Blogger: Lauren Lucy Crowley
Ever since I’ve been a child, India has been a place I’ve dreamed about visiting. I’ve always imagined it to be an exotic colourful country bursting with spices, silks and jewellery. It is all that and more… in fact India is possibly my new favourite country!
We were welcomed with open arms by our driver Vishnu upon arrival into Delhi International airport. Before we arrived at our hotel (approx. 30 km away) we had already been invited to Vishnu’s sons wedding, invited to return with our families and stay with his family in a nearby village, learn how to cook Indian cuisine, and organised a day tour of Delhi for the following day for a very reasonable 7 euro! In the end, we didn’t actually end up arriving to our hotel for hours, our new friend Vishnu brought us to a market where we purchased traditional Indian sarees! The textile shops here consist of shelves of colourful material stacked from the ground to the ceiling! Material in every shade of every colour you could possibly imagine is available…. understandably it was a tough decision choosing our new outfit!
We eventually arrived to our hotel later that evening again receiving a very warm welcome by the staff. We were seated in the lobby, served refreshing mango juice and chilled water during check – in, our bags were then carried to our room ahead of us! I was beginning to feel like a princess! I had been a little concerned having heard some stories about food in India – however these concerns were quickly put to ease once we visited the rooftop restaurant at the hotel! We were served large baskets of delicious garlic naan bread, narante korma that tingled my taste buds, spiced noodles and a peanut masala. We were more than satisfied and pleasantly surprised by the local cuisine! We sat there drinking a succulent lemon, ginger and honey tea blend excitedly chatting about the next days plans!
The following morning, I have honestly never enjoyed getting dressed so much! I draped my bright red glittery saree around myself (doing my best to imitate the way the shop keeper who sold them to us had showed us), and put on my multiple sparkly bangles. I felt like royalty. As promised Vishnu was waiting outside at 8am. As we walked through the hotel lobby the staff were bursting with compliments. Little did we know we’d be the centre of attention for the entire day! The locals were delighted we had embraced their culture! All day people pointed at us and smiled from other cars, crossed over the streets to tell us we looked beautiful, and asked us to be in photos with them so they could show us to their families!
We spent the morning touring New Delhi, we saw pretty much everything there is to see: The Presidents house, Lodi gardens, Lotus temple, the first city of Delhi, Hyderabad palace, red fort, and the gate of India!! Vishnu was extremely knowledgeable about the local area, sharing every last historical detail with us! He always insisted we got out to capture a photo, he even brought us to the best shopping outlets to pick up some souvenirs and waited patiently for us in the car outside!
After lunch we visited Old Delhi, the streets here were too narrow for cars and so we temporarily changed our mode of transport to a rickshaw! It was an unforgettable experience! The streets were packed with motorbikes , pedestrians and rickshaws it was a complete free for all with no traffic restrictions of any kind in place – the sound of beeping horns coming from every direction was deafening! It was more people than I have ever seen in one place at one time! My nostrils filled with multiple different aromas, there were street vendors lining each side of the chaotic street, and animals wandering along aimlessly, it was actually a little difficult to focus on our driver who was pointing out significant buildings along the way! As it was Diwali (the festival of lights), there were hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people queuing and pushing to get fireworks to bring home! Our driver kindly purchased us a necklace of festival flowers which we were truly delighted with!
Exhausted after our day, we bid farewell to Vishnu and promised we would come back to visit him with our friends and family! Off we went back to our hotel, where the staff brought us to the very tip top of the roof to enjoy the spectacular Diwali firework displays! I can safely say it was the single most fascinating day of my entire life!
(Sponsored by Heffernan’s Travel)