05 December 2009

Marvelous Mumbai

We were really surprised by Mumbai. It felt incredibly vibrant, cosmopolitan and, with so little livestock on the streets, it was almost as though we weren't in India!

One of the things that has surprised us the most has been the architecture. The areas around the Colaba and Fort districts are packed with loads of amazing old buildings including Victorian colonial houses, art deco apartments and huge gothic mansions. Unfortunately most of them are in a state of disrepair and slowly crumbling away.

One of the grandest buildings in town is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, or to call it by its easier to remember old colonial name, Victoria.

The station dates from 1887 but recently had a staring role in the film Slumdog Millionaire.

In total we've had 5 nights in Mumbai but we haven't really done that much sight seeing. Although we did make a point of going to see the Gateway to India.

We've mainly spent our time just wandering aimlessly about, enjoying being in the big city and soaking up the cafe culture. I love Indian food more than most people but it's been quite nice to have some international food after eating virtually only curry for the last two months. You can get western food in most towns but the Indian interpretation is usually way off the mark so you're better off sticking to the extremely tasty local stuff. However; there's loads of proper western cafes and restaurants here (and Mc Donalds!) so we have indulged a little in some blander food from back home!

Last year Mumbai became the focus of the world when the 26/11 terrorist attacks occured at several locations across the city resulting in the deaths of nearly 200 people.

The city is still recovering from the attacks. The main part of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel is still closed (only the tower is open) for rebuilding and repairs. The hotel is home to the Harbour Bar 1933, the first licensed bar in the whole of India. On the day we visited the bar was re-opening for the first time since the attacks so we dropped in for a cocktail to pay our respects.

One of our favorite places to stop for a sneaky afternoon beer, Leopold Cafe, was also hit during the attacks.

The table we were given on our first visit there was right next to one of the bullet holes. If we had been there a year and five days earlier it wouldn't have been the best place to be seated.

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