I really enjoyed posting about my Tanzania trip a couple weeks ago, so much so that I think I am going to post other trips I have taken as well. That way you get to see the pics and hear all about it, and I get to relive them. First up, our trip to India we took 2 years ago.
I had always been curious about India. India always seemed like a far away place that I would never actually visit but was magical, colorful and filled with tigers. When Luke was in his last semester of graduate school he had a couple weeks off in March for "spring break" so we decided to take advantage of them and travel. When planning our trip we had two places in mind Argentina or India. Both amazing in their own right, but India seemed a little more urgent for some reason. Argentina would always be there with its amazing wine and beautiful scenery, but India we had to do, just to do it. It felt like it was a place on the brink and we needed to see it. Everyone who had travelled to India said they had amazing time but it is a hard place to travel to. And they were right.
Luke set out a week before I did to visit a friend who was working in Mumbai (Bombay). I met up with him a week later and we set off to do the "Golden Triangle" - basically the tourist route. With good reason - there are some incredible spots along the Golden Triangle. I flew to Delhi and met Luke in the airport. (Side note we always seem to fly separately and have to meet up in these foreign airports. Amazingly we always find each other.)
I found a company called Magic Tours of India - I know the name is a little cheesy but they were great. I normally don't do a"tour" when we travel but this company basically helps you find quality hotels and local tour guides so you can get the most out of your time in India. This was helpful because India is really overwhelming - between the people, the noise, the traffic, the garbage, the cows - you need help. Also, Indians can spot an American from a mile away and they want to hustle you. Badly. So having a "local" around is needed. The company is great, I would completely recommend them.
Our first stop was Agra for the Taj Mahal. It was the perfect way to start the trip. The Taj is everything you imagine it to be -magnificent, huge and sparkling. That guy must have really loved his wife to build that in her honor. This picture looks like a painting for some reason, I promise it is real. Maybe that is just the magic of the Taj? While we were in Agra, we witnessed the Hindu festival of Holi. Holi is a festival of colors celebrating spring. It is celebrated by everyone throwing paint on each other. For days people are covered in these amazing neon colors. Even the stray dogs are not safe. I even got a little on me. We stayed in Agra one night - which was more than enough. There is not much to do or see in Agra except the Taj Mahal.
After Agra we drove to Jaiphur. Driving in India might be the scariest thing that you can possibly do. There are no lanes for cars, no speed limit, huge potholes, cows walking in the street, garbage everywhere. At one point I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Complete madness.
Thankfully we made it to in one piece. Jaipur is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. When you think of amazing exports like silks, gems and marble, many of them come from Rajasthan. Jaipur was a much bigger and more interesting city compared to Agra. We met up with our local guide and took to the street. There are no sidewalks in India so you walk in the street, right along with the cows, tuk-tuks, garbage and stray dogs. We wandered through amazing open markets. The colors everywhere in India are truly breathtaking - from the food to the saris to the palaces - it is incredible. We sampled street food. These dosa were amazing. Probably not the cleanest thing I have ever eaten, but amazing none the less. (These may have been the culprit for my Delhi Belly but they were worth it. ) The company who helped me plan the trip also helped coordinate a home cooking lesson from an Indian family. Here I am trying to make curry. They don't use stoves, they just use these little burners. This was a middle to upper class family living in Jaipur - it is amazing to see how different it is from the States. Sadly I forgot their names, but they were really sweet to Luke and me. The food was delicious. I still have no idea how to make a proper Indian curry however. One day during our time in Jaipur, we visited the Amer Fort which was stunning. Built in the 1500s the fort was the capital of Rajasthan and the home of the ruling maharaja. I think I should have been a maharaja. It was about this time that I started missing Chumley. So I would try to pet the stray Indian dogs - they were not interested in me, especially this one in the Amer Fort. I did however find this monkey munching on some poor tourist's chips. Jaipur was beautiful but exhausting. Up tomorrow - the rest our trip including Udaipur, an Indian train ride from hell, and Delhi. Stay tuned!