An introduction to the Taj Mahal in Agra. 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!

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TAJ MAHAL IN AGRA. 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 AND second 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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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
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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?

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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 AND second 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?

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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:

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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!

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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!

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TAJ MAHAL IN AGRA. AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE! – INCREDIBLE INDIA!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

I bet you weren’t expecting this!

So, what happened?

As you know, I’m a great advocate for Europe, and even more so for Eastern Europe. I mean you only have to scroll through this link to experience my love for the continent.

But if you’re as lazy as I am (whaaaat!), I’ll give you a helping hand!

CROATIA:

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

THE CZECH REPUBLIC:

Myself with ski leaders in Rokytnice nad Jizerou – Czech Republic

ESTONIA:

On the cobbled streets of Tallinn, Estonia.

HUNGARY:

With Eszter Bittmann In Budapest, Hungary.

LATVIA:

Green soup from Riga, Latvia.

LITHUANIA:

Our extremely funny walking tour guide in Latvia.

POLAND:

Polish fishermen on the Polish Baltic Sea who did fabulously well. 🙂

SLOVAKIA:

Take photographs and wander at will!
Go on a walking tour in the Old Town.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

SLOVENIA:

A delicious mug of cold beer in Ljubljana – Slovenia!

Now to be clear, I’m not saying that I don’t like Romania. I’m not a hater you know.

I’m just saying that it didn’t tickle my fancy!

And even though that’s a rare thing, here’s somewhere else that I won’t be rushing to anytime soon.

Singapore.

South Africa.

The Dominican Republic.

And.

Slovakia!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Not Sloveeeeeenia that I absolutely adore.

But Slovaaaaakia.

I mean, once upon a time, I even spent a considerable amount of time living there.

And it hadn’t changed.

Not one bit.

And not for the better either!

Now before you all get your pitchforks out and proceed to burn me at the stake.

When writing about Romania, I’m refering to the nation and state of Romania, not the people.

And certainly, I’m not in any way making reference to the Roma minority!

I’m not cruel!

 

If anything, I very much enjoyed learning about the history and culture of the indigenous people, and only wish that I could have learnt more!

So what’s this post all about then?

Well, Romania was my 65th country, and in truth I was excited, and waiting to be dazzled.

Not by flashy buildings or histories of yore, but just by that feeling of joy.

Being in another place.

I mean, I was in a new country n’ everything.

And some things were quite interesting (I’ll tell you all about them next week)!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

But.

I wasn’t overwhelmed.

I wasn’t fascinated.

And sad to say.

I wasn’t even impressed.

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

I’m well-travelled and know perfectly well that each country has a different charm to it.

And you don’t have to be a wealthy nation, have historical claim, or filled with a huge amount of resources, to get it right.

You don’t even have to have a name that anyone can pronounce.

Heck!

You can be as tiny as you like and still be totally compelling!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

So.

I’m the last person on earth to ram my opinion down anyone’s throat.

Let’s get a little bit of background shall we?

ROMANIA

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Romania is a country in a region that is considered to be Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and South-East Europe, and surrounded by Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, Moldova, the Ukraine, as well as the Black Sea!

It has a population of almost 20 million people, is considered one of the poorest members of the EU.

That notwithstanding, Romania has the second-longest river in Europe flowing through it – the River Danube – the second-longest mountain range in Europe – the Carpathian Mountains – and has been around as far back as 40,000 years ago!

Most people don’t know an awful lot about Romania, but it’s rise to fame came about in modern times due to the Communist rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the intrigue of Bran Castle, otherwise known as Count Dracula’s Castle.

More about this next week!

AND BUCHAREST?

WELL, I WENT TO ROMANIA. IT DIDN’T WOW ME!

Corvin Castle / Hunyadi Castle / Hunedoara Castle or Castelul Huniazilor / Castelul Corvinilor in Hunedoara, Romania!
I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Bucharest, otherwise known as București, is the capital of Romania.

It has a population of roughly 1.8 million people, is very near the Bulgarian border, and was first mentioned in 1459!

The architecture of Bucharest is an interesting mix of neo-classical, art-deco, French and communist-era design.

Outside Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Palace of the Parliament!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

In fact, pre-WWI and WWII, Bucharest was sometimes referred to as Little Paris, but was utterly destroyed by earthquakes or the rampant desires of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who preferred Bucharest to look like the country of his dreams, and bull-dozed most of the city to the ground!

Inside Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Palace of the Parliament!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

In truth, Nicolae Ceaușescu did this to make way for his Palace of the Parliament, which outside of the Pentagon, is the largest administrative building in the world!

So there’s that!

WHY GO TO ROMANIA?

