We are pleasantly surprised with our first impression of Mumbai. Our 3 day stay has been terrific and we have yet to feel the cultural shock that everyone seems to write about. Perhaps it is because we have been traveling for so long and have visited some places that are rougher around the edges than our experiences in Mumbai or perhaps it is because we are staying at The Four Seasons (hello luxury!!!) and riding around in chauffeured cars! Yes, we are playing it safe to ease into the Indian experience but it has not removed any of the wonders of this exciting city and we are very excited to see more of the country.
Our 4-hour flight from Bangkok to Mumbai on JetAirways was really good and Mumbai airport is world class. Thanks to an internet promotion, the rooms at the Four Seasons were reasonable, considering Mumbai high prices. From check-in to the restaurant service, staying here reminds me so much of my hospitality days! My impression of Four Seasons has not changed in 15 years – I think the company continues to have the BEST hotels in the world. I’m proud to have worked for them in New York & San Diego.
We toured the main sites in Mumbai and love Prince of Wales Museum followed by a short walk to the Gateway of India and world famous Taj Mahal Hotel; both are located in Colaba where President Obama stayed a few months ago. The following day, our driver/guide Mr. Patil took us to Marina Drive, Mumbai’s waterfront where you can watch the sunset over the Arabian Sea, and the Church of St. John (known as Afghan Church). We also spent time at Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum, which is the house Gandhi lived in when he stayed in Mumbai. It showcases the story of his life and photos of letters he wrote to world leaders (interesting to read the letter he wrote to Hitler – see picture). The Dhobi Ghat, where thousands of items of laundry are washed and hanged every day, color-coordinated and in large scale, is quite unique to observe the coordinated chaos. We were fortunate to receive a local perspective of the Banganga water tank which is the 2nd most famous body of water in India (behind of course the Ganges). The fresh water that pours into the tank (see photo below) is a result of the God Rama shooting his arrow into the ground. There are several nice temples surrounding the area and Louisa made a contribution at one (see photo). Funny enough, Mumbai has a lot of what you see in Rio and São Paulo: super modern buildings right next to slums. We finished our tour with a vegetarian lunch at Chetana, serving delicious indian Thali.
And of course we spent time enjoying the hotel facilities – the pool and spa, the rooftop bar with amazing views of Mumbai and the restaurants. All 5 stars!
Next stop – Panjim, Goa.