We started our journey to Agra with some amount of trepidation. Everyone we spoke to who had previously visited had horror stories about trying to board trains, beggars basically pulling the bags from your back and touts trying to lure you into hellhole hotels. With all of this information deeply rooted in our heads we planned a “get in and get out” approach to the city .
We missed the first train to Agra after the disastrous day at the ticket office but we did manage to make a later train that evening. This was a 3rd Class AC Sleeper car which is basically a six bed section with curtains to pull across for privacy, two bunks are facing each other making up four beds and another two bunks are across the aisle running along the windows leaving a narrow aisle to walk through for services .We were lucky that we didn’t take all of our luggage with us to Agra and had left most of it in Delhi in our hotel as we would have been really stuck for space. Eric didn’t tell me it was 3rd class a/c for fear of my refusal to travel until we were basically boarding. To my pleasant surprise it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. The people onboard were all middle class Indians and a mix of singles, families and a very small amount of tourists.
It wasn’t long before we got chatting to the people around us so the journey passed with ease.
On arrival in Agra, we got the help of a porter for the bags. The going rate is about 50rp, which equates to less then a Euro per bag. We had arranged a pick up with the hotel so that we would not be hassled . We have a system , I look after the kids , get them on board or off board and Eric with the help of a porter and a very large trolly sticks like glue to the bags . You have to haggle for everything from Taxis , tuk tuks , porters and fruit if you are buying it on the street . Usually the porters get two thirds of what they are originally looking for but when you see the weight of each of our bags compared to the weight of the porters you wonder how they manage to carry them at all .
It was 1 am when we arrived so the lack of beggars and touts was apparent and we went to bed happy having survived the journey we had been so anxious about.