Dec 2013: I Won A Grant For Travel!
On Christmas Eve of 2013, I received a letter in the mail notifying me that I was a recipient of a grant from The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, awarding me $15,000 to complete my proposed plan of travelling to India and Israel the following summer/fall for over a month to explore different cultures in order to better understand the nature of my work as an artist (which at the time focused on the body and spirit connection). Here are some photos of my paintings (oil on canvas) at the time:
It was an an excellent Christmas to say the very least, and while I sat at my desk, shaking hands and tears in my eyes, overwhelmed by the amazing opportunity that had come my way, I was reminded of the importance of persistence. I realized that persistence really is key when it comes to following your dreams. I have applied to countless galleries and grants by now, and it has become overwhelmingly clear to me that success is not the absence of struggle, nor is it the absence of failure, it is in our ability to brush off each of these failures (without dwelling on them or allowing ourselves to become consumed by the potential for future failures) and look forward into what opportunities may lie ahead.
My goal on this trip was to understand more about the different cultures and religions in our world. What makes them different? More importantly, what do they have in common? My paintings are spiritual in nature as I deal with the subjects of life and death, body and soul. I wanted to find out more about the topics of life and death in religious contexts, and humans as both physical and spiritual beings. Below is a day by day itinerary of my trip, and I kept up with writing while I was away, so stay tuned for new posts with updates on what I got up to throughout my time in both Israel and India.
Since I was provided with a travel grant, I had the luxury of planning the entirety of my trip with quite a hefty budget. This meant that I was able to book guides, tours, beautiful hotels and drivers for just about everywhere I went, allowing me to learn as much as possible from professional guides in a limited amount of time (considering how much ground I was covering) with very little wasted time “figuring stuff out” while I was on the fly. Let me make this perfectly clear, however: THIS CAN ALL BE DONE ON A MUCH SMALLER BUDGET, and a chunk of the money I received was also used for new camera equipment, travel accessories that I would need for my journey, as well as artist supplies upon my returning home. Always remember that with any place you’re looking to visit, there is an option best suited to your needs, your schedule and your budget. I definitely hope to go back to these beautiful countries someday, but believe me when I tell you that it will be done with far less money, and on a much less planned out schedule. That being said, here’s my Itinerary, as planned before leaving:
40 Days In Israel And India
Click on the Cities/Sights in the grey italics to take you to the google maps Page for each location, where you’ll be able to see where it is, some images, and a brief description of each place.
- Sat Sept 6 – 6:45pm Flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv, Israel Arrives at 3:35pm Israel time (Sun Sept 7) Total 20hr 50min trip (1 stop)
- Sun Sept 7 – Israel Highlights Tour begins. (8 Days, group tour with Noah Tours) Transfer to hotel (Dan Panorama, Tel Aviv).
- Mon Sept 8 – Drive to Masada, ascend by cable car to the fortress. Descend for a float in the Dead Sea. Proceed to Jerusalem for overnight (Dan Panorama, Jerusalem).
- Tues Sept 9 – Drive to Mt. Scopus, view of Jerusalem. Visit the Garden of Gethsemane and Church of the Agony. Continue to Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book. Later to Yad Vashem. Drive to Ein Karem village. Return to hotel in Jerusalem.
- Wed Sept 10 – Walk through the Old City Jerusalem: the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, the Temple area, the bazaars; Via Dolorosa and the stations of the cross ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Drive to Mt. Zion and see the tomb of King David, the Room of the Last Supper, and Dormition Abbey. Continue to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity and return to hotel in Jerusalem.
- Thurs Sept 11 – Leave Jerusalem and drive North through Jordan Valley to Beit Shean. Proceed to Tiberias. Drive along the shores of the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum to visit the ruins of the ancient synagogue. Continue to hotel (Kfar Giladi).
- Fri Sept 12 – Drive to the Golan Heights. Visit former Syrian fortifications, Druze villages and Via Banias. Proceed to Safed to visit a syngogue and the artists’ colony. Head to Nazareth to visit the Christian Holy Sites. Return to hotel.
- Sat Sept 13 – Drive west to Acre. Continue to Haifa, tour of Bahai Shrine, Persian Garden, and Mount Carmel for a view of the city and the bay. Proceed to Caesarea. End the day with a short city tour of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
- Sun Sept 14 – Israel Highlights Tour ends. Transfer to Tel Aviv Central Bus station for bus ride to Ein Gedi. Overnight in Ein Gedi Country Hotel (at the Dead Sea).
- Mon Sept 15 – Ein Gedi hot springs, gardens.
- Tues Sept 16 – Leave Ein Gedi hotel, take bus to Eilat Central Bus Station (Approx 4hr bus ride). Transfer to Orchid Resort Village Hotel, South Beach Eilat (at the Red Sea).
- Wed Sept 17 – Day at the Red Sea.
