Our final day aboard the Maharajas Express....Yes, we visited the Taj Mahal...


We never imagined we'd see the Taj Mahal. And yet, this morning in the morning haze and pollution, it lay before our eyes in its full splendor.
It's Saturday, February 8, 2020. We just disembarked the fast-moving train, The world-renowned Maharajas Express, heading to Delhi after a blissful morning visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Pinch me. Is this really happening? As the train rocked and lurched through the countryside, we faced the reality that this magnificent journey came to an end only two hours ago, after yet one more delicious lunch so carefully prepared by Chef John Stone and his staff. We've loved every moment.
The Great Gate, one of the several buildings built on the 42-acre grounds at the time The Taj Mahal was built in 1642.
Are we sad to see it end? Not at all. We've cherished the memories we've accumulated during this short seven-day excursion and take with us the treasures we've gleaned and what we've learned along the way.

India has captured our hearts in a way similar to Africa with its cultural differences, its scenery and its endless points of interest. The only difference we've experienced this far in India is its less abundant wildlife.
"The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself."
Yesterday, we visited a national park on a safari. Tomorrow we'll share those photos. But today, our early morning tour of the Taj Mahal was unlike anything we've seen in the past.

After our two-hour tour of the Taj Mahal, we walked for approximately 10 minutes to a lovely upscale restaurant where we were treated to a champagne breakfast buffet consisting of many traditional eggs-and-bacon type offerings along with many Indian favorites.
We left for the Taj Mahal at 6:30 this morning in hopes of avoiding crowds, but the crowds had already gathered by the time we arrived.
We sat with friends we had made during the seven-day journey to enjoy a delightful outdoor meal with white linen tablecloths and napkins and formal dining settings.

While we dined, we merely had to lift our heads to see the Taj Mahal over the treetops. It was a fabulous sight to see. After breakfast and a relatively short ride through the city of Agra, our bus proceeded back to the train.
"The Taj Mahal, Crown of the Palace is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenelated wall."
It was then time to pack our bags while the train headed to Delhi. It was challenging to pack in the small space of the  train stateroom so I went first and Tom followed behind while I stayed out of the way. 

Within 40 minutes we were completely packed and ready for our fabulous steward, Surender, to move our bags to the de-boarding area. We provided him with a generous tip, which he graciously accepted while genuinely explaining how much he enjoyed working with us.
Tom took this shot of me with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop. 
We left an envelope with tips for all the other staff who so graciously served us, although we also tipped (separately) John Stone, our thoughtful chef along with the lovely staff member, Himanshi, who proficiently orchestrated all the tours for our utmost convenience.

We waited along with the other passengers in the Safari Bar for the final call to disembark. As always, a red carpet awaited us as we stepped off the train to receive warm goodbye greetings from all the staff. They truly were amazing.
Tom couldn't wipe the smile off his face, grateful for the experience we never dreamed possible.
No doubt, we had a spectacular experience during our first foray into Indian culture and history and yet, the bulk of our Indian adventures are awaiting us in the 55-days yet to come.

As I complete this post, we've been transferred to the Metropolitan Hotel in New Delhi where we'll stay for the next three nights with half-day tours each day until we depart by train on Tuesday for our next destination.
Our tour guide instructed us where to stand as he talked describing the details of the Taj Mahal We could hardly wait to be better-positioned for taking photos.
We're content, if not a little tired. Neither of us slept well on the train and we hope to "catch up" over the next few nights. Our next tour is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 11:00 am after we've had our included breakfast in the hotel.

Tomorrow, we'll be back with the final expenses from the six-night, seven-day expedition on the Maharajas Express. Please stop by!
The view of the Taj Mahal from the restaurant at this morning's breakfast venue.
Have a pleasant evening! 
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Photo from one year ago today, February 8*, 2019:
*This photo is from February 9, 2019 when we hadn't posted on the 8th. Ms. Bushbuck always appears to have a smile on her face.  Love her and her offspring! For more photos, please click here.

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