Our trip to India was fast coming to an end, and I was showing signs of wear and tear as I sat drinking at a rooftop bar on our penultimate night in Udaipur.
The last leg of our India trip, on our way to Mumbai (at one time called Bombay).
Maharan Pratap Airport.
A few vendors providing food and drinks, it was nice to sit in peace and quiet and catch up on our reading.
Only an hour and a half and far more comfortable than the “romanticism” of our train journey from Jaipur to Udaipur !.
We arrive at the airport, book a tax to our hotel and then the usual drive around and around. Nikki spots our hotel and we point at the pavement outside. Suffice to say, not tip was given.
When we arrive at the ITC Maratha hotel, its quite simply incredible. It harks back to the times of the Raj and is nothing short of opulent.
Everyone was very friendly, but all bags had to go through airport style security before being allowed in the hotel, security is taken very seriously after the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008.
When I say opulent, allow me to illustrate. How many toilets have a TV showing Premier league football.
I sat down with my guide book and a mind map I’d drawn up with a list of things to see. I ordered a pint of beer (which I’d later find out cost £18) and started planning.
We had that evening in the hotel, then a day to spend in Mumbai, and fly home about 11pm the next day (which would be New Years eve).
After an incredible banquet dinner and a few drinks, its off to bed. We’ve only got 1 day and are unlikely to come back here, so I want to make the most of it.
Up early and a breakfast laied out on tables as though we were at a wedding.
The hotel staff are incredibly helpful and are happy to provide assistance planning our day tour.
They comment that the hotels policy is not to recommend the train/tram network and that they can get us a taxi (an offer we are happy to take up).
Minutes later were heading to the city centre on the Bandra-Worli sea link, a 1 mile long bridge that sort of goes out to sea and then back in again. It was desinged to reduce congestion getting into the city.
We couldn’t see much from inside our Taxi, so I found this picture to illustrate.
The coast of Marine drive can be seen from here, its nicknamed the Queens necklace.
But although the bridge and the buildings are spectacular, signs of poverty aren’t far behind.
We begin our sightseeing on foot.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus featured in Slumdog Millionaire.
On the waterfront, the Gateway of India built for Queen Victoria’s visit.
It possible to do boat trips to Elephant Island from here, but being New Years eve, everywhere was packed.
Behind it, the internationally famous Taj Mahal hotel.
On the ground floor at the back is a coffee house and we stopped there to rest.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, abbreviated CSMVS and formerly named the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India.
Three floors of interesting artefacts and obviously Victorian in style.
Lots of old things to look at in glass cases.
But far more interesting, Ghandi’s iconic spinning wheel.
And the constitution of India.
A beautiful building, we relax outside in the shade.
We continue on and I’m shocked to see this sign.
This isnt a police station, this is a high street bank where you might pop in to pay some bills !.
A sensible precaution, so nobody trips over it.
With the sun setting over the Queens Necklace, and with only a few hours left of our amazing trip, we find a hotel bar with a balcony and relax.
As we walk back along the waterfront, people are congregating, looking forward to happiness and prosperity of the New Year.
But we’ve got a plane to catch. We head back, get cleaned up, have a bite to eat and its back to the Chaos of the airport for us.
We land in Paris. Unfortunately, the bus is slow taking us to our terminal, and we miss our connecting flight.
Annoying, but now we’ve got 3 hours to to kill.
So, breakfast in Paris on New Years day !.