Taj Mahal, India

A morning exploring the muddy streets of old Delhi and an afternoon on the road to agra.
We got up early to spend our last hours in Delhi exploring the market streets and to try to buy some more shoes. When we found the street he shoe shops were closed and fruit and veg stalls had popped up. The jewellery stall where we had taken shelter the night before was now a clothes shop at the front and all the shoe shops were shut, so we decided to take a walk around the old Delhi markets and come back to the shoe shop later when it was open. We walked through the muddy streets for two hours and decided to go back, unfortunately the streets all looked the same and we spent an hour searching for that street, but couldn’t find it all. I stroked some ponies and we had a chai tea from a vendor and jumped in a tuctuc back to the hotel.
After a quick lunch (the taxi arrived 30 mins early) we left Delhi in a cab bound for Agra. I wanted to take the local bus and experience travel indian style, but Brett wanted ac and a comfortable ride. (Ten times the price, but still only Β£40)
We Tarrived in Agra and had booked our wedding photos for 4:30pm and had made good time,but the streets were full of traffic and we spent another hour getting to the hotel meaning our photographer was waiting for over an hour, and we were likely to miss sunset on the taj.
We explained that we’d been stuck in traffic, and the hotel reception translated, they also advised us to buy our tickets for tomorrow at sunrise and the photographer agreed to return the following morning.
Our hotel was lovely with a roof top pool and restaurant and view of the Taj Mahal. We got up on the roof and watched the sunset over the taj. Then Gabriel decided he wanted a swim, but it was freezing so he got in and then back out again in a hurry!
The horses here are skinny wretches and I got upset at the sight of them being made to pull carts full of fat tourists, one was bleeding down his side from the harness rub, and another looked like his back is broken, his hind legs don’t follow his front at all, but still being made to work.
There is more poverty here than in Delhi, and the shops by the east gate to the taj are totally overpriced. It’s still beautiful.
We ate on the roof and had to listen to the performance of india’s finest musicians who were hooked up to a speaker positioned in my right ear hole or so it seemed, despite the only being two tables in the restaurant and clearly the speakers weren’t needed. 4 vodkas later the music still sounded awful, but was easier to deal with.Next morning we woke at 5am and I got ready for the 5th wedding. We met our photographer in the lobby and slipped out in the darkness of the chill morning. The bustling streets were still and quiet, and the horses were unharnessed in the trash paddock across the road from the hotel (literally a rubbish dump) a bicycle tuc tuc pulled up and the photographer gestured for me to get in with Brett and Gabriel, and he jumped on the back of a passing motorbike. We cycled down the road to the east gate entrance, just us, before the dawn, it was very strange and made me feel a bit nervous, with the odd scattering of indian locals staring at the strange sight of a bride and groom riding in the darkness on a bicycle.
We arrived at the east gate of the taj within minutes and there was already a queue, not very long at all though. We were segregated by sex and I stood alone in the queue in my wedding dress feeling very uncomfortable and gaining a lot of stares and whispers from the crowd. The lady behind me struck up a conversation and I explained my odd attire, she thought it was quite normal and was very friendly.
Once we had been body searched, scanned and ticket checked we were in, I got through first and by the time Brett and Gabriel were through I had a semi circle of photographers taking my photo.
We walked through the next stone gate and there in front of us was the Taj Mahal, totally awesome, and enormous, I was not disappointed by this one at all. As we were at the front of the queue we were the first ones through and got a few great shots of the taj totally empty behind us. I didn’t realise until later how lucky we were to see it so bare. We did the shoot in the front and then entered into the Taj Mahal itself. With the tomb in the middle you can just walk around the outside with the intricate marble work and the large dome in the roof.
By the time we stepped back outside the entire Taj Mahal gardens were teeming with people, so crammed we could barely walk along the paths and not just Europeans and Americans but tons of indian tourists too. We snapped a couple of shots on ‘Diana’s bench’ but felt that there was little point staying as we were having to queue to use each e a reakfastphoto, and the background was full of people.
Breakfast was a pile of pants and we packed ready for our flight to mumbai.
The taxi collected us and took us to the airport which was on a military base, and they made us wait outside the huge iron gates woe they checked our passports and tickets, then they said our flight was delayed by an hour, so we had to sit in the car and wait outside the gates while an indian military officer pointed his gun at us.
After 40 minutes wait they called us through, and told us to wait in the car inside the gates, they checked our passport again and ticket
Then they left us for 20mins and came back and asked us for our tickets again, finally they let us through. We got to a tiny military airport with guards on the doors holding machine guns, the guard checked our online tickets and couldn’t find our names on the list, she checked something and returned to tell us that the flight was cancelled. We were. Made to wait another hour while they booked us in on a flight to mumbai from Delhi and ordered a taxi to drive us to Delhi another four hours drive away. They then informed us that the flight had been cancelled months ago and they had informed everyone but us, as we didn’t give our email address (the very email address they had sent the confirmation email to)
After a long wait for a taxi we had a four hour drive to Delhi airport where we caught our flight into Mumbai arriving at. 8:30pm. Such a long day, beginning at 5am and travelling for 9 hours + for a two hr flight. We reached our lovely hotel in Mumbai and crashed out on the bed, still with my makeup and wedding hair!

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