In this edition of Hello, from… Denise’s traveling adventures take her to Hyderabad, India.
1| You mentioned that you’ve been to India before. Did you have a chance to reconnect with friends you made on your first trip? Yes, well, kind of. The only people I know in India are my friend, her family, and their staff. When I first visited India it was to attend my friend’s wedding over a decade ago. It was really wonderful to return and see her and her family again.
2| Tell me what is was like seeing bats flying overhead from the rooftop? Seeing real live huge bats was actually pretty cool. If they were in my house I would freak out but it was outside, we were on the roof and they didn’t bother us so it was fun. I think the most surprising thing for me was that I initially thought they were birds. Then I got a look at their wings and when I saw the points on them, I knew they were NOT birds.
3| What’s it like to fabric shop in India? Did you have an outfit made while you were on trip? I love fabric shopping in India. It is something anyone who enjoys shopping should try at least once. First of all, there are so many shops that sell fabric. When you go inside you tell one of the many attendants what you are looking for and then they sit you down at a counter and show you all kinds of fabric designs. You say yes or no to what you see and then they pile up your picks, box them up and put them in very fashionable reusable carrier bags and you cash out. Most fabric stores don’t allow you to bargain anymore but the prices are so good it doesn’t matter. Next I met with the tailor and I had several shalwars made. This is great for me because I can wear these to school. It’s one of the few outfits we’re allowed outside of our abayas.
4| You visited the beautiful Chowmahala Palace, what was your favorite part of the Palace? Hands down my favorite part of the palace was the throne room.
The palace is made up of several buildings and walkways and expansive courtyards. There are also shops for the tourists.
5| There were so many stunning architectural details about the palace. How does it compare to other castles/palaces you’ve seen on your travels? Indian architecture is much more ornate. I would say that is the main difference between castles I’ve seen in the west and palaces I’ve seen in the east. The buildings themselves are works of art, not just the décor. I like castles. But, I LOVE palaces.
6| What are some of the foods you enjoyed while in India? I must admit I am a fan of Indian fare. That being said, every dish I had there was amazing: paneer, curry, chicken, mutton, and vegetables made every way you can think and warm gulab jamun with vanilla ice cream. My friend’s family have staff that cook and I tried in earnest to sneak them back to Saudi with me but they smiled and said no. 🙂
7| Do you have a favorite dish? This trip my favorite dish was idlys and sambar. Until this trip I’d never had them before. Idlys are these soft, round cakes that are savory and served with a soup like dish called sambar. My friend’s cook served them for breakfast with this coconut chutney and I could literally eat that for breakfast for the rest of my life.
8| Did the caramel macchiato taste the same as you remembered? The caramel macchiato is different there in that they didn’t automatically add in the vanilla syrup. Also, I’ve noticed as I’ve traveled that most Starbucks don’t carry venti size. It’s like tall, grande, and a little bit bigger than grande. I don’t know what that is all about but the sizes were different. But, the baristas were very nice and the store was sparkling clean.
9| What was your favorite part of your trip? My favorite part of the trip was spending time with my friend. Until this summer I hadn’t seen anyone from home for over a year and a half. My favorite part of all my travels this summer was seeing my friends.
10| Do you plan to return to India? YES!! I love India. I will always go back there.
11| What is the #1 must see site in Hyderabad? I would say Chowmahalla Palace and Charminar are the must-sees in Hyderabad. They are very close in proximity to each other and if you see those two places- Charminar is a shopping district and an actual monument and, of course, Chowmahalla is a palace, you’ve gotten a pretty good view of Hyderabad. Hyderabad is also known for pearls. You can get them for a great price so pearl shopping is also highly recommended.
Stay tuned for the last of Denise’s summertime adventures coming next week!
Note: All photos in this post are by Denise Winston