How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal. And what to do when you get there! – Incredible India!

At the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Victoria outside the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

So let’s take a break from Brexit for a minute and focus on India!

India?

Yep!

Can you recall that after 14 years away.

Fourteen (14) years!

I went back to India.

Outside the Amer Fort in Jaipur - India
Victoria outside the Amer Fort in Jaipur – India ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

And before we even stepped foot in India, our troubles began.

Again!

For those of you just catching up, here’s what happened:

When the airline lost my luggage on the flight to India – Incredible India!

Because if India doesn’t break you, it’ll make you stronger!

Lost and Trapped in Delhi – Incredible India!

Haw! Haw!

So what happened after that?

Read on:

So after we left Delhi, we took the train to Agra.

Taking the train in India; At the Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); Delhi train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; Delhi; India
Taking the train in India is a completely different kettle of fish!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Taking the train in India is a completely different kettle of fish to taking the train in Germany.

Or any European country for that matter!

I’ll talk about that in a completely different post!

Ha!

HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN AGRA VISITING THE TAJ MAHAL. AND

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE!

The Taj Mahal in India.
The Taj Mahal in India.

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

The Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
Victoria facing the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Book your hotel here!

Agra is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

It’s 378 km/235 miles west of the state capital, Lucknow, 206 km/128 miles south of the national capital New Delhi, 58 km/31 miles south of Mathura and 125 km/78 miles north of Gwalior.

Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh, and the 24th most populous in India!

Outside the Agra Fort in Agra, India
Victoria outside the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

OMG!

Agra was first mentioned in 1080 AD.

In fact, the capital of India was moved from Delhi to Agra in 1506!

Not long after, the Golden Age, otherwise known as the Empire of the Mughals, began and took influence from 1556 to 1648.

Agra was then known as Akbarabād and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire. This was the period of religion, economic stability, art and architecture with palaces, gardens, rivers, towers and forts such as the Agra Fort, a stone military city such as Fatehpūr Sikrī, and of course, the building of one of the most iconic monuments in the world built in sorrow and to the memory of a most beloved wife – the Taj Mahal.

After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and was renamed Agra, before being taken over by British rule, otherwise known as Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, or the British Raj, in 1803.

India remained a British colony until Indian Independence in 1947!

At the entrance to the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
At the entrance to the Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
The Diwan-i-Am, or Hall of Audience in Agra, India
At the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Audience, Agra Fort in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Agra is a major tourist destination because of its many Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, the tomb of Itimad-Ud-Daulah or Baby Taj, and Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Agra is also part of the tourist trail known as the Golden Triangle, which includes Delhi and Jaipur.

I'm sorry, but India's Holy River Ganges in Varanasi is utterly filthy!
I’m sorry, but India’s Holy River Ganges in Varanasi is utterly filthy!

Varanasi is a well-sought for sight, but it’s, excuse my pun, miles away from Delhi and usually includes flying or taking the over-night sleeper train.

Eek!

WHY GO TO AGRA?

Facing the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Victoria facing the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

As if you have to ask!

What?!

You do?

Ok then.

Well, Agra is in India!

Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra, India
More of the beautiful Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpūr Sikrī in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!

It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of India enviable.

And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!

Agra is near Delhi.

It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.

Princess Diana in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Princess Diana in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Reuters

And in 1992, Princess Diana did that famous bench moment!

And quite frankly, if you’re in North India, and you DON’T visit Agra, you’re missing out!

If you’ve seen it a million times before, then by all means, don’t bother.

But if you haven’t.

You ought to see why a man took years.

Years!

To build a monuments in sorrow and to the memory of a most beloved wife!

Are you listening people?

A monument that has lasted almost 500 years!

OMG!

Book your hotel here!

HERE’S SOME FUN FACTS!

The Music Producer in Agra, India
The Music Producer – Frank Böster in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • The Taj Mahal was built by the grief-stricken emperor Shah Jahan whose wife  – Mumtaz Mahal – died in 1631, while giving birth to their 14th child!
  • Mumtaz Mahal was Shah Jahan’s third wife
  • Her name means “Jewel of the Palace” or “Chosen One of the Palace”
  • Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632
  • The name Taj Mahal means “Crown of Places”
  • It’s an Islamic tomb
  • There are 99 names of Allah inscribed calligraphically on the side of Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb
  • It took approximately 20 years to build
  • 20,000 workers were used to build it
  • And 1000 elephants!
  • The Taj Mahal complex also has additional mausoleums, a mosque, a reflecting pool and large garden
You can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from the Mehtab Bagh Park
If you’re short on cash, you can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from the Mehtab Bagh Park!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • In fact, there’s a piece of land outside the official area – Mehtab Bagh park – and if you’re short on budget, you can actually see the Taj Mahal quite well from there and take photographs and videos to your heart’s content!
  • The Taj Mahal is 561 feet tall
  • The material used to build it is white marble
  • It has a large white dome surrounded by four smaller domes. The large white dome in the center is approximately 115 feet tall
  • It’s colour appears to change, depending on the time of day or whether there’s a sufficient amount of moonlight!
  • There were about 28 different types of precious and semi-precious stones inlaid into the burial tomb of the Taj Mahal
  • During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, most of the precious stones were stolen and stripped from the walls
  • Over 200,000 tourists from around the world and up to 2 – 4 million local Indian tourists, visit the Taj Mahal every year!
  • It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • It’s also one of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World
  • The four pillars around the main dome are slightly slanted so that if the pillars were to collapse,the tomb would be protected!
  • It was believed that once work on the Taj Mahal was complete, Shah Jahan had the hands of skilled expert workers, chopped off. It was probably true, as many monarchs around the world equally did the same …!

