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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Udaipur

The trip from Goa to Udaipur was another nightmare. All the trains were fully booked, so we had to try the buses again. We decided to try sleeper class from Goa to Mumbai. A huge mistake... Two people per tier, we were given a tier at the back of the bus, which on the one hand gave us more space, but on the other hand made us roll around and jump with every curve or road-bump the bus came across (and they're many, trust me...). After 12h where we experienced extreme heat, extreme cold, cigarette smoke, etc we arrived in Mumbai... First and only thing to do was buying a ticket to Udaipur. After 21h in a semi-sleeper bus, we finally arrived in Udaipur, completely exhausted and just walked towards the city centre searching for the hotel we had booked the day before.

Udaipur and a new member in the group


We stayed at The Lake View GuestHouse very close to the impressive Jagdish temple. The first thing to do was to climb all the way up to the roof top restaurant, which offered us an amazing view over the lake, the temple, the city palace and have something to eat.
In the afternoon and after a power nap a short journey exploring the city we met Joao. He had arrived the previous day in India and is going to work here for a couple of months, but before that, he decided to travel with us and have some company exploring this country.

The first group sightseeing experience was watching the sunset from the Monsoon Palace. A long journey in a rickshaw awaited us. The machine was too old, we were three plus the driver and... it felt like it was faster to climb on foot than on the rickshaw... Half-way the rickshaw had to stop in order to rest the engine. There was a lot of smoke coming out of it already. The driver tried to make it seem like all the rickshaws had to stop there but it really felt like his vehicle would explode if it didn't stop. When we finally arrived on top (some minutes after all the other vehicles that passed us on the way up) we could at last enjoy the beautiful view over the lake and the city. This vision just left me more eager to explore the city. As for the sun set, well, there was a cloud that almost ruined it, but in the end it cleared a little bit and we enjoyed another beautiful sunset...

Back to town, we booked the train tickets to Ajmer for the next day and had a surprise waiting for us from our rickshaw driver. To compensate for the lack of a radio he offered to sing. I'm not going to discuss his singing qualities, but it was a quite enjoyable journey we had before we paid him and left for dinner.

007 - Octopussy

The hotel roof top restaurant offered us a beautiful view over the city and the lake palaces. In addition, we had to watch the 007 - Octupussy, that was recorded in one of the lake Palace-hotels. We later realised that almost (if not all) all bars and restaurants show the movie between 7-9 pm 7 days per week!

City Palace and lake Pichola
The beautiful and huge complex of the city Palace was our first destination the next day. We spent the whole morning going around the palace and visiting the museum (which is not that special, but from where one gets great views over the lake and its palaces). After that we took the boat cruise around the lake until it dropped us at the Jagmandir island, where we wandered around the gardens and just relaxed before the boat took us back to the city.
There was not much left to see after that. We got lost in the narrow streets of the old city, shared the streets with cows, pigs, dogs and goats when we were trying to find some gardens that we never found until we finally decided to relax in a terrace before having dinner and getting our bags from the hotel and catch the night train to Ajmer.

The restaurant we had planned to have dinner on was closed so it was by chance that we ended up in Maxim rooftop restaurant. Besides the food, which was great (one of the best restaurants we went to in India for sure) we had a pretty good time with Elia, a basc girl who was travelling around India on her own.

Udaipur is quite an enjoyable city. I really enjoyed my stay there. It was a pity it was so short because there were some other things around the city that would have been worthwhile exploring.

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