Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mumbai booked! And other travel plans

A toy robot
Note to self: pack robot
Yes, Mr Robot and I have booked a hotel for the Mumbai leg of our trip to India next year. And the Kolkata one, for that matter. When we book hotels, location is always our primary concern: I’d rather have somewhere less luxurious if it’s not far from the sights, because I don’t fancy walking miles or taking the bus to get where I want to be every day, but if the location I want is pricy, so be it. So we’ve ended up with one pretty cheap place in Kolkata, not far from BBD Bagh, and one rather expensive one in Mumbai, not far from the Gateway to India (though, as Mr Robot pointed out, it’s no more expensive than a hotel in London. And Vix, I know you read that last sentence in horror!). 

Kolkata is a trip mainly geared around my family history interests – my great-grandmother was from that city. Mumbai is pure pleasure; ever since I found out it’s ridiculously well-supplied with art deco buildings (only Miami has more) I’ve wanted to see them for myself. In India, where the temples are often richly adorned, there already existed a love of figurative sculpture, and so that element of deco get expressed there. (Shanghai, by contrast, is another city rich in deco, but there the Confucian approach led to a more geometrical, abstract style.) Mr Robot bought me a cookbook by Cyrus Todiwalla for Christmas and that’s only increased my keenness to go there. We plan to eat lots of kathi rolls in Kolkata and frankies in Mumbai – purely for research purposes, you understand.

We’ve still got this year’s holiday to finish sorting out too – that’s to Spain, and we’re waiting for the trains to be bookable. Unlike here in Britain, you can’t get on Spain’s long-distance fast trains if you don’t have a seat booked, so it’s best to book well in advance. We discovered that the first time we went to Toledo and tried to buy our tickets on the day of travel. We did reach Toledo, but we had to wait several hours. This year we’re visiting Zaragoza, and I’m really not sure what to expect from that. It seems more low-key than a lot of the places we’ve visited in Spain, but we like Spain, and simply being there will be good enough. We’re also spending time in Madrid, so I can drink in one of Hemingway and Laurie Lee’s favourite bars, and take a day trip out to El Escorial, which I’ve been banging on to the Mr about for years.

The Urchins are going for a stay at the Cat Hotel while we’re away, but don’t tell them that...

22 comments :

  1. Wow, Mim. That sounds absolutely brilliant. I imagine both places to be very vibrant and packed with interesting stuff to visit. That just makes it so much better having a family connection. I am going to look out for the cookbook you mentioned. Spain is such a great place, although I have only been to Catalonia my dad used to live in Vigo, close to the border with Portugal and loved it there. It is such a welcoming country. I would love to go back. I am sure that the kitties will have a ball. Xx

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    1. The kitties are going to hate us. I considered getting a cat sitter, but as they hate strangers they wouldn't like having someone else in the house - and if they ran off, I don't think they'd come to anyone else who went looking for them. So to the cat hotel they go! Last time Pippin had the cat equivalent of a panic attack on the way there, she started panting with her tongue out. It was awful. Hopefully she won't be as bad this time; we've got Feliway spray for their crates. We can't spend the next 16 years or so never having holidays.

      This will be the furthest north we've been in Spain, so it'll be interesting to see how the food changes. And it's an area very good for wine. I shall make the most of that!

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  2. That sounds like fun!
    Yes, Mumbai can get expensive really fast. If you aren't used to the grit & grime of India I'd plan on checking into a 5 star hotel for at least half your trip though. It really depends where you go to. We haven't found any 5 star hotels we like in Delhi so we have a few fave lesser known hotels we stay at. And traveling in traffic for hours in Indian traffic in a taxi or autorickshaw is no fun so do stay close to what you want to see. I would not advise going by bus anywhere in India (stuff of nightmares). The train or plane for long hauls. Private taxi for shorter. It's not that hard to find a taxi driver you can hire for a flat fee all day too.

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    1. We coped okay in Burma - I'm hoping that was a reasonable introduction to Asia.

      This is our hotel in Mumbai: http://abodeboutiquehotels.com/ We realise we've never been to the subcontinent and thought the unfamiliarity might get a bit much, which is why we treated ourselves to some luxury at the end. It's near lots of sights, including many of the art deco buildings I want to see.

      I chose the Kolkata location precisely for its location - there are bigger, fancier hotels all along Park Street, but I loathe big hotels. I'd rather have a two-star fleapit, frankly. And the guesthouse we're staying in (not a two-star fleapit!) is between BBD Bagh, the square with the old post office etc on (my g-g-grandfather worked there) and Bow Bazar and Entally, where my family lived. I'm hoping to book Heritage walk Kolkata for a couple of days for bespoke walks, as they'll be able to work out the best way to see the places I'm interested in, and as proper historians may well be able to tell me loads I don't know, as well as helping us find our feet in the city.

