Site logo


In the Mood for Creative Uplifting Travel?
Tours, Travel, Music, Memory
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
You’re receiving this newsletter because you joined our mailing list and | or have shared valuable time, trips, bespoke travel planning or yoga space with us.

NOTE: This newsletter might be cut short by your email program- view it in your browser
In the mood for creative, uplifting travel?
Luxury Small Group Tours 2024 | 25
Dear MCB

As I finalise tours for 2024 and prepare to travel again soon, I have been ruminating on decades of memories of journeys, a tapestry of global love affairs and adventures from Africa to Turkey, Ireland to Bali, Spain to India, Morocco to Bhutan and beyond.

How best to conjure such a treasure trove? For many it’s through photographs, though it can be the case that if you’re spending too much time behind the lens, you’re missing the present moment of experience and surprises. For others it’s journaling. The best I manage in this regard are little black books in which to record the contact details of exciting new discoveries – the latest boutique hotel that appeals, a fabulous chef or dining experience, an exceptional guide or host etc. It might be reading after the journey – a country’s greatest writers, history books or art, craft and architecture compendiums.
Dilettante that I am, I do some of all the above but predominantly for me it is music that allows me to relive the feelings, the ambience, the connection, the special moments of places I have visited. Even years later, music brings one back to the sights and sounds of events from across the lifespan.

I grew up in a household where before you even rose for breakfast the rooms resounded with our mum’s favourite classical music and opera singers or romantic European chanteuses (Piaf, Marlene Dietrich, Aznavour, Jacques Brel), the aroma of fresh coffee brewing. When we were sick, His Master’s Voice gramophone would be wheeled into your room so music distracted you from your ailment.
Dad preferred jazz.

I was for years a huge fan of Lucky Oceans’ Daily Planet ABC broadcasts and these days try not to miss Systa BB’s 3 RRR Tuesday afternoons – both presenters with a vast knowledge of world music across many genres, constantly opening up new listening worlds.

This newsletter, in joie de vivre vein, introduces you to music I love from destinations I’m passionate about, to put you in the mood and possibly pique your interest to join us on one of our wonderful journeys.

The advantages of joining a small group tour should not be under estimated by even the fiercest of independent travellers. It facilitates the most immersive form of travel without any of the hassles as every detail has been personally vetted and curated from the stylish hotels you stay in, to the comfort of transport, the quality of local guides and the experience of wonderful authentic regional cuisines – much beyond the cookie cutter tourist veil.

With my warmest wishes, and looking forward to your patronage.

Happy trails

One Room Left.
Fado, an identity symbol of the capital and the country, was classified by UNESCO as World Heritage. Exemplified by a shawl, a guitar and a voice of immense feeling, Fado is the essential soul of the Portuguese that in its essence, it sings the feeling, the heartbreak, the longing for someone who left, the daily life and the conquests. The matches and mismatches of life are an infinite theme for inspiration. It values above all the performance of the voice, which gives colour to the repertoire sung, brings the interpreter, the musicians and the listener to the same brilliance. Fado houses abound in Lisbon and the streets of Porto. Years ago, I was lucky enough to see the revered prima donna Amália Rodrigues in concert and more recently the Annie Lennox of the contemporary troubadour style, the fetchingly cool Mariza at Womadelaide.
TO READ MORE about the Tour + BOOK NOW

SOUTH FRANCE: Arles + Lagrasse
18 – 27 September
Ten days living like a local – Travelling at a leisurely pace, staying in private accommodation, coming together to cook a couple of special meals, soaking up some beautiful art and architecture, exploring local markets, tasting regional wines, meeting some of Marieke’s local friends has all been designed to allow you to feel like a local, to experience a beautiful immersion in the warmth and sunny moods of the Mediterranean climate.
Arles, beloved by artists such as van Gogh, Gaugin and Christian Lacroix, and Lagrasse, in the heart of the Corbières, a medieval village and one of the prettiest in France are far less crowded than many other parts of the South of France. In Arles we are three nights in a charmingly restored Mas, and a further two nights in the heart of the stunning Camargues. In Lagrasse, we stay in a 17thC bakery that has been superbly restored into très chic self contained apartments.
The Romani group, Gipsy Kings was founded in Arles in 1979. Their pulsating music evokes a joie de vivre with five strumming guitarists punctuated by the passionate, raspy wails of Nicolas Reyes and the daring solo lines of lead guitarist Tonino Baliardo.

TO READ MORE about the Tour + BOOK NOW
Bookings Closing
Morocco abounds in many music traditions –
influenced by
Arab, Berber, Andalusi, Mediterranean, Saharan, West African styles and is predicated by geography and social groupings. These days there is also a synthesis of Moroccan musical traditions with influences from around the world, such as blues, rock, root-s fusion, reggae and jazz.
On the cool streets of Essaouira you’ll hear Gnawa –
a mystical form of Sufi music that originated in West Africa whose songs are usually played with a three-string camel skin bass instrument, heavy castanets and religious chanting. The lyrics are usually only a few lines repeated over and over, creating a trance-like state in the musicians.
Malhun – a traditional urban sung poetry form of music is most likely heard in the public spaces of Fes and urban centres where, with each verse, the number of instruments grows until the entire band is playing. Berber music consists of highly repetitive chants that are partially improvised. It is inseparable from the dance and each tribe possesses its own customs .
It’s impossible to single out any iconic album. This is an introduction to traditional rhythms, and I’ve been forever partial to the soothing sounds of the Oud.

