Arrived at New Delhi Airport at about 6am this morning. Flight 90 mins delayed since we had to wait for a connecting flight from Rome to arrive with 50 voluable Italians on board all of whom were sitting in front of us.
We had the normal delays getting through passport control - just like at Gatwick - and chaos outside but fortunately our rep was there to meet and greet and we were booked into the Taj Palace by 8.00am. For some reason our room wasn't available so we were upgraded for the morning only - enough time to have breakfast and grab 3-4 hours sleep before shower change and down to meet our guide for the afternoon Miss Reaki (?). Our driver Mr Singh was also there again in his "diplomatic car" styled on the old Morris Oxford and sufficiently robust not to crumple on impact - a key advantage for a regular driver in Delhi.
The Taj Palace is in the diplomatic enclave to the south of the city centre so our drive took us through the wide tree lined boulevards of New Delhi past embassies and huge mansions. What a contrast with Old Delhi!
We initially drove into the old city on the same road that I had taken 3 years ago to look at the Red Fort. however this time we turned straight into the middle of Chowdni Chowk to visit the Mosque before then having a fantastic rickshaw ride through the very centre of the chaos. Wait until you see the video!! Basically (Lucy) the whole area is one large wholesale market selling everything from wedding stationery through fast food (not mcDonalds) to the most colourful saris. Teeming with people and business one on top of the other.
Back to normality with a visit to the very tranquil Rajghat, a memorial to Ghandi on the site where he was cremated. Very tastefully done with an eternal flame.
Asked for a recommendation for a restaurant for tomorrow night. Mr Singh drove us there on the way back to the hotel to make sure we know where to go tomorrow. It was in a suburban residential area with town houses and gardens very much like you would find in the UK. It was good to see that Delhi has something normal between the extremes of poverty and wealth.
We have just had tea for two and a quick tour of the hotel facilities ending up here at the computer. you will be interested to know that this blog is an abbreviated version of the one I did at the start which disappeared when I tried to upload the photos!!
hopefully be in touch again soon.