The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Thursday, December 13, 2007

India Part 2 - Mumbai/Delhi

I am falling way behind on my blogging. This is down to real life catching up with me now. I am currently on a housework binge, having neglected it for God knows how long building up to the WSC. I will make an effort over the next few days to at least complete the India trip.

After the final Paul, Di Dennis and I grabbed a taxi into the city to go shopping in the state emporiums. We stopped off for a beer before walking back to Di's hotel to meet up with a few others to go out for dinner. Ed Martin and his Swedish girlfriend (Karin?), who had just flown in, Shane O'Neill and Greger joined us. We went upstairs in Leopolds to the air-con section where the food was plentiful but the service was nowhere near as good.

When we got back to the Taj Allan and Phil were getting ready to go to the airport - we had given them one of our keycards so they could use our room after they had checked out of theirs. The Maltese contingent were still around - David and Jojo were also flying out that night, but Theresa and her new husband, Geoff, were going on to Goa the next day for their honeymoon. A few other players were also hanging around killing time before going to the airport.

The next morning Paul and I were able to take full advantage of breakfast - theoretically buffet but it was frowned upon to actually help yourself. A waiter asked what you wanted and then brought it to you. After we had finished we briefly joined Robert Lynn, his wife and Philip Nelkon before packing and checking out. We put our bags into the hotel storage and then took a taxi to Fab India for a last shopping spree in Mumbai. We went to an art gallery for lunch before heading back to the hotel to kill time.

We were picked up in the afternoon and transferred to the central railway station for our onward journey to Delhi. There was some confusion as to which coach we were in, but it was eventually sorted out. We were in a 4-berth air-con sleeper. There was one other passenger in our cabin who was only going part way. Our steward brought us fruit juice and English language newspapers. A 3-course dinner arrived later. Our cabin mate departed and was replaced by an elderly couple who were also fed. They looked a little worried until they determined that they were on the lower berths and Paul and I were on the upper. The steward got the berths ready and lights out. I actually slept quite well. Lights back on, beds stowed away and breakfast arrived. We were about an hour late, arriving in Delhi about 10.30 a.m.

We were met at the station and transferred to our hotel, the Connaught. This was a little disappointing - the lobby was quite plush but our room was quite shabby. After a shower and change of clothes we headed out to get our bearings. We had intended to walk to Connaught Place but were waylaid by a tuk-tuk driver. He offered us a deal of taking us on a shopping tour, and if we didn't like/buy anything he would not charge us. The first place was no good but undeterred on to another. We were shown lots of bedspreads and after much haggling we did indeed buy a couple, one of which I will use as a cover for our dining table as it is very hard to get anything that is big enough! We went onto one other up-market store but did not buy, before heading home and paying our man.

In the afternoon we had an organised trip to the Baha'i House of Worship in Delhi, also known as the Lotus Temple. This was very tranquil after the traffic jams through Delhi to reach it.

We did not have to worry about finding somewhere to eat in the evening - we had a complimentary welcome meal in the hotel.

The next day we had a full city tour on the itinerary.

First stop was Rashtrapati Bhavan - the President of India's official residence - designed by Edwin Lutyens. The gates are as impressive as the building. Unfortunately it was extremely hazy - presubably smog again - so the views from here were not very good.

Next onto a Hindu temple - no photographs or shoes allowed.

The next stop was the Qutb Complex. This large complex was built by the Sultans of Delhi, started by Qutbuddin Aibak and added to by later Muslim sultans. It, like many other historical sites we visited, is undergoing restoration.

The Qutb Minar is extremely impressive - a five storey high Victory Tower.

Iltutmish's tomb - who succeeded Qutbuddin Aibak and completed building the Qutb Minar.

I was hoping it was going to be lunch now as I was beginning to need the loo, but no. On to Himayun's tomb. Our guide did not come with us inside and had not appreciated that how fast we could walk. There was no sign of him when we got back so we headed back to the car, assuming he would be there. Our driver let is in and we waited. Eventually our driver rang his mobile to let him know we were waiting in the car - he had gone off to get something to eat!

We were heading back slowly through the traffic jams to a restaurant for lunch - it was now well gone 2 p.m. and I was getting desperate by the time we stopped.

In the afternoon we were supposed to 'do' Old Delhi. The traffic was absolutely awful, and the two routes our driver tried had been closed by the police. We gave up - never knew why the roads had been shut. Our guide said he would try to rearrange the trip for the afternoon before we eventually flew home from Delhi. We headed back to our hotel.

In the evening we ventured out to find DV8 in Connaught Place - a restaurant recommended in our guidebook as serving good value steaks. We found it but it looked as if it had shut down - it certainly was not open. We headed back towards the hotel - we had spotted a small restaurant close by. We were the only tourists in there and had a very good Chinese meal.

The next morning we re-packed, putting one bag of non-essentials into storage - we were returning to the same hotel prior to our flight home. We were picked up by our same car/driver who was to be with us for the rest of our trip, next stop Jaipur.

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