Thursday, 13 January 2011

Dinner For Ten - Delhi

Stuffed, Soaked, Sick and Home

We touched down in Delhi late and tired, waiting what seemed like an age for our bags. Thankfully things were soon looking up as we began the final leg of our trip. We headed out of arrivals to find our driver who took us over to his giant, brand new, gleaming-white Toyota which seemed a little excessive for the three of us but it made a welcome change from the tiny Tata cars we'd had to make do with till this point. After a quiet early evening drive along Delhi's nicer roads we ended up in a quiet gated neighbourhood in South Delhi where our hotel, the French owned Amarya Haveli was located. After the "basic" facilities at our last two destinations this was what we had been missing. We had the "White Room" and our friend had the "Red room". Shortly after checking in and enjoying our new surroundings we ordered drinks and dinner. We went up to the roof terrace to enjoy them (bringing back fond memories of Miami) but had to come down for our food as it had started to rain at this point. For dinner I had a curry with all the trimmings washed down with a cold beer. With the prospect of a good nights sleep and a properly plumbed bathroom things were on the up and up.

The next morning I woke up refreshed from a full nights sleep. We had a substantial breakfast at the hotel before heading out into South Delhi to change enough travellers cheques to see us through till the end our trip. For the afternoon we thought we'd visit the last few things we really wanted to see in Delhi: Humayun's Tomb, the mosque at Nizamuddin and the Lotus temple. After wandering round the block for what felt like the tenth time we finally found a reputable looking money changer. We then grabbed an auto-rickshaw to Humayun's Tomb which required some hard bargaining on the fare. Humayun's Tomb to the uneducated and unguided tourist that I decided to be that day is just like a mini Taj Mahal. We walked round for a bit before deciding to walk the short distance to Nizamuddin as apparently there is a very beautiful mosque there. However, as soon as we arrived at Nizamuddin the rain came down and when it rains it pours. To say that the inhabitants of the mosque welcomed outside visitors with open arms would be the understatement of the year. We shuffled round in our socks not enjoying the beauty of the building and came out to shelter under the roof of one of the stalls located just outside, at least happy to have out shoes on again.

Eventually we decided to make a dash for it and head for the Lotus Temple. We really wanted to see it, rain or otherwise. After refusing to be ripped off by the rickshaw drivers by the mosque we picked up the first guy on the street. The first price he offered was already half that of the first two guys we spoke to. It was quite relaxing being in the back of the rickshaw watching the rain come down. We arrive at the lotus temple and its as impressive as we thought it would be. We decide to brave the rain and start waking towards it. Unprepared for the rain that day we are now soaking wet but we keep going until we see the dreaded sign "no shoes". At this point we decided that it just wasn't meant to be and it was time to return to the hotel for some hot food and drink. Unfortunately the hotel's warning of being hard to find proved true and despite a map and address our driver and his "assistant" had no idea where they were taking us. Eventually we spotted a familiar landmark and got them to drop us off.

Back at the hotel and all dried off we had a light snack and hot drinks before resting up for the evening. We got the hotel to find us somewhere nice to eat which ended up being Punjabi by Nature which was mentioned in our guide book. If we had known what we were in store for we would have probably skipped lunch! We used the hotel's car service to take us to and from the restaurant which was a short drive from the hotel. The restaurant seemed nice and was largely full of locals taking their western business clients out for a good time. We ordered one main each with two portions of rice and two naan breads worrying that between the three of us we might go hungry. Our fears were unfounded. One leg of lamb, a whole tandoori fish and a huge pot of chicken curry later and we had over-estimated our appetites. The food was really great and was as well as being an overdue birthday celebration was a great way to bring our trip to a close. By UK standards the bill was pretty cheap especially as each of the main courses is easily enough for two people as is each bread and serving of rice. Stuffed and happy we got the car back to the hotel, packed our things and prepared to say farewell to India.

Our last morning meant an early start to beat the traffic, but with breakfast waiting for us it didn't seem so bad. The roads were quiet before rush hour and we actually made it with plenty of time to spare. At the airport we made sure to change our remaining rupees as it is illegal to take them out of India and then waited for check in to open. When it did it was chaos to say the least, one final taste of Indian efficiency as the desks were opened, closed and moved. All the lines got mixed together and we ended up in the business class line but that did not help our waiting time or with an upgrade... Check in mess aside T3 at Delhi was pretty straight forward. We picked up some last minute gifts and I found a book I'd been meaning to buy at a great price. It was then time to board the 777 to DXB.

Our connection at DXB was quite tight and the late departure of our flight was not encouraging. I can't remember now what I watched or ate but the flight was okay. Again, the 777 with its squashed seats is no match for the roomy A380, at least we would soon we would be home! We arrived in Dubai highlt worried about making our connecting flight to London. However, despite the best intentions of the ground staff to make us think we would miss our flight we had nothing to worry about as our plane was being held due to the even later arrival of another flight. We were soon up in the air in the economy comfort of the A380. Unfortunately we were unable to sit together on this flight but seeing as I spent almost the whole time watching films and eating, it wasn't a big issue. It wasn't long before we touched down at Heathrow Terminal 3. It was then on to baggage reclaim and the HEX. One thing we noticed by the time we hit Paddington was how cold it was in London. We said our good-byes and shuffled off to the tube for the warmth of home. A great trip had come to an end.

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