Yesterday we took our first train journey (5.30 am wake up call…) and arrived fairly hassle free in Agra a few hours later. We were in an air conditioned train class with a guard for the carriage and I dozed the whole way, but we were super early for the train and waiting for an hour on the platform was not pleasant at all. It was boiling and a slight breeze wafted fairly vile scents from the on platform toilet towards us.
Straight way we could tell Agra was far more chilled than Dehli! We are staying right by the East Gate to the Taj Mahal in a fairly decent place. It is set back in lovely gardens but has been our first experience of a less than western standard toilet. The room its self is nice with killer ac luckily.
We snoozed again and then headed to Agra fort. It was very impressive and had nice views of the Taj Mahal from a distance.
We had dinner at another Lonely Planet recommendation,
Shaniya Princess Hotel which it said had the best roof top views of the Taj… It definitely did! We were the first people up there and but by sunset it was packed. A large school trip came in from Manchester who had a teacher with them who was incredibly annoying but funny to listen to. One of those people with a really loud self important voice correcting everyone and telling the whole terrace how she was going on a run that evening when clearly she had not jogged any where for a while..
More interesting were 3 gorgeous French men who wanted to compare food and travel tips. Charlie insisted they were gay and over weight but I think he is wrong personally.
We attempted to walk back and got a bit lost but saw non touristy streets where everyone was friendly and just getting on with their evening and didn’t try sell us anything (welcome break).
This morning we were up at 5.30 again to see the Taj Mahal close up finally. It seems silly to say it was beyond beautiful, as obviously it is… Our favourite bit of the trip was sitting on the marble behind the Taj and looking out over the river. It was so serene and breezy and perfect blue skies. On our way back to the hostel (all 50 m of the walk…) we bought some trinkets. Tiny elephants and beautiful stone candle holders which I plan to bury safely in my laundry!
We are now in our room waiting to transfer to catch our bus to Jaipur. The Taj Mahal is so amazing it already feels a bit like a surreal dream! When I first saw it properly I was reminded of all the films where CGI has made other worldly buildings using special effects. Imagine before cinema etc it would be so hard to hold any notion of such a building in your head and seeing the Taj would probably have been even more awe inspiring.