Breakfast is a definite step down. Nothing cooked (Sunday?) and cold meat and cheese cheap and tasteless. Coffee is good though and small viennoiserie fine. Have been spoilt.

Need to organise activities to allow for a lot of places being noshow Mondays.

Man in Tourist Information has to have details of free guided tour extracted from him. He only interested in a 17euro job that starts from the other side of town! Wonder why!? Find it myself, two girls with big yellow umbrella outside main church. We are split into to groups of about a dozen and set off. Mariana is early twenties lively informative and amusing – good timing with the jokes which are genuinely funny. Her English is very good and little accent. At one point we stop and she disappears into a shop, returning bearing a tray of little cups with alcoholic liqueurs. I get seconds which I can feel. But absolutely no hard sell of any sort, it’s just hospitality. She takes the obligatory group photo to go on some media page and I head off in the general direction of the soup and sausage shop she suggested. Say again?

Manage to find it by taking a bearing on the twin towers of the red church. It is excellent, tasty filling and quiet.

There is still the end of an antique market going on along the river though quite a few are already packing up at 2pm.almost at the end and I finally spot something interesting. Three really old bird whistle, the sort you fill with water, like in “Birds without wings) written by the captain corelli man whose name I’ve forgotten!

Buying them is a matter of moments. What is more difficult is a stall further down with loads of very old peasant pottery, big pancheons, oil storage jars, special dishes for making cakes with a big hole in the middle. Fun to examine but no possible way I can get them back. Apart from a lovely wine jug with a hole in the handle so you can stop the pouring.

It’s 8 nches diameter about ten inches high, quite light and the same price as the three little birds. I stand and look at it for maybe ten minutes trying to decide whether or not to buy it. The man thinks I am price sensitive and it comes down to a ridiculous level.

Do you think I bought it? Answers on a postcard

The afternoon spent in the national art gallery is well spent apart from my not realising it is the only one open on a Monday. Not sure how I missed that.

Late afternoon and I head up to the 12th floor of the Neboticnik which has a bar and terrace. View is great and sunshine makes outside tolerable. Sun is almost behind the hills but a full moon balances it. You are on a level with the Castle on the hill above the town. Mariana had said it was better than the Castle turret.

The crowds of chattering young things disappear gradually and I am left staring at a bright moon climbing towards the castle

It’s an impressionist moon!

Supper in a proper restaurant is OK but the waiter is a bit gung-ho and choosing sausage albeit authentic not a good choice. Place is virtually empty, I suppose being Sunday evening. Haven’t taken any food photos yet. Not sure artistic presentation is very Balkan. Maybe in Sarajevo.

On track for Slovenia

Fine farewell breakfast at Three Corners and an easy tram ride to the other big Budapest station, Déli. They have set the bar high for the other places where I shall be staying. Eventually find decent modern carriages and we leave on the dot. Hope the rest of the journey will stay so. Quite crowded till we get to Vesprem and after that compartment to myself. Guard is another little Hitler like the one on SNCF. Tells me I have to fill in the details for returning the card to interrail once it has been used. Nothing to do with him but obviously likes to throw not inconsiderable bulk around.

Hungary is flat, dark rich soil, but a lot of ruined farm buildings. It takes quite a long time to pass Lake Balaton- how big?. GPS not working on tablet so harder to check. No WiFi on train of course.

It’s not clear when we cross the border, but there is a definite change of scenery, hills and trees, and the houses all look tidier, and the cars seem to be newer, and cleaner. Running between hills besides rushing largish river, sunshine still just above the rest.

Arrive a minute late which is amazing after nearly 8 hours. Hotel 5 minutes walk from the station. It is an old coaching station so has character–sloping ceiling, floors that dip and a sunny courtyard. More than happy to dump my stuff and go for a walk to get air and stretch my legs. Sinks in that it is Saturday night and crowded with weekend types. So when I go out to eat I have a list of three possibilities just in case. First one

is fine-Sarajevo 84 is Bosnian(read Muslim) packed but girl finds me a table at the back. And even takes time to explain menu. Beefy soup (corba) with loads of veg and chunks followed by more pide – like bread stuffed with kebabs, onion and pepper sauce. If this was a small portion, large!? Realise it is a relief to be using euros, feels normal no constant struggling with 380:1.

A good start to Ljubljana stay.

An Art Nouveau Gem

In a restored villa in an erstwhile very rich Quarter is Budapest’s version of Baron Horta’s house in Brussels. Gyorgy Rath was an avid collector of Secessionist objects. From the moment you enter the hallway you are surrounded, immersed in the elegant flowing lines.

