Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey

North India: Gallery 28

1. Overnight Train to Varanasi

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    We left Orchha Resort at 8 pm for a 45 minute drive to Jhansi train station for our over-night train (+10 hours) to Varanasi, our next stop for 2 nights. There was no traffic jam today and no trains crossing to stall us. We arrived at the station in good time and we opted to wait on the platform rather than using any of the A/C lounges which appeared to be taken over by whole families -- some sleeping on the floor with huge bags all over the place. We squeezed onto a crowded metal bench beside an elderly gentleman who looked like a copy of Ghandi. While people watching we managed to sneak a photo of him. 

    Our train arrived on time, with Bill and I sharing cabin "B" with another married couple. The other married couple had cabin "A" shared with a rather noisy Indian couple. The ticket purchasing method for train seats is crazy. It was fully booked three months in advance, especially to the Holy City of Varanasi. G-adventures had make the booking, just like everyone else, hoping for cancellations. Of course, there were few and four of our group plus CEO Parry did not have a bunk/cabin. This wasn’t so bad for the guys but the young girl was having a hard time, being kind isolated with a family of eight staring at her the whole time. Parry came back and asked the couple in the cabin "A" if they would consider sharing a bunk (large single) but they refused. 

    We offered to double up and made room for more in our cabin. As Parry was still without a bed, he ended up “stealing three thick blankets and pillows” and spent the night in a fitful sleep on our floor. Our trip had turned into a croweded slumber party and we laughed so hard that tears were running down our faces. Sleeping side by side on a narrow cot is NOT easy on a rock'n'rolling train! Finally, we tried a cramped head-to-toe layout, without pillows, and that worked better.

    Parry was up most of the night dealing with the ticket supervisor who kept pounding on our locked door. He wanted those without tickets for actual beds to pay the first class fee. There was a lot of ongoing Indian chatter, but Parry seemed to be pretty much in control of the situation. He assured us that "All good."

    Getting to and using the toilets was a bit of an adventure. We always carry antibacterial wipes which made the visits a bit more tolerable. Our cabin mate woke Parry up looking for her shoes and ended up wearing her husband's (a +6’ tall former police officer). Quite hilarious but not so the toilets. 

    We got into Varanasi at noon and were met by our bus. The Holy City is definitely ALIVE - meaning loud and crowded! Our room was at the Holy City Hotel - nice rooms that over-looked a dirty crowded alley. It's like this everywhere ... splendor in the garbage. We had to pay for WiFi but it was really needed since we'd been offline for a few days. 

     It is considered the Mecca for Hindus. The hotel is called Holy City, in the centre of many attractions. We will arrive around 11 am, check into the hotel, then proceed with whatever activities. In the evening, we will board a large row boat to sail on the Ganges, to watch various ceremonies which have been performed exactly the same way for thousands of years, and to watch the sunset. Next morning, we will again board the same row boat to catch the sunrise.

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Bus trip to Jhansi Station

Bill and "Ghandi"
waiting outside one of the station's AC rest rooms

Sue-On boarding the overnight "sleeper" train

Cabin B Slumber Party

Toilet Trip

Passing views at daybreak

Deboarding at Varanasi Station

Streets of Varanasi on the way to hotel

Arrival at Holy City Hotel

Alley view from hotel room window

Hotel Dining Room ~ First meal of the day



Photos 1 | Photos 2 | Outtakes




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