So what most people think of when they think of Agra is, “The Taj Mahal.” Most people don’t think that it’s closed on Friday.
So Wayne and I had an extra day in Agra, and while I wouldn’t recommend it, we definitely made the most of it.
We got to Agra at night in the midst of tons of crazy traffic, people running around, and a zillion weddings. We were blown away, and our driver told us that it was very dangerous.
When we got to the Coral Tree Guesthouse (Our favorite place we stayed in India!), they told us they were having dinner. Did we want some?
We said goodbye to the driver, and ate dinner at the Coral Guesthouse. Typical Indian food, and very good. We were both exhausted, so we headed upstairs to our super cute room, and fell asleep.
In the morning, I wanted to go running, but Wayne dissauded me. “Don’t. It’s dangerous. Those streets...the traffic. Plus, it smells like sewage.” It did smell like sewage; it’s why we had slept with our windows open. Instead, I led us both in a yoga class, and we ate breakfast downstairs, showered, and headed out to touring Fatephur Sikri.
When Wayne realized we had booked an extra day in Agra, he looked up what was nearby. “There’s this neat-sounding fort town about 40k away.”
The drive was fascinating; usual India stuff. Neither Wayne nor I opened our Kindles. Instead, we watched gridlock, people biking with way too much stuff on their bikes, chai wallahs, piles of fruit for sale, people brushing their teeth, people begging, everything…
In Fatephur Sikr, we left our drive and walked because we wanted to. People often get confused about this in India…”But it’s only 10/20/30/whatever rupees, Madam.” I like to walk. So does Wayne.
The fort was beautiful and we took many photos. Then we went to the mosque. A self-appointed guide, who insisted he was merely a volunteer and a holy man, showed us around the mosque. It was interesting, though I didn’t like his comments about women (which reflected some of the Islamic constraints on women). After talking to us for 15 minutes, he tried to get us to buy some crafts that his family had made in their hometown (Crafts which we saw others had.). Though they were lovely, we were really annoyed that he had lied to us, and refused to buy them.
Instead, we walked around the palaces, the forts, took photos. We enjoyed the last of our time together, talking about our trip, our future, where we were now, our cats.
Back in the car, our driver took us to the Agra Fort. More tourist sales, and it reminded me greatly of The Amber Fort in Jaipur. It was pretty, but we were like, okay, next?
We went to Pinch o’ Spice for lunch. Clearly catering to Westerners, but so freaking good, we went up multiple times to the buffet. My plate was heaven: primarily paneer and sauteed veggies. We set naan-eating records.
We rolled ourselves down the stairs and had our driver take us to “Baby Taj,” which was really beautiful also.
He took us to a viewpoint. “You can see the Taj across the river. You go in the park, you pay, but down this road, free.”
We didn’t really feel like going to a park, we just wanted a nice photo. After, we wished we paid.
On the road, people tried to sell us stuff, an old woman tried to get me to take a photo of a man sleeping on a bedframe at the side of the road (for money, I’m sure), a boy and his goat chased us, I saw a woman hitting a baby. At the end of the road, there was the Taj, with some workers in front. I snapped a pic, feeling somewhat sad.
Wayne and I went back to the Coral Tree and relaxed. We read in the courtyard, snuggled, talked. We again had dinner at our place, and went to bed early, in preparation for an early morning at the Taj.
The Taj Mahal is, of course, beautiful. Everyone tells you to get there at sunrise...but they don’t tell you about the lines. We got there at 6 a.m. and there were lines, lines, lines.
The non-Indian ticket gives you a free ride on a “golf cart” (vehicle with electric engine), shoe covers, and a bottle of water. After purchasing our foreigner ticket, Wayne got annoyed at everyone trying to hassle us for a ride on their rickshaw. (You have to wait until a golf cart comes, which could be a few minutes, or you could even walk, which is maybe 10 minutes.)
We got on a golf cart, and waited on separate lines for women and men. I got in way before Wayne.
Then we went. It was beautiful, truly beautiful. A sight for love. I was so happy to be there with the person I loved more than anything else in the world that it did mean something.
But it was also lots of crowds and insanity.
After we looked around and took some photos, we walked back to the Coral Tree, had breakfast, and hopped into our taxi for a last day together in Delhi.