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Best holiday ever…or was it?

As a kid, I was in awe of Greece. Its vibrant mythology and history had me totally hooked, probably more than anywhere else in the world. Upon finally visiting Greece (Athens and the Peloponnese) a few years back, it did not disappoint. In addition to the incredible archaeological sites, the country itself was beautiful, filled with amazing people and food. It quickly became, and has remained one of my favorite places that I’ve ever visited.

After this 2-week excursion around the country’s islands (Crete, and a few of the Cyclades) I’ve no hesitation in naming this my absolute favorite holiday ever, and the country in general, as my most beloved spot in the world. I love Greece. It has never failed to live up to and usually beyond my expectations.

That being said, I can always find fault somewhere and Greece was no exception. Here are a few of my complaints:

  • “The islands are too brown.” (My very disappointed to response to catching a glimpse of the Cyclades as we flew from Athens to Crete. Clearly, I was expecting Bali in the Aegean or something even though I am well aware of what the Grecian landscape looks like.)
  • “The sun is too bright.” (Sitting at a nice harbor-side bar in Chania before sunset, I had really had enough of that annoying sun being in my face non-stop.)
  • “I’ll try the olives. But I won’t like them.” (Despite the fact I love olive oil – particularly Greek – I hate olives in my food. I thought I’d be generous to Greece and actually try to eat their olives. Result: I still don’t care for them.)
  • “I don’t like when they fold the napkins and put them in.” (THIS style of napkin holder was present at the tavernas and cafes around the islands, and it’s just such a nuisance to get a single napkin out.)
  • “This walk would be better if it were flat. And without rocks.” (About 15 minutes into the Agia Irini gorge walk in Crete.)
  • “Ew. My free booze is too strong.” (You are often served a complementary digestif at tavernas: in this case it was grappa.)
  • “It’s kinda cramped, though.” (Not impressed by the excavated rooms in the home of a prominent/wealthy citizen’s home in the site of Akrotiri.)

And here are some panoramas I quickly snapped with my iPhone. It will probably be a little time until I can get through all of my proper photos and blog up some gibberish to post here.

(click on each to view in much larger size)

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the Venetian Harbor in Chania, Crete

Fira, Santorini (see - the sun is too bright!)

Fira and caldera view, Santorini (see – the sun is too bright!)

Perissa black sand beach on Santorini (the site of Ancient Thira lies atop that mountain)

Naxos Chora from the Venetian Castle in the fort

Naxos Chora from the fort’s Venetian Castle. The ruins of a temple to Apollo can be seen on the far right.

On the summit of Mount Zeus on Naxos. The islands of Paros, Little Cyclades, and Mykonos in the distance.

On the summit of Mount Zeus on Naxos. The islands of Paros, Little Cyclades, and Mykonos in the distance.

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The mid-day scene at Super Paradise beach – absolutely crazy. (again with the too-bright sun, though)

Sunset from Little Venice in Mykonos Town

Sunset from Little Venice in Mykonos Town

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Four(ish) Days in Istanbul – Beyoglu

DAY 3. (cont’d from *click*)

I left off as we were on our way out of Sultanahmet, and on our way to Beyoglu. It was still pretty early in the day – 10, 10:30? – and figured we had plenty of time to metro over to our next hotel in Beyoglu, and then head back out to catch some ferries for a timely lunch in Ortakoy.

Thankfully, the hotel – The House Hotel Galatasaray – was able to check us in nice and early and with an upgrade t’boot. I had initially tried booking the penthouse suite, but there was no vacancy, so they offered me their best suite – the executive suite – at the penthouse’s cost. I was still a bit disappointed because I am a sucker for open-plan living spaces and exposed beam ceilings, but the upgrade was still pretty nice!

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I’ll have a full review of the hotel to be published very soon, but it suffices to say that that The HHG makes for an excellent boutique hotel stay. It’s Ottoman-chic, intimate and full of character, with friendly staff and very comfortable rooms – an added quirk was the stand-alone “pod” shower located in the bedroom, which every time I got inside I felt I was about to get beamed up somewhere. (It was a great shower, though, and did not at all suffer from not being located in the bathroom.)

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I loved the ornate moulding details on the ultra-white walls and ceiling, which normally wouldn’t be my style but after my stay there I think I would rather like a room in my home to be similarly styled. The hotel also featured a lovely rooftop lounge with fantastic views over Beyoglu and of the Galata Tower and even the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia across the Golden Horn. Added bonus? The best breakfast we had in Istanbul.

