It’s hard to believe that we kicked off our trip in India over a month ago! Today I’m sharing a list of tips for traveling in India.
Carry a lightweight scarf and a tote for stashing your shoes. At many religious sites, you’ll need to take off your shoes and even cover your head and shoulders. I kept a whisper-weight scarf with me when out sightseeing for this purpose. You also can’t overtly carry your shoes in your hand into temples, so having a tote bag was useful for this purpose, too.
Pack that tote bag accordingly. When you leave your hotel, you’ll likely want to be well-prepared for any situation that might arise. I always kept my tote stocked with anti-bacterial gel, wet wipes (toilet paper can be a luxury item…), sunblock, Imodium, Tums, tissues, etc. I needed every item in my bag at least once while out and about.
Make time to visit your doctor or a travel clinic about two weeks before you depart. Now, I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, but I followed the CDC’s guidelines and got immunized for hepatitis A (which requires a 6-month booster) and typhoid. I also took anti-malarial meds and I needed a pre-prescribed pack of antibiotics while there, which leads me to the next item…
Be vigilant about what you eat. I was laid up for a good 36 hours with a stomach bug, most likely from fruit I ate at breakfast. While I wouldn’t advocate going totally vegetarian (I enjoyed some delicious meat dishes while there), that seems to be another way to avoid GI issues. Make sure that food items aren’t raw or under-cooked and avoid eating fruit you did not peel yourself.
Similarly, ask for bottled water and drinks without ice to avoid GI issues, too. If you’re headed out to sightsee, always bring water with you, too, due to the high temperatures and humidity.
If you’re a woman, prepare to feel invisible. This point really soured my experience in India. Although this was less of an issue in New Delhi, in most locations, I was ignored entirely by staff, in favor of greeting or talking to my husband.
Research restaurants using Zomato. In most US cities, Yelp is the most reliable tool for researching restaurant reviews. In India, Zomato is the favorite website and app for finding a good place to eat.
Hire a driver. Your hotel will be happy to arrange a driver for you, which sounds like a luxury, but isn’t priced that way. In New Delhi, we had a driver for <$100/day, who was happy to act as a tour guide and help us maximize our sightseeing time. It’s hard, if not impossible, to walk from place to place for many reasons, so a personal driver is the way to go.
After a weekin India, it was nice to treat ourselves to a three day stop in Paris. Going back to a city a second, or third, time always makes for a relaxing visit since there’s no need to pound the pavement and cram in all of the sights. We didn’t even feel guilty about staying in bed for most of the morning on a particularly cold and rainy day!
Instead of staying in a hotel this time, we opted for this Airbnb studio in the 9th arrondissement. It was nice to “live like a local,” and it’s something I’d like to do again, especially when we go to South America later this year. I was originally hoping to stay in the Marais, but found the 9th to be more cost-effective and still within walking distance of most of the places we wanted to visit and at worst, a 4 minute walk to the Metro.
Like I mentioned, we kept our itinerary light and fairly unstructured. This time around, we hit up:
Musee Rodin: Lovely! Skip the audio tour and download the podcast episodes from the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.
Musee Picasso: Gets a lot of hate on Tripadvisor, but we liked it. It has none of Picasso’s most famous works, but the museum does an excellent job curating works that show the evolution of his genius.
Musee d’Orsay: Rishi’s all-time favorite museum and a repeat visit.
Le Louvre: We had planned to skip the Louvre this time around, but it was a great place to pop into while dodging an afternoon downpour.
Jardin des Tuilleries: The flowers were just starting to bloom at the end of March. One of these days I’m going to plan my visit for full flower glory.
What we were serious about was eating and drinking. We filled our bellies at the following locales:
Boulangerie Julien (1 Eue de Provence): An award-winning bakery, just steps from our apartment. Probably the best pain au chocolat I’ve ever sampled.
L’Office (3 Rue Richer): Quaint, intimate French restaurant with a reasonable prix fixe menu.
Relais de l’Entrecote (20 Rue Saint-Benoît): Steak & frites and unlimited wine. Great for a relaxing lunch.
Mabel (58 Rue d’Aboukir): Delightful, hipster-y rum bar that also serves up specialty grilled cheese. Is this Paris or Brooklyn?! Also conveniently located by Frenchie for pre- or post-drink cocktails.
Frenchie (5 Rue du Nil): Creative and fun, but not snooty. We dined with Anna Faris, too! Reservations are a must.
Hero (289 Rue Saint-Denis): Imagine if Korean BBQ and Anthropologie had a baby. Some of the best fried chicken ever and excellent cocktails.
Ob-La-Di (54 Rue de Saintonge): Insta-famous. Probably the best filtered coffee I’ve tried and serves up the best toast creations.
Chez Janou (2 Rue Roger Verlomme): An old favorite featuring Provencal cuisine. Of course, we partook in their limitless chocolate mousse.
Le Mary Celeste (1 Rue Commines): Best for cocktails, oyster shots, and strangely delicious deviled eggs.
Le Caveau des Oubliettes (52 Rue Galande): Jazz + dive bar scene. ‘Nuff said.
After this trip, my desire to visit Paris is certainly satiated for a while, but it did pique my interest in exploring more of France. Interested in prior thoughts on France? Here’s a previous list of my favorite restaurants in Paris and some itinerary ideas for future trips to France.
It’s been a week since we got back from our trip and about two weeks since we left India. To be honest, I’m still processing my feelings about India. It was truly a culture shock, in both the best and the worst ways. That being said, our time spent in New Delhi was wonderful. Having lived in Washington, D.C. for four years, there’s a lot of parallels to be drawn between the architecture, roadways, and abundant embassies, but unlike D.C., Delhi seems as if set in the middle a jungle with its lush vegetation!
Humayun’s Tomb: Resting place of many Mughal royalty. My favorite place we visited!
Red Fort: Large fort built in the 17th century. Features intricate architecture.
India Gate: Massive war memorial not unlike Paris’s Arc de Triomphe.
Raj Ghat: Gandhi’s memorial site. Extremely peaceful, but crowded.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib: Large, ornate Sikh temple. Bring a tote bag to stash your shoes upon entering.
Lodi Gardens: Be on the lookout for animals you don’t see very often, like mongooses!
Bahai Lotus Temple: The only silent place in all of Delhi. Avoid going within an hour or so of closing time when the queue becomes a crush.
Sleep:The Oberoi, New Delhi. It’s no accident that it consistently tops “Best-of” lists year after year and I have no intention of ever passing up an opportunity to stay at another Oberoi property. Our room was old-school luxury and I’ve never experienced such attentive service before! And don’t get me started on the pool and cabanas and the restaurants. Heaven. Unfortunately, the Oberoi is closing for two years for a massive renovation, but The Oberoi, Gurgoan is a great alternative when visiting New Delhi!
Our trip to India (after nearly 72 hours of travel) kicked off with two days in Jaipur. We took in the Pink City’s sights at Amer Fort, Jal Mahal, City Palace, and Hawa Mahal while braving triple digit temperatures. Each day ended with gin and tonics, which honestly taste all the better in India.