After a surprisingly user-friendly train from Delhi, we arrived in Agra, home of the most romantic wonder of the world: the Taj Mahal. I'll cut to the chase - it's magnificent. The sheer size, the pure white marble, the intricate detail, the creative architecture, the love story behind it (actually, to be honest, Mumtaz Mahal sounds like she was quite the demanding woman). The thousands of other tourists only prove how magnetic this place is, rather than spoil the experience. We were even lucky enough to eavesdrop on a tour group, so we got to hear the whole story from their tour guide! And does that era ever sound wild... there's a rumour that after the Taj was completed, the king ordered that all of the craftsmen's hands be chopped off, so that they would never be able to build something so beautiful again. Let's all take a moment of appreciation for modern labour laws, shall we? However, I don't think the king had much to worry about; the Taj Mahal has got to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, hands down (pun intended?).
Aside from the Taj Mahal, (and one of the best rooftop restaurants so far) Agra doesn't have much else to do. We only stayed one night. One night in a hostel, that is. The next night we spent on the floor of the train station. Which leads me to my next subject - the Art of Camping. If you've been backpacking before, you probably know what I mean. Basically it's somewhere between over-staying your welcome and being very, very patient. It's, for example, when your hostel checkout is at 10 am and your train out of town isn't until 10 pm. It's when you stink and you're tired and you have to lug all of your worldly possessions wherever you go. It's when you go to a cafe and order a coffee, then a coke, then an appetizer to split just so you have an excuse to stay for longer and minimize your spending (PS servers just looovvee people like us). Or, in Agra's case, it's when you go to the train station early, but then your train gets delayed by an hour, then by an extra half hour, then by another hour, then an extra 15 minutes, over and over again until you've been camped out on the train station floor for 7 hours. In total, our train was 5 and a half hours late, and what was supposed to be a 4 hour train ride turned into a 13 hour saga of stamping our feet to keep warm, watching the train's estimated arrival time get later and later, and watching the street dogs, rats, and monkeys rummage through the litter in the deserted station. On the bright side, the train did eventually arrive, and we're now the city in Jaipur, and the start of our travels through Rajasthan.
Thanks for the lovely messages from home! Xox
D and R