Eek!

TAKE ME THERE?

A train porter at Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; train porter; coolie; Indian porter; Indian train porters; porters; Taking the train in India; At the Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) train station; Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); Delhi train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; Delhi; India
Take me to India by train, kind sir! Delhi – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel so we travelled by first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra (Agra Cantt).

Yes, we did!

We had planned just 16 days in India – three (3) days in Delhi, two (2) days in Agra, three (3) days in Jaipur, two (2) days in Pushkar, three (3) days in Udaipur and three (3) days in Mumbai!

You can of course, just do a day trip Delhi – Agra – Delhi.

North Central Railway - Agra Cantt train station in Agra, India; North Central Railway; North Central train; North Central train station; North Central; Agra Cantt train station; Agra Cantt train; Agra Cantt station; Agra Cantt; Cantt; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; train station; railway; transport; Agra; India
North Central Railway – Agra Cantt train station in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

However, we wanted to spend at least 2 days in Agra, so we opted for the express train to Agra, and a really nice hotel!

And as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!

The tickets from the train station for three first class seats cost 4,485 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €58.00 / $65.00 / ‎£50.00.

In short, €19.30 / $21.60 or ‎£16.60 per person!

With a full meal!

A crowded area; safety, people, city, street entertainment, scams
When you travel as much as I do, scams happen from time to time!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

You can rent a car or go by taxi of course, but after the horrible night train experience that I had 14 years ago, I really wanted to put that ghost to rest and strangely, travel by train once again!

We opted to use an Indian agent recommended to me by an American expat blogger who was living in Goa at the time, so for peace of mind and ease of travel, we worked with an Indian agent who booked every train that I asked for, with my exact specifications, four (4) months ahead of time.

The name of the Indian Travel Agent is Raj Yadav. He has an agency called Train Ticket Please and was prompt and fantastically efficient. His website is on Facebook.

If you have any questions about him, just ask me.

The first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); first class Gatimaan Express train; first class train; first class Gatimaan Express; first class; Gatimaan Express train; Gatimaan Express; Gatimaan; Express train; Express; fast train; Express train in India; first class train; Indian first class train; first class train in India; Delhi train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin station; Hazrat Nizamuddin; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi, India; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; railway; train station; transport; Delhi; India
Victoria in front of the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin), India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In order for us to do this from Germany, I opted to pay his agency fee of ₹5,135 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €66.00 / $74.00 / ‎£57.00 and for extra security, I paid $83.60 via PayPal or $27.80 instead!

In short, I paid a I-can-get-a-stressfree-refund-if-it-doesnt-work-out-difference of $18.60 or $6.20 dollars per person, which I’m comfortable with ‘cos I had been to India before, and the stress of organising things when you’re on a solo Indian journey can sometimes make your hair or skin, turn grey!

A man at work in India; working; man; Indian man; Indian; Delhi
Delhi isn’t kind to travellers. It’s tough out there!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

If you’re on a tight budget then there are many other trains that also go to Agra, but be aware that the fastest routes are usually sold out pretty quickly!

And it was a very nice 1.4 hour journey.

With breakfast!

And a newspaper!

Breakfast on the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra Cantt train station - India; first class breakfast; breakfast, Indian breakfast; food; train food; meal; The first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin); first class Gatimaan Express train; first class train; first class Gatimaan Express; first class; Gatimaan Express train; Gatimaan Express; Gatimaan; Express train; Express; fast train; Express train in India; first class train; Indian first class train; first class train in India; Delhi train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train; Hazrat Nizamuddin train station; Hazrat Nizamuddin station; Hazrat Nizamuddin; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin train in Delhi, India; North Central Railway - Agra Cantt train station in Agra, India; North Central Railway; North Central train; North Central train station; North Central; Agra Cantt train station; Agra Cantt train; Agra Cantt station; Agra Cantt; taking the train in India; at the railway; Indian train; train; trains in India; Indian railway; railway; train station; transport; Delhi; Agra; India
My very nice breakfast on the first class Gatimaan Express train from Delhi (Hazrat Nizamuddin) to Agra Cantt train station – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Take a look for yourself!

Ha!

So we arrived in Agra quite safe and well and then took an Uber to our hotel.

Scams in Europe; scammed by a taxi; taxi scams; scams; taxi
I was scammed by a taxi in Prague. Yeah, I didn’t do that again!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

Book your hotel here!

I highly recommend Uber!

So far, Uber has been fantastic so I highly recommend it for moving around safely in a taxi and at a clearly informed price, as you don’t want the hassle of taxi driver scams!

I mean, we were paying prices such as ₹219 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.80 / $3.10 / ‎£2.40.

In fact, we even paid ₹85 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €1.10 / $1.22 / ‎£0.95 in a proper taxi vehicle.

With seat belts!

This would never in a million years happen, if we had “negotiated” rides ourselves.

Cycle rickshaws; pedicabs; trishaws riders in India; taxi; drivers, bicycle; scams, Agra; Delhi; India
Be careful of scams by cycle rickshaws /pedicabs or trishaws riders in India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In fact, I vividly remember trying NOT to pay ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) in 2005, for a ride that we discussed would be ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) to simply go to the book market that was a 10-minute ride away, and which ultimately took 2-hours as the rickshaw driver took me from shop to shop for “commissions” instead!

I was so frustrated!

So I highly, highly recommend Uber.

I highly recommend Uber!

Use Uber.

If you sign up you’ll get €5.00 off your first ride!

Here’s my link!

I’M TRAVELLING SOLO, IS AGRA SAFE?

Children looking through a window at the Taj Mahal; Agra; India
Children looking through a window at the Taj Mahal. Is India safe?
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It can be.

