Dreaming of Luxury Journeys + Adventures

Welcome back dear Reader.

Almost a year has passed since writing to you. It was a protracted and harsh winter here in the south and despite a semblance of returning to normality, the world was and is still in tumult, but her wheels keep turning and I trust this finds you flourishing and in good health, having navigated all the vicissitudes that were thrown our way across our precious globe.

Spring has sprung full of promise, rebirth, fecundity, abundance, sunlight and the yearning for travel has never felt stronger. It has given me so much joy to witness family and friends whirling around sun drenched Europe, the islands of the Med, Australia’s tropical north and cruising the Kimberley coastline.
Travellers have regained their confidence and this month even Japan and Bhutan have opened again.

It gives me great pleasure to offer our 2023 program and invite you to that glorious aim of life that is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware…..One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things (Henry Miller) – and travel one of the great entry points to that sensibility.

Three of our journeys are open for registration – two in India on roads less travelled, one to Morocco and a fourth that will be announced later in the year in Europe that embraces the Languedoc, Arles and Northern Spain.

Wherever you are, may peace and light be with you.
Warmest wishes. We hope this honeys your heart and inspires you back into exploring and experiencing our marvellous world.
Marieke

 

Pico Iyer – Why WE Travel

Travel is the best way we have of rescuing the humanity of places, and saving them from abstraction and ideology.

RAJASTHAN REIMAGINED 9 – 23 March

 

Having designed and escorted many tours through Rajasthan, this luxury trip is an entirely new iteration of the famed and India’s most romantic state, based on my deeper forays just prior to the pandemic.
We explore the renowned, exquisite Mughal marvels of Jaipur and Udaipur. We also leave the tourist trail for Bikaner that boasts resplendent architecture and a regally inspired hotel as well as an inspiring dive into the astounding and beautifully conserved Nagaur Fort.
By night you’ll be cosseted in jewelled palaces, regal estates, princely homes, and even a luxury ensuite tent in the Thar desert, spellbound by music and dance. By day you’ll experience all the sights, sounds and excitement of bazaars and rural villages. Of course we make time for curated shopping for artisanal finery – 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.
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Gangaur Festival Extension in Mandawa
23 – 26 March
Our Guide, and Art of Living’s lifelong revered colleague and freind, Durga Singh returns to his royal ancestral home in Mandawa to preside over the ceremonies in the Shekhawati region, north of Jaipur that is renowned for its mansions richly decorated in frescoes.
This is one of Rajasthan’s most important and colourful festivals celebrated with great zeal and devotion. You will be attending the concluding grand ceremonies where women conduct with great pageantry the carrying of the deities of Goddess Parvati/Gauri and Lord Shiva, praying for Her blessings for a good harvest, matrimonial harmony, health, long life and a good husband for unmarried girls.
HIMALAYAN ODYSSEY
Darjeeling | Shimla | Chandigarh | Srinagar | Ladakh
18 May – 8 June 2023

This a NEW Luxury Adventure Tour with stunning destinations – the stuff of magical dreams. ONLY A FEW SPACES LEFT.
The mystique of the Himalayas has long captivated the imagination and exploits of dreamers, adventurers, pilgrims, scientists, spiritual seekers and mountaineers.

Join us on this journey that begins in West Bengal with a night in Kalimpong renowned for its monasteries and colonial era architecture. Continue to Darjeeling that is synonymous with tea and the British who established Darjeeling as an iconic hill station, towered by Khangchendzonga (Great Five-Peaked Snow Fortress) – staying at a sumptuous tea estate for three nights.

Loop back via Chandigarh, the capital of the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana that was designed by the Swiss-French modernist architect, Le Corbusier, staying at a luxury spa hotel. From here take the historic scenic Toy Train journey to Shimla, the former imperial summer capital of the British Raj in India.

Fly to Kashmir with Srinagar as a base for four nights where you will experience the floating markets, some stunning mosques and Sufi shrines, interaction with master craftsmen, wonderful cuisine, entrée to a family home to share a wonderful meal, shikara rides on Dal Lake, a gorgeous houseboat and the latest luxury rural haven outside the city.

