India has multiple states and thousands more cities. Too many for me to remember or even attempt to do…not important. But I did note and remember every state and city we visited. So here’s the skinny:
- Chennai – slept there saw nothing. In and out on a four hour bus to Pondy
- Pondicherry – 9 days of volunteering and meeting lovely people at the Natura Ashram in Bajanai Madam street. Drinking hot chocolate (whattttt?) at Zuka and eating the lovely ice cream at Tanta. The best pani puri at Punjabi Daba and delicious paper Dosa at Suguru in the French quarter. And sharing all this with lovely people made it all even better!
- Auroville – many mini visits and a four day stay scooting around the town. Driving Stacey’s electric car was awesome. Visiting Lilaloka(divine place of play) project and seeing the beginnings of an amazing journey. Eating chocolate straight from the factory and seeing a house being built entirely of organic materials at Sacred Groves. A visit to the reforestation project at Sadanha Forest where toilet visits are mined for the gold that they seemingly are??
- Varkala – awesome two day stay on the cliff top. Frolicking in the much calmer sea in the evening and attempting to watch the sunset…too much fog!
- Alleppey – quick stop one lazy afternoon to experience a backwater boat tour of note. Visit with our boatman’s family and exploring the rice fields
- Here’s where it gets hairy; one uncomfortable ride to Thrissur for four hours to catch the midnight bus to Mysore, another 8 hours away…piece of cake!
- Mysore – spur of the moment or maybe just peer pressure. Awe inspiring palace was worth the nightbus and impromptu transit. Snagged a righteous deal on our one night stay at the Radisson Blue hotel. The zoo was good too even though the animals mostly looked like they were fed up of the heat. First sight of a leopard. All through east Africa, two safaris and I spot a leopard in captivity.
- Bangalore – one hour waiting at the bus stop for our connection to Margao
- Palolem – south Goa. Quiet area for holiday makers. A transit and overnight bus brought us to this beautiful beach town. Spent 3 nights here. Watched Fin’s team give Chelsea an asswhipping! Lazy days on the beach and evenings at beach side cafes. Our favourite thing was late night ice creams from the shop next door to our hostel.
- Agonda – a fun scooter ride to this quiet neighboring town. One peaceful empty beach and afternoon of pleasurable sunbathing. This is the life. I wore the only helmet as Fin whipped around sharp turns, wind in our faces!
- A hair raising taxi ride to the airport in Margao. I thought the taxi driver was trying to fly us there he was going so fast.
- Not a state but the national capital territory of India
- New Delhi – three nights in a lovely little inn that some scammers tried to convince us was closed when we got off the metro. Helpful inn staff came to get us. Lovely upgrade to deluxe room. Rode the metro trying to fit in sightseeing until the last day. Lotus temple, Ahkshardam from afar, Qutub Minar, Dilli Haat market, Red Fort, Chando chowk market, India Gate and the Jama Masjid that we didn’t go in because they wanted to charge us! Greedy mothers…
- Jaipur – nearly killed 2 annoying rickshaw drivers. Famous for the pink city. The Marahaj’s brilliant idea to impress the monarch HRH prince of Wales. Another 2 days sightseeing, City Palace, Amer fort, Water Palace, Hawa Mahal, Prince Albert museum, Monkey Temple. Got attacked by wayward monkey. Spotted a baby monkey getting a piggy back ride. Gorgeous dinner at the Peacock rooftop restaurant with newly made friends.
- Agra – just to see the Taj Mahal. Bussed in from Jaipur. Crazy tuck tuck ride to hotel which is down the road from the Taj. A sight of note is this grandiose mausoleum with people in endless queues. No train tickets to Varanasi, so taxi it is.
- Varanasi – holy and oldest city in India. River Ganga flows through. Two burning ghats for the lucky souls to be cremated at. Seven nights trying to get to our higher consciousness, with little success! Volunteering with slumkids, Ganga boat ride, evening Pooja, Diwali celebrations, visiting the Khali Mandir, Assi ghat and various hole in the wall eateries. And befriending another bunch of unforgettable travelers.
- Kolkata – last minute add on due to Nepal falling off the trip. Long story… Overnight train trip of note. Victoria memorial, Indian museum, New market and dinner with AirBnB host at Azad Hind Dhaba. Last day visit to the Birla Mandir. The best chocolate cake ever at the Kookiejar
Taxi ride to the airport was surreal. Six weeks in India flew past in the blink of an eye. But the memories will follow us for some time to come.