ITINERARY HELP REQUIRED PLEASE

Jul 14th, 2009, 05:06 AM
  #1  
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ITINERARY HELP REQUIRED PLEASE

Criticism (constructive if possible) and suggestions for the following please. Myself, husband, 2 kids aged 10 and 5 visit India from 01/11/09 (only I have been before)
Day 1 arrive Delhi 2.45pm stay at Hotel Tara Palace need car/driver to pick at airport.
Day 2 sightsee some of Delhi, on foot if we can bear it. Believe Fort near to Hotel.
Day 3 get Bus to Jaipur, not sure which hotel to stay at?
Day 4 Elephant ride to Amber Fort - suggestions please. Train to Ranthambhore NP
Day 5 Stay where at Ranthambhore? am & pm safari
Day 6 As above
Day 7 Leave by train for Agra via Fatepur Sikr /and or ? which train? (am using Seat61)
Day 8 see Taj early am. Train from Agra Fort 9.15pm for Varanasi
Day 9 arrive Varanasi stay where? kids will cope in the thick of it (hard luck if not!)
Day 10 enjoy shock of Varanasi - have a walk about/boat trip. Train overnight to Kolkata
Day 11 arrive Kolkata.Stay where? handy for Airport if poss.
Day 12 Fly from Kolkata to Port Blair - ferry from PB to Neil or Havelock. Need Hotel rec.
Days 13 to Day 24/25 enjoy Andamans. Leave PB for Kolkata
Day 27 fly back to UK.
Flexible-ish and very open to suggestions. Kids are easily occupied (and disciplined if not!) We need to do the overnight trains, flying too expensive. I know the Andamans are a pain to get to, but worth it I think. I went by bunk class years ago from Madras - now that was a tough journey but good fun too.
Thanks for your tip Dogster, looking forward to hearing your comments good and bad.
MrsMarge is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 05:30 AM
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For train timetables see www.indianrail.gov.in/inet_metro_trns.html - any special reason you're taking the bus to Jaipur?

Delhi is very big and crowded. I would not plan to sight-see on foot, especially not the first day. there are plenty of auto-rickshaws around, you don't have to spring for a taxi. But you do need to bargain (check Lonely Planet for the going rate).

I haven't been to Ranthambhore, but the reports I've read aren't particularly enticing. Dropping Ranthambhore would let you slow this down a bit, which it really needs. Even in November you will find travel in India pretty overwhelming.

You could visit the bird park at Bharatpur in combo with Fetehpur Sikri from Agra. You have to check the trains carefully, they don't all stop there. I haven't checked your dates, but you do know that the Taj is closed on Fridays, right?

For places to stay in Varanasi (definitely stay on the river) do a search here - there is a recent thread. Consider a half day trip to Sarnath while you're in Varanasi, and the longer you can stay there the better.

For places to stay check www.sawdays.co.uk . For a less expensive place in Kolkata I'd suggest the Fairlawn, but it isn't near the airport.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 05:50 AM
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Hiya Mrs. Marge! Much better, eh? It's kinda late here right now, so I'll peruse your plan tomorrow. Just hope that Cicerone replies in the meantime.

Random late nite thoughts to keep you going:

While you're waiting, check the little 'view by country' box just up and to your left, click on India, then go search for Varanasi, Kolkata etc.

Your kids will be fine in Varanasi. The only question is: will you be? As you know, it's not easy getting around at the best of times in India so IMHO everything has to be predicated around their abilities to cope. IMHO - not what you think they SHOULD be able to cope with - but what they actually CAN. [with respect, blah blah]

You'll get better suggestions if you can tell us roughly how much $$ you'd like to spend on accomodation. I guess you're gonna be after a room for 4? Well, three and a half. What were your thoughts there?

Andamans is never discussed in here. Try Indiamike for that. Very interesting choice. Kinda odd but I like it. Report back on that. I've been looking at a BKK/ Port Blair/ Kolkata flight.Are you determined to stay there ten days? [At first glance, I'd say you were rushing the first half of the trip - particularly with kids, India, trains, gasp...

Go check out spassvogel's recent post about tiger trip for info on Ranthambore. Sounds horrible to me - but I can't see life thru the eyes of a ten and five year old. The world is a different place through that wonderful kaleidoscope.

I'll bet you get some nice suggestions while I'm sleeping. cheers.
dogster is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 06:37 AM
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I've been thinking: I guess I need someone to come in with more experience of 10 and 5 year olds than me - but I do have to say that I find just getting ONE of me around in India is pretty damn difficult. Two adults, luggage AND two children looking for our seat on a crowded Indian train sounds pretty close to hell, to me.

On the other hand, maybe it's a cinch. I dunno. Not a lot of people take their children to India - on overnight trains - traveling every two days. I think your kids [and you] sound great, so I'm not trying to talk you out of anything. But, as I have observed - it just needs your littlies to go down with a tummy bug in Jaipur and your lovely trip can turn into a nightmare.

More random thoughts:
How long can five-year-olds be a tourist for? What happens when they get tired and you've already checked out of your hotel at midday and your train doesn't leave till nine p.m.?