It’s complicated.

Most people are really nice, eager to help and respectful.

In fact, I was surprised at how many people actually asked if they could take photographs with me.

And if they asked, I would usually accept.

But.

Local Indians don’t often see Western tourists and their way of greeting and excitement can be over-whelming.

Take a look at this video taken by German YouTubers – The Nile Brothers (Nick and Lenny)

It’s crazy, these fellows were travelling together, and they’re blokes!

Indian men can be over-enthusiastic and creepy by the constant staring, touching, peeping and inappropriate questions.

It’s awful that as strong independent women today, if you’re travelling solo, YOU have to watch how you come across, rather than the obvious use of common sense and if-you-don’t-have-permission-or-clearly-worded-stated-consent, don’t touch.

It’s as simple as that.

In the spirit of #MeToo, both men and women in Western nations are working towards this.

Not so in India.

This blog isn’t the place to debate the battle of the sexes, it’s about how to get the best experience you possibly can, when you travel.

Whoever you may be.

Regardless of your sex, gender or sexual orientation.

Here’s what to do:

Political image; Times Up; No photographs; No videos; No permission; No means No
Please don’t take photographs or videos of me without my permission.
No photo!
No Means No; Political image; No consent; No photographs; No videos; No touching; No permission;
No means No!
  • Be firm and stand your ground
  • Insist that they don’t take photographs or videos of you without your permission
At the Taj Mahal West Gate in Agra, India
The Music Producer & The Tall Young Gentleman at the Taj Mahal West Gate in Agra, India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

I was travelling with my husband and my teenage son and when we were together, there was a respectful distance, but when I wandered off to make my own photography, the peeping and candid photography would begin!

I was firm.

I stated clearly that I didn’t want to be photographed and if I did, it usually involved a woman or children, rather than random lone men!

Indian men; India; Indian; Indian man; India
Indian men can seem over-enthusiastic and creepy by the constant staring, touching, peeping and inappropriate questions.

In one instance, an Indian chap wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept following me about, so I turned around swiftly and demanded his camera.

He was so shocked that he gave it to me, so I deleted his pictures, handed him his phone back and walked off!

Coolies / porters carrying luggage at the train station in India; porters; Indian porters; Indian luggage; transport; train station
Having someone take your luggage is useful but Coolies / porters can walk faster than you think!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • Watch and take care of your belongings
  • Dress conservatively
  • Don’t wander around late at night
  • Be aware of body language as sadly, it’s all too interpreted as “flirty” or “available”
  • Keep your drinking to a reasonable level ‘cos India isn’t the place to “go on a bender and get pissed!”
  • Use Uber
  • If you don’t feel safe, get yourself out of there as quickly as possible and if that’s not an option, go straight to the nearest shop, restaurant, hotel, or group of people and ask for help
  • Do your research on local scams
  • Don’t let a low-budget be the reason that you’re booked in a hotel that is dodgy as hell!
  • Take your time, spend a euro/dollar/pound or two more, and book a slightly better one

And to be honest, I wouldn’t let my driver (a complete stranger), arrange my accommodation either, use booking.com and book your own!

Here’s the link!

hotel scams; hotels; scams in India,; Indian scams; Asian scams; scams in Asia
The Indian taxi driver tells you that your hotel is closed, over-booked, or burnt to the ground!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!

Book your hotel here!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Agra Fort in Agra, India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
India can be crowded, but it’s not as crowded as you might think – Agra Fort!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
Agra Fort in Agra, India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
The Agra Fort can be crowded, but it’s not as crowded as you might think!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Well, it’s India!

But it’s not as crowded as you might think!

And in many of my photographs, there’s quite a lot of space without any bother at all!

Agra Fort in Agra, Taj Mahal; Fatehpur Sikri; India; people; Indian people; tourists; tourism; crowds; sightseeing; UNESCO site
Don’t let anyone say that India is far too crowded. This was Agra & as you can see, at that moment, there was no-one there!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

So don’t let anyone say that the Taj Mahal / Agra Fort / Fatehpur Sikri is far too crowded.

Because it isn’t!

You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn unless you really want to.

And if you’re a parent.

On holiday!

Why would you want to?

Rooftop in Agra; rooftop view; rooftop; skydeck in Agra; view of the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal view; Taj Mahal hotel; 5-star hotel in Agra; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces
Victoria & family on the rooftop skydeck of her 5-star hotel in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Of course, the Taj Mahal is a world-class UNESCO sight and EVERYONE should see it, but it isn’t any more or less crowded than the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Time Square in New York, would be.

Book your hotel here!

We got to the Agra Fort at about 13:30, really took our time wandering around, taking photos and videos, etc. and started walking towards the ticket entrance at about 15:30!

We went in October, and there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season!”

Entrance tickets at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; High Value ticket holders; General Value ticket holders; tickets at the Taj Mahal
Entrance tickets at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India, for High Value ticket holders & General Value ticket holders!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In fact, we practically breezed into most places that required an entrance ticket because as “high value ticket holders,”  the tariffs were priced much greater than “general value ticket holders!”

In fact, considering the fact that the Taj Mahal is a paid-for UNESCO sight, the number of people who were there, is considerably less!

And there were plenty of spots to take photographs, in which absolutely no-one was anywhere near!

I know!

HOW MUCH ARE ENTRANCE TICKETS?

Entrance tickets fees at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; High Value ticket holders; General Value ticket holders; tickets at the Taj Mahal; entrance fees at the Taj Mahal; entrance tickets; ticket fees
Entrance ticket fees at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

THE TAJ MAHAL:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹1,100 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €14.00 / $16.00 / ‎£12.00 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for students
  • ₹540 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15 regardless of where they come from!
  • In contrast to local tourists who pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €0.65 / $0.75 / ‎£0.55

Rightly so!

AGRA FORT:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹610 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €8.00 / $9.00 / ‎£7.00 for student
  • ₹90 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15!
  • Local tourists pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees)

FATEHPUR SIKRI:

  • Entrance tickets for foreign tourists cost ₹650 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €9.00 / $10.00 / ‎£7.50 for adults
  • ₹600 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €.00 / $.00 / ‎£0.00 for students
  • ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees) for foreign tourists from other Asian countries
  • And absolutely nothing at all for children under 15!
  • Local tourists pay ₹50 (INR – Indian Rupees)

There is an additional charge of ₹200 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €2.60 / $3.00 / ‎£2.30 to both foreign and local tourists, if they want to visit the main mausoleum.

Shoe covers to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; shoe covers; protective cover; plastic shoes
You get a bottle of water, shoe covers & speedy entrance to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

For this you get a bottle of water, shoe covers and speedy entrance to the monuments.

It was brilliant.

Men and woman are separated of course, but the amount of time it needed to get us all in was a mere few minutes.

In fact, if you’re a foreign tourist AND paid the “high value ticket” fee, ensure that you insist or being allowed into that queue rather than the ordinary queue.

Don’t be shy as you’ve paid for it.

If you have sharp elbows manage to find the right queue, you’ll breeze through the lines and be at security control, in a matter of minutes!

Don’t panic and have a virtual heart-attack when you see this photograph below!

Don't panic; a very long queue at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; a very long line at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; a very long queue; a very long line; a queue; a line; Taj Mahal; Agra; India
Don’t panic and have a virtual heart-attack when you see this enormously long queue at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India. There’s a much shorter special queue just to the side. Follow the signs!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

There’s also a special queue just to the side. Follow the signs!

Here’s my video:

 

ANY TIPS OR TRICKS?

Prohibited items at the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Prohibited items at the Agra Fort; Prohibited items at the Taj Mahal; Prohibited items in Agra, India; Agra, India; books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Agra Fort;books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Agra Fort; books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed at the Taj Mahal; prohibited; not allowed
Books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed – Prohibited items at the Agra Fort & Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
Rent a horse and carriage at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; horse and carriage; horse and carriage in India; transport in India; Indian transport; horse; carriage; transport; small children; young children; mobility issues; mobikity; mobility in India; Taj Mahal; Agra; India
The Taj Mahal in Agra – India is perfectly walkable, but if you have small children or mobility issues, then rent a horse and carriage!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • Don’t let scammers take control, there are no entry fees for children under 15 years, regardless of whether they’re foreign or Indian!
  • If your children look mature or are tall for their age, take a school I.D. We used this pretty much everywhere as our son was 16 years old and looked like 20!
  • Be assertive, you might have to use sharp elbows in order to get through the throng, but you don’t need an agent to simply buy your ticket. Follow the signs!
  • There’s a separate queue for “high value ticket holders” / foreigners, you’ve paid for it, so don’t be shy to use it!
  • You can buy your ticket at the ticket counter or online via: www.tajmahal.gov.in
  • To buy your entrance ticket to visit the world renowned Taj Mahal, you MUST show your passport or government approved identity card. Don’t forget!
  • Don’t give anyone anywhere a single penny for anything at all, except at the ticket counter. Just follow the signs!
  • Use the Taj West Gate. It’s easy to find, simply follow the signs!
  • You are entitled to a bottle of water. For free! Make sure it’s completely sealed!
  • You can of course, bring your own bottle of water
Shoe covers to the monuments at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India; High value ticket holder; high value tickets; high value; Taj Mahal; Agra; India; shoe covers; protective cover; plastic shoes
If you have a “high value” ticket at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India, you are entitled to shoe covers free of charge! Make sure you get them or you’ll end up in your socks or bare-footed on a hot & dirty floor!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
  • If you are a “high value ticket holder” / foreigner, you are entitled to shoe covers free of charge! Make sure you get them as shoes aren’t allowed at the inner sanctum and you’ll end up in your socks or bare-footed on a very hot and dirty floor!
  • If you are a “high value ticket holder” / foreigner, you are entitled to a tourist guide map of Agra and battery bus and golf cart services free of charge, which we didn’t see or get!
  • The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday. Every Friday
  • Honestly, it’s perfectly walkable, but if you have small children or mobility issues, then rent a horse and carriage!
  • Books, food, wine, toys, helmets, torches, toffee and flowers are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal!
  • Bags are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal so either leave it at the hotel, securely locked in your car / taxi or in the locker, which is provided near the gates!
  • Drone cameras are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal
  • Tripods are not allowed inside the Taj Mahal
  • Shoe racks are available just below the main mausoleum free of cost
  • Photography is not allowed inside the main mausoleum but I observed that practically every second Indian tourist completely disregarded this and were taking pictures

Sigh!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS AGRA LIKE?

Agra Fort train station in Agra, India; ; railway; Indian train; trains in India; Indian railway; government railway police station Agra Fort; Govt. Rly. Police Station Agra Fort, Police Station Agra Fort; police station; Indian police station; train; train station; Agra; India
At the Agra Fort train station in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

It’s alright.

It doesn’t have a reputation for being the prettiest place in the world.

In fact, as a city, it’s quite ugly.

And dirty.

However, you can overlook this by virtue of the fact that Agra is of historical and architectural interest.

And you know how much I adore history, culture, art and architecture.

It’s also part of the tourist trail known as the Golden Triangle, so if you’re short on time or have never been to India before, then I absolutely recommend Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Pushkar and Udaipur, as the absolute minimum.

