Our first morning on board the cruise ship in Istanbul, Keith and I rose early, took the elevator to the 7th deck and walked into the World Café. We passed the coffee and juice bar, then oohed and aahed at the assortment of fruits, cheeses, yogurts and fish, wondered over eggs and breakfast meats of all varieties, grilled tomatoes, pancakes, French toast, waffles and jaw-dropping pastries from croissants to sticky buns.

What would you choose if you could have anything?

After indulging ourselves for a couple of days, we settled into a rhythm: for breakfast, more fish for Keith and more Greek yogurt with fresh fruit for me. We usually skipped lunch or picked up a snack while walking around ancient sites and historical towns then enjoyed dinner at one of the fine restaurants on board. As we do at home, we relaxed in the evening and tucked in early.

It was easy to experience sensory overload while travelling. All the sights, sounds and smells – city lights, traffic, exhaust fumes, exotic flavors, textures and people – overwhelmed our senses like the spread at the World Café.

Before we moved to Vanaprastha permanently, we noticed the contrast between the roar of the city where we lived during the week versus our weekend retreat to quiet, fresh air and dark nights – unless the moon was up and full. Then we heard critters wandering the mountainside and Heathcliff’s whining. Freya whined and yipped at night, too, when she joined our pack. “Shish,” we whispered, and both dogs quieted.

Research indicates that people can adjust to noise during the day. But at night they experience sleep interruption, which leads to health problems. Light pollution also interrupts our natural day/night cycle – and deprives us night sky viewing, the beauty of stargazing.

During our Eastern Mediterranean travels, Keith and I quickly established a rhythm through our choices: cruising the Bosporus rather than fighting Istanbul’s traffic; walking around Miletus and the Temple of Apollo rather than being herded through Athens’ Acropolis and Plaka District, strolling through Dalmatian hill towns rather than shopping in the ports of call, staying at a hotel facing one of Venice’s small canals rather than a hotel near Brad and Angelina’s place on the Grand Canal.


Sunset at Santorini

Mid-way through the cruise, we decided to have a cocktail in the Explorer’s Lounge on the 7th deck. Keith sipped his Bombay Sapphire martini and I a glass of Prosecco while we admired the sunset and said farewell to Santorini. On a bluff behind us stood Brad and Angelina’s villa, purchased five years ago and never occupied.


Sunset at Vanaprastha


What would we choose if we could have anything?

For us, it’s the seasonal rhythm of our forest retreat at Vanaprastha, the natural flow of day and night, privacy, fresh air and beauty.


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