India, March 10th & 11th, 2017

Days 25 & 26, Varanasi to Delhi to Darjeeling

Early run to the airport again….I know it’s faster to fly, but sometimes I wonder if that’s true with all the airport hoops that have to be cleared.  This trip definitely is my record for in country flights.  We will had have 8 flights within India by the time the trip is over.  The price to be paid for seeing all the different places we wanted to go.  After landing in Delhi we went back to the Pullman Hotel, pampered ourselves in the big soaking tub, ate a great dinner, hung out in the bar while I worked on the blog and generally did nothing of consequence, so much for March 10th….a day off.

The next day we were driven to the airport for our flight to Bagdogra, the closest airport to Darjeeling.  From there it is supposed to be about a 3 to 3 1/2 hour drive up into the Himalayan foothills to Darjeeling.

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On our car drive we saw a lot of tea farms with large trees to provide shade for the tea bushes.  Here are women out picking the tender new tea leaves to be processed. We were greeted when we pulled off the road to watch the pickers, by a very friendly group of goodwill ambassadors.

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When we left Portland the average temperatures in Darjeeling were suppose to be in the low 60’s, but it poured rain the night before we arrived and the temperatures dropped to the low to mid-40’s.  Guess we are getting acclimated to head home. Anyway a fairly heavy fog settled in and we ended up taking 4 hours to reach Darjeeling on a narrow, steep, hairpin road.  It was a nerve wracking trip. I had to close my eyes everytime a large truck or car would loom out of the fog and force us to the edge of the road.  By the time we reached Darjeeling, we had gained 7000′ in elevation and were frazzled beyond anything experienced on the trip.  We did get one brief clearing when I could take some pictures. The large flowering tree in the lower right corner of the featured photo is a Magnolia. Many of the houses are lined with pots of flowers along their balconies and patios.

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We are staying at the Windermere Hotel, which is rated 4 1/2 stars on Trip Advisor.  The hotel was built in 1880 and is vintage according to the hotel description, which means original except for indoor plumbing and electricity; very quirky and funky.  The food is great, the wifi is great, the beds are very hard, we have a coal burning fireplace and a very large room.  This photo is of the reception area with Sunil, our guide.

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