Arriving at Heathrow, a place I had been more times than I can remember, I followed the signs, and other passengers to our connecting flight bus. Following yet another bus to the specific terminal for Jet Airways, I reached security and where I repeated the usual steps. This time, feeling like I was in the U.S once again, I was placed in a booth, where I raised my hands under instruction and then proceeded to be frisked by the polite security guard who admired my tan- and my sunburn! Surprised I hadn't returned from a sun holiday, she laughed and wished me a pleasant journey. The warm British welcomes kept coming, as I approached the Jet Airways desk to swap my boarding pass. I asked about ordering a vegetarian meal for the flight, which I had forgotten to do when booking it and which the Irish agent In Dublin airport had refused me, and was told that because it is an Indian airline, It is mostly vegetarian anyway so It was no problem. Nice one! Nevertheless, I headed to Boots for my usual 'meal deal'-perfect for flights, to suppress the hunger pangs. I charged my phone, watched the planes pass by, did some people watching- the best part-, and waited for my big Jet Airways plane to invite me in. The next and final stop would be Delhi.
The flight to Delhi was good overall, no screaming babies- well one for the first five minutes, then she must have fell asleep-, no unpleasant odors etc etc, It was all fine on that front. The plane was massive and the provided pillows and a blanket which came in handy during the cold rush of air conditioning through the night. I watched a few films, had a very spicy meal -which If that was anything to go by Ill end up being on a 10 week diet, slept on and off for a few hours and eventually reached Delhi at 9:15am local time- stupid o clock Irish time. I was exhausted but managed to drag myself through customs, baggage claim and went to meet my driver who was right there with a placard saying 'Jade Poleon'. It all seemed very easy! It was the drive to the hostel that made me feel like I should have tried to sleep more on the flight, I was just too exhausted for the hustle and bustle before me. Nevertheless I tried to embrace the sweltering heat in the small car and the dodging of cars and bikes all around us. What struck me with Delhi was the fact that there seemed to be a free for all on the roads, except when we came to traffic lights which literally stopped for 15 minutes on each colour. I counted! Crazy! It seemed like a mad place but the driver assured me that this isn't the norm. After what was supposed to take 40 minutes, but ended up taking over and hour, my taxi arrived on the street filled with bright coloured shops selling Indian attire and wandering backpackers peering into them in the hopes of grabbing a bargain- everything is a bargain here! A nice man stood at the car door waving 'Smily' and invited me in. He grabbed my backpack from the backseat and walked me down the ally way lined with people shouting 'Welcome to India' to me. I was an obvious newbie. The hostel was lovely and clean, and the guy informed me that Eliza was in the room waiting on me. We chatted and chatted before deciding to head out for some lunch at 'Kathmandu Cafe' down the road. Following this, we went to the train station and booked an overnight sleeper train to Varanasi for tomorrow night. We will spend a few days in Varanasi and then catch another sleeper back to Agra where we will hopefully meet Krista to see the Taj Mahal together. From there India is our oyster and we have some rough plans of what we want to do etc, but the best part is going with the flow. I still feel like I'm dreaming and that I haven't actually arrived to India, probably because of Jet-lag and the sudden change of scenery/culture, but after a good relaxing evening, I will be all set to go! I picked up a pair of super swanky Indian pants which are pretty similar to hareem pants, but with different designs. My backpack will be full of these by the time I leave this country, they are that irresistible! Tomorrow we plan to chill out before taking our overnight train at 7pm and I cannot wait for it. From past experience with sleeper transport, I sense Its going to be a great journey! India seems to be a very unique place to me from what I have seen so far but I am loving the complete change of culture and this is definitely a place you need to be open to changes. From the Smyle Inn Hostel in Delhi, this is its for now. More on Varanasi over the next few days!