Agra Fort in Agra, Agra Fort; Agra; Fort; India; tourists; tourism; sightseeing; UNESCO site
An amazing time at the Agra Fort in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

In that wise, we spent 24 hours not only visiting the Taj Mahal but also:

All of these fantastic buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

And for that, all is forgiven!

I DON’T SPEAK HINDI.

Speaking; speak; Hindi; Indian people; Indian; don't speak, Indian culture; Indian men; people; mouth; stick in mouth; culture; don't talk; no talking; talk; languages; language; Indian traditions; traditions
I don’t speak Hinidi! Neither do they!

Not. A. Problem.

It’s amazing how many languages a typical Indian speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

Hindi and English are the only two official national languages, and by far the most widely spoken language in India, but if you speak Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu or Punjabi, you’re good to go!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Poverty in India; where to live; where to stay; Indian poverty; India; Indian; poverty; a place to live; house; home; alleyway
Poverty in India

Ha!

Depending on how brave you are, you can really go bare-bones in India, or live like a king.

It’s up to you!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I like to mix things up a little!
How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern – On a budget!

India isn’t as cheap as you think.

I mean, it can be reaaaaally cheap, but you’ll literally get what you pay for.

So unless you want to sleep on a rat-ridden, cockroach-crawling, dirty bedsheet, water-in-a-bucket sodden filthy room for ₹100 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €.1.28 / $1.45 / ‎£1.10, or spend the rest of your holiday / break / finding yourself / adventure / spilling out your guts in the bathroom (if you can find one) because you drank tap water / ate food at a dodgy corner/ etc, cough up for a little more “quality!”

We knew that Agra might prove more difficult finding “moderately priced” boutique / historical traditional mansions, otherwise known as a Haveli, so we opted for a proper hotel instead.

Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
We were shocked & amazed at just how good our five-star hotel – the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) – actually was!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We  were hoping for at least the basics and were shocked and amazed at just how good our five-star hotel – the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) – actually was.

It was amazing!

And the irony was, it was actually the cheapest hotel we had in India as we only paid ₹9,214 or €117.00 / $133.00 / ‎£101.00 per night (including the tax) for two premium rooms king bed superior rooms with a view of the Taj Mahal (members rate) at ₹4,607 or €59.00 / $66.50 / ‎£51.00 per room!

And.

We were upgraded to two SeleQtions Suite Tajview King Bed rooms worth ₹28,000 or €359.00 / $405.00 / ‎£310.00 per night or at ₹14,000 or €179.00 / $202.00 / ‎£155.00 per room!

Hotel upgrade; SeleQtions Suite Tajview King Bedrooms; hotel suite; suite Tajview; king bedroom; Indian suite; Taj view; Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
We were upgraded to two SeleQtions Suite Tajview King Bedrooms at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Our rooms were marvellous and absolutely faced the Taj Mahal at every angle.

We also had a very comfortable bedroom, a large living room, and an enormous bathroom.

Honestly, I wished we had been able to stay longer than just 2 days!

Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
We spent 24 hours doing absolutely nothing but pampering ourselves at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We were really impressed and actually spent 24 hours of our time doing absolutely nothing but pampering ourselves at the beginning of our trip!

We used the spa and booked the ultimate couples massage whilst our teenaged son spent the afternoon in a private coaching session of archery and rifle shooting.

We had cocktails on the rooftop skydeck and really spent the time rejuvenating and enjoying the beauty and 100% service that is India!

Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
The staff at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel were very attentive to our needs and wishes!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Let me just say that the staff were very attentive to our needs and wishes.

The food wasn’t glorious but the service was impeccable!

Breakfast; Indian breakfast; food; Indian food; Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
An Indian breakfast at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel – The food was so-so but the service was impeccable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018
fruit; Indian fruit; exotic fruit; Breakfast; Indian breakfast; food; Indian food; Agra five-star hotel; five-star hotel in Agra; Agra hotels; five-star hotels; luxury hotels in Agra; Agra luxury hotel; luxury hotel; Indian luxury hotel; the Tajview, Agra hotel; Tajview hotel; Tajview; hotel; Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra; Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces; Agra; India
Fruit at the Tajview, Agra luxury hotel – The food was so-so but the service was impeccable!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

We probably spent €250+ for additional services, but it was worth every penny!

I utterly recommend the Tajview, Agra, previously known as Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Agra (Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) hotel!

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian man; religious man; Indian religion; religion; Sadhu; holy person; holy man; holy; Hinduism; Hindu; people; mouth; clothes; clothing; Indian clothes; dancing; dance; Indian dancing; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
You never know what you might see in exotic amazing India!

Absolutely!

Too many to write at the moment.

More soon!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

transport; car; taxi; transport in India; drivers, transport scams; Indian scams; Indian cars; Indian taxi drivers; Indian taxis; hotel cars; airport cars; Agra; Delhi; India
The hotel in Delhi sent a car to collect me from the airport, then claimed they had never heard of me!
And while we’re at it – 7 other common travel scams to avoid!
I highly recommend Uber!

Uber is fantastic in India.

If you’ve never used Uber before and you would like to. As a first-time customer, if you use my code – victoriaa12504ue – you’ll get €5.00 off your first ride. It’s like riding for free!

You can basically hire a car and driver using the app for a matter of mere hours, all day or pay a flat fee from city to city!

To hire the car where the driver would wait for us for the day, cost us no more than ₹500 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €6.40 / $7.25 / ‎£5.52!

And even for a Premier InterCity city-to-city pre-booking taxi hire for a journey of 153.95 km that took 4 hours and 51 minutes, was the ridiculously cheap price of just ₹1,399 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €18.00 / $20.00 / ‎£15.50 and that was BEFORE the 20% discount for a first intercity ride price of ₹1,119.20 (INR – Indian Rupees) or €14.40 / $16.00 / ‎£12.50!

I couldn’t believe it myself.

ANYTHING ELSE?

The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday; Taj Mahal; closed on Friday; Friday; closed; sightseeing; Agra; India
Don’t forget.
The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday!

The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday.

Don’t forget!

Oh, and try not to get scammed!

MY VERDICT:

Holi; Holi festival; Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; awesome; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian woman; religious woman; Indian religion; religion; holy; Hinduism; Hindu; people; clothes; clothing; Indian clothes; dancing; dance; Indian dancing; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
India is awesome!

We all loved it!

Because, Game of Thrones!

Just kidding!

Or am I?!

But seriously.

For many international visitors, India isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re feeling adventurous, want to push boundaries, willing to get out of your comfort zone, yadda yadda, make it a point of duty to spend a few months weeks, in as many places as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination that isn’t really on the beaten path, say hello – INDIA!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Food tour; Food Tour Delhi; Delhi food tour; food; eat; Indian food; walking tour; Delhi walking tour; Delhi; India
Victoria at a food tour in Delhi – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Sure!

This wasn’t my first trip to India and it probably won’t be my last.

India isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely worth a visit.

Let’s do it!

IF INDIA DOESN’T BREAK YOU, IT’LL MAKE YOU STRONGER ‘COS INDIA IS HARD!

transport; tuk-tuk; taxi; auto rickshaw, pulled rickshaw; cycle rickshaw. transport in India; drivers, transport scams; Indian scams; Indian tuk-tuk; Indian taxi drivers; Indian taxis; hotel transport; airport transport; ride; India
Perhaps India has changed!

And for those of you who are over 30 (ahem!).

This blog and the next couple of months weeks, is for you.

India isn’t easy, but if you want to go there.

You can!

And of course, if you’re really nervous, I offer a consultancy, and can help you organise or advice you on many parts of your trip to India!

For more info, click here!

Exciting India; Exotic India; Amazing India; exotic; amazing; exciting; adventure; Indian people; Indian; Indian culture; Indian man; man; people; clothes; clothing; hiding; hidden; culture; Indian traditions; traditions; India
Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure in Incredible India!

Who doesn’t like an exciting adventure?

Well, follow me over the next few months, and find out!

So  what are you waiting for?

‘Rah! ‘Rah!

HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN AGRA VISITING THE TAJ MAHAL. AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE! – INCREDIBLE INDIA!

How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal; 2 days in Agra; 48 hours in Agra;1 day in Agra; 24 hours in Agra; visiting the Taj Mahal; visit the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal; what to do; things to do; Agra; India
Victoria with a new friend, at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

This article isn’t sponsored, and all opinions and thoughts on Agra, the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort, are utterly, my very own!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you soon!

How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal; 2 days in Agra; 48 hours in Agra;1 day in Agra; 24 hours in Agra; visiting the Taj Mahal; visit the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal; what to do; things to do; Agra; India
Victoria & The Music Producer at the Taj Mahal in Agra – India
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – India – October 2018

Watch this space!

Please note that there are three affiliate link companies connected to this post! Every time one of these services is used, booked, and paid for via my link, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

So what are you waiting for?

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal; 2 days in Agra; 48 hours in Agra;1 day in Agra; 24 hours in Agra; visiting the Taj Mahal; visit the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal; Taj Mahal; what to do; things to do; Agra; India
How to spend 2 days in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal. And what to do when you get there! – Incredible India

Have you ever seen the Taj Mahal? Would you like to visit Agra? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Advertisements

9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium?

Last week I told you that The Tall Young Gentleman and I went to Bruges.

And.

Horror of horrors.

We flew with Ryanair.

But it was pretty alright!

Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of  West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!

The Golden Statue of Saint Michel – at the Cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudula in Brussels – Belgium

Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!

The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!

Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.

So let’s have a look at Belgian food shall we?

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Now because of this marvellous mix of cultures and languages, Belgian food is an eclectic mix of Flemish, French & German cuisine. However, outside of the country itself, Belgium is famously known for its mussels, chocolate, waffles, chips or fries.

And beer!

“Belgian food,” otherwise known as dishes of Belgian origin, or thought of as “typically Belgian,” uses items such as potatoes, leeks, white asparagus, Belgian endives, otherwise known as witloof or witlof (Dutch) or chicory!

And of course, staples such as meat, cheese, butter, and beer!

1.  MUSSELS:

In my opinion, the biggest traditional dish that you can ever have in Belgium is Moules-frites, moules et frites or mosselen-friet (Dutch), but known to you and me, as mussels and chips (fries)!

You can practically see the ingredients jumping out of the pot of mussels!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Fresh mussels caught from the sea.

OMG!

Not only are mussels a most popular traditional dish, but they’re also considered to be the national dish of Belgium!

Mussels or moules are usually cooked or steamed as:

  • Moules natures: Mussels, celery, leeks and butter, steamed in a pot
  • Moules marinière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of white wine
  • Moules à la crème: Mussels in a pot of white wine stock, thickened with flour and cream
  • Moules parquées: Raw mussels on half a shell, served with a lemon-mustard sauce (very common in Brussels)
  • Moules à la bière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of beer!
  • Moules à l’ail: Mussels in a pot of sliced or minced garlic
  • Mosselsaus: Mussels in a pot of mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar!
  • Mussels in a pot of espelette pepper, Pernod liquor, or tomato sauce
Mussels served with a huge bowl of frites, chips or fries!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

and served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

As well as Belgium, mussels can be found in Northern France and in Jersey (one of the Channels Islands) linking the UK to France.

