Mon 3rd October, 2005
We took a taxi from the hotel in Chandigarh to pick up the
early train to Shimla from Kalka. This is a famous route on a
narrow gauge line, which has been in existence since 1906 and
carries the passenger up to the old British hill station of
Shimla. Today is 3rd October Paul's birthday, so we aim to
travel up to Shimla a journey of about five hours, then pick a
suitable hotel for celebrations.
We had hoped to be in Corbett National Park for this date but
find it is closed until the15th November, another plan bites the
We had the pleasure of meeting an interesting Indian couple
on the train called Vishal and Anju Prabakash, with their little
girl Videka who was causing quite a stir with other female
passengers as she is a cute little girl. Interestingly I noticed
they were eating packets of crisps where we had decided to try
the train curry!!! They later told us they wouldn't touch the
curry with a ten foot barge pole or the Indian equivalent, for
not knowing the place it was prepared. We enjoyed this dhal and
rice although motions were loose the following day.
We got chatting anyway and found they were on a short holiday
for the duration we were there and arranged later to meet,
exchanging mobile numbers, there's another story!!
On route we passed through lots of little stations, e.g.
Solan, Bagor etc which are all prettily painted, tidy and well
kept and look a bit British to tell you the truth.
Although the journey is only miles it takes a staggering
5hours because we climb from 600 ft to2000metres, some climb.
On arrival it was just about sunset and we unloaded bikes and
pushed them up a very steep incline, the type you always find
near stations, until the road flattened out and then cycled the
rest of the way to a hotel called Combermere, taking directions
from vendors on the way.
The approach to this hotel was up 2 flights of steps and a
lift to the 2nd floor to find the reception, just to find if
rooms were available, fortunately they were. After a half hour
struggle with bikes we were finally booked in and back in the
bar for a beer as I told you it is Paul's birthday.
We normally have a 3 day event for birthdays and this was no
exception. We started the great evening with a few beers before
ordering our fill in the restaurant, together with a bottle of
sparkly the price of which made me drop through the floor,
dearer than UK at 35 pounds per bottle, and not even Moet!!!
(more details to follow)