Overview

  • We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: when it comes to travel, there’s India, and then there’s the rest of the world. No place else can one find such life, such vibrancy, such color. Then again, India also plays host to record levels of overcrowding, litter and air pollution. India may not be the easiest of travel destinations, but it’s certainly one of the most rewarding. From the pristine beaches of the Andaman Islands to lush hill stations like Munnar, from the lazy backwaters of Kerala to Delhi’s bustling markets, there’s something here for everyone.

Blog Entries We Wrote

  • To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.

Pictures We Took

  • To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.

Cities/Areas We Visited

  • Fort Cochin (Nov. 30-Dec 3, 2007; Dec. 5-6, 2007)
  • Kerala Backwaters (Dec. 3-4, 2007)
  • Munnar (Dec. 4-5, 2007)
  • Chennai (Dec. 6-7, 2007)
  • Andaman Islands (Dec. 7-12, 2007)
  • Delhi (Dec. 12-20, 2007; Dec. 23-24, 2007; Dec. 27-Jan. 1; Jan. 6-8)
  • Rishikesh/Haridwar (Dec. 20-23, 2007)
  • Agra (Dec. 24-27, 2007)
  • Amritsar (Jan. 1-3)
  • Varanasi (Jan. 3-6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Stayed

Kerala

  • Sithara (Harry John Bernard’s Place) (Nov. 30-Dec 3, 2007; Dec. 5-6, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Houseboat on the Kerala Backwaters (Dec. 3-4, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Shamrock Hotel in Munnar (Dec. 4-5, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chennai

  • Hotel Chandra Park (Dec. 6-7, 2007)

Andaman Islands

  • Barefoot at Havelock (Dec. 7-11, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sun Sea Resort (Port Blair) – (Dec. 11-12, 2007)

Delhi

  • Family Home of Shanna’s Dad (Dec. 12-20, 2007; Dec. 23-24, 2007; Dec. 27, 2007-Jan. 1, 2008; Jan. 6-8, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rishikesh

  • Yoga Niketan Guesthouse (Dec. 20-23)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agra

  • ITC Mughal (Dec. 24-27, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amritsar

  • Aay Kay Hotel (Jan. 1-3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varanasi

  • Ramada Plaza JHV (Jan. 3-6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Ate

Fort Cochin

  • Dal Roti – Conversations with Ramesh, Dal Roti’s incredibly personable owner, made good North Indian food taste even better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Restaurant at Sithara Guest House – Chef Mary Bernard (Harry John Bernard’s wife) cooked up some of the best food we’ve had on our trip so far. We’re still dreaming about her puri masala.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Fort Cochin fish market – We bought lobster and fish for cheap at this market and had it cooked at a nearby restaurant. We also learned a little lesson in how NOT to choose a lobster (biggest is not best!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Cherai Beach Resort – Another star among the restaurants we visited in India, the channa masala was incredible. We ordered enough for five people, but the food was so good that we ate it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Malabar Junction at Malabar House Hotel – This luxury hotel plays host to an incredible chic restaurant, where guests dine by the pool to the soft sounds of tabla music. The food, for the price, wasn’t amazing, but the cheese plate was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Addy’s Restaurant – Evidence of Fort Cochin’s Dutch Colonial past, this 1776-built Dutch house served up a good breakfast (though we wouldn’t recommend it if you’re in a hurry).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Munnar

  • Shamrock Hotel – We found no restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, so we ate all of our meals from here. They were fairly good and, best of all, we got to eat them on our balcony overlooking the tea plantations.

Chennai

  • Zara Restaurant – This trendy place seems to be where the young and rich in Chennai come to play (and to salsa dance). We really enjoyed both the tapas and the drinks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andaman Islands

  • Restaurant at Barefoot at Havelock – The menu here offered pretty much only Western food which, other than the good breakfasts and the great desserts, was mediocre. We soon learned to ask for Indian food instead, which was much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Red Snapper Restaurant at Wild Orchid Lodge – This place has a friendlier owner and better Indian food than Barefoot, although the hotel at Barefoot is much nicer.

Delhi

  • Karim’s – This place allegedly cooks its Mughal dishes from the same recipes that the owners’ relatives used when cooking for emperors hundreds of years ago. It’s really famous, and we came with high expectations, to which the restaurant didn’t really live up. It was good but not great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sagar – Now one of Shanna’s favorite restaurants in India, Sagar serves up Southern Indian food to a house packed with locals. The coconut masala dosa should win some sort of award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Chick Fish – We went here with Shanna’s family for a meal of fried chicken and fish in a fast food-like atmosphere. Judging from the fact that it was still crowded at closing time, it’s a favorite among Delhites. A highlight was watching a chef hand-toss ramali bread in front of the restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Basil & Thyme – We dined alongside Ladies Who Lunch in this little cafe in a swanky shopping area. The food was expensive, but akin to an upscale American lunch spot (think nice salads, tapenade and crepes) and, therefore, a great break from Indian food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Colonol Kababz – We joined Shanna’s family to celebrate her birthday at this spot, which is one of their favorite restaurants. Shanna’s pretty sure that the paneer makhni is the best in Delhi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Spice Route in Imperial Hotel: Good thing it was a special occasion (Shanna’s 30th) because this place was expensive! In the posh Imperial Hotel, it serves up great Thai food to a very upscale clientele. Next door is the 1911 bar, which is notable for its great drinks and its atmospheric prices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Swagath – In another fairly upscale shopping area, this place served up good food on tables laid with white tablecloths. It’s a favorite of our cooking teaching, Ms. Puri.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • TGI Friday’s – The chocolate malt cake at this American chain really does deserve a medal; we’re still dreaming about it. Everything we ordered tasted fairly similar to what you’d get a home, i.e., it was exactly what we were looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Food Court at Citywalk Mall – The food is just so-so, but the mall is amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Baboo Mashai Bengali Cuisine – We had our first taste of Bengali cuisine here. The fish dishes were amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Homecooked food at Shanna’s family’s apartment (cooked by Gihan) – Free and eaten in the company of family: what could be better?
  • Veda – A trendy hot spot with good food and wildly expensive drinks…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Spaghetti Kitchen – In the Citywalk Mall, this place dishes up some really good pasta and–hooray!–green salads dressed in olive oil and vinegar! (This is such a rarity for us.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Subway – Because sometimes you just want to eat something familiar…
  • Banana Leaf – Another Southern Indian restaurant that turns out a good dosa and thali.