You’ll stay in beautifully restored riads – those divine ancestral palaces built around courtyards cooled with pools, fountains and citrus trees and a stunning desert camp far away from the madding crowd. Wander ancient medinas, imperial cities, Berber villages and UNESCO historic sites, stunning gardens, meet artisans and dine in a private home and under the stars.


INDIA early 2025 – Bookings are rolling in, so

Register Your Interest + Request a Brochure
As I write, I’m listening to this calming evocation of the sights and sounds of India whose geographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity contributes to a broad range of complex musical styles within Indian music which is central to the country’s lifeblood: from brass bands at weddings, classical ragas, sacred chants and mantras, drones, improvisations to pulsating Bollywood dance music. Carnatic music is an acquired taste requiring a well-educated ear. Of all the folk genres I am most drawn to the ecstatic Sufi devotional poetry of Qawwalis. It is though the exuberant and enlivening Langas and Manganiyars of Rajasthan who get me up dancing in the desert sands under starry skies. Their bardic songs celebrate secular and sacred love, devotional songs to Lord Krishna, tales of heroism, and water and cattle, the source of life in the desert.
Wherever possible, our Indian tours pay homage and patronage to live performances.

Jaipur Literary Festival 27 January – 5 February 2025
The tour begins and ends in Delhi.

Spaces are limited,
though we can make bespoke arrangements for your book reading group.
Deluxe accommodation is in a wonderful restored family mansion with soothing gardens, 20 minutes from the venue.
– a day in Delhi to appreciate India’s astounding arts and crafts;
– a day in Jaipur to visit her most significant monuments;
– an optional day in Jaipur at the end, to visit the artists behind some of her most exceptional ateliers and get a retail fix in this designer’s paradise.
The option to then take a mini extension to Rajasthan’s magical rural artistic heartland, or join our Rajasthan Reimagined Tour.
RAJASTHAN REIMAGINED 6 – 22 February 2025
This wonderful small group luxury program is perfect for first time and repeat travellers to India to fall in love with its romantic splendour, scintillating cocktail of philosophies, cultures, ethnicities, cuisines, historical gems, architectural marvels, chivalry, and vast desert sands. I’m including much less visited sites such as Bikaner with its astounding fort and havelis; a night in one of the region’s most exquisitely restored palace forts and of course must-see destinations like Udaipur and Jaipur.
You’ll have privileged access to wonderful hosts, stay in sublime heritage properties, jewelled palaces, regal estates, princely homes, and the shopping is truly divine –
pashminas, jewels, antiques; and the cuisine, a daily party on the palate. We’ll even teach you how to tie a turban, drape a saree, the correct head nod protocol and how to drink tea from a saucer.

Maha Kumbh Mela, Allahabad
23-27 January 2025
a Once in a Lifetime, Offered Once Only, Extraordinary India Experience.

Certainly not for first time visitors to India, the most significant Kumbh comes around every 12 years at the confluence of the Holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and mystical, hidden Saraswathi. I last attended in 2013 to witness the most extraordinary gathering of pilgrims from all over the world – where a temporary city is created in a miraculous feat of engineering, sanitation and safety to showcase India’s spiritual and cultural tapestry, welcoming approximately 200 million attendees (over a period of six weeks) from all over the world to share in dynamic and mystical rituals and celebrations.
Art of Living has secured a number of luxurious tents in an exclusive camp setting that allows you to experience this ethereal, hypnotic, otherworldly and unforgettable event in immense comfort.
REQUEST A BROCHURE. Numbers are Limited to eight guests.
Magh Kumbh is believed by the Hindus to be the origin of the Universe and is, therefore, an auspicious occasion. In 2025, Magh Kumbh Mela has been organized at Prayagraj | Allahabad.Perhaps the world’s most spiritual and uniquely mesmerizing pilgrimage with devotees, sadhus from Himalayan monasteries, ascetics, Akharas that feed hundreds each day, craft stalls, shops, music, chanting, and is the meeting of holy men from different walks of life coming to the vast fair grounds at Allahabad to discuss traditions, faith, spirituality and much more. It is the best place to witness the raw spiritual culture that is still alive in India and witness the centuries old rituals being performed by saints and priests in the most magnetic and hysterical energy that throngs through the place during this time.

The fair is one of a kind, recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity: the most peaceful and abundant religious gathering on the planet, where people of different classes, faiths and walks of life join to participate in a spiritual experience without any discrimination.
BESPOKE Journeys for private groups: We can expertly privatise any of our journeys according to guests’ interests.
Feel free to schedule a Zoom or WhatsApp call to discuss your dream trip.

Please share this newsletter with friends.
We look forward to welcoming you on a trip soon, whether it be imminently real, vicarious or armchair fanciful.

Warm wishes,
To ensure Art of Living’s Newsletter hits your inbox regularly, please follow these steps for a seamless, direct-to-inbox experience:

  • If you use Gmail, move Marieke Brugman’s emails to your primary inbox.
  • If you use Apple Mail, add us to your VIP list. And if you use Outlook, add us to your favorites.
  • Add Marieke Brugman to your address book:
  • If you use another email client, please use a combination of the above steps.

You are receiving this email because you subscribed to our newsletter –


Need to change your email address?

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Unsubscribe from Our Newsletter

If you enjoyed getting this email and have travelling friends, kindly forward this email

Copyright © 2019 Marieke’s Art of Living P/L, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 389 Blairgowrie Vic Australia 3942

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign