Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We're on to something...

We have been continuously talking about how great it is that we basically have two different vacations in one; first a week in India, followed by a week in the Maldives. It's like a surf & turf vacation. We also all agree that we make excellent travel partners, as we are all pretty easy going with similar travel styles, and have some similar travel to do list. Our travel to do lists mostly includes visiting the places that are said to become non existent (hit up Kilimanjaro last year, covering the Maldives this year), and because of this, we have decided to start a travel club - The Surf & Turf Travel Club. There are already discussions and plans in the works for future destinations. Next year is looking like Uganda to see the gorillas (another thing that will soon become nonexistent), followed by Tunisia. So lots more blogging to look forward to.

Back to the trip at hand. This has been quite the experience so far. First, I haven't laughed this hard and this much in a long time. My abs are sore! Second, I discovered I have another twin in this world. Kelley (she is one of Kate's college friends, whom I met for the first time on this trip) and I are basically the same person. Makes sense since we are both Sagittarius. Third, I have become a pro at bargaining...don't mess with me! Fourth, India is HOT! The Ruwe genes have come out to play and I have been a hot sweaty mess! Fifth, I'm still famous in India! Lastly, street vendors, & beggars can become a bit overwhelming! They LOVE us and are ready to try to "cut us a deal". They continue to try to talk us into whatever product or service they're offering, no matter how many times we say no. I've gotten over my feeling of being rude for ignoring or becoming short pretty quickly. I've had to get very stern a few times, and in some instances it worked, and some not so much. It's become quite humorous...it is what it is...this is India.

A recap of the last few days:

Sunday, we all managed to wake up at 2am wide awake. Too early to accomplish anything, we snuggled in the big bed and watched YouTube music videos and Kate's favorite transvestite British comedian...funny stuff. Once it was a normal hour we discovered breakfast on the patio and ended up reading out there for a few hours. It felt very Julia Roberts/Eat Pray Love...remember I am famous in India! Kate, our ring leader, sorted out our plan for the day and we set off.

First stop, check out the Imperial Palace Hotel, a swanky establishment we wanted to try for lunch and a cocktail. It was a beautiful, luxurious hotel and smelled amazing. I will be buying some Jasmine for my apartment. After getting snubbed by the concierge, we decided to go to a lonely planet recommended place for lunch. Again, felt like Julia Roberts (apparently I'm on a JR kick)in Pretty Woman when she was turned away on Rodeo Drive...Big mistake Imperial Palace, Huge! The LP restaurant suggestion was delicious, much better choice! From there, we walked to Old Delhi, witnessing some teens playing cricket in the alley along the way. That was kind of cool to see. Sort of reminded me of playing games with the neighborhood kids as a child in Uruguay.

Old Delhi is definitely more of what I had envisioned India to be like. New Delhi is modern with British influence, a bit more spread out. Old Delhi is crowded, with a lot of street markets and vendors. I became overwhelmed pretty quickly with the heat, honking of horns, cars and tuk tuks squeezing by, and vendors trying to lure you in. We did find a pashmina store where I mastered the bargaining technique; basically walk out until they accept your price.

As the rain began to roll in, we went to a rundown hotel roof deck for some mango lassis (a common fruit yogurt based drink) and watched the storm. It was cute to observe little children playing and dancing in the rain on their roof decks.

Monday morning, we had arranged for yoga in the hotel garden. Again, a very Julia Roberts zen moment. The yoga instructor was this really intriguing lady, whose life I kind of want live. Apparently she was an American raised in Kashmir. She had moved back to the states with her parents at the age of 17. She followed in her mom's footsteps and studied yoga. The hotel owner, a family friend, offered her a job to run the yoga spa that they plan to add on to the hotel and she moved to Delhi. I'm now considering taking up yoga.

After breakfast we had arranged for a driver to take us to Agra and Jaipur versus dealing with the trains. We had the cutest driver, Vishnu. I don't think we were his typical clientele. He seemed a bit nervous when he picked us up, but he quickly warmed up to us. How could you not?!? We even got him laughing with us a few times, once to the point of tears and he had to walk away from the table to gain composure. He also was really excited to tell us all about his fiancé. We're supposed to call her tomorrow and tell her how great Vishnu is, because he is pretty awesome! It was great too, because he helped us out when the waiter tried to get us to pay more for lunch. It made me sad to think where he must be sleeping when we are staying in such nice hotels. Even if we tried to pay for him to get a room in our hotel they wouldn't allow it. The caste system is definitely evident.

More to come on the Taj Mahal and Jaipur!

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