Our train to Agra was in the afternoon, so we woke up at around 10am and took a walk round the area in the daytime, after the fallout of Dawali and the fireworks. There were scorch marks dotted around the streets and lots of old pieces of fireworks which had been swept up haphazardly. We made our way to the shop to buy food and water for the train. I doubt many locals use the supermarkets as the price was definitely above average, but at least we didn’t have to haggle!
The train was set to leave at 4 and after some confusion as to which platform it would arrive we didn’t take off till after 5. I suppose that is the Indian way as nobody seemed to be bothered by the delay or the last minute change. We booked the A3 class which is the 3rd best air-conditioned class. It was very pleasant, lots of space and even someone bringing us food, water, tea/coffee and even bed sheets? We later found out that this was the most expensive train you can book… But for £12 I wasn’t complaining.
The arrival into Agra was a lot less stressful then I had anticipated. Other then the locals rushing us off the train because we were ‘taking too long’ (classic clueless westerners), the station was quite quiet. We managed to grab a Tuk Tuk to the hostel and the whole process was relatively painless! Oh, apart from Sarah spiling the boiling water on my leg… (to be honest it barely touched me). We had food at the hostel (Panda Friends Guest House, with Bob Marley Restaurant included) and got an early night so we could catch an early viewing of the Taj Mahal.
We woke up at around 6am and started walking to the Taj, it was only a 15 minute walk from our hostel. We came from the east side, which I would recommend as there was someone there to show us how to get our ticket, get us free water and shoe covers, which you might have to pay for inside. They do try to take you on a tour which is really cheap but we didn’t bother.
Security at the entrance is quite busy but it moves fast. Also, don’t bring food, pens, chewing gum or note pads as they take these off you.
The structure is absolutely amazing and I would definitely recommend it to anyone going to India. We arrived there at about 7am so we didn’t catch the sunrise, but without anything to compare it to, I would suggest the early morning as the lighting was amazing and the crowds were quite small, even for a weekend.
(Pubic facial hair is coming along nicely. There are a few road side barbers that I might try out! I did get my tetanus shots so what could go wrong?)
After this we walked to the Agra fort. Some Tuk Tuk drivers will try to send you the wrong way so they can bring you there themselves but just make sure you ask 2 or 3 other people as well so you know where to go. Most people are very friendly and they are more then happy to help.
We grabbed lunch after the fort so went to ‘Pinch of Spice’ for lunch and I would highly recommend this to anyone in Agra. We also met a nice Croatian girl named Lara, we’re going to meet up with her at the next city and tag along on the tour she’s arranged.
We’re just avoiding the heat before we catch our next train to Jaipur at 6pm. This one is one class lower but only cost us £2, so look forward to the update from that! FYI, the toilets on trains are no better in any class, from what I’ve seen so far. On the plus side, Delhi has still not hit my belly. Although heartburn is a problem…
Travel tip: Strike up conversation with other travelers, you never know where it might take you!