Travel Journal

Varanasi, Agra and Shimla

(Saturday 25 February 2012) by Andy and Babs
Varanasi to Agra. Train journey number 4

Hello family, friends and neighbours and again all interested readers of our exploits.

Getting old hands at all this packing/unpacking and repacking again, it was time to head off once more to my eagerly awaited visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal.

Navigating the winding alleyways, past the water buffalo, roaming cows, hundreds of people and piles of rubbish and I'll be polite and describe it as excretia everywhere. Constant honking of horns, trishaws by the dozens, cars, lorries, cyclists, we needed eyes in the back of our heads to make it to the safety of our nice 4 x 4 vehicle once more:-)

Train was due to depart at 7 a.m so we left at 5 a.m. Guide plied us with bags of fruit, biscuits, juice, water and nuts for our 12 hour journey. No free food provided on this train. A porter helped us on with the cases (for a fee) of course and we settled down in to our 2 man carriage for the long trip ahead.

This was our first complete day of seeing the Indian countryside properly. Fascinating to watch life outside our window as we whizzed by. Mainly rice fields again but lots of farms with cows, goats, donkeys and the whole countryside just littered
with rubbish. Mud huts, straw huts, and square brick built houses with cow dung being dried out in the sunshine ready to be used as fuel.

All this entertainment kept me amused for hours as light turned to darkness and we crept ever closer to our destination. Due to arrive at 4 30pm it came and went and still no station. 3 hours adrift we finally arrived. As the train came to a halt our guide and porter were outside our carriage ready to help us off. panic this time:-)

As we made our way through the station the noise from thousands of birds, we think they were mynahs, was simply deafening. They were all coming in to roost under the station roof. I have never witnessed such a sight or heard such a racket.

Absolutely knackered after our marathon 17 hour journey we got checked in to a very modern hotel with beautiful marble
floors. Suitcases unpacked we headed off to the restaurant for something to eat. plates laden with all manner of Indian delicaces we tucked in.

Early start next morning...Taj Mahal at sunrise.:-)

Tucked up for the night all was going great UNTILL!!!!!! Disaster, :-( Andy up and down all night long. The dreaded Delhi belly struck. :-x To say I was a trifle miffed would be an understatement. >:-( Whilst having every sympathy with the poor man, why oh why did it have to happen at this particular time. The whole reason for this epic journey was about to be ruined in one foul swoop.

Dosing him up with the usual Immodium etc. we headed off to see the Taj. First sight was just breathtaking. Having only ever seen photos, it was just amazing to see it, in real life. We spent an incredible couple of hours wandering around and taking endless photos. It was everything I expected it to be and more.

Poor Andy was getting weaker and weaker and it was decided to head back to the hotel. He fell in to bed and there he stayed for the remainder of the day and like the dutiful wife I am, I went off to do the next part of the sightseeing tour by myself. :-(

As we were heading off again the following day it was imperative that we try and get Andy back on his feet, as another 12 hour train journey was looming. Another bad night and it was with some trepidation we set off again for the station.

Arriving at the station we were told the train was running late again so we were escorted to the first class waiting room to await departure. >:-( The next hour was interesting to say the least. Taken out to the platform we were told our train was
coming, then, no it wasn't, need to change platforms, so we move over to an unlit platform to be told after another 10 mins that no the train was definitely coming in on the original one. Backwards and forwards for Andy was getting to be a bit of a

Eventually the train arrived and we were soon settled on board. Another 4 berth compartment but only us 2 for the first leg.

Andy duly clambers up on to the top bunk and there he lay moaning all night. 5 hours in to the journey a young Indian gentleman slips in beside me and settles down. 5 hours later he slipped out again. How funny!!!

We arrive at Kalka the final destination of our train....transferring across the platform to another small heritage train for the 5 hour journey to Shimla. Andy now coughing and sneezing and still moaning and groaning. Do you ever wish you had never made certain decisions.!!!!!!

Arrival in Shimla was met with huge relief all round. Checked in and a nice comfy bed with another welcome hot water bottle was wonderful.

Another disturbed night for both of us ensued. Managed to drag Andy downstairs for some breakfast. Three cheers for porridge. Met up with another man who was sitting out a tour as he was suffering the same complaint as Andy. Spent a couple of hours sat chatting to him and think it helped take every one's mind of their ailments.

We managed a walk around the main area of Shimla this aftenoon. Very high altitude so sometimes breathing gets a bit difficult. Fantastic place though. Fascinating people, shops and clear fresh air. Shimla was mainly built by the British so has a familiar feel to it in places.

Andy now feeling a little better, so fingers crossed he is over the worst and it will be onwards and upwards.:-^

Off to have some dinner now so will sign of and take a break for a couple of days.

Thank you for reading and leaving me your comments. It is much appreciated. Hope it isn't too heavy going for you all.

To be Continued.

  • Amazing by Laur
  • What a trip by Mikeee
  • Chris B by Christine Bielby
  • Fantastic, by Teresa Crascall
  • Great Reading by Nicky

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