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  3. How exciting, Mim. I bet you can't wait! It must be really special to visit Kolkata with the family connection in mind. Visiting Mumbai and its art deco buildings too! I always love reading about other bloggers' trips to India. We have quite a lot of Indian business contacts, and it's great to see the exotic places I otherwise only see mentioned on their correspondence. But first, Spain of course. Poor urchins, though. I always feel sorry for Phoebe, although she gets to stay at home and is looked after by her very own personnel! xxx

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    1. I need to sit down with all my research material and work out everywhere I want to visit. I have a suspicion that two churches are actually one church, and the parish boundary moved, but I might be wrong.

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  4. I'm so glad you have got your trip planned! Take lots of photos of those amazing buildings please!!
    If you need it I can send you the link we use at work for applying for an Indian visa, it's super quick and easy compared to the standard way but not well advertised.

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    1. The Visa info would be brilliant! We haven't started looking into that yet - probably should before we book anything else.

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  5. Wow, that all sounds very exciting! I can't wait to read all about it, just make sure you take looooaaaaaddddssss of photos of those Art Deco buildings. I'll be interested to see how they compare to European and American styles. xx

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    1. I'll make sure the husbeast gets LOTS of photos. Might see if In Retrospect wants a little dispatches or something on it.

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  6. I'm so excited for you, I can't wait to read about your trip to our favourite city in the world through your eyes.
    The place we stayed out last year was a stone's throw from that lovely place you're staying in. Colaba and Marine Drive are the places to be, so close to all the amazing sights.
    Spain first, though! Poor urchins. Ours have a lovely cat sitter who visits them and keeps a diary of their actions but I've friends who put theirs in a luxury cat hotel and she's spoilt rotten. xxx

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    1. Everyone keeps acting like we've booked the holiday of equivalent of a bikini wax - something we'll be glad of afterwards but have a hard time doing, especially when it comes to Kolkata. It's so nice so hear someone being positive about Indian cities. Yes, it will be different, but that's why we're travelling - otherwise we might as well go to some godawful identikit all-inclusive resort anywhere on the planet. I'm so excited about the food and architecture, and so much else.

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  7. PS If you're going for 28 days or less you can get an on-line visa, no agents or visits needed! x

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  8. I'm picturing the Urchins reclining on plush toys, lapping at cream and having their bellies rubbed as they think, "Poor humans don't get to enjoy any of this!"

    Your trips both sound exciting, and I'd take Mumbai over Miami any day. I haven't been to Mumbai of course, but I've spent enough time in Miami over the years to know I'd rather not go back-Deco architecture or not.

    I'm so excited you'd think I was headed there myself. I'm looking forward to your photos and travel stories.

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    1. Last time Pippin hid from the cattery owner for three days before begrudgingly appearing. We take their fabric igloo, a couple of worn T-shirts (for familiar smells) and loads of toys. And several tins of tuna for treats.

      You'll probably like the history side of the trip - Darjeeling, which was our destination for the middle part, is experiencing civil unrest, so we've decided to get a train across the country (a sleeper, as it's over 24 hours) and stop off at Aurangabad instead, and visit the Ellora and Ajanta caves.

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  9. Travel plans ahoy!! How wonderful to have such a trip to look forward to x

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    1. I'm slightly nervous but really excited - that's the best way to be with big holiday, I think.

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  10. Both holidays sound exciting, good to have these things to look forward to. I think a trip to India would be fascinating and with your family connections it will be extra interesting.

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    1. I also plan to hoover up ALL the fabric. If we do go to Aurangabad, they make a special cloth called 'himroo' there.

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  11. How wonderful for you! I bet it can't come soon enough. Your family connections will make it even more special. I would like to go to Denmark, where I have family connections, but I fear I would never be able to go to the exact place, as I can't even find it on a map! I don't know if it just doesn't exist anymore, or if a census translator got it wrong.

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  12. I am super-excited for you.
    Going to Kolkata is such a task! It's so far away in many ways.. well, at least it is to us. The length of the journey to be taken is mesmerizing. The culture is nothing like we have over here (but, that said, I know you are well familiar with it). Still, to be able to be THERE.. hard to imagine, eh?
    Spain, on the other hand.. I can imagine that. ;)
    Actually, over here it's a supreme heat wave, and ANY place that has a sea-view is something I long for (as I warm-up the seat in my office, typing away my time...)
    So happy for you Mim.
    (unchkins are going to be so frustrated - just so you know, there will be serious furniture ruining going on while you guise are away, no matter who comes to cat-sit)

    Marija

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