Do your kids know they will be the object of extreme fascination everywhere they go? How cosmopolitan are their tastes in food?

Have you thought about getting a car and driver? Three and a half people in a tuk-tuk will get very tired, very quickly. Like your family is, if you travel as quickly as you are planning.

Who is this trip for? The family? The kids? Or you?

[I'm Australian - we talk this way - no, I'm not being blunt or rude, lol - it's late]

So: a Dog's breakfast to consider. I'll be very interested to see what ensues.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 06:41 AM
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Thanks Thursdaysd. Having done some checking,the bus to Jaipur takes as long as the train(?)this will probably be the only bus ride we take in India. Yep,we will use auto rickshaws etc to get around Dehli, I suppose I really meant we won't need a guide. We fancy trying to spot a tiger,even though chances are remote so we will keep Ranthambhore in. Didn't really fancy Bharatpur as not all into birds. Current plan is to arrive Agra on Sat and see Taj first thing Sun, busier I suppose as its a weekend. THanks for suggestions,looking at the accommodation.
MrsMarge is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 06:58 AM
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MrsMarge, you say you've been to India before. Where did you go then? Did you travel on buses and trains? My husband is a bit older than 5 but I know he would absolutely meltdown if I took him on such a fast paced trip. And I don't even want to think about what would happen if he was considered the adult and had two small children to amuse.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 06:59 AM
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Check this site Mum.

http://www.savaari.com/user/step1.php

This will show you rates for daily or overnite car [and driver] hire - just to give you an idea. I'm not suggesting you use the company - but the website is a good price guide.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 06:59 AM
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Hi Dogster. Was hoping to use porters at train stations to help get us on the trains. I know it will be hectic to say the least (last I was in India it was for 4 months with drugs and without kids and no itinerary necessary!). Don't get the wrong impression though. OK kids will eat mostly anything. It's only 2 overnighters,how bad can it be? Mmm toilets, flip flops,poo wee.. Will pay extra to stay longer at hotel before 9pm train.Books,eye-spy,Nintendo.Getting sick will be a big problem but we can't prevent that so will have to have some form of plan B. OK,if we need to use car/driver we will. Suggestions pls. Not Namaste. I have to admit this trip is for me, then the kids and last but certainly not least my lovely husband. Cos' I have been before, we are going cos' some aunt I had never even met left me a couple of grand. What bits can we slow down. Need Ranthambhore in (that is for the kids). I want the Andamans bliss, it's such a pain to get too we could do with at least, say, 8 days. OK, maybe I'm mad but I don't want it too easy. If we have car/driver, I might miss something (or someone) might I? Of course, I don't want to put our family through hell either. Sleep well and lemme have some blunt thoughts/suggestions.
MrsMarge is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 07:02 AM
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If you can afford it, see the Taj at sunset as well as sunrise.

"Didn't really fancy Bharatpur as not all into birds." - me either, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected. But if you're keeping Ranthambhore, it would probably be one park too many.

The road to Jaipur may have been improved, but trains are much, much safer than road travel. Still, you should really experience at least one road trip, just to appreciate the craziness! But you might check the price for a car and driver once you are in India (it will be cheaper with a local company), or try www.rajasthantravelservice.com - they gave me a pretty good deal (just a driver with poor English, no guide) and looked after me very well.

"looking for our seat on a crowded Indian train sounds pretty close to hell, to me." - if they're in 2AC, which I would recommend, they'll have reserved bunks, and it won't be overrun - only ticketed passengers with ID will be allowed in the carriage. If they spring for 1AC, with four people they should (but not guaranteed) get a compartment to themselves. One person can stay with the kids and luggage, while the other locates the list of bunk assignments, which will be posted somewhere on the platform. If they hire a porter (not something I'd usually recommend, but maybe in this case), the porter should know where on the platform to find their carriage.

I do think, like dogster, that you are probably traveling too fast. Travel in India is like travel nowhere else!
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 07:08 AM
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Hi Marij, yes I travelled on buses and trains but it was at least 20 years ago! So,of course, now I only remember the really good bits. The journeys by bus being really comfortable and the music being played at a reasonal level -yeah right.
I am not kidding myself - our kids really are well behaved. We camp/caravan a lot too. I know nothing can prepare them for India but hey, kids are resiliant. My husband loves me so much - he will forgive me India and hanker to go back - eventually.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 07:27 AM
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lol MrsMarge - if you read any of my trip reports on India you'll see that your behavior in a previous life seems to be my behavior in THIS life. But I'm nearly 100 years old. Tragic, eh?

It's 1.00 a.m. soon I'll crash. But while I'm worrying... lol.

O.k. You're da mum. You know your family. So let's make you a trip that ensures that they haven't all divorced you by day four. 'Cos the trip might be, scretly, for YOU - but if your two kids throw a wobbly [let alone your husband] then everybody's life is hard.

I am duty bound to say, as an old hippy who personally carved out the hippy trail with my sandalled feet over 300 years ago, that some travel memories are best left alone. It is just possible that bliss in the Andamans is just another beach and some rocks for your kids. You may have cause to think about the changes in YOUR life since the 'good old days' too. Heh.

