Love is . . . a life on the open road

I've been to many places around the world so thought I'd share things I love about travelling...

France, especially Lanquedoc Rousillon
Eurostar, premier seats though
Virgin Atlantic’s choice of movies
BA’s Business class movie screens
Premium Outlets for shopping madness
Grimsby fish and chips
Massage on a Thai beach
Lobster and prawns at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort
Silk trousers from Bangkok
Noodles from a Hong Kong vendor
Animals on safari in Kenya
Rio Carnival for being the best in the world
Tobago for being so chilled out
Friendly faces at Jakes in Jamaica
Pink sand in the Bahamas
People-watching in Las Vegas
Disney World, Orlando, can't get enough of Mickey
Ireland because my dad was born there
Edinburgh on New Year's Eve
Venice because you have to love it
Wine-tasting in Stellenbosch, only white!
Swimming in the forever warm Caribbean Sea
Biking over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco
Gazing at the awesome Taj Mahal
Helping build a nursery in a Cape Town township
Screaming on Universal's The Hulk
Seeing the Pope at the Vatican
Drinking champagne at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Christmas in New York
Coffee from Jamaica's Blue Mountains
Crabbing in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Necker Island, who wouldn't?
Pashminas from India
America and even Americans
Walking in the Lake District
Driving across the US, even with a two-year-old
Handbags from Buenos Aires
Eurocamp for great family holidays
No-hassle souks in Damascus
Bon Sol hotel in Majorca
My Antler Duolite case and my Apple iPad2, love them
...and all the people in all the world who I have had the pleasure of meeting

Maharaja shows Queen the way

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An Indian sunset...breathtaking

AFTER chatting to the Maharaja of Jodhpur, it struck me that he could give our Queen a few credit-crunching tips.

His solution to the phenomenal cost of living in a palace was to move himself and his family into one wing of the glorious Umaid Bhawan Palace and lease out the rest as a Taj Hotel.

What a great idea — B&B at Buckingham Palace with the Queen as Britain’s No1 landlady. She and Prince Philip and the corgis could stay put in their quarters — with, like the Maharahja, a few servants around to fetch and carry — and rent out the rest of the rooms for at least £350 a night.

And why stop there, what about Sandringham and Balmoral?

The Maharaja, Gaj Singh II, is among a number of India’s royals who handed over their residences to be used commercially after the late Indira Gandhi took away their titles and privy purses in 1971. Fortunately, the palaces landed in the hands of the Taj hotel group who lovingly keep them in all their original majestic glory.  Think luscious marble and teak — not Formica and plywood!

You can’t help but marvel at the yellow stone and marble Umaid Bhawan Palace which was commissioned by Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present Maharaja, in 1929. He wanted to find jobs for his people so paid out 11 million rupees (that’s only £150,000 today) for 3,000 workers to toil for 15 years.

You should see the fab Art Deco suite where Liz Hurley slept

Brit star Liz Hurley thinks it was worth every single rupee. It’s where she rode an elephant across the lawns of the 26-acre gardens to a flower-strewn gazebo to marry businessman Arun Nayar. As it turns out, that was a bit of a waste as they are now divorced.

You should see the fab Art Deco suite she slept in, once used by Umaid Singh’s Maharani. There’s a mural of the Goddess Kali etched on shining black glass behind the bed — that’s our Liz for you, she does think she’s a goddess. So if you’re getting married, you know where to treat yourself, if only for a night. With a double room costing around £500, you’d need to be a Slumdog Millionaire to stay there for very long.

Jodhpur in Rajasthan is famous for giving riding breeches their name. The Maharajah will tell you the story of how his grandfather’s younger brother, Sir Pratap Singh, went to London to attend Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887. He lost his luggage so had a tailor make him up some new trousers and the design later found its way into the horse and shooting fraternity.

Meherangarh Fort on a 410ft hill towers over Jodhpur, a city that resembles a multitude of square Lego blocks painted blue. It was traditionally the colour of a Hindu caste but now people think it repels insects. Colour is significant, too, in neighbouring city Jaipur — five hours away by train and half-way between Delhi and Jodhpur. It was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876.

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