On to Agra

We took the train from Delhi to Agra @ 3 hrs ride.  We’d heard about the trains running late, but ours was right on schedule!  The car was clean and comfortable – AC 2nd class – and it was a very pleasant trip.

We made arrangements through our B&B to have a driver meet us at the station and Sameer turned out to be our tour guide for the day + our ride to the airport the following day.  After dropping our bags, we headed out to see Agra Fort, the Baby Taj, and a view of the Taj Mahal from across the river.


Then, as guides will do, he wanted to take us to see where carpets and handicrafts were made/sold.  I hate a hard sell and have no guilt about saying no thank you and walking out, as I’d done after being similarly railroaded in Delhi.  However, we were both sufficiently impressed by the carpet making demo to go ahead and listen to the pitch.  The salesman was savvy enough to be both sincere about the quality and the local craftsmen and a bit tongue in cheek – ending in a sale that felt like a win-win.  We did negotiate the price a bit and managed to just buy the one carpet – no small feat!-  which really is beautiful.   Silk backed, hand double knotted wool.  The details and crispness of the design are remarkable.  Plus it feels good!

After that I was done for the day and put and end to any more “shopportunities”. The driver reluctantly returned us to the hotel, promising more wonderous sites the following day.

We’re going to see the Taj at sunrise – minus the guide…  😉

New day, new plan

While we don’t normally go for the hop on, hop off tour buses, after yesterday’s communication challenges and with our short time frame we decided that might be an easier way to see more sites with less hassle.  Also, we had the hotel provide directions to the hotel written in Hindi to help us more easily communicate with the rickshaw drivers.  Fool me once, right?

More info in re the individual sites to come..  This was a favorite:  

Qutub Minar 

   
 

Over-Delhi’d it..

Wow.  New Delhi is like no where I’ve ever seen before.  The crowds, the traffic, the incessant honking honking – and did I mention honking??  Like we often do, we checked out a map, picked the nearest attraction, and set out on foot.  What an eye opener!  There were all manner of people on the streets – all ages, all income levels – including many who had nothing.   Many were living right on the sidewalks and the underpasses, cooking over charcoal fires, sleeping..

First stop The Red Fort, then the Raj Ghat – memorial where Gandhi was cremated, then the National Gandhi museum.  Then things got challenging..

The Red Fort – beautiful buildings and grounds, lots of fascinating history.  No lines to speak of when we went in, but by the time we left the queues were unbelievable!  Had we not gotten there early, we surely would have skipped this tour and that would have been unfortunate!

The fort is constructed mainly out of red sandstone, hence the name, and the intricate carvings in the stone all over the palace and the stone inlay work is beautiful.  Hard to imagine it was all done by hand 400+ years ago!

 

Happy New Year!

We made our way by taxi from the airport across the smoky city, through the crazy traffic   No one seemed to notice there were lanes painted on the street; they just seemed to work it out with an exchange of horns, give and take. 

There was a party going on at the hotel, but we only made it as far as the bar for a midnight toast and then hopefully a good  nights sleep so that we’d be adjusted to the new time .

  
  

And now the waiting begins..

Waited for the late cab, waited for the inbound plane, waiting to hear if we’re upgraded, waiting to board.

Upgraded all the way to Delhi!!  Yea!  On the plane and ready to get this party started!

I love that airports have really unique art. The chicken wire clouds floating above Terminal 2 D concourse look so dreamy!

  

Rain, rain, go away!!

 

“Oh the posh posh traveling life the traveling life for me;  first class, captains table, regal company!”  Excited to be making this long trip in relative comfort. 

  

Getting ready to travel

Purchased everything on the list?  Check. Packed, pared down, repacked?  Check. Cash, credit, ID, backup cash-credit-ID?  Check!

First stop Maidens Hotel in New Delhi, then Ray of Maya B&B in Agra, then Kedareswar B&B in Varanasi before our rendezvous with the Earthwatch team back in Delhi.  After that, we’re off to the Infinity Resort in Jim Corbett National Park!