Vlad the Impaler – The Real Dracula!

To visit Count Dracula’s Castle!

Nah.

Don’t be ridiculous!

No seriously.

That’s really why I went to Romania!!

The legend of Bran Castle in Romania!

To visit the castles!

Not just Bran Castle, but Pele Castle too!

I’m a tourist. What of it?

TAKE ME THERE?

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer about to get on the airport bus in Romania!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Once again.

We flew with Ryanair.

Phew! We made it! The Ryanair flight was alright!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

And it was pretty alright.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

There’s hardly any one here! Most of the tourists at Hanu’ lui Manuc in the Old Town, were local!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Nope!

Bucharest is beginning to attract attention, and certainly, in the peak months, you’ll get a summer rush, but it’s hardly Dubrovnik.

Or Prague!

Romania isn’t on the radar of most people and so the capital city – Bucharest – is almost always mixed up with – Budapest – the capital city of Hungary!

They’re nowhere near the same!

Budapest is far nicer!

WHAT IS ROMANIA LIKE?

The Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest is most beautiful!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018
Near the trams in Bucharest. Not so much!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Well, it isn’t Switzerland, that’s for sure.

Or Denmark!

It’s not anything like other East European cities either!

It’s a bit gritty, but not like Berlin.

It’s got that old ex-Soviet Union look, but not like Riga, or Warsaw.

It’s a bit rough-looking, and not very well looked after, as there were loads of really beautiful buildings that were either abandoned, or falling apart!

I wanted to get a feel of Romania, so we were there for a week.

Romania didn’t wow me, but The Music Producer said his Romanian soup was nice!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

It didn’t wow me!

I DON’T SPEAK ROMANIAN!

Not a problem.

If you can speak German, Russian or a little English, you’ll be fine!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You’re not going to live in this abandoned hut, so don’t worry!

Umm!

Thanks to the fact that Romania isn’t on the beaten path, accommodation ranges from quite simple, to 5-star establishments.

It won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!

Prices are excellent, so we decided to use booking.com to book a large two-bedroom, two-bathroom, two balcony apartment for just €54.00 a night.

Our Green Apartment was big enough for four (4) people sharing, making it a ridiculous price of €13.50 per person.

I really don’t think you can do any better!

Having said that, in the summer months, book ahead.

BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO ROMANIA?

But what should I dooooooo?
I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Romania isn’t boring.

There is plenty to do.

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Outside the bigger cities, simply walk or use Uber!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Romania isn’t the safest of countries, but public transport is cheap and available.

We chose a better option.

Uber.

OMG!

Uber was so cheap that our rides across town cost as little as €2.60 in some places.

Two (2) Euros and sixty cents!!!

Isn’t that marvellous!

If you’re in Germany, here’s my link!

ANYTHING ELSE?

The service at Distrikt 42 & other restaurants in Romania, was under-whelming!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Prices are extremely cheap, but do double-check your bill.

Don’t bother to use public transport as Uber is cheap as chips.

The city centre seems to be alright at night, but most of the side roads had no street lamps, so was pretty dark.

There also seems to be a lot of construction going on as the pavements had lots of huge manholes that were fenced off with plastic tape, and couldn’t be seen at night, so that you did, in actual fact, fall in!

Don’t expect service at restaurant and bars.

I live in Berlin, where service isn’t that fantastic, but Romania totally beats nonchalant attitude, hands-down!

The amount of time that I had to ask staff at “nice” restaurants to clear and clean tables before we sat there, was rather too much for my liking.

And apparently, it’s quite the norm!

MY VERDICT:

Romania – A blend of European history, with distinct reminders of a socialist past!

Romania is a European historical country, mixed with distinct reminders of a socialist past.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Victoria & family in Bran Castle near Brasov – Romania!
I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Brasov – April 2018

Probably not!

It didn’t wow me!

I wouldn’t go all out to visit Romania, but if you’re in the region, take a day or two and visit.

Or go to the countryside, which is quite nice!

But as always, don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.

Go see for yourself.

Europe is wonderful!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

I WENT TO ROMANIA. IT DIDN’T WOW ME!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

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

Next week, the Romanian places that I did like!

And in a few weeks, I’ll be revealing my next summer trip!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

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!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Have you ever been to a place that didn’t click? Would you visit Romania?

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

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10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

The Tall Young Gentleman in Zagreb, Croatia

Isn’t it exciting?

I’m featured in the Metro Magazine – a lifestyle magazine in the Philippines: Metro Magazine Feature (Annual Body Issue) – Lifestyle – April 2017 Edition!

It’s a pdf for now but apparently, there’s a book coming out!

Don’t I look great!

Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Metro Magazine (Annual Body Issue) – April 2017 Edition – the Philippines!

I hope you’re enjoying the first post that I wrote about Croatia.

And I’ve got lots more where that came from!

Yes Sir!

However, this post is not only going to be about Zagreb, but about travelling with family.

I don’t often write about family travel as this blog is really all about me. And my travels!

Does it sound selfish?

It does!

Ah well!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

I purposely chose Croatia as a place to travel with my family for the reasons that I’ll soon be writing below, but first, let’s get the info!

Teenagers! You’ve got to love ’em!

And when you’re travelling or going abroad, you’ve got to think of things differently, as teenagers are not children per se, but neither are they adults.

They’re gangly young people, looking to explore the world, find their feet, and live life to the full.

And if you’re like me. You’ll let them do it, and give them the  gift of travel!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

Children are versatile.

And they don’t really need much.

All they need is plenty of food, a safe and clean place to lay their head, wi-fi, a bit of space to lay out all their “stuff”and you!

Yes, you.

The parent!

My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.

You don’t have to wait until “they’re old enough to know.”

Believe you me. They know!

You don’t have to wait until “they understand the benefits” of travel.

What are you talking about`?

Finding slugs!
Finding slugs!

Any place that is different from home and in which they can learn about other places, other cultures, and other people, is a marvellous thing.

The younger they are, the easier it is, and the better for all!

In Stellshagen – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – Germany.
Our son as a baby – 20 months old!

I started travelling with our son when he was just 5 months old. I put him in a baby carrier, dumped all his toys and baby stuff in the car, and breast-fed him all the way!

And by the time he was 5 years old, he had been to 32 countries, and at 12, he was already talking about spending his GAP year in Thailand, so there’s that!

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so
“The Tall Young Gentleman” in Switzerland. Give your teenagers the gift of travel!

I love travelling with our son, and even though he’s just turned 15. OMG! It won’t be long until he’ll want to be travelling with his friends. Gulp!

In Northern European countries that age tends to be between 16 and 17 years old as young people are more independent, and their parents liberal, tolerant, and open-minded which is why I decided to go to Amsterdam at the beginning of the year. With our teenager in tow!

How to visit Amsterdam in two days. With a teenager – “The Tall Young Gentleman”

Interestingly enough, our German friends didn’t blink an eye when I told them. Not so my Anglo-American friends who were visibly shocked and worried.

Not to worry. Everything turned out just fine!

Book your hotel here!

And now:

ZAGREB

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia.

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia.

Zag. What?

Zaaaaaaaagreb!

Zagreb is one of the oldest cities in Central Europe as far back as 1094!

It’s located in the northern part of Croatia, just north of the Sava River, and has a population of just under 793,000 people!

We didn't have time to go to the Plitvice Lake nearby, but we'll certainly do so, next time!
We didn’t have time to go to the Plitvice Lake nearby, but we’ll certainly do so, next time!

The local name for Croat is Hrvat. You will see this word everywhere. Hrvat was a powerful military chieftain in the early Middle Ages and also another word for “friend!”

The historical part of Zagreb to the north of the centre of the city is called Ban Jelačić Square. It is composed of the Gradec or Gornji Grad /the Old Town), and the diocese settlement of Kaptol, a medieval urban complex of churches, palaces, museums, galleries and government buildings that are popular with tourists and locals alike!

In fact, if truth be told, April is so early in the season that there weren’t really many tourists at all!

I didn’t hear British voices or German ones. The tourists that were about were either American, Korean, Italian or Croatian!

The tourists that were in Zagreb at this time were either American, Korean, Italian or Croatian!

These two parts of “town” used to be divided by a river and a bridge known as the Krvavi Most, otherwise known as, the Bloody Bridge!

Krvavi Most – the Bloody Bridge – is a street just 2 minutes away from our holiday apartment!

The rather unusual name is so-called after the original bridge which used to lie over the Medveščak creek,and which gained notoriety because of the many conflicts that happened between the citizens of the two parts of “town” – Gradec and Kaptol!

Directions to the Bloody Bridge in Zagreb – Croatia!

The bridge is long gone, as is the river, but the street kept it’s name – The Bloody Bridge!

Zagreb is a small city but a city rich with history, prestigious architecture, and great connections linking Croatia to Central Europe, South-East Europe, and the Mediterranean!

Book your hotel here!

10 REASONS WHY ZAGREB IS A FAMILY DESTINATION – A GREAT PLACE FOR TEENAGERS!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

There’s no denying that Zagreb is very much a family destination with plenty to offer, to satisfy both parents, and their accompanying teenager. And with the help of the 72 hour Zagreb Card, courtesy of the Zagreb Tourist Board, we did just that!

Thanks so much!

Here’s why:

The Lotrscak Tower & Grič Cannon
©Patrik Macek – Zagreb Tourist Board

1.  The Grič Cannon: Every day at noon, the Grič Cannon is  fired from the Lotrščak Tower and the people of Zagreb set their watches by it. In fact, you can gather under the tower and watch the cannon come out! And without fail, the huge “Boom” will make you jump out of your skin!  I’m guessing teenagers would be too cool to show you that they almost lost their iPhones, due to the shock!

We watched it twice, and we still jumped!

The guy manning the cannon is pretty jolly, as he always waves out of the window to whoever might be nearby!

Don’t look if you’re squeamish – The Zagreb Mummy!
©Archaeological Museum Zagreb

2.  Nesi-Hensu – An Egyptian Mummy: This famous Egyptian “mummy” was a woman called Nesi-Hensu, the wife of a tailor from Thebes. The mummy was wrapped in sliced bands of a linen book which was inscribed and preserved, in the Etruscan language. The mummy was accompanied by a papyrus with a text of several chapters from the Book of the Dead, making it the longest surviving manuscript of the language, in the world!

She can be found at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.

Rent a bike in Zagreb. Any type of bike!

3.  Hire a local bike: The beauty of most European countries is how easy and normal it is, to use your bike. Most of the Old Town is car-free so it’s perfectly save for teenagers to ride along by themselves in and around the many parks in Zagreb, or to the surrounding suburbs and countryside.

Museum of Broken Relationships
©Mare Milin

4.  Visit a Museum: Zagreb is home to a wealth of museums including the Croatian Natural History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, the Museum of Illusion, and the Archaeological Museum Zagreb. In addition, Zagreb is also the permanent home of the Museum of Broken Relationships!

We had planned to go to the Zagreb City Museum otherwise known as, the Museum of the City of Zagreb, but we were too late to reach it on Sunday, and it was utterly closed on Monday! However, we managed to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships.

My husband – The Music Producer – was sceptical at first wondering how a roomful of broken hearts could cause such an attraction however, it wasn’t like that at all! It’s a quirky museum that exhibits mementos and love tokens donated from broken-hearted lovers, all over the world.

Even The Tall Young Gentleman found it interesting. I’m sure your teenager would too!

Museum of Broken Relationships
©MoBR

In some places, the stories were quite funny and in some, extremely idiotic!

All I can say is Berlin, furniture, and an axe!

Red Srebrnog Zmaja – The Order of the Silver Dragon
@Maja Homen

5.  The Order of the Silver Dragon: Each Saturday, (April – September), tourists can meet members of the Red Srebrnog Zmaja, otherwise known as the Order of The Silver Dragon at St. Mark’s Square in the Upper Town! This Order re-enacts famous historical conflicts between Gradec and Kaptol, and is a great opportunity to see authentic, fully functional, historical replicas of medieval armour!

If all else fails, take the funicular up and down, in Zagreb!

6.  Zagreb is safe: Croatia is an up-and-coming Central-East-European destination with many things to recommend it. It’s small, cheap, fresh and interesting. It’s also easy to move around by bus, tram, bicycle or simply walking around, with plenty of people-watching activity to satisfy any discerning teenager!

And if all else fails, take the funicular up and down!

Officers of the honorary company of the Cravat Regiment, Zagreb – Croatia!

7.  The changing of the Cravat Regiment Guard: Sadly, we didn’t see the Order of the Silver Dragon above, but we did manage to bump into the Cravat Regiment Guards instead!

The Cravat Regiment is part of the Croatian light cavalry from the 17th century. Apart from great valour, its biggest claim to fame was its uniform, especially the distinctive scarves its soldiers wore around their necks, which is where the cravat got its name from! The knotted scarf quickly became a popular fashion accessory, and was already known as cravat (English), Krobatten (German), and Cravates (French)!

A Regency-style Cravat tied in a bow on a Grafton collar.
©Charlie Huang

The Cravat Regiment can be found every weekend at noon, at St. Mark’s Square in the Upper Town, in which you’ll see the two-hour ceremony of the changing of the Cravat Regiment Guard, stemming right back from the 17th century, by the very same regiment soldiers who gave the tie it’s name!

I think we saw them at the end stage of the ceremony as they seemed to be recruiting for new guards, and getting certificates and medals.

At the Berlin Music Video Awards with Roc Roc It – 2015
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

You know how I always seem to have a nose for these things so when  I spied a couple of local hacks, they took me in, and gave me some titbits. Not only was this ceremony an important part of the recruitment process, but for the first time in Croatian history, a single woman was being added to the team!

