We made it!!! The post is a bit late, but we will try to keep up. So – we’re in India now, sitting on a couch, chilling and trying to take it all in. And there is a lot to take… But before describing it let’s go back in time a bit to our preparations that consisted of baking gingerbread cookies, traveling to Warsaw and a very, very long time of being awake. Enjoy!
We’ve had quite a debate wondering what is the thing that we should take from Poland to show our gratitude for hosts in India. We didn’t want it to be anything heavy, expensive or taking too much space. Eventually though we’ve decided to… bake gingerbread cookies! It’s perfect, they’re a part of Polish Christmas tradition and they taste so good. :-) We’ve had a lot of fun preparing them and Nick made this really cool red frosting for us to use.
From having too much time we suddenly slipped into having none. We were worried we weren’t going to make it to Warsaw on Sunday (our flight was at 6am on Tuesday), that’s how late we were with everything. We had to go shopping, clean the house and pack. It all went smooth in the end and our BlaBlaCar guy gave us door-to-door service from our house to Warsaw.
In Warsaw we stayed with Nick’s friend, Skrzymek. He has a very cute cat. <3
We’ve had a chance to finish our shopping and visit a really cool cafe called Nancy Lee. It’s a place where you can try amazing vegan cuisine. We both ate a plate of brussel sprouts which we normally dislike a lot. We’re not kidding! They were served in a coconut-lemon sauce with a side of violet potatoes. We couldn’t decide on a dessert, so we took 1/3 of everything – vegan chocolate cake with blueberry jam, vegan apple pie and brownies with yogurt cream. Oh, we’ve also had a piece of banana bread with vegan chocolate. One word comes to mind for all this food – PERFECTION. Nancy Lee became our favourite vegan place ever! You can see the food and the place yourselves also on their FB page.
We’ve decided not to go to sleep before the flight. Of course I dozed off for an hour or so, but Nick stayed awake and… he got a cold! Men are weak these days. ;-) Anyway, finally we looked at each other, held hands and walk towards the journey of our lives.
First flight was easy, from Warsaw to Berlin. It lasted less than an hour and we’ve slept through it. Then we had almost 4 hours to spare in Berlin and that was tough; I fell asleep on a Starbucks Cafe sofa. The longest flight was ahead of us – 6 hours to Abu Dhabi. We had a (very poor) meal included, together with drinks and tv. Also tried to watch “Batman vs Superman”, but it was so boring we didn’t even finish it so we tried to sleep. Yeah, and now comes the moment of the not-so-nice part of the story. A lady in front of Nick lowered her seat, so Nick had no space whatsoever. He decided to lower his seat too in order to gain more space, but the guy behind him didn’t want to let him. He said that he couldn’t take his legs away, but the truth is he didn’t want to. And guess what- he had a lot of space due to his chair being lowered to the limit! Reasoning with him seemed extremely fruitless and we were very tired. Unfortunately we had to call for the flight attendant, as Nick was completely squished. The guy got told off, he even argued a bit, but he had to do what was requested of him. What an a-hole… Everybody was trying to get at least some comfort during this long time on a plane. Meh.
In Abu Dhabi we spent 3 hours at the airport. Our flight was delayed. It was really weird to be in a minority first time in our lives. Due to being Europeans, people stared at us a lot, as it was only four of us I guess. Surprisingly, food on the plane was great and of course we have no idea what we’ve eaten. There was rice for sure and some curry sauce, oh, and Indian bread. Dessert was amazing!! It was pink and it tasted of melted marshmallows. Delicious. ^^ It felt like learning to eat all over again. We were looking at other passengers to do it right.
Eventually we made it to India. It was 3.15am. To get to our host’s place we had to find a tuk-tuk, but we only saw taxis around. When asked about a price they said 800-900 rupees for a ride. Haha, nope… I mean, for an average European it’s still decent fare but we were told by our host that we can get a rickshaw for around 100. And so, we were on a tuk-tuk mission, finally we found them (the taxi driver said it was 1km away, but we knew he was lying and of course, 200m further there they were) and had a crazy ride for only 150 rupees. Quite a difference, eh?
