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semi-overcast 16 °C
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The opening act, couldn’t load a longer one?

Spurs 1 v Gunners 1

Posted by khaimah2019 16:13 Archived in India Tagged landscapes churches buildings people trees birds trains historical delhi Comments (0)

Delhi and beyond

Leaving India

semi-overcast 11 °C

Ok folks this will my final post, although I will post some of the videos that wouldn’t download because of slow download speeds.
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We arranged for Dilip our driver to take us to Indira Gandhi International airport at 1:00 hours, for 4:15 flight to LHR via Bahrain. As is usual with any flight it was pushed back to 5:40 hours meaning we might be able to get a little more sleep? Dilip however had decided he would come at 11:00? This was because we hadn’t realized that our street was gated and they closed at 11:00! I went to check for him at 11:00 but he wasn’t there, was he still coming? We were told that Uber wasn’t very reliable at that time of night in Delhi! So while I waited I started the latest blog. At 12:00 I went down again and alhumdillah he had just arrived! I explained the flight changes and he suggested we leave at 2:00, so I got a little sleep.
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At 2:00 very bleary we packed our bags into the car and headed through the strangely quiet Delhi streets passing one district of all night cafes favoured by the nocturnal drivers and the like. Most of the road traffic at this time seemed to be trucks who still drove like the rest of the driving population with no attention to lane discipline! Upon arriving we bid farewell to man who had become a dear friend who we discovered had “slept” in his car while waiting for us. Who lived in 2 rooms with his adolescent sons and wife, who didn’t like him working as a driver, that’s not a surprise! Who had failed to make the grade to enter the Indian army like his father a 28 year veteran, but who remained cheerful and always helpful. The very best of humanity!

What I hadn’t realized when I booked this Gulf Air flight, was that it was the weekend of the Bahrain F1 Grand-prix. As a result our flight eventually left at 7:00, after passing the Indian screening procedure, this might have been insignificant except we had a connecting flight to LHR to catch. On arrival in Bahrain it was further complicated waiting for a gate to open, and more security screening even for transfer passengers. Eventually we completed that and made it to the gate before boarding, but not before another security screening!

The final leg of the flight was in a Boeing 787 max, this is a bit special the seats are wider, there’s more leg room and the food on the flight was among the best I’ve experienced. Toward the end of the flight a man wearing “whites” appeared from the 1st class cabin. According to the in flight magazine he’s a Sky Chef!
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In spite the delays the flight landed at LHR on time 4:15, having managed to load up my UK sim provider Uber came through again to whisk us to Windsor our resting place for the next 5 nights but not before some hold up on Motorway on the way.
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Tired and thirsty the first priority was a beer, Google found a pub 7 minutes on foot, The Alma. A typical neighbourhood pub filled with families and children many of whom had been enjoying the warm afternoon in the beer garden. Sadly the selection was limited but after 2 pints we were running rapidly toward empty! After 3 nights of limited sleep and a long flight it took 12 hours sleep to catch up.
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Although our quirky accommodation had kitchen facilities all there was, was a partial can of ground coffee. This was enough to get us started before one of the largest breakfast in a pub opposite the Castle. Sadly I forgot to record this meal, but if anyone visiting the UK wants a 1000 calorie breakfast I recommend any Wetherspoons pub.
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The Rest of Saturday was spent, literally, perusing the offerings at M&S that modesty forbids me to reveal. After completing of modest day of shopping, including some groceries, also sent a package of gifts back via PO. We again retired to the Alma for a meal and a few more bevies. The volume levels were again pushing the limits but not enough to deter us, but we were still suffering from the time Delhi being 7 1/2 hours ahead of the UK.
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It was another night of sound sleep.
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The next morning I woke at the unusual hour of 6:30, although it was actually 7:30 because that night Daylight saving had begun, and breakfast at home before heading to the Castle. Today wasn’t as warm as the previous day and because it was Sunday St George’s Chapel was closed to tourists. After a brief guided tour up to the Royal Apartments she left us to explore them by ourselves. We didn’t pick up the audio guide so we actually paid more attention to the contents, which by any standards are very baroque. The day ended again with a meal and a beer at a nearby pub, this being Mother’s Day in the UK there were many families eating out. And again it was an early night.
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The next day we visited the Castle again, this time with the headsets and completed the tour including the Chapel that is easily the most interesting with it’s graves of many historical figures including Henry VIII. The intention today had been to take the train to London for supper with a friend and possibly watch Arsenal against Newcastle. Sadly neither happened, after waiting 40 minutes while the hunger centre beckoned we decided to head home. Turned out we were waiting at the right place at London Bridge station but the friend was a few metres away somewhere else. We could almost have walked into each other, but didn’t. And there had been no tickets available for the game. So supper and a beer at Wetherspoons ended our last full day in the UK.
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The next day, the day I’m writing this, the day began early with coffee a couple of Mueller yogurts and finish packing. At 10:00 Uber came and delivered us to LHR Terminal 2 with a smooth ride through the diminishing rush hour. Our driver of Pakistani origin, who planned to visit New York and Toronto later this year, explained that this terminal was recently opened which might help to explain the Sub Continent style chaos that ensued. The Self Check in didn’t like what I entered, even though we’d already checked in online, and someone sent to help admitted they were short staffed. The Security seemed equally short handed and one of the female passengers held up the line as she started segregating her liquids etc before being asked to move. To top it all, there were 5 posts at the duty free manned by 3 people, one with a face only a mother could love who’d stood there picking her nose! As we approached one left and as I approached to be served a second left leaving only the nose harvester who told me that the post was closing! At which point I left my purchases and told her I didn’t want them now.
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And so almost on time we left for Toronto!

