India: Amazing, Eye-opening, Hectic, Exciting, Vivid

When people ask me, “How was your trip to India?” I wish I could tell them everything I experienced but that would take hours. I settled on summarizing it with the food and sights were amazing, the culture was eye-opening, getting around was sometimes really hectic, I had many exciting adventures, and I brought back even more vivid memories.

Thinking about visiting India? I visited Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, also known as the “Golden Triangle”. Here are a few things I learned/came back with that might help you with your trip:

I told myself not to be intimidated by all the food options

Halfway through my cooking class I had to take a break to grab some water because I was coughing so much. This was because of all the spices that were being used in our dishes. There was so much flavor and spice to the Indian food that I’m surprised how well my stomach took everything I ate. I made six dishes, tried three appetizers, and tasted a homemade chocolate candy for dessert. If you’re visiting New Delhi and interested in a cooking class, I recommend Saffron Palate.

The last two days of the trip I stayed with my friend’s family and they had me try so much new food. Two of my favorites were gulab jamun, an Indian dessert, and butter chicken, a main course dish.

If you’re planning to visit India, keep an open mind with the food, you might just find a new favorite dish.

There were so many breath-taking sights

One of my favorite adventures was riding an elephant up to Amber Fort and exploring each of the rooms. I loved seeing all the detail in the architecture and learning about the history behind why they designed it the way they did. The same went for the Taj Mahal, “Baby Taj”, the India Gate, Agra Fort, Red Fort, Qutab Minar, and so many more.

If you’re visiting India and have a packed day of sightseeing, realize you might not get through it all. By the end of our first day in Delhi, we were so exhausted and realized we over planned our day. While jet leg is definitely worse coming back home, it still hits you hard the first few days. While I wish I could’ve been on the go and seeing everything 24/7, I learned that it’s important to take a break and relax to prevent getting burnt out.

I also found it entertaining seeing animals everywhere. Turning onto the street of our first hotel, we saw many cows and dogs. Throughout the trip, we saw a group of goats walking through Agra, monkeys stealing a man’s banana, pigs on the side of the streets, and a litter of puppies in front of “Baby Taj”. It gave the sights character and kept us on our toes.

Overall, the sights were beautiful, breath-taking, and all-around incredible.

We learned to hire a private driver/tour guide

With traveling comes many learning experiences. After our journey to and from the Taj Mahal/Agra, we realized we should have hired a private driver. The second we got off the train, we had people asking one after another if we needed a taxi. We had planned to order an Uber, but didn’t realize they weren’t available in Agra. After walking for a bit, we decided to take our first rickshaw ride. He ended up dropping us off way too early, so we were stuck having to walk through streets without an idea of where we were going. Thankfully we made it to the Taj Mahal, but it created a lot more stress than needed.

On our way back to Delhi, we ended up getting off one train station too early. We tried getting an Uber but the traffic was worse than usual, making it hard to find the vehicle. We spent an hour figuring out how to get home and that caused a lot of stress and exhaustion.

Our day in Jaipur went a lot smoother and that’s because we hired a private driver/tour guide. We could actually get around without having to worry and wait around for a ride. Our driver also would get out with us and give us a tour of the sights we were visiting. It made the day less hectic and was 100% worth the money.

Even though we had some hectic times getting around, it gave us some great stories to tell.

Everything about India was vivid and intense

I remember everything so clearly: the smells when walking through the streets, the vibrant colors of the fabrics, the busyness of the streets, the spice of the food, and all of the details of the architecture. Another tip if you’re planning on visiting: be comfortable with the stares/pictures. Especially in the big tourist spots, people will ask to take pictures with you and some will even sneak some of you. Feel free to say yes, but know it’s completely fine to say no too. I read articles before my trip mentioning that this was a thing, but I didn’t fully get it until we visited the India Gate and Qutab Minar and felt like celebrities. I ended up getting used to after a few days but it’s definitely an experience I won’t forget.

Everything about India was unforgettable and I’m thankful for the opportunity to experience such a different culture. If you’re willing to challenge yourself and are looking for a unique trip experience, India is the trip for you and you’ll be rewarded with a trip of a lifetime.

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