21.10.2012 - 21.10.2012
We are finally at our hotel in Varanasi. Our train in Agra was 4, yes, count 'em 4 hours late. And when your train in supposed to be there at 11:30 pm and we don't leave until 3:30 am it makes for a very, very long day and night of travel. We did meet some interesting people traveling from Holland. And we got to hear the story of Ishwar's marriage. In his village 100% of the marriages are arranged. He did not even meet his wife until their wedding day. He thought it was strange that we had not arranged the marriages for our children. We sat on the dirty concrete floor with all the other masses of people waiting. When the train finally came and we boarded we were very relieved. Ishwar had stayed with us the whole time and was then going to drive back to Delhi. We wished him safe travels. Since we were in 3rd class it was 3 tiered beds up the walls in each cubby and 2 tiered along the walk way. My bed way up top on the walkway and Glenn's was up top in a cubby area. They passed out sheets and they had blankets and pillows but I just used a sheet and my Grand Canyon camping pillow that we had packed. With the commotion of different stops and people moving in and out and the guy coming and checking tickets and the crying baby and.....well, suffice to say we didn't get the best sleep. Come morning time we did get to move down as people left and we rested and read or played backgammon on the tablet (that was Glenn, I read). I ate one of my protein bars that I had brought from home (Thanks, Kathy, they have come in soooo handy!) for breakfast and then we had a very very strange lunch. Glenn ordered us non-veg so we got steamed rice, a curry soup that was basically curried broth as there was nothing else in it and 2 hard boiled eggs in a very spicy curry sauce. Let's just say I am anxiously waiting dinner which is at 8:30. Luckily we made up some of the time during the night and got in only 2 1/2 hours late instead of 4. We were met by our guide who is very friendly and nice. He has a lot more personality than some we have. He helped us with our luggage and we headed to the car.
I don't think our driver speaks English because he did none of the talking. Our guide told us history of Varanasi as we drove to our hotel. It was quite a ways so he did a lot of talking. Our hotel is right on the Ganges river and is fairly nice...oh wait compared to the train it is heaven! Once again our shower is just a spigot on the wall but this time there is no curtain at all. Is does work but the marble floors get very slick when wet. We rested and cleaned up at our hotel and met back up with our driver and guide at 4:30. We drove through the large university here that has 20,000 students. It is the largest unversity in India. We went into their Hindu temple and toured it too. Then we drove to the Ganges to the Ghats (steps) for a evening ceremony called Aarti. It is a big deal for the Hindus and they do it every night at sunset. After that we came back to the hotel for the evening.
Just got back from dinner. You have to let them know ahead of time that you will be having dinner here. They serve it buffet style and you are seated with others. We sat at a table with a young couple from Calgary and an older couple from England. They were both very nice and it was good to talk and compare stories. Although I think we scared the couple from England with our train tale since they are going on one tomorrow to Agra. Dinner was vegetarian curry and pretty good. We are both pooped now so are going on to bed. Tomorrow morning is an early morning with sunrise on the Ganges.