One of our favorite sites in India…The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel…

As only a small section of Ravla Khempur, also known as the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for the 2012 movie filmed on site.

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When we originally booked an extra tour of Udaipur it was due to the fact that we were greatly interested in staying in one of the luxurious historic hotels overlooking one of the gorgeous man-made lakes in the area.

We were delighted to see the curly ears of the Marwari horses at the hotel. 

We visited Udaipur during one of the excursions on the Maharajas Express Train on day 3, and posted the story and photos on day 4, as shown at this link. After reviewing our 55-night tour of the balance of India, it appeared we’d be repeating a number of venues we’d already visited in Udaipur, on the train’s various excursions.

Each area of the property was artfully designed. From this site: “Ravla Khempur was chosen as the site or the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; it is an equestrian hotel that was originally the palace of a tribal chieftain, located about an hour and a half outside of Udaipur in the village of Khempur. Madden considered the building to have a magical quality and unmistakable charm, remarking that it had “something special that could ultimately draw the characters in. It had these wonderful cool, dark interiors, with glimpses of saturated light and the teeming life outside its walls. Production designer Alan MacDonald, who won Best Art Direction in a Contemporary Film from the Art Directors Guild for his work, was brought in to embellish the interiors, intentionally making it clash with “interesting furniture inspired by colonial India, mismatched local textiles, all mixed together with modern plastic bits and pieces, with everything distressed and weather-beaten. Footage was also shot at the Lake Palace Hotel at Lake Pichola.” (where we are now in Udaipur).

The concept of visiting previously seen venues didn’t appeal to us and thus, we contacted Rajiv at Tailormade Journeys and he canceled the repeats, replacing them with other tours we’re doing now that we’re back in Udaipur.

Although the property is well-worn over its 400 years, it is amazingly well-preserved and maintained.


Had we known our hotel would be more modest than anticipated, we may not have wanted to return to Udaipur at all. However, after yesterday’s “replacement” tour to a place we’d found online, we are so happy we returned regardless of the less than perfect hotel.

We loved this sign, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for the Elderly & Beautiful.”


Yesterday, after an 90-minute car ride with our thoughtful driver and tour guide, Vishnu (named after one of the most revered Indian gods), we embarked on a journey to the village of Khempur, about 48 km, 30 miles, northwest of Udaipur (yes, it takes 90-minutes to travel 48 km, 30 miles in the dense traffic getting out of the city).

The pool was added after the filming of the movies. This ivy and flower-covered wall were stunning in person.

We felt the 16-hour long travel day on Sunday from Nagpur Airport proved to be well worth it as we drove up to the closed iron gates of the famous hotel from the US/British made movie, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring some of the finest senior actors in the business with stellar performances that grab at your heartstrings.

Nothing was spared in adding to the beauty of the property over the years.


Vishnu got out of the car to open the closed but not locked gates. At that point, we both were thinking the hotel had since been abandoned until a kind young man approached and welcomed us. Even that experience was comparable to that which one would see in a movie.

Each entrance has a unique and charming design.


Our mouths were agape as to what lay before our eyes in sheer wonder, curious to see what would happen next. As we followed the young man, who spoke snippets of English we were then greeted by the manager, a kindly young man who spoke fluent English and offered to show us around. We gladly accepted.

A gorgeous Marwari female horse checking out who’s come to call, specifically us.


He suggested we stop at the hotel dining room for coffee/tea after the tour, which once again we joyfully accepted. How amazing it was to sit in the beautifully appointed historic hotel used in the making of the 2012 movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and later followed up with the sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2015.

The horses were curious as to our visit.


Much to our surprise, the hotel is still operational and beautifully so, creating an ambiance like none other. As we toured through the massive property with our host, we were entranced by its charm and historical appeal.

A handsome male, one of two stallions on the property.

