Well, we made it here and believe me it feels like an accomplishment. When we first saw the itinerary for today we questioned the need for a full day to get from the ship to the hotel. Why are we not planning on doing anything else but traveling today? Well, as it turns out, we needed the whole day and then some.
The day started with a gathering at 8:30 a.m. where we received our passports and were properly identified with hospital-type wrist bands (very attractive). Then it was onto the bus for what we thought was going to be a ride to the airport. Turns out that the driver and tour guide(?) had a different idea and we were taken around on a scenic tour of Colombo. Once I adjusted my expectations the tour became more enjoyable. They actually took us to areas further from the port that we had not explored during our walking tour. Russell said to me at one point that he thought Colombo has potential and I quickly agreed with him. There are a lot of "Coming Soon" billboards around but if only half those "Coming Soon"'s turn into "Grand Opening"'s well then this place will be hopping. I look forward to returning to Colombo and seeing what, if any, progress has been made.
The drive to the airport was not a short one. Once we arrived at the airport we went through a security check of ourselves and then a separate security check for our baggage. Next up--the check in line. So far so good. Then the wheels started to come off the bus. First there was emigration to get throughand fortunately that was not a problem. Our tickets said the gate was B4 but the monitor said something different. So we went to where the monitor told us to go only to find out that we needed to go to the gate that was printed on the ticket. But before we did that we asked another person and he said an entirely different gate. We re-checked the monitor and the gate information had been changed again and so we were off to a third location. But before we could get to that gate we had to go through another security checkpoint. And the line for this inspection was super long. Nevertheless we got in the queue and proceeded to wait. A bad situation was made worse when they called for everyone going to London to come to the front of the line. Needless to say a whole lot of people suddenly were going to London leaving those of us who had waited stewing in our own juice. Eventually we declared ourselves to be going to London and joined the exodus using the old "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy. At this final pat down they confiscated both R and my needlepoint scissors (have no fear, I had anticipated this and brought a cutting disc. Only problem being that I later discovered the disc cannot cut a new skein. Never thought of that! So we are going to have to find some scissors anyway but hey it will be an adventure.)
Our flight on Sri Lanka Air was uneventful but long (three hours). And at the Delhi Airport we had to go through immigration and baggage pick-up and wait for our buses to arrive and it all went smoothly but still took time. Speaking of taking time, the 7km ride from the airport and to our hotel took an hour and a half. And the traffic--yikes! Total chaos with horns.
Our hotel, the ITC Hotel Maurya is definitely a five star property. We were greeted by a team of employees, given a colorful scarve, a glass of juice and escorted to our room. After the Mumbai hotel attacks of a few years ago security at hotels in India is tight. Still I was taken aback by the armed guard in the elevator lobby on our floor when I returned to our room after dinner. Which reminds me of what we saw when leaving the ship this morning. They were beginning the process of putting up razor wire on the promenade deck of our ship for the trip from Sri Lanka to Dubai (and I suspect beyond). Unbelievable that all these measures are necessary and still not enough. What a crazy world we are living in.