Puducherry - Part Un

Corey writes:

Gina and I traveled to Puducherry (nee Pondicherry) last week for fun. It was the first vacation we've taken since Puri in March. We were both looking forward to a little time away from the office and from the rain.

For those of you too lazy to click on the Wikipedia link, Puducherry is a popular tourist destination in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is a former French colony, and the French influence can be found in the city plan, the food, and the people.

Since this was a personal trip, we decided to travel cheaper than we regularly do. We left Koraput at 5:30am on Tuesday on a bus headed to Vizianagaram. Ten minutes down the road we found out the bus didn't actually go to Vizianagaram and that we'd need to get out after a couple stops and catch a different bus. The adventure was on!

We arrived in Vizianagaram by 10am and needed to kill 10 hours before departing by train. As luck had it, the nice hotel next to the bus stand had a special day rate so we decided hide out from the heat with A/C and TV. We caught our train to Puducherry and arrived the next day around 2pm. The lobby of our hotel was filled with art, the first of a lot of art we saw in town. We had booked a non-A/C room, but it seemed it was still occupied, so we got upgraded to A/C for the first two nights!

After "freshing up" we headed out to get a bite to eat. We got lucky again and stumbled into Daily Bread, which we ate at at least once a day after that. We had salads, and toasted baguettes filled with real cheese. It was heaven.

The next day we took ourselves on a tour of Pondicherry, seeing the beach, the French quarter, etc. Mostly we ate: espresso and more baguettes and french pastry. The third day we traveled to Auroville. Auroville is an international township of people that live together without money, with green energy, green farming, fair trade manufacturing, etc. It was an interesting experience, but kind of limited, as visitors aren't allowed to roam freely. If we ever come back I'd like to see what's really happening behind the scenes. The surface is slick and manufactured. After Auroville, we got STEAK (STEAK STEAK STEAK!!!) for dinner at a french restaurant. The steak was really good, everything else about the restaurant was not.

The next day we wandered around Puducherry again, doing some shopping, and visiting a handmade paper factory. That night we almost had cheeseburgers *sniffle* and we walked along the ocean.

Our last day in Puducherry started like every other, at Daily Bread. We then spent a few hours getting lost trying to find the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. By the time we did, we were too tired to actually go inside. We checked out of our hotel and headed home, which meant taking a rickshaw to the train station, train to Villupuram, train to Vizianagaram, bus to Koraput, and then rickshaw to our home. That's a lot of hops. But that's also something that amazes me about India. We went half-way across the country and back, door to door, using public transportation. For $40. This is not possible in the USA, unless your origin and destination are metro areas.