This is my next to last blog on the African/India Cruise. I’m going to do one last one on the ship, the Amsterdam, which I really felt made the whole cruise enjoyable. In Mumbai – Day 1 I covered the overall India, Mumbai picture, so here I just want to go through our final three days. I’m writing this on Saturday, Mar. 27th, (with a bad cold, which I probably got from the two days of flying coming home) so I’ll do the best I can to recall those last days.
Let’s get right to it, so if you will look at the photo album above titled “Mumbai (Bombay), India – Day 2, 3, & 4” we start with photo 1, Friday morning, Mar. 12th, a picture of us in the SUV from the “The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel”, our hotel for the next three days. From now on I’ll refer to our hotel as the “Taj”. You’ll notice the driver is wearing white gloves, and that’s just the beginning of the service we were about to receive from the Taj. On the way from the port to the hotel in the second photo you see the traffic of Mumbai, mostly taxis. The third photo shows you a double-decker bus, very similar to the double-deckers of London. As we pulled up at the hotel we were met by a swarm of people; doormen, bell-boys, and the lovely lady you see in the fourth photo with Susy. “Divisha” introduced herself to us and asked that we follow her to our room. She assured us that our luggage would be taken care of. On the way to the room she explained that she was our hostess for our three day stay. She was at our disposal to tour the hotel, arrange tours, a car or driver, and/or anything else we needed. She told us when she was working in the next three days, but that if she wasn’t in the hotel we would be assigned another hostess immediately. When we got to the room (which was equipped with everything) she went through the check-in procedure, booked us a driver and guide for the next day, scheduled us for a tour of the hotel, and as if by magic, when she finished, the bell-boys appeared with all our luggage. When Susy and I closed the door, we sat down because of the shock. We had just received the best service we ever had in a hotel in our lives. I still can’t get over the care we got from that hotel. Oh! By the way, don’t ask how much it cost, because we paid for it with “points”. Needless to say it cost a lot of “points”.
We rested in the hotel on the 12th and then on Sat. Mar. 13th we started the day with a tour of the Taj. In the fifth photo you see the beautiful pool and gardens located in the center of the hotel. In the sixth photo you see the area around the pool plaza, where you can relax, have a drink, or meal. It’s like an oasis in the middle of the desert. Going to the hotel restaurant on top of the tower, the seventh photo shows you a view of the “Gateway to India” and the plaza which is covered with poor people when the tourists are passing through. Before I leave the Taj, you probably have a question about the damage we saw due to the bombs the terrorists set off here about a year ago. They are still restoring the old hotel lobby and the areas that were bombed. The new lobby is in the tower part of the hotel, and until the restoration is finished it remains there. Security in the hotel was very good, including scanning you and your hand luggage every time you go in. In the afternoon we walked over to the former “Prince of Wales Museum” (8th photo) now called “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya”. Don’t ask me what that means but that is the Indian name of the Museum. It is a large museum, full of Indian historic craft, statues, clothing, pottery, etc. After spending most of the afternoon at the museum we decided to go back to the hotel for dinner and an early bedtime.
Sunday, Mar. 14th we booked a driver/guide from the hotel for a city tour. In the ninth photo you see our hotel driver for the day (sorry, no white gloves, but he had them). As we drove through the city we saw street markets (10th photo), book markets (11th photos), and a temple (12th photo). Our first stop was the former home of Mahatma Gandhi. In the thirteenth photo you see Gandhi’s room. He lived there from 1917 to 1934. The house, which is now a Memorial to Gandhi, gives you an excellent review of his life through its many exhibits. Leaving Gandhi’s home we next stopped at the cities’ Botanic Gardens, “Sir Phirojshah Mehta Gardens”. In the fourteenth photo you see a shot of the gardens from the entrance. The fifteenth photo shows two Muslim women walking through the gardens, and the sixteenth photo shows some of the animal bushes. We next drove along the coast, called “Back Bay” (17th photo), a bay off the Indian Ocean and then came to the famous “Public Laundry”. I shot a panoramic photo of the laundry (18th photo) which is where a good part of the laundry in the city is done. Now I want to show you a series of photos I took from the car as we drove through the city. The nineteenth photo shows the edge of the slum area on the street, and the twentieth photo shows one of the slums (there were many). The twenty-first and twenty-second photos show some buildings along the streets. These were typical, run-down, etc… The twenty-third photo shows one of the green plazas with its statues. Looking at taxis, it seemed that they were everywhere. Apart from the typical taxis you saw the decorated horse-drawn ones (24th photo) and the mini ones (25th photo). As we ended the day, we pulled up at the Taj where we were met by our doorman (26th photo with Susy).
The next day (Monday, Mar. 15th) we left the Taj and boarded a British Airways flight from Mumbai to London, England. It was the first time we flew on a plane with the “modular” configuration, each passenger having their own compartment. The twenty-seventh photo shows the business class cabin we flew in. If you look to the right you see that, starting against the window, that passenger’s compartment is rear-facing, and then the aisle passenger faces forward. Since Susy and I were sitting next to each other (as we always do), in the twenty-eighth photo you see what I saw at take-off and landing. I also wanted to show you the same photo during the flight (29th photo). Susy said she shut the panel, because she wanted to sleep (ha, ha). It’s OK, it was an excellent flight, and from London we took a short flight down to Madrid where we spent the night. The next day, (Tuesday, Mar. 16th), we flew Iberia to Miami and as you can see in the thirtieth photo a happy yours truly is going home.
That’s it for Mumbai and our journey home. As I said I want to do one more blog on the Amsterdam. If you followed our Pacific Rim cruise it might be a lot of the same, but the ship deserves a review.
Give me a few days, for the final,
Love You All,
Gary (alias GaGu)