In fact, the last time I went to Brittany, I took the ferry on a day trip to Jersey where the locals speak both French and English, and you can use either pounds or Euros.

It’s a very nice island!

But I digress.

Did you know that mussels and chips were invented in Belgium?

We went to this nice restaurant on the riverside next to the fish market called Old Bruges.

I was actually looking for the number eight (8) best seafood restaurant in Bruges called De Gouden Karpel, Vismarkt, but because it was low season, it was closed!

On looking around, I found this one!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Old Bruges looked pretty alright to me, and most importantly, it was the only restaurant at the fishmarket that was actually opened!

I don’t tend to use TripAdvisor for food recommendations as taste vary, but if you do, keep an open mind as the reviews are terrible. Having said that, we went there and the food and service was pretty alright!

We had the Moules natures and the Moules marinière served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

We were so stuffed that we couldn’t order dessert or another glass of something else!

Yum!

Cost: €24.00

2.  BOTERHAMMEN / TARTINES:

Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a butterbröt snack!

This Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a snack. It’s a type of butterbröt and a meal that you would find in many European countries.

Traditionally, it’s a slice of rustic bread served on a wooden board, with a dollop of some sort of ingredient spread all over it such as butter, jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon, anchovies, cold cuts with radishes, pickles, tomatoes, and mustard or mayonnaise, as well as slices of boiled egg topped with caviar, and of course, pâté!

Some people think that a boterhammen is equivalent to a sandwich, but it isn’t!

A sandwich has two pieces of bread and something in the middle put together. A boterhammen is a single slice of open bread often served with a glass of Gueuze – a fermented Belgian champagne beer – usually found in Brussels!

We had decided not to include breakfast at our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal, ‘cos the breakfast buffet cost a whopping €22.00, and this wasn’t that type of holiday!

Boterhammen or tartine with pâté served with pickles & a dollop of mayonnaise!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

As such, we were pretty famished by lunch-time and saw Der Vier Winden just off the Market Square!

From the outside, the restaurant looked really touristy, and it was. So we ordered the lunch menu!

Our starter was the boterhammen or tartine with pâté.

Our pâté was served with pickles, and a side salad with a dollop of mayonnaise!

Yum!

3.  EEL IN THE GREEN:

Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!
© Takeaway Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0
Raw eels at the fishmongers. Just add your herbs & you’ve got Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert!

Paling in ‘t groen or Anguilles au vert is a traditional Flemish seafood dish, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!

It’s what it says on the tin – freshwater eel made in a green herb sauce of chervil, parsley, sage, ginger mint, oregano, thyme, watercress, tarragon, chives, basil, and stinging nettles.

The eels are made into a type of stew and served with bread or a bowl of frites, and a cold glass of beer!

You can usually find this dish at fishmongers, in market stalls, or even ready-made!

 

4. FRITES:

You can’t get better chips than fries from the Frites Museum in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

There’s no point beating about the bush here, everyone loves chips, otherwise known as fries!

Of course, in Belgium it’s called frites!

I’m not a fan of frites covered with sauces especially mayo and tartare, unless I can dip it in myself...

However, at the Friet Museum / Fries Museum, we learnt all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!

Frites or friets plays an important role in Belgian culture and cuisine.

The secret of the Belgian chip is :

Who doesn’t like fish n’ chips in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018
  • The type of potato used – Preferably a bintje potato
  • The fat or oil used – Unrefined beef tallow or blanc de boeuf
  • Freshly cooked potatoes, rather than raw
  • High temperatures – 190 °C  or 374 °F
  • And the importance of double-frying!

None of your low-fat-low-starch content here!

Cost: €1.40

Sauces: €0.60

5.  WATERZOOI:

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi!

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi, is a dish of stew that was invented in the Belgian town of Ghent!

Waterzooi is traditionally a stew made from freshwater fish, otherwise known as Viszooitje.

However, due to the scarcity of burbot and over-fishing, waterzooi or Kippenwaterzooi, is commonly made from a combination of boiled chicken, vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, swede, leeks, cream and eggs, instead!

6.  WAFFLES:

Traditional Bergische waffles or Belgian waffles!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

A waffle is a dish made from leavened batter or dough that is cooked between two plates, and patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression.

Waffles are eaten all over the world, but one of the most important types of waffle is known as the Belgian waffle or Brussels waffles, which was actually invented in Ghent (1839)!

It became world-famous when the restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, sold his Brussels waffles in America under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” in 1964, and thus, the American Belgian waffle was born!

Waffle is derived from the Dutch word wafel, or wafele, but was first heard as the French word walfre, as far back as 1185, meaning honeycomb or cake!

There are a variety of waffles such as:

Liège Waffles – The most popular waffle in Belgium!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!
  • Traditional Bergische waffles
  • Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande
  • Liège waffles
  • Brussels waffles
  • Stroopwafel
  • Galettes campinoises
  • Belgian waffles
  • American waffles

In Belgium, waffles are street food and can be eaten plain, with powdered sugar, whipped cream, strawberries, cherries, soft berries, syrup, or chocolate (American style)!

7.  RABBIT STEW:

If you’re a vegetarian, turn away now ‘cos in our in our household, a fluffy rabbit is called pork!

Being that it’s a Belgian dish, the traditional name of rabbit stew is Konijn in geuze or Lapin à la gueuze, which basically means rabbit stewed in Gueuze, a fermented Belgian champagne beer, usually found in Brussels!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very reluctant to eat fluffy animals, so in our household, we call rabbit – “pork!”

8.  CHOCOLATE:

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Don’t get me started.

You all know how I detest chocolate...

