17 Jun 2009 Delhi, India
 |  Category: India, Our Trip

While in the prepaid taxi line at the Delhi airport, a girl behind me asked which hotel we were going to. Since she was going to the same area of town we invited her to join us in our taxi. Her name is Helen and she turned out to be a very cool girl. She’s from England and had been traveling all over India for 5 months and had gotten her yoga certificate during that time. We spent the entire hour long taxi ride chatting about our travels. When we got to the Hotel Grand Godwin it was beautiful, but twice as expensive as it was listed in Lonely Planet. I asked if we could get a discount and he agreed to 15% off and suggested that we could save money if all three of us shared a room. It sounded like a good idea to us so we checked out the room and loved it. It was seriously the nicest hotel room we’d stayed in on this trip. We went back down stairs to check into the room and Helen discovered that when she had exchanged money at the airport they had forgotten to give her passport back. Luckily the hotel called the money exchange counter and they confirmed that they still had her passport. While she went back to the airport, David and I headed out for dinner. We went to a rooftop restaurant on Main Bazaar St., which is one of the big shopping market areas in Delhi. We met three girls from Europe at the table next to us, who had been living in Delhi for a few months doing volunteer work with underprivileged children. They were a lot of fun and great story tellers.

The next day we took the train down to Agra for the day to check out the Taj Mahal (see Taj Mahal blog). On our last day we went to see the Red Fort and the stunning Jama Masjid, which is the largest mosque in India and can hold a staggering 25,000 worshippers. There are set hours for when non-Muslims are allowed to enter. Admission is free, but they charge $200 rupees (about $4 USD) to let you bring in your camera. They made David put on a Longhi (like a sarong) and made me wear a frumpy long sleeve gown that covered me from head to toe (even though I was already wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt). The worst part was that they made us take off our shoes and the ground was burning hot. There was a path made of white rugs layed out over the hot stone, but it was still incredibly hot. In the middle of the huge courtyard there was a reflecting pool with stone seats lining all sides where people were sitting and splashing on themselves. I was happy to join in and splash water on my burning feet. I saw one guy brushing his teeth with the water on his finger, which I though was pretty gross considering the water was murky green with algae floating in it. A few kids came over and wanted us to take their picture. Soon we had a crowd of children around us. They loved it when we showed them the picture on the camera screen afterwards.

We had read that there was a tall tower that you could climb that had a great view of the city. We asked our driver, who was with us, where we had to go to climb the tower and he said it was closed, but when I looked up I saw people at the top of the tower. For some reason he wanted to hurry us along. We found the ticket counter and paid $100 rupees (about $2 USD) to go in. We climbed to the top up a stone spiral staircase that reminded me of the one at the Duomo in Florance, Italy. The view at the top was spectacular…you could see all of Delhi. Before we left we tried to get a good picture of us with the mosque behind us, but every Indian we asked could not take a decent shot…it was either crooked or they would cut off the building. When we were about to give up, a nice girl from Canada came up to us and asked us if we would like her to take another picture for us. We laughed and said yes and took a few pictures for her as well.

Next we headed to the Tibetan markets to do a little shopping before heading back to the airport. On the way back to the hotel to pick up our bags our taxi driver hit another taxi. We weren’t going fast because we were stuck in traffic, but the other driver got out and walked back to our taxi and knocked on the window. I became worried that we might miss our flight, but after exchanging a few words, the other driver went back to his taxi and drove away…that’s India!

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