The Blue City, unlike the apparently Pink City of Jaipur, is actually blue. Yep, blue houses poking out everywhere. Blue houses and little alley ways, narrow streets to lose yourself in, archways and tiny doorways, rooftops to sit upon and soak up all that lies below, and all watched over by the truly breathtaking Mehranghar Fort which can be seen from wherever you are in the old city. The old city of Jodhpur was everything I had been hoping for from Rajasthan. We arrived by train and hopped into a taxi, only for the taxi to drop us off at one of the old city gates. Cars, we now know, aren't allowed into the old city because of the crazy narrow streets, so we then piled into a tuk tuk, the three of us and our backpacks, and found our way to our hotel. We stayed at Jewel Palace Haweli, an amazingly old building with tiny doorways (there was many a head bump), narrow staircases, courtyards, dungeons, and a rooftop to soak up the sun, watch sunsets, and listen to the evening chants.

We spent our days in Jodhpur exploring the narrow, maze-like old city, climbing up to the fort, exploring the beautiful museum there, getting told off for straying off path around the fort's walls, braving the chaotic clock tower markets, having our breakfast stolen by monkeys on the rooftop of our hotel, sipping tea at the lovely Cafe Royale right in amongst the hubbub of the clock tower markets, and having great chats with the cafe owner about music, community, vegetarianism, and the rest. We were also on a mission to find an amazing step well we'd been told about, and the owner of the cafe led us straight to it, just a few minutes walk from the clock tower. Definitely worth hunting down, such a beautiful and well-kept piece of architecture!

Here are a few images taken during our time in Jodhpur!

Pushkar! A breath of fresh air! What a quirky, magical little place. Nestled in the mountains and set around a holy lake, Pushkar is known as one of the most sacred sites and holiest of towns in India, a major Hindu pilgrimage site. It's also, apparently, where a million and one Israeli backpackers come to holiday, where cows come to roam, where holy men come to bathe in the ghats at sunset, where monkeys try to steal your shoes, and where its prohibited to consume meat. It's an odd mix of spirituality and tourism, but one which is enchanting none the less. There are a few mountains to climb up nearby, many silver rings and bracelets to purchase, over 400 temples to see, and, if you need a break from curry, plenty of falafels to be found. I told you, it's an odd mix of a town!

We stayed in a great hotel called the Third Eye Hotel, which was a 5 or so minute walk out of the main town. There are a bunch of lovely hotels right in the middle of the town, but we actually preferred the peace and quiet that we found just outside of it. In terms of food, pretty much all of the restaurants are super tourist-focused and as a result were a little disappointing. However, Sunset Cafe (right on the lake near the eastern ghats) had some killer curries, and they were obliging when we asked them if it was possible to cook without ghee. I highly, highly recommend the aloo gobi, the potato mushroom and the aloo jeera, of course with rice and some missi roti! We also found an adorable cafe called Honey and Spice which had a bunch of vegan options and served up hearty and wholesome food. We shared a couple of bowls for lunch one day and were a little disappointed, mainly because we were expecting some kind of fresh brown rice/millet/salady/roast veg type bowls, but it was actually more like a... casserole type dish? Bit weird. But the smoothies were tasty, the teas were great, and the breakfast options were great. We also went to a place called Radhe Je a couple of times because they had masala dosa and uttapam on the menu, the cure to our South Indian cravings.

Here are a bunch of photos I took in Pushkar on my Olympus OM-D.

Oh Jaipur. What a slap in the face. Because this is my third time in India I thought I was ready for it, but Jaipur is chaos like I've never known it. Having come up from the south and its more chilled out pace, the endless honking of cars and motorbikes and tuk tuks, the astounding amount of traffic and fumes, the fewer friendly faces, and the intense, overflowing, bustling city was overwhelming. We booked a little airBnB apartment to stay in for the four nights that we were there, which ended up being a little way out of the old city in a very locals-only kind of neighbourhood. I'm not selling Jaipur very well, am I? Let's try again, Jaipur.

A guide to surviving Jaipur: expect anything and nothing. This is India at its most chaotic. Of the same chaotic calibre as Delhi and Mumbai. You can let it overwhelm you (and no matter how much you try not to be, chances are the overwhelm is gonna hit hard, especially if Jaipur is one of your first stops in India) or you can fall into it and let it all wash over you. Embrace the chaos. Find small spaces to retreat. Seek out the beauty, because its there waiting in amongst it all.

Some of the beauty we sought out during our time in Jaipur (we stayed for four nights, but I'd say three is more than enough) included a visit to the phenomenal Amber Fort, as well as to the beautiful and much-less-touristy Nahargarh Fort, and to the stunning Hawa Mahal in the city centre. We made a brief stop in at the Royal Palace but by that point in the day we'd lost our tourist mojo and bailed.

On our first morning in the city after a hectic tuk tuk ride from our apartment into the old city, feeling shaken we found respite in a sweet little restaurant called Ganesh restaurant where the owner made us tea and cooked up some fresh biryani right in front of us. It's a little difficult to find, up a tiny little staircase off one of the main bazaars near the New Gate, up on the city wall, but worth the hunt. Most lunches were had at a rooftop hotel restaurant called Sweet Dreams hotel not far from the New Gate, where they were super accommodating and happily made us curries without ghee. Rice, masala peas and mushrooms, veg biryani, mixed veg curry, and plenty of missi roti (roti made with a combination of wholewheat and chickpea flour) were our go-to order; just make sure to specify no cream, no curd, no milk, no paneer etc.

We also had an amazing meal at a place called Little Italy (weird, I know, but ask for their Indian menu) out in the new city. It's in a little shopping complex/building, but worth the hunt because their masala peas were divine and the missi roti was so fresh. Again, we asked for no ghee/no cream/no milk to be used and they were super nice about it. In the same building is a shop called Anokhi which sells beautiful, slightly more up-market prints, clothes, bags etc. They have a little cafe next to the shop which has a bunch of vegan options, as well as lovely teas and a few vegan cakes!

Here are a bunch of photos from Jaipur, taken on my Olympus OM-D. Enjoy!