|We must have been tired because we slept until 11 a.m. (still dealing with our jet lag). As our hotel room was a small windowless room it was a very restorative sleep without having to put up with even a hint of the incessant Delhi noise. By this point we realised we were going to have to scale back our sightseeing activities due to lack of time. We bravely headed out of our hotel only to melt in the 45° C heat. After a short walk to an ATM (max 10,000 rupees - i.e. $200 Cdn) we surrendered to the heat and headed back to our hotel. With our flight to Amritsar at 5:15 (another flight change) we didn't have much time to do anything so we hired a taxi to take us to India Gate, lunch and then the airport. Unfortunately our taxi was somewhat deficient in the A/C department as we sweltered in the heat.
One difference that we have definitely noticed in India since we were here 23 years ago is the military/police presence is extremely prevalent just about everywhere.
When we arrived at India Gate we had to pass through a metal detector like at the airport, however, for reasons not yet clear there were separate lines for men and women. This resulted in Theo and I standing in line while Marlys and Eleri waltzed right on through. As we left the India Gate area we were approached and Theo was asked to pose for a selfie with two people (it was the first of many requests we have subsequently received, Marlys seems to be the crowd favourite so far). With time running out and a significant failure to communicate with our cabbie we opted to skip lunch and head to the airport (meeting up with a snake charmer along the way...near the restaurant our cabbie tried to steer us to).
After arriving at the airport we were nabbed by security just after entering the building and had to put our bags through a scanner (before even checking in). We discovered (read I discovered) that in India you can't put batteries in your checked bags...they have to go in your carry on, which is the opposite of Canada. Anyway, after a couple of mea culpa's we checked in and then had our much delayed lunch. For starters we tried gol goppa (which since it uses flavoured water we didn't really want to try at a street vendor) which is a small ball of fried dough (like a thick potato chip the size of a golf ball) with some spicy "stuff" put inside and then you pour spicy or sweet and spicy favoured water in a small hole in the top. Then pop it in you mouth before the fried ball gets soft. Quite an interesting flavour sensation with the water and crunch and spice...worth a try, not sure I would cross the road for it though! The rest of lunch was just a vegetarian paneer thali which was nicely spiced. Quite tasty.
Our flight to Amritsar was only 50 minutes and we arrived in Amritsar just before sunset. Driving into the city with our hotel ordered taxi driver was an experience not for the faint of heart. It was like Naples and Lima traffic all rolled together. Theo commented to me as I exited the taxi, "I'm surprised that we didn't kill at least one pedestrian." A definite high speed game of chicken.
After checking into our room we headed out in search of dinner and the Golden Temple. Since I wanted some night shots of the Golden Temple we headed there first but Marlys and Eleri couldn't go in since they were wearing dresses (below their knees). So, with Theo keeping them company I headed into the Golden Temple complex to get my night shot photos. Well, apparently photographs aren't officially allowed. Which I quickly discovered. Anyway, after seeing a dozen or more observant Sikh worshipers taking selfies I elected to go for the quick and unobtrusive method of travel photography. Worked fine, and I only got chased twice by spear wielding Sikh guards!! (okay, maybe chased was a tad too expressive of what really happened...but I did get a couple of frowns and waggling fingers)
But dinner, aaahhhh, it was delicious. We finally opted to try some street food...and it was delicious. Pav Bhaji with soft buttery buns, and aloo paneer tikki. The flavours were incredible. While eating we ran into some other tourists, both European and Indian, who were very friendly and gave us some food and touring tips. It was a very nice evening, which only got better when we tried the jalebi. I have seen jalebi in Toronto and never had any before because it looked disgusting. But here, it was delicate, moist, hot, crispy and absolutely delicious. The only thing better would be to have some more...so we did!
Our evening done, we headed back to the hotel and promptly got lost and while I am pretty sure we could have figured out where our hotel was...we got helped out by a New York City woman and her Sikh husband. Friendly people, gorgeous buildings, and incredible food...Amritsar has it all. Hopefully we make it back to the airport alive (as well as the poor hapless pedestrians)!