Helen and Randall on the road

A bit about our adventures 2011-2012

Posts Tagged ‘Sula

March 8th – 10th: Sula Vineyards

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Back in January we heard about the Indian wine revolution when we decided to  risk ordering a bottle of local wine from a  hotel restaurant. We were impressed by the Sula sparkling so decided to find out a bit more about it, the outcome of which was a two-night stay in the ‘Beyond‘ resort in Nashik, home of India’s grape-growing industry and the Sula Vineyard.

The beautiful Beyond resort.

The pool over-looking vineyards, lake and mountains . Unheated but I did brave it.

Gorgeous wet-room bathroom with plants growing in it!

Water feature in the open plan reception/garden area.

In the reception/lobby area there were some examples of old kit from their early days.

The pool at night.

Beyond from the driveway.

To get to the Sula vineyard, a couple of kilometres away, we borrowed slightly ricketty but basically functional bicycles from Beyond. Their friendly on-site mechanic sorted out various things with a bit of percussive maintenance (that is, he hit things until they were satisfactory).

The short journey was interesting as  neither of us had any gears and we were sharing the narrow, winding road with the odd packed truck driving at speed. Still, we got encouraging cheers and the odd jeer from small children at the side of the road (the red, puffing foreigners were clearly the most amusing thing they had seen for ages) and three-to-a-moped young men.

Arriving was quite a relief as we cycled up the long driveway through vineyards, parked the bikes, and headed in for a cool glass of water in the bar.

The view from the terrace bar, Sula.

We did the basic wine tour and tasting, which was interesting although not as detailed as the ones we had done in Australia and New Zealand, and was also slightly marred by the noisy families with ill-disciplined children who had inexplicably thought this would be a great day out for toddlers. Misanthropic – moi?

Wine. Lots of Wine.

LOTS of wine.

The new bottling process.

A bottle of Sula Brut and some cheese and salami on the terrace of the bar,

Written by helenbcn

March 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Sunday 22nd – Wednesday 25th January: Udaipur

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We arrived into Udaipur City train station at 6.15 am and were met by the driver and escort from the Taj Lake Palace hotel, who drove us to the Taj Lake Palace jetty where we were ferried over the lake to the Palace itself and sprinkled with rose petals on entering reception, all of which was very romantic even if we were still a bit bleary after about 4 hours sleep.

As we were so early they put us into a – quite lovely – temporary room where we could nap and shower – we watched the dawn through the window:

before breakfasting in the beautiful breakfast room, where we managed to snag one of the best tables, in a little cupola/turret over the lake:

At midday we were escorted to our surprise room upgrade to a suite – glorious and a lovely surprise indeed!

View across to the City Palace from our suite.

Outrageous 8-9 foot long chandelier in the main room of our suite.

Lounging on the big, comfortable bed.

What could she be scrutinising so carefully?

Ahhh that would be it. “Your Butler and You”.

The glorious formal gardens.

Beautiful hotel!

Heated pool, with spa tubs in the cupolas in the corners.

Sunset from one of the bars of the Lake Palace.

Sunset over the lake.

Sunrise from our suite.

In the morning after breakfast I had a lovely massage in the Jiva spa before we had to sadly pack our things (one night was enough for our budget, athough we’ll be saving our pennies from now to be able to stay for a week!). A boat back to the Taj Jetty and a taxi took us to our next hotel:

Rooftop pool (unheated!) at Hotel Chunda Palace.

The next hotel laboured under the unfortunate name of the Hotel Chunda Palace; we had selected it using Tripadvisor when the Oberoi Udaivilas couldn’t accommodate our changed travel dates (that’s one to get back to for sure!) and knew it wouldn’t be quite the same standard but it did have some good reviews and sounded rather nice.

In many ways it *was* rather nice – quite beautiful with a lovely roof terrace and intricately hand-painted walls and ceilings throughout, however the service was comedy Fawlty Towers – I won’t go into the details but you can see my Tripadvisor review here:

Still, we were there to relax so while I did have fun chasing them up on all kinds of things I didn’t get stressed, and even had a chat with the Duty Manager about the things that were done well vs the things that were…errrrr….not. (Oh, and we got free puddings both days to make up for things going wrong, so fair play!).

One of the interesting things was deciding to try the Indian-made Sparkling Wine which we really enjoyed, and we have now booked a 2-night visit to the winery.


Beautiful glass inlay work on the walls – reception.

Incredible handpainted walls.

The entire hotel was decorated like this!

After 2 days of lazing around (and NOT swimming in the supposedly but not actually heated indoor pool never mind the rooftop  pool) we moved to a guest house in town for our last night to be near everything, and did a day of sightseeing and watching all the preparations for Republic Day the following day.

Gangaur Ghat gate, next to Tiger Guest House

Rather lovely mission statement of the ‘Eternal Mewar‘ foundation of the Udaipur Royal Family.

Given that they are apparently the oldest surviving dynasty in the world (unbroken since 734 AD) we were quite delighted that the first exhibition in the  City Palace Museum, before the main entrance, was of the foundation’s experiments in and sponsorship of solar powered vehicles:

The City Palace is still lived in by the Udaipur royal family. Other parts of it are now 5* hotels, the Shiv Niwas and the Fateh Prakash, and then there is the Museum part.

Detail of the inlay and paintwork of the palace.

Looking down into one of the courtyards at the preparations for Republic Day.

After about 2 hours in the Palace Museum we took the boat trip on the lake, which was frankly a bit underwhelming although included a stop-off on Jagmandir island, the ‘other’ island with a hotel on it.

Elephants at the jetty on Jagmandir Island.

Once we were back on land again we thought we would go for ‘English High Tea’ at the Fateh Prakash as it had been recommended – however it was served in the (deserted) indoor restaurant not the lake terrace bar which seemed a waste, and we couldn’t even have a cocktail in the terrace bar as it was closed (something to do with the Republic Day stuff) so that was a disappointment – instead we found the outdoor bar at the Shiv Niwas (around the pool not facing the lake so not really the same) and had a rather expensive and very average lunch – food splotches on the placemats, the menus and the napkins, and cheap, nasty thick glasses for the sparkling wine – definitely NOT 5*!

Pool bar, Shiv Niwas. Pretty but a bit crap.

Final stop of the day was the Mansapurna Karni Mata Ropeway for sunset – auto-rickshaw to get there, then we splashed out on the ‘couple ticket’ where you pay for 4 seats in the smallest cabin of the cable-car to get it to yourself, instead of being squished in with loads of people:


Finally we took a rickshaw to the Vintage Car museum where Randall ooh-ed and aah-ed over the Udaipur royal family’s cars from as far back as the 1920s, from Mercs and Rollers to a Morris Traveller and an Austin Cambridge.

Then it was back to our guest house for beers on the terrace watching the city lights before bed.

Early start helped by breakfast on the terrace the next day before taking a car service (slackers!) to Jodhpur.

The roof of our guest house, right on the lakeside, in town.

Our driver stopped the car to point out this mountain that looks like…? (Answers on a postcard / in a comment!)

The rest of the photos are here:

Written by helenbcn

January 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm