This morning we woke up early, and we couldn’t sleep anymore, so we decided just to start the day. Our hostess had said breakfast would be ready between 9 and 9:30am, but when we went looking for the dining room at 9am breakfast wasn’t ready, so we went back to our room for an hour and started planning our day. We checked on breakfast again at what we though was 10am, and realized from the clock on the wall that it was only 9:30am, so we had gotten up even earlier than we thought! After breakfast we got some suggestions on where to visit and headed out on foot to walk through Bazaar Street, right near our hotel, and then along Mahatma Gandhi (MG) road. From the Lonely Planet guide book it sounded like MG road was the place to go, but there is a light rail being built all along above the road, so there is construction all along MG road.
When we reached a blocked off section of the road we decided it was time to find an auto-rickshaw driver and head over the the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. The garden was laid out by Hyder Ali in 1760 and spans over 96 acres. The guide book mentioned tours through the garden in eco-friendly buggies, which sounded much more magical than the electric golf carts they turned out to be :). It was nice to be driven around through the garden, since it was too hot of a day to enjoy walking, and too big of an expanse. It is awfully dry this time of year, though, so sections like the rose garden weren’t nearly as beautiful as they might be a different time of year. There were Indian tourists with us in our electric “buggy” ride, but we haven’t seen many other foreign tourists so far.
After the garden we went to the Bull Temple, which had a huge granite bull in the center. On our way back towards our hotel we stopped briefly at the parliament building and high court.
Then we let the rickshaw driver take us to one souvenir store so he could get free gas. We looked around for a few minutes, knowing we weren’t going to buy anything. When we got back in the rickshaw the driver wanted to take us to another craft store so he could get gas, but we refused and told him either to take us right back to MG road, or we were going to pay our fare and walk back from there. Sometimes I want to help the drivers and go to the gift shops for them to get free gas, but we had been clear from the beginning that we only wanted to go to the garden and temple and then straight back, no other stops. The price wasn’t bad ‘though, 140 Rupees for 3 hours of being driven around and waited for. We had demanded use of the meter, but later realized the 20 Rupees per hour the driver had offered might have been a better deal, I was just skeptical when agreeing to go with him that the low price would include mandatory extra stops. We got back around 3pm and by the time we freshened up and went to find lunch most places were closed until dinner time, so we got a couple snacks at a market and took a nap.
We could hardly force ourselves to wake up at 6:30pm to go to dinner. We had woken up in the morning full of energy and ready to go, but once we rested for a while it made us realize just how exhausted we were. We did manage to drag ourselves out of bed and walk to the nearby Ruchi, Multi Cuisine Family Restaurant. The food was good and medium spicy was plenty spicy for us. We ordered chicken tikka masala and a mushroom gravy dish, which was more than enough food for us. The service was also very good, and they even keep serving us more whenever the food on our plates ran low. We left a tip, but realized we need to look up how much is customary to tip here. It was a good first day in India. There are only a few places we want to see tomorrow, so we can take it easy again, while we adjust to the time and recover from the long flight.