Day 41, 42–18th,19th January–Navsari to Mumbai & Back to Brisbane

Day 41 – 18th January – Navsari to Mumbai

Early wake up today,  our car come on time and luggage was all loaded. Farewelling mum & dad was hard, especially for mum herself! Lots of hugs for Neha and Pooja. It had been so much fun with mum and dad, this was hard. Farewelled them and we were off just before 6:30am. Navsari had been amazing, such a small town but having a home away from home is nice and grows on your so quickly.

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Arrived in Mumbai around midday, and then it was the traffic, another hour and it was around 1pm we reached Juhu. Nita and Pooja decided to get out at Tea Villa cafe, whilst I checked in at Novotel, no point all going there. They could grab a bite to eat and rest a bit – was not sure if Novotel rooms would be available or not – knowing my luck.
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Checkin process was very lengthy at Novotel, it was another 30 minutes before we got the room keys, and it was not because the room was not available, they were simply SLOOOOOOOW – it was pathetic. But there is always a bright side to any problems, whilst waiting in the lounge area, Neha spotted Sunny Leone walk in. She quickly caught up to her and managed to get a selfie! Neha was totally on cloud 9 post that – she finally managed to snap a selfie with a celeb!!

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Luggage all stored in our room, now to head out and catchup with Nita and Pooja. Next stop was Colaba markets, Pooja had seen a Michael Kors (imitation) bag there and not sure why we had not purchased it then, had promised her we would do it this time. During the OLA ride there, Neha could not stop about how she met Sunny and how nice she had been to her. Pooja was a bit upset with that, and wanted to see a Celeb!! Unfortunately that was something I could not influence Sad smile.

Traffic was terrible and it was over 1.5 hours before we reached Colaba (after 3pm), located the market store selling the branded bags. Pooja got the bag she wanted, Neha also found something she liked. Bag shopping done, now for another OLA to an  othorpedic place to get special in souls for flat feet – I needed these. Same thing back home are over $300 AUD, in Mumbai, it was less than $20 AUD.

All shopping done, now back to the hotel to relax a bit before heading out to JW Marriott for dinner – that was the best chance we thought that Pooja had of spotting celebs.

In the Lotus Cafe Buffet, Pooja was hoping for some celeb spotting!! Today was her night, was not long before they had spotted Dabboo – a famous bollywood photographer (I had no idea who he was), but the big sighting was Sonu Sood! Pooja could not believe it.

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He was very nice and obliged with a pic.  He was there with his family and we were surprised when they got seated directly next to us – the look on my girls faces was priceless!! Ofcourse I had to take a pic with him in the background Winking smile.

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They were the only 2 celebs we met that night, and Pooja & Neha were super happy. Finished with a lot of desserts.

 

Day 42 – 19th January – Back Home (flight to Brisbane)

Relaxed start to the day today, our flight was departing around 3:30pm, so no rush. Lots of time for a relaxed breakfast.
Checkout process was quick, unlike the check in process! Luggage count all good, now to wait for our OLA cabs.

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The two OLA cabs arrived on time and we were on our way to the Mumbai international airport. Had heard lots of positive things about the new Mumbai airport, and it did live up to it. The place looked good.

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However the Check in Process at the airport was very very very slooooow! I would rate it as the worst in the entire trip, the process took over an hour, simply waiting in the check in queue Steaming mad.

Finally all checked in, through immigration and time to get something to eat. Nita opted for desi – turned out to be the BEST bhel puri she had in this trip Thumbs up.

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(Bhel Puri @ Mumbai International airport)

Neha Pooja opted for Noodles, which unfortunately were not that great Sad smile.

Time to board our flight to Dubai.

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Reached Dubai on time (local time 5pm), now a 5 hour layover till the next flight.

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What else to do, than Duty free shopping! Couple of hours killed there, next to get some dinner and then it was onto our final flight – back to Brisbane.

This was a long one and since we were all quite tired, all got a good few hours of sleep.
Arrived in Brisbane safely, Bhavik was there to collect us and we were home by 8pm on the 20th of January.

It was the end of a great holiday – 6 weeks! Now back to reality Surprised smile

 

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Neha’s vlog

 

Sad these holidays were over but the next adventure is just around the corner, heading to Europe with Friends in September – counting down to that Airplane.

