Next stop New Delhi

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February 13th 2018
Published: February 14th 2018
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Time to move on, north to New Delhi. Checked out and the hotel staff checked the room first. Pleased they did, nearly left a pair of shoes. Cost me another 100 rupee tip.

Taxi driver from previous trip collected us at the door and drove us to our next hotel, The Park, Connaught Place, New Delhi. Drive was nowhere near as interesting as the others we've made as it was pretty well door to door Expressway. This was nothing like the road we drove from Jaipur to Agra which had local roads running parallel along its length. This is a proper modern 3 lane motorway. It was also pretty empty as it is expensive so most drivers use the free and packed old local route. Driver paid 665 rupees plus a couple of smaller tolls along the way. Much greener now, fields both sides but no photos as can't take pictures with armco barriers in the way while driving at 60 mph.

Arrived in Delhi to find it far removed in many ways from either Jaipur or Agra. For one thing there are no roadside, or even middle of the road, cows. No camels or horses and no obvious roadside slum dwellings though there are undoubtedly lots of these, they are better hidden from view in this only recently built and developed part of the city. The original city is Old Delhi but we are staying in the new part, New Delhi which was designed and built by the British mid 1800s. Starts at Connaught Place which is 3 concentric circles built as rings of elegant Georgian terraces, similar to the style of those in Bath. The city was built as the British administrative centre for India at the height of the Empire. Roads fan out in all directions from the circles and there are large and elegant houses and buildings along each as well as parks and lots of trees. That's the plan anyway but not everything is currently to plan.

Connaught Place is now a circle of market type stalls and shops, some elegant, some 'high streets' and dotted at every available spots are sellers of all sorts of wares. Could have bought a ship load of handkerchiefs to bring home if we had accepted all those offered today. I digress though as we haven't checked into the hotel yet.

Security at the hotel meant sending the cases through an airport type scanner and a frisk at the entrance door. Checked in but we were then told we must wait until the room was ready. I asked when that would be and was told very dismissively that check in time was not until 2pm (we arrived about 1.15) and it would be 15-20 minutes before our room was ready. By 2pm I was distinctly bored and twiddled my thumbs pointedly, as if we had known it would be so long a wait we could have had a coffee in the restaurant by reception. Not accustomed to unhelpful staff as up to now everyone has fallen over backwards.

At 2pm I discovered, surprise, our room was in fact ready so we took our stuff to it. Dischuffed to find no safe in the room. One was brought when I asked though I do query the security of leaving my valuables in a safe which can be carried about ! Still at least this one is big enough to take the laptop.

We asked at reception where we could go for a wander and was directed to the circle of Connaught Place and the markets around there. 2 minutes out of the hotel and we were accosted by the first of many helpful men who wanted to tell us exactly where we should go, how to get there, they were not selling anything but oh by the way I live along that way and am just on my way home I'll come with you. Some were hard to shift. I tried a new tactic at one point when we had two of them and lost my British cool. Worked a treat, both looked at Bob in an alarmed sort of way and fled. Will keep that in reserve for next time.

The roads all round the Place are in total chaos and gridlock. Motorbikes, cars, taxis and motorbikes line up 6 abreast and crossing the road is similar to our experience in Vietnam where we put our hand up and headed for the other side and the bikes and mopeds drove round us. Here there are 4 wheeled vehcles to contend with and they don't weave. They don't stop either. Fortunately some junctions have traffic lights, the others don't !

For some reason all roadside curbs are at least a foot high so had to use my stick to get up and over them. This place was not designed for arthritic knees that's for certain.

Think we went round the circle 1.5 times as certainly recognized the Bata shoe shop 2nd time around. We stopped for a drink and then the usual messing about trying to find an ATM which would actually donate some money. Second time lucky but it is most unnerving to be refused, and Bob's credit card had already been refused at hotel reception. Hopefully he had accidentally keyed the wrong pin.

We found out way back to the hotel, which is not an easy matter when you don't know which leg to take off the circle and don't know which ring of the circle you are in. Rule is, don't show any uncertainty, never stop to consult a map or the 'guides' will descend just like the raptors do from the sky here, to take you in hand and lead you in directions you had no intention of going.

Back at the hotel, I had a swim in the, yes of course, icy, pool then we had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Good meal but no local beer available only Mexican, little bottle. Bob was very aggravated when the bill came and he found he had been charged 550 rupees. About £6 ! There is no doubt that Delhi is much more expensive than we have become accustomed to. Popped in an H&M just to check prices and the sweatshirt I looked at was 2000 rupes and would surely have been less than same, £20, in the UK. Really would like to find a proper market, the sort we are used to in Asia but so far not having much luck. Don't want designer clothes, replica tee-shirts, Iphone cases, portable chess sets, decorative maps of India, flashy jewellery, cheap trashy jewellery, more ornamental elephants. etc etc. I actually want tourist stuff and nice Indian skirts and other clothes but don't know how to find them. Must try harder.

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