Rooms are divided either into functions-dining, sitting – or countries – France, England Austria. There are two women reading magazines but otherwise I am the only visitor.

And not just pots to take in. This mirror is a mixture of wood and leather.

This peacock dish is 3D and the glazes flow out in radiance. The bowl with ladies doing their hair is more restrained

Nothing is cluttered up with labels, making it more of a house than a museum. I was given the complete illustrated catalogue to use, instead, which worked very well. References to William Morris but his actually work didn’t feature. There was a red on white jug by Walter Crane. But no sign of de Morgan.

There were also cases of glass

By the time I left the rain had slackened off, which was a relief. But still lots of large puddles to avoid. I hopped on an old tram that runs along the bank of the Danube past the parliament building. Very grandiose.

I read somewhere it was modeled on the House of Commons. Where I got off lower down was suddenly very much more of the people and less Disnet. Woman selling flowers on the street, buses mainly crowds hurrying past not strolling. A number 4 took me back closer to the antique shop by the synagogue where I had had a long talk about pots with the owner. He had a couple of Mickaul jugs that I wanted to reconsider. But he wasn’t there and the jugs didn’t really jump at me. I have better at home.

Decided supper was going to be restaurant next door to hotel-Fule Mule sounds like stupid donkey but actually is nightingale. So Friday night I’m eating duck soup with matzo ball and then cholent with roast goose leg. Quite filling.

Alarm set for 6.30 to have breakfast and catch 9am train to Ljubljana.

Monumental in the Sunshine

Breakfast turns out to be very good here. Organic apple juice, scrambled eggs bacon decent coffee fresh bread and of course lots of patisserie.

It turns out that anyone over 65 travels free on buses trams and metro. Its proving hard to spend money here, given that all state museums are also free to over 70s.

A tram and a bus get me to the appropriately named Heroes Square. It is enormous and probably served very well for soviet style parades in the past.

The main feature is a collection of green moustachioed warriors. Wonder what they would say or do about all the schoolchildren draped over the base. Probably slice off the odd ear.

Hungarian heroes

The bright sunshine gives me the chance to wear new sunglasses. Not entirely sure what they look like.

The art museum beckons, as the art centre has a very laid back opening time of midday.

It’s an enormous building magnificently restored after years of serious neglect. Huge high ceilings in the main halls, frescoed ceilings and sofas to lounge on. Along one whole wall is a massive interactive screen showing hundreds of the exhibits, all of which can be tapped for more information. What I didn’t expect to see was eight Venetian carved stone wellhead, mostly from 14th and 15th century.

The paintings are well laid out and all have English labels. Clear categories for all branches of European art from 14th to 18th century. And some good examples of painters from Giotto to Ruben’s, Titian and Breughel.

I suppose if your language is incomprehensible to all the rest of the world you have to facilitate at least one other language.

Details and curiosities catch the eye.

This was the bottom of a wing for a triptych, raising the dead on Judgment day. Perhaps Matisse had seen it. And this doge is a classic depiction.

The huge Adam and Eve was hung in such a way that she is definitely having a crafty look at his figleaf

And you hardly needed to look at the label to know this is called “Sulking”

Afterwards find a bench in the sun by the edge of the square and attack one of the large green apples before heading in to the photo exhibition in the Art Centre. It is a curious fantasy photomontage set in Venice in 1943 about an old man who makes an automaton to keep him company. Set in Canareggio round the Ghetto, scenes are recognisable and the misty edge hints at fog and secret moving around. But, well-meaning as it is, it is rather slight and obvious. More interesting is a video that has been set up narrating the history of the community in the Ghetto in some detail.

Head back to base in order to get to Canon shop before 5 to reclaim the battery they have been recharging for me. Just hope it lasts a bit longer.

No videos no flash.

Spend an infuriating 2 hours trying to transfer photos to tablet. Wireless eventually works but then it refuses to save them. And cable is no better. By the time I go out to eat, feeling pretty exasperated. So go to goulash bufe of first night and enjoy green pea soup and mouflon stew.

Back at the ranch take all bits down to foyer and manage to transfer photos one by one but fast to tablet, which is a huge relief. The USB cable I bought when I suspected mine was dodgy flashes lumiescent at both ends which is slightly disconcerting not to mention eye-catching. I could sense it as people walked past in the foyer. The WiFi speed there makes a big difference.

