26 May 2016 - INDIA
Namaste folks, and thanks for following the India blogs, I hope they were of interest.
The last time we spoke was from a rain-drenched Chennai. I have never seen such torrential rain like that anywhere before and it never let up the whole time I was there!
In spite of the rain Chennai is a lovely city with quality hotels and a decent cricket stadium. But having said that, as I think I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, since the advent of the IPL all the stadia have raised the bar in terms of comfort. Not only with seating but the wash rooms as well.
While in Chennai I took the time to drive down the coast to visit a Taj property on the beach (Fisher Cove): how nice it will be if a test or an ODI is played there and we find time to visit this lovely beach property! The long, clean private beach is a stone’s throw from the hotel’s bedrooms.
From Chennai it was off to Bangalore and its crazy traffic!!! One leaves the airport on a fabulous freeway and I remember thinking " what's all the fuss about re the traffic?" when we suddenly came to the end of the freeway and hit the mid-morning chaos. It’s incredible how the locals manage to make four lanes out of a single lane and my driver was still able to cope with a few vehicles coming towards us on our side of the road! It made for a very interesting ride from the airport. And yet NO road rage or the showing of a middle finger! Just incessant hooting. Everyone eventually gets to where they need to be and the sun still comes up each morning. How I wish that I (or some divine being) could bestow such patience on the people in my Sunny South Africa. That would be something really special.
If we visit Bangalore for a test match, the hotels we will use are all no more than 20 minutes from the ground, even in heavy traffic, so the journey won’t be a problem. The hotels are also very close to the race course, which I’m sure some of us will be keen to attend should the cricket end early. (Or we could sneak off one afternoon during the game as a few of us did when we were last in Kolkatta a few years ago.) The stadium is good too and wherever we choose to sit our seats will also be good. Be it hospitality or bums-on-seats, either way the views are good and I am looking forward to visiting the ground should England play there.
You will think that I have favoured Bangalore instead of Chennai which I suppose to an extent is true, but I heard from a few sources that it is unlikely that Chennai will be awarded a test, as the previous management had not ‘covered themselves in glory’. (I didn't ask.) But in the end, those who are awarded a test is anyone's guess. One thing’s for sure though, when the venues are announced we will know exactly which ones we will be featuring and what exciting excursions will be included in our itineraries!
So Bangalore we liked, but we were still not finished as it was time to visit Goa and a few glorious resorts there, as I am thinking of using this fantastic city as a breakaway for one or all of our groups after the cricket is done and dusted, before we return to the cold of the UK. Fabulous properties lie directly on stretches of long sandy beaches, providing great seafood restaurants and of course wonderful sunshine. Loads of it. Imagine enjoying a sunset cruise down to the river mouth whilst sipping a few cocktails and watching dolphins perform around your boat. Sounds too good to be true? Well you'll just have to join me on tour to find out!
Let me say this in closing folks:
The Hotels that we will use are of the very highest standard. All have various room categories to choose from so there’ll be an option to suit everyone's budget, so to speak. Each hotel we will use has a minimum of three different restaurants on site: Indian, Chinese, Thai and Continental cuisine, so something for everyone.
The Stadia are very modern now. Clean comfortable seating and, more importantly, clean wash rooms. Grandstand seats are all very comfortable and we will also be offering a hospitality package option for each of the test matches we attend.
Transport in and around the cities will be in air conditioned coaches. We will use small 8 to 10 seaters which will afford us more flexibility in the traffic.
We will be visiting India in November/January for the test matches and January for the ODI’s: this time of year is their winter and the temperatures will be nowhere near the heat I have experienced on this trip.
Did I fall foul of the dreaded Delhi Belly? NO. not even close. The food in all the hotels is top class. I also used bottled water to brush my teeth and to rinse my tooth brush when finished.
Doctors. All the properties that we use have doctors on call at any given time. BUT I am considering having a doctor travel with our groups. One just needs to consider the practicalities of this, but it could offer peace of mind to our friends, old and new, who are keen to book the tour.
When will you hear further news about dates and venues? Well, the BCCI has just appointed a new president and so I think that once the IPL has ended the board will get a move on and announce something by the end of June/early July. New Zealand are touring there in August and those dates have yet to be announced, so as I said end of June/early July.
Hosts. With a good ‘following wind’ I am hoping that Gladstone and John Lever are able to make some, if not all, of the itineraries that we propose offering.
Airlines. The internal airlines in India are absolutely first class! Jet Airways and Indigo were the ones I used and which we will use for our itineraries. Clean, punctual and with very professional cabin crew; all made for easy travelling around India.
So all that’s left for me to say is, I hope you take the plunge and join me in India for what I know will be a great tour!
Ciao for now and see you at year end.
Date: Thu, 26 May 2016