South India Day 5: Ooty to Coonoor (Toy Train)
I was very excited today for our ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway toy train. Not only do I love trains, but this is one more UNESCO World Heritage Site I could check off of my list. After waking at 6 a.m, I realized that I'd forgotten to turn on the water heater for my shower before going to bed. Luckily, we had two room and I was able to use the other shower. I have to say that the homemade meals at the Bouganvilla [sic] were a great compensation to its downfalls, no wifi and some fairly romanticized advertising photos. We had a wonderful breakfast of dosa, fresh fruit, tea and sambar. We walked down the hill into Ooty and to the train station to wait in line to buy our train tickets. We were not able to get first class tickets on the ride to Coonoor, but, actually, we were told that the car we were in was less cramped in second class than first, by a nice couple from Australia, named Mary and Trevor, who switched cars and joined us on our ride down the mountain. The ride down the mountain was beautiful and took about two hours. The scenery reminded me of some areas I've seen in California and was far away from the stereotypical vision of India that most people have. We disembarked in Coonoor and spent about and hour and a half exploring the area near the train depot. I bought some Nilgiri tea and we saw a lot of goats and small temples and shrines. On our way back up the mountain to Ooty, we were able to buy first class tickets and were again joined by Mary and Trevor. The first class car was more cramped than the second class, but we had the very first car with nothing in front of us, since the toy train was being pushed up the mountain and not pulled. This gave some great vantage points for photos, as you can see below.
Back in Ooty, we explored the back streets with its vegetable markets, pigeon-killing cats (we saw this in action), and souvenir shops. I bought a small metal Shiva trident and we sampled some delicious fresh green peas from the pod. Before our trek back up the hill to the hotel, we stopped by Adyar Ananda Bhavan and had a snack of paneer, naan and aloo matar to hold us over until dinner.
After resting a few hours, we were too tired from the long day to walk, so we hailed a tuk tuk and went to the Hotel Nahar restaurant for dinner. Probably the fanciest restaurant in Ooty and well worth the price. At this point, were were definitely too full and too tired to walk back to the hotel, so we grabbed another tuk tuk and made it back home to fall immediately asleep.