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A 6-week waking dream in North and South India.

A 6-week waking dream in North and South India.

Old Jul 24th, 2016, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Well rje, your inspiring photos and dialogue reminded me of the overwhelming assault to every sense that is India. I've spent a few weeks strategically raising the issue of holiday destination with "he who must be considered".
Result ! I'm now early planning for a return to India in January 2017.

No doubt your report will be a very useful resource. When I start a planning thread your input (like so many others on this forum) will be much appreciated !

Thanks again
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 09:30 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Glad to hear you're a man of pure heart, rje!!

Having jumped ahead and read your last entries without first reading all previous ones, my dark side is revealed! (Reference: "When Harry Met Sally." If you know not whereof I speak, I'll quote the line in a future reply!)

So many many funny, true, "only in India" stories! Like others here, I'll miss sharing your and C's journey. Thank you so much for taking what must have been an enormous amount of time with wonderfully descriptive narrative, commentary, and sorting photos, to give us all a fascinating insight into the waking dream.

Yes! How good and easy it feels to again brush your teeth using tap water...or even drinking it without need for Rifampin! A belated welcome home to a NYC whose current temps, I hear, rival those of India's.
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Old Jul 24th, 2016, 10:02 PM
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Great detailed report, the southern section very useful if and when we decide to go again.

The Taj and Mumbai report brought back a lot of memories, especially the crows, we ate outside in the colonnade for breakfast and one would always sit on my chair, even posed for photos!

We also went to Trishna, great food but full of business men as it was lunch time.
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Old Jul 25th, 2016, 02:54 AM
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LOL, CaliNurse! I shouldn't be laughing.... at a high of 97 degrees AND humid, I think these temps are higher than I felt when we visited.

rje - I'm looking forward to your next trip report -- we loved Vancouver and would love to go to the Canadian Rockies. A TR (should you choose to do one!) and photos will be one more adventure to follow. I hope that the planning for the upcoming trip gets you through these dog days of summer, too!
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Old Jul 25th, 2016, 09:58 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions!
"So many wonderful things to see".
So true. So many it makes choosing which to see hard (but fun!).

That's exciting! And January should be a great time to visit India. Keep in mind that the north will probably still have some fog, which can delay flights, and even trains, and it might be pretty cool in places. If you are going to the south as well as the north, I'd go to the south first, and then move north.

This line!
"When I buy a new book, I read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends."

And many thanks for coming along on this trip! And while it was a lot of writing, it almost wrote itself, as I remembered all that had happened. The photos took longer to go through and edit! I just saw that I've posted over 1600 new photos for this India trip alone! Yikes!

Interesting you experienced crows at the Taj during your trip. Since then they've installed a network of fine meshed lines hung high over the outdoor gardens, colonnade restaurant area and pool area to keep out birds. And only one got in while we were there, which was humorously chased by an outmaneuvered employee for some time.

Outside we saw many sea gulls, pigeons and hawks, but not a single crow. Maybe all the crows thought the food at the Taj was as bad as we did, and were boycotting it!

However, Kerala was crow central!

It is indeed very hot in New York City this week! I want a nickel for every time I hear or read the phrase "heat dome".

But we got off easy compared to the midwest and the south! And I've been noticing how lucky we've been until this week, with milder temperatures than the rest of the country. Hope that trend returns soon!
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Old Jul 25th, 2016, 08:25 PM
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Thanks for the waking dream - One of the epic Fodors TRs with spectacular photos. May the adventure continue!
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Old Jul 27th, 2016, 07:11 PM
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Can you tell me more about using points on etihad. I will fly ny to cochin in march and would love to fly at least business class. Would you mind sharing more?
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 03:26 AM
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Thank you, Rick, for a wonderful journey. You've helped provided me some additional glimpses of the complexity that is India. I truly enjoyed following along with you.

And how about them crabs. We love crabs and had the largest and most delicious ones in Sri Lanka.
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 07:45 AM
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I really appreciate that, thank you so much!

To help answer, I need to know what airline are your frequent flyer miles from?

I'm so glad you enjoyed this.

