Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: New Year in India (2016/17)

To the Garden City

It was the last day of 2016 and please excuse me if I attend to first things first: Happy Birthday to me!

There was no hurry at all to get up. Breakfast at the hotel was less busy than on the first morning of our stay, but got more frantic before we left. We arranged a taxi with some drivers stationed outside the hotel, and Bruce managed to negotiate an acceptable price by the usual tactic of starting to walk away. The pick-up time was to be 12 noon, as the flight was already showing as 1hr behind schedule. We completed our packing and then simply relaxed until time to go. The taxi followed the now familiar route to the airport.

On arrival, the landside experience was good, but airside was extraordinarily busy, and of course we had no lounge access for this short domestic hop on Air Asia India. We scraped together a rudimentary lunch of a sandwich, some Pringles and bottled water. Having survived the very unstructured boarding process, we were ready to experience our first flight on the Indian arm of Air Asia. The aircraft interior was nice enough, but it turned out that Bruce and I had rather different perceptions of the cabin crew. He thought the service was friendly enough and broadly similar to easyJet, while I - perhaps a little obsessively - was annoyed that the crew missed things during their safety checks for both take-off and landing, something that very rarely happens on easyJet. It just goes to show that opinions can vary, even with two experienced travellers who generally see eye-to-eye.

ABOVE: Arrival in Bengaluru

On arrival at Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), we were pleased to see another neat and tidy airport, and were surprised and delighted to find that the hotel had sent a porter airside to help us with our bags right from the carousel. We met our driver, Francis, landside and settled into a comfortable car for the transfer to the ITC Gardenia hotel, marketed as part of Starwood's prestigious Luxury Collection. During the journey, we enjoyed listening to our driver's comments about the city of Bengaluru and the state of Karnataka. It was news to both of us that the area was 30% Christian. Francis was looking forward to attending Midnight Mass for New Year. Again, neither of us had ever heard of such a practice - Christmas certainly, but not New Year!

ABOVE: First evening in the ITC Gardenia

First impressions of our new base were simply excellent, even though our room turned out to be adjacent to a bank of elevators. Everything looked beautiful. We spent a most enjoyable early evening in one of the lounges, for cocktails and canapés. Apparently, all guests at this hotel were entitled to some form of lounge-type product, but the venue varied by category of room. The situation was further complicated by special arrangements for the New Year's Eve party, which we had decided not to attend. (Bruce had not been feeling 100% since arrival, with the after-effects of a cold being aggravated by Indian pollution levels.) The lounge experience was notable for the number of small children that were present, and the very high standard of their behaviour.

We watched some TV back in the room and I realised shortly after 10pm that I was on the point of falling asleep. Bruce was ready to call it a day (and year!) as well, due to not feeling so great.

Saturday 31 Dec

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