India Phase 1: New Delhi and Agra

Preface: I’ve been blogging for a few years now, and one thing that I’ve learned is that the longer I wait after a trip to make a blog post, the less likely it becomes that I will ever actually do it. It’s been over 6 months since our amazing trip to India, and I’m finally sitting down to share some experiences and photos with you all.

Disclaimer: This will not entirely be a chronological account of our trip due to how much time has passed. However, I hope to still fully capture our India experience in order to give you all a taste of this vibrant country.

Phase One: New Delhi and Agra

We arrived in New Delhi in the evening. After a short snafu with an uber driver, the five of us (and some of our bags) piled into a car and headed for our hotel. The car ride was our first taste of India. We zoomed by and in between bikers, tuktuks, and pedestrians. Luckily, the sun set and it became dark shortly into our drive so we were shielded from the near-misses and close-calls of the Indian traffic system.

Our first day in India started off shaky as we made a wrong turn out of our hotel. We found ourselves walking along a street that wasn’t so inviting. A very friendly gentleman saw us, and rushed over to share some advice. After suggesting some places to visit and shop, he hailed over two tuktuk drivers, negotiated a price, and sent us on our way. Our drivers, Monoj and Naveed were awesome. They dropped us off at our first stop, waited until we were finished, and were ready to continue onto our next stop. They stayed with us all day, and even met us outside our hotel the next day.

We did a bit of shopping that first day– it didn’t take us long to realize we were going to be on constant watch to make sure mom didn’t get suckered into buying anything full price. The next few days are especially blurry. Mostly because I fell ill with a terrible stomach bug that stopped me in my tracks. It hit hard and it hit fast. We traveled by car from New Delhi to Agra– a four hour drive that felt like forever. When we arrived at the hotel, I crashed and didn’t wake up until morning, feeling the worst I had felt yet. I wasn’t going to be in India and skip out on seeing the Taj Mahal, so I rallied. The pollution that day was pretty severe, which is why everything looks hazy in the photos.

We even paid for a “professional” photographer to take some family photos around the Taj. The best part about him, was how he shoed people out of the frame.

After entering the Taj, looking around, and being funneled back outside by the crowds of people, I had just about reached my limits of being sick. The pollution had gotten even worse as the afternoon approached, and the smell alone was enough to cause me to want to hurl. I’m not exactly selling the Taj Mahal as a beautiful experience, so I should mention that it is indeed breathtaking. It truly is one of a kind, and is rich in history (that our tour guide, Shubaum, told us all about). I just happened to be extremely sick, so my memory of the day is a bit jaded.


Preseason: Mountain Style

Those of you who have had the joy of enduring Coach Snead’s preseason know that by the end of the week you are feeling all sorts of things. You are most likely struggling to walk. You’re a little bit bitter, both at yourself for slacking off all summer and at the humid Virginia air. Yesterday I returned to school from what can be considered a “preseason” trip. The three-day hike acted as a season opener; a warm up for many adventures to come. And now, much like the end of the first week of hockey, I am feeling incredibly tired. Although my butt doesn’t hurt quite as much as it would from hockey, pretty much everything else does. Sleeping in the cold with rocks under my back can be compared to the morning after the first lift with Adam: extremely uncomfortable. There are differences between preseason and this hike though: the view while scaling the side of a waterfall is a lot cooler than the view of the parking lot during a set of 15’s. And instead of trying to cool off while Coach Snead made us run in circles, we often opted to run in circles with hopes of warming up. Taking off those repulsive shin guards on Friday is a sign that you conquered your first week of hockey. It’s accompanied with a feeling of great accomplishment. That feeling is 100% intensified while on the top of a mountain. It’s hard to justifiably describe the amazing feeling of looking down at the ground you’ve just covered and the heights you’ve just climbed.

On the first day of the trip my teacher, Janie Therese, led my Aktivitet 1 class to a place called Styggvantna. The trek was almost as complex as the name itself. After a few hours of hiking we stopped to eat the first (of four) lunches we had packed for ourselves. The first day proved to be the ultimate trust-building experience. What better way to learn to trust someone than allowing them your hand as you leap across rushing white water?

Day two began by packing up camp. We then made the hike to Haugen, the meeting place for all classes. This hike wasn’t as steep or narrow but still not a stroll. We hiked over a mountain in Vidstøylsegga which is where we ran into snow. Once over that mountain we hiked through marshy land in order to reach Haugen. The rest of the school gradually arrived and began setting up their tents. This time Øyvind, Harold, Anne Katrine, Frida and I set up our tent in a spot without any rocks. Learning from our mistakes. After eating we sang songs around the fire. Ylva (my roomate) and I loved that…(pure sarcasm.) We then played Tissetrengt in the dark which Anne Katrine and I won. Try typing that one into google translate. Oh translating snafus… have to love them.

Day three started off on a good note. I woke up from a very nice night sleep. My sleeping bag is proving to be up for the challenge of keeping me warm. After packing up our tent we split into groups depending on which course we preferred to take home. Ylva and I chose the tour that took us to an area called Langedals and then our final destination, Tungelia. From Tungelia we collapsed into a van that drove us around the fjord, through Sundane, and back to school.

When we returned to the school we ate dinner. Ylva and I then proceeded to sit in our beds for 4 hours trying to recover from our first trip. It helped that we had buckets of candy.