January 27- 28, 2020
After another great breakfast put on by Gordon House, where they sung Happy Birthday to Marian, we met our Tour Guide with a bus for a city tour. She discussed the history of “Bombay” which were many facts that at this time are lost to me, I’m writing this on Thursday January 30th as up to now we have had little down time, but that is my fault I guess. I want to see it all!
We drove down Marine Drive, made a stop at India’s Big Ben, Crawford Market, where we wandered through the sweet scented fruit market. She pointed out the 2 billion dollar home building of Mumbai’s richest resident.
We saw the Dhobi Ghat the largest open laundry in the world. The last time I saw it in 2002, there were multiple vats for washing, this time these vats were covered with hanging laundry. As with any large city these days, land is at a premium so to dry laundry, they have to go up. Many of us have read a book at Nancys suggestion, “The Widows of Malabar Hill” so as we ascended Malabar Hill, several landmarks were familiar. The police station, fire department along with several shops that were mentioned in the book were seen. Quite the affluent and grand neighbourhood. We made a stop at the Hanging Gardens where we took a walk and learned about how the residents of this area take their elderly out to this place at the break of dawn and allow them to experience nature in the cool of the morning, then the park opens at 8:30 for the public. Hanging Gardens is actually the top of a water reservoir for the city of Mumbai. There is an area that was off limits as there has been a ‘crack’ found in the structure. Our Tour Guide ____ was great and we really enjoyed the tour.
The rest of the day was at leisure so I walked around the neighborhood of Gordon House alone and went to the India Gate to see it up close. The structure itself is no longer accessible, we used to be able to walk under it, at least that is what I remember from my last visit. Now it is chained off and we can only view around it. Amazing architecture! The tourists were fewer in the huge courtyard than they were the day before, but the hawkers were there trying to make a sale. I watched the ferry boats load and go, wishing I could have had more time to visit Elephanta Island, an ancient Hindu place which has several carvings of the Hindu Gods hewn out of solid rock. Since it takes at least 4 hours to visit, 5 is better, we just didn’t have enough free time. Next time.
This, our last evening in Mumbai, dinner was at the hotel, a stir fry restaurant. You take a bowl and layer noodles or rice, then veggies then finally a meat. You took it to the chef and chose a sauce and it was cooked for you. Delicious! Later, myself, Barbara and Bev took a cab back to the Taj Hotel to have drinks at the top of the hotel while the others walked. We were going to be careful and not submit to a rolled over ankle on the uneven pavement. For the 1$ cab fee, it was well worth it! Again the jasmine incense greeted us, we found the restaurant and the staff there were very welcoming in that we were just there for an after dinner drink. I told the host we have a birthday celebration and he became excited and said he would bring a cake! The view was fantastic, the lights of the city way below us, we were 19 floors up. We received our drinks and then were brought the most tasty chocolate cake! It had flavours of cinnamon, brown sugar with mousse in between layers. Perfect!
Back to Gordon House for our last evening there.
Tuesday the 28th we packed and met our tour rep for the 1 plus hr ride to the airport to catch an Air India flight to Cochin. We travelled the same roads that we arrived on in the dark and today were able to see what we missed. A big long bridge is in the process of being built that allows access to the Center of Mumbai and they are continuing building it even further to the south. Along the way we passed the slums where you see the satellite dishes above the tin roofs, then construction for new neighbourhoods. We approached Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport where Air India has a domestic terminal. Inside, the honeycombed roof and unique design created a serenity, very quiet, not like the echoes and loudspeakers of most airports. They have created this and other public terminals would do well to use this type of design in my opinion. Travel is very hectic and when there is an opportunity for more peace, I’m all for it.
We were surprised to receive a meal on the plane as it was only a 2 hour trip to Cochin. The sun was setting at 30,000 some thousand feet and we got great pictures of the reds, oranges and blues as the earth spun itself into another day.
We were met by Bridget who was to be our tour guide for the remainder of the trip, a middle aged woman with 2 teenaged children, a lovely wam smile and a heart of gold. At times a little smothering, but the opposite would be worse. We met our driver and his helper and boarded a modern, clean, air conditioned 16 seat bus for our group of 8 plus Bridget. We could spread out. About 1 1/2 half hrs. later we arrived at Brunton Boatyard hotel where we were able to spread out in the larger rooms, with white walls and beautifully finished dark rich looking wood trim. The beds were high and a bench was provided for the vertically challenged. The mattresses were so very plush, Sleep was going to be good! The bathrooms had a large glass showers in the corner, modern toilet and sink and the tub had to be 6 feet long! Too bad there wasn’t going to be much time to make use of it. The bar area was still open for about 45 minutes and we gathered there for drinks to relax for bed. The young bar tender Dons told me about a cocktail that they serve which was made with rum, lime slush and Indian oregano. That was on my list for the following day. The following days schedule had a tour of the area of this Cochin neighbourhood, so as I settled in for the night in the cozy mattress that enveloped my body, I quickly fell asleep.
Gateway of India built in 1911