Udaipur is where we began our real Indian experience. After two incredibly stressful days in Delhi, we climbed aboard the night train, happy to leave the chaos behind. The longer stay gave us a chance to really settle into our Indian adventure.
We were picked up at the train station by our host Samvit. It saved us having to bargain for a taxi or a tuk-tuk. I have to say that’s one thing that I can’t get used to and dislike very much! We were all really tired so we headed straight to the homestay. We absolutely loved this place. Our room was on the top floor which opened into a roof-top terrace. There was a spiral staircase outside our bedroom door that led to yet another roof where we had an amazing view of the city surrounded by mountains.
There are so many amazing things about this place that I don’t even know where to begin. We really enjoyed sharing the home with other travellers. The common room and terrace were great for mingling and relaxing. Our host Samvit was amazing, not only did he make our stay comfortable and enjoyable, he also took the time to show us some beautiful sites and brought Kasm out for fresh juice almost every day.
His gorgeous dogs also kept Kasm entertained and we really miss Julie 😉
If you are visiting Udaipur, this is definitely where you should stay. I can guarantee that you will love it and leave with amazing memories and a new friend.
Having a week here allowed us to take our time and just do a little bit of site-seeing every day. I’ve always preferred being in more secluded areas as it doesn’t take long before my nerves start going fritzy when we are out! We spent our first day catching up on sleep, relaxing and getting to know some of the other travellers.
On our second day, we headed to the City Palace and Lake Pichola. We took the tuk-tuk provided by the homestay and as we were getting closer to the city, I started feeling a little anxious about having to find another tuk-tuk to get around. I just wanted the peace of mind that we could get around without any hassle so we decided to take the all-day option with our driver. We still needed time to adjust to India 😉
We walked around the City Palace and the lake for a while and checked out the shops that line the street along the palace. I think I enjoyed the sight of the shops more than the City Palace. There is just so much going on. You can find everything in these little shops! Such beautiful colourful fabrics hanging outside, all screaming, buy me! buy me!
We headed to Celebration Mall after our site-seeing. India is a country of incredible contrast. Walking into this mall was as if we stepped through a time warp. The place was stunning and clean, unlike the streets outside.
They say India is a country you love or hate. For us, it’s both. We are loving the beautiful sites, the people, the energy and the food of course, but definitely hating the filth and garbage that you see on the streets. Is it really that difficult to have a good garbage collection in place? Not all the blame can be on the government. Your average person also needs to change how they view their home vs the outside. You walk into the home and it’s immaculate yet they step out the door and dump the garbage just around the corner.
After a couple days, we started to feel more comfortable getting around, especially once we started using Uber. It’s a lot cheaper and definitely more comfortable and no bargaining, yipee!
We visited the Jagdish temple. It was the first temple we’ve been to and really enjoyed the beautiful art on the building. You can spend hours just admiring the various carvings.
We had a local that followed us around for a bit telling us about the temple. He was really nice and pleasant but I just couldn’t help thinking he wasn’t just doing this out of the goodness of his heart. Sure enough, he insisted on bringing us to his shop to see his artwork. He said he was going to Canada for an Art Show. We politely declined – though it took a while!
We started to walk towards the City Palace for another stroll along the lake and lunch. Once again, we had another guy follow us, asking where we were from. Here’s the shocker, he was also going to Canada for a show 😉
I joked that we should come back the next day, telling them we were from France and see if they were travelling to France 😉
We headed into the City Palace and found a restaurant that looked nice. And here’s the conversation I had with the Zombie-like staff standing at the door with the menu. The menu seemed to only contain “Continental” food but we decided to ask about Indian food in case they serve it, as almost all places do!
Me: Do you have Indian Food?
Zombie: Yes Mam. Pasta. Pizza
Me: Do you have a menu I can see the list of Indian food?
Zombie: Yes Mam (pointing to the same menu) – Pizza, Pasta, Burger
Me: But do you serve Indian Food?
Zombie: Yes Mam. Pizza. Pasta
Me: I don’t see it in this menu
Zombie: Yes Mam. Pasta. Pizza
I GIVE UP!
After a good chuckle, I checked our lonely planet guide and we headed to O’Zen which was great!
Almost all shops and restaurants have these hanging outside their doors. It is to keep away Alakshmi who is the goddess of poverty and misery. Apparently, Alakshmi only likes sour, pungent and hot things. The shopkeepers and merchants hang these outside their door so the goddess can satisfy her hunger and not enter the premises.
Another outing we had was to the Classic Car museum. The boys definitely loved seeing some of the old classics. There was even a car used in the James Bond movie, Octopussy.
Responsible Rural Tour
This was one of the highlights of our stay. Our host Samvit runs a non-profit organization, helping the youth in the rural area. We visited two of his youth centers, where the children of all ages get to spend time at after school. They form friendships, learn how to help each other, are taught about basic hygiene and most importantly, have fun in a safe environment. We got to meet the kids and sit down with them asking questions and answering some. They were quite shy at the beginning but eventually warmed up to us and got a big kick out of seeing pictures of snow on my phone.
The drive through the countryside was beautiful and we even stopped at a little roadside shack for Chai. It was my first Chai and quite delicious.
We also made a stop at the beautiful and serene Tiger Lake! Sheesh, don’t tell the tourists. They’re all at Pichola Lake 😉
We ended the evening by having dinner at Raaj Bargh. A beautiful restaurant on Lake Fateh Sagar. We felt like royalty having dinner under a canopy on the lake. We loved it so much that went back again on our last night. It was pretty dark and not easy to take photos but we took plenty of mental pictures 🙂
A Lovely evening with Aditi & Family
Another highlight of our Udaipur trip was the pleasure of being invited into Aditi’s home for dinner. Aditi and I worked together while at Oceanwide and she is currently in India visiting family after giving birth to a little girl. We were picked up from our place and brought to their beautiful home and got to meet the family and even had a tour of their house. It’s a beautiful home with so many levels and I loved the outdoor spaces Indians homes have. If we ever build a house, I want multiple rooftops 😉
She cooked us a delicious dinner and we spent some time with the family. The family is currently getting ready for the wedding of their youngest daughter and I was amazed at how much work and preparation goes into it. If I remember correctly, they will have about 800 guests attending. It is definitely one thing I wish I could have seen here, an Indian wedding. Just looking at Aditi’s photos was like stepping into a fantasy land.
At the end of the evening, Aditi and her brother brought us to a lake where we were served coffee on the boardwalk enjoying the beautiful setting and the happy laughter surrounding us.
We finished our time in Udaipur by another lovely dinner at Raaj Bargh with our host Samvit. We left Udaipur with beautiful memories and a new friend.