So this is a long one........the taxi driver takes us to a very dark and quiet street, looking I gently at all the buildings....which are surrounded with dirt and filth, thats in the dark as well. Thrown in a sleeping body, couple of cows and numerous mangy dogs and that's where we are. Driver makes out he has no idea where our hotel is, he stops to ask his very helpful friend who calls our hotel. He tells us the roads to our. Hotel are closed for Christmas...well Diwali....and they are full and do not have our booking. They handed us the cellphone and the guy posed as our hotel manager and stated he didnt have our reservation and no rooms to rent. By now we are in an unlit alley and I'm thinking take Vicky first.....I'm a good friend like that.........and we insist they take us back to the airport. We had fortunately read about this scam and were quite vocal about what we wanted and within a minute low and behold we are at our hotel. The driver had the audacity to ask for a tip.....we just laughed and walked off. A quick check in, at the Eurostar Hotel and of course they had not received said phone call and being one in the morning we were off to bed. A very basic twin room, no apparent bugs and big z time. Next morning we were up and at them, no shower, broken of course so a quick scrub down in a bucket of cold water and back to Delhi airport for a short flight to udaipur. A very nice old man drove us the 40 minutes to the Anjani Hotel and we backpacked our way up a steep bloody hill to the top where we negotiated a room for four nights for.......six dollars each. With a working shower and hot water, a four poster bed, and a small sitting room. Oh and a swimming pool that no one uses.....although Vicki promises to indulge, I am sure to the delight of the old men that drink chai at the hotel.
We dump our stuff and off to explore. .......holy crap, tight narrow street no rules just a mishandle mash of motor bikes, tuk tuk, cars, cows, dogs, goat pig and chickens and of course people. Lots and lots of people. Holes every where and toot toot toot all the time. Toot hello, toot out my way, toot because I can and have a horn. Noise overload. We explore the City Palace which is beautiful and has views of Lake Pichola and the Taj Palace Hotel which was featured in Octapussy, the James Bond movie. This movie is featured at many of the cafes. Lou and I had changed into walking shorts and a group of Indian women found us intriguing. Fortunately we couldnt understand what they were saying, but I think I heard the word trollops! An art gallery, Art Facts, which is by our hotel the artist and owner did the artwork featured in the film, Marigold Hotel. We end up back at the hotel for Thalia on the roof top over looking Lake Pichola and the palace in the middle of the lake. I am dry as they only sell beer. Vick made up for me !!! It's true, the Kingfisher beer is delicious. We have a beautiful view and with Diwali approaching we saw light floating in Lake Pichola and into the sky, not to mention a gorgeous sunset earlier.
November 11, 2012. After a bug free sleep, and mastering the shower, I went to meet Lou outside and found myself stuck in the room. I pulled the handle and the entire lock which is a bolt came off. Thankfully the side window opened and a nice employee opened the door. I'm told this had happened before. A screw added and it's fixed! We wandered out the hotel and down to the Ghats. I have decided not to have laundry done as it is clear that it is done by hand in the lake that everyone is washing, bathing and pooping into along with the garbage. There is no seeing the bottom of this lake! Makes for some cool photo opportunities. Our first cow poo incident with Vicki in her new sandals in the middle of fresh cow pie. Rookie mistake! We explored both shores and ended up at a very posh hotel, The Ambrai, for a refreshment and to take a breather from the constant chaos. We had eaten at a german bakery, Cafe Eidelweiss, that morning that makes everything fresh on site, not a german in sight. ..........the Germans must have a great reputation for bakeries as we discovered that there are several German bakeries. I opted for the egg sandwich when really I wanted the slab of chocolate cake the guy next to me was shoveling in. On the way back through the metal gates at the footbridge, my heel was cut but the gate. Hhmmm, what are the chances of infection from a gate where thousands of people have passed through!
We wandered back to the City Palace and jumped on a boat trip around the lake. We felt like film stars as we were adopted by an Indian family who took numerous photos of us ......I think they were after vickis jolly ranchers and fame cost her the entire bag. We wandered around the very posh Jagmandir Hotel which is in a small island on Lake Pichola, which was stunning before heading back for a quick massage. We picked a spa (ha ha) that said it was clean and for eight dollars we were beaten into submission whilst lying on a sun lounger covered in a dubiously spotted towel. They doused our heads in oil that would put a Scottish chippy to shame and we left looking very bedraggled. A quick clean up at the hotel and we were off walking around the Diwali lights which make everything look so pretty. We wandered back to the city palace and splurged on an Indian meal by lake side with live music and hundreds of candles. Silver service from very smart waiters and fantastic food. We sat for three hours putting the world to right before wandering back to the hotel. Things had quietened down and we took the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the calves who had gathered outside the shops
(no doubt window shopping for leather goods) to give them a scratch. We soon had a small line up for scratches much to the amusement of the
locals. We have not interacted much with the dogs who all look identical except for varying war wounds. Although one lucky girl who reminded me of
my own pup did get half my egg sandwich. Tomorrow is another day