Ever thinking of the next meal, we quickly headed back out to start catching some ferries to have lunch in Ortakoy. This would prove to be a confusing, frustrating and seemingly endless journey.

We first tried to catch the ferry at Karakoy (Beyoglu), where we missed boarding by a fraction of a second. Instead of waiting for 12 minutes or whatever it was for the next ferry, we made our way across the bridge to Eminonu (Sultanahmet) where thankfully, we just made it on to a ferry bound for Uskudar, which is located on the Asian side of Istanbul. OK. So, the ferry ride is pleasant, you’ve got nice views all around, and particularly of the Topkapi Palace, and later on a different ferry, the more modern Dolmabahce Palace in Besiktas.

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Dolmabahce Palace

So, we arrive at Uskudar, and just miss the ferry to Besiktas. Argh. OK, should be another in like 10-15 mins, let’s just have a sit and wait. The kebap sammiches from the port vendors were really tempting, though. But no, I want to sit down and eat something proper at a cafe in Ortakoy. We’ll hop on the next ferry and be at Ortakoy in no time for lunch, I say reassuringly to my stomach.

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Uskudar ferry terminal on the Asian side of Istanbul

Ferry to Besiktas arrives. We choose to continue sitting and ignore it, as if it’s going to be docked there for another 20 minutes. Soon we notice people running to catch it, and figure maybe we should go, too. So, run over to the terminal, I shove my token in the slot for the gate to let me through; I am denied, and the token is spat back out. The boyfriend (already through) inexplicably reaches over and grabs the spat-out token, takes it and starts running for the ferry. I can’t get through to the ferry, I have no extra token. Like, dude, what about me! I literally yelled, entirely confused at this point. So, he runs back with the token, I shove it into a different gate and we just make the ferry by the skin of our teeth.

Beyoglu and Galata Tower from the ferry

Beyoglu and Galata Tower from the ferry

All right, here we are in Besiktas! Only one more ferry to Ortakoy and food! So close. And yet so far, as I was soon to find out. We would find no ferry to Ortakoy here. We searched and asked and searched and asked some more, but no ferry was to be found. It was a supremely confusing situation; there should have been one there! But there wasn’t, so we walked the rest of the way to Ortakoy. It wasn’t too far, but it wasn’t too close, either. It was a nice walk, there were some pretty sights, but I’d rather have been on the ferry. Upon finally arriving in Ortakoy, which was a very nice little spot directly on the Bosphorus, I finally got my lunch (more kebap) and we also noticed that no ferries were arriving there. Not a clue as to why, but it made me feel a bit better to know that we hadn’t simply overlooked the Ortakoy ferry in Besiktas. Instead of walking back to Besiktas ferry terminal, we grabbed a taxi, and started the journey back to Karakoy via Uskudar.

In Uskudar the trouble started again, when we confused Kadikoy with Karakoy and got on the wrong ferry. Because of course. So, all the way down to Kadikoy we go, but thankfully from there at least we don’t have to go back to Uskudar, and are able to hop on a ferry going to Eminonu and Karakoy.

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Fish sammiches getting served up near the Eminonu terminal

What an ordeal. The ferry rides were nice, but I had had enough and I’m not about to get on another ferry anytime soon (just kidding! I have to get on about a million ferries to get around the Cyclades in Greece in a month’s time).

Mid-afternoon at this point, we made our way back to the general area of the hotel, and decided to stroll down the popular Istiklal Caddesi, a street lined with shops, hotels, cafes and bars. And it was rammed with people. Apparently it’s always very busy, but the protests in nearby Taksim Square were attracting even more people. The nearer you got, the more filled the avenue became, and large groups of people were chanting unintelligible things. It was however, not an unsafe atmosphere, and there were loads of children running around in the Guy Fawkes mask. Once we got to Taksim Square, it was so full of people there was not much to do but turn back around.

Busy Istiklal Cadessi would only get busier

Busy Istiklal Cadessi would only get busier

That evening we attempted another stroll down Istiklal only to find, not surprisingly, that it was probably twice as crowded with people as before. Wanting somewhere a bit more peaceful to relax for the evening, we retreated to a cute street we had noticed near our hotel, called Cezayir Sokagi. It was a steep, thin (pedestrian-only) street lined with grape vines and cafes and exactly the sort of thing I like to find when I’m traveling outside of Dubai, because it is so unlike anything I can find here.