How thrilling!

Look at the magnificent view that you can only get from the tallest building in Zagreb – Zagreb 360°!
Zagreb Tourist Board – ©Davor Rostuhar

8.  Zagreb 360°: Go up to the tallest building in Zagreb, otherwise known as the Zagreb 360° – Observation Deck and Event venue!

Zagreb 360° is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Zagreb and can be found on the Ban Jelačić (main) square. In fact, you can’t miss it. Just look up!

On a clear day you can even see as far out into Slovenia!

It’s  on the 16th floor at the very top of the Zagreb Skyscraper and offers a spectacular view of the Ban Jelačić (main) square, the Manduševac fountain, Kaptol, Gradec, the Upper and Lower Town, and the most important cultural and historic structures in Zagreb.

On a clear day you can even see as far out into Slovenia!

We went up there and very much enjoyed the view. In fact, it was so sunny in some parts that it was difficult to take photographs with our iPhones!

We liked Zagreb 360° and enjoyed reading the historical posters and gallery photography, although some of the translated content was a little disturbing…!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” and I played a game of Ludo at the Zagreb 360° which he won!

Sometimes, it takes a holiday to remind you that even though your teenagers might be strapping lads and thoughtful girls, they’re still very much children. The Zagreb 360° had a number of larger-than-sized board games and so The Tall Young Gentleman and I played a game of Ludo.

He won!

My family on our walking tour in Zagreb – Croatia!

9.  Take a city walking tour: I’m a great lover of walking tours, and one of the best ways for your teenager to get to know their way around Zagreb, is to take a walking tour.

We went with a local company called the Free Spirit Waking Tour Zagreb. I believe it’s the only free walking tour of it’s kind in Zagreb!

These are just some of the people that I happened to meet in Zagreb – Actor Musicians!

Generally, the local guide is usually an expert in the area, and shows you around the city that they have either grown up in, or have come to love. It usually last about 2 hours, it’s everyday, and it’s completely free of charge, save for tips!

Our guide – Luka – was great. He really knows his stuff and is fun. And with a child in tow that counts for something. We gave him a very nice tip at the end!

10.   And lastly, the Grič Tunnel – A secret tip: Zagreb has underground tunnels!

I’ve been everywhere. Let’s go out and play cricket with the penguins!

My husband – The Music Producer – was looking for something to surprise me with! As a well-seasoned lifestyle travel blogger, it’s not easy to knock me over with a feather as I’ve either already been there, or done that! And so, he wanted to show me somewhere, and that I wasn’t to check my VoiceGuide Zagreb App, or Google!

Hard stuff!

The Music Producer & The Tall Young Gentleman at the Grič Tunnel – A secret tip in Zagreb – Croatia!

We followed him down a pedestrian tunnel in the historic neighbourhood of Grič, otherwise known as Gradec or Gornji Grad!

And we found a very huge, and very long underground tunnel!

The Grič Tunnel consists of a central hall connected by two passageways to Mesnička Street in the west and Stjepan Radić Street in the east, and four passageways extending to the south.

It was built during World War II to serve both as a bomb shelter and a promenade. However, after the war it quickly fell into disrepair and disuse, until it was used as a shelter during the Croatian War of Independence, and for dance raves in the 90’s!

We found a very huge, and very long underground tunnel – The Grič Tunnel in Zagreb – Croatia!

In 2016, the tunnel was remodeled and opened to the public as a quirky new tourist attraction. And it really does the job.

It was so hot outdoors that the coolness of the tunnel was a welcome relief. I even thought of having a picnic there!

And strangely, there are even public utilities if you’re desperate, too!

Your teenagers will love it, just like we did!

Mmm! Fritule – Croatian doughnuts – are quite yum!

That’s if for now. See you next week!

Where we stayed: Apartment Place4you – Just under €60.00 per night for the whole apartment. Wonderful!

Book your hotel here!

10 REASONS WHY ZAGREB IS A FAMILY DESTINATION – A GREAT PLACE FOR TEENAGERS!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

This article is not sponsored and even though we received complimentary 72 hour Zagreb Card, courtesy of the Zagreb Tourist Board,  all opinions and the enticing pork sandwiches that we happily munched through, are my very own!

In May, I’ll be writing more about Croatia, and visiting Sweden & Finland!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you’ll miss the sunshine!

May is going to be exciting!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

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!

10 reasons why Zagreb is a family destination – A great place for teenagers!

Have you ever been to Zagreb? Do you travel with your family? 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

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