31.10.10

day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover

To make the best of the last 'long' day before the clock goes backwards and it gets darker at 4.00pm I decided to go on a day trip from London to Dover to see the famous White Cliffs by the English Channel.
Ignoring forecast heavy rain I caught the Southeastern Train from Charing Cross Railway Station and almost 2 hours later I got to Dover, delighting myself with the gorgeous scenery of the British countryside.

Dover is famous for its white cliffs but there are also many other historical places to see as Dover Castle just on the top of the hill by Dover town, and ancient ruins from bronze age. Dover is also known because of it port where ferrys and cruises depart and arrive from and to France and other destinations in England.

The east side cliffs are a short walk on the left hand side from the Railway Station. It is easy to find the way by following the signs that lead to one of the most spectacular scenery of England, having a fantastic view of France, only 34 km on the other side of the English Channel.

There are many marked walking trails to explore the area. One of the nicest ones is a 4 miles stroll to South Foreland Lighthouse, St. Margarets Bay, which takes around 2 hours, depending on your pace.







South Foreland Lighthouse, St. Margarets Bay

The English Channel. On the other side: France



South Foreland Lighthouse, St. Margarets Bay



South Foreland Lighthouse, St. Margarets Bay






St. Margarets Bay


South Foreland Lighthouse, St. Margarets Bay




Down cliff path to reach sea level

Down cliff path to reach sea level


Getting back to Dover

Awesome view of France, 34 km on the other side of the English Channel


Dover Castle at dusk

Dover harbour at dusk

5.9.10

india on my own | 08.05

When I decided to go to India by myself I knew It would be challenging but I would never imagine myself living such a great experience during these short 15 days around Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Although sometimes it was tough, I will go back as many times as I can!



Landing in Delhi at midnight and being by myself on an improvised trip was an exciting beginning of my lone trip to India. With a cocktail of excitement, intrigue, concerns and adrenaline spinning all over I made my way walking through customs, pretending to be indifferent to all these dark, bright and inquisitive indian eyes on me! My guts become a big knot and the feeling of insecurity was increasing as walking through the poor illuminated lounge. The careless aspect of the airport was typical from developing countries, with dozens of touts trying to catch new customers for their taxi. But I was looking forward to meeting the taxi driver arranged to pick me up. And there it was my name written in a paper hold by that indian tuk tuk driver that took me to the Hotel Fifty Five in Connaught Place. That half an hour journey was as much unforgettable as I was scared and excited at seeing India for the first time, with its cows crossing highways and cars driving on the left!

Maybe it was me, but everything looked scary: the airport, the surrounding area, the location of the hotel, the people from the hotel (especially the guy sleeping on the floor of the dark corridor). Everything looked decadent and poorly illuminated. But it was only me, just being scared in a completely new environment and culture.


Breakfast on the rooftop of the Hotel 55 in Connaught Place, New Delhi

The morning after I went for breakfast on the rooftop of the hotel and while planning my day I had my first contact with a typical travel agent tout, who of course managed to take me to his travel agency to sell his business. That was exactly the opposite of what I had planned but in the end it was the right choice as I met a travel companion who easy a way my plans of dealing with Indians by myself!
The next day and after going sightseeing Delhi we started the trip around Rajasthan by car and with driver. A bit more expensive and less adventurous trip but a memorable experience anyway.

Being in the streets of Delhi was shocking from the very first minute. Unforgettable sights and the feeling of being in another world! The density of the air and the strong and strange smells plus the messy, noisy and overcrowded streets, the massive poverty of families living in the dirty streets together with cows and dogs… Hundreds of motorbikes, bicycles, cars, trucks, buses, tuk-tuk, all of them speeding and blowing their horns at all times.
Traffic lights are part of an urban landscape that no one pay attention to. It seems the rule is "there is no rule", just blow horn and make your own way to cross the street among the chaotic traffic! Without forgetting the camels, elephants and holly cows that circulate the streets with the same freedom than the vehicles! I had not enough eyes to catch all the scenery around me. It was a strong invasion to all my senses at the same time: too many things and colours to see, too many smells, noises, tastes coming to me so fast that i wasn't able to process them all, or to understand what was going on! Indian people are obstinate, they don't accept a 'no', which sometimes was tiring and frustrating, so going back to the hotel for a moment was a kind of appreciated and relaxing feeling. But despite these mixing feelings I loved India and I would go back every time I can!

On the second day we started our trip to Rajasthan stopping in Agra to see the Taj Mahal. During the following days we visited Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Amber, Pushkar and Udaipur, going back to Delhi to take a train to my last destination: Varanasi.
From Varanasi Simon carried on his one year trip and I found myself on my own, realising how crazy I was by going to India by myself!

A few hours later I caught the train to Delhi, where I got about 6am in the morning when shops were still closed. While waiting for the travel agent was open, just in front of the cinema in Connaught Place were the longest 3 hours of my life! I was catching the attention of every indian male passing by, who insistently stopped and hound me about going out with them, but it seems they don't understand the meaning of the word 'no'.
Nevertheless it was a great experience and once the travel agent opened the shop I went there as arranged, hoping to feel 'safer' than in the street. But even this 'dirty bastard' travel agent tried his best inviting to stay at his place instead of booking a hotel for me! Maybe he was being hospitable but considering the situation I rather went to a hotel, left my backpack and made the most of my last day in Delhi visiting the places I couldn't see when just arrived.
Around midnight I was on the plane back home and my mind was a big mess. My big adventure was over and many images, feelings and memories were spinning on my head. One of my big dreams came true and it happened in a magical way.
  
 

Tuk-tuk
Camels on the streets of Agra
Tuk-tuk ride and sharing roads with cows on the way to Taj Mahal, Agra
Cyclo rick-shaws drivers resting under trees' shadow
Fatehpur Sikri [ghost town]
Siesta in Fatehpur Sikri
Traffic on the road to Jaipur
Snake enchanters in the streets of Jaipur
Musician in Amber Fort
Jaigarh Fort
Siesta in the streets of Pushkar
Streets of Pushkar
Barber shop in Phushkar

Camel ride to the desert nearby Pushkar, Rajasthan
Camel ride to the desert nearby Pushkar, Rajasthan
Sas Bahu Temple
Sas Bahu Temple
Carved walls of Sas Bahu Temple
Sailing river Ganges at 6:00am in Varanasi
Saddhu by river Ganges in Varanasi
Sailing river Ganges at down in Varanasi
Indian men washing their clothes on a ghat by river Ganges, Varanasi
Varanasi as seen from river Ganges
Varanasi is the holiest city in India and as the sun rises many pilgrims, worshipers
and saddhus bath in river Ganges to wash away their sins
Worshipers and Saddhus in ghat by river Ganges
Jama Masjid in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi, is the largest Mosque in India
Woman begging money at Jama Masjid gate in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
Little muslims at Jama Masjid in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
Last rays of sunshine on the flight back home