Sunday, 12 February 2012

Barbie goes a'travelling

I've never been much of a traveller.  Don't get me wrong I do enjoy it and I love seeing different places but I've never really had much of a chance.  I've been lucky this year so far though as I got sent to India for a week for work in January!  (I know, everyone now wants my can get to the back of the queue!)

I wasn't really looking forward to the 11 hour flight but I discovered that flying business class seems to be a very good way of getting over my fear of flying...I think was the glass of champagne that you get handed as you board that helped most. 

Then we arrived...oh. wow.  I was working all week, so sightseeing wasn't really high on the to-do list but we had managed to fit a day off into the schedule and several evening dinners that we had to attend so we did get to see a bit of Kolkata (Calcutta) and we were staying in the plushest hotel I've ever even seen (never mind stayed in!)

I've never stayed in a hotel with palm trees inside before...

My Humungous room!

the turn down service tray left every night 

Obviously I was a bit messy for the housekeepers...everytime I went out I'd come back to find more of my things neatly sorted and laid out on white cloths...My colleague even returned one day to find her earrings neatly sorted into pairs instead of heaped in a pile as she'd left them!

This was a downfall...every day fresh chocolates, fruit and wine left in my waistline did not thank me!

Is this the biggest windchine ever?..(It reached down 5 floors)

 The small flower display in the lift foyer..

So, I think you get the idea that the hotel was huge and lovely, I found it difficult to be treated like such a VIP by the staff, but it certainly made for an enjoyable stay.

One our day off we did a little bit of sightseeing.  Kolkata isn't a highly tourist based area but that doesn;'t mean theres not an amazing number of things to see...

We went to the Birla Mandir Hindu Temple, made of the same marble as the Taj Mahal..No photos are allowed inside, but heres a taste of outside...

Then we went to Parshwanath Jain Temple, where we became a tourist attraction ourselves as people came up and asked to have their photos taken with us.  It was a lovely calm place and we unwittingly arrived on an important day so there were a large number of visitors

Yes...he is cutting the grass with scissors...He turned around so we could get a better shot of him!
 I think they knew I was coming.. the colour scheme was very barbie!
Then to finish off the sights we went to Mother Theresas Tomb.  It was an odd yet lovely experience, and one I could appreciate even though I have no affitiation to the catholic church.  Photos were only allowed in the tomb itself, but there was a small museum and up some steep stairs you could go and see the room she lived in as it's been preserved the way it was left. 
 The tomb itself..
  Fresh flowers are laid out every day.  A small pot of them was left on the windowsill from the day before that were left there so people could take them home as souveneirs

We disovered that we were visiting during the wedding season, two of the dinners we were invited to also conincided with weddings being held in the same venue so I saw some amazing clothes and highly extravagant parties. 

This does make Kolkata sound like a very happy and lovely place...and it is, for some...I thought I was prepared for what I was going to see while I was there, we see pictures on TV of the poverty in countries like India all the time, but trust me, they don't.  I can't even start to describe how conditions I saw people living in, at every point in every street was someones living space, whether they were lucky enough to have a tarpaulin strapped across two trees or whether they just sat in the street with a candle.  It puts a whole different perspective on what we in the UK class as poverty and what we consider as "having nothing".  This side of India certainly leaves a lasting impression, but it also helped in many ways to make this an amazing trip, and I'd certainly be pleased if I got the opportunity to go again.