From Srinagar fly to Ladakh | Leh to experience high altitude deserts, glaciers, gushing rivers and waterfalls, orchid-filled forests, ancient mountain dwellings, remote shrines and monasteries and the most luxurious tented camp in the Himalayas.
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MOROCCO the Magnificent 22 September – 7 October
Typical of the style of Art of Living Tours, this captivating itinerary offers sublime and intimate riad and heritage accommodation, deep interaction with the local culture, authentic cuisine and a sense of adventure in an exotic destination that through the centuries has embraced Arabic, Persian, Andalusian and French influences – a tour for the mind and all the senses.
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“Marieke certainly delivered “Morocco the Magnificent” on our enriching adventure with her. As always, the itinerary was thoughtfully researched & cleverly curated to ensure an experience that delighted all of the senses and truly took us beyond the tourist veil to learn about, experience and appreciate this fascinating place. The diverse accommodation was part of the appeal and the varied culinary delights nothing short of sensational! Marieke made sure all our needs were well met. Each day held something special and memorable, often led by Marieke’s trusted local guides and knowledgeable people who immersed us in the culture, history and beauty of their cities or homes. Marieke’s passion for travel and sharing its delights is reflected in her welcoming and calm presence, not to mention entertaining tales, boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm. We would highly recommend her trips if ‘the joy of travel’ is what you seek!” Andrea B.

Hack for Frequent Flyer Travellers looking to maximise their points with Amex

I have it on good authority from a well travelled friend that The Well Connected Traveller, a WA based company affiliated with the renowned Virtuoso Network are the bees knees in helping you find flights with points. I’ve not tried them yet but telling everyone. For US based clients you might wish to explore Juicy Miles.

If ever you’ve been intrigued by Japan and her complex culture and amazing cuisine, then consider one of my colleague, Jane Lawson’s epic Culinary and Culture tours being offered early 2023.
YOGA NEWS
AUTUMN YOGA RETREAT with Saraswathi Vasudevan

18-21 April, Trentham Victoria
We are thrilled that Saraswathi will return after an absence of four years to share her wisdom. Saras is ‘the real deal’. Those of you who have previously studied with Saras will know that each time you return into her charismatic fold, she brings fresh perspectives that engender new pathways into your practice and understanding of yoga. Nothing ever stays the same. Greater clarity emerges.
Students coming for the first time will likely experience a method of study and enquiry perhaps deeper than anything they have encountered in yoga before. 
This programme will also be pertinent students and teachers no matter what level you think you have attained as well as to therapists, psychologists, and students of other spiritual traditions.

This is a three-day residential immersion where we share asana, pranayama, meditation, mindfulness, silence and triad work. The accommodation is in beautifully appointed houses in the delightful village of Trentham, 90 minutes from Melbourne. Catering by our in-house vegetarian chef.
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I have created a playlist of chants and mantras for those who enjoy their sacred music. Feel free to follow.
YOGA by ZOOM Marieke’s Spring Schedule
M 6 pm W 8 am
F Yoga Nidra 6 pm
S | S 9 am
Join my 75/90 minute classes from the comfort of your own home, garden, terrace or a quiet spot in nature.
We combine pranayama, asana and guided meditation | yoga nidra.
$20 per class, payable monthly.
Suitable for all aspirants, no matter from where you are beginning.
READING – recent reads that have honeyed my heart and enlivened my mind

Some LITERARY PODCASTS I ENJOY

Life Sentences – Biography Today with Caroline Baum
London Review of Books

The Writer’s Voice: New Fiction from the New Yorker
Centering Thought: An excerpt from a consistently inspiring poet
David Whyte
CLOSE

is what we almost always are: close to happiness, close to another, close to leaving, close to tears, close to God, close to losing faith, close to being done, close to saying something, or close to success, and even, with the greatest sense of satisfaction, close to giving the whole thing up….

Our human essence lies not in arrival, but in being almost there, we are creatures who are on the way, our journey a series of impending anticipated arrivals. We live by unconsciously measuring the inverse distances of our proximity: an intimacy calibrated by the vulnerability we feel in giving up our sense of separation.
To go beyond our normal identities and become closer than close is to lose our sense of self in temporary joy, a form of arrival that only opens us to deeper forms of intimacy that blur our fixed, controlling, surface identity.
To consciously become close is a courageous form of unilateral disarmament, a chancing of our arm and our love, a willingness to hazard our affections and an unconscious declaration that we might be equal to the inevitable loss that the vulnerability of being close will bring.
Human beings do not find their essence through fulfillment or eventual arrival but by staying close to the way they like to travel, to the way they hold the conversation between the ground on which they stand and the horizon to which they go.
We are in effect, always, close; always close to the ultimate secret: that we are more real in our simple wish to find a way than any destination we could reach: the step between not understanding that and understanding that, is as close as we get to happiness.
Adios.
Please feel free to share this newsletter with friends.
If perchance you have a fond memory of a trip you’ve shared with us, or a favourable comment about our yoga retreats or classes, I’d be thrilled if you could take a moment to leave a review here.
Word of mouth means the world to us.
Warm wishes,
Marieke