India Days 7-8: Udaipur

Sunday, January 21, 2018

After a long drive from Jodhpur, we arrived in Udaipur, my favorite city of the trip!  This was one hotel that we decided not to cancel, and were very happy that we didn’t.  The view was amazing!  Hotel The Tiger, Room 23.  A bit more pricey (for India) at $100/night, but well worth the splurge.  Visit booking.com and look at the rooms with windows on two sides of the room.  Of course, there was the gecko that the hotel staff had to chase out of the room.  And the beautiful vessel style sink that drained onto the counter, then onto the floor, rather than down the drain.  And the miniature flies on the sheets that we first thought were bedbugs (bedbugs don’t fly or jump).  But the view was amazing and the hotel was otherwise sparkly clean, so we closed the windows and ignored the problems.  Stay here if you can.

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The hotel was in the heart of the old city, which given the narrow roads, meant that we had to transfer our bags to a tuk-tuk and we made the rest of our journey with that method.  It was fun, if a bit cramped.  On arrival, I was never more grateful for the usual swarm of baksheesh-seeking hotel staff that greeted us on arrival and wouldn’t let us touch our bags.  There was no elevator and 4 long flights of stairs.

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We got dinner a few blocks from the hotel, tried the lemon coriander soup again, and found it to be just as delicious as the first time!  The chicken tikka masala (the boys ordered this or the butter chicken almost every meal) and the naan were also great, but the chicken do piazza was just so-so.  The boys took this as confirmation that they were justified in ordering the same thing every meal.

After a day or so of stomach issues, in combination with the general grime we had encountered, we were in desperate need of clean clothes.  The ridiculous-for-India hotel prices put us off, so we decided to try a laundry service that we had seen a few blocks away.  There was a nice, clean looking woman sitting in a stand on the lower floor, and upon inquiry, she said she would charge between $.10 and $.25 per item.  She said it would take 24 hours and that she would remember us, so we didn’t need a ticket.  A bit nervous about not having our clothes returned, we went with it, and it ended up turning out very well.  For just $15 (we probably could have negotiated a lower price, but elected not to) we got almost all of our clothes washed, dried, ironed (even our underwear), and folded.  On pick up, the woman and her daughter seemed quite happy with our money, which made me particularly glad we decided to use her service rather than the hotel service.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Since we decided not to close the curtains, we woke to an amazing view.

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This was one of the few hotels that did not include breakfast, so we checked the menu and decided to venture out.  We tried one restaurant, but it was a bit of a disaster when the waiter couldn’t understand the English menu and get our tea order right, so we decided to leave before it got worse.  If ordering tea was too complicated, what else would have he gotten wrong?

By that time, the restaurant Cafe Edelweiss, which was across the street from our hotel, was open, and we decided that something German might be a good option given that we were all getting a bit tired of traveling in a very foreign environment.  Jeremy had pancakes with chocolate, which turned out to be very delicious chocolate crepes.  John’s “cheese toast” ended up being a grilled cheese sandwich that he was happy with.  James’s plain toast was a bit too plain, but a sugar packet helped.  Hot chocolate and cappuccinos were also nice.

City Palace Museum

We then went to the City Palace Museum.  The boys really enjoyed the elephant we saw on the way.

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Some of the glass mosaics were quite beautiful, and were probably what I enjoyed most.

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We spent a while wandering around the palace, and got some nice views from the top.

Jag Mandir

After finishing at the palace, we headed down to the Lake Pichola dock and took a boat tour to the Jag Mandir, which is on a small island in the middle of the lake.  The views of the city were quite nice.

Since we were getting sick of the culture shock that India produces, we found this to be  an isolated respite.  The architecture is beautiful, cleanliness abounds, crowds are minimal, and traffic is non-existent.  We enjoyed wandering the courtyards and looking at the tea shops.  It was a bit early for lunch, but there were some restaurants, and even a few overpriced hotel rooms.

 

Afternoon in Udaipur

Returning to the city, we decided to find lunch.  We ended up finding a really awesome restaurant, Mayur Cafe, with an amazing view and decent food.  This was my first time trying a Thali, which is a traditional Indian sampler of various dishes.  This one came with a slightly sour curry, a curry that is somewhat more standard in America, and a spicy lentil soup.  There was also a bread that tasted like it may have been corn based, a small bowl of rice, and a crumbly sweet dessert.  Way too much food, but really good.

We then decided to visit the Jain Jagdish Temple, and is where our afternoon got a bit more stressful.  A guy stopped by to talk and offer us a tour.  He insisted that he was the son of the priest and that he would not charge us money for the tour.  Refusing him did not make him go away, he followed us the whole time, and would not quit talking.  We are people that really like to see the sites on our own, so it was quite frustrating that we couldn’t get rid of him.  The kids were particularly sick of people pestering us, so we did a cursory look, and started to leave.

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Then we had a bit of a scare – a dog with a foaming mouth came by and started sniffing at Jeremy’s pants.  Given that rabies is still an problem in India (though probably less so near the center of a city on the tourist trail), we freaked out a bit, but luckily were able to stay calm and leave without getting bitten or being touched by the dog. Hopefully the dog had just overheated and was foaming a bit from that, but given that rabies is 100% fatal after you start showing symptoms, we were understandably stressed. As a precaution, we went straight back to the hotel, removed the pants, turned them inside out, and stuffed them in a plastic bag until they could be washed.

Our driver had offered to take us to see more sights around the city, but we were mentally exhausted and done.  We called him to tell him that we wanted a day to ourselves (he didn’t object!), and decided to rest a bit.

After a bit, we decided to venture out again for a short walk.  This time, we headed towards the clock tower, then went to the bazaar.  It was interesting, but there was way too much traffic, and the items were geared a bit more to local tourists, which meant that things were fairly inexpensive, but also not the best quality.  We headed to the lake, then decided that we were in severe culture shock and decided to retreat to the oasis of our amazing hotel room.  We briefly tried the roof deck of the hotel, but discovered that our room had a better view.  Beautiful!

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This was an amazingly beautiful city, and even though at two nights it was one of our longer stays, it was also one that I would have loved to spend more time in.  We decided to follow the basic itinerary that our tour company suggested, and while the suggestions were very good, we did not take into account that we would be extremely weary from culture shock.  If you have the time, consider adding an extra day in every week to simply relax in a nice hotel, enjoy masala tea, let the kids play games on their tablets or read, and do little else.  This works particularly well if you have a private driver that is helping you book each hotel as you arrive in a city.  When you find a city and a hotel that you like, simply tell your driver that this is the place that you want to add your extra day.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

We were enjoying our retreat at our hotel, and didn’t feel like venturing out, so we decided to eat at the hotel.

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Most of the hotels we stayed at on this trip had breakfast included, but not this one.  Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed my stuffed paratha that I purchased at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant.

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After finishing, we took a tuk-tuk to meet our driver at the city gate.  The streets are way too narrow to easily accommodate cars, so this seemed to be the best option.  At this point, we began our long drive to the Hindu pilgrimage town of Pushkar.

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