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Trip Report Trains Planes and Automobiles. A trip report to India Jan 2010

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This is going to be a long one!
After a year of planning, researching and reading we finally headed off to India on Jan 19, 2010 for one month. I would consider us ‘middle of the road’ type travelers, we don’t spend a lot of money on our hotels as we are rarely in them on this kind of ‘adventure travelling’. Our main concern is that it is relatively clean, has some character and in a good location. Most of our hotel picks were from either Lonely Planet Tripadvisor or the great advice on Fodors forums. We were not disappointed with any of them and happy with our entire trip. We wanted to try all modes of transportation, planes, car and driver and trains.
We were both vegetarians on this trip and neither one of us got sick. We stuck to good restaurants, not expensive necessarily but ones that looked clean.
Average cost per day per person was $15. We would spend around 150 rupees on breakfast when it was not included with our hotel. This was the hardest meal of the day for me because I just couldn’t do Indian food for breakfast so was usually limited to white toast and milky porriage and tea. The coffee in India is usually instant so we didn’t bother.
Lunch and dinner we usually ordered Dal, rice and another vegetable Indian dish, tea and bottled water and it usually came to 400 rupees for the two of us.
I brought a little net book computer with me which I found invaluable. I kept a blog in Word documents and also used it to download my pictures and put them in folders so that when I get home I remember where they were taken. When I found a place with wifi, which was more often than I expected, I would put my blog on the net and do my banking etc on my own computer. The little thing only weighs a pound which is great and I would update my diary on trains and planes when I had time to kill which was wonderful
Here is a list of flights/hotels etc. I booked everything on line

Flights
YVR-LHR-DEL. Points on British Airways economy class. We decided to break up the trip and overnight at the Holiday inn Heathrow to hopefully arrive in Delhi a little more human. We were delayed out of London 9 hours however because of fog in Delhi.
Arrival in Delhi Airport. After going through immigration and collecting our bags we stepped out and immediately went down a hall to the left for the transfer to the domestic terminal. There is a sign right outside the baggage area and very easy to find. You had to show your onward ticket to a guard and then again to a woman inside who directed you to a bus. We went on the bus across the tarmac to the domestic terminal which was free and very easy to use. This was a lot faster than taking a cab to the domestic terminal, and as I said, free.

Delhi to Udaipur o/w . Jet Airways. Bought on line with Jet for $87 each

Jaipur to Aurangubad o/w Kingfisher Airlines . Booked on Cleartrip.com $200 each
Jaipur airport is new, very nice and charged us an airport fee upon departure. I cant remember how much it was, a couple of hundred rupees each I think.

Mumbai to Varanasi. o/w Spicejet Airlines . Booked on Cleartrip.com $117 each
I thought all the inter Indian airlines to be fine. Spicejet is the economy line and you have food for purchase but other than that I thought they were all comparable. All were in regular coach class.

Trains.
All booked on Cleartrip.com We were not able to book any in first class but all in 2nd air conditioned. You need to wait for Indian Railway to be open to book on line with cleartrip which for us meant at 5PM or later and you receive instant seat numbers and confirmation. Very easy to use and the paper confirmations from the computer were always accepted without problems.
You can purchase locks and chains at any station from guys selling them. I would recommend this for overnight trains. We locked up all our bags except one, which we hid in behind the locked ones and it was stolen while we slept on the Varanasi to Agra train.
For overnight trains you are provided with clean ironed sheets, a very small pillow, and blankets. I found the trains hot most of the time so did not find that I needed any more blankets. There are guys going through with food for purchase but we brought our own to be safe. I found that earplugs were a good thing to bring along and a little alarm clock so that you don’t miss your stop. Sometimes the conductor will go through and call out the stop, but sometimes they did not and you just have to ask others where you are. They usually left at least an hour late but you don’t know until you get to the station. You can check but we found that the information given was usually not accurate. We would get porters to take our bags for us, they would stick them on their heads, both of our heavy bags, and take them to the proper track as they knew which platform the trains leave from. The other platform was usually up the stairs on the other side so worth the 100 rupees paid to have them taken to the proper platform. We always paid more than the required tip as our bags were heavy and these guys don’t make much money.

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