Few hours of sleeping, and we are ready to go out. It’s me, who needed it most as mom and dad were ready to go out right after checking in the hotel. But I was tired. Because yesterday was a day, when we with Una went on our first train ride in India. That was our test ride and chance to meet with new and interesting people (we met Agate and her new Indian family) in one.
We had to be at the Old Delhi Railway station at 5:15 AM, but that meant, that we needed to wake up at 4 AM. And all of it to get there and find out, that our train will be 3 hours late. At the end it came 5 and a half hours late. And, as it was the same train, that we were planning to take on our way back, our journey to Delhi was expected to start few hours later as well. But expected arrival time to Delhi then was 11:45 PM not 8 PM as before.
Guess what, in the end that’s us, who were almost too late. As at the time when we ran on the platform, shortly after we got to know, that train has already arrived, train was already leaving. Just a few seconds later we were jumping off the platform, running across the rails to jump into moving train from the opposite side. Success!
As always everything was good in the end.
It’s almost middle of the day already. Sun is shining. And it’s +20 C. Nice change for my parents after -20 C in Latvia just a day ago. We are out. Going for our first meal in India. We have one vegetarian restaurant in mind, Tadka 4986. Not because we are vegetarians, but simply because we know that it’s not far away and that it’s a little bit more clean and nice there than in most of the other restaurants in Pahar Ganj.
And from the very first minutes we see a difference in how we are now approached by street vendors and shop owners. Though it’s four of us now (my brother is still sleeping in hotel), we have a feeling, that everyone see only my father.
Whoever is coming to us and offering something, is talking to my dad. I guess, that’s because they see him as a head of our group – family.
Head to Traveling with parents in India – PART 2 to read about our arrival to India and first impressions!
It doesn’t bother him. As he doesn’t understand what most of them are saying, except these few phrases in Russian most of them seem to know. But we like to be unnoticed, at least for a while, haha.
What We Eat in India?
Food was one thing we were concerned most about. Because Indian food is very different, if compared with what most of people (and my parents) are eating in Latvia. And even more we were concerned about the possibility to get sick from it.
Yes, we two with Una and my brother have traveled across India for 5 months eating in just all kind of places you can imagine, from a simple roadside shacks to restaurants in nice hotels. And we got sick only a few times all together. Nothing really serious here, though.
But then… we had all the recommended vaccinations before coming to India.
So our plan this time, when traveling with parents, was to take it slowly. Introducing Indian food to my parents one meal at a time.
You can call us too precautious, but we started with Western fast food. You know, these burgers and pizzas in India aren’t the same as in Latvia. I’m not joking here. Only a little bit.
Two pizzas, few pieces of KFC chicken and some burgers later, here came chicken hakka noodles and lamb momos. Mmm. Momos (dumplings), by the way, is one of our favorite Indian dishes.
And then there were masala dosa and onion tomato uttapam, typical Indian breakfast dishes.
A lot of people in India instead of going to restaurants opt for street food. I guess price, which usually is about 2-4 times lover, has its role here, too. And so did we, trying out fried veg momos on the street with my parents. It cost us 60 INR (less than 1 EUR) for two persons, and they were really good.
During the time before my parents arrived to Delhi we with Una were frequent customers at those guys place, some 50 meters from the Tadka 4986.
We with my mom now have a new favorite drink – sugar cane juice. They make it in less than a minute, and the big glass costs only about 20 INR. Sweaaat!
Coconut, sir? After trying it for few times and in different places we all agreed – coconut water isn’t our drink.
Seeing that everything is going well for everyone, we tried more and more different Indian dishes – few types of Indian bread, dal fry, dal makhani, chicken curry, veg biryani, malai kofta, samosa, pakora, some sweets, different seafood and fish, and more.
I think my moms facial expression in the next picture says it all. This one was really nice fish. And quite a big one, too.
If you are looking for some well fried, tasty and not expensive fish, go to Carmona beach and look for Sunset restaurant. It’s located about 200 meters from the ocean, further away from the water than others. This place still is as good, as it was 2 years ago, when during our previous time in Goa we were frequent costumers there.
Whole barracuda cost 1000 INR (around 15 EUR).
We ate fruits you can get in shops in Latvia, like bananas, oranges, papayas, water melons and pineapples.
And we ate also fruits you don’t usually see in groceries in Latvia. Like dragon fruit and cherimoya.
Our Itinerary: 19 Days in India
Day 1, 2 – arrival, Delhi. Old Delhi. Red Fort. Humayun’s Tomb. Watching Bollywood movie (in Hindi) in the cinema.
Day 3 – train from Delhi to Agra. Visiting Taj Mahal.
Day 4 – full day in Agra, train from Agra to Delhi in the evening.
Day 5 – day in Delhi. Shopping, resting, wandering through the streets of Pahar Ganj.
Day 6 – early morning flight from Delhi to Mumbai. Afternoon in Mumbai.
Day 7 – day in Mumbai, overnight train at 11 PM from Mumbai to Goa.
Day 8 – Day 16 – Goa. Panjim. Margao. A lot of time on the beach. Parasailing. Jet skiing. Sahakari spice plantation. Seeing Asian elephant.
Day 17 – afternoon flight from Goa to Delhi.
Day 18 – full day in Delhi. Shopping.
Day 19 – flight back home.
Few Things We Learned Along the Way
This part is for you, if you are thinking about going to India some day in the future yourself.
