TRAVEL MEMORIES -- Part 2 of 4
India - Namibia

I decided to reminisce a little and write up some highlights from trips I've taken over the years to various countries around the world.
Some of my travels were on business, but most were for pleasure.

. . . . . . . . . . . .
Australia .....Botswana .....Brazil ........Ecuador ......France ......Germany .......India ...........Italy ..........Japan ..........Kenya .......Morocco .....Namibia ..

. . . . . . . . . . . .
Nepal ....Netherlands......Peru .....South Africa ....Spain .....Switzerland ...Tanzania ....Thailand .....Uganda ..United Kingdom ..Zambia ..Zimbabwe ..

Part 1 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 2 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 3 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 4 of 4 . . .
Australia - Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . India - Namibia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nepal - Switzerland . . . . . . . . . . . Tanzania - Zimbabwe . . .

Place the cursor over any photo for a brief description. Click on the photo for an enlargement.

Posted here 4-27-09. Text and photos copyrighted by Fred Gielow

The way back home.


Bob poses for a picture in front of the Taj Mahal.  Photo by FG. Snake charmers were anxious to show off their snakes, but payment was expected if you wanted to take a photo.  Photo by FG. My older son (Bob) and I visited India in May 1988. Snake charmers in Delhi and some of the sights around the city were interesting, but most memorable by far was a drive to and from the city of Agra and a visit to the Taj Mahal.

Built in 1653 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is stunningly beautiful. I always thought it was a palace, but no, it's just a mausoleum, though an amazingly impressive one. We had plenty of time to walk around, take pictures, and see the entire grounds. Then we visited Agra Fort.

It was mid-afternoon when we concluded our sightseeing and time for our several-hour drive back to Delhi. The sun had been beating down mercilessly all day and it was blisteringly hot. Even in the shade it was almost unbearable. Our driver said we had a choice to make. We could drive back with the air conditioning off, or we could pay something like $25 and he'd turn the air conditioning on.

This extortion absolutely enraged me. What a low-handed way to pry some bucks out of a tourist's pocket. I was outraged.

Okay, weasel, I said to myself, if that's the way you want to play the game, no air conditioning. You're going to roast all the way back to Delhi, too!

Well, we started out, and it was brutal. Bob and I were sweating like pigs. We stopped a couple of times for drinks, but the drive was excruciating. The windows of the vehicle were wide open and we were traveling at a pretty good rate of speed, but it felt like we were inside a blast furnace. I think the outside temperature was 130 degrees. Something like that. Yes, a very memorable drive.


A gondola ride is great fun.  Photo by FG. Italy has many attractions and it's hard to pick a favorite. If I had to choose one, I suppose it would be Venice. But Rome comes in a close second.

Everywhere you look, there's a peaceful canal.  Photo by FG. St. Marks Square offers endless photo opportunities.    Photo by FG. I enjoyed thoroughly walking the streets of Venice, taking in the scenes, and snapping pictures. When I was there (over 50 years ago), I frequently found an unpleasant aroma in the air (a little like what you'd expect to find in a garbage can), but that did not detract much from the delight of the place. It was charming, picturesque, delightful!

A tour bus transported me to all the sights in Rome, but I wasn't satisfied with tour schedules, the constant on-the-bus-off-the-bus routine, and other constraints tour guides demand, so on the next day, a free day, I rented a Vespa motor scooter. This was really very foolish. I couldn't read the road signs, didn't know traffic customs, and didn't even have a map of the city. But I started off nevertheless.

The Colleseum.  Photo by FG. The Fountain of Trevi.  Photo by FG. The Vatican Square.  Photo by FG. Miraculously, I found the Colosseum , the Fountain of Trevi, the Vatican, all the places I had seen the day before. I was able to take my time at each sight, then hop on my little scooter and buzz to the next. It was marvelous!

In the late afternoon it was time to return to my hotel. I thought I knew the route. I scooted along, turning here and there.

My trusty motor scooter, just before I returned it to the rental company.  Photo by FG. The sun was beginning to set and I knew I'd be in trouble if I had to find my way in the dark. Sometimes I'd go for quite a distance before coming across a recognizable landmark. Once or twice I had to backtrack until I regained my bearings. I had moments of doubt, but I kept going.

The rental place was adjacent to the hotel and amazingly I got there just a little past dusk. It was a totally successful day and a truly exciting experience.


It seemed like there was more standing around than wrestling.  Photo by FG. The floor was nothing but dirt, so when a wrestler went down, he got filthy.  Photo by FG. It's a crazy sport.  And the outfit is rather crazy, too.  Photo by FG. In 1979, I took my younger son, Tim, with me on a business trip to Tokyo. He had the week to himself while I was off at work, but we spent some time together on the weekend and then flew down to Hong Kong for a couple of days before heading home (with a stopover of a day or two in Hawaii).

This guy seemed to be the biggest of the bunch.  Photo by FG. I don't know how he found out, but Tim discovered sumo wrestlers were going to be working out Saturday morning. We set out to find their gym, or whatever you call a wrestler's workout facility.

Amazingly, we found the place, got there, and even more amazingly were let inside to observe the goings on. It was a fairly small room, quite hot and humid, and those enormous blobs of men were bouncing into each other and knocking each other around. We were sitting on a platform right next to the storefront-like window, just inches away from the action.

We watched for more than a half hour, I'd guess. Quite a treat! Quite unique! A lot of fun!


The road seems to go forever.  Photo by FG. Cheetah.  Photo by FG. I chose Kenya as my first destination in Africa. It was a wise choice. The trip there in 1982 was with my son, Bob, as his college graduation present. But it may have been more of a present for me than for him.

