Udaipur Update

What I would not give to be back on a lake in India right now. It's cold and icy in Chicago and it's been a particularly lousy, unfulfilling week at work. Bleh.

It's the kind of week that I could use the very pleasant surprise that awaited us when we arrived in Udaipur, India's Lake City.

I am a big proponent of TripAdvisor.com for travel planning. It's a terrific way to shop for hotels and activities, since real travelers post their own reviews and photos which the site compiles to feed rankings. We'd used TripAdvisor to vet the hotel recommendations in our itinerary before leaving, and Jason checked in to preview each hotel before we arrived. Somehow, maybe, we thought the Udaipur fell through the cracks. After staying at hotels consistently ranked in the top 10 or at least top 15, our Udaipur hotel was #32. Here was a traveler's lesson, only read TripAdvisor *before* the trip, not while you're on it.

Arriving at night, and tired, we were deflated by the prospect of what awaited us at this hotel. Longingly we looked across the dark lake at the gleaming white Sheraton towers. So nice, ...but not ours. Worse was that our driver didn't even recognize our hotel's name, so we drove around a bit. After a U-turn, he headed towards the Sheraton. We laughed, convinced that this was a fool's errand. But they let us in the gates...and it WAS our hotel. New management! New name on the hotel! The four of us were like children at Christmas, gleeful and cheering as they took our passports for check-in. The room had this funny arrangement that we also saw in Delhi, a window to the bathroom. After more than a week of travel, we did not need to be that close, so we drew the shade. In Udaipur we saw the City Palace and Royal Ladies' gardens; declined a trip to see handicrafts (starting to feel shopped out); and took a lake boat ride to a small island where we enjoyed cool beverages.The City Palace and its iconic sun symbol.The palace doors have steps to get up onto your elephant, and spikes on the outside to keep your enemies' elephants out. However it was an Audi a member of the Royal family was driving when we saw him zipping out of the gates. Udaipur is where the James Bond film Octopussy was shot, which I still haven't watched since our return. With this cold weather it might be a good flick for snuggling into the couch. A respite on the lake was exactly what we were ready to enjoy in Udaipur. Our tour guide likely wondered how we turned a 15 minute stop on the boat ride into an hour long lounging, but after he was impatient with our driver Kamal (who by now, you know was our very favorite person in India) we didn't care too much for the guide.Kingfisher, India's light-drinking lager.At least there can still be a cold beer at the end of a wearying day back here at home.

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