Sunday, August 3, 2008

Road trip! (Agra)

Well, we didn't end up leaving Delhi until the afternoon.

The drive from Delhi was around four hours. There were fruit stands along the way.

Once we got to Agra, we passed the Agra Fort (but didn't go inside), and also got to see our first glimpse of the Taj from a distance.

Our next mission was finding a hotel. We went to the touristy area that is within walking distance of the Taj Mahal to try to find something. That was an adventure. The streets definitely didn't see a lot of cars. The streets were narrow, just barely enough room for the car. We were getting a lot of attention, as everyone we were passing was staring at us. We passed a couple of cows too. I found it to be a little funny, but I don't think our host who was driving thought so, as he was concentrating on driving the car down the narrow streets. We also got a bit lost, as the streets continued to wind. Asking for directions for the main street didn't always work out, as I guess people didn't know which main street.... because there was nothing they would consider a "main street"?

Anyway, so eventually, we got out... and I say we got out, because it seemed like we were trapped and circling an area trying to find a main road for quite some time. We went to a few of the popular touristy hotels/guest houses to get a room, but they were either booked or they weren't very appealing.

So instead we drove a little bit away to find a hotel room elsewhere. After checking out a few rooms, we finally decided on a room. It felt like a long day, so it was good to finally find a place. We were probably driving around Agra for over an hour... we were also being followed a few times--hotel workers trying to convince us to stay at their place. They are very persistent.

The next morning, we had breakfast at a rooftop restaurant that overlooks the Taj Mahal. Good view, but excruciatingly slow service. It claims to be listed in the Lonely Planet as one of the top restaurants in Agra. I wonder about that.

Anyway, after breakfast, we made our way to the Taj Mahal. We entered the grounds, and there was so much space! I don't think I quite imagined it as such.

So we wandered around. It was so hot. I felt like it was the hottest day I had experienced in India. We made our way closer to the Taj Mahal itself. There was a little white girl about eight years old who became a celebrity. A bunch of Indian women wanted a picture with her.
We stayed in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal itself for a bit, venturing inside and walking around it. Then we continued to wander the grounds.
Then I saw a group of people passing by us and saw one kid with a Michigan State shirt on. Of course, having been in India for quite some time, I hadn't seen anybody wearing any college apparel on in awhile. Being a Michigan fan, I yelled "GO BLUE" to him, and the whole group turned... and then I heard my name!!!! It was someone I hadn't seen in over five years!!! Out of all places, we run into each other at the Taj Mahal! Crazy! It turns out the whole group was from Michigan State.

After that, we continued to wander some more. The weather was becoming gloomier by the moment. We started headed to the exit when suddenly it started down pouring. We ran to the nearest place we could find shelter and stood around for awhile, waiting for the rain to let up. It was quite the site though, because literally everyone was running for shelter.
Eventually the rain died down, and we started making our way back to the car, and then back to Delhi.

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