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Published: October 26th 2011
Well, it's been an exciting and very busy introduction to India. We've been planning this section of our trip for quite some time now. Kathie's parents expressed some interest in joining us somewhere on our travels and the topic of India kept coming up. So back in April we finally went ahead and booked a couple of tours with Intrepid. At this point in our trip we're getting a bit tired of the constant logistics of booking accommodation, transport, itinerary planning, etc. So we figured it would be a nice change to book a tour and just be passengers for a while.
We arrived in Delhi on the afternoon of the 16th and Kathie's folks arrived the next morning. It was an exciting reunion as we had not seen each other in over a year. We then wasted little time in getting to know the city. We managed to squeeze the four of us into a little tuk tuk and headed to Connaught Place. Of course the route was anything but direct as the tuk tuk driver let us out at a "government" travel agency that was actually not really near Connaught Place. It did not take long for the
hassle on the street to wear us down a bit but we persevered and finally made it there on foot. After lunch we took the metro back to the hotel for some much needed quiet time. We found a small hole-in-the-wall vegetarian restaurant for dinner and the four of us ate like royalty for a grand total of 250 rupees (~$5) including tip.
On day 2 we decided to hire a car and driver for the day to take us around some of Delhi's more famous sights. Not more than 100 meters from the hotel, our vehicle was rear-ended... The drivers dealt with it very calmly. Then our driver casually popped the bumper back into place and we were back on our way. Welcome to India! We visited India Gate, Humayun's tomb, Qutb Minar, and the Lotus Temple. The general consensus was that Humayun's tomb and Qutb Minar were the highlights of the day.
The next day we started a 5 day tour that would take us from Delhi to Agra, Jaipur and back to Delhi - pretty much the classic Golden Triangle tour. The drive from Delhi to Agra is only about 220km or so, but it
took us 6 hours to make the journey. The traffic on this section rivaled anything we have seen before (and we've experienced some pretty crazy traffic). We toured the Taj Mahal the next morning and were impressed. It really does live up to all the hype. That evening the four of us snuck away from the group and dined atop a roof-top patio overlooking the Taj at sunset. A great way to end the day and celebrate Kathie's birthday!
Then it was off to Jaipur where we visited several sites, the most impressive of which was the Amber Fort. The tour was pretty much as advertised and we enjoyed the sights. The biggest difficulty for us was surrendering our independence. The hotels on the tour were very nice (much nicer than what we're used to) but they were somewhat isolated from the more interesting areas so we did not go out much and explore on our own outside of the organized tour activities. This was a difficult adjustment for us having been travelling independently for so long. Overall we're super happy with our start in India, and it's been great catching up with Kathie's folks. So far they've handled
the culture shock quite admirably but we're doing our best to keep them on their toes.
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