In the past five weeks, I had eaten meat once (goat stew), drunk one beer (Kingfisher- blergh), completed 100+ hours of yoga in 110-degree heat and lost countless pounds due to extreme physical exercise and a diet of lentils.
It was time for some fun. And some air-conditioning.
So after dropping off Alice at the airport, Joe, McCall and I headed straight to Le Méridien, courtesy of McCall's SPG points.
I was thrilled not only to stay in a luxury hotel, but to feel air-conditioning on my skin and to have power that didn't go out 15 times a day.
And then in one of those ironic, are-you-flipping-kidding-me-India moments, the power went out in the entire hotel while I was in the elevator. India, you got me good.
On our first night back in civilization, we gussied ourselves up and headed to Le Méridien's cocktail lounge for some complimentary snacks and champagne. Upon the first sip of bubbly, I was reminded why I will never give up alcohol for a prolonged period of time ever again.
That night we headed to Varq, a swanky restaurant where Joe sweetly bought us dinner along with many bottles of wine. I have generally good feelings about the night but don't remember precise details- apparently champagne and I had too intense a reunion.
The next day we headed to Agra to see the Taj Majal, an adventure that deserves its own post.
When we returned to Delhi, we stayed at Leela Palace, one of the most luxurious hotels in India.
And how did we come to stay in such a nice hotel, you may be wondering? Well hours before the Himalayan trek I realized I had forgotten to book a hotel for our return so I shot my dad a quick email- I needed a cheap hotel in Delhi, please put it on my credit card.
But instead of booking a crappy hotel on my card, he booked a really nice hotel on his.
When we waltzed in, a string quartet and a lobby full of lilies greeted us. My singular thought was, OH MY GOD THANK YOU SO MUCH DAD.
Sidenote- my dad is ridiculously thoughtful and knew I would be craving luxury after not showering for 10 days. When I asked why he chose Leela Palace he said, “It seemed like the kind of hotel where I would stay.” The man has good taste.
Also what's great about India is that this five-star hotel cost only $200 a night- a bargain.
Apologies for the poor iPhone photos, but Leela Palace was amazing. The bed was made of angel's wings and the bathtub had a TV and was about four feet deep. As we settled into our room, a waiter brought us homemade lemon iced tea on a silver tray.
One night we went to Bukhara, a fancy restaurant where the Clintons have dined. Okay yeah, Bukhara is touristy and wildly overpriced for India. But the food was insane- I don't think I'll ever stop dreaming of the ridiculously tender lamb skewers.
Cooking class Delhi
We also did some cultural stuff, okay?
I love home-cooking classes, so on our last night in India we signed up for Farheen Cooking Class. Farheen, our chatty, pink-cheeked instructor, taught us how to make lots of our Indian favorites: chapati, parantha, chai, paneer butter masala and lentils.
I learned a ton. Who knew chapati and roti are the same thing, just called by different names?
Also Farheen told us that North Indian cuisine is spicier and uses mustard seed oil and wheat flour, while South Indian relies on coconut oil and rice or white chickpea flour. Someday I'd love to travel to South India to taste the difference firsthand.
When we asked if her husband helped in the kitchen, Farheen laughed. “Men in India don't cook!”
She also taught us tikka means cooked in a tandoor. I probably should've known that.
Making paneer butter masala, my favorite…
So yeah, we had a great time in Delhi. We both ate and slept in style, capping off our trip with a bit of luxury.
And then- Joe and I were off to Thailand. With only one problem- we were flying into Bangkok during a military coup. So stay tuned for that adventure!
Mini Luxury Delhi Guide
Where to stay: Le Méridien, Leela Palace
Where to eat: Varq, Bukhara
What to do: The Red Fort, home-cooking class