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Published: December 6th 2017
Sorry for the delay, here is by blog up to 2 days ago....
Day 1-2 1st December 2017
What a journey!
Started and ended badly with some bad bits in between….
It all began when the taxi, which I had booked the night before, failed to show up for at 6:15, eventually arriving 25 mins late….Needless to say I missed my train.
Luckily they run every half hour… So late at airport, took ages to find the hidden check-in desk, only to be told my softbag cannot go with other bags and I had to wait in another que for the people with skis and golfclubs.
Got through security relatively OK although they made me remove my (money) belt and then stand with legs akinbo and arms outstretched. You can imagine the result, like a Brian Rix farce…
Met Mal & The Reedies after that in the waiting area and we boarded our plane on time…. Then had to wait 30 mins for our wings to be de-iced (it was cold and lightly-snowy outside).
So, after a 3 hour flight,
we arrived at Helsinki 30 mins late and went through the customs etc. Then, after a very long walk (it’s a huge airport) eventually we got on a train for town (€5 each adult, €2.50 Rocco, Esmee free as under 7) our tickets having been bought for us by a friendly local with his credit card, and we gave him cash as the machine was not accepting notes.
Good train service in a circular direction (clockwise and anti-clockwise) every 10 mins.
Got into slushy Helsinki centre and sloshed across to a nearby burger-bar where we bought our burgers and drinks. Food not bad, drinks self-service needed sorting out.
Back to the airport on time & got through their security etc. We thought we had done well, but just as we arrived at the desk for our boarding they announced that our flight was delayed by an hour! Then, after boarding, we were delayed another 30 mins for another wing de-icing. So delayed 1 hour 30 mins total at Helsinki.
The 6 hour flight to Delhi was quite uneventful. They did serve a meal at 3am which seemed unnessesary
as we boarded at 9pm (Finland time = +2hrs GMT) so that interupted any sleep. I tried to watch “The Reverent” which I hadn’t seen, but it was interupted with lots of announcements (& the meal). I don’t recommend the film as it was just about cowboys killing animals, Indians killing cowboys, cowboys killing cowboys, and Indians killing other Indians (Soux v Pawnee). If all this killing wasn’t enough, they also often ate their killed meat raw, even when there were fires next to the carcases! The survival of the “hero” was unbelievable as he would have died with half the problems he was lumbered with. Not recommended for vegetarians!
Landed 1 hour late in New Delhi (Delhi time = +5.5 hrs GMT). Eventually got through customs and passport control (a lengthy process that involved retina scans and electronic fingerprinting – I told others in the que that it was so they could recognise the corpses they found on Goa’s beaches – it may be true?)
Got our bags OK and changed some cash to rupees, then got the nice new Metro to New Delhi Station. It was here that the nightmare began….
Went for the pre-paid Taxi booth (run by Police to stop rip-offs) & paid Rs200 for taxi for 6 with luggage (although we had to give driver extra for luggage!) He dropped us as near as he could (apparently) & we set off with our luggge. Some guy said he would take us to our Hotel but after a while I realised he wasn’t, in fact we were going the wrong way and ended up at some Tourist Travel Agency, where we did get a free cup of chai each & the manager arranged for a tuk-tuk to come from our hotel to collect us, which took 2 journeys. So we eventually arrived at Hotel Hari Piorko right in the heart of Paharganj – the main bazar of New Delhi.
We all had similar rooms – King-sized beds, table, chairs etc and en-suite. I was sure I had asked for an extra bed for the Reedies, they did get a larger room to accommadate one but as we were all jet-lagged and very tired we just kept them as they were.
I sleep accidentally for 2 hours in my room, just lay
on bed & shut my eyes. Others go for walkabout. Shirl picks up woman & kids who don’t want cash, just rice & lentils as husband drunk and spends all cash on booze.
After a meal at our hotel we went for a walk around the back alleys. It’s amazing that motorbikes can get down the narrow alleys and when they do you have to jump onto the 6” wide pavement to avoid being hit. Mal managed to step in some poo. Locals obviously not used to seeing tourists with kids down there.
We all suffer from smog/dust/car & deilsel fumes :– Bill & Esmee = Eyes, Mal = Skin, Shirl & Rocco = Nose/throat, Me = Chest/asthma.
That evening we go for a meal at the nearby Shelton Hotel, taking the rickety 1930’s lift to the rooftop where we are confronted by 3 armed Seikh guards weilding machine-guns. We sit on the opposite side to them with a view of a crowded corner of the bazar. When I take Rocco to see the guards, who shake our hands,beside the guards I talk to a nice Singapore/Indian couple from London(she works
for British Airways, he’s a homeopathic Doctor) They tell me that the guards are there to guard a Religious Bigot who has stired up trouble and now needs them.
We all took an early night
Day 2 (Sunday 3rd
December) An Afternoon Out
We all slept in quite a bit. The Reedies only have one bed (although I had asked for a large room so extra bed/s could fit in) but I think the combination of jet-lag and security when together, helped the kids sleep in till 9.30! Poor Mal is having trouble with her mobile/internet connection which I hope she can sort out so she can talk to John (her hubby back home).
Finished our breakfasts about noon.
Leaving hotel got 2 AutoRicks to the Old Fort (split into boys & girls). Both taxies wait for us around the corner. We find that Esmee, as I thought,is very popular as a photo op for Indian families and singles, some even making her pose in different positions! This fort was built around 1500, before the more
popular Red Fort in Old Delhi and gets fewer visitors (it is also nearer the India Gate Playground which we planned to visit next). The area inside the walls covered about 10 acres. The Mosque was in quite good nick as was a Tomb, but the outer walls are very broken down, so we didn’t walk along it (as many did) to the annoyance of Rocco.
We kept the same AutoRicks for whole day so they waited whilst we visited the Old Fort, then took us to the India Gate Kids playground, where the kids burnt off some energy. Then feeling hungry we went to a local Indian restaurant for a meal with 1 driver. Then on to a quality shopping bazzar called Delhi Hatt which had fantastic products – clothes, carpets, paintings and statues, all of the best quality I have ever seen. We wandered for hours (us boys getting very bored).
At one point I showed Mal where the toilet was and waited outside, after 5 mins there was an almighty crash from inside and I opened the door to find that Mal had smashed the toilet sink whilst there! She turned
the tap on, and the sink fell off wall - landing on her foot, and smashing to bits, Mal emerging, limping, amid a sea of broken porcelin. Whole shop in uproar! Mostly to help Mal’s foot.
Then back to our Hotel. We scored off each driver, girls got weed and me & Mal got good charas (ripped off on price & quantity, but quality A+). As I don’t think we will find much elsewhere on our travels, it was worth being ripped off so long as we were stocked up whilst in Delhi where prices are always over the top.
Back at hotel we had snack dinner, as still full from our late lunch. Kids had pancakes with chocolate syrup and chocolate milk shakes, 1st
time that Esmee has eaten everything so we got them 2 more (which they also ate). I had left my electric fag on a sofa downstairs near reception an hour earlier so went down to see if it was still there. I found the whole cleaning crew of around 20 guys were all passing my e-cig around, some coughing like mad. I got it back from them whist they
were laughing and coughing – they had managed to turn it up to full blast which is very strong! We all had a good laugh and I was just happy to get it back. Back at the restaurant the kids started messing about and fighting so Shirl took them off to bed about 9pm.
I went to my room soon after, typing this…. Can’t connect to wi-fi here so will wait till we get to Bodhgaya on Tuesday…..
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