Agra-Culture

By Laura Ann Klein

To say we were a little tentative about finding our own way to Agra is an understatement. I had done a lot of research about the intricacies and vagaries of train travel in India and all of the research issued the same warning: be careful and be wary of scams and getting lost. I had visions of arriving at the New Delhi train station at 0500, rucksack in hand, eyes wide open for a trip to Agra and then ending up on the 18 hour train to Someplace Else 'Stan because I was misdirected or misunderstood which platform to board. The other vision was being turned off the train at a small station clutching invalid tickets for warmth against the predawn chill, in the middle of nowhere. Two women relying on the kindness of strangers. It's been all too publicized what happens to women relying on the kindness of strangers in Northern India. Given these two hyperbolic scenarios we decided to stretch the budget and go for a fully supported door-to-door day trip to Agra.

Hardcore budget travelers would sniff at the cost of our day trip. In one day we spent what they would spend staying in guesthouses and dining in markets over two weeks in India. For the first time traveler to India with a limited time in the country, it was worth every penny.

There were so many companies to choose from that it was a little overwhelming so I decided to go with a company I was acquainted with via Twitter. I'm not sure who tweets for Readyclickgo but I like their style and their worldwide day tour offerings run the gamut from cooking classes in Turkey to bicycling old Delhi. I was also pleased once I sent them an inquiry they did not deluge my inbox with notes reminding me I had I sent them requests for tours like other companies did. Arranging the day trip from the states was also easy because they readily accepted credit cards and we were paid in full--aside from tips and lunch--by the time we made the trip. They also offer a liberal cancellation policy which is something the other companies did not.

It was exquisitely easy, too. We sent our dates and our desire to take the train to and from Agra. They sent us the cost and we paid for it. The customer service in India was phenomenal: we were barely in Delhi a day and the company dropped off a packet of information and instructions for our trip. I was completely astounded by the support we were getting. My assumption was they would arrange a driver to drive us to the station and drop us off with verbal instructions regarding the platform and instructions on how to find our driver and guide at the station in Agra.

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