Thursday, March 12, 2015

Arrival in India & Delhi Sightseeing

Depart SeaTac March 9 and arrival in New Delhi on March 11

Our flights went as well as could be expected - 10 hours Seattle to Frankfurt, 4.5 hour layover and then 7.5 hours to Delhi arriving at 2:30am and in bed at 5am two days after departure. So pretty grueling but half-way around the world!

11-March-2015: Breakfast at the hotel's cafe across the street and wandered around the neighborhood. Pretty daunting with narrow, confusing streets and everyone wanting to sell us something or some service. we attempted to walk to the nearby New Delhi train station but got turned around. A nice person bargained with a tuk-tuk driver and arranged us to go to the government tourist office near Connaught Place. However, he dropped us at a different tourist office who attempted to sell us tours. We knew it was wrong but weren't quite sure how to get out of there to the correct place. Outside, on the street another person took us under his wing and walked us all the way to the correct place. He said Cindy reminded him of his (deceased) mother and that his assistance was "karma". We decided to rethink how we were doing things and be a bit more "professional". We arranged a car and driver for several days. Plus we will cut short the Delhi portion of our stay and spend one night at a town on the Ganges. The driver will also pick us up at the airport upon our return from Nepal and drive us to Agra, tour the city, take us on to two other place, then our planned tour of Jaipur where he will also drive us and then return us to the New Delhi airport for our departure back home. Not very expensive and it will give us a lot of peace of mind.

Lunch at a very nice place, Pindi, where we had butter chicken (the best in Delhi according to their review), Aloo Jeera (potatoe and cumin seeds curry) and roti (like nan).

Drove to Humayuns tomb -- one of the Mughal emperors. Then to Qutb Minar, a minaret to another muslim dynasty. It is the largest brick minaret in India (perhaps in the world) and amazing. It is situated in the midst of other ruins. Then we drove past the Lotus Temple, a rather new structure in similar style to the Sidney opera house and is a Bahai Temple. Then past the India Gate, something like the arch de triumph. Then back to the hotel and dinner nearby at rooftop restaurant at Metropolis Hotel. We had eggplant curry (Baingan Kalonji), peas and fresh fenugreek curry (Methi Malai Mutter), garlic nan, rice and Kingfisher beer.

12-March-2016: Met our driver at 8am and he dropped us off for breakfast at what he said was the best Southern India restaurant in New Delhi. Nothing fancy but excellent food -- we each had a dosa and those were among the best ever! Then on to the Lodhi Gardens, built by the British but encompassing several old tombs. Then to the Gandhi museum where we spent the rest of the morning. It is in the house where he spent the last 144 days of his life and he was assassinated while praying in the garden behind the house. The setting and the displays in the house were very inspiring and a reminder of how things can be solved without violence even if the situation is quite serious as it was in India during their struggle for justice and independence. Our driver dropped us in Old Delhi in the Chawri Bazaar and we met up for our walking tour. The leader of the tour grew up in these neighborhoods and he took us to rooftops, around the narrow streets, into a little restaurant for a light lunch and another shop for exceptional lassi. Then, we went by bicycle rickshaw to a private home in a building that has been in their family for 5 generations. After a tour and tea, we had a family style dinner -- rice, pakhora, aloo gobi, aloo (like aloo jeera but a bit different), lentils and zucchini balls in curry sauce. Very good! Then, our guide negotiated us a bicycle rickshaw ride back to our hotel for 50 rupees (75 cents). It was probably 1.5 mibut did cross railroad tracks on an overpass so not too steep. However, these rickshaws use solid rubber tires, are built solidly of steel and there were passengers. ALSO, our "driver" was probably older than us -- or perhaps had led a harder life. In any event, we felt very sorry for him as he dismounted and pushed up a long incline and struggled through rush hour traffic. Also a bit nervous since he needed to stop and ask directions. We arrived safely and he seemed happy that I paid him a 100% tip. What a life to work that hard and have such meager income.

Street in front of hotel but very quiet in the morning.

Cottage Yes Please where we are staying.

Our first lunch in New Delhi. Butter chicken, aloo jeers (potatoes with cumin seeds in curry sauce), rice and roti.

Humayuns tomb

Qutb Minar (minaret)

Breakfast of dosa masala!

Lodhi Gardens

Monument marking the spot of Gandhi's assasination.

ascenes of old Delhi market

Dinner in private home after the Old Delhi bazaar walking tour.

Location:New Delhi

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