Arrival in Delhi - incredible India
We flew overnight with Virgin Atlantic from London, arriving around 11am into Delhi airport.
Delhi international airport has AC and is extremely well organised. With hindsight, I’d have “wrapped” my checked in luggage at Heathrow Terminal 3 to stop pilfering and would definitely recommend you do this in particular if not flying directly to your destination. I had forgotten to wrap my bag though on this occasion and breathed a sigh of relief when it finally appeared on the baggage carousel. After all the time spent considering what to take, it would have been fairly depressing for the bag not to have arrived, or to have been broken into. I declined offers of a porter, as there were plentiful trolleys and l could push all my stuff (with Tiger in the Ergo carrier and daypack on my back) but the option was there.
As you head out at arrivals, there are a few key things you do need to do. First money. There are ATMs but I tried all my cards and only my HSBC debit card would work. I pulled out two sets of 10,000 Rs (around £110) and got very high denomination notes: 2000 Rs. This wasn’t too much of a problem, but be aware that 2000 Rs is £22 and is quite difficult to change.
Second SIM card. There is an Airtel counter next to the ATMs and this was my first glimpse into the standard sleight of hand… they took a copy of my passport and asked me to sign paperwork. They told me the cost was 800 Rs and that the SIM would activate at 8pm that night (which it did). I handed over one of my 2000 Rs notes and got 200 Rs change… it was only when I continued to look expectantly did I get the rest of my change so do be careful and keep your wits about you! It’s so easy to overlook when you are flustered and tired and looking after a baby.
Third and finally, reaching my destination. I had booked an AC room on www.booking.com called “Treebo Trend Natraj Yes Please” which is in the Pahar Ganj area near the Imperial Cinema. Walking out of the airport terminal, I headed directly for the Pre Paid Taxi and paid 500 Rs for an AC taxi (non AC would be a bit cheaper). It all went very smoothly indeed (with slight kerfuffle with refusing to pay “tips” to random guys who put the bags into the taxi… in actual fact I had no small change anyway otherwise I’d have been happy to give them something small). The journey to Pahar Ganj probably took around 45 minutes.
I had booked a deluxe double with AC at a cost of 3479 Rs for two nights. It was a great, spacious room with a double bed, a single bed, wonderful AC, good wifi and (almost) no power cuts. My only complaint was that I would have liked a window as we had to spend so much time in the room due to the heat so I have requested that for our return to Delhi.
In Delhi really we just hung out, got acclimatised and recovered from the flight. The temperatures were so hot – 35 degrees at midday – that we stayed in the cool until the evening. On the first evening, we just went out for a wander for food and to buy supplies of things like washing powder and water.
The second evening we went to Connaught Place by auto (50 Rs) for a wander around… lots of people kept stopping me and commenting on Tiger. When we got back to Pahar Ganj we also went to the Down Town Hotel where Robin and I would always stay and said hello to the manager there (his normal fan rooms were 600 Rs and AC rooms were 900 Rs but simple rooms – ok if you are just sleeping in them but huge difference to my hotel, and can’t say the Down Town would have suited me and Tiger)… it was so, so lovely to see him. I showed him photos of Robin and he remembered him well. We also had dinner and a beer in one of the rooftop restaurants (complete with Kingfisher beer in a tea mug) overlooking the madness below.
Other than that, we spent a lot of time in the hotel room watching Netflix on my laptop… but with a little baby there is just no way you would want them out in the heat of the day. I had really debated taking a laptop with me or not, but I have now realised for the evenings entertainment it really is well worth it so long as the wifi and electricity work!
Tiger seemed to adapt to the changing time zones very well (especially having slept on the overnight flight) and within 2-3 days was sleeping 8/9pm until 8am or so. I am so worried it will all go wrong but so far so good!
After two peaceful nights in a very hot Delhi, we left again in an AC taxi for our 3pm Indigo flight from the domestic Terminal 2 to Srinagar.