*Before reading this let’s keep in mind its 4 am and I am sitting wide awake in my hotel room in Delhi after going to sleep at 4 pm yesterday due to jet leg, so if you read things that don’t make sense you know the reason.
For the last few years November 18th has been a pretty special day, in 2013 I got on the plane to Mexico to start my Central America trip (if anyone is planning on going there I just finished a detailed itinerary which you can check out here!) in 2014 Mack and I hopped on a plane to Peru to start our South America trip and now 2015, my girlfriend, Sara and I got on the plane and are just starting our trip to India! The 18th of November has always been a day of mixed feelings, saying goodbye to all my friends and family and starting on crazy unknown adventures but looking back on the last three November 18th I’ve never once regretted leaving and I’ve come back changed every time with a different perspective on life and how others live.
Okay lets begin to explain the craziness that has already happen since we got off the plane. Sara and I left Calgary international the night of the 18th and arrived in London at 11 am very jet legged. We chose to have a long 24 hour layover in London because 1. The last time I was there was 8 years ago 2. Sara has never been 3. Sara’s best friend from home has lived in London for the past few years now and Sara has never had the chance to visit her until now. 4.London is beautiful
Firstly London is expensive as fff and I hate it. One pound is 2 two Canadian dollars. When we were looking at hostels to stay in they were ridiculously expensive. So I used a little travel hack and we ended up getting a luxury hotel in downtown London for a third of the price and the same price as a private room at a hostel. We stayed at town hall hotel and apartments and got a free upgrade to a one bedroom apartment when we arrived which included a kitchen and living room, it was way more then we needed. Anyway it was the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at and felt like royalty, I wonder what they thought I did for a living?
Sara’s friend Maddy was so nice to take off work and be our tour guide for the day, she gave us the classic London walking tour including big Ben, London eye, Buckingham palace, biggest toy store ever, time square of London with some added bonuses of dinner (bangers and mash and fish and chips) and drinks in a pub that was in a cave. We also sat in and watched Maddy’s dance class, where the best of London were practicing! It was a short layover but we ended up cramming in everything we needed to in the little time we had, we said our goodbyes and the next morning we were on the plane for another long day of travel. Thanks again for all your help Maddy!
The flight from London to Helsinki was uneventful and out layover in Finland included our last taste of BEEF in a very long time (I’ll be dreaming of that whopper for 5 months) and I slept like a baby in a sleeping pod for 3 hours. At around 8 pm we got on our last plane for Delhi and at 6 am the next morning we arrived.
We had a driver pick us up from the airport and take us to our hostel which was nice because I didn’t want to get scammed in the first 5 minutes of being here. The drive wasn’t as crazy as I thought it would be but it was still pretty crazy, we saw cows and monkeys roaming the streets and so many traffic violations it was comical. But the smell of poo like everyone thought we’d be hit with right when we landed still hasn’t hit me. Sure there are parts of streets that smell like shit but the whole city doesn’t smell. When we arrived at the hostel we got checked in right away to our private room which is pretty basic but nice and clean and has everything I need to be happy. Our hostel is located on the main bazaar which is open from 10 to 6 everyday. and gets very busy and loud.
We took it easy the first day only going to check out the Red Fort. We took a tuk tuk/auto rickshaw to get there and all of the drivers insisted that we go to the main square to get our tickets at the tourist travel agent (which I knew was a scam) I knew we could buy our tickets at the Red Fort but they all said it was not possible. I knew they were lying and was pissed about it but no one would take us straight to the Red Fort so I agreed to go to the travel agent first to get our tickets there. In my head I knew what the price should be and I knew we only wanted the Red Fort ticket, nothing else. When we got there the place looked legit but when they told me they had no individual tickets for the red fort it became very clear that they were trying to scam us and I was having non of it. I told the guy we are only doing Red Fort today and nothing else and he insisted on knowing our exact plans and why we didn’t want to buy the ticket with all the major attractions in one. Eventually he gave up and let us go but then when we got back in our tuk tuk the man signaled to our driver that we didn’t buy the ticket and then our driver insisted that we needed a ticket before going. I knew this was all bullshit but they are very in your face and pushy here which is so annoying. Since I was constantly saying ‘we don’t need’ and ‘just take us there’ he finally gave up and took us to the Red Fort, where we COULD buy a ticket right at the gate… surprise surprise!
Exploring the Red Fort was really cool, it was huge and the architecture was so detailed. Sara and I got stopped about 6 times by random people wanting pictures with us. It was really really awkward and I personally think its funny but it’s going to get annoying really quick if this happens all the time. We wandered around the city trying to find food and stumbled upon this busy looking street restaurant that was selling naan. I gave the guy 50 rupees ($1 CAD) and he told us to take a seat at one of the tables… as we walk in we realized every table is taken and he says go down to the basement. As we go down the stairs to the basement we see there were about 6 tables all crammed together in this jail cell looking room, in the corner was an active bug zapper. We got our naan and dipping sauces, still don’t really know what it was but it was very very good and I don’t feel sick from it so I would say that it was a success. After getting food we were so overwhelmed by the amount of people, primarily guys (in the day we were exploring I could probably count the amount of girls we saw on two hands and we must have saw thousands of people.) and the pure chaos of Delhi that we needed to head back to our hostel.
I made a rookie mistake and left the map back in our room so I knew the area of our place but no one seemed to understand me. The first tuk tuk said he’ll take us there and everything was going good until he took us down this super busy road and just decides to give up on taking us. So we got out and end up walking a little more, we are both exhausted and just want to lay down. I look on my phone and see that we are still pretty far for walking. (I don’t know if it was out of Sara’s walking range but it was out of my lazy ass walking range) We talk to a few more people and this one little Indian guy offered to take us by rickshaw (pedal bike and seats on the back) for 100 rupees ($2 CAD) we agreed and we hopped on. The traffic was crazy, literally stand still, we sat in it for about 20 minutes until our driver got too frustrated that he decided to make a U turn and take another way. This added another km to his journey but he didn’t seem to mind and after about an hour on this thing we ended up at our place, he was dripping sweat. I felt really bad so I gave him 50 rupee tip and the look on his face was amazing! He was so thankful for it and to me it was not a big deal but to him it seemed to be the best thing ever.
When we got back to our room at 4 pm we both hit the bed and we were out for the night. (Hence why I am wide awake at 4 am writing this.) The first day in Delhi was interesting and a lot to take in. We have 2 more days of exploring here and then we go on our first train ride to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal!
If you have any questions or just want to tell me how terrible I am at writing, leave a comment and i’ll be sure to reply!