Wake-up calls at 4 am are never fun, but it was well worth it as we took our first train ride in India from Delhi to Agra.

The “first-class” train may not be luxurious, but it’s clean, comfortable and spacious. The ride through the countryside gave us our first glimpse of open Indian country – just fascinating to see how life outside the city unfolds…

Agra Fort was our first stop. A very impressive monument, only 25% of which is open to the public. The word “massive” does not give it justice when I try to describe just how large this fort is.

The history, craftsmanship and dedication that the people of India have are something that should not go unrecognized. In India: bigger is better. It’s proven! Look around. When they can, they create art with nothing but the best materials available, built by hand, with just four to six manual tools. Remarkable!

In Agra we met our new guide, Sharma. What a gentle and kind soul. Again, born and raised here and proud of his heritage. It seems as though every Indian is proud of where they come from. It’s inspirational. He loves photography and is quite experienced helping travelers take pictures by pointing out where to take photos for the best angles and how to pose. My favorite quote of his:

Sharma: Want a picture? Us: Sure! (Hands iPhone over) Sharma: Now watch how fast I can run!

Headed back to Delhi tomorrow and strangely excited to visit a familiar place. Mike loves the country as much as I do. Wish we had more time in India. From Delhi, we’re off to Kathmandu, which I know will steal my heart as well.