Sunday in Darjeeling – Lady Baker's Tea
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Sunday in Darjeeling

We had the good fortune to become acquainted with a gentleman by the name of Nalin. He happened to know Gabriella, our Italian tea sommelier and when he learned of her trip to Darjeeling with the TAC delegation, he made himself available to help in all sorts of ways. The most I learned of him was that he is a tea consultant who traveled a lot and having settled in Darjeeling many years ago, knew all kinds of people. He insisted on treating our group to a lovely breakfast on Sunday morning at the Mayfair Hotel which was a 15 minute walk through meandering streets from the Sinclair.

[caption id="attachment_2320" align="aligncenter" width="856"]the centre of town with an outdoor theatre the centre of town with an outdoor theatre; note the dogs - they slept anywhere[/caption]

The Mayfair was originally the home and property of a royal family of India. Now, made into a number of lush suites for tourists, it was so inviting that perhaps when I return I will stay there!! It was absolutely gorgeous!

[caption id="attachment_2319" align="aligncenter" width="700"]posing at the Mayfair posing at the Mayfair[/caption]

We were originally given a choice to see the sunrise at Tiger Hill over Mt. Kanchendzonga or to visit Ghoom Monastery. Whoever planned the day forgot that, this time of year, it was not possible to see the sunrise due to heavy clouds. So we did a quick trip to Ghoom (only a half hour) and stopped at the Batasia Loop where the famous Himilayan train originates. We were told we would have to book 2 months in advance to get a seat on the train.

[caption id="attachment_2322" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Dr. Laskar was still with us but soon to leave us At the monastery; Dr. Laskar was still with us but soon to leave us[/caption]

Returning to the city, we met Nalin at the Marina's restaurant and then headed over to the Planters' Club for more refreshment. The Planters' Club is actually a tea planters' club. It was established in 1868 during the colonial days by the British Tea Planters. Although today it provides 2-star equivalent accommodations to members and tourists, the original patrons were those visiting from the Dooars and Terai regions, as well as government officials and the officers of the British Indian Army. The club was built for the planters and their wives to enjoy the cool climate of Darjeeling. So here we were! It definitely had that old school ambience.

[caption id="attachment_2324" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Cheers to tea! Cheers to tea![/caption]

Nalin accompanied us to a merchant of silk scarves and beautiful clothing. He stood by the merchant as the prices were added up and with a nod or two, the final price seemed to be lower than expected. As I said, he seemed to know a lot of people! We ended our time with Nalin at his favourite tea shop called Golden Tips and then rushed to the narrow market area for one last look before heading uphill to the Sinclair.

[caption id="attachment_2330" align="aligncenter" width="274"]a little too close for comfort a little too close for comfort[/caption]

downtownDarjeelingSo, that was our 'day off' and it was crazy full! But I was so happily tired and slept like a baby!

We are about to leave Darjeeling the next morning and so before we do, I want to share more of the bounty we received while visiting the estates. I have a tea gift for you, if you should be the one we pick! Leave a comment below this blog post by finishing the sentence, "If I could go on a trip of a lifetime, I would go to ______________ because __________." We will announce a winner in next week's blog post, so be sure to check back!
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