|I am still awestruck, so I was up just after 6am to take one more look at the Ghats of Varanasi. But when I walked outside, I was surprised to see that the morning was shrouded in a thick blanket of fog. I couldn't see a thing. I realize now just how lucky I was last week to have clear skies to capture some nice photos. However, the fog didn't stop me from a morning walk, nor did it stop the committed Hindu's from following their daily ritual. I snapped many more photos before finishing my walk just before 8am. I had just enough time to eat breakfast before heading to the airport for my flight to Delhi.
For breakfast, I ordered my usual toast, black coffee and a cheese and mushroom omelette. I ate on the third floor terrace with only a view of a white wall of fog. I was joined by a lady I recognized from my visit last week. I learned her name is Brita and she is from Denmark. Brita has been coming to Varanasi since 1968. She said in recent years she has been making two shorter trips annually, instead of one longer trip. She will leave Varanasi in early December and come back after the New Year. Brita essentially lives at the Kedareswar B & B. I was interested to find out more and asked Brita how she spends her time in Varanasi. She beamed when she told me about her volunteer work at the Little Stars School. This school for the underprivileged has over 600 students and is directed by a lady named Asha. She praised Asha's talents for knowing how to utilize volunteers, based on their skills. Brita teaches several classes at Little Stars. She was so excited to tell me about the school and her volunteer work that she went to her room and brought back a photo of her at the school just to show me. I had so many more questions for Brita, but I was out of time. I had to check out and get to the airport. Brita said the Little Stars School has a website which I will surely visit. I snapped a photo of Brita before departing.
Brita was complimentary about the management of the Kedareswar B&B and after spending as much time as she does at the hotel, she should know. She said most Indians have no idea how to run a hotel. She told me about some of her experiences in Varanasi and said most operators have no vision and work only in the present, looking for the fast buck. She said the management at Kedareswar is different.
Kedareswar is a B&B with six rooms and is owned and operated by two young brothers, Mintu and Pintu. It's a oasis of cleanliness surrounded by a very gritty city. I am so happy that I found this place, as it raised the level of my Varanasi experience. The hotel is a real gem and far exceeded my expectations. On my first morning Mintu made it a point to talk to me during breakfast, as the brothers do with guests every morning. He told me about how they started 15 years ago selling boat tours on the Ganges. Now, the brothers have twelve boats and a small hotel. He talked about the importance of growing slowly. I asked him about his future aspirations and he smiled and said that he just wants to keep people happy. I think he has figured out the formula for business success!
Kedareswar is rated #1 on Trip Advisor, a trusted travel website. The brothers are full service and know the value of cross selling. They took care of my air and train transfers, City Tour and Ganges Cruise. And all the people they work with are customer oriented. Each and every one, from the cleaning boys on up, made it clear that they were there to take care of me. How refreshing.
My hour and a half flight on Spice Jet to Delhi was on-time and a comfortable. Upon arrival I navigate to the new Metro Express Line from the airport to downtown. This service opened last summer and is great. It's a world class, ultra modern light rail sytem that is fast, efficient and easy to use. I arrived late afternoon at the Hotel Le Roi, a business hotel where I stayed last year.