Signing off till the next trip!

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Day 38, 39, 40–Navsari (15th to 17th Jan)

These three days were more of relaxing with mum and dad and just going around eating good food.

Day 38 – 15th Navsari

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Dhansukh kaka was in town and girls were getting very fond of him. That morning kaka took Neha and Pooja to the Kola-G ice cream parlour to have their famous strawberry falouda – am told by the girls that it was amazing!

During that time, me and Nita went to visit her masi.

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For lunch, it was with mum and dad to the Vallabh Mitha Khamni – very good spot for light veg food. The khamni here is very well regarded and a must do when in Navsari. Finished off with an Ice Cream Cake log desert – nice!

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That afternoon Neha and Pooja went out with Parimal, he was taking them to try out a special pani puri place that served different flavours of pani ??

Day 39 – 16th January – Shopping in Surat

Mum had always complained that her shopping visits to Surat with dad were rushed and he would never give her enough time to look around. Well this time, we wanted to take mum shopping and give her as much time as she wanted.
On the way to Surat, first stop was at the Sugar cane juice stop, where they still use bullocks to rotate the sugar cane crusher! Juice was devine, Neha and Pooja loved it.

First stop in Surat was DIVA @ Lal Gate, the guys there recognised us quickly and looked after as well – more yummy sandwiches. Next we headed to Vivah and then onto Paris. At all these stores, mum had lots of time to pick and choose, having Nita there helped mum in the selection process. It was a good shopping session, totally unrushed.

Whilst there, we called Dilesh & Chetan – they were also both in Surat doing the business shopping. Organised to meet up at night @ the BBQ Nation.

Next was a bit of Gold shopping – this is the part mum loves! She had taken her old pieces and was getting that traded in for new ones. First time I had seen how they melt gold!

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Visited a couple more gold stores, including Kalamandir – Nita got a few things for herself there.

It was around 6pm by the time we finished the jewellery browsing, time to head to Barbeque Nation. This place was very nice, each table had a mini built in BBQ, you are served an unlimited supply of half cooked meat skewers, along with basting sauces. These we control and cook on the table bbq’s to our liking with the sauce we like. It is than followed by an all you can eat buffet and dessert! Dilesh and Chetan joined in soon after. It was a fun night with a lot of eating. Just for kicks we told the wait staff that it was Nita’s birthday, soon there was a cake on our table and everyone singing happy birthday!! A good fun nite.

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Day 40 – 17th January – Navsari

Last day in Navsari, a bit sad, it felt good having mum and dad with us and now it was coming to an end. There was some last minute shopping to be done – always is with ladies!

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Followed by a last stop at Raju Samosa for his famous Pani Puri – the girls had to have that. Most of the afternoon was in getting all our packing completed, am glad we shipped a lot from Ahmedabad, if not we would have been in trouble.

That night, mum had made a delicious meal at home.

Early night today, tomorrow was a early start – our aim was to be on the road by 6:30am.

 

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Neha’s vlog

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Day 37–Navsari (14th Jan)

It is the day of Makar-Sankranti, the Kite festival. My first one in India!

I could hear the loud music already playing in the background, this was not normal, going up to the roof patio, saw our neighbour had assembled BIG speakers, normally used in big entertainment venues etc and had them on full volume playing the latest dhamaka music.

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(some kites were up, lots of people on roof tops flying kites)

Kids were up soon after and we tried flying some kites from our patio, unfortunately the gods were not on our side today, there was absolutely no breeze!! The neighbours were also complaining that this was the first time we had zero breeze, getting kites up was proving near impossible.

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Next was a quick visit to Nita’s Aaji, took Neha, Pooja along. Was good meeting her. She is now more frail but still the same kind heart.

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Post the afternoon siesta, we were to go to Chetan’s place (Guru Traders), every year, Dad and mum were going to his place on this day, they had a good place and kite flying apparently was lots of fun from their roof top.

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Got to Chetan’s home, his parents, his sisters and their families were all there, was good to meet them all. Nice place they have. Up on the rooftop we went and got cracking trying to fly kites without any breeze!!