- Thurs Sept 18 – 7:45am Flight from Eilat, Israel to Tel Aviv, Israel Arrives at 8:25am. Total 40min trip. 12:45pm Flight from Tel Aviv, Israel to Delhi, India. Arrives at 3:00am Delhi time (Fri Sept 19) Total 11hr 45min trip. (2 stops)
- Fri Sept 19 – Transfer to hotel (Crown Plaza Okhla). Joanne (A Family Friend joining me for 2 weeks in India) meets me at hotel, meet with tour guide. Jewels Of North India tour begins. (14 days, private tour with Indus).
- Sat Sept 20 – Begin in Old Delhi, at the famous Red Fort. Bike rickshaw ride through the alleys off Chandi Chowk bazaar. Visit Raj Ghat (Ghandi’s cremation site) and the Jama Masjid (one of the largest mosques in India). This afternoon visit the Qutb Minar, a 240-foot minaret, the tallest in the world. Return to hotel.
- Sun Sept 21 – 10:30am Flight from Delhi to Varanasi. Arrives at 11:45am. Total 1hr 15min trip. Half day excursion to Sarnath to visit the tranquil Deer Park (where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. At sunset, cruise the Ganges River to witness the evening Aarti prayer rituals. Go to hotel (Ramada Plaza, Varanasi).
- Mon Sept 22 – Early morning boat ride to see pilgrims gathering on the ghats to bathe in the sacred Ganges, and Hindus performing rituals including cremation ghats. Return to the hotel for breakfast, day in Varanasi. Return to hotel.
- Tues Sept 23 – Visit Ramnagar Fort on the opposite bank of the Ganges. Return to hotel.
- Wed Sept 24 – 12:20pm Flight from Varanasi to Khajuraho. Arrives at 2:45pm. Total 2hr 25min trip. (1 stop). Visit the Eastern and Western Group of temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a scholar. Go to hotel (Ramada Khajuraho).
- Thurs Sept 25 – Morning at leisure. Later drive to Jhansi to board the evening train to Agra. Shatabdi Express Train 6:05pm, 4hr trip. Go to hotel (Jaypee Palace, Agra).
- Fri Sept 26 – Early morning visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise. (May be tomorrow morning instead depending on weather) After breakfast, visit Agra Fort. Later, cross the Yamuna River to visit Itmad ud Daula mausoleum. Return to Hotel.
- Sat Sept 27 – After Breakfast travel to Jaipur via Train, 5hr trip. Enroute visiting Fatehpur Sikri. Arrive in Jaipur (The Pink City). Go to hotel (Trident, Jaipur).
- Sun Sept 28 – Excursion to Amber Fort. Royal ride on elephant (I DIDN’T KNOW HOW BAD THIS WAS AT THE TIME. SO MUCH REGRET! Go to a sanctuary somewhere instead with NO RIDING!) up the hill to Jagmandir. Return to the city to see the grand Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), City Palace and Jantar Mantar. Return to hotel.
- Mon Sept 29 – Leave Jaipur and head to Udaipur via Train, 7hr trip. Go to hotel (Trident, Udaipur).
- Tues Sept 30 – Begin at City Palace, overlooking Lake Pichola. Inside the complex, see the crystal gallery, and continue to the Jagdish Temple. After, explore the Old City. Early this evening take a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola, sailing past Ghats and palaces, stopping at the island of Jag Mandir. Return to hotel.
- Wed Oct 1 – 7am Flight from Udaipur to Mumbai. Arrives at 8:15am. Total 1hr 15min trip. Half day tour of Mumbai, see the Dhobi Ghat. Then visit the Prince of Wales Museum. Continue to Mani Bhawan, the Gandhi Museum. End on Marine Drive, Mumbai’s most popular promenade and a favourite sunset watching spot. Go to hotel (Kohinoor Continental, Mumbai).
- Tues Oct 2 – Jewels of North India Tour Ends (Joanne leaves Mumbai-Toronto Early morning) and I take a 5:45am Flight from Mumbai to Jaipur. Arrives at 7:25am. Total 1hr 40min trip. Head to Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, Jaipur. Overnight in hotel.
- Wed Oct 3 – Leave hotel and head to Dhamma Thali Vipassana Centre, Jaipur. 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Course, runs 3pm Oct 3- 7am Oct 14. Here’s a link to explain the course a little.
- Tues Oct 14 – 4:45pm Flight from Jaipur, India, to Toronto. Arrives at 12:35pm Toronto time (Wed Oct 15). Total 29hr 20min trip. Home.
So there it is! My full itinerary for Israel and India, all planned out before departing Toronto (Yes, It was quite a pain to do and took me hours of planning, research and phone calls). Make sure to check back for posts about each of these places as I visited them, and as always feel free to leave your comments or questions, or e-mail me at email@example.com for anything else. I am always happy to share advise, tips or even just some love ♥ xoxo