What an amazing adventure: visiting strange places, seeing all manner of wild animals, experiencing the excitement of being close to lions and elephants and cape buffalo. And to spend this time -- two weeks -- with my son. What a treat!

Every single day was a highlight: the Salt Lick Lodge in Tsavo National Park East, the Kilaguni Lodge in Tsavo National Park West, The Amboseli Serena Lodge in Amboseli National Park, the Mount Kenya Safari Club (fancy, fancy) in Mount Kenya National Park, the Samburu Lodge in the Samburu Game Reserve, Treetops in Aberdare National Park, and Keekorok Lodge in the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Bob at the left, and the other safari goers in our vehicle.  Photo by FG. This lizzard couldn't have been more colorful.  Photo by FG. A Marabou Stork pops a scrap of bread in its mouth.  Photo by FG. A lion yawns after arising from a late-afternoon nap.  Photo by FG. Memories from that trip are simply priceless. It was such a success, as a matter of fact, in 1990 I returned to Kenya and made the same tour, with the same itinerary, with my younger son, Tim.

That, too, was a grand success!


My younger son, Tim, takes a camel ride.  Photo by FG. The Marrakech market starts to fill with vendors in the late afternoon.  From sunset to well into the evening it's bedlam.  Photo by FG. In December, 1991, my older son and his wife, my younger son, and I traveled to Morocco for a week's visit. We flew to Casablanca, then spent time in Rabat, Meknes, Fez, and Marrakech, before returning to Casablanca for the flight home. What a trip!

There were several highlights, but the Marrakech market was probably at the top of the list. Vendors arrived on the scene in the late afternoon to set out their wares. Food of all imaginable kinds was available for sale, as was every other kind of marketable product or service. In addition there are performers who did their acts in hopes of gratuities. And water merchants, who wanted to sell you a cup of water. And various animals that would do their tricks. It was loud, smokey, high energy. And great fun!

We visited lots of markets.  They were fascinating.  Photo by FG. Food was displayed in neatly-arranged piles.  These nuts looked delicious.  Photo by FG. I thought this scene was particularly impressive.  Photo by FG. At one point on our trip, older son Bob came upon a salesman peddling nifty little replicas of camels. He had just concluded a sale when I spotted the souvenirs. We had been advised to be aggressive when negotiating prices down, so I started in, offering about half the asking price. Bob quickly interceded, indicating he had already spent a good deal of time getting the price down to a rock-bottom level.

The dinner we had our last night in Marrakech was memorable. Many platters piled high with food were presented to us, and the meal was delicious. It was unusually good. Then came the dancing girls, one of whom seemed to take a liking to younger son Tim. We all enjoyed the experience.


Game viewing at Etosha.  Photo from the Internet: The inside of a tent at Ongava Tented Camp.  Photo from the Internet: My first visit to Namibia was to Ongava Tented Camp at Etosha National Park in 1998 with brother Jim. It was his first experience with African animals, so he didn't have a particularly restful first night as lions roared nearby and he imagined what would happen if they chose to visit our tent. (He thought my snoring would entice them in.)

The next morning, our guide, Greg, took us on a game ride. As there wasn't a great deal of wildlife to see, he suggested we do some game tracking . . . on foot! Game tracking of . . . lions!

That should be interesting, I thought. We walked along single file, Greg, with loaded rifle, leading us. Although there was no lion encounter, it was a thoroughly exciting adventure.

On the drive back to the camp, we stopped for some refreshments just as the sun was setting, and a short time later, our driver whispered something to Greg. He had spotted rhino nearby. As Greg's rifle was readied with new bullets (more powerful than were necessary for lions), we got in line and cautiously advanced. Our instructions were to stay hidden behind some trees when we got near the animals. But the trees were nothing but scrawny saplings, probably no more than two or three inches in diameter.

We saw four rhinos drinking at a watering hole. They were maybe 15 yards in front of us. The sun was over the horizon, so visibility was marginal. Our little group of six or seven tourists squeezed together to "hide" behind the saplings. We had been told these animals are very dangerous. They have good hearing, but poor vision.

Needless to say, the encounter was extremely exciting. Quite an indoctrination for Jim on his first safari trip.

Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp.  Photo by FG. The sand dunes were enormous.  Some folks climbed to the top.  Photo by FG. Dead Vlei.  Photo by FG. My second visit in 2006 was to the Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp near the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The remoteness of the camp was startling. It's in the middle of nowhere. In every direction no signs of civilization could be seen.

Particularly memorable for me were two events. One was a visit to Dead Vlei in the Sossusvlei dunes. It's an old, dry lake bed, but a setting of considerable beauty, though it's rather stark. I could have spent hours climbing the dunes, viewing the scenery, and taking pictures.

Sharing a moment of quiet introspection.  Photo by FG. The other was an incident near dusk of my last day in the country. Our guide, Felix, drove us (Jim and me) to the base of a small hill. He turned off the engine and we climbed to the summit. The view was almost surreal: lifeless, harsh, rocky, unforgiving, but strangely alluring, quite magical. We watched as the sun sank gradually into the mountains and the sky turned first pink, then red, then purple. The noise and intensity of city life were far away. Everything was still. The cool of the evening embraced us.

We were alone -- just the three of us -- in the entire world. It was a rich, powerful experience.

Part 1 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 2 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 3 of 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 4 of 4 . . .
Australia - Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . India - Namibia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nepal - Switzerland . . . . . . . . . . . Tanzania - Zimbabwe . . .
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The way back home.