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!