So, that’s nearly it for this trip – five weeks is a long time to be away. We spent the last proper morning of our trip enjoying a walk along the Ganges in the opposite direction to Rishkesh, after an early breakfast.
Cows and their egrets on the path along the Ganges
There were plenty of plants growing on the embankment including, surprisingly, succulents.
Maybe it’s not so surprising – a hydoelectric dam downstream of the town means water levels are regulated and the embankments are presumably very free draining.
It was very warm by the time we got back to the hotel around 10 am. Martyn wanted to do his ‘cleaning the river with a toothbrush’ trick so we watched him collect diatoms before heading the Hideout café just along the river for delicious chilled coffees.
We checked in for tomorrow’s flights online then John, Helen and I headed for the hotel jacuzzi before lunch – a very welcome chance to cool down. We had a good lunch – John was keen to make the most of the opportunity for some less spicy food, and food for the rest of the day was less predictable. Hotam arrived at 4 pm to collect us for the drive to Haridwar railway station. The drive into Haridwar itself was very dramatic – huge ghats and temples by the river make what we saw in Rishikesh pale into insignificance! We’d left plenty of time in case of traffic hold ups but, in the end, were at the station a good hour before our train was due at 6.20 pm. This did give us plenty of time for people watching though, as well as the inevitable photo calls! The platfom was packed with people prepared for a long wait – sleeping on bits of paper on the ground or picknicking.
Martyn and Helen had told me how fierce the air conditioning was likely to be in our carriage but, in the end, it was just pleasant. John and I worked on the train to put together a rough itinerary for the proposed Spiti trip – its difficult to see how we can do it in less than three weeks, so we’ll need to talk to Yasin about this. There were plenty of interruptions for food and only one, longish, delay. The reclining chairs were much more comfortable and spacious than British train seats and I had a good sleep after my dinner – I’m getting a reputation for this! It was midnight by the time we arrived in Delhi but, fortunately, the hotel is close to New Delhi station so we didn’t have to wait long before climbing into bed. Our 7.30 am pick up time for the morning, about an hour later than I thought it would be, was a pleasant surprise.
We didn’t get to see much of Delhi on our last day in India. We did get to enjoy a decent breakfast before being whisked off by car to the airport though. What will I do without curry for breakfast?! The traffic is heavy, but we are still there in plenty of time and drop our bags off quickly. We have a brief moment of panic when Martyn realises we’ve told the boys we’ll be home on Saturday evening, whereas we’ll actually be there tonight, so he fires off a quick text to warn them.
There is plenty of time airside for Helen and I to buy some nice cushion covers and for John to decide that the Toblerone isn’t much of a bargain. John and I sit together on the plane and manage to produce a draft itinerary for a two week Valley of Flowers trip before I fall asleep, again. Meal times are distinctly odd – not quite sure whether they are operating on Indian or UK time – and they put the plane lights out in the afternoon as if it’s night time, for some reason. My theory is that people are less demanding of the cabin crew if they think they should be asleep!
Watching the film ‘Sing Street’ is an enjoyable way to pass the time, even if it doesn’t quite match up to ‘The Commitments’. Martyn opts for the new ‘Jungle Book’ as more appropriate. We part company with John and Helen in arrivals as they are on a connecting flight to Edinburgh, whilst we are travelling home by train. Plan A had been to go for pizzas and red wine at Casa Mama, near Kings Cross, but we have eaten too much airline food for that to really appeal. Instead, we go for tasty salads at Leon and some nice Brewdog beer to take on the train. Harry has offered to cook bolognaise for when we get home but as our bodies think that 9.30 pm is really 2 am, we decide to postpone that treat.