Travel, Food, and Slices of Life

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Amber Fort Wins Best Fort Prize

Ft Ti firing demoWhen I was quite young we stopped at Fort Ticonderoga in New York State on one of our family vacations. A colonial era fort, Ticonderoga stayed in my memory as one of my favorite places so much that I had my family stop there about five years ago.  Somehow, it had shrunk and my kids were not impressed.

Well, travelfans, do I have a fort for you!!! Imagine, if you will, the Amber Fort of Jaipur, high on a ridge overlooking the valley. Built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh, this palace has it all: amazing architectural details and wonderful stairways and corridors that beckon you on and on.DSCF6339

But first, let me set the tone.You should stop first by the lake and visit with the snake charmer. For a small fee you, too, can blow on the nasally sounding flute and keep a close eye on the cobra. snake Then climb aboard one of the wonderfully decorated elephants

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

and ride in leisure up up up the climbing roadway to the Sun Gate.

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

Try to ignore the vendor running alongside enticing you with an ever declining price for the elephant bedspread he is hawking. Tell him it is made poorly and you have no interest, tossing it back to him continuously as the elephant takes you higher and higher. Remember to ignore the vendor to take in the view of the gardensDSCF6359and the fortress wall climbing the opposite hillside.DSCF6351 When you enter the courtyard and he is losing hope, pay the man 10% of his originally stated price and tuck the blanket away, to be used later to sew custom made bags for people who want one that has an essence of this trip.

INdian elephant blanket And then look around the courtyard.


source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

And start exploring.  So much to see. The stairs beckoning you upwards DSCF6378to the plaza.

DSCF6383The mosaicsDSCF6389 all over the place, in the wallsDSCF6380, in the ceilings….everywhere.

Remind yourself that this all was built in 1592, well over 400 years ago. Enjoy the colorsDSCF6407

and the carvings. Everywhere, more detailing.


Every ceiling different. And the passageways….follow this one…then that one.

DSCF6402Ask someone who works there how to get back to the courtyard where Arvind asked everyone to meet in 20 minutes before moving to another section of the fort.


Meet up with the group in time and maintain your good standing. And then go again. See another section…it is a huge place.

DSCF6385Peek out of windows to view other places inside the fortDSCF6398 and the surrounding countryside.DSCF6399DSCF6418















And then down another passageway

DSCF6414through another gate

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

and still more to see with huge cooking pots.


and then out beyond the outer gate past more vendors and then a jeep ride back to the bus.

nancy h

Amber Fort……put it on your list of places to visit, but only if you like to explore.  You DO like to explore, don’t you!!




New Territory Ahead

Two months from now I will be in India. Wow……who’d a thunkit?  Especially since this was not even a figment of my imagination before Lisa presented the idea with a high level of excitement about 24 hours ago.

The back story: Sometime when the kids were really young I decided we would start a family tradition of the Golden Birthday Trip.  The Golden Birthday was defined as the one when the child turned the age of the day they were born.

Dan was born March 8, so the year he turned 8 he got to plan a trip. He wanted to go to New York City, so I got a kid’s guide to the Big Apple from the library and we soon had a fun itinerary that HE (yes, Dan did it all) designed. We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Intrepid WWII aircraft carrier museum, FAO Schwartz toy store, the Statue of Liberty, and the World Trade Center. (I’m so glad we got there.) We drove in from Connecticut, stayed at my sister’s apartment in Brooklyn, and the whole trip probably cost us a couple of hundred bucks , if that.lady_liberty_towers

Sam’s was next, even though he is the youngest. He was born on October 13th, so all that winter he had a lot of ideas. Finally, he decided we should go to Nova Scotia and he wanted his siblings, who were already on their own, to join us. So, since Lisa was working for Enterprise car, we rented a minivan, and all five of us drove there from West Virginia. We stayed mostly in b&bs, ate lobster at least six times, went sea kayaking, white water splashing on the Bay of Fundy tidal bore, enjoyed sea scallops in Digby, visited two colonial forts, heard a fantastic concert in Cape Breton, went to Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont, and rounded out the trip with a stop at Niagara Falls. The trip cost a pretty penny with all five of us, as you can imagine.family 2

Lisa, meanwhile moped, “I have to wait so long!!!” Her birthday is August 27.  I signed,  “Yes, you do, and your trip will probably be the most expensive so only you and I will go to keep the cost down.”

And so, two birthdays ago, Lisa turned 27, and what with all else going on with our pending move to Oregon, it could not happen. She waited patiently.

Prior to the move we sold my car, figuring it would be easier to only drive one the 3000 miles from West Virginia to Oregon. And so, I notified Graham that I would like to grab $2,000 of payment for Lisa’s Golden Birthday Trip.  I then gave her the funds to keep safe.

And so, when she came in yesterday, dancing about this travel opportunity to India for 6 nights there, including tours, lodging, some meals, airfare and all taxes and transfers and all the other ways tours nickel and dime you, for about the same as a roundtrip airfare, I swallowed and said, sounds good.tajwater1024

I never expected to get to India!