Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

What subjects appealed most to our readers? Qatar, a love den in Delhi, jinns, wellness, tapas, guacamole, a Peruvian vampire, a Fès restaurant and Trump. Lots of Trump.

It must be love.

As we reviewed our best-performing posts of our inaugural year, we noticed that you share our same diverse interests. You appreciate our quirky sensibilities (like our post on a garden filled with amorous couples finding release in a repressed society).

But you’re interested in politics, too — from what it’s like to live in a Middle Eastern country to the global effects of our controversial new president.

You also appreciate good food, whether it’s a recipe you’re looking for or restaurant suggestions on your travels.

Finally, you’re interested in folklore, be it the jinns of Islam or a fat-sucking vampire you sure don’t want to run into along the Inca Trail.


What’s it like living in a Muslim country that fasts for an entire month and limits the sale of booze? What do Qataris think of Americans? And how the heck do you pronounce Qatar?


Not a typical tourist stop, the Garden of Five Senses is a whimsical sculpture park worth visiting. It’s also popular with local couples escaping societal judgment against PDA.


Black magic in Islam is a serious concern — and the holy writings offer numerous ways to negate magic jinn.


Yoga on the Mexican beach, hikes to Machu Picchu, Pilates in Morocco — the best health tourism adventures.


Famous for its empanadas and other tapas treats, this neighborhood bar has many a story to tell.


Spoiler alert: From Europe to Asia to Latin America, the outlook isn’t very optimistic.


Es la verdad. Wally’s famous guacamole never fails to please. Just make sure you get a molcajete.


Is there any country that’s pleased with the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election? (Besides Russia, that is.)


Why one of the world’s creepiest vampire legends lingers to this day.


A magical, secret spot with great Moroccan food, friendly servers, quirky décor and kitty companions.

20 Best Instagram Photos of 2016

You saw, you liked. Here are our best-rated travel photos on Instagram of last year.


Looking back, 2016 taught me the importance of staying connected to friends near and far. Seeking new perspectives to overcome hurdles and nurturing the labor of love Wally and I call the Not So Innocents Abroad.

Our hope is to share our experiences of other cities and other cultures. Whether exploring the unusual 161-year-old Dhundiraj Ganpati Mandir wooden Hindu temple in Baroda, India or asking our friends abroad to vocalize how they felt about the polarizing effects of the American election, we’re grateful for the role you’ve played and look forward to welcoming a year filled with optimism and new adventures.


Choose Your Own Adventure

As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Predicting what makes one image more engaging than another can be difficult to determine and often, like art, is simply subjective.

From amazing destinations that include Cambodia, France, India and Morocco, here’s a look back at our most popular Instagrams of last year.

Follow us on Instagram — and be a part of the action! –Duke

1. If Aix-en-Provence, France doesn’t charm you with its markets, food and architecture, there is no shortage of magnificent elaborately hand-carved entry doors to look at.

2. The beautiful Italianate courtyard outside the Darbar Hall at Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara, India.

3. Deco Darling. Tucked away in the Fès Medina, Morocco, is the beautiful Palais Amani. Originally owned by a prominent Fassi family of merchants, the majority of the residence was rebuilt in the Art Deco style after a landslide badly damaged the 17th century property.

4. The Café St. Regis was one of our favorite spots to enjoy breakfast when we visited Paris, France.

5. The façade of Notre Dame in Paris has many interesting details, but perhaps none as unique as the sculpture in the left portal holding his head. The statue is of St. Denis, said to have picked his head up after being decapitated and walked six miles, while preaching a sermon of repentance the entire way. If it takes me 45 minutes on the treadmill at 6 miles per hour, he would have walked an hour plus!

6. Both covered and open-air, the green metal pavilions from the 1900s form the charming flower market located on Place Louis Lépine in Paris, between the Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle chapel.

7. A view of the magnificent Rajon Ki Baoli stepwell in Delhi, India, built by Daulat Khan during the reign of Sikandar Lodi in 1516. Chambers located behind the arch-shaped niches once provided respite from the heat and a place for patrons to socialize.

8. One of the splendid staircases with its elegant wrought-iron railing inside the 18th century Hotel d’Albertas mansion in Aix-en-Provence, France. Embellishments such as these were a sign of family wealth intended to call out the social status of the owner.

