Hi everyone! Ryan and I returned a few days ago from an amazing week of travel primarily to Delhi with a quick stop in Dubai along the way. This was a major accomplishment of a trip for me for the following admittedly lame reasons: 1) I have a fear of flying- not because I think we’re going to crash, but because I’m claustrophobic. Being stuck in a tube in the air for 14-16 hours: AHHH! I can’t think about it. 2) I am not an adventurous eater. 3) Had to leave the babe for a week. She was definitely in good hands, but still- not easy.
The purpose of our travels was a “work” trip for Ryan and I was invited along. Thankfully, all of the logistics were very well taken care of and all we had to do was show up. I was especially appreciative of that benefit since we were traveling to a completely unfamiliar part of the world.
First stop: Dubai.
Dubai is really an incredible city. The oldest building dates back to 1977, so to think that a city has essentially been built up/created over the past 40-ish years is truly amazing. The architecture is very contemporary, the design of the city is well planned (although they still had some traffic jams, don’t worry), and in 10 years, it will look completely different.
A few highlights:
Burj Al Arab: A luxury hotel designed to look like a sailboat. We did not have the chance to go inside, but enjoyed taking some pics from the Palm Islands and Jumeirah beach outside the hotel. If you look carefully, you can see a disc protruding from the top of the hotel: that’s a tennis court!
Burj Khalifa: the tallest building in the world. As Ryan pointed out, just look at the buildings next to it which are still 30-40 story buildings. They are miniature!
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque: an unbelievable mosque located outside Abu Dhabi, about 1 hour drive from Dubai.
Palm Islands: these are man-made islands housing mostly hotels. Our driver told us that the land was for lease only because they expect the islands to sink in the next 80 years. Who knows….Meanwhile, they are building another set known as “The World”. It literally will look like a map of the world.
After spending a packed day in Dubai we headed to the airport for our 11pm flight to Delhi. *Note, this means that I am about to go on night 3 of no sleep….*
The Delhi airport is extremely impressive. Very pristine, calm, organized and open. Then, I set foot outside the door and the chaos and bustle of the city was apparent: even at 4am! We headed to our hotel and spent the day resting for the adventures in the week ahead.
Tuesday, we ventured to the Taj Mahal for the day. We took a 3.5 hr train ride to Agra which was one of the more eye-opening experiences of the trip. All along the way, we passed through impoverished areas full of make-shift huts covered in tarp and piles and piles of trash. I expected to eventually get to a more “rural” and deserted part of the country, but every bit of it had people to watch. I had been prepared to see the poverty and poor living conditions, but I was not prepared for the piles of trash that I would find throughout the week not only in the poor areas but also, throughout the city. I was also not prepared for the number of men I would observe relieving themselves (#1 and #2) along the path to Agra AND in the city. I’ve definitely seen men peeing in corners before, but it was usually at 2am, near a bar, when I was 22. It is also amazing that after 1 day, it was no longer shocking.
While the trip was a long one, seeing the Taj Mahal met every expectation. I had prepared myself for it to be less than what I had imagined: either surrounded by ugly buildings or crowded with people trying to sell you things (they were there, but outside the Taj Mahal). It is truly pristine- the glistening white marble looked newly polished. It stands out with the clear blue sky behind it and the perfectly manicured lawns and gardens surrounding it. It is also perfectly symmetrical! I could have spent hours there. What a magical experience.
The next day, we toured New Delhi. We got to see the Parliament buildings, the India Gate, the house where Gandhi spent his last 144 days prior to being assasinated in his own gardens, and Humayun’s tomb (inspired the building of the Taj Mahal). As we drove around town, it was interesting to see the remains of the British influence when it was in power and how Delhi has evolved since then. I’m not sure if the lines dividing lanes were leftover from British rule or not (that’s a joke..), but they are definitely ignored for the most part with people driving all over the place whenever they want. Don’t worry though, they constantly honk to let you know they are there, even though that’s obvious because not once did I experience driving without cars on every side of our bus. It was a symphony of horns every time we stepped anywhere near a road.
Thursday, we toured Old Delhi. It was truly an experience for the senses. The chaotic sounds of traffic between the honking, motorcycles, and cars. The sights consisted of a mixture of people, vehicles, rickshaws, cows, dust, shops, and incredible architecture. And the smells: that spice market- oh my goodness!! They attempted to warn us about the red pepper, but it literally burned the nose and throat to the point where I did my best to discretely cover my face with my jacket. Meanwhile, I loved seeing the beautiful colors: the spices, robes in the mosque, inside the Sikh Temple. Here are a few highlight photos.
Overall, what an incredible culture to experience. My narrow and limited perspective of India reminded me of the colors and flavors of their culture, the wealth and the poverty, the new and the old, the architecture, the religion. So thankful that we had the chance to do this trip together and what was surely stepping outside of the comfort of my daily routine.
Now- where is my recipe you wonder? Well, as much as I enjoyed the food in India, I discovered that my natural distaste for spicy food might be my digestive system’s way of telling me that apparently, it doesn’t do spicy food. Five days of extremely excruciating heartburn later, I am enjoying some bland cooking along with lots of raw fruits and veggies! See ya next week with something more “adventurous”.