We left 2 full days for Mumbai to buy some last minute items for the wedding that we were to attend in Poland a few days later. Heidi needed a dress and we both needed some shoes. We stayed at the City Palace Hotel, which has a great location right across the street from the Victoria Terminal with many nearby restaurants and shops. While the rooms are cramped and the price high (compared to the rest of India) the room was clean with strong AC and their service was excellent! We highly recommend them!
We also really liked the air-conditioned restaurant right next door to the City Palace Hotel. The food was on the pricey side for India, but everything was nice and clean!
Our initial goal was to get our shopping done and do some sight seeing in the area. As it turned out, we only had time to get our shopping done as it proved very difficult to find a dress for Heidi, even in the massive city of Mumbai. In the touristy area of Mumbai there is no shopping mall as we know them in the U.S.
First we checked out the Fashion Street area for a dress but only found cheap knock-off t-shirts and the like. So we went to an internet cafe that was near the hotel and found a couple of malls. Phoenix Mills and Atria. We thought Atria was very far so we opted for Phoenix Mills. The cab ride only cost 65 rupees from Victoria Terminal so it wasn’t really that far. While the Phoenix Mills mall itself is not that impressive, there is an adjacent mall called Paladium that is still in its opening phase that will rival some of our malls back home when it is completed. “Finally, a real mall!” we said to each other. Nowhere else in India were we able to find anything like this!
At a store called Ashmina we were greeted by the friendly owner and this is where Heidi found her dress! What a relief :). For us, coming to this mall was also a relief from the craziness of everyday life in India :).
The next day I got a haircut for 70 rupees (about $1.5 USD) then we bargained hard at the nearby street markets and Heidi bought a pair of high heels for about $4 USD and I bought a pair of shoes for about $7 USD. Not bad at all, even if they would only lasted for one day :). By early afternoon we were finished with all of our last minute errands and were ready to pack our bags and bid farewell to India. Our gracious hotel stored our luggage for free and also arranged an AC cab to the airport at no extra fee.
We pre-agreed for the price to the International Airport at 500 rupees in the AC cab, and it was well worth it as it took almost 1.5 hours to reach the airport!
We arrived at the airport around 5PM but our flight was not until 1AM the following morning. We thought we would arrive at the airport extra early and just relax and use free WiFi in the air conditioned airport. Well, that was not the case. First they would not even allow us to enter the terminal because our flight was not within 3 hours! So they told us to wait in a waiting lounge located at the end of the terminal. We get to the waiting lounge and they tell us we have to pay to sit in there. Huh?!? We have to pay to sit in an airport lounge? Don’t all of our airport taxes and other fees we pay cover this ?? Nope. This is a private lounge and you have to pay 60 rupees to use it! Ridiculous!! But did we have a choice? Not really. Even though it is only 60 rupees it is just absurd that we have to pay to wait at the airport for our flight.
When we entered the lounge we asked if there was WiFi, and were told, “no!”. But luckily, we were able to connect to someone’s unsecured network, and the internet helped the 6 hours go by, before we went to check-in. Once we were finally in the terminal we saw that it was a normal enough airport, with stores and restaurants. So much for that last-minute souvenir shopping we were planning to do, since they didn’t let us in until right before our flight. Oh, well. At least it was time to say “Bye-bye India!”.
As a side note, make sure that you print a copy of your ticket, otherwise you will not be allowed entry inside the airport without it! We met a fellow American who was refused entry after pleading his case for over 3 hours with the security police! The only way he was going to be allowed entry was if he left the airport, found an internet cafe and printed out his e-ticket! No, you cannot wait until you get to airport and print it inside the airport since they won’t even let you in!