However, for the integrity of this article, chocolate had to be added.

Belgian chocolate, otherwise known as chocolat belge or Belgische chocolade is chocolate produced in the country of Belgium!

Belgian chocolate goes as far back as 1635! In fact, by the mid-18th century, chocolate had become so popular among the aristocracy, that hot chocolate became de rigueur as to who could actually drink it!

Chocolate plays an important part in the Belgian economy, and there are over 2,000 chocolatiers in the country, with 172,000 tonnes produced each year, exported all over the world and shaped like sea shells, fish, diamonds and artistic creations that can be bought at town centres, market stands, and pretty much every village shop in Belgium!

When in Belgium, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles!

If you’re a fan, you know what to do, so don’t let me stop you from visiting the Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum, and of course, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles.

I bought a packet of organic milk chocolate Belgian thins. With almonds and toasted coconut chips (Yuk!) for my husband – The Music Producer. Cost: €5.90

That’s all I have to say!

9.  BELGIAN BEER:

Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously, but it’s alright!

OK. Belgian beer!

I live in Germany, so Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously!

Belgian beer spans from a variety of pale lagers to lambic beers and Flanders or Flemish red-brown ales! There are about 180  breweries in Belgium, and microbeers are a pretty big scene!

As in most parts of Northern, Eastern and Central Europe, beer culture isn’t just downing the cheap stuff as quickly as possible, and getting pissed, it’s a way of life!

Belgians drink up to 84 litres of beer a year, and are bought or served in bottles, and uniquely shaped beer glasses!

Belgian beer in Bruges – Brugse Zot!

While we were at the Old Bruges restaurant, I ordered a Belgian beer called Brugse Zot! Belgium isn’t Croatia or Slovenia, so things cost a little more. In this case, €6.00!

On the other hand, when we went to Der Vier Winden, my Stella beer cost a mere €3.50!

Son had an iced-tea. Cost: €3.75

He also had a Canada Dry. Cost €:4.00!

WHERE DID WE STAY?

Our 4 star hotel – Martin’s Relais – Oud Huis Amsterdam in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

We stayed at the beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal.

In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!

Without the seedy bits!

I booked the Comfort Twin Room for character, as it featured high ceilings, a garden, a walk-in closet, river views, lots of space and free WiFi!

I thought it was a brilliant choice.

Cost: €97.62 per night. For two people, easily €48.81 a pop!

You can book Martin’s Relais here or in the banner link below!

Laters!

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Bacon Pie in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful mussels and frites we devoured, are my very own!

I’ve got fantastic news. Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

Last week, I travelled to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess where it was?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re craaaazy!

Spring’s finally here!

That’s it for now.

We had a great time in Belgium.

See you next week!

Victoria in Bruges by the waterside – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Have you ever had Belgian food? Do you like mussels and chips, or would you prefer waffles? Can you guess which new country I went to? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!

Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!

I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but for the first time ever, I didn’t write a post in a week!

You might wonder why that was so.

After all, I was all geared up to write about the lovely time that we had in Slovenia.

Well, firstly, something rather wonderful happened and equally, something rather awful happened too!

I’ll be telling you about the wonderful thing in about a fortnight (two weeks), but I probably won’t ever tell you about the awful thing, as it concerns people who I love.

Hello from Germany!

I live in Berlin.

In Germany.

And let me tell you, events have made it crystal clear how lucky I am to be living here, and the speed and efficiency in which things are done.

The German Way!

And since it’s been some time since I’ve actually written about Berlin, perhaps I should.

Book your hotel here!

Get up, brush down, wipe away the tears, keep calm, and Carry On with things!

On that note, I’ve decided to write a compilation of the best articles that I’ve written about Berlin.

If you’re here for the first time, join in the fun.

I know I will!

If you’re a new reader, you’ll see a Mail Chimp subscription pop-up. Eek!

However, before we start, you might notice a tiny change on the blog. If you’re a new reader, you’ll see a Mail Chimp subscription pop-up. Eek!

There’s nothing to fear. As always, you’ll never receive any spam or weird emails from me, however, in September, I’ll start sending out a newsletter so you’ll get the latest update as to what I’ve been up to. And let me tell you, it’ll blow your mind!

If you haven’t already done so, please join up.

Berlin – very British – rbb

For those of you who have been dying to hear how I sound, there are a few videos on the side bar. Sadly, the documentary and various other TV show that I did in German, are no longer available online, but if you’re a member of the press, and wish to see them, copies are available!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to London, here’s what you missed:

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

Good times!

And now, without further ado, here the best articles that I’ve written about Berlin.

Enjoy!

Book your hotel here!

BEST OF BERLIN – 4 YEARS AND COUNTING!

The beautiful French Quarter – Gendarmenmarkt – in Berlin

Book your hotel here!

Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

Book your hotel here!

At the Berlin Music Video Awards (BMVA)
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Book your hotel here!

Hugh Jackman – Logan – at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale)
©Berlinale

Book your hotel here!

Backstage
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin SPRING/SUMMER 2017
©Nass / Brauer

Book your hotel here!

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2017
©Lupi Spuma Fine Photography

Book your hotel here!

Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner for Bild am Sonntag
©Christian Spreitz

Book your hotel here!

Eddie Izzard
ⒸSerious Fun Quatsch Comedy Club, Berlin
On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

And my two favourites:

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

Book your hotel here!

BEST OF BERLIN – 4 YEARS AND COUNTING!

The TV tower in Berlin.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

I’ll be spending the summer in Germany!

I’ll be there. Will you?

It’s all about the beer – Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Best of Berlin – 4 years and counting!

Have you ever been to Berlin? What do you think is “best”?

Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com