transfer in Delhi by Private Vehicle with Driver


Of course, the most exciting aspect to the train excursion is the itinerary as follows:

Day 1 – Mumbai – Sunday

  •  09:00 Welcome and Registration at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
  •  10:30 Proceed for Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Terminus Railway Station, Mumbai
  •  11:30 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Udaipur
  •  12:30 Lunch onboard
  •  19:30 Dinner onboard

Day 2 – Udaipur – Monday

  •  08:00 Breakfast onboard
  •  10:00 Arrive at Udaipur. Proceed for a boat ride on Lake Pichola followed by a visit to City Palace and Crystal Gallery
  •  13:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  13:15 Lunch onboard. You may choose Optional Activities – Spa at a hotel or Local City Tour
  •  18:15 Proceed for an Exclusive Dinner at Satkar Hall of Fatehprakash Palace or Jagmandir Island Palace
  •  20:30 Returns to comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  22:00 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Jodhpur

Day 3 – Jodhpur – Tuesday

  • 07:30 Breakfast onboard
  •  09:15 Optional Tour to Bishnoi Village (De-board at Rohat Railway Station)
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  14:30 Proceed to visit the Mehrangarh Fort followed by a Walking Tour of the Old Clock Tower market and enjoy a joy ride on Tuk Tuks
  •  17:30 Proceed for an exclusive cocktail dinner at Hanwant Mahal or Khaas Bagh
  •  20:15 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  03:00 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Bikaner

Day 4 – Bikaner – Wednesday

  •  08:00 Enjoy the countryside while having breakfast onboard
  •  10:00 Arrive at Bikaner. Relax onboard or you may choose Optional Activities – Visit Lalgarh   Museum or Local City Tour
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  14:00 Visit to Junagarh Fort followed by sundowners at Sand Dunes
  •  17:30 Arrive at the Sand Dunes followed by cocktails, bar-be-que, and folk dances
  •  20:15 Return to the comfort of the Maharajas’ Express
  •  21:30 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Jaipur

Day 5 – Jaipur – Thursday

  • 08:00 Breakfast onboard
  •  09:30 Arrive at Jaipur. Proceed for a visit to Amber Fort
  •  12:30 After sightseeing proceed to Rambagh Palace hotel for lunch
  •  16:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
    You may choose Optional Activities – Spa at a hotel, with a visit to the City Palace Museum and Observatory or Local City Tour
  •  20:00 Dinner onboard
  •  21:30 The Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore)

Day 6 – Ranthambore and Fatehpur Sikri – Friday

  •  06:30 Proceed for an exciting Game Drive at Ranthambore National Park
  •  09:30 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  09:45 Breakfast onboard
  •  10:15 Maharajas’ Express proceeds for Fatehpur Sikri
  •  13:30 Lunch onboard
  •  14:30 Arrive into Fatehpur Sikri
  •  15:30 Visit the deserted Mughal City of Fatehpur Sikri
  •  18:00 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  19:30 Enjoy an “Indian Evening” followed by dinner onboard

Day 7 – Agra – Saturday

  •  06:45 Arrive into Agra and proceed to visit Taj Mahal
  •  09:30 Champagne Breakfast at Taj Khema
  •  10:45 Return to the comforts of Maharajas’ Express
  •  11:05 Maharajas’ Express proceeds to Delhi
  •  13:00 Lunch onboard
  •  15:30 Disembark and bid farewell to the Maharajas’ Express as your journey comes to an end
We’re in the process of deciding where we’ll visit during the two months we’ll have in India while we await the cruise (see tomorrow’s post) that begins on April 3, 2020.  It’s exciting to research different locations and decide what appeals to us the most.

No doubt, we’ll be booking a safari in India with a search for tiger sightings in mind.  Oh, my, this is exciting!  I can’t wait to hopefully post photos of tigers we’ve spotted in the wild.