Had we known it was still operational prior to booking the lengthy plans for India, nothing would have pleased me more than to have stayed there for a few weeks. What we found most surprising was the fact that there are 17 of the unique-to-India Marwari horses residing on the property described as follows below:

From this site
“The Marwari or Malani is a rare breed of horse from the Marwar (or Jodhpur) region of India. Known for its inward-turning, ear tips, it comes in all equine colors, although piebald and skewbald patterns tend to be the most popular with buyers and breeders. It is known for its hardiness and is quite similar to the Kathiawari, another Indian breed from the Kathiawar region southwest of Marwar. Many breed members exhibit a natural ambling gait. The Marwari horses are descended from native Indian ponies crossed with Arabian horses, possibly with some Mongolian influence.
The historic property was originally dated back to 1620 AD.

The Rathores, the traditional rulers of the Marwar region of western India, were the first to breed the Marwari. Beginning in the 12th century, they espoused strict breeding that promoted purity and hardiness. Used throughout history as a cavalry horse by the people of the Marwar region, the Marwari was noted for its loyalty and bravery in battle. 

This is the room where actor Judi Dench stayed during the filming of the movie.


The breed deteriorated in the 1930s, when poor management practices resulted in a reduction of the breeding stock, but today has regained some of its popularity. The Marwari is used for light draught and agricultural work, as well as riding and packing. In 1995, a breed society was formed for the Marwari horse in India. 

Breathttakiing.


The exportation of Marwari horses was banned for decades, but between 2000 and 2006, a small number of exports were allowed. Since 2008, visas allowing temporary travel of Marwari horses outside India have been available in small numbers. Though they are rare they are becoming more popular outside of India due to their unique looks.”

Can you imagine lounging in this window seat with a cup of tea/coffee or wine?
We’re delighted to have been able to see the stunning and unique creatures up close and took more photos than we can possibly use here. Their curly ears are quite the sight to see in person. 
We couldn’t stop smiling, not only due to the horses, but in seeing this hotel, reeking with character and history after having seen the movie several years ago. 
This man spends time with this dog guarding the property.
Every room and its innovative design and,  every outdoor space, was indeed a treasure to behold; including the abundance of interesting curved archways and doorways to the endless number of daybeds and window seats.
The dinnerware in the hotel’s dining room is made of brass and depicts the Marwari horse’s head on the knives and hooves on the balance of the artful pieces.

After we completed the tour, our generous host offered us tea/coffee and sweet biscuits (cookies). Tom ate the cookies with his cup of dark roasted coffee while I sipped on a fine cup of black tea.

The horse theme is carried out through the property as shown in these bridle buckles used in the design of the dining chairs.
As we sat in the gorgeous room, admiring everything around us, as shown in the photos below, I couldn’t help but wonder how magnificent it would be to stay in the hotel. No doubt, we were enamored. 
We had coffee/tea in this exquisite room with the Marwari horses looking in the windows at us from time to time. What a special experience it was indeed!

To contact the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, also known as Ravla Khempur and for information on their horses, dining and hotel bookings, please contact them at this link or by phone at +91 294 561773, or by email at this link.

A Marwari horse standing at the window as we sipped on our beverages.
Finally, to our disappointment it was time to go. We’d considered we’d overstayed our welcome although our host seemed overjoyed to share his wonderful hotel.
Us, in an old vehicle referred to as a Willy/Jeep.

Last night, after a pleasant dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, located across the street, we had a pleasant dinner, especially enjoying the scenes over Sagar Lake at night with the sounds of fireworks in the distance, birds singing in the night and the smells of incense and Indian spices wafting through the air.

The marigold.


We headed back to our room, where we purchased the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and started watching the delightful story. In a few days, we’ll download the sequel and once again revel in the familiar rooms of this magnificent property.


India… It’s magical.


Note: A special thank you to the wonderful owner of Ajanta Photo, Level 5, Century Plaza Lake Palace Rd, Old City, near, Kalaji Goraji, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001, phone 982 808 3294 for delivering the much-needed SD card reader to our hotel today on very short notice when Amazon India refused to leave our order for this item at the hotel desk in our absence. Subsequently, we are now able to download photos from our camera to my new HP Chromebook, which didn’t have a slot for an SD card (go figure). 

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Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2019:

Tom tossed some seeds to Frank and The Mrs. For more photos, please click here.

A bit of “this and that” aboard the ship….Group photo…

A path to the aqua blue bay.