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It was a fun afternoon, although we were not able to put kites up ourselves, Neha, Pooja and Nita were able to take hold of some kites that were already high up. As dusk approached, it was time to head back in doors to escape the swarm of mosquitos and enjoy some drinks!!

We took leave from them and then headed to the Dawat Indian restaurant. Along the way, called Dhansukh kaka to join us, who was staying at the Regency. All headed there for dinner. The place is very nicely decor’d, and food was amazing but a bit on the spicy side. The lollipop chicken was super, and so was all their other dishes. Personally I would rate this higher than Sheetal!

Finished off with Kulfi – it was a great night.

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Tomorrow was a day trip to Surat, time to take Mum shopping!!

 

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Day 34, 35, 36- Navsari (11th to 13th Jan)

Day 34 – Ahmedabad to Navsari (11th Jan)

Very early start today, we had a 6.30am train to catch to Navsari, everyone was up, and down to the lobby in time. Check out was quick and both the prebooked cars were there – atleast no delays there.

Our stay at the Lemon Tree Atrium hotel had been short but very nice, the rooms here were very comfortable and also perfect for families who need interconnecting rooms, highly recommended. Good service from the reception on getting around and sights.

Arrived at the train station, organised a couple of coolie’s to take our luggage and guide us to the correct train – Ahmedabad has a BIG train station with a number of platforms, navigating that is no easy task for foreigners, this was much easier. Found the platform then a mile long walk to the AC cars, finally reached our coach, my name was on the list, great, it was the correct coach! All settled, we still had a good 40 minutes to spare, time to walk around a bit and snap away..

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The train catering persons came by taking orders for morning breakfast, ordered a cheese toasted sandwich and an omelette sandwich. Nita was too sceptical on eating train food! Train started soon after and we were on the way. Food arrived about 10 minutes in, and the sandwiches were indeed very nice!! Do not be put off with the sandwiches being wrapped in Newspaper, I reckon that adds extra flavour Winking smile.

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Neha and Pooja were enjoying the train journey or maybe I should say enjoying their devices!! Neha was busy editing her VLOGs whilst Pooja kept herself occupied with games.

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(The train toilets, look closely and the hole is going directly on to the tracks!! )

We reached Navsari just after 11:30am, got a couple of auto’s to take us to our place @ Juna Thana. The place was very dusty, Nita called the maid to come over for a quick clean up.

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(in the train ready to get off, outside our home – streets all dug up, and our balcony – all that dust!)

It was so relaxed being back at our family home, our sight seeing was done now to simply relax, Kids were excited for tomorrow, Mum and Dad were coming over!

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(Nita at the vege markets)

Day 35 – Navsari (12th Jan)

A day of sleeping in for kids, no more early morning wakeups for them!! A relaxed breakfast and then headed upstairs to clean the roof patio, it was the kite festival in a couple of days and wanted the roof area to be clean. Had told the maid but she was soo slow, decided it was easier for me to do it quicker!!

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(cleaning the roof patio)

Mum and Dad arrived just after 3pm, lots of hugs – Pooja started crying of happiness, it was soo good to finally see family members after 5 weeks of travelling.

Mum did not waste too much time, settled in then went of to the markets to buy fresh prawns for this evenings curry – Mum & Dad had only this morning arrived from Brisbane, and then a long 5 hour road trip to Navsari and she was still full of energy –wow!! Neha went along shopping with them!

That night was a good meal, and it all was the more enjoyable because we had our family all thereSmile.

Day 36 – Navsari (13th Jan)

Another relaxed day lazing around. Not much to do before lunch.
It was in the afternoon we all headed to the Bazaar, Dad took us to the famous Falooda place.

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Wow this place sure did have the best Falooda’s, girls absolutely loved it!

Next was Bhikabhai to try their samosas and patties. More yumm food…. am so glad mum and dad knew these hidden local gems, we would never have tried these.

On the way back, stopped by at a kitchen shop selling all things stainless steel, from pots, plates etc. Nita and mum were busy selecting things! More weight additions to the luggage!

From there Dad took Neha and Pooja for Kite shopping, tomorrow was the Kite festival and we needed some kites!

All back home, for dinner it was Goat curry – Neha & Pooja’s favourite!

