Jordan turns 40 this December so for the past few months I’ve been beavering away planning a trip to celebrate this landmark birthday. We normally travel for our birthdays instead of giving gifts but for this one we had saved up 10 days of annual leave so that we could extend it beyond our normal long weekends away.
Jordan has been guessing at our destination for some time and I’ve enjoyed trying to mislead him with my answers to his questions. We flew from Birmingham to Dubai before transferring to our final destination, by which time he had a pretty good idea as to which country we were heading to so I gave him a guidebook to Rajastan and conceded to let him know we were flying into Delhi.
I had booked through a company in the UK who I had read about when researching sustainable and eco-conscious travel. They work with local communities and organisations so that your money goes back to the country and not into the pocket of a big tour company or hotel brand. This probably works out a bit more expensive but I’m sure the Hilton family can cope without my money.
We were met by a driver and a guide at the airport who took us to our hotel. We ran through our itinerary, got some useful info and then headed out for a brief exploration of the area.
As India is a closed currency I was keen to take out some money as it felt very strange to be cash free abroad. I knew bits about Delhi but it doesn’t really come to life until you experience it yourself. The roads are cramped with cars, tuk-tuks, pedestrians and the odd cow! It’s a constant cacophony of car horns as vehicles weave in and out. Lane discipline just doesn’t exist here and although there are rules they get ignored-, its something you definitely can’t fully appreciate until you have experienced it, driving the wrong way down a road is not uncommon and every inch of space is in use. I was instantly grateful to have a driver- I could not drive here.
We stayed in Old Delhi, the air is thick with the scent of fuel, smoke from street food stands, and urine. It is common practice for men to just pee in the street against a wall.. It’s an adjustment…
We had an early evening check in with our guide and then set out in search of food. I hadn’t booked dinner for that night knowing that we could be delayed or too tired to go out after travelling but I had found a few places we could go to that didn’t need a reservation, as some were at the Aerocity complex by the airport which could be up to an hour away with traffic we opted for a closer option of dinner at Bukhara. A lot of the higher end restaurants are in hotels and this was no exception ( found in ITC Maurya) . As we looked around I spotted a poster and was very sad not to have known about the event (we still asked, it was sold out but we took a peek and did see Aduriz inside)
There was a 45 minute wait on tables at Bukhara so we sat in the adjacent golf themed bar for a drink, thankful that Indian hospitality means you get snacks when you order a drink.
45 minutes later and we returned to find that the wait for tables was still 45-60 minutes. Ravenous and desperately in need of a sleep we gave up and went to Tian, a Chinese style restaurant on the rooftop. We had intended to eat Indian food but had reached the point where anything would do, we had passed the 30 hours awake mark.
Dinner was better than expected, we ordered several plates of starters to share rather than a full meal. It was just what we needed.
Day 1 done.