Having arrived in Delhi, we spent a good hour or so running around the train station to various counters and offices trying to book tickets. Eventually, we seemed to have everything booked that we wanted to and we still had almost an hour before the train left in order to find a hotel, check in, and get back to the station.
DONE. We boarded our train, pretty pleased with ourselves, and confident in the knowledge that no-one else would be stupid enough to get straight off a 13 hour train journey, hop on another 6 hour return journey just to see the Taj Mahal, and then get back to Delhi only to get another 12 hour train the next morning at 7:40am.
Then we met Audrey. She was a Canadian girl who had been on the same night train, done exactly the same rush to a hotel and back to the station, and like us was hoping to get back from Agra that night despite none of us having return tickets. It seemed only natural to spend the day together.
Arriving in Agra, we thought it sensible to try to buy a ticket back for that evening. Having been told there were no tickets and all the trains were full, we decided to solve the problem by ignoring it and going to the Taj Mahal anyway. We’d deal with getting back again later.
Al:- “The Taj Mahal. It looks like it does in the pictures. Its beautiful. There’s a lot of tourists. That’s about all there is to say. We did get some jazzy shoe covers and a free bottle of water with our entry ticket, which was nice. Dave, on his second visit there within two years was less interested, although he did seem particularly impressed by the forethought of the architect in putting sufficient guttering and drainage around the top of the Taj should it rain.”
To further defer having to work out how we were going to get home we decided to have dinner. Eventually we went back to the train station, having decided we’d just bribe someone to let us on the train somehow. That seems to be how India works and if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Having been to several ticket counters we eventually managed to get a ‘general’ ticket home. No-one had mentioned these before as it seems tourists don’t travel that class. A general ticket, for those of you wondering, means you do not get a seat, but it does entitle you to be on the train. That would do, we decided – plus it was cheap, really cheap. Okay a 4 hour train journey stood up next to the toilet on a packed Indian train wasn’t pleasant, but it did the job. We’re still on track – North tomorrow to the Himalayan foothills.. someone pass me a coat, it’s going to get chilly.