Waking Walking Wednesday

The room is quiet despite the building site opposite. So when I wake up and look at my watch I think five to seven, bugger, it’s stopped. Then realise it is 10.35 and I have really overslept for the first time in ages. Breakfast ends at 10.30! Five minutes to wash dress and locate it. Last couple are leaving and all is tidied away. Girl is very sympathetic and produces a plate of pastries and I help myself to coffee. Could have been much worse.

So a late start to a cold but dry day. Padded trousers in order.

The tram ride is simple for getting over to Buda Castle. I had thought that getting change for one ticket with Bank notes would be a cute way of laundering. But the machine accepts maximum of 5000 huf so it would be a bit long-winded.

At the terminus in Buda , a large square with buses trams and metro all there, I spend a long time trying to Orient myself on what looks like a very clear map. The compass I have has pointed me SE but the map says No. Finally realise the map is orientated east/West! The streets are almost deserted and virtually no traffic through residential area. Then the castle looms with a huge gateway for traffic controlled by a barrier. And a large map with all the history of the place.

All very relaxed after initial panic stations earlier. Feel as if I have caught up.

Through the arch is indeed another world. Cobbled streets, a little blue minibus shuttling people around, and quiet. Contrast with Pest which is all bustle and traffic.

There is a museum that was a tiny 14th century synagogue, one room and a screen for the women. But red ochre inscriptions on the ceiling are a Hebrew but written with an influence from Turkish, who controlled the city and welcomed Jews from all over Europe, Ashkenazi and Sephardi. Reminiscent of the enlightened period in Venice.

There were also a group of about a dozen carved gravestones giving dates names and (unrecorded) details. Majority were female despite it being perceived as a patriarchal society. It is still used for services on Saturdays and festivals.

Further wandering along quiet streets makes me think of alto Bergamo. I pass a plaque that seems to say it was the setting for the first performance of Beethoven’s 7th symphony. A few bars run through my head as I wander on. A sprightly and energising rhythm. At the end is the Matyas church and this is obviously where the tourist action is. The church itself is mostly 19th century reconstruction and the original South door has disappeared behind a gothic portico. I sit eating a large green apple lifted from the hotel foyer. Apples are big in Hungary.

The best bit is the view from an elevated terrace that looks out towards Pest and the Danube. You realise how much it is a city of bridges. It runs north/south in a grey sluggish stream and it is only when you see boats slugging up that you sense the force of it.

It’s refreshing in the cold and the trousers and duvet jacket are proof against its bite. Long sloping paths start to lead down towards the river but then the huge Palace on my right is the Hungarian national gallery. All very civilised and slightly hushed inside. Turns out over 70s are free! Woman peers suspiciously at my driving licence but concedes I am indeed entitled.

Paintings stone carving from 15th century some intriguing side panels from altarpiece and a few French impressionists in the European section. But also several Rodin pieces.

I am intrigued by this corner of a painting showing the coronation of a Hungarian King. Why is he looking the other way? The museum attendants all look pretty bored, almost all middle-aged women even though it is ages since Russian rule.

The walk down the hill to the river, across the bridge and back to the hotel has become harder. I spot a camera shop on the other side of the main road and manage to get across between red lights. I get the impression not waiting for the green light is not quite the thing. Again a hangover from Soviet rule? He doesn’t have a charger but points me towards a Canon shop not far away that will be open tomorrow. I live in hope.

An old pastry shop Ligeti supplies a Danish for now and a cake for after supper. Which is going to be the fish place not far away. I nearly don’t go in when I see only one couple inside. But they look Hungarian (?) so I brave it. Waiter speaks good English and explains menu – catfish, carp, pike and sturgeon. They are all reared on father’s local farm apparently. The mixed starter is a tasty mixture of deep-fried catfish, smoked carp and a pike terrine. Each has its own distinct flavour and the terrine is excellent. Two mouthfuls of the sturgeon with papardelle leave me grabbing the beer glass to cope with the excess salt . Do I lump it or ask for a new one? I know what a disgruntled chef can do to a replacement dish! Decide to chance it and a new plate appears in about the right space of time. No salt and if anything slightly sweet? But a good flavour and the papardelle is hand-made.

A reconnaissance of a possible for tomorrow that is nearby shows it to be full, though not perhaps of locals. Menu looks what seems to be standard Hungarian : catfish duck pork. Not exorbitant though the prix fixe menu is the same price as its a la carte components with a coffee thrown in.

The Internet in the room is agonisingly slow so this is written in the foyer. Fine apart from a pair of noisy Russians in shorts drinking Coke.

