YEAR OF TRAVEL: 2012
HOW WE GOT THERE: Cathay Pacific
FLIGHT HIGHLIGHTS: None. We got there in one piece. Word on Cathay: The better the cabin class, the better the treatment.
CITY BRIEFING: Dusty, hot and wonderful – Delhi is quite a thrilling capital city, if you let it be. You can talk about the traffic, the poverty, and the disorder, but try to look past the obvious and take in the sights, the eats, and treats. A real pleaser – but you have to be open to it. If you’re in a bad mood and looking for a place to work hard to brighten your spirits, go elsewhere. But if you want to give yourself over to a host of new experiences, sample the wonders of Delhi.
- Always have your plane itinerary handy. Security won’t allow you into the country or an airport terminal without your printed travel plans and documents. And the only people who can be jerks in India are security officials, so be nice and polite to them.
- You’re belly will get upset – but don’t let this slow you down. Just try to avoid unpurified ice and foods washed in unfiltered water. Along the same lines, carry a packet of tissues with you. Some bathrooms in India only have a towel, a bucket and a tap for cleansing. Really, remember the packet of tissues. On all our travels, we forget constantly, and have had to wipe with Parthenon tickets, credit card receipts, and silk ripped from the lining of a suit jacket.
- A great way to see Delhi is to hire a cab for the day. The hotel will offer you their service, but it’s more expensive. Ask the front desk to call a local cab company and arrange a good deal for you.
- It’s hard to find a newspaper on the streets. When checking into your hotel, ask the hotel staff to deliver a local newspaper to your room each morning.
- Once you go into the Delhi international airport terminal, it’s very difficult to go back outside. There’s a regulation in place that’s kinda, sorta like the roach motel ads: You can check in, but you can’t check out. We flew back from Udaipur and had eight hours to knock-about before our flight to London. All we wanted to do was to enter the international terminal, drop off our bags with British Airways and then leave to go to our favorite restaurant in Delhi for one last scrummy Indian meal. But . . . we got to the terminal very early, the BA desk wasn’t open, and we were stuck inside the terminal for four hours before finding an airline representative to walk us past the guards. Those four hours were torture, and the help desk should be named the “unhelp” desk. Luckily . . .
- A great thing about the airport is that Hilton, Eros and Lalit hotels all have airport representatives to help make your transit easier. If you’re about to be late to your flight or you’re having trouble navigating the airport, try to find one of these helpers. Here are a few good men who helped us during our journeys:
Pawan Khatri, Airport Manager, Hilton New Delhi, Janakpuri: firstname.lastname@example.org, +91-971-683-5039.
Sunil Kumar, Airport Concierge, Eros Hotel, email@example.com, +91 981115 6754/981145 6753.
Ramesh Chand, Airport Concierge, Eros Hotel, firstname.lastname@example.org, +91 11 41331679/ 9811156754.
Kripal Dutt, Asst. Manager Airport, The Lalit, email@example.com, +91 11 4444 7777.
FAVORITE NEIGBORHOODS: We spent a lot of time in Central and Old Delhi, but South Delhi gets raves, too.
Trident Gurgaon (443, Udyog Viohar, Phase V, Gurgaon, 91-124-245-0505, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.tridenthotels.com) – Not exactly in Delhi, but close enough. A stunning space that shares a plot with its sister hotel, The Oberoi Gurgaon (443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon, 91-124-245-1234, email@example.com, www.oberoihotels.com).
Sheraton New Delhi (District Centre, Saket, +91 11 4266 1122) – Affordable digs for a night’s stay plus airline staffers rest up here, so you know it’s not the worst. International fare at the lobby restaurant is C-grade, but concierge staff is top-notch and the daily Internet charge doesn’t wallop the wallet.
Cilantro (Trident, Gurgaon) – It’s one of our favorite restaurants in the world. Located in the Trident Hotel, Gurgaon, this airy eatery features attentive staff and mouth-watering meals blended with the perfect touch of Indian spices. Tip: No need to go a la carte. The buffet is cheaper and divine. Also, a creamy Ras Malai dessert followed by an ice coffee and a cigarette ain’t a bad way to end the night. And a special thanks to Food and Beverage Captain Mayank Pandey for always providing excellent service.
Karim’s – Old Delhi yumminess in a simple setting with meh service. (Jama Masjid, Gali Kababian, +91 11 23269880/ 23264981)
Bukhara – Acclaimed tandoori restaurant at the ITC Maurya hotel. (Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Marg,+91 11 26112233)
McDonald’s – We know, a funny choice. But it’s a good way to assimilate to a culture that treasures the cow. There are no hamburgers here at this franchise. Try chicken or paneer cheese patties instead. (Radial Road 4, B Block, Connaught Place, +91 11 66000666)
India Gate monument/Parliament buildings; Old Delhi’s manic streets; the Connaught Place mall; Humayun’s Tomb; the Red Fort; and anywhere outside during the red-hued sunsets.
And definitely save time for the State Emporia Complex on Baba Kharak Singh Marg. A great shopping experience.
Note: Please check with each venue for address and hours of operation.
Other Entries In Our “Stopover” Series: