Fame in the land of Octop**** /strong>
What a beautiful city, a mirrored lake and a floating pristine white palace; truly the most romantic city in India. For a change we arrived at a decent time as we took our daytime sleeper bus.* Our hostel had a fantastic view over the lake and beautifully decorated interior to match. We found Queens cafe for lunch and soon got swept into the charismatic aura of Meenu. The restaurant looked a bit dingy but I had read great things about the food. We weren't seated for long when we were asked, by Meenu so join her and some friends upstairs to eat on the terrace. When we got there we saw a couple shelling chick peas and this was Meenu's ploy, get us up here and we can help too! All of Meenu's tricks were revealed by Dan and Shereen, a lovely actor couple from London/Ireland! For the best part of the afternoon we spent on Meenu's terrace chatting and shelling with a short break for delicious curry.
As the sun was beginning to set Dan and Shereen had somehow arranged for Meenu's husband to take them to monsoon palace for sunset. They had arranged a price and at the last minute Meenu suggested we joined them to reduce the cost. We thought, great we'll do that and we crammed into his car along with Meenu's two gorgeous and very excited children.
The views were incredible and we got along great with Dan and Shereen, so much so Shereen and I decided to join Meenu for her cooking class tomorrow. The children made the trip as the girl was so excited and pointed out everything of interest for us, she particularly enjoyed the greenery! We all went back to Meenu's for tea and that was when I got really hooked, lemon and honey lassi-it was so good, with a combination of Meenu's charm and the tasty lassi's we knew we would be coming here at least a few more times! We all started laughing when from nowhere Meenu manage to wangle a few more rupees from us all and we weren't entirely sure what we had paid for!
The cooking class was fun with six of us in total: Taylor and Daniel a pair who had helped with shelling yesterday and two sisters, also from Oz, Haylee and Kez. The class was good fun but not as hands on as the one in Palolem. The best thing we learnt, in my opinion, was lots of simple ways to make a curry taste completely different with a few minor adjustments. We had a few distractions during the class, the children arriving home from school-so cute and then Dan coming to collect Shereen so they could catch their train.
The rest of us decided to meet for drinks in the evening to celebrate our amazing culinary skills! Taylor and Daniel were a no show but we had a great night getting to know Haylee and Kez who are funny and friendly-a good combination! Kez introduced me to the restaurants Nutella pancakes, which were more like crepes with the perfect Nutella to crepe ratio! They are amazing; I haven't had crepes since France, which is probably good for the waist line but I dragged James back for another two more over the next few days!
For the rest of our time in Udaipur we did a lot of wandering, relaxing, reading (got a lot of recommended books from the girls to get through) and visited the highlights of Udaipur. The city palace entrance ways were the most impressive part of the buildings. Through the other side of the main entrance are two posh hotels. One of them was used in the film; 'Octop**** , we walked in as if we were meant to be there and took a few photos of the swimming pool area. We took a boat ride around the floating palace (also in Octop**** and then to the Jagminder Island, which is pretty boring but quite beautiful. As you have guessed we watched Octop**** at our hotel, they do show it every night! We met up with two girls we had met in Jodhpur, quite by accident but we arranged to meet for lunch the following day. We went back to see Meenu and again somehow ended up buying some Mango sweets! I got some amazing henna done just before we got to the station for our train to Ajmer.
At the station we had a ½ hour wait so we parked ourselves on our bags and waited. I had briefly noticed a group of about 40 Indians in front of us and a few of the teenage girls couldn't take their eyes off of us. It took them all of about 2 minutes to pluck up the courage and ask us for 'one photo'. As we had nothing better to do we found it hilarious when it turned from 'one photo' to the whole group of 40 wanting a 'single' each. When one of the boys posed with his arms folded and sunglasses on I decided to imitate him it went down a storm. They all laughed so hard, Indians are the greatest audience, but then all wanted another photo with me posing in sunglasses! It was so much fun but so surreal, being famous must be strange indeed!
*To catch the sleeper bus was no easy feat. We got an auto at 6am to drop us at the bus company office. Imran had kindly written the name of the company and the road in English and Hindi and the auto found it with no problem. As soon as the auto pulled up so did a bus. Everyone was shouting at us to get onto the bus and James asked 'Udaipur?' They exclaimed 'yes, yes get on.' So we got on and were shown to our seats. I started to get suspicious when we were shown seats instead of the 'bed' we had chosen. Then I looked at my watch, we had left ½ hour early, something was wrong. James went and asked again, armed with our ticket 'Udaipur, Udaipur?' The reply was 'yes, yes' so he sat down. Still feeling uneasy and sensing something wasn't right I went and asked. The same response was given to me and I was told to sit down. After a 10 minute journey we came to a stop and this time we persisted as I knew there was no way we would leave early. We got a different response: us; 'Udaipur?' Bus ******ers; 'Jaisalmer?' WHAT?! NOOOO! We grabbed our stuff, said a few choice words and got down from the bus. What did they think was going to happen, we would just prefer to go to Jaisalmer? We ran over to another bus and asked them, 'Udaipur?' they kept repeating Jaisalmer, urgh… we don't want to go there! We realised the only option was to go back to where we were so we got another auto and we should have got suspicious again when he tried to charge us 100 for a short journey. It turned out he had no idea where he was going and after a 15 minute drive around town asking a lot of people where to go and then saying to James 'hotel?' We had had enough and got out without paying him! Luckily another auto driver knew where to go and we got there with ½ hour to spare as surprise, surprise the bus was late!
The sleeper was a good shout by James and the journey wasn't too bad. I enjoyed lying down and watching the little villages rush pass us.