Travel in and of itself is a wonderful experience (mostly) but there are certain auspicious happenings that make the days even more memorable and ones so epic that they forge a spot in your rhetoric for the rest of your days. In this case the tale we will bore our future grandchildren with will be of how India found itself lucky enough to be host to the particularly significant occasion of Dan’s 30th birthday!
Even more spectacularly, the day in question just happened to find us in our first non-Rajasthan destination, that of Agra (Uttar Pradesh, India) so what better way to start a memorable birthday than by catching the sunrise at…the Taj Mahal!!! Seriously, having begun the year at The Great Wall of China and now finding ourselves at the Taj, 2012 cracked up to be a pretty special year.
The day began with an early morning group walk down to the road to the Taj from our hotel, belting out the Happy Birthday song at the top of our lungs while sleepy Indian vendors set up shop for the day. As day broke, we arrived at the line to wait for the gates to open.
H-J had purposefully not looked skyward the entire previous afternoon upon arriving in Agra, awaiting the moment we turned that magic corner and were greeted with the beauty of the building itself. Its fair to say then, the anticipation was pretty high!
After a cup of chai, some shuffling into the correct lines for entry (ladies, gents, Indian?!?) it was time to pass through security and onto the grounds beyond.
Even the gate was exciting and we stopped for the requisite self-photos along with the ooohs and ahhhhs that emanated from our over excitable little beings.
Then it was through to the Other Side…where lies the absolutely magnificent Taj Mahal itself. It really is as stunning and impressive as you would expect. We felt chills.
But not enough chills to stop us taking literally a billion photographs of the palace, the mosques, ourselves, the water…blah blah. The weather is pretty smoggy and grey at this time of the morning, as well as this time of the year, which has had a strange effect on all our (and everyone else’s photos) in that they all look like we’ve photoshopped ourselves overtop. But we promise, we were actually there!
In honour of our time spent in Korea, where couples famously wear matching outfits when on honeymoon/holidays/just kicking it in the main street, we decided that we would have a team outfit for the day and rocked our most fabulously awesome Go! Go! Curry! t-shirts.
After taking a spin around the mausoleum which is pretty incredible too (you can’t take photos in that particular area so, goshdarnit, you’ll have to check it out for yourself) it was off back outside to soak up more the atmosphere, surroundings and people.
A pretty fantastic way to spend a morning, really!
But the afternoon beckoned. Memory eludes us as to exactly how we ended up there but nonetheless we found ourselves entering through the security gates, scanners, bag checks and into the lobby of the gorgeous Radisson Hotel, Agra.
Actually, our memory isn’t that hazy – basically Prince Chirag whinged and whined about needing a dose of luxury until the point we all just gave in and went with him. Not that begrudgingly of course, and much less grudgingly again when we eyed up the gorgeous line up of cakes – a slice of which was complimentary with a drink. Hard to say no really. Desserts and Proper English Tea were promptly ordered.
It may have been Dan’s birthday but judging by the look on Chirag’s face, it could well have been his lucky day too!
Of course, being a 30th birthday party, a divine looking chocolate truffle cake was discretely arranged while Dan was occupied eating his free slice. Another round of Happy Birthday burst into being and a surprised looking Dan blew out his candles.
What else to do in a lovely hotel? Well, it just so happens that the Radisson is home to a day spa so massages and foot scrubs were indulged in. We won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say, its the cleanest our feet looked/felt since arriving in India three weeks prior.
An afternoon can pass quite quickly in this fashion and before we knew it, it was dinner time. Now, for those of you who know us well you’ll know that we love our meat. And juicy, delicious beef is something that we’re spoiled with in New Zealand. In Korea we would go hours out of our way solely to find something beefy and delightful…so you can guess how were feeling in beef-deprived India…It turns out, however, that they had saved the best till last – we opened the menu to find A BEEF BURGER.
Happy Freakin’ 30th Birthday, Dan! This one is going to be hard to top…