9. Neptune wielding a trident riding on a fish by sculptor André Massoule on the Beaux-Arts Pont Alexandre III in Paris. A marvel of 19th century engineering, this bridge consists of a 20-foot-high single-span steel arch.

10. Musical Chairs. I was awestruck by the hypnotic symmetry of the rows of empty ladder-back chairs awaiting the devout at Saint Suplice in Paris. The ethereal Catholic church, located in the 6th arrondissement, is the second largest in Paris and it was in some movie called The Da Vinci Code. 😜

11. The enormous grooved stump of lime mortar and rubble masonry are all that remains of the unfinished Alai Minar in Delhi. The minaret was intended to rival the Qutb Minar in both size and scale, but was never completed.

12. Part of the Right Bank, this busy square located in Montmartre, Paris is known for its portrait artists and painters. During the Belle Époque, at the beginning of the 20th century, many artists, including Pablo Picasso, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh resided and worked here.

13. Fez was founded in 859 CE. The origin of the name is unknown. Some scholars believe it comes from the old Berber name of the Middle Atlas Mountains, Fazaz. Other stories trace the name back to a tale of a golden axe that divided the river of Fez into two halves. In Arabic, a fez is an axe.

14. Built by sculptor Jean-Claude Rambot and situated in the heart of the Mazarin district, the Fountain of the Four Dolphins in Aix supports an obelisk topped with a pineapple. We spent an afternoon here with our sketchbooks pretending we were bohemian artistes.

15. The stunning Angkor Wat temple, the largest religious monument in the world, was built by Khmer king Suryavarman II in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It’s a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, the Mount Olympus of the Hindu faith and the abode of ancient gods. The complex has been in continuous use since it was built.

16. Benched. There is something beautiful in the patina of these benches in Aix Cathedral combined with the well-worn brick floor that has stood the test of time.

17. A Room With a View. Our grand suite at the Udai Bilas Palace in Dungarpur, India looked out onto the tranquil waters of Gaibsagar Lake, where the royal family’s private island temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva floats serenely.

18. Set in Stone. A white marble cenotaph lies at the center of Safdarjung’s tomb in Delhi.

19. Kittens and cats are a common sight among the streets of the Marrakech Medina in Morocco, indifferent to the activity around them. This little guy came to visit while we were sitting having coffee.

20. Louvre is in the air at Paris’ famous museum.

6 Historic Images of the Red Fort in Delhi, India

Ghulam Ali Khan's paintings reveal the splendor of This Mughal palace — now a sad shadow of its glorious past.


The images in the slideshow are watercolor paintings by Ghulam Ali Khan, the last royal Mughal painter. Thirty-one of his works were published as Sketches of The Delhee Palace & Delhee in 1854.

Oh, to have seen it in its glory days — before the Brits got their mitts on it, ransacking and demolishing much of it until it was but a shadow of its former glory.

Originally called Qila-e-Mubarak, or the Blessed Fort, its name was changed by the British. They didn't see it as so blessed, as they tore much of it apart, stripped it of its riches and built barracks within. They called it the relatively unimaginative Red Fort after the crimson sandstone used to construct the ramparts. The name stuck, and the locals started referring to it as Lal Qila in the native tongue.

The diamond is said to be cursed, bringing bad luck to any man who wears it.

Ironically enough, parts of the structure were actually once white, painted with lime plaster, according to IndiaTV and other sources.

Constructed over a decade, beginning in 1638, the Red Fort was designed by the architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. He's the man who's also behind a modest mausoleum you might know: the Taj Mahal.

The Red Fort was the Mughal emperors' palace for almost 200 years.

Bahadur Shah Zahar, the last of the line, was tried for treason by the British in the Diwan-i-Khas, the Hall of Private Audience. This is the part of the Red Fort where he'd greet his guests and couriers.

Emperor Zahar, who was 82 at the time, was found guilty, stripped of his title and exiled to Rangoon in what is now Myanmar.


A Cursed Diamond

The Diwan-i-Khas was said to have a solid gold frame studded with precious stones, including the world's largest diamond, the Koh-i-Noor (Persian for Mountain of Light). It was pillaged long ago and is currently part of the Crown Jewels in England.

It was the inspiration behind Wilkie Collins' mystery novel The Moonstone.

For, the diamond is said to be cursed, bringing bad luck to any man who wears it. Cleverly exploiting a loophole, only female members of the British royal family will put it on. –Wally


RELATED: Tips for Exploring Delhi's Red Fort