Travel Review: Bangalore, India

I apologize for missing Friday’s update. I had just returned from a three-day conference and was wiped! Then toured and cooked a big dinner Saturday, so just haven’t had time!

I learned something serious about traveling – and possibility about life – while on this trip: don’t have expectations. Expectations – either high or low – are assumptions that define what you expect the trip to be like: and 99% of the time, the trip is not going to be like that. I thought I had learned this lesson already in India. If you look at my Varanasi trip review down below, you’ll see I already dealt with low expectation setting. This time, people set up the expectations too high. Bangalore, they said, is a more cosmopolitan, trendy Hyderabad. So, I imagined something like Mumbai – with skyscrapers and lots of people walking around and shiny buildings – just with trendy bars and cafes. A lot of people were talking about how awesome the shopping was: so I expected cute stores and really good malls that we didn’t have in Hyderabad.

I found none of this.

Bangalore, really, is like Hyderabad just with a younger, more liberal population. It’s a bit like a college town, which is much different than when I was expecting New York. There are no skyscrapers. Yes, there are sidewalks. No, you still get stared at. People walk around in jeans/skirts, but the place still smells. The city was nice, don’t get me wrong. But when I went down the streets people told me were so good…they were just streets. The sidewalks were still broken, and there was still trash all over the place. I felt angry because it was my fault for expecting this place to be somehow different than what it was.

That being said, IndiraNagar Road at night is super cute and trendy. There are a ton of bars and restaurants that you can flit from one to the other. BUT – and this made me angry too – they close at 10:45pm because Karnataka has a ban on alcohol serving after then. Really? Really? My friend and I went to Vapour, Black Rabbit (found by accident because they were having a Game of Thrones theme month and I HAD to go), and then Toit one night. Vapour was pretty packed when we got there at around 7pm. It had a terrace bar at the top, with about half seats inside and half out. I was happy that they had a sampler beer offering, so we could try all of what they had: though they ran out of sampler glasses. The wheat was terrible (but I hate wheat beers), the stout was weak, but the bismati was pretty good. There were a lot of guys here, but some women and other tourists. It started raining when we were in Black Rabbit (delicious smelling food and drinks; more restaurant than bar), and by the time we made it for food at Toit at around 10pm, it was packed. They weren’t sitting anyone else, and it took us nearly 30 mins to find two seats around one of the bars. The bar/restaurant itself is laid out really cool: three varying levels, with different bars and tables on each level. The beers were nothing to write home about, but my Bismati Blonde here was pretty good too. The pizza – they had a bunch of hipster-y options – was also good. There were all kinds of people here: though by the end of the night, it was mostly men. The next day, we also ate/drank at Arbor (another microbrewery). They have good beers (I noticed a lot of the stouts were watery, but not there), and the food was decent (even if the Monte Cristo was a bit greasy/underwhelming), but the service was kind of bad. Service issues were always a problem there – but this seems pretty common in India.

We also found a super cute board game cafe; but, their pricing was a little weird. They had a “cover” but if you bought food then you got rid of your cover. But either way, you’re paying the same. It was crowded when we left about 6pm on Saturday, which is cool. We went to another cafe called Metteo that was hipster-y and trendy. I do miss those. If I went to college or worked as a young adult in Bangalore, these are places I would go, no questions asked.

We had a really hard time getting a cab, especially when it was raining. It would’ve been worth it to have a hotel car, because we wasted a lot of time walking/waiting for someone to pick us up, and we both got soaked too. We used uber the rest of the weekend, which worked out fine.

The shopping was okay, but again – nothing different than Hyderabad, I felt. We went to two malls. They had some stores that they don’t have here in Hyderabad, and one really hipster-y one called RatTrap that I bought a bunch of clothes in. But with all the malls getting built in Hi-Tech City, they might go out there next.

We stayed in the Oberoi hotel. This hotel was definitely more business people focused than the other Oberoi I stayed at, but still had the same feel. Fantastic service (though they forgot to bring my friend her cappuccino twice for some reason, but apologized profusely when they realized it). They could recognize us on site even after only two days, and tried to help us with whatever they could. We got two massages each there, one which really helped my carpel tunnel-esque wrist problems, called the Tech Troubles Massage. They also have a 3-acre garden around the property, which a horticulteralist can show you around, and they’ve built the hotel around a 180-year-old rain tree. I didn’t use the pool, but it looked very calming. The Polo Club was a nice place to relax at night; the Thai restaurant was a great breakfast with a lovely ambiance; and the chocolate lava cake I had delivered twice to my room. Power went out one night, which sent the TV shouting loudly upon being re-engaged, but the room itself was lovely, with a really nice shower and tub, and the room also had a balcony. I probably wouldn’t stay here again simply for the price. I think I could find also decently serviced hotels with similar rooms for a cheaper price. There just wasn’t anything super special about the hotel.

It took us about two hours to get from downtown Bangalore to the airport. However, this was during rush hour (5pm) on a Monday. I think because of all the tech companies, there are a lot of commuters, so plan for a LOT of time to get back to the airport because traffic reeks.

I didn’t bring my camera (it was a weekend of drinking and shopping), and we didn’t go to any of the sites (apparently there’s a big garden and a Victorian style palace), so I don’t have any pictures to add. I don’t think Bangalore is a city you really go for the culture. I bet it’s a bit like Portland: you go for the hipster-dom, the microbreweries, and the cafes. But, I think it is still a long way off from Portland status.

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About ambfso

Currently in Portuguese language training. Next post: Sao Paulo, Brazil