Agra, Jaipur & Delhi Summary
While still in Kathmandu, Cheryl arranged a tour so we would make the most of our last five days in India. Raj K. Gupta, with Holiday India Tours & Travel met us at the airport with a car and a driver, Mr. Singh. We stayed in Delhi one night and met with the mother of my college friend Devan, who I had not seen in 20 years. We caught up with Mrs. Capur while she took us on a sort of nighttime driving tour of New Delhi. We went to a Subway sandwich shop for dinner and ended up at a McDonalds for dessert, both of which the girls loved. The next morning, Mr. Singh picked us up and we drove four hours south to the city of Agra. Our vehicle was a Toyota Qualis, something like a barebones version of the Toyota Land Cruiser and not sold in United States. In Agra we were met by a guide and spent a day visiting Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. We then we drove four hours west to the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan. On the way we stopped at Fatehpur Sikri fort where we were met by another guide. In Jaipur, we were met by a third guide and visited the Palace of the Winds, Amber Fort and the Maharajah's City Palace. We then returned to Delhi (five hour drive) and spent half a day touring the city with yet another guide. The roads between each place were chaotic yet fascinating. We saw many animals and some very unusual forms transportation. We found the tour company and Raj to be fair and honest and the tour was very economical, but if we had to do it again, would probably have gone up a level with the accommodations. The hotels were serviceable, but not as clean as we hoped and didn't have security features that we like such as door chains. At two of the hotels there we did not have adjoining rooms or a suite, so Todd & Cheryl had to split up and each take a girl. On top of this, we were all recovering from various stomach ailments from Nepal and Calcutta which made us nervous every time we sat down for a meal. We found the sales people, hawkers, touts, and beggars to be aggressive in every place we stopped; this added a level of stress during our travels. If it were not for Mr. Singh, a lovely elderly man who took great care of us, the trip would have been much more difficult. We are very glad we visited India, yet the country remains an enigma for us.
Kona Moment: Dinner at Pizza Hut in Agra was about as familiar as it got.
Starbucks: We drove by several, but did not stop.
Weird McDonalds Menu Item: Chicken Maharajah Mac. Because Hindus do not eat beef, McDonalds does not serve beef at all. Steak and burgers are available at other restaurants, but not at McDonald's.
Cultural Moment: Seeing first-hand the incredible monuments of India’s past and also seeing its present difficulties.