Agra

Arriving in Agra passing many cows, small huts and children on the side of the road. Traffic was still very busy with horns coming from every angle. We drove round to the metab bagh to view the back side of the Taj Mahal. The entrance fee to the garden was 500 rupees. Walking through the gardens there were families and children playing, none of them bothered us. Then we saw the Taj Mahal from across the river. It was a great site although slightly obstructed by the smog. Suffering from extreme exhaustion I can’t say it was a great experience and we were all nervous of the hotel that was awaiting us.

We left for the idea hotel, it was ok, very basic but ok. There were no windows and we were told not to leave as it was unsafe. We had a 2 hour sleep then met the guide for dinner. The restaurant was called Green Bay leaf, paying just over £7 for a curry rice and naan bread. From the shop across the street we bought a beer to take in which cost £2 for 600ml bottle.
After dinner we returned to the hotel at 9pm and went to sleep. After just 2 hours we woke up, it was the first time travelling we were all ready to go home. Emotions were at a low and you could hear concern for what lies ahead. After falling asleep we woke up and went down to breakfast, skipping the shower option of cold water from a bucket. Breakfast consisted of toast and jam, the sweetest jam I have ever tasted.

Driving to the Taj Mahal there was a better feeling in the air. Entrance was 1000 rupees, £12.50 this had been doubled since the 1st April 2016. The tour was good and finally we had some good memories. I felt privileged to have viewed one of the wonders of the world and realised how lucky I am to travel. Speaking to the tour guide it bought it home that many people don’t get this opportunity he himself had gone to Nepal but visiting the US or Europe was a mere dream.

After we drove to Agra fort via a stone masons, a usual tourist trap where they tried to sell marble products. I managed to leave empty handed with a friend just buying a small elephant costing 500 rupees. To be honest it helped us escape easily.

Agra fort was impressive with only 25% open to the public and the rest being occupied by military it was a huge place. It cost 500 rupees to get in with a 50 rupees discount for visiting the Taj. There were a few monkeys climbing around which was cool to see. On leaving we stopped at a roadside shop and bought 3 bottles of water, a bottle of Coke and Mountain Dew costing 150 rupees.

We left there for our hotel for the night, Crystal sarvour premiere. Costing £129 for a night for 3 people including dinner and breakfast I was ready to have our own space and live by our own means it was the first time since arriving in India we were following our own plans. We walked in it was amazing, perfectly clean full of attentive friendly staff. The room had every amenity of back home. It was the first time since leaving Istanbul airport we had wifi and looked into “scams in Delhi” this is when it became clear exactly what had happened earlier in our journey, I felt deflated and upset that this had happened to us.

After checking in we left the hotel and went to KFC next door, it cost 219 rupees for a meal with a hash brown instead of chips. Returning to the hotel I finally had a shower, with an amazing rainshower head it felt so good to be fresh and clean again.

The vibe was good I was so happy we went up to the rooftop pool. It was very strange being 31 degrees but the sun being obscured by the smog it felt like 17/18. I ordered a cranberry Bacardi breezer, the cheapest alcohol option at £3.50. I felt like I had reverted to being a 16 year old. Chilling on the roof I felt a sense of calm And freedom.

At 730pm it was dinner time. Included in the room rate we walked into the restaurant it was bright and clean. With a grand buffet. I had a tomato soup with chilli, followed by some noodles, chicken, fish and grilled cheese. I was making the most of the good food and cleared up 3 chocolate mousses with dark chocolate shavings. After dinner we returned to our hotel room and chilled out til midnight.

The next morning we woke up at 8am and went down to breakfast. It was my first experience of eating curry for breakfast with an omelette with chilli’s where the heat bounced off the tip of my tongue. After breakfast we checked out. The staff were all curious if we enjoyed our stay and genuinely seemed to care. We took a photo with the door man as we left and jumped in the car leaving for Jaipur.

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