Tonight I will set the alarm to avoid a repeat of this morning’s debacle.

Buda and Pest – tuesday

After ten hours trundling along we arrive almost exactly on the dot. More than happy to stretch my legs walking to the hotel, which is in a straight line then turn left at the church. It’s raining lightly and there a lot of very big puddles on the uneven pavement. It turns out my room is ready so after 24 hours travelling a shower, shave and change of clothes are very welcome. It is all brand spanking new, spacious and well appointed. Run by Belgians. As l head out to find money I pass an antique shop of the old-fashioned kind. Lots of folk pottery at silly prices. Can come back later.

Buy £60 worth of forint and set off towards the river and the market. Pass two loud American girls bewailing ” there are just too many bookshops”. It’s true there is a string of genuine antiquarian that would have put Charing Cross Rd int its heyday to shame. The market is a splendid cast-iron tiled-bedecked monster.

Budapest Central Market hall

Inside is a cornucopia of vegetables spices but above all cooked meats and sausages of every shape size and colour. And loads of goose and duck products, the kind that you need a brown bag for in England these days. At the far end was a collection of glass cases reflecting another very Central European obsession – fungi. All aimed at assuring the public I guess. Very detailed as to habitat.

Lunch in a salad bar upstairs proves to be touristy expensive and not brilliant. I suppose in reality all the serious shoppers have left by lunchtime and the locals have their own corners. Very different from the roast pig Market stalls in Ecuador.

The afternoon spent wandering along the side of the Danube and elegant 19th century buildings. Still a fair few Art Nouveau though not always in good condition.

Eventually I come to the end of the pedestrianised section and back to traffic and bustle. Judging by the shops, it is a rich and well-kept city, bearing in mind all those years of soviet rule.

After the unappetising lunch I aim for a nearby goulash bar with a couple of other places as backup. Not needed because despite being tiny it seems good. I hang around in the street waiting for a customer to leave. Camera shop next door gives possibility of getting a battery charger or refill, which is hanging over me like a black cloud right now. Man appears and I dive in. Goulash soup is filling and flavoursome with chunks in. That and a large beer set me back 2000 forint. No sign of a pastry shop on the way back so pop into Lidl for a bar of chocolate. Can’t help noticing identical items–coffee, smoked salmon- are more expensive. How does that work?

Internet in the room is sluggish so give up. Maybe in the foyer tomorrow will be a better bet.

A(Mon) Day of train and sausage

Bright sunshine and a biting wind across the Exe estuary is an optimistic way to start. Rumbling through the town centre was enlivened by two dachshunds tied to a plastic barrier suddenly taking off and trailing it horizontally behind them. I stepped to the side but others not so lucky. My luck ran out on the platform courtesy of a passing seagull. What idiot said it is good luck! Then again, as I sat down on the train I noticed a £1 coin had ended up on the seat! Very bright and shiny.

Monday morning is cold and wet, dreary – makes leaving England more appetising. Walking past elegant squares towards St Pancras you notice the incessant building works and the uneven pavements. And being near the University there are swarms of bicycles at every junction.

Check-in takes less than 10 minutes and has none of the tension of an airport. This could become a recurring theme.

I have installed myself opposite platforms 7&8 but no destination showing for 10.24 nor for earlier 10.14 to Disneyland. It is this train that eventually shows for 7. The streaming throng that passes could not be further away from Eurostar’s marketing profile of slick businessmen. Mother’s wearing pink mickey mouse headbands, distracted fathers trying to control tired recalcitrant children. And so many buggies, large and small.

10.00 and Paris train comes up at 6. We leave on the dot. My seat companion turns out to be a French harpist living in Lincoln for the past four years. She used to have a concert harp but has swapped it for smaller Welsh and Irish versions. I had never realised some have metal strings and others organic.

Every seat is taken. Will that continue to be the case next year? She, Charlotte (the harpist) is going on to Reims to visit family but she gets an earlier train from gare de l’Est. I head off to an old-fashioned bistro called la Ville de Provins that looked promising on trip adviser. Proves to be right, for once. Saucisson lyonnaise, pomme puree and gravy, real bread and decent coffee. Only bum note was 6.80 euros for a 1/4l of vin rouge. I was seated in the window so had plenty of citizenry to watch scuttle by in the rain. Very few down and outs, one dustbin rummage but most people were tidy and getting on. Particularly bearing in mind most big stations attract more than their fair share of the left behind.

Almost nowhere to sit and wait but standing around on a day of long journeys was less of a problem.

