Whilst we have been in India, we got news that our house sale had gone through, and we had spent a lot less than we had budgeted for this leg. As a little celebration, I managed to talk Giles into booking the famous Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai for our last night in India. It is somewhere I have wanted to visit (even for a cup of tea) since we decided to visit the city as our final stop in India.
From the moment we entered, we were struck by the history and sheer opulence of the place. Within minutes we were whisked away for “in-room check-in” passing corridors of original and historic art and furniture. In our room, we were given a tour and introduced to everything we needed to know.
In the evening, we were given access to the very posh Palace Lounge for bubbles and canapés (good job we bought a couple of smart shirts for the occasion!). The service was genuinely amazing, and it is clear why it is rated as one of the best hotels in the world. Even when I ended up dropping a plate of canapés all over the floor (cue red face of embarrassment), the waiter quickly ushered me away from the scene with a smile as if it happens all the time.
Mumbai is very different to any other place we had visited in India. In the car from the airport, you see streets of Miami-like Art Deco buildings, but then turn into another street and you get the street markets and buzz of activity that is uniquely Indian. Walk a bit further and suddenly you’re surrounded by huge Victorian style buildings dating from colonial times. Go into a coffee shop and be welcomed by the Irish greeting of Céad Mile Failte written on the door and walls, and then be given a menu of Indian-Mexican fusion food.
Like most of India, there are many people trying to sell you items from market stalls and shops in Mumbai. However, we were targeted by one particularly persistent young guy who followed us for at least one kilometre down a street in Mumbai asking for us to visit his shop as he could give us a good price. It was just unfortunate that we didn’t need a printer or photocopier at the moment otherwise we would have happily visited.
It is fair to say that a couple of days in Mumbai is not enough to even see a little of the city. Of all the places we visited in India, Mumbai is one place I would love to return, although next time it probably won’t be the Taj (maybe just for a cup of tea).
So after six fantastic weeks, it was time to say goodbye to India and fly to the next leg on our year of travels. It has been amazing seeing the parts of India we had to opportunity to visit – a bit challenging at times, but we leave with some great memories. We’re just hoping that we don’t encounter any angry cows in Vietnam.
Vietnam Day 1 – I was just attacked by a chicken…