After our fourth night we're all quite sad to be leaving Ranthambhore but an adventure awaits: we're catching two trains to be able to get to Alwar and there's only just over an hour between arriving at Jaipur and leaving there on our second train to Alwar. If our first train is late arriving by 45 minutes, we're gonna miss our second one and face a three hour taxi ride for £30, which I'd rather not have to do.
We arrive at Sawai Madhopur station thinking about quitting the trains and going back to the hotel for another couple of nights. This wouldn't be a problem with the hotel as they're not very busy at this time of year and we'd only lose 25 quid on the train fares. But we press on and wait to catch the train.
Our spirits are lifted by six or so local kids all waiting to catch the train, they're so smiley at seeing us - yes Dawes, even me! - and they lift our spirits. I take a photo and they're amazed to see themselves on the screen; turns out to be one of favourite photos.
The train arrives and departs on time, it's clean and we've got the six seats (actually two long comfortable benches) to ourselves for the two hour trip to Jaipur. We play cards, read and I listen to some music on my phone (Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack of course).
The train arrives at Jaipur on time. Phew!
A quick platform change happens with me wishing we'd packed less and we wait for the second train which again arrives and departs on time.
During the trip we decide which hotel to stay at, it's between the Alwar Bagh (as recommended by Indiamiker Puchoo) or Hotel Aravalli (as recommended by...absolutely no-one, but it's cheap!). A fellow traveller looks at my internet printouts about the hotels and tells that the Bagh looks nice but he doesn't know it and that the Hotel Aravalli is.."not bad". (He doesn't mean this in the English usage of "not bad" (as in quite good) but just that it isn't bad, but it definitely isn't good! We agree to have a look at the Hotel Aravalli and see what it's like that is until the train slows down and we see it from the window: "We'll stay at the Alwar Bagh I think" I say.
A crowd gathers as we get out of the station. Autorickshaw drivers hassle us for the business, it's 15km to the hotel. The first one asks for just 200 rupees and I can't be bothered to haggle, it's less than 3 pounds, for 10 miles, and he's got the return journey to do. The other drivers discuss in Hindi that we've been ripped off big time. Three quid: I don't care
What a good choice that turns out to be. It's beautiful (do I have any other adjectives for hotels?) and has a couple of acres, with two pools and five separate buildings for the rooms and restaurant etc. We splurge and take a suite which at Rs4000 is quite dear, but it really is lovely...look it up in Google.
As I write this the sun has just gone down (7:16) and it's dark, I'm outside using the owner's laptop (with a wireless broadband connection faster than my one at home - Hayward: leave it!) with the Aravalli hills silhouetted against the dusk sky. "Beautiful" is the correct adjective I think - yet again.