Recent Video Articles

Cure Your February Blues with this Big Sur Time Lapse at the Post Ranch Inn

Hazy Shade of Winter? Not so much. The view of sunset from the deck of room 137 at the Post Ranch Inn.

While so much of the country is covered in snow right now or prepping for another brutal winter storm, Big Sur is reminding me of the many reasons why California is called the Golden State. Don’t get me wrong– we desperately need rain here in Cali. But views like these remind me of just how lucky I am to live in California.

I spend yesterday driving along the Pacific Coast Highway before checking into the Post Ranch Inn.

I made this Time lapse on my iPhone 5s using the TimeLapse app.

Hope this virtual vitamin D helps cure your mid-winter blues. If it doesn’t, hop on a plane and come visit.

Magic Hour Time Lapse at the Post Ranch Inn Big Sur, California

People who live in glass houses… should enjoy the view ( Post Ranch Inn, room 137)

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Hotel Review: A Stay at the Amanbagh Rajasthan, India

Marigold-filled fountains in the Lobby at the Amanbagh

After spending three days at the Aman-I-Khas, the staff arranged a transfer by car to the Amanbagh, which was about a 3 hour drive by car. The drive was pleasant and on new roads and was a nice way to see rural Rajasthan. The Amanbagh was the third and final stop on my Aman India Journey.

For fans of the Aman brand, the Amanbagh is the most classically Aman of the properties I stayed at in India, complete with zen and opulent buildings by renown architect Ed Tuttle,  surrounding a glistening pool and and large spa (neither of which I used).

Exterior of one of the pool pavilions

The guest rooms and pavilions are heavy on the marble with posh bathrooms and have spacious dressing and living areas, as well as patios and terraces and in some cases, pools.

Marigolds in the lobby of the Amanbagh

Arriving at the Amanbagh is unforgettable, as the saffron-clad staff greeted us with song.

Despite the fabulousness of the property and the facilities, this was the hotel I spent the least amount of time in during my trip to Rajasthan, mostly because the surrounding area was so interesting and the Amanbagh staff had put together an excellent itinerary so that I could explore it to the fullest.

The seating area in one of the Amanbagh’s Pool Pavilions

After arriving  having a great lunch on the terrace and resting for a bit, we headed to nearby Barakhambi Temple after sunset (you can read my post about that experience here). I was fairly exhausted by the time we returned and just grabbed a light dinner in the hotel’s beautiful bar and listened to the live musicians performing in front of the pool before I realized I could barely keep my eyes open. I quickly fell asleep in the comfortable king-size bed.

Bedroom of a pool pavilion

Located in Ajabgarh, near Near Ajabgarh Fort, the sleeky luxurious Amanbagh is quite a contrast to the part of rural Rajasthan where the property is located. But the local villagers are welcoming and that’s part of what makes a stay here so special– this is real Rajasthan. It’s far enough off the beaten tourist track that the locals are honored you’re visiting. The nearby villages might be poor, but the people are proud and no one shook me down for baksheesh.

Marble bathtub in a pool pavilion

The next day, I took a tour of nearby Ajabgarh Fort with a jeep and driver from the Amanbagh. It reminded me a bit of Angkor Wat, with monkeys climbing over the stone walls of the temple.

Visiting Ajabgarh Fort was a highlight of my stay

Rural Rajasthan is a very special place

The gorgeous courtyard pool at the Amanbagh

The Amanbagh also has a lovely gift shop with a fabulous jewelry edit from The Gem Palace in Jaipur and beautiful home decor items.

Lounge chairs in a pool pavilion

After another delicious lunch at the hotel’s indoor/outdoor restaurant, I took a nap before going on the Cow Dust Tour (you can read my post about the Cow Dust Tour here).

Friendly locals I met during the Cow Dust tour at the Amanbagh

Women I met in a nearby village during my Cow Dust Tour

Left: Misty morning at outdoor dining Right: a shady spot for lunch

Lamb burger for lunch at the Amanbagh

Food and beverage were top notch, with a wide variety of dishes.  Room service was also quite prompt.

Left: Delicious French Toast Right: Lassi and beet juice for breakfast

The Amanbagh has a large organic garden and outdoor kitchen that was under construction but should now be finished so that they can offer Indian cooking classes for guests and tour groups.

A light and refreshing bean salad for dinner in the Amanbagh’s bar

While there were other guests at the property during my stay, the whole place still felt private, which was nice.

Musicians performing at night at the Amanbagh

The gorgeous Ed Tuttle architecture of the Amanbagh

To be able to sleep in such splendid surroundings and still be so off the usual Jaipur tourist circuit is a luxury that is pure Aman.

Cream and unrefined sugar are part of the departing ceremony at the Amanbagh

The departing ceremony was just one of the unforgettable moments at the Amanbagh

The service at the Amanbagh was so good I trusted them to make arrangements for a driver to take me to Agra to see the Taj Mahal after leaving.

