with Lois and
India and Maldives
December 16, 2008 -
January 12, 2009
Hotels, Special Events, and the Maldives
and recurring themes
Most of the hotels we stayed in were like
palaces. Our tour also arranged several special events to help us
appreciate the varied and exciting culture of India.
While our New Delhi hotel wasn’t anything
special in terms of ambiance, the buffet was some of the best food
ever. There were several tables, each with different cuisines:
soups, Indian (chicken & lamb kabobs), Japanese, sushi, shrimp
dishes, lox, pate, Chinese, cheeses, and desserts. The staff was
incredible, always at our side, very nice and couldn’t do enough for
us. One night our group had a tasting menu of 14 Indian dishes, GREAT!
| Following our sunset boat ride on
the Ganges, we
went to a Hindu monastery where we had a delicious vegetarian dinner
followed by a dance demonstration where they explained what the various
hand movements and then a dance performance.
Our hotel in this
ancient city, The Oberoi
Amarvilas Hotel, is like a
palace. We were told it was
rated as one of the top ten in the world, and we could understand
why. We arrived at midnight and the driveway was lit up with fire
torches. We had a midnight supper which included cappuccino
mushroom soup with the cream frothed on top – fabulous! The
was all fountains and bridges and at the far end were arches with
couches and gold and blue mosaics. Every room had a view of the Taj
Mahal. The grounds were
like botanical gardens and the swimming pool was outdoors, going
indoors under gorgeous arches. What an experience.
We stayed at the Oberoi Rajvilas, whose main
building was once a fort and we had to cross a “moat” to get to the
grounds and our room. The grounds were a huge park, complete with
ponds and fountains. All the rooms are bungalows, spacious and
the most gorgeous bathroom with a marble sunken tub and a floor to
ceiling glass wall with a beautiful private garden.
|For dinner our first night in
Jaipur we went to the Rambagh Palace
Hotel. When we arrived our group was greeted by two elephants,
four camels, and a marching band. Before dinner we had a fabulous
dance show. Dinner was served outside beginning with hors-d’oeuvres
which could have been the meal in itself, followed by a fabulous
The next day we went to the Raj Palace Hotel for a Rajasthan style meal
and puppet show. The restaurant was exquisite! A glass gold and silver
table. A procession of buglers played, then a proclamation was
read welcoming us, then we were all served on a silver platter at the
same time. Before lunch we went to the gardens for the puppet
show. The costumes were beautiful and the show cute. The
puppets were for sale and we bought two as souvenirs.
Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel is built in a Moorish style and the grounds are
and gorgeous with many fountains. The
property runs along Lake Pichola, includes a deer park and eagle
reserve, and we saw lots of peacocks on the
grounds. From our hotel there is a view of the Palace Hotel which
is located in the middle of the lake. The James Bond film
filmed in Udaipur and the local are very proud of this fact. We
felt that our hotel was very cold and austere.
Our first morning at breakfast the pastry chef came around and asked if
everything was okay. We told her we enjoy almond croissants and
she said "ok, I'll make some for you for tomorrow." So, the next
morning she asked if we wanted our almond croissants. What she
brought were croissants with one almond sliver on top. At least
it was a good try. After breakfast we went to a lesson on
how to put on a saree and turban; it was great fun!
Kerala (Cochin and Kottayam)
We stayed at two different locations in southern
India. Our first stay was at a
hotel with functional rooms with a nice view of the pool and a river
that ran behind the hotel. Our second hotel was a tropical
|For dinner our first night in
the south, we went to a chef's (Nimmy) home. She prepared and
demonstrated a 4 course dinner and passed around the spices for us to
smell as she cooked. She was invited twice by the CIA(Culinary
Institute of Amer.) to make presentations in CA and she demonstrated
her cooking skills (which don't match those of Kevin, Uri, Donna or
Stacy), but it made for a fun and different evening. It was nice
to be able to see how a middle class Indian family live. We had a
very fascinating discussion about the marriage of her son (studying in
Boston), whether it would be an arranged or a "love marriage."
On our way
to our second hotel in the south we saw a mahout washing his
elephant in the lake. The elephant was lying on his side and
appeared to be having the time of his life.
Our hotel was the Kumarakom Lake Resort and designed as a tropical
paradise. The back steps of our room led into the swimming pool
which was fun to swim in as it weaved its way between rooms. The
bathroom was outside. The toilet and sink had a cover, but the
shower was out in the open. It was weird standing outside to
shower! We had privacy to shower but had to close the curtains to
We had the best New Years Eve meal outdoors with BBQ
and about 20 food stations with food from every region of India. There
was dancing & music entertainment. As the hour got later the
music got louder so we went to our room about 11 P.M., but couldn’t
asleep until the music stopped!
The next day we went on a houseboat for lunch and curise of the
lake. There was a cook,
butler and driver. That
afternoon we saw rope being made from coconut fibers and that night had
a special martial arts demonstration that was just unreal.
The next morning we walked to the local village. The locals all
came out to greet us and we saw turkeys and a chicken painted red so
they would not be attacked by the local birds.
Last stop before leaving for the Maldives.
We were supposed to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel but the hotel
still closed since the November 26, 2008 terrorist attack. The
alternative hotel was nothing special. We did
visit the Palace Hotel and there is a memorial to the victims in a
garden off the lobby.
Transportation-wise, we had several modes on this trip: we rode
bicycle rickshaws, motorized rickshaws (tuktuks), jeeps, open row
boats, house boats, coconut boats, our big orange tour
bus and several airplanes, and our legs got a really good workout!
Club Med Kani, January 4 - 11
Given that we were
half way around the world, we figured we may as well
end our India adventure with a week of R&R at a Club Med, and the
one we picked was in the Maldives, a chain of atolls in the middle of
the Indian ocean, about 500 miles south of the tip of India, and with
good snorkeling. The picture at right was
taken from our plane as we flew over Club Med with it's palm tree like
arrangement of the island and huts over the water.
We stayed in a hut/suite over the ocean. We were truly in
paradise. We had a living room, bedroom with a four-poster bed
complete with mosquito netting surrounding the bed.
Our bathroom had a stall shower, free standing bathtub overlooking the
ocean and a double sink, a long walk-in closet complete with life
jackets for wading in the ocean from our balcony that led down
stairs to a private platform (with a shower) with a ladder going into
We wanted to spend the week doing the things we like the most:
snorkeling, sailing, and eating. After the first day, we decided
that the snorkeling was too good to miss, so in six days, we went on 11
snorkeling trips. The morning trip the first day, and then the
morning AND the afternoon trip each day thereafter. And, each
time we went we were in for something new and surprising. We
loved the scenery,
beauty, variety of fish and corals and all around splendor. On
each snorkeling trip we saw fish we had never seen before, or coral
formations that were new and different, or seascapes that were exciting
and dynamic. The variety of fish was astounding, dozens of
varieties. The fish differed in size from very small to the largest
which were one to two feet long. We saw eagle rays, flying (we
swimming) in formation. When they flapped their "wings" it looked
like flying, not swimming, and was scary and beautiful at the same
time. We were so sorry we didn't have an underwater camera.
At least we were able to capture the dolphins that we saw on one
trip. There was a pod of about 20 that swam with us for several
As for the other things we enjoy doing, the sailing turned out to be
not so good, and the fish was serverd at every lunch and dinner and
we're not fish eaters.
This meant that after all the heavy Indian food, we returned home
pretty much the same weight as when we left.
and recurring themes
You can reach me via email at email@example.com.
February 12, 2009