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Published: September 5th 2018
Taj Mahal Hotel
Mumbai - afternoon tea
It was certainly nice to arrive back into Mumbai again after our visit to Aurangabad. Mumbai looks and feels like a proper, functioning city. There are wide avenues lined with grand, handsome buildings. There are pavements and crossing points. There are shops, cafes and green spaces. There are police who actually seem to have some authority. But best of all there is sense that the people here have something to do and somewhere to be. Mumbai is the first city in India where we can move about unmolested.
We arrived into CST about 8:30 am and set off in the direction of our hostel. About halfway on our 40 min trek south we paused at Starbucks for a coffee and some breakfast. On reaching our hostel (the backpacking panda) we found a friendly and helpful receptionist, a clean, fully functioning room and best of all, a quiet location.
Tired from our journey we decided to spend the day having a look around our immediate location and to aim for the Taj Hotel for afternoon tea. On foot as usual, our first stop was the Gateway to India. This monumental arch built in the 1920’s to commemorate an earlier visit
by Edward the VII was also the arch through which the last British Regiment paraded at the end of British rule in India. The location is packed with tourists from the rest of India which of course means a stream of requests for pictures. It’s pretty miserable refusing requests from families who don’t understand much English and are genuinely confused as to why they are being turned down. Unfortunately, stopping for even one will see you rooted to the spot as a queue of emboldened groups forms around you.
The Gateway opens into the harbour and from here we proceeded south along the sea wall towards the market. The market is a bit of an oddity. Formed of semi permanent shacks backed by hundreds of tiny hovels it occupies what must have been waste ground next to the harbour. It presents quite a contrast to adjacent colonial era street home to the likes of Levi’s and Armarni.
We looped back to our hostel to change and the went on to the Taj Hotel for afternoon tea. This was delicious but rather odd. There was no menu supplied and it was a buffet style self service. Admittedly you could
serve yourself from 330 to 6pm but the lack of delicate tiered plates seemed slightly wrong. On the plus side it meant it was a proper 3 course meal. With views over the harbour we enjoyed first hot food, then ‘street food’, sandwiches, fresh fruit and finally cakes. The combination of spicy Indian food with continental food was surprisingly enjoyable. I found many of the cakes too creamy and sweet but fortunately there were loads to choose from. My only complaint was the lack of tea (mocktails and iced tea were on offer), fortunately after asking for lots of tea they finally got the hint and left me the tea pot.
After enjoying our meal we discovered a corridor full of old pictures celebrating 100 years of the hotel. It was surprisingly interesting and meant we could legitimately explore some other parts of the hotel before leaving.
Well fed we went for a walk over to marine drive to see the coast line on the other side of the peninsula. There we met a lovely local chap who we had a long chat with before going back to the hostel via the lit up CST station.
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