India, oh India. Where do I even begin? I suppose starting from the top makes the most sense.
Traveling for me in 2016, when it comes to flights, didn’t go particularly well. As you can recall I had a minor (okay super major) meltdown on my way to Dubai. Not to mention countless delays on domestic flights throughout the year. So it should come as no surprise that there was an issue getting on our flight to New Delhi from Dubai. This issue actually warrants an entire post itself so I won’t get into now, but thank you again random Emirates employee (pretty sure the manager on duty) for making it all work.
I do want to take a minute to talk about the actual flight. When we got to our gate after a light jog, they made us get onto busses to take us to the plane. I’ve done that before, no big thing. Well this bus took what felt like 45 minutes to get to the plane. It was probably like five, but it was far! Settling in for the flight, we were talking about how glad we were that we actually made it as they started to make announcements. Neither of us was really paying attention to what was being said, but at the same time we both looked at each other like wait, did they say something about not breathing in and covering your mouth if you have trouble? Hold on, what did we miss? What’s happening? Trouble? Then all of a sudden a few flight attendants walked down the aisles spraying aerosol cans up in the air. They walked as though they were performing a synchronized dance. With the look of bewilderment on our faces, the smell and taste hit us at the same time. But what was that stuff? I guess we should have paid attention when they were talking. Later I found out it was bug spray. Weird, but okay malaria is real.
Our flight was easy; I watched a movie and relaxed. As we made our initial descent into Delhi it was clear that the sky was the exact opposite of clear. It was super hazy. I’m talking you couldn’t see anything out of the windows hazy. Continuing to descend it did not get any clearer. Ummm guys, how the hell is he doing this? They’re on instruments (yes like Airplane) I guess. Our pilot landed like a champ I have to admit.
Once inside, we made our way to customs with all of our e-tourist visa paperwork in hand. My hands were slightly sweaty in anticipation of what questions they may ask or what other document I might need to show them. Of course he asked me for my ticket and I found every single other ticket in my bag except the one from the flight I had just taken. Classic. Eventually he gave up, and said it was fine. They took a quick picture and fingerprints and we were in! Stamp acquired. Level up, new continent!
We made our way to baggage claim and got our luggage. Now to find our friends! Yay for us, they were right on the other side of the door waiving happily (or at least I think it was happy, it felt happy)! After getting some quick cash (we dubbed Ruperts), it was to the van and then the hotel. Quick side-note about Ruperts: they are even more impossible to convert in your head than the Emirati Dirham. But they do make you think you have more money than you actually do!
Our little van…okay not really little, not really big, let’s say medium van was waiting for us with our driver for the week. Everyone was handed a packet of information about the places we would be visiting (pretty sure no one opened this the entire time, but it was a nice touch) and we drove to the hotel.
Immediately I noticed the amount of people, cars, animals, the noise and the smell. Anyone who describes India as an assault on the senses is correct. I expected the visual assault and the scents, but I was not expecting the noise. A majority of the noise comes from car and tuktuk horns. In India, drivers honk to alert a car that they are going to pass, or that they need to pass. Basically they honk all the time, really it’s just organized chaos. Oh and I had no idea they drove on the left side of the road. Surprise!
Because this could go on forever, I think I will just stick to major events of the day and then supplement with additional posts about different topics.
We made it to the hotel with enough time to change and freshen up before dinner. One thing of note during our freshening time was that our power randomly went off twice while getting ready. Hadn’t anticipated that either. Surprise again! We learned this is in fact pretty normal. Spectacular.Dinner. Was. Fantastic. One of our group members had this restaurant on her list of “must do in India” and I’m so glad she did. We ate at Indian Accent. This restaurant has the No. 1 Restaurant in India on Trip Advisor spot; it is the only Indian restaurant on the San Pellegrino’s list of 100 Best Restaurants in the World and has been awarded the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant Award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 for the second year in a row. It is top-notch, and absolutely lived up to the accolades it has received. There is another in New York that just opened, but this place was phenomenal. Absolutely go if you have a chance. Okay dinner rant over.
Happy and stuffed to the brim, we made our way back to the hotel for a short night before a super early departure for the train to Agra. Our entire group agreed to add the train ride, as this is not something normally done by the tour company.
All Aboard! Agra up next!