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Published: March 8th 2012
We left Aurangabad at 7am and it took seven hours to get to Mumbai not an overly interesting drive but I did see two guys and four goats on a motorcycle and what may have been a dead man on the roadside. The roads here are generally poor and incredibly dangerous, fortunately I have only been in one accident in the two months I have been here and that was a motorbike we hit the other day (not serious). We arrived at our hotel around mid afternoon farewelled our driver and checked into the hotel, I had arranged earlier in the week.
Mumbai is a pleasant surprise at least the area where we are staying, it ranks with Udaipur in the pleasant city stakes, and I particularly like the rotting British architecture that surrounds us. We visited the UNESCO World Heritage listed Grand Central Station shortly after we arrived, a stunning building but frighteningly like a Chinese station inside with massive numbers of people pushing and shoving. Unfortunately the police are not letting people enter some of the other buildings in the complex due to the recent terror attacks. We did however visit the Central Post Office which is a
beautifully domed building before wandering over towards the Mumbai University and checking out many a stunning colonial era building and just as many cricket matches.
The next morning we undertook the Mumbai walking tour down to the Gate of India and took a ferry to Elephanta Island very peaceful trip out there, but the World Heritage listed caves weren’t a patch on Ellora or Ajanta, still the first temple dedicated to Shiva was well worth a look. The path down to the harbour passes through a tunnel of souvenir shops and the prices and quality seemed reasonable so I made a few small purchases.
We then took ship back to the docks near the Gate of India and decided to go to the world famous and incredibly pretentious Tah Mahal Palace Hotel, I think we expected to walk in find a bar and have beer but unfortunately not being guests meant no drinks, so Padraic went and used the toilet and I waited in the lobby. It was lunch time so we went looking for Leopold’s a famous Mumbai landmark thinking we would have a quiet lunch and a beer, again that was over ambitious as the place
is cashing in on the free advertising it gained from that very average Shantaram novel and has jammed in so many tables that you can’t move and are also charging ridiculous prices for food and beverages.
Just around the corner though is a great value pub called The Alps where they do excellent meals, have a TV and sell reasonable value beers so we watched the cricket for a few hours before taking a rambling route back to the hotel. That evening I visited an Italian restaurant where they sold, wait for it, Shepherd’s Pie I was so excited I ordered it straight away, when the waiter brought the meal to my table it looked like a real Shepherd’s Pie and I was ecstatic, when I started eating though and fiery chilli lacing the dish set my tongue on fire. Why do Indians have to add chilli to everything and in such copious amounts?
The next morning we headed to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya or the Prince of Wales Museum for short, today is the Holi Festival so Mumbai is like a ghost town and I am loving it, the Museum is the best I have
seen in India and I enjoyed it immensely spending many hours wandering through the exhibits with my audio guide directing me, I have never used one before and regret not doing so in the past. It was then back down to that little pub from yesterday for a feed and a few beers. The pub soon started filling up with foreigners covered in paint who were doing their best to drink the place dry and they were succeeding as one type of beer after another was declared sold out. I had a mutton (goat) burger today before wandering back towards our hotel, lots of people sleeping in the sun and quite a few multicoloured dogs, obvious victims of Holi paint wars. I have enjoyed my time in Mumbai and would have no problems returning to this very pleasant city.
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