Wow, squared

We have just returned from an in-depth 24-day trip to India and Nepal. Not only did I finally get to see the Taj Mahal, which nearly brought me to my knees, but we visited the holy sites of Delhi, Varanasi and Khajuraho and the historical capitals of Jaipur and Agra, admired architectural marvels like Humayun’s Tomb and the incredible Step Well at Abhaneri, rubbed elbows with camels and Marwari horses at Pushkar and observed wildlife at Ranthambore, from Langur monkeys and spotted deer to wild boar and crested serpent eagles, and one amazing 7-year-old Bengal tigress hanging out with her three cubs. We also were welcomed into two beautiful family compounds for conversation and meals.

In Kathmandu we visited Hindu temples, palaces, villages and marketplaces, met a kumari (a living goddess) and took an unforgettable Yeti Airlines flight over the Himalayas, truly a peak experience. Kudos to Odysseys Unlimited and our knowledgeable, caring guides, Anurag & Binaya; this is truly how travel should be. And honorable mention to our awesome traveling companions Cissy & Yogi, Barbara & Ron, Ellen & Steve.

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My lifelong dream to see Stonehenge has been fulfilled! We spent a week in London—much of it at the theater—then headed out to Salisbury, Bath, Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon and back to London for a final night before heading off to Paris for a week. Paris was a blur of spectacular museums, delectable food and of course our ongoing love affair with la Tour Eiffel. Thanks to Airbnb, we enjoyed a flat in Chelsea and another in Paris’s 16ème Arrondissement, near the Palais de Tokyo. I think we need to visit Paris every year…

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Top 50 cities to visit

…according to Huffington Post:

I have been to 30 of these; Jeff has been to a few more that I haven’t. Before the year is out, we will repeat two of them in some depth, plus add four more.

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Unsolicited plug for Airbnb

Just got back from latest travels. Joined Jeff mid-CMS trip, in Berlin—my first time in Germany—and Brandon, having just completed his semester abroad in the Netherlands, also arrived by train, so that was a huge bonus. After a few days in Berlin, we all rode to Prague by way of Dresden. It was great to see Prague again, though it was really hot there. After Prague the students all left and the CMS directors proceeded to the very charming Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to plan next year’s trip. Then it was just the family; we took a van to Salzburg (still hot), rode the funicular up to Hohensalzburg Fortress and visited Mozart’s childhood home, and also took a side trip to the gorgeous but still-creepy Berchtesgaden (once Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest) in the Bavarian Alps.

Finally, we rode the train to Vienna, where we stayed at our first Airbnb apartment. Airbnb is the best thing ever—our home was this amazing, perfectly located, fully furnished two-bedroom apartment instead of yet another cramped hotel room. We’ve got a couple more of these booked for later this year, and I hope they are all as great as this place was.

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Twain on travel

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

– Mark Twain

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The year of living…

…nomadically! My husband just got back from two weeks in Vietnam with the EMBA students, then a couple of days later we went to New Orleans so he could deliver a paper at an academic conference (and so I could see the Big Easy for the first time). Stay tuned, more to come.

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What’s past is prologue

Farewell VikingThe past few weeks have seen big changes in my small world. The most newsworthy development is that I have left Viking Cruises. I didn’t want to, but the company is growing and changing rapidly; my department was reorganized and there wasn’t anything at my level. It’s been something of a shock, but I’ve been taking care of a few family matters and am beginning to look for my next adventure.

“…what’s past is prologue, what’s to come is in my discharge.” This (slightly adjusted) quotation from my favorite Shakespeare play, The Tempest, concisely captures my views about this professional transition. It means that all my past experience has prepared me for my next position, and that the future is mine to choose and execute.

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It’s that time again

Everyone is nominating Words of the Year. The OED was first out of the gate with “selfie.” Understandably concerned that words of the year sometimes turn out to be words of the moment, Merriam-Webster decided to nominate the word looked up most often in their online dictionary, which was “science.” Other lists will follow soon, but meanwhile here is a fun Wall Street Journal article about words that popped in 2013. Actually, it is sort of an example of a word I just learned this week: “listicle.” This portmanteau of “list” and “article” is entertainingly described (and exemplified) by Steven Poole’s piece in last month’s Guardian.

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An awesome year

…for movies! Here are some of the most interesting ones we’ve seen:

I felt that each of these told a compelling story in an unusual way.

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O frabjous day!

Tuesday, the 5th of November, 2013 – the new No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency book, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, and The Valley of Amazement, Amy Tan’s first new novel since 2005, are released on the same day, producing an insolvable conundrum: which to read first?

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