Amanbagh Resort

Ajabgarh, Rajasthan
India
tel    (91) 1465 223 333 / (91) 9828 166 737
fax    (91) 1465 223 335
email amanbagh@amanresorts.com

 

Much thanks to Harish Nair, the General Manager at the Amanbagh and his incredible staff, who hosted me for a night at the Amanbagh. Without them this post would not be possible.


 

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Friday Night at Barakhambi Temple in Rajasthan, India

Locals gather for chanting and worship in the evenings at Barakhambi Temple

One of the most interesting things about my recent trip to Rajasthan was just how off the beaten path I managed to get, despite being in a country of 1.27 billion people. At the suggestion of the staff at the incredible Amanbagh, I paid a visit to Barakhambi Temple  after sundown, when the the local Hindus gathered to clang chimes and worship.

Gongs at Barakhambi Temple in Rajasthan, India

It is crazy how loud a handful of people playing percussion can get inside a marble temple.

Finger cymbals and some Style swag at Barakhambi temple

The evening was unforgettable. They were welcoming and I definitely felt all eyes on me– they were not used to blonde Americans attending services, but they were very welcoming. I felt very honored that they allowed me to attend (and photograph) their services.

Watching this ritual was beautiful

There was a candle lighting ritual in front of statues of various Hindu deities. Watching this was one of those moments you experience during travel where you realize this isn’t a tourist spot, and that this goes down every night whether there is a visitor or not. It’s a big world out there, and I felt very lucky to be able to witness this and share it with my blog readers. The images in this post were shot with my Canon 5D Mark III, which works well in low light and without a flash.

Scenes from Barakhambi Temple in Rajasthan

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Jemaa El Fnaa: Time Lapse Video and Photos of Marrakech’s Busiest Square

Snake handler with his charges on Jemaa el Fnaa

My trip to Marrakech was my first with my new iPhone 5s and I wanted to check out the slow motion video feature everyone was raving about. Unfortunately, I discovered the slo-mo only works if you send the video from your iPhone to another iDevice. The video plays normal speed when you upload to YouTube. It’s still pretty cool and the sounds give you a good feeling of the craziness that is Jemaa El Fna.

Snake charmer on Jemaa el Fnaa

Water Carriers on Jemaa El Fnaa (shot using Hipstamatic)

Henna Painting on Jemaa el Fnaa

Henna is a popular souvenir to take home from Marrakech. You can find henna painters like this one on Jemaa El Fna.

Figs, dates, and dried fruits for sale on Jemaa El Fnaa

In addition to snake handlers, musicians and acrobats, Jemaa El Fnaa also is one huge food court selling everything from fresh and dried fruit to roast meat on skewers.

Looking down at Jemaa El Fnaa

For the best view at Sunset, head to the Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier on the Square. There is no web site, no phone, and address is simple:  Jemaa El Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. Grab a mint tea and watch the sunset over the square and the night action begin. I set up my iPhone on a tripod and sipped mint tea while I shot this timelapse video.

Time Lapse of Sunset Over Jemaa El Fna Square in Marrakech

Laterns after dark on Jemaa El Fnaa

The square stays busy after dark. Sellers sill peddle their wares and the food stalls smell exotic and delicious.

Nightscape of Jemaa El Fnaa

Travel Tip: Never trust the signs around the medina pointing you to Jemaa El Fnaa. The local kids are known to move them around and confuse you so they can earn a few Dirhams showing you the correct direction to the big square.

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The Fireman of the Marrakech Medina

The fireman at work stoking the flames of a hammam

Here in Los Angeles it’s pretty common for most musicians to have a day job. On my recent trip to Marrakech, I learned this is also true in Morocco.  I had a fabulous guide, Khadija Benbourahel, who showed me around the medina. One of the highlights of my tour of the old city was when she introduced me to the fireman in the medina. The fireman’s day job is keeping the fire burning at a neighborhood hammam. But he’s also a Gnawa musician who plays this mystical Moroccan folk music.

The fireman slash musician rocks his tasseled Gnawa hat

Not only was it fascinating to see the fireman’s “office” behind-the-scenes at the hammam, but it was such a treat to be able to have such a genuine Moroccan experience and little private concert. Here’s a little video I captured on my iPhone 5s:

Khadija played rhythm with the fireman of the medina

Khadija runs a company called Morocco Private Experience that specializes in tailor-made authentic tours of Morocco. She’s smart and gave me such a special experience I highly recommend using her as a tour guide.

GIF of the Gnawa Musician slash fireman twirling Gnawa hat

Khadija Benbourahel
Morocco Private Experience
USA tel: +1 201 977 1232
Tel: +212 661 21 16 15
www.morocco-private-experience.com
contact@morocco-private-experience.com

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