Another headline would have been ‘A romance in Udaipur?’ but I preferred the reference to another Bond movie. Mr Broccoli (nice name for a 007 director…) must have had a crush on India as many movies play at least partly in India. You might remember the Octopussy tuk tuk races through the narrow streets of Udaipur or the crocodile in which 007 was hidden in the lake of Udaipur. The city is far from being romantic. But I would be very surprised if there was anything romantic at all in India other than sleeping under the stars in the quiet desert. Maybe it’s a good idea to interview some Indians to get to know what their understanding of romance is.
First, it is not very romantic that you have to pay for almost everything you do in Udaipur: if you want to look at the lake and go through a certain gate, you have to pay, if you buy a ticket to visit the palace, you can only see the least interesting parts, if you want to see all of it, you need to pay again, horrendous amounts of money, at least for us, if you want to do a boat trip in the afternoon, you pay twice the morning fee and if you go to the best ranked restaurant to enjoy the stunning evening views by the lake you get lousy food and cocktails at European prices. Second, it is also not romantic to walk on the narrow streets and thousands of mopeds, motorbikes, tuk tuks AND cars think they are still shooting the 007 movie scenes and almost kill you every second if you are not jumping into one of the many shops immediately.
Other than that, we really loved our stay in Udaipur. Because we were surrounded by beautiful mountains, palaces, lakes, a lot of green and still mediterranean vegetation. And because we stayed at a wonderful Dutch-run guesthouse with a quiet Bougainvillea garden, great filter coffee, good food and a perfect WiFi connection for very little money (we paid 13 EUR for three nights).
Moving on from Udaipur we again took the motorway to Chittorgarh and made great progress as we mostly went downhill with tailwinds. The trip itself was more or less uneventful for two exceptions: we witnessed how a car hit an old man on his bike while we were having our first break. While thankfully not much happened to the old man, only one of the many passengers stepped out of the car to get the bike out of the way, went back to the car and drove away. Johan was yelling at them and running after the car and we were both shocked how they could just leave without even checking if the old man was OK. We stayed with the man and fortunately a few people came and sent him to the nearby hospital as he hit his head and had pain in his wrist.
The nicer happening was when a few hours later a motorcyclist on a nice white motorbike passed and stopped to say hello. Called Francisco and Portuguese, he has biked from Portugal to India and was now on his way to Delhi to fly back home for work. He will come back in summer to continue his trip around the world and maybe we’ll meet him again somewhere on this planet. We exchanged contact details and in the meantime got an invitation to visit him in Portugal.
Over the last days we also broke a few records: we cycled almost 130 km in one day with a record average speed of 21.5 km/h. We passed the 5,000 km mark (actually already some time ago) and with 7 hours and 20 minutes we spent the longest time on our saddles (the latter counts for India only). That day we reached Chittorgarh by 3.30pm, checked in at the most depressing hotel we’ve ever been to and ate the most horrible food we’ve ever had in India – with some consequences.