After an early flight from Varanasi on SpiceJet, I arrived in Delhi on Friday, Nov 30, to start my Intrepid Travel group trip. This leg of the trip would cover the major tourist sites, and I'd be on my first group tour ever. I was a little nervous about that, feeling trapped, having a weird mix of people, but luckily everything was so great. I booked the Intrepid trip specifically for solo travelers, which is awesome. They do give you an option to room with someone else if you'd like, or you can have your own room (if available) for a small supplement, but definitely not double price. I really appreciated that. I was also a tad worried if it turned out to be a bunch of college kids or people on gap year or something who wanted to party every night, but alas, my middle-aged heart was relieved to find most of my fellow travelers in the same decade as me. And since everyone was rolling solo, it really helped us get to know one another.
I had Intrepid arrange an airport pickup for me in advance, even though by this point I was a pro with my local cell phone and using Uber or Ola. That would've been cheaper, but now I know. They picked me up and took me back to the Karol Bagh neighborhood where I'd started this whole thing with Tim and Nestor. I settled into the Hotel Surya International and took a little nap. The tour would officially start that evening.
I was about to venture out to find some lunch after my nap, and I stumbled across Susan and Mel in the hotel. They'd just arrived from Dublin and London and would be on the tour. We became instant friends and I waited for them to freshen up so they could join me on a food outing. Venturing out alone in Delhi is a little intimidating, so I was glad for the company, as were they. I'd looked up a few restaurants in advance and wanted to check out Kitchen with Cause
, a few blocks away. They help people who grew up in the streets, give them an internship in the restaurant and help them find employment. The food was solid, too.
We had a lovely chat and got to know each other a bit, and I told them all the things I'd learned about India in the prior 12 days. We popped back to the hotel to relax a bit more then had our first tour meeting that evening in hotel restaurant. Parikshit would be our guide for the week - he was the best and really fun. As most of us were native English speakers, we balked at his name a bit and asked if we could just call him Parik. He was okay with that.
Our group was Mark and Cassie from Australia, Susan from Dublin, Mel from London, Ange from the UK (Derbyshire, I think?), and me and Ona from the USA, though Ona is originally from Lithuania. Seven people was a perfect size, and everyone was really cordial and chill with all our activities. We did all pitch into a group fund for some extras that weren't included as part of the tour, and everyone was agreeable to go along for the most part. And easy enough if someone wanted to opt out of an activity or a meal. I'd definitely try this out again.
That first night we all went out to Aroma Spice for dinner together, then Parikshit made sure we all found ATMs that worked and got us some bottled water and snacks. It was nice to be back with a guide to navigate the wild streets of Delhi.
Saturday morning we were off on Delhi adventures. First we took the metro to Chandni Chowk to explore old Delhi.
Jama Mosque is one of the largest mosques in India, built in the 17th century.
There's an extra fee for photographs, and I guess I didn't want to pay it. Parikshit said they were kinda strict here, so most of us left our cameras outside with him. I also had to rent a long skirt and maybe a head covering? We spent a little time here on our own, wandering around all the corners.
Then back to the market. You definitely want a guide for exploring the market. It is quite the maze.
We stopped to sample some sweets and I ended up with a couple boxes of sesame chikki. It's a sweet brittle, usually made in the winter months. I'm a big fan of anything sesame.
We explored some hidden courtyards and things around here. I never would've found them alone.
Next up was a Sikh temple in Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara. Definitely smaller than the Golden Temple I'd just visited, but still really cool. I'm glad I know a little more about Sikhs now.
Sounds of the temple here.
Still making food to share for anyone who needs it.
After our temple tour, we popped across the street to Haldiram's
for lunch. It's a food hall sort of place, with lots of options and many locations. I got a masala dosa
which is tasty and cheap.
After lunch I think we all opted for additional excursions, so we popped into some tuk-tuks for our next adventure. I think we took tuk-tuks to get out of the busy center and meet up with a van that would drive us the rest of the day.
First afternoon stop was the Gandhi Musuem. If you don't know about him, well, go read up
. It's kind of wild to think that he died in 1948, so long ago now.
He lived in this home, now the museum, for the last 5 months of his life until he was assassinated.
The museum has these little sculpture things re-enacting some moments from his life.
It's a beautiful property.
He was killed as he walked down this path to a prayer meeting. This shows his last steps.
We did a quick drive by some other important buildings in Delhi, like Parliament and India Gate.
We did stop at Agrasen ki Baoli, a really cool step well.
Then it was time for a food tour! I really don't remember what everything was, but it was pretty good. It was a mix of food stands and sit-down spots. All the afternoon tour was handled by Urban Adventures, who is a sister company to Intrepid. They do day tour stuff.
We had four kinds of momos, and they were all super good. I don't see them much on restaurant menus in the US, so I guess I need to look harder.
Protecting the house from misfortune
Potato something, I think.
And this is what I'd had in Amritsar on my food tour, but these were stuffed with a lot more things - golgappas is what they're called here. Still not my favorite.
But yes to kulfi!
Pouring cream onto a cold, turning cylinder.
And then it looks like this:
Gulab jamun - almost too sweet.
Our afternoon guide, Sammy! She was so great. If you have a day to spend in Delhi, find the Urban Adventures food tour.