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Grabbing a table outside, we considered our options for the evening supper, and decided on the nearby restaurant, Cezayir, which I had heard is very good. This, too, will be included with my coming hotel review, but I’m happy to repeat myself to say that the menu was delicious and the outdoor garden seating was perfect for an early summer evening. Portions were (overly?) generous, and the Cezayir kebap entree of beef tenderloin with sweetbread, and the traditional flour dessert were standout dishes.

DAY 4.

The previous day had been really, really long. My body finally decided to let me sleep in (until 8:00am!) but because it was our final day, and had to be at the airport that afternoon, we wasted little time getting out of the hotel to explore the neighborhood some more. Istiklal Caddesi was mercifully quiet and it didn’t take long to make our way down to the Galata Tower.

Galata Tower on the far right

Galata Tower on the far right

The tower was built in the 1300s, but was the only building I entered during our entire stay that actually had a lift. I was shocked, and had been fully expecting to have to force and whine myself up endless stairs to make my way to the top of it. But no, it was surprisingly modern inside. The top offered really fantastic views of Istanbul, as it was by far the tallest building in the general area. If you’re not afraid of heights (the walkway around the top of the tower is thin, sloped and there’s no solid wall) it’s definitely worth checking out for the views alone. And that’s all you’ll get really, because other than a touristy cafe inside the top of the tower, there’s nothing else you’re able to explore inside.

With the neighborhood so empty (although with each passing hour it got considerably more crowded), we eventually made our way down to a much calmer Taksim Square. For the duration of our stay in Istanbul, there had been little to no police presence in Taksim and Gezi, so the atmosphere – from what I could see – was almost more festival-like than anything. There was lots of music (Pink Floyd, natch), vendors selling trinkets, people kicking the ball around with their dogs and lots of people happily climbing on and/or getting their photos taken next to blockades and graffiti’d buses (also posing as blockades). It was weird.

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The place was trashed though. Stores must have been making a mint from selling spray paint because everything was covered in it (and in support of every cause, not only saving Gezi Park or anti-government: anarchist symbols, gay rights, pro-feminism, legalizing marijuana). The buildings in the square as well as down through Istiklal Cadessi, the overturned cars, the buses, the makeshift blockades, the streets and sidewalks – everything was graffiti’d.

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Bricks and fencing had been ripped up to create and add to the blockades. I was already feeling bad for the people who would eventually have to clean it all up. I had also been wondering, hm, how/where are all of these people occupying the place going to the bathroom (I ask the important questions) and my answer was given to me in the lines of port-a-potties, which were utterly macabre. Their stench, it was difficult to get away from.

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It was interesting to be sure, and from a purely aesthetic point of view I enjoyed the look of the graffiti’d vehicles, but there was no reason to stick around (and it was getting more and more packed with people). The last few hours of the trip were much better spent at a comfortable and quiet table back in Cezayir Sokagi with wine, roasted vegetables and kebap.

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Missed Part 1, about Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood? Read it here.

PHOTO ALBUMS: BEYOGLU & THE HOUSE HOTEL GALATASARAYTAKSIM SQUARE

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Four(ish) Days in Istanbul – Sultanahmet

Here in the Mid East, we enjoyed our first public holiday since late January. And it was a welcome one. We decided to use the long weekend to head over to Istanbul, a quick 3.5 – 4 hour flight away. As luck would have it, less than a week before our arrival the Gezi Park protests broke out in Taksim Square. While we never considered canceling the trip due to this, it did cause a few changes: an electronic music festival we were planning to attend got canceled, and I swapped one hotel stay in Besiktas that I thought could possibly be in a problematic location for an alternative one in Beyoglu’s Galata neighborhood.

We had three nights there, and while an extra day or two would have definitely made things more comfortable, you can take in much of Istanbul in the time that we had.

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Hagia Sophia at night

DAY 1.

After landing early in the evening, we made it pretty quickly to our first hotel, which was based in Sultanahmet and very near to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. It was nothing to write ome about. Hotel pickin’s were slim because it was a holiday weekend, and even low quality hotels in that area (location, location, location) were getting away with charging hundreds of dollars per night.