That said, the Andamans is no more ridiculous a destination than anywhere else. [well - yup - it is FAIRLY ridiculous, but you seem set on it.]

Off the top of my head, purely to make family life smooth as possible, I'd say you should think of getting a car and driver to pick you up at the airport, hotel drop then stay with him next day for sightseeing [don't even think about walking] then use him to take you to Jaipur.

Tuk tuks, luggage, two young children, confused husband - Indian bus station, bus to Jaipur. Fergeddaboudit. Misery. You ain't in Kansas with a backpack, now, Dorothy.

lol lol lol.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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Thanks Thursdaysd, good advice on trains. We were gonna book sleeper, I remember great characters in sleeper class. Maybe for the girl's sake so they can sleep we will book 1AC for a compartment to ourselves. We think paying a porter will take some of the stress away - maybe not. Any suggestions on which part we could slow down the trip. We could miss out Jaipur - I don't do shopping but the girls want to ride the elephant to Fort. I have told them they will get their legs crushed but they don't believe me.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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OK dogster, maybe car and driver good idea. I like Savaari, can use them for pickups in Kolkata too.
Which part of the trip can we slow down do you ya reckon?
How did you know about my red shoes? lol (it's true though)
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Jul 14th, 2009, 08:08 AM
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Yup, it's an easy site to operate - but there are other driver/car combos that people recommend in here that'll pop up. At least you have a yardstick for prices now.

Everything I say to you will be predicated on those kids. I'd give different advice totally if they weren't involved. Things can spin out of control in India so you need the stress points covered. I think, as you are Mama India, you kinda want your guys to have that same blow-out experience you had all those years ago. But as Mama, you know that they'll enjoy it more if you don't drop them in it at the deep end right from day one.

Let's make those first few days of acclimatization smooth so you can get your India legs. I promise you, the sight of India out the windows of your car will be quite enough for the first few days. Slowly, slowly...

thursday is, of course correct re: 1AC single berth for 4. Use it.

Why that particular Delhi hotel?
Where are you thinking of in Ranthambore? Things are expensive there, I think.

I'd stay longer in Kolkata. It's a ferret's den but there's GREAT street-life, a GREAT market and backpacker dens all around. Fairlawn. It's the blow-out Indian city experience you won't get in Delhi.

The ease of your trip will be in direct relation to the amount of time you need to spend in the Andamans. Less time Andamans, ahhh, stretch out the rest of it all. Extra days everywhere.

Now me to stretch out. Ahhh. CYa tomorrow.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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Where to cut back? Well, I've already suggested skipping the tiger park, given the very low probability of seeing tigers. Second candidate would be the islands - how much beach time to you need?

Re: train classes. Suggest carefully reading the info at seat61.com/India.htm. Even if you book four tickets, getting a 4-berth compartment to yourselves is not guaranteed (the trains usually have two 4-berth and one 2-berth 1AC compartments) but you stand a good chance of arranging a change after you board, especially if you board at the beginning of a trip.

1AC tends to be the preserve of government bureaucrats and businessmen (although maybe they fly these days - I was in India in 2001). While you will have a much more peaceful trip in 1AC, you will have more fun, and a more interesting time, traveling with Indian middle class families in 2AC. I wouldn't recommend Sleeper Class with kids, though! I would check how many stops the train makes during the night - if it's a lot, go for 1AC, otherwise seriously consider 2AC.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 10:18 AM
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As a health care professional and once the parent of a young child, I would take lots of pharmaceuticals, and I don't mean mind-altering substances --- from what I've read on this board, the toilets on trains are covered with unseen little creepy crawlies. Since children put their hands on faces and mouths almost constantly, those creepy crawlies can cause problems. The last thing you want is a kid with typhoid in India! Check with a travel doc to find out what kind of vaccinations are needed that you and they don't already have. Also antibiotics for respiratory infections and gut infections will come in handy. And disposable latex gloves . . .
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Jul 14th, 2009, 10:19 AM
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Check with your hotel to find out if they have a pick up service at the airport. The fee might be included in your room rate.
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Jul 14th, 2009, 10:29 AM
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Thanks indianapearl. We will take no health risks as far as the children are concerned. All vaccinations will be in place for all of us. |The girls have been brought up to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before meals in addition to the obvious times. We have already begun teaching them how important regular handwashing is in India. We will take the handwash for use without water too.
MrsMarge is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 11:16 AM
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imo, way too much to do in a short period....i will re look at it later in the day....i am exhausted just from reading the schedule....slow down and see less...
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Jul 14th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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thursdaysd, thanks again. We can cut back some time in the Andamans. It's well worth the journey though and has the most beautiful beaches I have ever, ever visited. I'm sure we will love the tranquility of the place after hectic mainland India. The girls are looking forward to snorkelling too.
Seat61 is a great site. I may just book the tickets through make my trip to make life easier!

rhkkmk - looking forward to your suggestions. We could miss out Jaipur?
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