Today is day 12 of the 24-day cruise. It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through this cruise.  In a few days, we’ll reach Hawaii. Then, in 15 days, we’ll board the cruise to Alaska from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Seattle. Then, in a mere 24 days, we’ll be in Minnesota to visit our family and friends.

Sunbathers and swimmers on the beach.

From there, in 66 days, we’ll arrive in Nevada, visiting more family and friends. Ninety days from today, we’ll be leaving the US heading for the next leg of our journey, most likely not returning to the US for two more years for another visit.

With the number of people we’re meeting, the over-the-top experiences we’re adding to our repertoire of cruising adventures, and the sheer pleasure of spending this time together, we couldn’t be having a better time.

Boats at the beach.

The anticipation of seeing our loved ones only adds another layer of joy to this busy and action-packed period. Yet, the ease with which each day flows into another is barely interrupted.

This morning we noticed an error or our account when charges for two drinks were listed US $17.00. Calling guest services for an adjustment, we reached a roadblock when they explained the only way to resolve the issue was to go to deck two during certain hours.

Passengers were walking along the beach.

That solution was unbelievable to us. Why couldn’t this be handled over the phone? But, in our usual manner of problem-solving, we addressed the issue with Jorge, our Diamond Club concierge, who spends most days in the Diamond Lounge on the 14th deck. 

Upon entering the private Diamond Club Lounge to prepare our post for the day, Jorge had the issue resolved within minutes. We expressed our gratitude for this prompt and seamless resolution.
The beach at Mystery Island, Vanuatu.

We seldom run across such an issue, but when they arise, we look for the most uncomplicated and quick solution to avoid tainting our perception of any cruise line or ship. Diplomacy and kindness seem to get us from Point A to Point B with the least amount of stress, always our top priority.

Having control over my two daily meals, breakfast and dinner, can be a challenge. We’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with Belik, head waiter in the Sapphire Dining Room on this cruise. 

Ship passengers out for a boat ride on a tiny sailboat.

Belik makes more effort to fulfill my dietary needs than any head waiter who’s worked with us on the past 17 cruises. However, having experimented with various foods within the framework of my usual diet, I’ve found some foods that seem to exacerbate the symptoms of the past many months; mainly garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables, and dairy.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve eliminated all dairy products, including cheese which has been a staple in my way of eating over these past five and a half years. 

View from the ship as we sailed away from the Fijian islands.

I’m hoping being dairy-free will help when yesterday was my best day since the onset of the h. pylori symptoms.  Perhaps now, I’ll see why drinking coffee with cream only seemed to make matters worse.  I blamed it on the acidity of the coffee when in fact, it may have been the cream.  We’ll see how this goes over the next few days.

Belik has been so helpful as I work my way through figuring out what I can and can’t eat.  There’s no doubt it’s added more limitations to my eating method, but he remains determined to ensure my food is satisfactory. I’ve never seen anything like this guy…except, of course, Tom, who puts up with me beyond my expectations.

View of Fiji from the ship.

We’ve settled into somewhat of a delightful groove with new friends Ulla and Ray and Julie and Terry, all from New South Wales, Australia. (See the photo below). It’s so easy to “hit it off” with others aboard the ship, whether couples or singles, of which there are many aboard this ship.

Yesterday, we watched a fantastic movie, Collateral Beauty, well worth watching. Today, we’ll head to the Palace Theatre for the 2016 movie, “Sully,” which starts at 1:30 pm. Unfortunately, it will be necessary to arrive at the theatre 45 minutes before showtime to ensure good seating as another sea day.

Our new Aussie friends, from left to right, Julie and Terry, Ray and Ulla and Tom and I. We’re having a fabulous time with these two couples as we meet for happy hour and dinner most nights.

After the movie, we’ll mingle with other passengers throughout the ship. By 4:15 pm, we’ll return to our cabin to dress for the second formal night. As much as we dislike formal nights due to our lack of dressy clothing, we make the best of it with what we have on hand, ultimately having another memorable evening.

A sense of contentment and serenity wafts through our minds as we continue on this leg of our journey. Thanks to all of our readers for sharing it with us!

Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2016:

The covered huts and cabana poolside at the villa in Bali, one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.

