Namaste Kathmandu

So here we were, tired and grubby, with the longest part of our journey over. We had already met four other people who are doing the same escorted tour as us; this was arranged through Mercury Holidays, who we haven’t tried before. Usually we do escorted tours through Travelsphere or Titan, but the itinerary for this one looked good (and it was an attractive price) so we thought we’d give them a try. 🙂

It wasn’t really a great hardship waiting around at the airport. We found a nice lively little pub that had a huge screen showing football (Barcelona v Real Madrid) and of course, being in India, we had to order a pint of Kingfisher each.  🙂

Presently our flight was called and we once again boarded an aircraft; this was a small 737 for the one hour 50 minute flight into Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. Boy, would I be pleased when we arrived. I could hardly keep my eyes open on the plane, even though the terrain below us looked very interesting.

Finally the “fasten seatbelts” sign came on, and we made our descent into the airport, and touched down on Nepalese soil around 14:50 hours local time. Curiously enough, the time difference between British Summer Time and Nepal time is +4.45; they are 15 minutes ahead of India. Seems hardly worth changing the time zone for a mere 15 minutes.

Going through customs and immigration was a painless process; we had to pay $25.00 US to get our 15-day visas, then it was straight through security and off to the baggage carousel to collect our cases. Finally, we were through and we exited the airport and crossed the road to be greeted by our guide, Anal (which is pronounced Ann-aal). 🙂 We were each given a garland made of marigolds, and wished “Namaste”, the traditional greeting.

There were only six of us in total for this trip; John from Preston, Charles and Julie from Birmingham and Vee from Southampton. No doubt we’d all get to know each other pretty well in the coming days.

It only took about 30 minutes to reach our hotel, the Hotel Himalaya. We walked into a pleasant, airy reception area with the faint scent of incense, and were each given a glass of cool fruit juice. Then, once we were issued with our room keys, the rest of the time for today was our own, to give us a chance to recover from the sleepless night and jet lag.

We all agreed to reconvene at 7.00pm in the hotel restaurant, where a buffet meal would be laid on for us.

Our room was very pleasant, clean and comfortable, and looked onto lush gardens and greenery outside our ground-floor window. There were twin beds, a couple of armchairs and a coffee table, a large dressing table and wardrobe, and a spacious bathroom. We would be here for the next couple of nights.

Meanwhile, my tiredness seemed to have vanished so Trevor and I, after dumping our bags, decided to nip along to the bar and have a refreshing cold beer.

The local beer is called (predictably) Everest, and features a picture of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on it (no mention of Sir Edmund Hillary!) We each enjoyed a freezing 650ml bottle. At first we took it outside to sit at some chairs and tables in the gardens, but it didn’t take long before the mozzies descended, so we went back inside. Then we returned to our room for a 45 minute power nap before dinner.

Later on, we met up with the others in the restaurant, and partook of a selection of local dishes. They seemed like a fusion of Indian and Chinese cuisine; there was poultry, fish, mutton, cheese and an array of fresh vegetables, all cooked with various sauces and spices. We really enjoyed both the meal and the company of our fellow travellers who, like us, were seasoned globe-trotters, and the conversation was peppered with places we’d visited, and holidays we’d enjoyed, in the past.

By 10.00pm we were really flagging, so we decided to visit the bar again for a night-cap. Trevor was happy because they were showing one of the World Cup football matches, between Denmark and France (it ended in a 0-0 draw).

We then returned to our room at 10.45pm, where I thankfully got washed and changed into my PJs before settling down. It certainly didn’t take long to drop off to sleep, and we looked forward to exploring this fascinating country tomorrow.

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