The view from our balcony at the CJ International

Golden Temple view from our room's balcony

Waking up early after a great night out we had little time to celebrate the start of our 17th wedding anniversary as our train for Amritsar was scheduled to leave at 7:20 a.m.. At that time in the morning any train station that has 16 platforms could seem intimidating but other than the station guard telling me that my e-Ticket wasn’t a real ticket we had no problems: it’s great to be confident in your knowledge of a subject, in this case train tickets, so I put the guard straight and he backed down quite quickly.

The Shatabdi train we took to Amritsar gets there in under 6 hours and is currently one of the fastest trains on the rail network here. Being only a day train it has plane style seats – although you face backwards to travel – and they serve you with food during the trip.

Arriving at the much smaller-than-New-Delhi station we went for lunch at the Grand Hotel. Within minutes of the kids opening the menu they were in hysterics:

Strange food menu

We still didn’t know where to stay; the couple of places I’d seen before on the Net weren’t in the guide book but we went to have a look at the first one I remembered, Hotel CJ International. Investigating the rooms I decided to go for the Suite as a surprise for the wife and kids as the room had a partial view of the Golden Temple.

A quick shower and change of clothes – well for everyone else as I didn’t pack a second set of clothes – and we’re off to the nightly India-Pakistan Border closing ceremony. I’ll describe that truly bizarre experience in another post later.

We arrive back and the guide I’d arranged, Gurinder Garry was waiting for us. We were all soaked (humidity and sun, not rain) and so the first thing I ask Gurinder to do is to guide to find a new t-shirt.

So after our second shower in four hours we set off on a heritage walk that takes us to Kesar da Dhaba, a low key restaurant I’ve heard so much about, where we try the famous Dal Fry and many other great and not-so-great dishes. There’s no foreigners here except us and everyone else is eating with their hands so I jump right and try it myself. I managed to eat the Shahi Paneer quite well but the Black Dal Fry was just a bridge too far and it run everywhere.

Out of the restaurant we walked through the narrow dimly-lit streets before we reached the complex of the Golden Temple. I waited a long time to see and I was a little anxious about whether I’d built up the expectation far too much. I hadn’t…but I’ll save that for another post.

We spent an hour or so at the temple and then it was back to the hotel for our third showers of the day and a well earned bed.

Suite at CJ International

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