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Day 33–Ahmedabad (10th Jan)

We had a free day today, the outfits for Mahotsav were to be picked up later in the afternoon post 6pm, going through the points of interest in Ahmedabad, decided on visiting a step well! First was the routine of getting the kids up and down to breakfast.
The breakfast spread at the Lemon Tree Hotel was not at the level of the Jaipur Fortune hotel, but not too far behind. Lots of vege options. Pooja was happy they had pancakes!

All done and out of the hotel, got an OLA cab to the step well, it was a looong drive, over 1 hour. The place was a bit secluded and was really not sure how we would get a ride back, asked the OLA cab driver to wait around for the return, turns out there is a simple process of entering in a new destination in the OLA app before the current journey is marked as finished, did that and then had him booked and waiting for us whilst we visited the step well.

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Not much from the outside, but as we walked in, the intricate carvings and structures were revealed. Lots of photo opportunities…

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Step well was good, but the girls were more enjoying the photo opportunities !!

Getting out to the streets, a group of homeless kids were begging on the streets. Pooja was touched by it, we decided to not give them money but to buy them some food & drinks. It was Coconut water and packets of chips from the local stalls there. A very small gesture but felt real good.

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This was more a awakening for Neha and Pooja, I wanted them to realise how good they had it!

Back in the OLA cab, asked him to drop us off at the largest mall in Ahmedabad – the Ahmedabad one. 30 minutes and we were there, time for lunch, Kids opted for Burger King! Me and Nita went for the Desi Fusion varieties. Food was soo soo, infact the Burger King burgers were a major let down, had to take it back as the meat was very chewy!!

Next Nita got the girls booked in a hair saloon for a wash & blowdry. A bit more roaming about and then it was time to head back to the hotel. We still had over 3 hours to kill before the pickup of the outfits from Law Garden markets, Pooja wanted to chill out in the hotel. I really was looking for a good Coffee/Tea place – was missing the Mumbai chai’s. On to Zomato searching for coffee/tea places near by, the Hyatt Regency Chai Shop looked good and was a mere 5-10 minutes away by auto. Just after 4:30, we (Nita, Neha and me, Pooja stayed in the hotel) headed to the Hyatt Chai Shop. The place looked amazing , with lots of cakes, macaroons and ofcourse a large variety of Chai’s. We ordered three varieties and some cakes. The cakes were delicious, cooks are soo good at baking here! Whilst the cakes were super, the same could not be said about the Chai’s, they were ok at the best Sad smile. Still it was a good place to relax and have a nice break.
As we were leaving the place, we noticed a Chinese restaurant on the upper level, nothing was planned for the evening, why not have a look here. Took the lift up and were amazed at the place, open kitchen, great vibe, and the menu was very tempting. Asked the manager for a reservation for the evening, got lucky, evening dinner sorted! Now to head to the Law Garden markets.

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(transport of choice, auto rickshaw!)

Arrived at the Law Garden markets and for a few minutes we were a bit lost – which stall vendor had we ordered the outfits from ?????? Finally located the stall, the outfits were there, quick count of it and a random check – all good, payment made in full. Next was the Jewellery stop, picked up that and time to head back to the hotel. It is was an effort to load all these big bags in an auto with the three of us, somehow we managed. Getting to the hotel, called the agent who was going to ship these items to Australia, told us he was on his way. (Had called him earlier today and asked him about this, he was happy to help when we mentioned Asov Palov recommended him). The shipping agent arrived soon after at the hotel along with his staff, a couple of folded cartons and a scale! They packed the outfits & Jewellery, sealed the boxes and weighed them both. All sorted and paid, and asked him to defer the shipping by a week to allow us time to get back to Oz.
Parcels done, now to freshen up and head to the Hyatt Regency China House Restaurant.

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Ordered a variety of Dim Sums, Prawns, Kung Pao, Fried Rice and Noodles. For drinks I was looking for the beer section – took me a while to realise why it was not there!! This is Gujarat the DRY STATE!! Arrgghh here I was wanting to start drinking after a 10 day ban and still no luck Sad smile. Had to settle for a Mocktail, which was super – Neha and Nita also then ordered the same!
Food here was the best we have ever had for the Chinese cuisine – simply mouth watering and soooo fresh!!!

Highly recommend the China House Restuarant @ Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad!

It was a good finish to our stay in Ahmedabad, tomorrow morning we were off to our home town of Navsari via the morning train @ 6.30am, yikes a very early start !!

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Day 32–Jaipur/Ahmedabad (9th Jan)

Flight to Ahmedabad was at 12:55pm, lots of time for a relaxed breakfast and then pack-up. Just after 10am, we checked out of the Jaipur Fortune Metropolitan Hotel, it had been a great stay and we were very well looked after, if I was to come back to Jaipur again, would not have any hesitation in staying here again!

Arrived at the Jaipur airport, check in process was easy and painless, in the waiting area, Neha and Nita were busy at the small bookshop getting books by Indian authors, me and Pooja found some seats to chill and wait. Ordered a couple of Pizza’s whilst waiting, unfortunately it did take them a while to make and it was already a call for boarding! Got the Pizza’s in takeaway boxes, off they went with us on the plane! Eating the Pizza’s on the plane was interesting, the smell was yum and we had a lot of jealous passengers Winking smile.

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Flight took off on time, and we were in Ahmedabad just after 2pm. First impressions of the airport – nice, clean and big. Massive poster of Big B promoting Ahmedabad in the airport arrivals area!! Bring on the Kite festival!

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Out of the arrivals hall, our hotel transfer was there and guided us to the car park. To our surprise, he had brought over a small sedan!! Not sure what they were thinking, we were after all a family of 4 and I had requested an Innova!! More waiting whilst he called the Hotel to sort it out, an additional taxi was organised there, Nita and Neha were in the one car, whilst me and Pooja were in the other. Not one airport transfer in this trip had gone smoothly!

Arrived at our hotel, The Lemon Tree Atrium, unfortunately our room was not ready yet, time to wait in the lounge! Whilst waiting I organised the nights outing at the Rajwadu – a traditional Gujarati themed place which came highly recommended to me and was echoed by the hotel staff. Our first room was given to us soon after and promised the second would be ready in another hour or so, this time atleast we had got interconnecting rooms Smile.

Settled the girls in the room and ordered them some snacks, then me and Nita were off to Law Garden markets. Was told it is the place to pickup cheap Indian outfits and imitation jewellery. Nita was here for one reason, to get the Brisbane Mahotsav outfits for their dance item.

Got an auto rickshaw to the Law Garden markets, the place is amazing, a very long single street of endless stalls selling every type of traditional Gujarati outfits, imitation jewelleries, decor items, purses etc.

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It was quite overwhelming initially and it took us a while to get our bearings on what we wanted. Then was the bargaining part, everything here had to be bargained and haggled. The process was interesting, Nita was in constant communications with Naina masi and Saarika back in Oz via whatsapp for this market visit, and we were sending a constant stream of images of the options available. They were giving it a thumbs or down for each. Lots of back and forth.

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Jewellery & outfits selected and deposits paid – pickup was tomorrow. Now time to head back to the hotel. Whilst in the auto rickshaw, could not believe our eyes when we saw an Elephant sharing the main roads with cars and autos!! Would not have guessed this would take place in Ahmedabad – the Capital of Gujarat.

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Along the way, a stop over, Nita noticed Asov Palav, we had time so why not. Nita got a couple of nice casual outfits there and whilst paying for it, I queried if they knew of someone who could ship items to Australia – Nita had purchased 10 outfits from the markets for the Mahotsav and they needed to be shipped from Ahmedabad – we simply did not have enough space in our luggage. The guys gave me a contact that Asov Palav themselves used, and also mentioned he would collect the items from the Hotel, which was very good for us. Took his contacts and then it was off to the hotel.

Kids had been chilling out and had also ordered room service – no one was starving here! It was time to freshen up and head out to Rajwadu.

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Arriving at Rajwadu, the place was unlike anything we had seen before, not your traditional restaurant. This was an entire village.

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We were asked to seat in a waiting area, next to bon fires, the place was surreal, so peaceful right in the heart of Ahmedabad! After around 10 minutes, we were guided to our dinning area which was not your typical table and chairs. The place required sitting on the floor and a low table made of stone (and I mean stone not your typical western caesarstone, this was real stone!).
We were given large plates & bowls made of brass, all empty, and then soup was first served. I asked them if I could get something non-spicy due to my mouth, lucky for me, they had made non-spicy varieties tonight for another party and had enough for me as well!!

