A Journey into the Past… I read on the Luxury Trains of India website. Golly, it sounds so romantic and lovely. Tom and I really wanted to take a family trip on it. The luxury trains are booked months or even a year in advance. “We don’t have a prayer” I thought. I was planning our January trip to Agra, I didn’t have months, just a few weeks. I called my travel agent, Saeed, and asked him to see if he could find two cabins. “Sigh.” About 5 minutes later, he called and said there were two cabins in the same carriage and did I want them!!!!! Of COURSE!
Our journey into the past begins in Jaipur. Tom, Michael, Greer, and I go with our car and driver from Agra 293 kilometers and 6.5 hours to the Pink City—Jaipur. Saeed books us into a Heritage Hotel for the night. Heritage hotels abound in India, especially Rajasthan. They are former palaces that the owners have converted into small hotels. Some are very posh indeed and others are terrible. Our hotel, the Nirain Niwas Palace Hotel, was beautiful, charming, and lovely without breaking the bank.
Aren’t the rooms great? They were freezing cold though. This year, North India got socked by record low temperatures. Usually, you just need a light sweater or coat to stay warm. Many people suffered terribly. None of the houses have heat—AC, but no heat. We had to pile all the extra blankets we could find on our beds. Greer and I hadn’t brought heavy sweaters or sweat shirts; we both had to buy quilted cotton jackets at Anoki, a beautiful shop that caters to the fashion conscious local or foreigner. The men had jackets, but we did invest in camel wool mufflers for them.
Here’s another chap who’s feeling cold:
We boarded the train in Jaipur. Besides ourselves, there were three other couples traveling independently. The rest of the train passengers were a tour group of Australian physicians and their spouses, about 40 of them! We didn’t have to worry if somebody got sick. Here are some pictures of the inside of the train.
Every morning, our cabin attendant brought us tea or coffee and some cookies to stave off hunger pains until breakfast. The first day, he brought it really, really early so we could take a safari on the old royal hunting grounds, now an animal preserve.
Here’s Greer making friends. This little deer’s mother died. The preserve manager and the other workers raised her; that’s why you can pet her and she will eat from your hand. She has to stay a tame deer now. The other animals won’t accept her into the herd because of the “people smell” she has.
Did I say it was really cold? Let me say it again. Look at the gent in a suit. He has an ax and was cutting wood! Normally, the local people wear loose, floaty clothing. This guy has his turban wrapped around his face. Wow.
Train travel makes me feel as if I’m in a movie from the 40’s. I’m Lauren Bacall and you’re Humphrey Bogart or somebody like him. We’re racing through the deserts of India chased by hordes of hostile soldiers brandishing their sabers. Will we make it? Pant, pant. Here’s the train at last.
And there’s Mr. Singh, tea and cookies at the ready. What will happen next? Stay tuned for Part II.