Change in plans…Appointments?…What’s the deal?…New Plymouth city photos…

Colorful apartment building.

When we arrived in New Plymouth 15 days ago, we’d expected wifi to be available when we arrived. This wasn’t the case and we had no choice but to head to a local phone store, purchase a device and load lots of expensive data.

To date, we’ve spent NZ $593, US $388 in fees in order to have access to the Internet, an expense we hadn’t anticipated. Don’t get me wrong…the owners are very kind, caring people and we’ve greatly appreciated their efforts and attention to detail.

They had no idea it would take so long to get service, assuming only a day or two. They’d tried arranging it over the holidays but couldn’t get a date pinned down. We have no doubt they tried. But, like many areas of the world, not everything happens according to a schedule one would prefer.

Ornate house on a corner.

Actually, we feel bad as to how much pressure we’ve placed on them as the WiFi bill continues to rack up expense day after day. Yesterday, I paid the bill when Spark had set up an account for us to be paid on a monthly basis, not requiring a 12-month contract.

Yesterday, Trish stopped by with an extra fan (without our asking) since we’ve been hauling the one fan we had up and down the stairs every day. Although the air is relatively cool here during these summer months, the roof is metal making the interior of the house very hot on sunny days.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in downtown New Plymouth, another historic building.

We’ve decided to keep the doors open welcoming the cool breezes most days and deal with the flies. They aren’t biting flies and seem fairly easy to swat with the flyswatter we purchased. They are considerably less prevalent on cooler windy days. By dinner time, we close the doors, kill the flies and have dinner, preferring no flies are buzzing our food. This plan seems to be working. 

After handing me the fan, Trish explained she’d heard from Vodafone who are to arrive today. We had an appointment with June for today and had planned to grocery shop after we were done.  We immediately contacted June apologizing and kindly asking we change the date. She was happy to make a change.

Contemporary houses overlooking the ocean.

In the process, we decided to postpone the grocery shopping until Thursday, after Tom’s 10:15 dentist appointment. We have enough food on hand for Wednesday’s meals. Goodness, we haven’t had “appointments” to speak of other than our medical exams while in Australia.

We’ve loved having a simple life with the avoidance of planning instead, waiting until we “feel like” doing something. Now, we have three dinner reservations looming for Valentine’s Day, my birthday, and our anniversary, Tom’s dental appointments, and the meeting with June. 

Has our free-spirited lifestyle taken a break while we’re here in convenient New Zealand with everything we could possibly need or want at our fingertips? There’s even a movie theatre here playing current US movies at NZ $10, US $6.55 for seniors. Perhaps, we’ll give it a try on a rainy day.

Modern-style houses and apartments.

The last time Tom and I attended a movie together was in the theatres on cruise ships or watching on the huge screen out by the pool. But attending an actual movie theatre?

The last time I attended a movie, Interstellar, was with my son Greg in December 2014 in Hawaii when the family visited us on the Big Island. Both of my sons and I always enjoyed attending movies together, especially back in my popcorn eating days, long since passed.

Seldom, do we have access to an English-speaking movie theatre. Seldom, do we make appointments, locking ourselves into dates and times for specific events, other than on travel days. 

The main thoroughfare, Eliot St., in downtown New Plymouth heads out to the ocean.

As much as parts of our lives may require an abundance of planning and preparation for the next leg of the journey, the next year and oftentimes, two years out, our daily lives are simple and uncomplicated. Somehow, it all works. 

When all is said and done, we’re blissfully happy. Having accomplished that single feat in life is more than either of us ever expected during these “golden years” of our lives. 

On Valentine’s night, we have a dinner reservation at Table Restaurant as shown on the right of this photo.

Isn’t that our ultimate desire…happiness, seemingly elusive and yet once a decision is made to become happy…we often find the opportunities to do so right at our fingertips? We’re truly blessed and grateful for finding it and will continue to hang on tight for as long as we can.

May your day bring you happiness.

Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2015:

We attended the Super Bowl party at the Makai Golf Club in Kauai last year having a great time meeting more friendly people and enjoying a Mexican buffet. For more photos and details, please click here.