We thought this drive was crazy, because there seem to be no rules on the street. Fortunately there was almost no cars on the streets. We were going through dark passages, glaring insecurely at stray dogs and rubbish all around. Such a contrast… The airport was quite monumental and nicely decorated, and at this moment it seemed for us like a completely different world. We definitely couldn’t stop smiling though. ^^
Our host’s name is Sanjay. He made us feel welcome even though we forced him our of bed so late at night (it was around 4am when we arrived). We fell asleep immediately after lying down. We woke up at 2pm. ;D Glaring through the window was… something else.
We wanted to take it easy and relax that day, so Sanjay took us to the beach. Ha, and if we thought that our night ride was crazy, then we changed our minds while being in tuk-tuk during the day. Normally one might say – “You went to the beach. So what? Not a big deal.” Couldn’t be more wrong. We did not go to the beach. We went through suburbs, found ATM, were taken aback by the unbelievably gigantic contrast only Mumbai can have (or so we were told), caught a tuk-tuk and survived a drive, most of which we were watching the traffic and thinking “what the fuck?” or “Jesus, he’s driving the wrong way!”, went out to the beach for a walk… Oh, stop it right here! The beach. Even the beach was different. Lots of people walking and chilling, playing cricket or football. We walked and talked, discussing different customs, music tastes and stuff. After a while we went back and we bought a coconut (different!) filled with weird but tasty coconut water and flesh tasting like no coconut before. Then we were attacked by this snacks vendor who prepared us puffed rice with spices snack (amazing! And different. XD ). All in all we tasted so many different things that day, it was amazing! Later we just went back with cray cray tuk tuk where we faced death every second and when we reached home we were more exhausted than from whole day of training.
And so, we ate dinner, had short conversation with Sanjay and went to sleep. We probably suffer a bit from jet lag as the night was quite tough to sleep through. And Niki got sore throat. Women these days… XD
Today we left the flat on our own, without Sanjay, to buy medicine for Niki’s sore throat. Every time we go out we face this enormous abyss between us and Indian people. Niki even confessed that she had to force herself to go out, I can’t blame her, though. The difference is unbelievable.
After another rich in spices and flavours breakfast we went to the city centre of Mumbai (poor Niki ate only a banana as the rest was too spicy for her). After a short rickshaw drive we arrived to a train station where we took a train. It was simply amazing! There were no people sitting on the roof like the news like to show us, Europeans, but no doors and people jumping onto the train when it was already running were also worth the experience. The ride was quite amazing, we have to say. ;)
When we got off the train we headed to the Gateway of India, symbolically, as it is our first time here. The building itself was erected in early XX century and consists both of Gothic and Indian architecture style. However, even though we were interested in architecture, people around us seemed more fascinated with us. They wanted to take selfies with us and I got a baby to hold for the photo. Obviously, I had no idea what to do with it.
After that we tried to see the Taj Mahal hotel lobby. Unfortunately, we failed as the employees told us the entrance was prohibited after recent terrorist attacks. Therefore, we took a walk in the direction of UNESCO heritage building, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a beautiful train station. In the meantime we had a coconut juice break.
Also, we visited the park to rest a few minutes. Interesting enough, the area was called Horniman Circle. Coincidence? Quite some people were taking a nap there, trying to escape from surrounding rush and noise. However, on our way we saw that taking a nap was quite easy anywhere, even on a busy street.
On our there were signs how India is different everywhere. Chickens running free in the city. Ridiculous slogans. Sugar cane juice vendors with employees sitting on the roof. Wow. The whole experience was… Well. Intense. They even have swastikas here and apparently they have a totally different meaning – peace and prosperity.
When we reached the Station, Niki was already exhausted and I was also pretty knackered. We decided to take a train again and after a few stops and changes of transportation means we arrived at home.
I can say, Mumbai is too much. Too many people, too many cars, too much pollution, too many smells, too much of everything. I still can’t tell if I like this city or not, but probably I would enjoy less crowded and less busy place. Hopefully, we’re leaving tomorrow to Aurangabad to broaden our horizons with India experience.
What is your personal opinion or thoughts on Mumbai? Let us know. ;) See ya!