We have arrived in Mumbai and found it easy enough when we got off at Central Station. We jumped straight into a taxi and asked the fella to take us the Colaba area where we are staying. This area is very popular with travellers as its central and we did have some trouble finding somewhere to stay but have made a reservation with The Volga 2 Hotel.
When we arrive there it is 7.30 in the morning and eventually the miserable night porter lets us in. He tells us our room is not available until 12 so we leave our rucksacks and head off to find some breakfast. Downstairs is a very popular restaurant called Leopolds and I’m pleased to see bottles of Corona lined up on the bar- hurray!!
I consider having one but decide it can wait until later and have scrambled eggs and coffee instead.
We then walk to The Gateway of India which is 2 minutes away. This huge archway is Mumbai’s icon and a symbol of colonialism. But only 24 years after it was built in 1924 the last British soldiers symbolically marched through it as India gained independence and the British left.
Its good to see the sea and after nearly a month of eating vegetarian food supplemented only by a bit of chicken and occasional goat I am looking forward to eating some fish here.
We decide as we have a few hours to kill to blag it and walk into the lovely Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel this gorgeous old hotel is in itself an institution and we do look out of place but we just act like we are staying there and make our way to their dining room where we order some coffee.
I want to use the toilets to freshen up but when Maisie and I go in there the toilet attendant is too posh for words and I just don’t have the bottle to get my toothbrush and wet wipes out so I leave it.
We make our way back to The Volga 2 and are informed that there is only one room available. It is no bigger than 13ft by 8ft and like a cell without a bathroom. We tell the fella that we reserved 2 rooms and want a private bathroom but we are wasting our breath and he just shrugs his shoulders. As we are so tired agree to take it anyway , I’m not sure how we are all supposed to fit on 2 single beds, especially as it is over 30 degrees here but I’m sure we will manage. The cheeky sod then tries to charge us an extra 150 rupees for the “privilege” of all being in the room together but Simon’s having none of it and tells him where to get off !
Its now 4.30 in the afternoon and we have just come back to our prison cell after having lunch at Tendulkars. I’ve never heard of Sachin Tendulkar but Simon tells me he is a famous Indian cricketer and it’s a bit like The Hard Rock Cafe with balls on the wall instead of guitars. We had some great food there, I had seafood risotto and creme brulee and I’m now lying on my bunk next to my cellie Maisie planning to diet tomorrow.
Mumbai is India’s most cosmopolitan city and I can’t wait to get out of here and explore it. From what I have seen so far it reminds me a bit of London, there are lots of signs of British colonial rule here and the architecture looks very familiar. Many of the landmarks such as Victoria Station now have Indian names which were changed when the city of Bombay was renamed in 1996.
We have a busy few days planned and are planning to visit the Colaba market, Mani Bhavan (Mahatma Gandhi’s old home) and Chowpatty Beach tomorrow. Simon and Ali have gone out to buy some sunglasses and for now I intend to lie here peacefully and soak up all the atmosphere that The Volga 2 has to offer.