So we begin... After what feels like years of saving, planning and day dreaming of exotic destinations we have arrived in New Delhi. We had read the airport can be mayhem but it was the simplest and most peaceful entry to a country I have ever had! Outside the pavements are clean, the grass is neatly cut and the sun is shinning on a beautiful Indian summers day. We climb in to our prearranged taxi which has seen better days and we join a large entry road city centre bound. The closer we get the more we find the New Delhi we expected as described in travel guide books; monkeys are climbing out of trees to root around in rubbish laying in the street, cows wonder wherever they wish totally oblivious to the vehicles heading towards them. The amount of traffic slowly grows as does the sound of horns, on our three lane highway we are seven cars abreast, motorbikes carrying entire families - Dad drives, Mum sits side saddle holding baby in her arms, one toddler somehow fits between his parents and an older child is in the foot well of the scooter, I couldn't describe where poor old grannie ends up! Other bikes are carrying anything and everything that needs to be moved from A to B, in just five minutes we see an office desk on one and half a dozen large gas canisters like the ones used for barbeques on another.
Our hostel is in the backpacker district near the main train station in amongst a busy marketplace, we have to walk past an outside men's urinal to get in and out and our room lacks a window which messes with our jet lag over the next couple of days. After exploring the local area we dive right in and choose a fine looking rooftop restaurant where we watch the market below close for the night, cows settling in to a bed of rubbish for the night and we each enjoy the finest vegetarian curry with a beer all for less than £3! Over dinner we met some fellow travellers and end the night in a bar of only Indian men watching a small band play songs the regulars love.
We explored the main sights of Delhi in incredible heat with a driver who insisted on taking us to his family's shop where we were taken through a maze of departments by a guy who is keen to sell us anything and everything, I feel a little guilty toying with him by trying on a traditional wedding jacket, he wouldn't take it back and instead shouted numbers at me, my sarcastic humour didn't really translate here. Delhi has very distinct districts each with it's own characteristics - colonial buildings in Connaught Square, wide tree lined avenues to the south where we visited our first Hindu temple and Gandhi Smrit the site of Gandhi's assassination. We find a little peace from the unrelenting noise and heat in Lodhi Garden which we nicknamed Lovers park as it is the only place we have seen young couples being affectionate with one another.
On our fourth day we joined a G Adventures tour with fellow Brits The Sophies, Phil & Ekleema, Will & Ellie, Chloe, Sarah, newly engaged Irish Lauren and Tayla from Tasmania led by our guide Harshvardhan who has the greatest handlebar moustache I have ever seen. We all went out for dinner and within just a few hours I am the first to come down with Delhi Belly - on only day four!
Everyone seems to have a really good level of the English language in India but we took a back seat and Harsh organised everything taking us from Delhi to Goa.