First things first that evening – eat. I had so been looking forward to digging into some Turkish food and I wasn’t going to let anything – even the incredible history of the surrounding area – get in the way of that. I had actually done some research and made a reservation for dinner (with outdoor seating) well in advance, so that we could basically go directly from the airport for dinner. Welp, showed up at the restaurant about 3 minutes late (not too bad considering our flight departed 1 hour late) and I think I watched them give away my reserved outdoor table to a family group. They offered me a table inside, but with weather so nice I wasn’t having it and grumbled away to another nearby restaurant that looked tasty. Kebabs (kebaps, whatever) were amazing. The meat was wonderfully seasoned, and I loved how they were served with roasted hot peppers. I was loving the servings of roasted hot peppers with every meal, until I eventually had lunch at one place where they did not remove the seeds from the peppers and I took a massive bite and it was not the most pleasant of surprises.

pretty streets in Sultanahmet

pretty streets in Sultanahmet

After walking off the plates of meat and roasted vegetables around Sultanahmet’s amazing sights, it was off to bed to prepare for the inevitably long day ahead.

DAY 2.

As usual, up early (before the call to prayer!). Not that being a time zone behind my usual time zone helped. Unfortunately, up so early that the sites weren’t even open yet. 9:00am? Seriously, Hagia Sophia, you’re hugely famous, you can’t open up a bit earlier than that? Anyway, after a typical Turkish breakfast of cheeses, vegetables and bread (not really my thing, I like my breakfasts much more substantial and bacony) we headed off to the Hagia Sophia.

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The Hagia Sophia has a bit of an identity problem, being first a church, then a mosque and currently a museum. To be fair though, if you were going on 1,500 years old, I bet you’d have a few identity swaps along the way, too. In my opinion, this only added to the richness of a building that still would have be extraordinary had it simply stayed a church. The fact that it’s still standing and in pretty good shape is an impressive thing to think about in itself. Sadly, a portion of the interior was covered in scaffolding (and apparently has been for years and years) but most of the interior was still viewable and accessible, so it wasn’t a very great loss. We also had a full view of the great dome, which the boyfriend said was halfway covered last time he had visited, so that was definitely a plus.

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Everything inside is absurdly gorgeous and you hardly know what to look at or take a photograph of next. As a fan of Byzantine art, it was really exciting to check out this building and view the mosaics within.

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I want one of those Byzantine halo crowns for my head

When converted to a mosque in the 1400s, the Christian mosaics and frescos were painted or plastered over, but when becoming a museum in the 1930′s the Christian aspects were restored alongside the Islamic. It’s quite interesting to walk through the structure and see Christian and Islamic art side by side, and sometimes on top of each other in cases where frescos had been painted over with Islamic designs.

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There were also a few cats hanging out here (so many cats in Istanbul, generally), completely unappreciative of the historical value of what was around them. One cat was even using the Hagia Sophia’s wooden doors as its personal scratching post. It was loving it. I probably shouldn’t have found it funny or cute, but I definitely did. Most expensive scratching post ever? Quite possibly.

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Next stop: Topkapi Palace. It’s kind of mind boggling to think that for about 400 years people lived in this thing. It housed sultans from the 1400s through the 1800s and as you walk through the various courtyards and buildings, all of which are stunning, it just seems unreal to consider.

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view of Topkapi Palace from the Bosphorus (buildings @ top)

As if the palace itself weren’t enough, then you take a stroll through the Imperial Treasury, where there are literally, literally, chests full of emeralds. Oh and fabergé this and that and golden and gem-encrusted thrones. You know. Stuff. Oh and apparently some dagger (emerald-encrusted, natch) that was part of a movie called Topkapi that I never saw (or had even heard of) so I wasn’t hugely enthralled when I saw it, but a lot of other tourists clearly were.

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I think my favorite thing about the palace were all of the blue, white and green Iznik tiles everywhere. They were beautiful and at every turn.

It took quite a while to make our way through the grounds and by the time we left it was most certainly lunch time. Time for more meat and more yoghurt and more meat. From a rooftop, this time, for a change of scenery.

We debated between hitting either the Blue Mosque or the Cisterns next and given that it was mid-day we thought it’d be nice to head underground to see the Basilica Cistern. There’s not a great deal to say about it. It’s a huge, really old cistern filled with hundreds of Corinthian and Ionian marble columns. And it’s pretty creepy-cool inside (great spot for a party, seriously). There are two columns towards the back with Medusa heads placed at the base – one upside down and one sideways (presumably to negate the effects of her gaze). The place is wonderfully lit in subdued reds and I thought made for some excellent picture-taking.