Pulled in 20 minutes before departure and I climbed on board what was labelled coach 17 and found my seat. It was top level which I had wanted but couldn’t book on the useless interrail site. As we pulled out a girl came up and said she had seat 96 – as did I. But she was coach 16. Turns out that the same door gives access to two coaches. So I went up stairs pointing to the wrong 61-130! Profuse apologies and I went back to find the correct-and vacant 96.

The table seats are very cramped and uncomfortable and the bloke opposite had large feet. I could see that the girl next to me was getting off at Karlsruhe, first after Strasbourg, so I just hung on. Not made any easier by the only power socket under the table being fitted in such a way that I couldn’t plug in the adapter and charger. So rationed its use and had 15% by the time we reached Munich. Curiously, the train was delayed early on by an electrical fault and was at one time almost 20 minutes late. Yet by the time we finally arrived it was only a minute behind schedule. Goodness knows how fast he had been going.

With wondrous efficiency I collected from a machine the couchette booking I had made over the phone in England three weeks earlier. Took about two minutes to process. I’d expected to find a bar in the station for a leisurely bite and a beer, but it was all stand up street food. So a(large) plate of bratwurst and chips with generous dollop of ketchup and mustard. Standing up was fine but it didn’t fill in the time nor give access to a power socket. At least there were a few benches and the station was pretty deserted. Though again not really any flotsam and jetsam and no sign of rough sleepers.

It’s a small curiosity that this train splits at Salzburg and the other part goes down to Venice!

The 6-berth had two others in it eventually, a German business studies student and an Indian/American traveller spending a, week crashing around mitteleuropa.

So they installed themselves in the top two bunks, despite getting off at Vienna. After a lengthy examination of the general state of autocratic right-wing movements currently prevailing in each of our countries, the day came to an inconclusive but kilometre rich end.

A Train Ride around the Balkans

It all started with a piece in the Travel section about the European Interrail Pass. Given the extra time I have available it offered the chance to see those parts other forms of transport don’t reach. Staring down at a carpet of white fluff is not really very scenic.

In the Beginning

That was last December. Buying the Pass was easy once I had worked out which one best suited – 5 days travel in a month with the bonus that you could go into a second day so long as the last journey started before midnight. So London> Paris > Munich> Budapest was just one trip because the final train left at 23.30. And the whole thing took less than 24 hours, with no tight connections.

The overall vision was/is to take in some of those former Communist-bloc countries that are so romantically depicted in the thriller fiction of the thirties – mysterious meetings on international trains thundering through the night, spies, cigarette holders and pencil skirts.

Having been to Georgia in 2016 I knew it might be a bit grim. But thirty years have passed and there is always the sub-strate everywhere of Ottoman history to enliven the prospects and add colour and interest.

Budapest would be a lively opener and Edirne ( Adrianopolis) a fitting conclusion. It has been in my mind for a long time to see Sinan’s final masterpiece, the Selimiye Mosque.

Well, the Pass has turned out to be a nightmare one way and another. Their website is very badly constructed, does not link up properly and has ( as they finally admitted) numerous glitches that need ironing out. And by the time you have made all the extra compulsory reservations not really much of a bargain. I paid over £65 in supplements just to get to Budapest. And their “customer services” is a complete misnomer. One joker suggested that the solution was for me to buy a new computer!

It was easier organising the trips to South America and India than this has been. It does feel as if I am heading into the neglected backyard of Europe.

At least it has now started to take shape, there is the prospect of leisurely hours reading and watching the scenery go by with some unusual cities to wander around. Language will be tricky. I suspect Russian is not a good lingua franca even if I knew it. And half a dozen different currencies to manage. Dollars and euros to the rescue, perhaps.

So many different countries poses the problem of how to manage information about sites, maps, places to eat. I’m relying on halfway decent access to WiFi where I am and that Google maps works. A hundred years ago it would have required a caseful of Baedekers. And a stash of paperbacks to be jettisoned along the way once read.

End of the line – monday

0530 get alarm call from reception. 0550 get into taxi.

0620 I have checked in and cleared security. Given how paranoid they are, this has to be something of a record.

Stop off at Chanel but they don’t stock Pour Monsieur and what they do have is more expensive than London prices. Make do with a litre of Tanqueray Traveller’s which turns out to cost less than the marked shelf price!

Breakfast is an insipid coffee and a large slice of good lemon cake.

Sit staring out at early morning misty airport. Thoughts go back to our first trip here in 99 when Jaipur was fog bound and we had a nightmare trying to get back to Goa for our return flight.

