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Published: October 10th 2011
First class is certainly the way to travel. Last night we had our own compartment on the train to New Delhi, with a door that locked and an attendant available should we need anything. The bathroom was still down the hall. We would have enjoyed it more if we hadn't been so exhausted. At least we slept well!
When we arrived at 5 am it was already hot. I don't typically sweat much in the Kentucky summer heat, but I was melting when we arrived in this city, and the sun wasn't even up yet. We found an auto-rickshaw to our hotel, Amax Inn, and although I took some photos it wasn't much to write home about. A decent room, air-conditioning and a fan, our own bathroom. Sleep!
By the time we made it up we were ready for lunch, and chose a tasty South Indian restaurant, Haldiram's. It was our first opportunity to utilize the Delhi metro system, and I have to say, I'm quite impressed. Clean, cool, efficient, affordable and some fairly serious security methods. Everyone queued to go through the metal detectors before entering the metro, and all bags were scanned, yet lines moved surprisingly fast.
American airport security could learn a few things! Not quite as extensive as it should be, however, and we were often left taking a rickshaw to the nearest metro station, and then another rickshaw after that. Still, when it worked it was wonderful.
A delicious lunch and we were ready to explore the Old City. On the schedule was the Red Fort - impressive - and the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, built between 1644 and 1658 and able to hold a mind-blowing 25,000 people, which although nice would have been better if the fellows who worked there weren't quite so rude.
In the evening, worn out from our long hot day, we traveled by metro to Connaught Place for a tour of some of the government emporiums and another tasty South Indian meal at Saravana Bhavan.
Our second day in Delhi began early, and we were able to see Humayun's Tomb at its finest. Set in a lovely and peaceful park in the newer part of the city, it was a wonderful respite from the noise and pollution of the previous day. The tomb itself was rightfully impressive, built of a lovely combination of
red sandstone and white marble, a precursor of the Taj Mahal. Most of the rest of the day was spent in the National Museum, an overview of India's last 5,000 years, with some outstanding sculptures and miniature paintings, among other exhibits. We were left with just enough time for a spin around an even more impressive government emporium, Central Cottage Industries, a hassle-free must-see if you're shopping for souvenirs.
Finally, we made a rush for our evening train to Agra. Next stop, Taj Mahal.
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