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The day wasn’t finished yet and we next made our way over to the Grand Bazaar. Undeniably huge it was, but it was much less active than I expected it to be. I was prepping for non-stop hassling from shopkeepers and mobs of people inside, but it wasn’t hugely busy and I didn’t feel nearly as hassled as I do in Dubai’s souks. I think the products weren’t what I was expecting either. In my mind, it was going to be much more traditional, and while yes there were plenty of rugs, gold jewelry and spices, there was just as much stuff like fake handbags and…more fake hanbags. I didn’t spend much time here. We soon left for another bazaar – the spice bazaar. Which wasn’t that dissimilar from the Grand Bazaar except it was smaller and had more spice shops. But still also fake handbag shops.

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We finally decided to call it a day as far as sight-seeing goes at this point. It was time for a refreshing drink. So after much more walking we eventually made our way to a street lined with cafes (can’t recall the name, but it was nearish the Four Seasons) and finally let our feet relax. For dinner, we tried a restaurant called Palatium which was amazing, and I had the most delicious lamb kepab dish there. I would highly recommend visiting this place for a bite.

DAY 3.

Another early morning, walking around and finding an OK breakfast before heading over to the Blue Mosque.

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Unlike the other sites we had visited, the Blue Mosque is free to enter, but you do have to be dressed appropriately. I even went back to the hotel to change into something with more skin coverage, but once getting to the mosque, they provide you with cover ups anyway, so…I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t go out of your way to be all covered up for the mosque as they’re probably going to toss uniform-esque robes and scarfs at you anyway.

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The mosque is beautiful, there’s no doubt about it, but I wasn’t as awe-struck by it as I thought I would be. Maybe I was expecting something more Hagia Sophia like, or more like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (in Abu Dhabi). I don’t know really. And I don’t want to be all blasé about it, because it is truly gorgeous (more of those Iznik tiles everywhere!), but it’s an in-and-out job. There’s not much in the way of exploring to be done.

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And that was it for Sultanahmet. Next we were off to Beyoglu and some nice, but kind of excruciating and tedious, ferry rides around the Bosphorus.

Hm. I was going to put my whole Istanbul post into one, but I now see that I have not written a very small amount. Beyoglu to come later.

[*click* to read on about the rest of my stay in Istanbul]

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cuuuuute

PHOTO ALBUMS: SULTANAHMET & BLUE MOSQUEHAGIA SOPHIATOPKAPI PALACE

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Quick Istanbul

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I am in the process of going through all of my photos from my trip to Istanbul. I think it may well take some time. With that in mind, I thought I’d pop in a few quick panoramic shots I got with my iPhone.

The first shot was taken from a restaurant rooftop in Sultanahmet; the yellow building is the Four Seasons (a re-purposed old prison, neat) and just behind it is the Hagia Sofia.

The second shot was taken from atop the Galata Tower in Beyoglu, overlooking Beyoglu, the Golden Horn, Galata Bridge and Sultanahmet.

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…and a landing shot of Istanbul from the plane. Why not. It’s not very clear but you can still make out the not-very-small Topkapi Palace.

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Mumbai in May

Looking @ Malabar Hills from Nariman Point

Looking @ Malabar Hill from Nariman Point

One of the greatest advantages to living in Dubai is its proximity to, well, all kinds of places that are not Dubai or the UAE. With that in mind, I took an opportunity to hop over to Mumbai, India for a weekend quick trip. Fly out Thursday evening, fly back Saturday night. Easy-as. Except for the customs control portion of the Mumbai international airport. That was a nightmare. But it’s never been anything less than frustrating exiting India through one of its airports before, so I don’t know why I would be surprised that Mumbai airport was no different. Also except the traffic in Sharjah (Dubai’s neighboring emirate and pretty much the last place in the world you ever want to find yourself), where we flew out from. Another nightmare I should have counted on but naively did not.

crowds outside of the Gateway of India

crowds outside of the Gateway of India

But anyway, Mumbai. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I think I was expecting it to be like the clusterfuck of filth and electrical wires and rolling blackouts that is Kathmandu (that’s not to say that I do not like Kathmandu – I do. It even has one of my all time favorite hotel stays, Dwarika’s).

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Then Mumbai went ahead and surprised me by being cleaner and more organised than I was prepared for. Mind you, it was still dirty. It was still chaotic. There were still large portions of areas that appeared to be horrible; you did not have to really go out of your way to stumble across a slum, or see people sleeping on the side of the road. I also did not get to thoroughly explore the city, as I was there for such a short period of time, so my views on it are obviously not complete or terribly well-informed.

