The morning of the 19th was a bit frantic and we worked feverishly to pack our (now too little) bags for the early morning trip to Jaipur! So, there we were, the four (myself, Kylie, Stephen and Luci) of us rushing to catch our train to a new city. After a friendly squabble over the fare to be paid, we negotiated a fair price and did what we could to communicate our situation to the railway attendants who eventually directed us toward the appropriate platform. It turned out, that there would be a slight delay in the departure time but we were more than welcome to make ourselves comfortable in the First Class Lounge.
As you might imagine, the First Class Lounge at Rohilla Station is everything short of comfortable It is a cement block with a few chairs and lots of happy rats running from one end to the other in search of God knows what! So there we were, for the next 4 1/2 hours. While India has taught me many things in my short stay, it has also given me the gift of patience (which I desperately needed). So, I had a banana and finished a very good book.
The train carriage that Kylie and I had booked ourselves into was fantastic. Again, not first class but surely the nicest place I had slept in to date! We quickly made ourselves comfortable and settled in for the five hour ride to Jaipur.
Samode Haveli is a bit of heaven in the desert of central Rajahstan. The gentlemen at the front desk greeted us with smiles and cold drinks while we meandered through the formalities. The moment we arrived in our Majaraja suite, I thought I might not ever leave!!! The walls are completely covered with mirrored mosaics and wall paintings depicting various rituals and Gods.
Kylie and I had dinner in the courtyard that evening and got up early for the following:
7:30 a.m. Yoga by the pool
8:45 a.m. The best breakfast I have had in ages!!!
9:30 a.m. Ayurvedic Body Massage and Facial
11:00 a.m. Steam Bath and Cold Shower
It was pure bliss. Little did I know that it would keep me calm for the afternoon that lay ahead!
We begrudgingly packed our bags that afternoon and made our way to the train station for the long trip to Varanasi. With ten minutes to spare and a hideous amount of sweat, my massage began to feel like a distant memory. Little did I know how distance it would become... The train was delayed by a few hours and 3 Tier AC is nothing close to 'First Class!' We struggled a bit to jump on the train, which only stops for a few minutes while people get off and board at the same time. Now, there is clearly a skill to getting on the train that I am sure I could master if I weren't lugging the heaviest backpack in all of India!
I had booked the tickets prior to leaving India but failed to realize that the e-ticket does not indicate seat assignment. Long story short, I left Kylie with the bags, had a bit of an exchange with the grumpy conductor but got what I was after. Three tier AC is, as implied, a carriage with three bunks on all sides of the open carriage. We found ours and did our best to get comfortable for what would soon become almost 24 hours on the train with no food or water!!! For whatever reason, it sounds worst than it actually was and we made it to Varanasi with tired eyes, a few aches and all of our stuff.