Well it's only day one and I already feel like I have been staring in an episode of 'Hustle'!!! But before I tell all about that, let me set the scene ...
We got up at 6 30 yesterday morning and finally managed to get through the horrific traffic jams on the North Circular to Term 5 Heathrow Airport.
The priority was to get my mozzarella and tomato croissant from Pret a manger and a good old cuppa tea! Then the duty free shopping would begin …
I was very excited about treating myself to a new camera to record various memories on my trip and phoned home to tell my dad (Mr Gadget Man) about my little treat - but he seemed more interested in the make, rather than the important fact that my new camera was pink!!
Anyways, the highlight of yesterday was that Claude and I managed to get a free upgrade on the plane and had great delight (and comfort) sitting in the extra large seats with foot rests and cushions!! This was where the chilling out was supposed to begin ... well I was trying to chill out, but my travel companion, despite her promises to me about how her issues with hygiene were being overcome and how I wasn't going to recognise the new calm and relaxed person she was becoming, was already starting to worry about getting food poisoning from the chicken in the fajita wrap being served for lunch and the possibility of catching a fungus infection from her seat pillow if it hadn't been washed properly?!?!?!
Despite all this, the flight was very good and I managed not to freak during take off and landing and dislocate anyones thumbs, as I have been known to do in the past.
The humidity hit us as we stepped out of the airport and we finally got to our hotel in New Delhi, hot, sweaty and knackered at about 3 30am (5 and half hours ahead of UK), where we were taken up to our room and offered a free bottle of water - though Claudine was concerned that the seal on the cap may have been tampered with and we could end up getting amoebic dysentry if we drank it?!
We finally got to bed at 4 30am!!
This morning the alarm went off at 9am and we struggled still half asleep to get ready and went up for breakfast. I have to say that on occasion I have been known to have left over curry take away first thing, but this morning all I could face was a couple of slices of toast and jam and a cup of tea ... I ignored Claudine's concerns about getting ill if the milk in the tea hadn't been pasteurised thoroughly!!
Can you see a slight theme going on here?????
We both agreed that there were three important things to achieve today, firstly to get money changed up, secondly to get an Indian mobile phone and sim card and thirdly to get an official tour around Dehli booked for tomorrow and then we would come back to the hotel room and catch up on sleep.
And so the lesson begins ... having been given directions from the Hotel to Connaught Place where everything we needed was going to be, we started to walk, half asleep up the crowded streets trying to avoid as much eye contact as possible - we were on a mission and needed to get it completed as soon as!
We were crossing the road not too far from the hotel when a ‘Tuk Tuk’ driver approached us, we told him we were not interested but he insisted he wanted to chat and nothing more. He walked with us for a bit and then shook our hands, wished us a lovely trip and walked away - having directed us towards the 'short cut' to Connaught Place and the tourist office! Within a minute another friendly man started talking to us as we walked, he showed us his injured finger and explained that he was on his way to hospital but would walk part of the way with us just to chat and make sure that we got to the tourist office ok ... he seemed very friendly and helpful and didn't want any money, only to find out about England ... he said goodbye and turned off towards the hospital, we wished him well and carried on our way, towards Connaught Place - though both of us commenting on the fact that we seemed to be the only tourists in the area and Claudine curious as to why the man had to get to hospital, "He could have had some highly contagious disease". I pointed out that he had actually burnt himself when lighting candles during prayers and "NO! It was not leprosy!!".
Within a couple of minutes another friendly man approached us whilst on his way to work. What a coincidence that he happened to be passing by the tourist Office en route, and he was happy to check that we got there ok ...
Well we definately "got there ok!!!"
In we went, like lambs to the slaughter, innocent and smiling (and half asleep) as Raj invited us to sit at his desk and asked us what we needed, while he smiled and plied us with cups of Chai tea.
We explained that all we wanted was a local tour round Dehli for the following day and a good place to buy a mobile phone .... 3 HOURS LATER we left the office, having paid a deposit on: a days tour round Dehli, a train ticket from Darjeeling to Varanasi, two nights in a hotel there, the train journey to Agra, plus a night there, then a driver for the next 5 days taking us through Rajasthan with hotels plus a flight down to Kerala a week later as well as a mobile and Sim card.
The lovely Raj was kind enough to arrange as an 'extra' for us, for a driver to take us to a 'lovely' restaurant for lunch and then to the National Museum for the afternoon 'free of charge'?!
The restaurant was fine as was the food, though Claudine was concerned about me adding the mint yoghurt to my food because "it may not have been refrigerated properly!!!"
After lunch we were taken (still half asleep) to the museum where we paid our entry fee only to find out the museum was closing in half an hour!! We had to squeeze looking at two hours worth of amazing Indian art into 30 minutes, all I can remember was the colour red was used a lot!!???
On returning to our hotel I practically passed out on the bed while Claudine paced and fretted that something wasn't right!!
I managed to stay calm whilst explaining to her that she worried too much, that she was too synical and distrusting. But to keep the peace, I dragged myself down to reception with her, where we asked the kind receptionist for his advice ... he looked through our itinery, twice, tutted then slowly raised his head and looked at us with sad eyes and said "Madam, you have been ripped off!!
Yeah, yeah I am sure you are all thinking, 'That was bloody obvious'. But in our defence we were half asleep?
Lesson learned for the day – sometimes Claudine is not as paranoid as I think!
Luckily the kind receptionist at the hotel has managed to arrange a proper tour, with a large discount to compensate and ... tomorrow morning we are going with a police officer to the 'Tourist Office' to get our money back!!!
I am going to have to sign out now and leave you on that cliff hanger as my time on this PC is about to run, out as is my energy ... so until next time ....