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Following the soup, a few servers came by with LOADS of food and started putting a LOT of variety on the large brass plate – this plate was approx 50 cm wide! It was amazing as food kept coming and you did not have to move and there is no menu, it is simply all you can eat. Essentially each staff member would bring over a food variety and he would serve you that variety, following by the next guy with another variety and so on.

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It was an amazing vegetarian spread, food was delicious and their sweets were wow! Even washing of the hands was done there – sitting.

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An amazing Gujarati feast, now to watch the evening show, all part of the package! It was a traditional dance show similar to what we saw in Udaipur. Girls were having a good time! Walked around the place a bit, lots to see…

 

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It had been a great night, a wonderful experience topped with amazing food! Rajwadu is highly recommended!!

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Day 31– Jaipur (8th Jan)

A crisp cold morning in Jaipur! Today was a visit to the Amer Fort and ride the Elephants to the fort.
First to get the girls up, down to breakfast and on the way to Amer fort. The Elephant ride only occurs during the early morning hours till about 10:30am, post that it is too hot for the Elephants to go up.

Along the way we passed Jal Mahal, in Man Sagar Lake. What a sight, the Mahal surrounded by the morning mist! Quick stopover for a pic of the Mahal.

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(Jal Mahal)

Back in the car, another 15 minutes or so, and we got our first view of the magnificent Amer Fort!!

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(Amer Fort)

The driver dropped us off near the Elephant area and told us he would meet us on the top at the fort. Into the Elephant ride queue, each Elephant could carry 2 persons, costing 1000 INR per Elephant. The place was packed, lots of tourists and a LOT of ELEPHANTS!!

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Unlike other places where things were chaotic, this was very well organised, Elephants were coming over in an orderly manner collecting the next guest and moving up. Pooja decided she wanted to travel with me, Neha was with Nita. Whilst in the queue, we were being haggled to purchase turbans, umbrellas and other local souvenirs, ended up getting two colourful umbrellas – why not!! The queue led to a raised platform which was in line with the height of the Elephants, great system, made it very easy to get on them. First were Neha and Nita, on the second Elephant me and Pooja followed.

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The ride to the top was nice, was interesting seeing the giant sized droppings from the Elephants, all along the path. Reached the top and it was a similar raised platform where we got off, nicely done.

It was then finding a guide to walk us through the fort – in hindsight, I could have done without it.
Walking through the fort, it was now time for a lot of pics.

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(above two pics at the spot where Sri Devi gives her speech during the last scene of Lamhe)

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(at the Sheesh mahal – a lot of mirrors everywhere!)

 

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We were at the end, unfortunately there was no way to go back in, we wanted to simply walk around the place and enjoy it a bit more – which was not possible with the guide ushering us along, it was too much effort to argue and go back in the fort, decided to keep heading out, found our driver and headed back to the hotel.

At the hotel, to the restaurant for lunch, ordered the VEG lasagne, Pasta & Fish n Chips. Unfortunately the pasta and lasagne was below par Sad smile, would not recommend these menu items!! Time to hit the room and rest, that evening we had decided to go back to the City Palace, Baradari Cafe for Dinner. Nothing like a good afternoon siesta for all.

Around 6pm, we called an OLA and headed to the City Palace, it was quite chilly, temperature felt like it was close to single digit!

Arrived at Baradari Cafe – this place is even better in the evening – wow!!  We were seated under the stars, but soon the cold forced us under covers which was far more comfortable.

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We ordered the Pasta (again), Paneer curry, and the Keema Eggs Benedict! Food was all wow, especially the Keema Eggs Benedict – so so recommended! We ended up ordering another round of the Keema Eggs Benedict – it was soo good.

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Highly Recommended – eating at the Baradari Cafe @ City Palace and try the Keema Eggs Benedict, simply mind blowing.IMG_E0084

It had a been a great finish to Jaipur, the dinner night had been amazing, everyone, including the kids had enjoyed it. Headed back to the Hotel for an early night, tomorrow we had to catch a flight to Ahmedabad.

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Posted in India, Jaipur | Leave a comment