Some of the areas were fairly interesting though, and nice to be around. A drive through Malabar Hill showed a mix of lovely colonial buildings used as flats along side modern skyscrapers that I can only imagine were probably pretty luxurious. I believe that auto rickshaws and incessant honking was also outlawed in this neighborhood, making it all feel much more calm and civilized. It was the type of area I could imagine myself living in, to be honest.

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Looking @ Chowpatty beach from Hanging Gardens in Malabar Hill

Colaba, where we stayed, was also rather nice. Gorgeous heritage buildings abound here: the Prince of Wales Museum, the Bombay High Court which is picturesquely sat next to some cricket fields, and a little outside of the area is Victoria Terminus railway station (which was really stunning, but we only drove by so I couldn’t get any photos). But really, any which way you looked there was another fantastic old colonial building that more than likely was also in sad disrepair. Raj Era Bombay must have very beautiful.

cricket being played @ Oval Maidan in front of the Bombay High Court

cricket being played @ Oval Maidan in front of the Bombay High Court

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On Friday we had a driver/guide who took us around to these areas, as well as a couple others that had me scratching my head a bit. The “Hanging Gardens” were one. There was nothing hanging so where that name came from I’ve not the slightest. More confusingly, he insisted we see Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat, which is an open air laundry, and really not what I wanted to see. Afterwards I could only question how and where the sheets in my hotel were being washed. It seemed like an odd thing to look at, let alone take photos of, so if you’re curious you’ll just have to do a google image search on your own time.

Gateway of India

Gateway of India

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There was also the kind of random Gateway of India, which attracted droves of people. And seemingly also offered “guess your weight” games? I seriously don’t know. All I know is there were definitely people sitting around the area, each with one scale, and I can’t imagine what else they’d be doing with it. Best not to think too hard about it (pretty much my motto when in India).

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From the start I was intent to stay in Colaba, and as I tend to enjoy doing for the most part when visiting Asian cities, I was trying to find a neat little guesthouse or boho hotel to shack up in. Usually I am good at digging up a fairly quaint place that also ends up being pretty inexpensive. Not happening in Mumbai. The backpacker-type options did not appear at all quaint, and instead looked entirely unappealing. Probably shouldn’t have been shocked.

Taj Mahal Palace and (super ugly) Tower

Taj Mahal Palace and (super ugly) Tower

So, never a fan of the boring grey area, I booked into the old-school lux Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. Unfortunately, into the appallingly hideous (from the exterior) Tower wing, but hey, what are you going to do? I was hoping that upon check in I’d get upgraded into the Palace / heritage wing, but no such luck. That’s not to say I was totally luckless though, as I did get upgraded from a standard room with a city view to a 1-bedroom suite with a city, sea and Gateway of India view. Not too shabby!

view from the suite's living room

view from the suite’s living room

view from the suite's bedroom

view from the suite’s bedroom

The suite, with a foyer, a living area, a dining area, a walk-in closet/dressing room and separate bedroom, was MASSIVE. Filled with books, heritage-looking furniture, and a bunch of other random stuff, it was a really pleasant surprise. My only complaint is that the bathroom was pretty small. For all of the space in the room, the bathroom could have definitely been more indulgent. We arrived pretty late and ended up ordering a 1am curry dinner to our room, which was really delicious – some of the best paneer I’ve ever had. And to top it off, it was served to us by a man wearing a jacket and white gloves – the fanciest curry delivery ever!

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stuff around the suite

more stuff around the suite

more stuff around the suite

The pool area, in the Palace/ heritage wing was nothing short of gorgeous, and I happily took advantage of it on the Saturday afternoon before we left.

lovely colonial veranda at the pool

pretty colonial veranda at the pool

how I loved the projectile vomiting lions at the pool

how I loved the projectile vomiting lions at the pool

For the weekend, Mumbai was not bad, and as good a way as any to get one more use out of my 6-month tourist visa, I suppose (OK, I’d rather be in Varkala again, but anyway…). I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. I don’t think I’ll be returning, but it was worth the one trip, for sure. The one thing I wish we could have done was make a day trip to Elephanta Island, but there simply wasn’t the time.

Taj Mahal Palace pool area - very relaxing

from my lounger @ the Taj Mahal Palace pool area – very relaxing