Posted by khaimah2019 07:16 Archived in England Tagged me landscapes churches buildings people trees animals birds trains historical Comments (0)

The Taj Mahal and Fort

The final tourist event

sunny 36 °C

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Breakfast was requested at 7:30 for an early start but it seemed to get lost in translation. We still managed to get something and meet Dalip our driver at 8:00 the appointed hour. Getting out of Delhi was the worst part of the drive with the usual stick handling through the traffic until we reached the Yamuna Expressway, which was eerily quiet, it’s a toll road! With the exception of one pit stop the rest of the journey was uneventful, until the outskirts of Agra with more dodging other vehicles.
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After a stop to meet our guide and lunch we were off to the Taj. Security is very tight approaching the site and the last few metres are by electric golf carts. No manufacturing is allowed within 40 miles of the building also.
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Meaning "Crown of the Palaces")[5] is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.
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Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2015 would be approximately 52.8 billion rupees (U.S. $827 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, the Turk Ustad Ahmad Lahouri
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The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year and in 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
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Agra Fort is the only fort in India where all early Mughal emperors lived. The Fort stands on an ancient site and was traditionally known as Badalgarh. It was captured by Ghaznavi for some time but in 15th century A.D. the Chahman Rajputs occupied it. Soon after Agra assumed the status of capital when Sikandar Lodi (A.D. 1487-1517) shifted his capital from Delhi and constructed few buildings in the pre-existing Fort at Agra. After the first battle of Panipat (A.D. 1526) Mughals captured the fort and ruled from here. In A.D. 1530, Humayun was coronated here. The Fort got its present look during the reign of Akbar (A.D. 1556-1605). Again thanks to Wikipedia
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We were met at the entrance by another guide who toured the site with us only to discover he wasn’t on the payroll but was free lancing as a tour guide. Nevertheless it was useful having someone to help us tour the site.
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Around 10:30 we headed out of Agra for home by which time the temperature was 36 C and taking its toll. On the way we passed the site for the Indian F1 Grand-prix Buddha International Circuit. Arriving back in Delhi around mid afternoon.
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Posted by khaimah2019 02:19 Archived in India Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises buildings people historical Comments (0)

The Red Fort or not?

Delhi day one

semi-overcast 26 °C

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After mastering the intricacies of Uber, getting it loaded on the tablet, still not sure how I did it with a UK phone number for verification, using it with cash, etc we hit the road about 11:30 for the Red Fort. The estimated fare for the ride 136 rupees the usual near collisions and shoe horn manoeuvres through the traffic we arrived there to discover it’s closed on Mondays! This is a boon for rickshaw drivers looking for tourists wanting something to do as we were gang tackled with offers to tour Old Delhi.
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Posted by khaimah2019 10:26 Archived in India Tagged buildings people historical Comments (0)

Day 2 Delhi

Dilli Haat and mor

sunny 25 °C

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The visit to the Red Fort being a bust some souvenirs became more of a priority although Gail has accumulated an assortment of pieces of bamboo that she thinks should work as planters! Getting them cleared through Canadian Customs may be more difficult? Anyway Uber delivered us to the Dilli Haat craft market, which is a government sponsored market of artisans from different the states of India. Besides local people there were also tourists from many countries. The products from carpets to fabrics, ceramics to jewelry were of varying quality but reasonably priced. Our haul was carpets, sent by courier to Canada hopefully, shirts, ornaments, etc.
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Getting back was the problem, not having data on the phone makes calling Uber difficult! There was a metro stop close by, but the Delhi metro has numerous entrances for the different lines apparently and at our first attempt we were told to go to Stop One. This proved more difficult than it seemed, there were 7 in the same area. After wandering around in vane we approached a taxi with Uber decals and asked him if he would take us to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib the Sikh temple complex. For 200 rupees we had a deal the ride was through what seemed to be the embassy district of leafy tree lined roads and high walls and armed guards.
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The temple complex feeds 25 to 30 persons a day, besides the temple there’s a pool, kitchens, dining areas and cloistered areas around the pool. All are welcome and there are guides to help you understand the activities, etc. We were approached by an elderly woman, who was amused when we asked if she was a guide, but was happy to explain some of the things and show us around.
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Getting home from there was again a challenge there were rows of Tuk Tuks but after showing them the address it was decided it was too far away, but one would take us to the Metro for a 100 rupees. Again the same problem which entrance and there wasn’t anyone to explain! After being told by one disreputable looking character who would take us for 100 when we got in car it became 500! Fortunately fate intervened again and someone who had obviously been watching the street scene showed us where there was a “hot spot” where I could get online to call Uber. It was also next to a government tourist office, which also had wifi, but this was an opportunity not to be missed. So for $US120 plus tax we could visit Agra, stay overnight, visit the Taj Mahal, with a guide, and the Fort! Which was a much better deal than the one I’d found online. They even let the driver who was designated to take us drive us home for the same price Uber had offered us!
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So after another day of surprises we returned to our room.

Posted by khaimah2019 10:15 Archived in India Tagged buildings people historical delhi Comments (0)

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