Rishikesh

  • Green Italian Restaurant – The pasta sauce was great; don’t know that we’d say the same for the mac and cheese (but that’s what you get for ordering such a thing in India!).
  • Chotiwala – You’ll know this place by the forlorn mascot sitting in front, his face painted purple. He looks depressed, but surely not over the food; it was pretty good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Office – All we had here were the apple samosas, but they’re worth the trip alone. Not too far a cry from the apple pie that Grandma used to make!
  • Devraj Coffee Corner – Also called the German Bakery, the view at this place is amazing, and the food’s not bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Little Italy Restaurant – This place must have the same owner at the Green Italian, because they’ve got the exact same menu. As with the former, the pasta’s great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ginger (in Haridwar) – This trendy-looking, clean place was a nice break from the crazy streets of Hardiwar, and the buffet lunch was great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agra

  • Pizza Hut – If we couldn’t have Christmas cookies this season, we for sure were going to have pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Room service at hotel – Yes, this is embarrassing, but not having to leave our lovely hotel room was amazing.

Amritsar

  • Crystal Restaurant – This place has a great location and the best mango lassis we’ve ever had in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Langar (free, community meal) at Golden Temple – It wasn’t the basic food that brought us here; it was the amazing experience of eating a meal served by volunteers, for free, to anyone and everyone. Truly incredible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varanasi

  • The Great Kabab Factory – The head of Cashpor recommended this place (which is in the Radisson) to us, and we’re so glad he did. We were given two choices, vegetarian or non-veg. Derek had meat, Shanna had veggies, and both were innovative and delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Brown Bread Bakery – We loved the fondue at this place until we learned that they don’t allow Indians inside (!?!). Now, we have a lifetime ban on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Room service at Ramada Plaza JHV – The food wasn’t as memorable as the fact that we didn’t have to leave the room to get it!

Things We Did

Fort Cochin

  • Explored city, including Chinese fishing nets and old churches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Had Auryvedic Massage
  • Rented motorcycle and drove to Chennai Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched Kerala championship soccer game

Kerala Backwaters

  • Cruised the backwaters on a houseboat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Munnar

  • Drove through mountains with our driver Lal, marvelling at tea plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Learned how tea is made at Tata Tea Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chennai

  • Survived crazy streets via rickshaw

Andaman Islands

  • Sat on beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Swam in Bay of Bengal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched a leatherback turtle lay and bury her eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Snorkeled
  • Went scuba diving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rented motorcycle and explored the island
  • Toured the Cellular Jail in Port Blair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi

  • Visited Old Delhi, including Jama Masjid and the Red Fort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Marvelled at Humayun’s Tomb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Attended many wedding events of Shanna’s cousin, Priya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Received Mehndi on hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Explored New Delhi, including the India Gate, the Rajpath and the parliament buildings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Visited CRY project outside Delhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Visited new temple Akshardam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched Shanna’s Dad record a CD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Walking tour of lives of Delhi streetkids led by former homeless child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rode countless rickshaws around crazy, polluted streets of Delhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rang in New Year at local party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Took cooking class taught by Ms. Puri

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Shanna had a cap replaced by Dr. Puri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rishikesh/Haridwar

  • Practiced yoga at an ashram
  • Observed the many sadhus and monkeys who live in Rishikesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched “aarti” at ghats in Rishikesh and Haridwar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Toured Haridwar, including its many Hindu temples (e.g., India Temple)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agra

  • Marvelled at Taj Mahal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Toured Agra Fort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amritsar

  • Visited Jallianwala Bagh, site of the massacre of Sikhs by British army

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Marvelled at Golden Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Toured other temples of Amritsar, including Silver Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched closing ceremony at India/Pakistan border

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varanasi

  • Volunteered at Cashpor Micro Credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Toured local village financed by Cashpor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched aarti ceremony on banks of Ganges River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Watched cremations on banks of Ganges River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Took early morning river cruise on the Ganges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Wandered the back alleys of Varanasi’s Old City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Facts

  • Capital City – Delhi
  • Currency – Rupee
  • Exchange Rate – 40 rupees to $1

Special Thanks

  • We would like to thank the following individuals who gave us a wedding gift that we used in this country: Rob and Wendy Hess. We really appreciate it!