Our last day in Bhuj was busy, and for me began waking with what felt like a sore throat - Marie's flu/cold was threatening me. So I headed down the bazaar - main drag in search or a coconut, pomegranate, some citrus and garlic, all to no avail so settled for a chai. Not a morning place, well not my hours at least, an hour or so later I got all, and spent the remainder of the day chewing on raw garlic and chowing down the rest of the natural remedies.
We spent most of the morning shopping of course, through the bazaar, and then finishing at Jay's - Amrat Silversmiths to collect my necklace. Made so beautifully by the family, and then Jay took us to lunch - a hidden Bhuj gem, off the main bazaar, a locals establishment, but total gold. The most amazing Gujarati thali in a great setting, obvious from the stares that they don't get much tourist traffic. Best of all good to catch up with people like Jay, small interactions, chai and chats can turn into great friendships.
Soon it was time to leave, Bharat took us to the station, and we were soon on our way to Abu Road, bound for Mt Abu. It was going to be a long trip - apparent when about 40 pubescent kids got on at Gandigaram also bound for school camp in Mt Abu. It was a little crazy but nothing too unusual, I must admit there is definitely more interaction with the carriage occupants when I travel solo.
We arrived at Abu Road about 12.45am, it was freezing and thankfully our driver was there to collect us, and we were soon in a warm car on the way up the mountain to stay at Bikener House - Palace Hotel, the hill station residence of the Maharaja of Bikener. We arrived and had to wake the gateman, and the desk boy, but we're finally led to our room, and what a room! It was huge with a expansive marble floor, a bathroom nearly the size of my house, and very tasteful furnishings. Best of all there was a mini bar, and as tired as we were we sat up in bed and laughed uncontrollably whilst sipping on our gin mixed with the minibar sodas, the flavor not a concern for us at all. Lights out soon occurred as we had to be up for breakfast and out by 11am.
We made the most of the gardens in the morning, taking a "turn" around the expansive green space. Our driver arrived by 11 and we headed to the Jain temple as it is one of the two most beautiful, the other being Ranakpur, which I visited on my previous trip. And lovely it was, intricately carved marble, a real sight to behold.
After a few hours we were in Udaipur, how I never tire of this city, it is absolutely beautiful with lovely people, and now quite a few nice friends. We settled in for a much needed lunch at our hotel, Mewar Haveli, ordering my staple, Dal Fry with rice. My good friend Manish soon joined us - great to see him and hear all about his new baby girl, born only a few days earlier. He invited us to lunch in a few days to meet her, his wife and mother, an offer I wasn't going to refuse. After lunch we visited my jewellers, Silver Gallery, Bharat and Promod sitting out front as we walked up, happy to see me, why wouldn't they be, I'm a good customer. They made my wedding ring, and I talked to them about remodeling it, and also redipping the diamond trio. And best of all my earrings were still there, my previous trip I had a hard time deciding between two pairs, the other mewari type ones winning ever so slightly over then gold hoops with the ruby drops. But now they were to be mine, all mine.
The next few days were spent being tour guide, seeing the sights, shopping, and eating - all the best food and view establishments ticked off the travel box. The best meals though were the two Rajasthani thalis. The first in Manish's home prepared by his mother, which was out of this world delicious, though only a side line to visiting Diya, his new baby girl of ten days. The second with Bharat my jewellers to the Garden Hotel where we were stuffed with second and third helpings, a fantastic thalis I will definitely add to my eating experiences for future Udaipur visits. This followed a walk around the park with Bharat seeing the library and the lively congregation of elderly discussing politics and issues in the evening air. I do think we should have eaten first and walked later, as I had so much food in my belly, with an overnight train trip to Jaipur to end the evening and our lovely visit to Udaipur.