Delhi Is Huge and Everything Is Far Away from Each Other
I know, I have said it before. But that’s the same feeling we had this time, when visiting Delhi. If you are going out at about 9 AM, 2 or 3 of the main tourist attractions is about the maximum you can visit in one day. Especially if you want to get back before evening rush hours, when it becomes hard to get any kind of transport.
Delhi metro + tuktuk in most of the situations is the fastest mode of transportation in Delhi. But be aware, that in rush hours it can take you about 20-30 minutes just to go through security and get to metro train.
If you have a time only for one tourist attraction, I recommend you to visit Humayun’s Tomb. It looks spectacular. And at our time of visit there were no any queues at all. Red Fort at the same time had long queue and, in my opinion, it’s not really worth to visit it.
Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
Agra… What Is Agra?
Sadly, but that’s how I felt. It’s just another dirty, average sized Indian city with overpriced accommodation and food, where everyone is trying to sell you something. Oh, yes, that’s also the city where there is Taj Mahal. If it’s only Taj Mahal or Taj Mahal and Agra Fort you are here for, one day will be absolutely enough. Probably you can fit in visit to nearby Fatehpur Sikri, too.
But Taj Mahal is really beautiful. The same as beautiful as on pictures. Even on a cloudy day, as it was when we visited it, Taj Mahal looks spectacular. Both from a distance and from up close.
Having a plentiful of time we went on a walk through the streets, where no guide book will ever take you, haha. And this was our chance to show my mom and dad that India, what we saw while cycling across India for 5 months and traveling through all these small small cities and villages.
Uncomfortable at first, it turned out to be a very relaxing walk at the end. To walk through all these narrow streets. To meet people, who are saying hello to you, just to say hello, not because they want to sell you another souvenir. That was nice.
Trains in India Are OK
Going on the same route now it’s highly possible that we would choose train over plane for a journey from Delhi to Mumbai. Not just because it’s cheaper than flight (not always), but even more because it’s more relaxed to travel this way. It takes quite a time, though.
There are more than few options for the same route. And fastest train makes this journey in 16 hours.
If in Delhi you are staying not far away from New Delhi Railway station, but in Mumbai you want to get to central part of the city, where Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is located, then traveling by train you will save time otherwise needed for getting to and back from the airport.
When flying from Delhi to Mumbai, we were at the airport a little bit more than 2 hours before our flight, but still we barely made it in time, which felt strange for a domestic flight.
Read our guide to train travel in India!
Mumbai is a Beautiful City
If you are not planning to visit Northern part of India, skip Delhi and go to Mumbai instead. It’s awesome. We had only 24 hours there, but that was enough to understand, that we will need to return. It is like Delhi, but some 10 years in future. British architecture surrounded by palms looks nice.
Mumbai is India’s most populated city with an estimated city population of almost 20 million people, but it feels so much better here than in Delhi, where during rush hours you simply can’t get anywhere. After Delhi and Agra Mumbai may look even too organised, and you may start to think if you are in India anymore.
Mumbai is quite expensive, too. So better book accommodation in advance and you will have more time to explore this beautiful city! There it’s nothing like in Delhi on Main Bazaar road, where it’s not a problem to find a room for as little as 3-5 euros for 2 persons. At least we didn’t find such a place. In all the hotels where we went in, double room cost about 2000 INR, which is about 30 euros, and more.
It’s So Nice in Goa (if you like beaches)
If you like us like to just relax on the beach. And ocean and beach is all you need. Then head to Southern part of Goa, which is less crowded.
If you are looking for one of those last untouched beaches left, go to Carmona beach and walk to the South. Or go to Cavellosim beach and walk to the North. It’s few kilometers of deserted beach you will find there. No any restaurants, hotels or beach shacks. And almost no people.
If it’s not some very good deal you have found, or something you are sure you are going to love, then I recommend you to book accommodation in advance only for first day or two. And then, once you are in Goa, go and find yourself a place for the next days, weeks or months. Choice is wide. And if you are not too picky you will definitely find something.
By the way, these are our favorite beaches in Goa.
How Much Did We Spend Traveling in India for 3 Weeks?
With budget hotels in Delhi, Agra and Mumbai. And apartment with a pool in Goa.
Going out for a meal at least one, often two and sometimes three times a day.
Including two flights – one from Delhi to Mumbai, second from Goa to Delhi. Including train journey from Delhi to Agra and back and an overnight train journey from Mumbai to Goa, all these three times in the sleeper (cheapest) class.
Including all the entrance fees and activities, most expensive of them being water activities in Goa. And everything else.
I don’t want you to have a wrong impression about prices in India. It is possible to live and travel here on low and very low budget, less than 10 EUR per day. And it’s also super easy to spend way more than we spent. Just take a taxi or tuktuk every time you want to get somewhere, and costs will go up. We opted for local buses, metro and trains, when possible. And we didn’t buy any alcohol, too.
Our total costs per person were about 400 EUR / 450 USD.
That doesn’t include return flight from Latvia (Riga) to India (Delhi), which cost another 400 EUR / 450 USD.
Anyway, not expensive I must say.
Was it all worth it? Definitely yes. These were few of the best weeks of my life.
Don’t just think about traveling with parents. Do it!
Head to Traveling with parents in India – PART 2 to read about our arrival to India and first impressions!
Head to Traveling with parents in India – PART 1 to read about how we got to it! How we turned this idea about traveling together into reality!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.