One of the positives of being upgraded to this beautiful room is that we didn't want to leave it. But that's also a negative because we were in a foreign city and should be out exploring.
After lounging around the hotel until about 2:30pm, we finally got our lazy butts in gear. We had planned to have a romantic date night so today was the first time in three weeks that I put a little makeup on while Vinny did his hair. As good as it feels to be all natural, it feels equally as good to put yourself together and feel like a woman again. Pretty woman, walking down the street, pretty woman, the kind I like to meet. That's what I felt like although I am not necessarily saying that's what I looked like. But Vinny sure was handsome. Such a fine Italian stallion. The hotel staff even noticed our slight transformation and said "wow, looking fresh". HA! I guess we looked like road kill all the other days.
A few weeks ago, Vinny's brother-in-law, Ron, texted us about Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur because it was recently voted the number one hotel in the world according to TripAdvisor. Yes, the world. Not just India, not just Asia but the entire world. It literally doesn't get much better than that. As phase one of our date night, we wanted to grab drinks and snacks there to see what exactly makes something the best above all the rest. There is a museum part and then the hotel part. After we checked out the museum and learned a little about the history, we made our way over to the hotel. There were guards in front of the very lavish gates who asked us what we were doing. So noisy of them. When we mentioned we wanted to spend money in their restaurant (and not in those exact words), they called the manager whom then told me on the phone they are not allowing outside guests to enter. Say what? I am American, I want to give you money and you won't let me? Ouch, that stings. We were straight up rejected. Without even a strike one or strike two, we managed to strike out looking. Little did they know we got all dressed up for them and it still wasn't good enough. We were pretty bitter for about ten minutes until we realized it was probably for the best. If they did let us in, they would have expected us to spend a fortune, which we don't have. Always looking for the silver lining. At least we snuck a photo in.
Phase two of our date night was to watch the sunset and eat dinner at Indique restaurant, which we heard had spectacular views of the Mehrangarh Fort. Ratan Vilas made us a reservation on the rooftop for 6:30pm. However, thanks to Umaid Bhawan Palace for hanging us out to dry, we had nothing to do for an hour and a half so we slowly made our way over there earlier than expected. It actually worked out for the better as we were able to sit, enjoy our surroundings, in no rush, with nowhere to be but right here. As the sun began to set, the fort lit up. What a perfect little Indian style date night we had.
One thing I've noticed since we've been in the state of Rajasthan is how strong their mustache game is. I mean, three thumbs up to these guys. But first, I mustache you all a question (ha, not really, just wanted to add that in there). Namastache. Okay, I'm done, I promise.
Another thing we've noticed throughout of all India are people sleeping everywhere. I know I've mentioned this in a few previous posts, so my apologies, but it doesn't get old. They can be sleeping on the job, on the ground, on a bench, in a chair and we've even seen someone sleeping on their moped in the middle of traffic - it doesn't matter. They just like to sleep.
The last thing I've noticed, specifically in Jodhpur and more specifically at Ratan Vilas is the attention to detail they give Vinny. Everything is "how are you sir", "was the food spicy enough for you sir", "is there anything I can get you sir". I am nearly invisible. They won't clear my plates until he is done (and I always finish before him). Very intriguing.
That wraps up our three nights in Jodhpur. If it wasn't for Ratan Vilas or the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodphur would be just another city on my list. It was great to see what we saw but I felt no emotional attachment the way I felt in some of the other places. But that's okay, my heart is only so big and I'm not ready to fill it quite yet.
Around 7:45am on February 8, our driver picked us up and we were headed for Udaipur. This was going to be our fifth and final city in the state of Rajasthan and our eight and final city in the north of India. The drive was similar to the one from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur with tiny villages and animals controlling the roads yet again. We probably saw well over one hundred cows in five hours. No exaggeration either. But this time we had dogs, pigs, birds, and monkeys in addition to the standard goats, donkeys, sheep and camels.
About 3.5 hours into our drive, we stopped at Ranakpur Jain Temple. Unfortunately, we couldn't go inside because it was 11am and non-Jains were only allowed between 12pm-5pm. That's okay though. We've seen a lot of temples in the last few weeks.
One interesting thing about this temple were the "mandatory rules". Some of them were standard such as photography is prohibited, no food or drinks and leave your shoes outside. But some of the rules were quite unique such as "to maintain sacredness of Temple entry of ladies during menstruation period is prohibited". Obviously not the best English but you get the point. Women, during that time of the month, aren't allowed inside. Fascinating. I've never heard of that but then again I don't frequent Temples all that often either.
After the temple, the drive was beautiful. For a lack of a better comparison, the road was like a mini Las Virgenes with wild monkeys, gigantic mountains and wonderful terrain. Definitely didn't resemble the rest of India. There were hills, trees and an abundance of greenery. We stopped at a restaurant that had great views but average food. We found a red thread and multiple hairs in a dish that obviously didn't call for that as the ingredients. Yummy.
It was about 2:45pm when we arrived in Udaipur, which is considered the Venice of the East. Until then, Arrivederci...