Travelling Through 5 States in India in less than a week. Phew.
We left our beloved Hampi and ventured North (eek!) exactly one week ago today. En route, we hit up Goa, and Mumbai before arriving in Udaipur today (via Ahmehabad). We are officially in our traveller swing, and hopping from place to place every other day or so, which is great, but it's really really tiring too. The states we have been to in the past week are.......
Karnataka Goa Maharashtra Gujarat Rajasthan
Mustn't grumble though, as we generally don't do much more than 3 sights plus a fair few pit stops for food each day. It's also fair to say, that whilst we loved South India, we both feel a lot more at home and enamoured with the North (so far, so good). So, in summary.....
Day 45: Hampi to Goa
We caught the train at an ungodly hour (we saw the sunrise from our rickshaw), and hopped onto our sleeper class train for the 8 hr ride to Margao, Goa. Sleeper class is super cheap, and you get a choice of 3 bunks plus a seat; although the seats are also the lower bunk so if the owner of that bunk wants to sleep, you need to bugger off to your bunk. Also, if you are a bit special, like us - you won't realise that your ticket includes a seat as well as your bunk, and you will endure 8 hours (during the scorching sun of the daytime heat) crouched on your bunk, hitting your head whenever you move. Its also a crazy hive of activity, from snack and chai wallahs to beggars, the most bonkers of which were of the ladyboy variety and who clapped loudly and hit all the men till they handed over some cash......so so so weird. More on Indian railways later........
We got to Margao, suitably grumpy and got on the local bus to Palolem - about 1 hr south of Margao (central Goa). There's not much more to say about Goa, as we essentially got a beach hut, drank cocktails and sun worshipped for the next 3 days. It was bliss, and I'd definitely recommend Goa to anyone. I think we'd like to try a different beach next time though, as whilst ours was quiet, it was pretty touristy (think middle aged Brit). We had a great time though, and the seafood was epic (and really affordable too). Shed loads of puppies and kittens made our trip extra special!
We were a bit scarred from our horrific sleeper train experience, so we opted for 3 AC for our train to Mumbai. More expensive, but we figured it was worth it as the train takes 13 hours. It was amazing......I was on the side upper bunk, and Oli had a middle bunk in the carriage next to me. Armed with our new knowledge that we had both a seat AND our assigned bunk, we were beyond prepared. It was dreamy. I had a curtain, plus my ear plugs and eye mask so slept better than I've slept for ages. In Oli's carriage, the family were sooooo lovely and gave him their upper bunk so he could head off to bed whenever he wanted (if you have a middle, or lower bunk -- you have to wait for everyone else to bugger off before you can settle down).
Day 47: Goa to Mumbai
Because of our dream journey, we headed straight out after checking in and did a little walking tour of Colaba and Churgate in Mumbai. These areas are full of British Raj sights, as well as a load of Shantaram ones too (thanks for that little book tip J-Sco). If you haven't read the amaaaaaaazing Shantaram, do it now. It will make you book a ticket to India though, be warned.
We completely fell in love with Mumbai, and could see ourselves living there for sure. It's a gorgeous city, and the people are super nice. Weirdly, everyone speaks a mixture of English and Hindi/Maharashtrian so you pick up conversations all ver the place.
Oli's gonna write a proper post soon, as Mumbai deserves some serious airtime....but here's a little teaser of what we saw.
Day 50: Mumbai to Ahmedabad to Udaipur
We didn't want to leave Mumbai so soon, but we only have a month left and we need to travel around 2260 miles to Darjeeling before the end of March so leave we must. With heavy hearts (dramatic?!) we got a standard sitting class train to Ahmedabad (8 hours of cramped sitting, ouchy) and had the best train snack ever......
Then a quick hour long stop for dinner in Ahmedabad and we were back on sleeper class for an 11 hour stint to Udaipur. The train was dead, and we basically had our section to ourselves. We managed to sleep, despite the fact neither of us remembered we were travelling to desert country (cooooold at nighttime). Nevertheless, we had a good sleep and made it to Udaipur today.
We'll write a proper post on Udaipur soon, but so far it's gorgeous. We've already managed to bump into the King of Udaipur (at his palace, which FYI is breathtakingly beautiful) as well as the Rolls Royce Phantom used in Octopussy. Dreamy.