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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bangalore Arrival, Leela Palace Relaxation

This morning pretty early, around 1:20am – I arrived at the Bangalore airport to what I would normally call “Southern California” weather. Nice and cool with relatively low humidity. I performed my usual couple of tasks there, hurry down the stairs, get through initial customs, change $200 USD to Indian Rupees, and stand next to the luggage conveyor belt.

International Terminal and Baggage Claim in Bangalore, India

Given my late arriving connection flight – I was wondering if my bag was going to be on the flight at all. I did not have to wait long as my bag was one the third one off of the Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet. It was ice cold too, if I might add. I grabbed the suitcase off the belt and waited for my colleague Mike Owen to get his. Of course his had to be one of the last ones off.

Then Mike and I went through the second customs area to greet our contact from the Leela Palace Kempinski , Bangalore – which enables you to avoid the masses outside the airport in the scramble to locate your drive. Or worse, hail a cab. Initially, the representative from Leela did not have the confirmation for the transfer for either Mike or I. Still he went ahead and escorted us out quickly to the private cars that the Leela Palace use to transfer people from the Bangalore airport to the Leela.

The Leela Palace Kempinski was even closer to the airport than I remembered. Within five minutes we arrived – I handed out a couple hundred rupees to the drive – and we went inside to check-in. Seated in the beautiful lobby, they quickly checked us in and handed over our keys. Since I was going to stay a day longer than Mike, but the hotel was full – I put in a priority request for Wednesday night, hoping that I would not need to transfer hotels.

When I arrived into the room, I was pretty relieved. Based on the poor experience at the Chauncery Pavilion a few months prior – the Leela met my expectations and had a room worthy of note. Much like you would find at any resort in the United States. I quickly headed to bed to get some rest.

In the morning, we met up for breakfast and enjoyed the buffet at the Leela Palace. While expensive at 690 rupees, or about $17.50 – the buffet is special enough that it deserves mention. It was great to enjoy the various mix of Indian and American breakfast items and fresh fruit, all outside on the patio in the warm Bangalore morning.

After breakfast it was off to a couple of familiar sites for myself – since it was Mike’s first time in Bangalore and I was more interested in relaxing – we visited both the Lalbagh Botantical Garden, the Bangalore Palace, and finally the Karnataka government buildings.

I enjoy visiting with people whom it is their first time in India. I think the first day is a lot of fun, especially when riding in the cars. Those who are not used to the type of traffic and close driving quarters that exist – generally are pretty nervous in the car. A “veteran” of three trips to India now, it seems to be part of the norm for me.

After our quick “programs” for the day, we resisted the urge to take a nap and headed down to the pool. The pool at the Leela is equally impressive with its clear blue water and resort feel along with poolside massages. There is a little dining area where we grabbed a table and hang out for the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sun and fresh air.

After a small snack for dinner, I headed off for bed – dead tired from the journey and trying to stay up late enough to not wake up at 4:00am in the morning.

I am looking forward to the upcoming work week and hopefully missing any jet lag!