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So, we are here in Kolkata, which obviously means we got here! Air India from Heathrow was totally ok (4 out of 5), the dinner was yummy - spinach curry. We arrived in Delhi airport (very blingy airport, not much different to LHR with WHSmiths, Bodyshop etc and lots of fancy spa/lounges)on time, had 4 hour wait so we had a sleep and managed not to spend any money.

Stage two was on Air India (Boeing 737 Dreamliner) apparently the most energy efficient plane with tinted blue windows (adjustable tint!) and this plane was excellent -good entertainment films (even for a 2 hour flight!) and again yummy food. The service was extremely efficient and friendly: 5 out of 5.

So got to Kolkata airport 1hr 45mins later and all went ok till we had to find a cash point to get our first rupees. This was harder than we thought. ATM in arrivals would not give us cash, the only others were in Departures. Now, the airport does not let anyone in to Departures without a ticket... We had to see the Airport Manager who wrote a 4 sentence message on the back of Rachel's boarding pass so that we could give this to the stern looking security guys - our first welcome to Indian bureaucracy! So we got our rupees - now to find the train to city centre. This was not obvious so we asked a few people who all told us there was no train?! But we'd seen it online and knew there was! So, we stubbornly walked past all the cabs and got the bus. 50 mins later (120 rupees for both tickets - £1.20) we get to Esplanade stop and trot off to find guesthouse in the chaotic nightlife streets of Kolkata. Found Galaxy Hotel no problem.

Checked in, room v nice and clean. Went for our first walk around the local area - chaotic but totally fascinating. We got no hassle from anyone, in fact more like friendly smiles from the man we bought our first chai from (5 rupees each - 5p), our 1st five pani pooris each (famous Calcuttan street food - fried balls with chick pea and chilli filing, 20 rupees for 10 ie 2p each) and a bowl of chow mein (30 rupees). So two course dinner with drink from three different street vendors was had for 30 pence each! We decided we might like Kolkata and felt quite at ease.

Day 2 began with a late get up (after having gone to bed at 9pm... we had missed a nights sleep due to travel after all). We decided to get a trip to the Sunderbans booked but could we find the place we'd seen online? Of course not (we've since learned it's on the next street to the one we were on)... So we decided to go to find an internet cafe (we'd seen plenty last night) Could we find one? Course not! So we decided to head towards the river, through park area with lots of sports grounds; half an hour later and quite hungry did we go in the correct direction? Course not! So since Rach was getting grumpy, we headed back to Sudder St (hotel) for quick lie down and re-plan for the day.

We are now sat in a lovey internet cafe (on the very street we are staying on), having had a cup of chai and coffee and some mutton curry and veg paneer. Refreshed, we are ready to head out again! Off to try again for the Sunaderban booking, then on to the old colonial quarter of B.B.D Bag and to investigate train situation for next week at the Howrah Station, wish us luck.

T and R

Posted by TessAndRach 01:48 Archived in India

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