Due to my booking error the night bus was the only way to Udaipur. This was to be the worst journey of my life. The bus was old and dirty; the suspension was non existent on pot-holed roads; locals who did not seem to care it was the middle of the night; iPod running out of battery and a complete lack of English. At one point I thought I was going in the opposite direction. 8 hours of hell. The only good thing was that the hotel owner was waiting for me as I got off the bus. My knight in shining armour.
My first day was to be a recovery from the torture of the previous night: extra naps, watching World Cup cricket and full body Ayurvedic Massage. If only I could afford to do this every day. Rejuvenated mind and body. I smelt great too.
I hadn't seen much of the city since I arrived and I was blown away when I had dinner with my new travel buddy, Caroline. We ate on a rooftop restaurant at sunset. I now knew why it was called the "Romantic City of India". The shimmering Lake Pichola; the palaces: Lake
Palace, Jagmandir Palace and City Palace; the rolling hills that surrounded the city and finally the falling orange sun. Stunning! The only annoyance was my 11pm hotel curfew. We could have stayed up for hours.
The next day was the big one. Caroline had been bought a room in the Lake Palace Hotel by her parents, and I was invited to dinner. To make the day countdown faster I had a lie in and visited the City Palace. So keen to get to the Lake Palace I arrived at the Palace Jetty half an hour early. The jetty was more like an elegant terrace or lakeside restaurant. On the boat, which was almost silent, the lake city looked better than ever. The city rose around the lake like an amphitheater. As the boat pulled up, the hotel doorman popped up an umbrella to shield the sun from me. Every person who walked past, greeted me with a little bow: "Namaste, have a pleasant evening, Sir." True V.I.P. treatment. Both Caroline and I could not stop giggling.
After I had pinched Caroline's complimentary Lake Palace Shaving Kit, watched the sun lower and drank my "Silver Bullet" Cocktail, the night
City Palace by Night
Across the Water is the City Palace from out Lake Palace dinner Table
started with a traditional Indian show. Three male musicians and two traditional Indian dancers mesmerized us for the shortest 45 minutes of my life. We both thought we had to be close to the luckiest backpackers in the world.
Dinner was one I will never forget. Earlier, we had seen a couple very elegantly dressed. The man in a tuxedo and his wife in a flowing dress. Caroline and I thought we were under dressed but we discovered later that they just dressed up for a James Bond style snap. That tickled me a little. Prices thirty-five times more expensive than a normal meal but worth every penny. "When in Rome...". The food was to die for and the ice-cream I had, with my chocolate fondue, was the best bar none. Sadly, I had a Cinderella moment and had to go back to my hotel due to the curfew. I got back to the hotel and the manager greeted me and asked where I had been. I explained and he was confused: "No outsiders are allowed there!" I explained I was invited by a young lady and he smiled and wished me a pleasant night. A night I will never
The rest of my stay was spent bazaar hopping with Caroline and eating cheese toasties at my favourite Cafe Namaste. When Caroline departed, we vowed we would stay in contact because this was a truly special experience that we had shared. The final few hours of my stay were to be watching Octopussy. A lot Octopussy was filmed in Udaipur so this was particularly relevent. This topped off everything. The future cities would have to do a lot to beat this.
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