A Travellerspoint blog

hello, my name is ...

time for the semi official meet and greet

overcast -3 °C

You've heard me talking about them for months -- my fellow travelers. Well most of them anyway -- this is the Canadian contingent. The Wrays, from Australia, are meeting us in Delhi.

So here we all are, in The Maple Leaf Lounge. We've checked ourselves and our luggage in and we're chilling with a drink or two before boarding our Jet Air flight to Delhi -- via Brussels.

Rashmi is our fearless leader -- the travel agent who put this terrific trip together and will now have to put up with us for a month.

"Us" included Cynthia who has unfortunately lost her room mate -- her cousin Teri -- who has pneumonia and can't come ... Marnie -- a very well-traveled bridge player ... and Haidee, who's a professional photographer -- we're the ones planning to collaborate on a book.

What I wasn't prepared for was how fabulous Jet Air is. After years of flying Air Canada and being confronted with dirty planes, torn upholstery, seats that are falling apart, messy bathrooms, aging flight attendants, bad uniforms, frequent bad service and food that is beyond appalling that, unfortunately, is what I got used to.

Well ...

Brace yourselves. This is a privately-owned airline. The equipment is new. The bathroom in our cabin had a full length mirror, hot towels, shaving cream, mouthwash, lotion, and a touchless faucet. The flight attendants are young, beautiful girls and very handsome boys, exquisitely groomed, fun, charming and wearing lovely uniforms -- that actually fit them like a glove.

It was Haidee's birthday on the 27th and we were in the air. When she woke up there was a happy birthday message on her flat screen TV (yes we each had our own) wishing her a Happy Birthday from the entire crew -- including the Captain. The next thing we knew the entire cabin crew were making their way down the aisle. They sang Happy Birthday and had with them a bottle of Dom Perignon -- which they opened. We all got champagne and then they gave her a card -- the menu signed by all of them -- and the Captain.

When was the last time that happened to you on a plane?

OK, we were in Business Class. But I've been there before, too.

As for the food you could have been in a great restaurant. I had the Indian selections but you could have your choice of Italian, Continental, you name it. Between Toronto and Delhi we had 4 meals. Dinner, then breakfast and then from Brussels to Delhi we got lunch and a snack again.

White linen ... beautiful china ... real salt and pepper shakers ... and seasoning and quality you just don't associate with being 37,000-odd miles up in the air. We started with soup -- sweet potato and apple, garnished with fresh chives, seasoned with a whisper of curry. My palek gosht (lamb cooked in a garlic and green chilly tempered baby spinach puree) came with paneer, dal, green pea pulao, raita and pickles.

Other choices included a vegetarian curry, jumbo prawns cooked Oriental style or ravioli.

I could have just stayed on the plane.

Even though I could lay absolutely flat (we had pods) I didn't sleep between Toronto and Brussels -- even though I'd downloaded a relaxation tape on my iPod. I just wasn't tired. But I slept like a baby from Brussels to Delhi. Rashmi said I was in a very deep sleep.

I wonder if that's polite for "you were snoring so loudly nobody else could sleep."

Because we had pods are seats became completely flat. Then they put a duvet on it to make it softer -- it is a bit
hard. A pillow and a nice warm blanket and I was out like a light.

Amazingly the flight didn't seem long and boring. Of course they never stopped serving us -- hot towels, drinks, snacks, meals, hot towels, drinks, snacks, meals, hot towels ... and I got off the plane in Delhi relaxed, refreshed and full of energy.

Then they opened the door to the aircraft. I immediately started to cough. And as Cynthia later said, it smelled like the day after a fire. It's the pollution. You can actually see it, it's so dense.

After waiting forever -- a piece of Rashmi's luggage (she had 6 bags full of gifts for the villagers we'll be seeing) and a piece of mine were thought to be lost but they eventually showed up. Oh you'll never know how happy that made me. Mine housed the infirmary I brought along with me. Don't ask. I now have enough medical supplies to treat everything from sore feet to minor surgery. The best news is that Marney was a nurse. Between the two of us we can open a clinic here.

Finally (after one in the morning), luggage in hand ... and on many, many carts we go through the doors into the terminal. And what waited for us there was something I could never have imagined!

And in that throng of people there to pick weary travelers up do you think we could find our driver?

Eventually Rashmi had to make other arrangements and we were herded into 2 jeeps and taken to our hotel. It turns out our scheduled driver thought we were flying Air Canada -- on a flight arriving at about 12:30 a.m. so he was on his way to the airport when we were on our way to the hotel.

The Imperial Hotel is everything that, as a kid, I imagined India to be. British colonial. Stately. Elegant. Mahogany. Twenty-foot ceilings. Pictures of Queen Victoria everywhere (this hotel has museum quality art and artifacts on every wall and in every nook and cranny). Seriously. They give tours here. Marble floors everywhere -- even the rooms.

It is beyond anything you could imagine.

Right in the centre of the lobby there were hundreds of gorgeous red balls suspended from the ceiling -- Christmas decorations.

And tell me if, after a more than 24-hour journey, this looked inviting ...

I cannot wait to explore this magnificent hotel, but it will have to wait until I've had some sleep. The bed is calling ...

Posted by a_broad 10:49 Archived in India Tagged air_travel

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that IS quite the hotel. So glad to hear that the initial steps of the
journey have been so pleasant. Great start. Heidi

by heidilynn

Fransi both Bill and I are reading your comments and we are so impressed with it all, Bill said he got a stale sandwich on his flight to Vail...everything looks so beautiful and inviting and you even got to sleep...I'm so impressed...and that Hotel...WOW! I love looking at the pictures it feels like I'm part of it all.
thank you for taking us with you...looking forward to more...good night.

by Dana Bell

Fantastic Fransi. Enjoy whatever luxury they can throw at you. You deserve it. I'll just dream of being there with you.

by awsmaunt

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