I wonder if we both had the same kind of crabs. Sri Lanka and Mumbai are both in the Indian Ocean, but they are located along the opposite coasts of India. So they might be the same, but species can change in surprisingly small distances. Either way, yes, they are good!
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 10:59 AM
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i have points through my visa (chase sphirre preferred and JP Morgan visa) that can be exchanged/transfered to many airlines including Etihad, Emirates, Singapore and others.
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 01:17 PM
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Transferring miles to "buy" them directly from Etihad Guest will make the award tickets a fair amount more "expensive" than it was for me, as I got them through OneWorld. But it may still be worthwhile to you. And Etihad business on the A380 is great!

The process is pretty self-explanatory. You'll need to find availability that works for you on the Etihad Guest page after clicking "Book redemption flights". The seats will need to be described as "Guest Business".

Then you'll need to transfer the award miles from your Visa account to Etihad. You should check how long the transfer takes before doing it, because if the seats are snapped up before the transfer goes through, you probably won't be able to transfer them back (I don't know for sure, as I use Mastercard, not Visa).
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Old Jul 28th, 2016, 04:10 PM
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One more thing.
Etihad flights from NY are currently an extremely hard award to get. But Etihad is going to add another A380 flight next year, doubling the amount of seats available. You should look into that when planning your trip dates if you want to fly Etihad from NY.
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Old Jul 29th, 2016, 06:17 AM
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And another strategy idea:

If you have trouble getting Etihad tickets leaving from NYC, you could also leave from Washington, D.C. or Chicago.

They also have flights from Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
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Old Aug 10th, 2016, 10:44 AM
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rje, When you were at Vivaana did you take all of your meals in the hotel. What was the price range of the menu? Booking for October and a bit concerned about the isolation and the "captive tourist" feeling. Thanks, spidermom
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Old Aug 10th, 2016, 12:48 PM
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Hi spidermom,

We were only at Vivaana for one night, passing through as we headed northwest from Jaipur. The night we were there was a buffet, which we had outside. It was very pleasant, with table seating on a grassy area, and fire pits burning. I don't remember the exact price, but I think it was around $10US each. The food was good, but not amazing. It was fresh and hot, so we didn't have qualms about it being a buffet. I think they do have à la carte most nights, but you might want to check with the hotel.

As for your concern about feeling captive, there is nowhere else I know of to eat in the small village of Churi Ajitgarh. But Mandawa is a short drive away, assuming you have a car & driver (and you should for this part of Rajasthan). My memory is that the drive is about 15-20 minutes each way, and there are more places to eat there, including the large Mandawa Castle hotel. We didn't eat there, so I can't give you an opinion.
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Old Aug 15th, 2016, 09:46 AM
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Hi rje, We have booked the Vivaana for two nights and will spend the full day touring with the guide you used. He is available on the day we need. We do have a car and driver so can search out food as needed although it sounds like the Vivaana food is more than adequate. I have also enjoyed your restaurant reviews of Mumbai. We will be in the same area although not at the Taj so they will be close to our hotel. Thanks for your advice.
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Old Aug 15th, 2016, 04:51 PM
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Two nights at Vivaana sounds just right. If stairs are no problem, some of the rooms on the 2nd floor are pretty remarkable. But we still loved our room on the 1st floor, even if it did have fewer frescoes.

And I think you'll be happy with Shekhar. He is interesting, informative, and reliable.

And since I know you're unsure about Indian food, when in Mumbai you'll have the option of a lot of western and International cuisine. We love Indian food, but over 6 weeks we enjoyed some other options sometimes, too. Have a great trip!
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Old Dec 28th, 2016, 03:19 AM
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Hello rje:

I know I am late to the party, but I just read this trip report from top to tail until late last night. How wonderful, and the photos are stunning. Thank you so much!

I was planning a trip to India for Nov/Dec 2016, but sickness in family caused me to cease my planning. I am now starting to plan again for Nov/Dec 2017. Your report is very helpful, as most of the places I want to visit in Southern India are covered in your trip report.

Best regards .. Ger
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