Happy day to all. We’ll be back tomorrow with more and…soon we’ll post our new itinerary.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2018:
“The foot of the giraffe reaches a diameter of 30 cm (12 in), and the hoof is 15 cm (5.9 in) high in males and 10 cm (3.9 in) in females. The rear of each hoof is low and the fetlock is close to the ground, allowing the foot to provide additional support to the animal’s weight.”  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…New bookings…A new country…A new lease on life!…More tomorrow…

The Maharajas Express Luxury Train* in India.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Even though legend says that St. Patrick cleared Ireland of snakes, the truth is that these slithering creatures were never able to make it from Britain to the island.”

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*Please excuse the quality of today’s photos.  They were taken from the train’s website and aren’t clear when enlarged.


With our hesitancy to book future travels due to my recent health fiasco, the nature of our travels had changed dramatically.  At one point since we arrived in Ireland, we had no idea where we’d go in December 2019 after leaving Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona to see family.


After days of research and planning, as of late yesterday, we’re booked until May 2, 2020, almost a year out but also have a few cruises beyond that date which we may or may not take. 


We have moveable deposits on all of our remaining cruises with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines.  We have a Euro 731, US $900 deposit, paid for a cruise we’d booked from Lisbon to Cape Town on November 2020.  At the time we booked that cruise, we had no idea about my heart issues.

One of several lounges on the train.

When we went through immigration in South Africa on May 11, 2019, we were classified as “undesirables” since we overstayed our visas by the three months we had to stay in SA while I recovered, unable to fly during that time.  This classification would prevent us from returning to South Africa for 5 years.  Subsequently, we’ ll miss this particular cruise.

We were provided with documentation to allow us to apply for a waiver that could potentially allow us to return sooner.  Immediately after we arrived in Ireland, we put together the detailed packet required to apply for the waiver and sent it via email as required.


Yesterday, I called to see how our file was progressing and was directed to another email address for a status update which I did, attaching all the relevant documents once again.  I was told we’d hear back in 24 to 48 hours.  But, I doubt we’ll hear by then, based on history in dealing with governmental processes in South Africa.

One of several dining venues.

If we don’t hear by the time the final payment is due in July 2020, we’ll have no choice but to cancel the cruise, losing a portion of the deposit and not able to return to Marloth Park South Africa until May 2024.


In the interim, we’re proceeding as if this isn’t an issue, leaving a gap in time for the Africa cruise and the three months we’ll have spent in Marloth Park.  We have a year to hear from immigration.


In order to get “back on track,” we decided to proceed with events we’ve longed to do.  Yesterday morning, we booked the first of these exciting venues on the Maharajas Express, the India equivalent of the Orient Express.  We couldn’t be more excited.

On one of many included excursions, close to the Taj Mahal.

We’ve talked about visiting India at some point but neither of us has been interested in experiencing the massive population as shown below:

“The population of India 2019: Looking into the latest UN data, the approximate population of India is 1,350,438,098. The population of India is rising at an alarming rate and this is why the country is known as the second most populous country in the world after China.”


This is a big chunk of the world’s population as shown below:

“The current world population is 7.7 billion as of June 2019 according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometers. Thus, India possesses 17.7% of the world’s population.”

One of many dining carriages.

Based on our plans for India, we’ll be able to avoid some of the traffic and commotion in the larger cities, although we’ll visit some of them along the way.  No doubt, the crowds, and traffic are all part of the experience in India.

We plan to spend two months in the country, from traveling to different locations we’re considering now.  But, as mentioned above, one of the most exciting elements of our time in India is starting on February 2, 2020, with a six-night excursion on the Maharajas Express from Mumbai to Dehli, stopping at outstanding points of interest along the way.

In the past several days, we spent hours researching pricing, accommodation, amenities, and routes and decided on the Maharajas Express’ Heritage of India which provides us with the most exciting and comprehensive experiences.

With so much information to share here, we’ll return tomorrow with more photos, pricing, amenities and the itinerary of the Heritage of IndiaWe couldn’t be more thrilled, especially after this long haul of only focusing on my health.  This is exactly “what the doctor ordered.”

See you soon!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2018:
Elephants crossing the road in Kruger National Park.  That vehicle stopped too close to them putting themselves at risk.  For more details, please click here.