Arriving in Mumbai at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning was one of the best things we could have done. At this time of the day streets were calm and silent, shops were closed and people was sleeping. Just few ottos and taxis surrounded Victoria Terminus, our arrival point and one of the prettiest train station buildings we have ever seen, so we could really enjoy the walk we did around the massive structure. After stopping for a quick coffee and having left our backpacks in the station cloak room, we took a bus to the main touristy district in Mumbai, Colaba, in the southernmost peninsula, by the Gateway of India monument. There we started the search for a place to stay. Hotels in Mumbai are really expensive and crappy, compared with what you could pay and get somewhere else in India. It is very difficult also to bargain the price. After a while we managed to get a 2 x 2 meter room with no windows or space for our stuff and for the highest price we have paid so far in India.
This wasn’t any inconvenience for us to enjoy as much as we could our stay in Mumbai. The city is big, really big, and crowded. But the nicest area in town concentrates around the large and irregular coast line, exactly where the English empire established their capital city long ago. The old name of the city, Bombay, describes perfectly in Portuguese how that coast looks like: “good bay”. The colonial style buildings (university, museums, palaces and private houses) provide the city with an European ambience to make of Mumbai the international metropolis it is nowadays. Many foreigners established here long ago and many others still do, so travellers can move freely on the streets without being noticed, and few people will stare at them as it happens in other places in India.
Very interesting, and one of the first experiences on that sense that we have had, was to take the 2 storey tour bus which took us all around the bay and the most important buildings at night, with explanations about Mumbai’s history (past and present), architecture highlights and way of life.