We went on a tour yesterday via hotel car. It was amazing. When we had been in Mumbai before, our previous hotel had told us we could probably get a taxi for all day for about 1,000 INR, but you wouldn’t be guaranteed (nor even have much of a chance of) a driver who spoke a decent amount of English. Therefore, since this hotel offered a car and driver for a whole day, for about 2,200 INR ($50 CAD), we opted to take this option. You couldn’t get a tour of an alley for that price in Vancouver.
The car had air conditioning, but we found that every time we got out to look at stuff or take pictures, my glasses and camera fogged up. It was cool enough with the windows down and the wind blowing in as we drove, so we ended up leaving the AC off most of the time. This also afforded us a great opportunity to take pics as we drove along. Our driver would let us know when to do up the windows because there were beggars or vendors coming up, and this worked out fine.
It was a beautiful day, with just a tiny monsoon for less than five minutes, mostly overcast and very hot, but not the hottest so far. Our driver really knew everything about Mumbai and took us to all the important spots and told us where photo ops were. He also would get out of the car with us and walk wherever, to explain sights and make sure nobody bugged us too much. He never interfered with my bargaining skills when shopping, but we would always ask afterwards if he thought we got ripped off. He would always answer honestly, and sometimes I had done a good job, and sometimes he felt the vendor got the upper hand. It was funny. They usually start at five times a good price and work their way down, as i mentioned before.
As far as shopping is concerned, there is a lot of junk, as there is anywhere, so you have to look carefully. Our one big regret is that we bought a painting from an artist, and after we got back to the car, we wished we had bought several, as we really loved the one we got and wished we had a series. We circled the area a few times and she was gone. It’s hard to find handcrafted d stuff amongst the junk, so if you do find some and like or love it, buy it.
We hit all the sights and had lunch at the famous Leopold Cafe and ended the day at Juhu Beach, which has the most beautiful light reddish brown sand with no rocks at all (except for the cool, picking up kind), and the warmest water. It’s fairly garbagey there as well, but more on the upper beach, not right by the water. We weren’t sure of the water cleanliness, but we waded up to midscale and picked up some neat rocks. We have now put our feet in the Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Arabian Sea (aka Persian Gulf) and the Indian Ocean. We have a few more to go, but it’s a start.
We were very tired by the end of this long day and felt we had really gotten more than our money’s worth. Our guide was excellent and we will be writing a letter the hotel manager to commend his excellence.
Here are a few photos, including the painting. Unfortunately, these are all pics from my phone, as my camera doesn’t have bluetooth to transfer them. But they give you another wee taste of Mumbai.