Sunday, December 18, 2016

Home sweet Home

Final leg...Stavanger, Norway via Frankfurt back to Edmonton in 34 hours and my fall travels have come to a conclusion. 9 weeks, 6 countries, 18 flight segments, 40,000 kms of flying, all 4 seasons, 2 hemispheres.

It has been an amazing journey and the world to me is just a little bit smaller. Had some weather delays in Toronto and arrived to the comfort of home - in minus 27C, winter and a dead battery!

Thanks for following my journey!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Talgje, Norway

After a few busy days, the lack of sleep caught up with me and I developed a chest cold. However, hanging around on the island of Talgje near Stavanger (Rogaland Kommune) was good for a rest. Hoping the antibiotics help as I am on a flight back home in one more day!

I took a walk down to the boat terminal at the end of the island. Talgje is connected by a tunnel (a toll applies each way!) and a boat to ferry islanders to and from Stavanger and neighbouring islands. Fognafjorden divides the islands from the mainland but there are a number of other fjords.

I stopped in at the Talgje church (built in 1150) which sits prominently on one of the highest points on the island. Local farmhouses are well taken care of and are now showing Christmas lights and candles in their windows, some like a menorah. Even in December the grass is green around the farms. While walking past one farm, 8 turkeys came running out 'burbling' a welcome. They don't gobble! There were a few sheep and dogs, crows, a heron and amazing views of the fjord.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Telemark, Norway

After a 38 hour journey from New Delhi, India with 3 flight segments, I arrived in rainy Stavanger and was greeted by my friend Benjamin. It seemed crazy to leave warm +25C weather in India and enter +8C cool humid maritime climate after weeks in the heat! I actually like it, though. It will help me transition to winter back home!

We decided to pack up and head out to Telemark where the Gaski family cabin is located in a remote valley south central Norway. The road was impassable for the final 8kms so we hiked in.

We hiked in as the sun set (3:45pm here!) and made it to the cabin in the dark by headlamp. It was a cozy, rustic cabin on a hill at about 1000 meter elevation, with a stream nearby for running water, no electric power, no internet of course! a warm wood stove, candlelight, comfortable living area and a composting outhouse.

It is quite surreal to walk by headlamp in the wilderness with few people, birds, no animals other than some elusive reindeer. The quiet was only broken by the NW winds that blew the clouds away. Having to get up in the night, I was out in the wind and noticed Orion as well as many stars and a waxing full moon!

We headed out at 7am in the dark as we had a long drive to Kristiansand. The sun rose at 9:30am (we are that far north!) So, I got my wish...snow, cool temperatures and to reconnect with my Norwegian family and a night in a cozy cabin in the woods!

Heading off home in a few days, concluding 62 days, 6 countries and countless memories. I feel blessed to have had this opportunity for adventure!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rishikesh yoga

Life in the Ashram - vegetarian meals, playful yoga, we are treated to Vishvaji's amazing teaching and practice at 6am, fire puja before breakfast each day, 4pm yoga and early evenings to bed by 9 pm as you need to be up in 8 hours! There is time to do laundry, walk through the busy streets or sit in the sun on the terrace and write what I have learned in the classes.

One night there was a special 'naming ceremony' for the TTP students which I was invited to attend. Vishvaji started with chanting and then invited each one to receive their name and in return students offered a gift, lit a candle and everyone received a carrot sweet after. It was very special.

I have been out to walk the two bridges and taken a trip to Rishikesh proper, which was nothing special. I have found a few more shops near the Ashram that have quality goods. My purchases include 3 white marble eggs for the girls. Still do my coffee meditation every morning.

After 10 days of yoga and life in the Ashram has taken on a regular schedule. I have now connected with Akhanda yoga and it appeals to me, and is similar to my style of yoga. Gentle, playful, blissful and fearless.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Rishikesh - Life in an Ashram

After flying for an hour from New Delhi to Dehradun, a taxi picked me up and drove the 16 kms to Anand Prakash Ashram in Tapovan area. An hour later I was settled into my room and off to my first yoga class in the Ashram. Yogrishi Vishvketu is the guru here known also in Edmonton for his teacher training at Prana studio. He and the Ashram have a good reputation and I like the Akhanda yoga style.

The Ashram in Tapovan, Rishikesh

There is a nice schedule here - a 5:00 am bell, meditation 5:20 to 6am then the first yoga class 6 - 7:45, fire puja at 8,  breakfast at 8:30, lunch at 12:30pm, yoga class at 4pm and dinner at 6pm. Meals are all vegetarian, tasty and they use organic foods prepared safely. It is not as quiet here as I would like with construction, people, cars and motorbikes. I am sharing a room with a Mexican who gets up at 4:30am, has a shower and talks to himself, probably some mantra. My hips are aching from lots of yoga and sitting in Sukhasana (cross legged) for meditation, yoga and meals!
Fire Puja ceremony area

One of my favourite meditations is a coffee meditation! I walk quietly to the German Bakery near Laxman Jhula bridge for a latte - no stimulants at the Ashram - and walk quietly back, satisfied. Also, no meat, no alcohol, and silence from 9 pm until after breakfast. Students are in week 4 of their 300 hour Teacher Training as well as a few of us travellers dropping in. Mantras abound, it is relaxed and free time in between the scheduled items to wash clothes, clean the room, read or catch up on email.

Laxman Jhula bridge

Friday, November 25, 2016


We drove for about 5 hours from Jaipur to Agra today mostly on good roads which made my driver, Victor, go even faster. My life passed before me only a handful of times!! Cars, tractors, motorbikes and tuktuks often go into opposing traffic! We stopped about 40 kms from Agra and paid my 500 rupees to enter Fatehpur Sikri, a red sandstone Fort and palace on the way to Agra. A really good example of Mughal design. I can't believe the number of Muslims and mosques here in Rajasthan. I have heard calls to prayer for several days in Jaipur and today in Agra. Apparently the Mughal empires followed the Muslim faith. I get the feeling the Indians do not like them much. Must be some history of conflict or a caste issue.

The Taj Mahal

I finished the day by visiting the Taj Mahal at sunset. It is closed on Fridays so we went to a park on the back is just as impressive from there and saved me a 5 am start in the morning!

Fatehpur Sikri

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort

As mentioned in the last post, we drove 11 kms out of Jaipur to see the Amber (Amer) Fort near the the town of Amer which was quite impressive. Many elephants were taking tourists up to the Fort which was quite a scene. A huge and well designed fortress with battlements, palace rooms and even Turkish baths.

About another half hour up past Amber is Jaigarh Fort. The views were great in spite of the heat haze. Finally we stopped to photo the Jal Mahal in the lake near Jaipur.