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Client blog: Four friends journey across India


I've been discussing India with my long-standing (and very adventurous) clients, Lesley and Robin, for several years. They finally took the trip at the end of last year with their friends, Nikki and Nigel.


It was Nikki who contacted me after finding a Saga Holidays rail tour and Lesley suggested she see if I could book it for them...


 

I had found this Saga holiday independently, so was surprised when our friends with whom we were travelling wanted to book it through Sarah. The price was the same, so I agreed, and wow, what a difference it made.


The Taj Mahal was every bit as impressive as I had hoped and is deservedly one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Even on a misty day - it was striking and beautiful.


I am a born romantic, so could have spent much longer there just wandering around, soaking up the atmosphere and thinking about the kind of love that inspired its existence.


Nikki & Nigel


Seeing Agra Fort afterwards and imagining how it might have been for the imprisoned king gazing at the Taj Mahal from his window was amazing too.


We listened to the Empire podcasts about India before we went, so had a little understanding of the history of the British in India, including the terrible events that took place in Amritsar, so it was very moving to wander and reflect in the Jallianwala Bagh.


Afterwards, in contrast, we had an incredibly positive and inspiring experience of humanity when visiting the Golden Temple, where over 100,000 people are fed every day, operated, and funded by volunteers and faith. Entire families prepared vegetables, cooked, served and washed up.



The local people we met were lovely and friendly. We had come to visit their country and capture its sights and people on camera but hadn’t expected to have them wanting to take photographs of us too!


Lots of them wanted to know about us and where we were from and just to chat - which was lovely. The poverty and the begging are hard to see though - you must steel yourself for people desperate to sell to you and begging on the streets.


We stayed in modern 4* and 5* hotels where all the staff were polite and helpful; some were truly exceptional - going above and beyond to ensure we were happy.




I wasn’t expecting the food to be such a highlight of the trip, but it was. I went with some trepidation that I would not like eating lots of spicy food, or I would become ill, but it was quite the opposite.


Each hotel we stayed in offered buffet-style food, however, the variety and freshness of the massive array of Indian foods and local dishes was amazing. Some were recognisable, and some were new to me, but all were delicious with the buffet-style enabling the opportunity to sample all sorts.


And those fresh, light naan breads that were brought hot to the table were quite addictive! Occasionally, we also ate lunches in restaurants that our guide had taken us to and again all were excellent.


Robin & Lesley

India is a huge country so that means a lot of travelling. I am so glad to have seen the crowded hectic streets, colours, rubbish, crazy traffic, dogs, camels and wandering cows, and experienced the busy trains and stations.


The highlights were unquestionably the main tourist sites as well as enjoying an independent wander in Jaipur, a great opportunity to stroll in a local community, potter in real shops and buy great gifts away from the tourist destinations before flagging down a tuk-tuk to return to the hotel.



Despite free time being scheduled on the itinerary, with the reality of travelling in India, it often didn't happen but that’s just part of the experience.


This was my first introduction, and the Taj Mahal was on my bucket list, so this tour delivered everything that I had wanted, making travel in an often chaotic country very easy.


Sarah is very knowledgeable, thorough, helpful, and really looked after us, providing a real service - so different to any other holiday company that I have dealt with.


She was always accessible and friendly, understood us, replied to queries quickly, kept on the ball, liaised with the tour operator on our behalf (saving us so much time) and was able to advise about all sorts of things, including visas and budgets. And as for the packing cubes tip Sarah – thank you – I will never look back.


I can highly recommend Sarah and am already talking to her about our next trip.


Nikki



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