Other than the undeniable beauty of the Taj Mahal, Agra was the least interesting stop on our tour – apart from the Taj itself, the rest of the city isn’t much to look at, and although the Red Fort had some attractive elements too, it’s the only place we visited which I wouldn’t bother to go back to.

All that notwithstanding, sunrise at the Taj Mahal was absolutely worth the trip!

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After a couple of wonderfully hectic (or should that be hectically wonderful?!) days in Kathmandu, we flew back to India. Next on the itinerary: Varanasi, or Banaras as it is called by most of the Indians we spoke to.

In describing my experience of Varanasi to people, the word I keep coming back to is “magical”. There was just something about being in a place which is so ancient and so meaningful to so many people, even despite the lunatic traffic and incessant noise.

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When we were planning the itinerary for the trip, our travel agent initially came back with a schedule which looked good, but contained quite a few instances of “half day to explore on your own”. Now, I’m all in favour of self-motivated explorations, but it seemed like there was space to condense things somewhat and insert an additional destination. Various Indian options were discussed but the prospect of adding another country won the day, so Kathmandu was duly selected

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First impressions of India

“There’s a cow. Right there. In the middle of the road.” I knew, of course, that this was something to be expected, but it was quite something else to actually see it for myself, let alone on the drive from Delhi airport to the first hotel of the trip. This turned out to be an excellent beginning – our entire time in India was filled with contrasts and colours, constant noise, ceaseless movement, and I loved it! (And, now we’re home again, Manhattan is feeling remarkably dull and quiet, which is something I never thought I’d say…!)

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New Year celebrations

2018 ended on a low-key note, with dinner and a bottle of nice champagne at home, but we started the new year on good form by heading to the woods with some friends for a hike around theĀ South Mountain reservation.

Despite complaining about the unseasonably warm temperature, it was lovely to be out in the sunshine, and it was considerably more pleasant than when we walked the same trail back in July.

After a couple of very enjoyable hours strolling through the trees, it was back to Jersey City for some food and drinks. Here’s hoping the rest of the year lives up to this comfortable, convivial beginning…



A very healthy New Year salad. Not pictured: the delicious portion of fried potatoes which accompanied it!