YB Travel Tampa to India

Deb Bobier in India

Deb & Roger’s YB Travel Adventures to India 2010

We have been traveling for almost 17 years. But this year, the months preparing to head out on our annual six month travel adventures were a bit more hectic than usual.

In addition to getting all the usual things organized, business closed for the season, cats to their pet sitter, spending as much time with friends and family as possible, and house and garden projects completed…..my daughter, Shan, came home from New Zealand for a three week visit. And I was working with Bowen Imagery to get a new site redesign for YogaBound.com, yes this one.

All really went quite smoothly and though we had virtually no down time, we knew our time was coming.  And the time in America is different than time traveling. A week at home feels like a day, or less. These six months literally flew by. Yet a day while traveling feels like a week. By the time we are on the road a month it feels we have been away for so much longer.

Monday, May 3rd we finally got around to packing. We usually pack really light, but this year we wanted to be even lighter. Our goal was to keep our checked bags around 15 kilos, which we accomplished with some effort, packing, repacking until we had whittled it down to just the essentials. And our carryons are light, too, consisting primarily of our electronics.  Though weight isn’t a big issue on the International portion of our flight, it is once we begin flying all around Asia.

We booked our tickets one way this year. There was a really good deal from Tampa to New York on American Airlines, with the International portion of the trip on Air India. First time in sixteen years we haven’t flown from the West Coast. It was decent times, too. We left for the airport at 8:30 am on May 4th. Plane left Tampa for JFK at 11:30. The minute I got on the plane, I was more relaxed than I had been since we arrived home, six months previously. I felt myself again. Free and uncaged. I love it!

We arrived JFK on time about 2 1/2 hours later. Though the layover was only a couple of hours, it took that long to get from the Domestic to the International Terminal, walking it felt like several miles. Always a good thing before a 14 hour plane ride. But not giving us a whole lot of time before our plane left. But again, all worked out perfectly.

Once on the plane we realized that they had not given us our bulkhead seats, but it worked out just fine. The plane wasn’t full and Roger and I ended up with an entire row to ourselves, so were able to sleep quite a bit on the way over. The food was decent, legroom not bad (plane was a 777) and the flight comfortable, and non-eventful which is just the way we like it. Other than a group of Australians, we were the only westerners on the plane. I felt like I was already in India!

We arrived in Delhi on time, around 5:30 pm on Wednesday, May 5th. I think it may have been sunny outside, but the pollution was so bad that the skies were rather gray, and dreary. The airport, which is old, had not changed much from our previous visit. It took a bit of time, but we finally got our bags, and made our way to the bus transport that would take us to the  Domestic Terminal. India tries to put everyone to work. This means that 4 or 5 people do the same thing, so our papers were looked at several times, by different people, before we were able to board the bus that would take us to the Domestic Terminal. It is really hot in most parts of India right now. Delhi was not the exception.

Once on the bus, one of the security guys joined us, and off we went. But we had to stop at the runway for a plane before we could cross to get to the access road to the Domestic Terminal. Once there, again, things went smoothly. We got money from an ATM.  We had to recheck our bags even though they were tagged all the way through, just another security precaution. Then getting through security to get to our gate was a bit time consuming.

All bags must be tagged period, including carry ons. There is still a lot of segregation in India. Women cannot go through the line men do. I forgot and walked to the men’s line, and was shooed to the women’s line. I am a conscious person. And try to be a respectful traveler. When I go anywhere, I am not just changing locations, but also my mindset. But being an independent woman is part of who I am so I have to really think about this.

It is the custom here, and I already stand out no matter what; Being fair skinned, on the taller side, walking around unaccompanied by my husband. I do not need to draw even more attention to myself. So I went to the women’s line…..only one available and there were a lot of us. It took forever to get through as each of us has to go behind a curtained partition to be searched discreetly.

Once through we were in the boarding lounge only about an hour before they announced our gate for our 8:15 pm flight to Chennai (previously Madras), our final destination. The plane was full, but we were quite comfortable as this leg we both had an aisle seat across from each other. We had a nice meal then relaxed, and read, this being just a short flight of just a couple of hours.

Arrived safely, collected our bags, prepaid for a taxi and walked outside to hot, and humid. It is now midnight on Wednesday, May 5th and we have been traveling since Tuesday at 8:30am. We are hoping our hotel is clean, and comfortable. We usually find a place once we arrive. Especially in India where you want the newest place you can find. But when arriving so late, we always book at least the first night figuring we can deal with most anything one night.

Between researching hotels there and on Agoda, one of other favorite sites, this one looked good. And the reviews on Trip Advisor were good, but in this case, turned out not to be accurate.  It was just OK. Not good value for the money at all.  It was an older hotel, not near the city center as it said, but closer to the airport and on a busy road with a lot of construction going on. The wifi only worked in the lobby not in the room, as they had said. Our room smelled of bug spray, yikes!

Today,  we changed hotels. Yeah! We like our new one. Which is actually serviced apartments. We got a Studio, and it is plenty big. Nice and clean. And has great wifi connection in the room. We booked this one on Agoda. Not a bad price around $35US. Great location, we can walk around and did just that as we headed down the street and had a good lunch. So we are here for the next few days before heading out to do some tourist stuff. This year we spend a month in India (Chennai & Goa), two months in Bali and 3 months in China. It’s great to be on the road again!