We've been in India for a week now and it still seems as chaotic as when we first landed. We were jammy enough to get our flight upgraded twice so we were flying business class with our club world bed seats, complimentary champagne, wine, smoothies, unlimited use of the club world kitchen, and 3 course meal etc. Not a bad way to start and at least we weren't too sleepy when we arrived in Mumbai.
Mumbai was a great way to start in India. It was much hotter than we thought it would be in Winter - close to 30 degrees. We had a nice but basic hotel 2 minutes from the Taj Mahal palace, where the terrorists attacked, it is a very nice building but now surrounded by armed police and still not fully open. Unfortunately it was still popular enough not to be offering rooms out cheaply! We had a few days wondering around and exploring the city. Can't believe how good the food is here - and so cheap too. Mumbai started to get a bit tiring as its such a big city and wherever you walked you were constantly being hassled by street sellers and followed by beggars (but spose this is just part of Indian life, especially in tourist areas). Highlights of Mumbai were: walking along Chowpatty beach at sunset, banganga(?!) tank a pedestrian area with temples and very few tourists, very serene!, elephanta island which we got a boat out too and then walked around caves with carved pillars and statues. And of course the food.
From Mumbai we got a night train to Ahmedabad. There weren't any seats available in any of the air conditioned coaches so we had sleeper class tickets which was good because you get to travel with just locals and the Indian train service is a very interesting experience. Ahmedabad wasn't the nicest of places! We had to book into a really cheap hotel in order to leave our bags somewhere for the day. It was pretty horrible, Alice would have cried if we had to stay there overnight! One good part of Ahmedabad was Ghandi's ashram, a really interesting place, Ed's got a new hero! As one of the men sitting outside told us: there's nothing to see in Ahmedabad!
We got a night train out of Ahmedabad to Udaipur. A guy on the train told us it was Asia's third most beautiful city. Don't know if that is true but if it is we can understand why. There's a lake with a couple of islands with palaces (1 of which has been turned into a luxury hotel where part of Octopussy was filmed - Udaipur's claim to fame!) in it, and lots of palaces and temples throughout the city. It is a lot more relaxing than Mumbai or Ahmedabad but it is very touristy, but only really in the central area. We went for a walk to look for a local place to eat away from all the tourists. It took some finding through the narrow streets with street names all in Hindi and narrowly avoiding being hit by tuk tuks and mopeds, but the food was really good. We had thali which is an Indian all you can eat meal, for 70 pence!
We head to Jodhpur by night bus tomorrow (sadly no trains do this route!).