2 Weeks in India | 72 hours in New Delhi: Day 1

I'm back, I've gotten over jet lag, and I'm finally ready to start posting about India. Like I explained previously, the three of us went because D, who is a gallery owner (shoutout to Dillon + Lee) was attending a conference with Fast Forward and J and I were asked to tag along.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to India; it felt great to check off another bucket list item. At times I was rather overwhelmed by some of the less-than-pretty aspects (namely the poverty and pollution) but ultimately I was v. touched by the beauty of the architecture, landscape, and the resilience of the people.

I packed pretty light, just a duffel and a medium-sized crossbody, and I think I packed perfectly for this trip, so I plan on doing some packing posts in the future full of advice and tips. But in the meantime, I'll do an overview of our time in India, starting with our first stop: New Delhi.
On the day of our departure, I finished packing and took a train into the city to meet D and J at their apartment. We went through our luggage to make sure there weren't any redundancies, got approval on each other's packing lists, and did a little last minute shopping to fill in any gaps.

We ate a vibrant Vietnamese dinner full of beef and fresh veggies - basically the stuff we thought we'd miss while we were abroad - and then hopped in a cab to JFK for our late night flight. We flew via Turkish Airlines, which was really great. The seats felt considerably spacious, they reclined comfortably, and the amenities were pretty impressive compared to the other long haul flights I've experienced lately. We were given a blanket, pillow, and headphones, which is pretty standard, but we also got a little kit in a zip pouch with toothbrush & tiny tube of toothpaste, slippers, socks, lip balm, sleep mask, and ear plugs. The food was decent, the flight attendants were attentive, and the in-flight entertainment selection was sublime.
We had a layover in Istanbul and then we hopped on the final leg of our journey to Delhi.
I took a half dosage of a sleep aid on each flight to help me combat jet lag early on. I managed to fall asleep quite easily but was woken up on the first leg of our journey by a snoring couple behind us; each time one stopped snoring, the other would start and it was hell. On the second flight, I conked out pretty good for about four hours and woke up just in time for a little breakfast before we landed.

We went through immigration at the airport, got our visas inspected, passports stamped, and we were off and running.
We bought ourselves some SIM cards (which were almost embarrassingly cheap at $17 for a month with 1 GB of data per day with an unusably generous amount of messages and calls) and grabbed some money out of the ATM and hopped in a cab to our hotel. The cab was only $6 to the city center.  It was fine but honestly, if I had to do it again, I would just grab an Uber because our driver was weird and had a companion so the three of us had to really squeeze into the back of the car. And he kept trying to take us to the Information Center because he said he wasn't sure where our hotel was and said the address we gave him was just the name of a former president so he wanted to stop by some place to ask for directions. We were super annoyed so we had to phone our hotel and have them explain it to him; I'm pretty sure he was faking it and he was just looking to collect commission by stopping by random places (maybe we were being paranoid, but we were told by many people that everyone wants to rip off the tourists so we were on high alert). Anyway, tl;dr, take an Uber.

Either way, it was a really cheap ride and this was basically our first taste of how affordable the rest of the trip would end up being; if you want to know, we ended up spending about $2,400 per person and that includes all of our flights, lodging, meals, cabs, monument entrance fees, etc. for two weeks, which I think is rather impressive. Actually, that number also includes the souvenirs we purchased so that makes it even better.

One of the things we noticed about the way people drive in India is that they don't care at all about the line designations on the road. They just drive wherever there is space and this totally makes sense because the lane designations are pretty wide compared to the widths of the vehicles on the road. Most of the cars are really tiny, compact sedans and the majority of the other vehicles on the road are motorcycles and tuk tuks.
THE CLARIDGES
We stayed at The Claridges, which was a gorgeous hotel. It smelled divine in the lobby and the fresh flowers were a lovely touch. Because we'd landed so early in the morning, our room wasn't quite ready so to kill time and to sate our growling bellies, we decided to have some breakfast.
The breakfast is a buffet with traditional continental breakfast items accompanied by some Indian curries and chutneys. It was delicious. I especially enjoyed the watermelon juice.
Our room was clean and spacious, though it didn't smell as awesome as the lobby. In fact, it was rather musty. I also found it a bit annoying that the washroom had a huge countertop but only one sink; it seemed like a missed opportunity there.
Do I recommend staying here? Yes. Though there were some shortcomings in the rooms, the grounds are lovely, there is a little sauna and steam room in their mini-spa/fitness center area which are free for guests to use, and it is in a pretty good location.
After freshening up a bit, we decided to head out and do some exploring.

CONNAUGHT PLACE
We asked our Uber to drop us off at Connaught Place because we wanted to do a bit of shopping. We wandered around Janpath Market for a bit but got overwhelmed by all of the sellers yelling and vying for our attention.
CENTRAL COTTAGE INDUSTRIES EMPORIUM
I'd read about CCIE online. It's a shop run by the government to support Indian artisans. There's no haggling, which for me just means stress-free shopping, especially because the prices are decent and I can feel great about supporting the community of artisans.
This place was full of gorgeous trinkets, baskets, vases, and various other handmade items for sale. It was pretty difficult to stop myself from going around and buying everything.
I ended up falling in love with this little beaded clutch. It was just so up my alley and it was only ₹2010 including tax which converts to about $30. A hand-beaded bag of this quality would probably run you at least $150 in the States. D also bought a beaded bag. We were both v. pleased with ourselves.
1911 BAR
High off our shopping experience, we decided to go to the nearby Imperial Hotel for some libations. The 1911 Bar is pretty well-known. Its waiters dress in red coats, which I suppose is a nod to Colonialism? I don't know. Anyway, it's fancy and gorgeous and a great place to grab a drink.
I went for a negroni, D went for a mojito, and J got a moscow mule, which wasn't served in a copper mug. I loved the various colors of our drinks together.

Afterwards, we grabbed a tuk tuk to our next destination.
INDIA GATE
This was our first taste of touristy crowds. This arch is a war memorial to commemorate the Indian army soldiers who perished during World War I.
HUMAYUN'S TOMB
Our next stop was Humayun's Tomb, which was built in the 1500s. It's a pretty large complex which houses the tomb of the Mughal Emperor, Humayun, as well as his first wife, great grandson, and a few other emperors. It was declared a UNESCO site in 1993 and underwent major restoration efforts and now it's available for the public's viewing pleasure. Entry for foreigners is ₹500 ($7.50) and it's well worth it, as I assume the money goes to upkeep and maintenance.
The architecture is gorgeous, ornate, and impressive.
MUTATIONS
In the evening, we went to a sort of popup art museum in Jor Bagh where we listened to some artists and the curator explain some of the installations and exhibitions. Though it was interesting, jet lag was starting to hit us so we ducked out early so we could get some rest.
PICKWICKS
In the interest of convenience, we decided to just get dinner at our hotel. We were pretty hungry so we ordered three dishes and loads of naan and roti. We got dal tadka (cumin spiced lentils) and two kinds of chicken, the chicken ishtoo and the murgh jahangiri qorma. Everything was delicious and totally hit the spot. We basically licked the bowls and plates clean.
With full bellies, we went to bed comfortably and happily.

Here's my map:

xoxo.

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