Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sampling the Wines of India

There is a significant wine industry in India, even if some of us have never seen nor drunk any Indian wine.

Last night we splurged on the most expensive red wine on the Brunton Boatyard's menu, at slightly above US $50.

The verdict, once it opened up?

We thought it was a very pleasant wine, a cab-merlot blend that wasn't too heavy. It's not a "wow" wine for us, but we did enjoy it.

Today and tomorrow are official "dry days" in the state of Kerala (a government initiative), so the memories will have to last us.

Crowded Ferries

Afternoon Tea at Brunton Boatyard

Quite civilized after an afternoon nap...

One of the resident cats...

India: Fort Kochi or Bust

Our flight was late departing and arriving, but we eventually landed at COK and collected our bags.

Our pre-arranged driver was waiting and off we went in his little Hyundai sedan.

We'd forgotten how tiring Indian road trips can be, but we were reminded as soon as we lurched off, constantly jockeying for position with a continually honking horn punctuating it all.

It took us well over an hour to drive the 18 miles, and we got our money's worth (about US $27) in entertainment alone, at some points feeling like we were inside a video game, dodging oncoming tuk-tuks, motorcycles, and buses.

Our skillful driver seemed quite pleased with our 300-rupee (US $4.60) tip.

Finally we entered the Brunton Boatyard Hotel in Fort Kochi, a well reviewed little oasis in the midst of the chaos that is India. We were greeted with Indian-style leis, cool towels, and a cold tropical juice.

There's tea at 5, a sunset boat ride at 5:30, a cooking demonstration at 6:30, and dinner starting at 7:30.

That gives us 2 1/2 hours to relax on our four-poster bed, and we hope to snooze. Indian travel is a tiring task.

Friday, September 29, 2017

First Breakfast in India

Taking the conservative route...


Mumbai Airport Hilton

A reasonable flight on Emirates from Dubai to Mumbai, including lunch.

Once landed, we walked a heck of a distance to get to Immigration. Despite a lack of lines, that seemed to take awhile.

After some confusion, we found an ATM and withdrew some cash. We then found the Emirates driver with our name and he whisked us the short distance to the Hilton in five minutes.

The car, our luggage, and we go through rudimentary security and we check in.

Checking in takes awhile, as the clerk also needs to examine our passports and tourist visa. Eventually he has all he needs and we're escorted to our room, decorated in a rather British colonial style.

The Executive Lounge is just down the hall, and there's time for a quick beer and an early bedtime.

We fly to Cochin st 9:15 a.m. tomorrow on Jet Airways in coach (horrors!), so we'd best get some rest.

Things You Won't See in a U.S. Lounge

Fresh roses and orchids being delivered and placed on tables in the DXB Emirates Business Class Loinge...

DXB - Dubai Airport and Emirates Business Class Lounge

A driver from Nepal and a 25-minute drive to the airport, where we find  an entirely separate check-in area.

Once checked in and through security, we walk and walk and walk some more, until we finally reach the C Gates.

The lounge, like the rest of the airport, is massive and set up for crowds, but it's quiet - almost deserted.

Somehow we think BOM (Mumbai Airport) will be more crowded.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Departing Dubai

We've used our stopover here mainly to rest up and get used to the 11-hour time difference.

We elected not to visit the world's tallest building, even before we found out it cost well over $100 each. Besides, we got plenty of views from the plane's downward facing camera.

We walked around "The Walk" for awhile, but noticed both the heat and the humidity. We're told in the summer that temperatures can reach 120 F / 50 C or more. 

A lot of the names on storefronts look familiar.

We don't how many actual UAE citizens we encountered. A lot of service industry employees are from other countries, and we've met people from the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda, and India. The tourists are from all over as well, and we heard European languages that we couldn't quite recognize.

The food was good and a couple of half-price deals made our two dinners quite reasonable.

The Emirates chauffeur service is very pleasant, and we're looking forward to three more such drives  during the course of this trip, here, Mumbai, and back in Dallas.

All in all, it's made for a good stopover. We're looking forward to our second trip to India with excitement and, truth be told, a little apprehension. Our first visit was tiring and at times almost overwhelming, but also a lot of fun. 

Onward to BOM.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dubai: Building the World's Largest Ferris Wheel

The view from our balcony at the Dubai Hilton The Walk features the Ain Dubai, more than 210 meters (689 feet) tall. It's still under construction.

An impressive piece of wheel estate...

Upgrade Time

Our assigned room at the Hilton The Walk wasn't ready, and we graciously- and gratefully- accepted an upgrade to a two-bedroom suite on the 21st floor. Wowie!

It's a great place to take an afternoon nap.