The year 2016 has been synonymous with travel for me. I have done 26 trips in all out of which 25 sponsored because of my blog. And the year is not over yet! My first personal trip came in December to Jaipur with my parents-in-law, we stayed at Holiday Inn Jaipur. My blogging trips kept me busy throughout the year, I had hardly any time to plan a personal trip. The trip to Jaipur was a long pending one, we first planned it in 2014 but on the same dates I got an opportunity to travel to Finland with Nokia. Jaipur had to wait till 2016.
I made sure we were going to Jaipur this time. While searching for hotels, I was looking for a comfortable one because even though I can rough out but I do not expect my parents in law or any elderly person in my family to do the same. I saw great rates for Holiday Inn Jaipur City Center and I booked 2 rooms with them.
The book experience was smooth, I booked through the IHG Club App. They put my card on hold, they did not charge anything upfront. Cancellation policies were also generous, I was travelling on 5th and up to 4th morning, if I’m not mistaken, I was allowed to cancel without incurring any charges. If you are an IHG Club member, the Internet automatically becomes free for you for the duration of your stay.
On 5th December we started our journey to Jaipur by Shatabdi Express. Thankfully for Rajasthan bound trains we can board from Gurgaon Railway Station itself. The trouble with Shatabdi is that it arrives too early at 10.40 am. Most of the hotels have check-in starting at 2.00 pm. The train was late by more than an hour. By the time we reach the hotel, it was past 12 noon. My parents in law sat in the comfortable lobby while I went to inquire at the reception about check-in.
The staff was courteous, they could find my reservation easily. Best of all and they were able to give me two rooms immediately, may God bless them because we were tired. We immediately proceeded to the rooms on the first floor. The lobby of the Holiday Inn is impressive, it has a high ceiling, comfortable seating and it looks inviting once you enter.
I was happy with my room too. I had a twin bed but then I was alone in my room ,I am OK with any kind of beds. My parents-in-law had the king size bed that we wanted. The room was large, it was well lit it and well maintained. I thoroughly enjoyed my room throughout my stay. The bathroom was clean, it had good amenities, everything that I needed . The room had notes asking us to co-operate in the ways which would put less pressure on the environment. I enjoy such places more than the normal ones.
On the first day we ordered room service for lunch, we were just too tired to go out. Food is of course slightly more expensive than the restaurants around but that is understood. I ordered dal bati churma, my parents-in-law ordered Khichdi and Biryani.
The food came fast and that is what you need when you are tired and hungry. My food was good but my parents-in-law found the curd sour. They are South Indians, you cannot give them sour curd and expect them to praise the food. I don’t think we had any complaints with the food other than that.
I booked the room with breakfast for it is not complimentary with the room. The room rate with breakfast was still quite reasonable. We enjoyed our breakfast on all days. They have a wide range that covers Continental, North Indian and South Indian dishes. They have masala chai as well.
The hotel is right next to two malls, yet the malls did not have many eating options. We settled for Copper Khurchan in the Mahima Mall. We had most of our meals there. It was easy to get an Uber from the hotel to the city. Other than Amber Fort which is far away from everything, nothing is too far away from Holiday Inn Jaipur.
Even though I did not swim due to the cold weather, I went to check the rooftop swimming pool. It’s quite attractive, the next time if I am going in warmer weather, I’ll definitely going for a swim.
Way too soon my holiday was over and it was time to check out. My train was in the evening, once again I was offered an extra hour for check-out. At 1.00 pm I got out to pay the bill. We left our luggage with them and went out to enjoy our last few hours in Jaipur.
At the station I realized that I had left my Kindle behind. I usually do not leave even a charger by mistake. But this time I left my Kindle in the room! I called the hotel and requested them to check my room to see if they could find it. They promised to check and call me back.
The kept the promise and called me back with the good news that they found my Kindle. I told them to keep it, I would pick it up the next time I was in Jaipur. They said they would courier it to me.
True to their words, they sent it to me. They wrapped it with a lot of care so that it didn’t break in the transit. I have to say a big thank you to Holiday Inn Jaipur for finding my Kindle and sending it back to me with great care. Overall, I had a wonderful trip and stay with them. But finding my Kindle again was the icing on the cake.
I will recommend Holiday Inn Jaipur highly if you are looking for a nice hotel in the city. This was my one personal trip of this year and I am glad it ended on a happy note! I will surely stay back with them if I get a good rate again.
It was my niece Vasudha who spiked my interest in the Dead Sea, Jordan when she heard that her masi (Aunt) was going. She read in her geography lesson that you could easily float in the Dead Sea. She was quite excited that I was visiting it. Of course she wanted to come but I gave her the ghisa pita (usual) answer, that her masi is not that rich and we will have to wait! I could go because I was invited by the Jordan Tourism Board. Before this conversation happened, I was only mildly interested in Dead Sea.
From the Amman Airport we straight headed to the Dead Sea which is 427 meters below the sea level. Our guide was explaining all this but to my sleep deprived self, it was simply not sinking in. However at the first site of the lake, yes Dead Sea is a lake, all my tiredness vanished. The sky was blue and so was the lake. Like a mirage in the distance I could see ‘floating’ white mountains.
We were staying at Holiday Inn which has its own beach. It was not too crowded in the morning. I almost ran to the beach and got into the water. Once I started floating it was difficult to stand up. It was as if the water was pushing you up and wanted to keep you horizontal. The Dead Sea water and mud is said to be full minerals which are good for the skin.
However let me warm you as the water is 9.6 times more salty than the sea, even a few drops in the eye or the mouth cause severe discomfort. I was lucky, I just got one drop in the eye once. Even that was stinging like mad but only for a few seconds. People who managed to splash it liberally would be seen running to the shower or the water can kept by the thoughtful lifeguards, to get it out of their mouths and eyes. So, you have been warned.
The Dead Sea mud pack is said to be very good for skin. They put it in pots at Holiday Inn next to the beach, you were free to pick it up and smear yourself liberally. And that is how I managed to click the Dead Sea alien selfie. There are even more horror inducing photos of mine but I will give it a pass for now. However, I was not alone.
The life guards at the resort were always happy to lend a hand if you wanted to get some mud art done at the Dead Sea, Jordan. This was a large group from Australia and I so loved their spirit of travel. They were loud, they didn’t care how they looked and they dragged each-other in water among other fun things. They knew how to have fun! I am so much more dull even when I might be 15 years younger to many of them!
Before going to a new destination, I usually Google it for images. I knew reading in the Dead Sea was an iconic picture! I initially planned to take a PG Wodehouse I was carrying but I was scared to soak it in the lake. After breakfast, I spotted an Arabic newspaper on the stands and I decided to risk it rather than the book. It was a good decision as when I got up, I soaked the newspaper thoroughly! That PG Wodehouse was a borrowed book too.
I hope one day and that too not in too distant future I will be able to take my brats to the Dead Sea, the only thing that scares me is that they will liberally get water in their eyes and mouth, so it is better to wait a while I guess. Oh and I need to save tons of money too!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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