I arrived in Delhi on the morning of Christmas Eve after an 8.5 hour flight from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic.
Whilst I had booked the trip through Intrepid Travel, flights were not included, so I took the opportunity to experience Virgin Atlantic for the first time, as my last little piece of luxury before my ‘basic’ trip commenced.
I stress ‘basic’ for the simple reason that Intrepid offer 3 types of trip. Basic (no frills), original and comfort (for the less adventurous and for those who like a little bit of luxury). For those of you reading this who may be considering an Intrepid trip, basic really does mean basic…
Despite not booking my flights through Intrepid, I did book my transfers with them. After getting through passport control and baggage reclaim, I was delighted to see my transfer waiting in the arrivals lounge.
As I headed off towards my hotel with the taxi driver, I felt a wave of excitement as it dawned on me that my adventure through India really was about to begin.
The first thing I couldn’t fail to notice once we hit the road, was the traffic. I’m talking the kinda traffic where there are 3 clear lanes marked on the road, but at least 5 lanes of traffic! And I thought driving in London was crazy enough!
Apparently there are no real rules to driving in India, except the use of a horn! My taxi driver when asked, informed me that drivers use their horns to alert other vehicles to their presence. I.e move out my way because I’m coming through whether you move or not! As crazy as it sounds, this system seems to work, and I was lucky enough not to see a single road accident on my travels!
The second thing that I couldn’t ignore, was the sunny but cool weather. Thankfully I had purchased a last minute jacket before I left the UK, as unbeknown to me (and most of my travel companions), parts of India (especially Delhi and Rajasthan) were about to experience the coldest winter they had had in over 20 years!
Karol Bagh and Hotel Pooja Palace (definitely not a palace, but would be the last place we experienced hot water for a while!)
After a 40 minute drive, we arrived in Karol Bagh, in Central Delhi.
I checked into Hotel Pooja Palace, and was shown up to my room where I would be sharing with another girl on the trip. Whilst I could’ve paid extra for a single room, I was keen to keep the cost as low as possible, and thought sharing a room would be a quick and easy way of making friends.
Thankfully, I was sharing with someone of a similar age to me, a Moroccan girl called Asmaa. It was Asmaa’s first Intrepid Tour too, so at least we had something in common from the start.
After a little walk around Karol Bagh in the afternoon, on the hunt for a cash point and a currency exchange place, we headed back to the hotel for our welcome meeting with the rest of the group. It was time to meet our group leader and to find out who else would be joining us on the trip.
Our Intrepid group leader was a young Indian lady called Afsha, and there would be 14 of us, including myself and Asmaa, who would be travelling throughout India together. The group was mixed, with 2 couples, 2 sets of friends, and the rest solo travellers, with a good mix of men and women.
After the introductions were completed and our itinerary updated, we all headed out for our first meal together.
After now being awake for 33 hours and with nothing to eat since breakfast, I was hungry and tired.
However, when the food arrived, I found myself in curry heaven. I have loved Indian cuisine for as long as I can remember, and one of the things I had most been looking forward to about the trip, was the opportunity to sample a real authentic curry.
Having pledged to go vegetarian for the trip, following advice from friends who had visited previously, I chose the vegetable jalfrezi, steamed rice and garlic naan. Needless to say, I found myself in curry heaven…
After the walk back to the hotel. It was time to hit the sack! With no sleep in what felt like a very long time, and a 7am start the next day, I was hopeful of a good nights sleep ready for my 6am alarm call.