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Incredible India - Pt 1: Delhi and Agra

We took Austrian Airlines to get to Delhi, because they were the cheapest tickets we could get, and boy.. did we pay for it. For anyone who cares, I now think of Austrian Airlines as the clown car of the skies. Not only is their internal decor insane (red and green for economy, purple and green for business class), but people tended to not buy extra seats for their kids. The cherry on this cake is the fact that the majority of the seats did not recline, which was only good if the guy in front of you also had a busted seat.

but enough of that. We got to Delhi's airport (Indira Ghandi Int'l) about 2am, and here is where the madness began. After getting through immigration and grabbing our luggage, we headed for the exit where we not only met the masses of taxi drivers but our first smell of india. Before this trip, I actually had people tell me that Delhi smelled like a "latrine on fire". I am glad to report that this is not actually true. Yes, there is a smell. But you get used to it.

We went to India as part of a larger group and luckily had no problems finding our guide in the pickup area. For some reason, there are huge warnings about how you should never just pick up a random cab driver. We spent the first two nights at a local economy hotel called 'the ginger hotel'. It was clean, functional, and had hot water and air conditioning. What more could anyone want?

We didn't really see much of Delhi and I was perfectly ok with that. The drivers were typically crazy (for south-east asia) and the roads were a mess due to the metro line construction for the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth games. We spent our waking hours on an outing to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

We rode a first-class A/C train there, which is about what I would recommend for any visitor. You get an assigned seat and food service. 2nd class A/C is about the same but without the complimentary food and drink.

So the Taj. Yes, it is one of the wonders of world.. but its not terrifically interesting once you've seen it. Its very big and impressive until some one tells you a story about how the Emperor had all of the craftsmen's hands chopped off afterwards so that no one could recreate it. Then, you're kind of like... this isn't as cool as I thought it would be.

The other thing we learned about on this trip is how overwhelming the beggers and peddlers can be to tourists. Everyone will tell you to never give any money to these people. but its really hard when you are surrounded by little kids carrying babies and projecting this look of starvation. So eventually, someone might give them some money at which point the whole situation degenerates into a chaotic mess. I can't really convey the situation, but take it from me. If you want to help people, this is not the way to do it.

So I know this doesn't seem like much of a vacation yet, but its was only our first day and half of india and we were kind of jetlagged. I'll talk about the smaller places we stayed at in the next post, which i swear, are much more fun.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 17, 2009 5:10 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Incredible India - part 0.

The next post in this blog is Incredible India - Pt 2: Rishikesh.

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