Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back track to arriving in Delhi

The morning of the 19th, we flew back to Delhi as that is where Keira's US visa will be processed and they have go to a doctor w/Keira prior to going to the embassy. So, we were up VERY early and on a 6:30AM flight to Delhi (original flight was almost 9AM, but it got cancelled a few weeks ago and we were automatically moved to the early flight). We landed to quite a bit of smog, but I've noticed that the smog seems to be much worse at the airport and after dark (driving back from the Taj Mahal was like driving in a fairly think fog).

Colin found our driver (thankfully all of the airport transfers have been perfect and we've always found our drivers) and we headed to our hotel. We purposely planned our trip that each leg is an upgrade from the last. So this hotel is a 5-star that I was able to get a great rate for thru my company's corporate rate. We got checked in fairly quickly, but missed the breakfast buffet by less than a 1/2 hour. It was almost 11AM anyway, and with having gotten up so early, we decided lunch was just fine. We dropped our bags in our rooms, then headed down to the 24/7 restaurant for lunch. I got a burger which I must say was probably one of the best tasting burgers I have EVER had. I was certainly not expecting that in India.

Rod, Michelle & Keira headed to the dr's office for her appointment, and Colin & I went up to the pool and went swimming for the first time this trip. Once they came back, Rod stayed swimming with Colin and I headed to the spa for massage & steam. (I'm heading back for another massage later today or tomorrow). Keira had to get 6 vaccinations as her 1 year shots were not up-to-date. The dr said that was too many for 1 day, so she got 3 that day and then told to come back the next. She was asleep by the time they got back to the hotel and took a great nap the rest of the afternoon.

The next day, Rod, Michelle & Keira headed to the embassy to start the visa process and then had to go back to the dr's for the rest of her shots. Once those were finished, they had to go back to the embassy to finish up, but luckily the whole process only took about 4 hours. Colin & I stayed at the hotel and worked on his journal his kindergarten teacher sent along. He also got some Animal Planet watching in too. I was able to instant message with my parents for a bit (and then called them from the hotel). It was good to hear their voices and catch up briefly.

Colin & I grabbed some lunch, then headed to the Indian Museum. We were going to go to the zoo, but after checking that yes, there is a zoo, we found out that it was closed that day. So, we went to the museum instead. It was all about the history of the country. Colin is usually more into museums with animals & dinosaurs, but he did great. We had an audio tape guided tour so we made it through the first floor before Colin (me too) was finished. When we got back to the hotel, we went to Rod & Michelle's room to get Colin's swimming trunks to find that they were already back. We all expected the embassy to take ALL day.

That late afternoon, we headed out to fixed prices shops. (Michelle & I both agree that we don't care much for bargaining for our purchases.) Colin was the star everywhere we went. He has a knack for finding friends anywhere he goes.

We then headed to bed early as we left very early the next morning to drive to Agra.

I already wrote a bit about the Taj Mahal, but it truly is a magnificent structure. Our guide explained that the writing around the entrance has the appearance of being the same size from bottom to top. But, because the top is obviously farther away from where you're standing, the letters are gradually increased from bottom to top. The top letter are 2 1/2 times bigger than the letter at the bottom. INCREDIBLE. The four minarets at the corners of the structure are built slightly leaning outward. They were built that way on purpose so in case they fell over, they'd fall outward. There is also a mosque on site and to keep the symmetry, there was an identical building built. They used that as guest house. Rod asked our guides if the fountains are ever turned on. He was told that yes, but only for dignitaries and we didn't rank in that category. Our guide was also very protective. Many of the Indians were staring at Michelle & Keira and asking if she was her child and what happened to Keira. He kept telling people in Hindi to basically "mind your own business."

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