Manage to write up Sunday before heading down to the gate. I have 265/-left. There is a proper coffee booth there and even allowing for the never-stated taxes it will cover an espresso and a bun. Or so I think. The girl tells me it will be 290/-. I point out that it is 114 us 95 so how come. “the computer does t register espresso so you have to have a latte or Americano”

“But I don’t have enough money for that” “I can’t make an espresso because the computer hasn’t been updated”

“But you use the same coffee for all of the different coffees”

“I’ll phone the manager” After a long explanation I can catch amongst the hindi phrases like 25% so I guess he is giving her a way round the system failure. She puts the phone down and starts making an espresso at which point mistertubby manager appears to check on her. She hands me a largish espresso, saying “double shot” and has even warmed up the bun. She relieves me of all 265/-which seems an entirely satisfactory result. Boarding is so slow I have plenty of time to consume my ill-gotten gains.

Takeoff is only 15 minutes late but after half an hour it feels an awful long way to Heathrow. Somehow it passes. I finish the last 150 pages of the Jo Nesbo – “The Son” and watch a play I downloaded before leaving about a New Year’s Eve family gathering in a castle in Dorset called “Colin Bursted”. It’s entertaining for 90 minutes and enlivened by Charles Dance’s cameo as a transvestite beloved uncle.

Time passes and eventually we land after being stacked for 15 minutes. Oddly the plane is about to Dock when they appear to move it to another gate which takes 10 minutes. So from a scheduled 15 minute early landing we are now 20 minutes behind. Having only a small rucksack I get to passport control ahead of the crowd and am straight through without waiting. The bags start to come off but it is 20 minutes before mine appears. The coach leaves at 3.30. A one stop to terminal 2 and a longish walk get me to the coach station by 3.05 in time to put on shoes and socks and a sweater.

The coach leaves on the dot. Staring out at grey skies and greenish fields, it is hard to register the so sudden change. Only this morning I was in Mumbai. The cold is refreshing and it’s not raining.

The coach arrives virtually on time in Sidwell Street and a 57 is soon rushing headlong towards Exmouth. At this time of day no traffic means 30 minutes. Striding up Fore Street with the rucksack on brings home that whatever the state of the rest of my body, my legs are currently in pretty good nick.

All quiet in Bombay – sunday

After the turmoil of weekdays previously Sunday seems oddly quiet. Taking the train from Vile Parle to Byculla is less crowded than Exmouth to Exeter and a damn sight cheaper – 10/- for the 30 minute ride. Its certainly the fastest way to get around. I arrive at Dr Lad museum 5 minutes late for the English guided tour but catch up with them without any todo. A boy of about 25 is giving a very well-spoken exposition of Mumbai’s history to a group of a dozen Indians. It is very pukka to speak English to fellow countrymen, shows you have class and standards. Rather like the Russian court speaking only French. The girl with him is similar and she does the artistic stuff. Unfortunately her voice is barely audible.

The place was originally built mid-19th century and called V&A. You can see why.

The ceiling reflects the original benefactor, David Sassoon an Iranian jew who came in exile in the early 19th century.

Judging by some of the Pottery, the Art school that was set up in conjunction was highly sophisticated and developed. Obvious strong influences from William de Morgan and Morris.

The boy’s recital of the geographical development throws up strong parallels with Venice. Islands set close together in marshy swamp, developed by reclamation and infill gradually until contiguous and all driven by commerce, first the Portuguese, Dutch and of course finally the East India Co. They reckoned the life expectancy for young officers was maybe two years. It was a disease-ridden hole.

Some last minute shopping after a further 5/- ride down to CST at the end of the line is limited by most markets being closed on a Sunday. You are so accustomed to the endless retail that you forget to make allowance.

An hour sitting on the Quay in the shadow of the Arch watching the hordes taking boat rides out into the harbour.

And then a return to Delhi Darbar where we had had a fine meal at the beginning of all this. It was again good and the waiter Tashrique, even remembered me!

Walking back to Churchgate station I passed the big maidan where we played that first fraught game. It was complete chaos games cheek by jowl and balls flying everywhere. Most of the bowling was chucking and the batsman very wristy well-timed hits in the air in the Vee. But then there would be fielders scattered out there taking amazing running catches.

The train this time back to Vile Parle is suddenly different, packed solid as only Mumbai can be. I manage to ease onto the correct side for exiting eventually and am back after a classic sort of day.

Time now for a final shower and packing.

1 2 3 4 7