Apart from their flowing beards, that is, and it being commonly misunderstood that the same guy played them in the movies.
Answer: Both these mentors disappeared to make merry while their hapless mentees stumbled from one near death experience to another. Further, both of them seemed to know the whole plot (background, foreground, past, future) right from word go, but chose to let their protégé wade through several volumes of books/movies in order to discover the truth for themselves. Think about it, there was barely a need for Dumbledore to leave those complicated clues via Tales of Bard the Beedle. A simple note to Harry & Co would have sufficed. Or better still, he could have sat Harry down over some cookies and milk and explained it all to him, well before he engineered his own death. But no, we need elaborate quests to discover which further quest awaits us. Gandalf is a tad better, but only by a white whisker. He could have at least requested the eagles who flew Frodo out, to fly him in right from the Shire to Mordor. But why settle for an elegant first class flight, when we can get all grubby, not shower for days and trudge all the way?! To be fair to the white wizard, he really did not know about the ring, especially in Bilbo’s days, AND he explained it all to Frodo quite nicely, when he did find out. Unlike Albie dear, who could have probably easily produced a Horcrux or two if he applied himself enough.
All this to tell you why I prefer Gandalf over Albus, to be my guide and mentor on my very special but pointless venture. I need more transparency and less laughing into the beard. Really.
Hence it came to pass that Gandalf the Imaginary caught up with EP the Hobbit at the end of Day 4 of her walking adventure.
EP the Hobbit, in a miffed tone “Where were you, Gandalf the Imaginary, at the close of Day 3? I waited and waited till the hair on my feet grew an inch”
Gandalf the Imaginary, refusing to reveal that he was off indulging in debauchery and had forgotten completely about the poor EP who meanwhile was bravely and hobbitly, making her lonely way to Mordor, “Oh, I was tied up battling evil forces on the other side of the world, and could not get back in time for our chat.”
“Since we last met, I have covered a grand total of 52 miles over 14 EP days,” said EP the Hobbit, with understandable pride. “I have walked when the sun has been barely up and through cold cold nights. Sharp blew the wind, and wild was the rain, but I was not one to give up.”
“I may have been on the other side of the world, but I do know that the weather has been mostly balmy in Bangalore, so quit bullshitting me” said Gandalf the Imaginary, upset at being taken for a fool.
“I meant imaginary rain and wind, O great-wizard-who-has-spies-everywhere-or-is-simply-someone-with-an-excellent-mobile-data-plan,” clarified EP the Hobbit, “I tried to get 10,000 steps a day come wedding anniversaries or Christmas parties. I had a couple of impossible days, when I was unable the meet the objective. On one memorable day, I was trying to crochet a reindeer, and got all my stitches wrong. Sorry about all that.”
Gandalf the Imaginary, absently scrolling through his phone pictures “Am letting you off the hook, this one time, only because I hear that you tried to eat healthy during this period.”
EP the Hobbit, letting out a delighted squeal, “Indeed! I baked a whole wheat jaggery cake for my wedding anniversary. And there were entire meals which consisted only of salad.”
Gandalf the Imaginary, getting a notification for the next party, “There seems to be an outbreak of evil which needs my urgent attention. Am off to save the world, yet again. I may be gone a while, let’s do your next check in at Bree, a mere 37 miles away. Ciao Bella!
Gandalf the Imaginary drifts away in a cloud of designer fragrance aimed to attract unsuspecting elven ladies with a thing for old wizards.
EP the Hobbit wishes for a shower.
Note: I am on a quest to Walk to Mordor and back to Rivendell. I track, through my Fitbit, the miles I walk every day. Once I hit the number of miles that the hobbits walked in a day or so, I blog about it. Next update: After 3 Hobbit days or 37 miles.